No doubt about it, Brendan Shanahan and the rest of the league’s player safety decision-makers have been put to the test over the last few days. If you ask Gary Bettman and the NHL’s Board of Governors, it appears that they’ve passed with flying colors, as The Canadian Press reports.
“I believe the sense of the room is that Brendan Shanahan and the department of player safety has the confidence of the board of governors. He certainly has my confidence,” Bettman said. “It’s about modifying an element of the game’s culture and we think we’ve made positive, dramatic steps forward.”
Bettman praises Shanahan for his attention to detail and for being “proactive.”
The league’s GMs also gave Shanny & Co. the thumbs up.
“You’re not going to rid yourself of suspensions and what have you, but we’ve certainly come so much farther,” Nashville Predators GM David Poile said. “I mean, look where we were. I’ve been around for a long time, and some of the stuff that happened in the so-called old days, to where we are now, it’s so much better for the players and a so much better game.”
The key many (including Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli) point to is evolving the process to police the game without taking the physicality out of the sport. So far, it seems like league executives believe Shanahan is pushing things in the right direction.
Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.
OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.
It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.
Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.
In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.
It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.
The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?
“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”
Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.
The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.
Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.
With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.
They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.