Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke got to where he is by thinking in a bold way, but bigger ideas aren’t always easy to make universal.
Burke has been pushing a “bear hug” rule for quite some now, which essentially would allow a checking player to “hug” an opponent while hitting him along the boards to brace for the impact. The negative side, naturally, is that the attacking player would undoubtedly be engaging in a form of obstruction in the process.
Perhaps that negative side is too much of a gray area for GMs to stomach, because Burke told James Mirtle that it didn’t work out. In fact, he was customarily dramatic about it.
“Bear hug had no support – no chance,” Burke said. “I got dirt kicked in my face again.”
Such an emo description makes me imagine other general managers making spit takes when he brings up the idea, even if they probably just voted “Nay” while shrugging their shoulders. (Kevin Lowe would have been more difficult about it, but he’s not the Edmonton Oilers GM anymore.)
However general managers reacted, there’s a method to Burke’s madness. Hits from behind are among the most dangerous in the game, but you cannot make them universally illegal without putting a team’s defense at a profound disadvantage. Burke’s idea would allow defenders to defend against the glass without getting suspended (or hurting someone badly).
Again, though, the gray area comes in when they were “hugging” to help someone not get injured and when they were just trying to slow an opponent who gained some ground down low or in the zone.
Where do you stand on the rule, then? It might be quite some time if GMs ever approve of such a measure, but it doesn’t mean the hockey world cannot debate its merits in the mean time.
The growing ranks of Tuukka Rask detractors gained some serious ammunition during last night’s loss to Tampa Bay.
The deciding goal in the 6-3 defeat was a “bad one,” according to Rask and most anyone else who was watching.
It may have been a hard shot by Jonathan Drouin, unleashed at the top of the circle, but it still should’ve been stopped.
After the game, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters that Rask “needed to be better tonight.”
In fact, Rask hasn’t been very good the past few months. Since Jan. 1, his save percentage is just .888. But with nobody trustworthy behind him, he’s had to just play through his struggles.
It’s impossible to say if Rask’s numbers would be better if the Bruins had a more capable backup. He’d be more rested, though. And when he was struggling, the coach would at least have another option to consider. With an .897 save percentage on the season, Anton Khudobin simply hasn’t been reliable enough to garner that consideration.
Don’t expect Rask to get the next game off. Saturday in Brooklyn, the Bruins — losers of four straight in regulation, and suddenly on the verge of falling out of the playoff picture — face the Islanders in arguably the biggest game of both teams’ seasons.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, after earning a big win last night in Boston, may not have defenseman Jason Garrison tonight in Detroit.
The Bolts recalled d-man Slater Koekkoek from AHL Syracuse this morning — a move that would seem to put Garrison’s status into doubt against the Red Wings.
Garrison was forced to leave the Bruins game in the second period with a lower-body injury.
Koekkoek has played 29 games for the Lightning this season, recording no goals and four assists.
Sidney Crosby won’t face a disciplinary hearing for his slash on Ottawa d-man Marc Methot, an NHL spokesman confirmed — news that won’t be welcomed by Sens owner Eugene Melnyk.
The incident occurred during Ottawa’s 2-1 win on Thursday night, and forced Methot from the game with a bloodied, lacerated finger. The club later announced that Methot would be “out for weeks” with the injury.
Crosby’s slash came two nights after he speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt. It should be noted that neither the O’Reilly spear or Methot slash resulted in penalty calls, and neither was subjected to supplementary discipline.
One individual that’s guaranteed to be upset with today’s news is Melynk. He appeared on TSN 1200 radio this morning and seemed to suggest the league was looking into the Crosby-Methot incident.
He also had a few choice words for No. 87:
NEW YORK (AP) The Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators will play two regular-season games in Sweden next season.
The NHL and NHL Players’ Association on Friday announced their new Global Series games Nov. 10 and 11 in Stockholm.
The Avalanche and Senators will play the NHL’s first regular-season games in Europe since 2011. It’s the NHL’s sixth trip to Europe and the seventh and eighth games played in Sweden.
Colorado’s captain is 24-year-old Swedish forward Gabriel Landeskog. Ottawa’s captain is 26-year-old Swedish defenseman Erik Karlsson, winner of the 2012 and 2015 Norris Trophy.
Other Swedes currently playing for the two clubs include Ottawa’s Frederik Claesson (Stockholm) and Viktor Stalberg (Gothenburg), and Colorado’s Anton Lindholm (Skelleftea) and Carl Soderberg (Malmo).
Commissioner Gary Bettman says with more Swedish players than ever, it’s a good chance to showcase the game there. Eighty-four Swedes have played in the NHL this season, roughly 9 percent of the league.
“We have more Swedish players than ever in the NHL, and we are extremely pleased that the 2017 SAP NHL Global Series will allow us to showcase a number of those players, with their NHL teams, in their homeland,” Bettman said. “The return of regular-season NHL games to the international stage will provide yet another highlight for our Centennial celebration.”