Leetch to replace Blake in NHL Player Safety Dept. (Update: Burke joins as well)


The NHL will have another prolific defenseman on staff next year.

Former Rangers blueliner Brian Leetch will replace the outgoing Rob Blake in the NHL’s Player Safety Department, according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post.

Blake, 43, left his post earlier this summer to join the LA Kings as an assistant GM.

The Leetch hire comes after a summer filled with speculation regarding his future. While he had been working Rangers broadcasts on MSG, the former Conn Smythe winner was linked to a number of coaching gigs, including a rumor where Leetch would’ve joined the Blueshirts as an assistant coach had Mark Messier gotten the head coaching job.

Instead, Leetch will join Brendan Shanahan’s player safety staff, alongside another former NHL defenseman — Stephane Quintal, who joined the department in 2011.


The NHL has confirmed the Leetch hire and announced the addition of Patrick Burke — a former Flyers scout and founding partner of the You Can Play Project — to the player safety department.

“Brian Leetch and Patrick Burke are two astute members of the hockey community who will bring unique perspectives and personal experiences to the Department of Player Safety,” Shanahan said in a statement. “As one of the greatest defensemen in NHL history, Brian displayed a rare sense of the game and its nuances that will be a tremendous asset to our department’s efforts to make the game safer for our players while maintaining its physicality and passion.

“The ability to evaluate players that Patrick refined as a pro and amateur scout will be invaluable to the team that monitors games each night to both identify incidents that might merit Supplemental Discipline and to note developing trends in our game.”

Burke will work under a similar umbrella to the one his father, ex-Leafs GM Brian Burke, worked under during his time as the NHL’s director of hockey operations in the 1990s.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?