Really? The Jackets are planning to keep Howson?

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Flying somewhat under the radar this weekend (which is to say, we totally missed this) was a report by the Columbus Dispatch that suggested Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson — along with team president Mike Priest — won’t be fired after the team’s miserable season is over.

Judging by the whispers and hints coming out of the Blue Jackets’ owners meeting last week, club president Mike Priest and general manager Scott Howson are secure in their jobs, even though the Jackets, with the highest payroll in franchise history, will miss the Stanley Cup playoffs for a third straight season.

Priest and Howson are said to have sold the ownership group on a plan that includes potentially significant changes before the 2012-13 season, but not the front-office and roster overhaul many within the organization and around the NHL believe is needed to simply get the franchise on par with the rest of the league.

Did you hear that, Jackets fans? “Potentially significant changes” are coming.

Frankly, I’m shocked ownership would consider bringing Howson back. I mean, it’s not like he just got the job – he’s been the GM in Columbus since 2007.

Howson’s decision to roll the dice with goalie Steve Mason after a summer spent adding millions and millions to the payroll was absolutely horrendous. Drafting Nikita Filatov was bad as well. Ditto for signing Mike Commodore to a big contract, eventually having to buy the defenseman out.

More from the Dispatch:

Don’t be surprised if [Jeff] Carter — ballyhooed as the long-awaited No. 1 center just six months ago — is sent packing to one of the many clubs in the NHL who are looking for a top-six forward.

Carter and [Rick] Nash have never shown signs of enhancing each other’s games, and although Carter has said all the right things about wanting to make it work in Columbus, his body language on the ice has been something different.

It’s hard to blame Howson for going after a top-line center like Carter to play with Nash. However, if Carter is traded prior to the deadline and the Jackets don’t land something comparable to what they gave up to the Flyers, it’s another big blunder to add to Howson’s resume.

Fight video: Flyers’ Manning vs. Penguins’ Gaunce

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Breaking: the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers don’t like each other.

The stakes might be higher for the Penguins than the Flyers – aside from those who still believe Philly has a shot at a playoff run – their rivalry rarely subsides.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Sunday featured at least one fight, with Cameron Gaunce squaring off against Brandon Manning in a pretty spirited bout.

Manning isn’t shy about fighting, by the way; this was his seventh bout of the season, according to Hockey Fights.

Higher on the radar for the Penguins is the situation for Conor Sheary, who has been absent from the ice since about midway through the first period. PHT will keep an eye out for updates on what could be yet another injury for the health-challenged Pens.

Dreading the work week? Watch this dog get ‘ice time’ with puck

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Life is difficult, complex and confusing. Good thing we have dog videos.

Forgive this video being one night late, but for those of us who watch cute animal clips, time is a furry circle. Or something like that.

Anyway, this golden retriever got a little “ice time” before the Washington Capitals’ game against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday in what would end up being a 4-1 win for the Caps. It’s an excellent video featuring a top-notch, hilarious pooch.

Alternate joke: Now that is some puck retrieval.

Patrik Laine’s out sick for Jets on Sunday

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Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews are locked with identical goals (34), assists (27) and points (61) on Sunday, which is remarkable since Laine has played in 67 games versus 75 for Matthews. He won’t get a chance to beef up his numbers on Sunday, either.

It looks like the high-scoring rookie is missing the Winnipeg Jets’ contest against the Vancouver Canucks because of an illness, according to TSN’s Sara Orlesky.

The Jets are almost assured to miss the playoffs, so seeing Laine lose a chance to bolster his Calder argument adds a little extra sadness to the night.

NHL schedules hearing for Micheal Haley’s sucker-punch on Calle Jarnkrok

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced a Monday hearing for San Jose Sharks tough guy Micheal Haley for his “roughing/sucker punch” on Calle Jarnkrok of the Nashville Predators.

The league didn’t specify if Haley will face a telephone or in-person hearing on Monday afternoon. They did, interestingly, use the phrase “sucker punch” in that official announcement.

Haley received a match penalty during the game. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer was highly upset about the hit that inspired Haley’s actions.

“When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth,” DeBoer told reporters.

In other bad news for the Sharks, CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz reports that Logan Couture‘s situation isn’t looking promising after he was hurt on Sunday.