James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

Reilly Smith shaken up by big Niklas Kronwall hit (Video)


People use Niklas Kronwall‘s last name as a verb far less often than they used to, but that doesn’t mean that the Detroit Red Wings defenseman can’t make someone pay with a big check in 2016-17.

The Florida Panthers are currently hoping for the best after Reilly Smith was clearly shaken up by a hard Kronwall hit on Friday.

As you can see from the video above, Smith was in a vulnerable position trying to receive a (“suicide”) pass and absorbed quite the blow. The Miami Herald’s George Richards believes that Smith might be going through concussion protocol, so we’ll find out if he’ll be able to shake that off or if he misses some time.

Video: Rugged fight – Steven Oleksy vs. Miles Wood

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On Thursday, the fights that generated some attention involved guys who rarely drop the gloves.

This time around, we’re taking a look at guys who are little more adept at throwing knuckles.

The New Jersey Devils are involved in both cases. Last night, it was Michael Cammalleri getting in a fight. This time, Miles Wood had quite the raucous, rugged battle with Steven Oleksy:

That’s frightening and exhausting merely to watch.

After a heated game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, the Devils continue to show the passion management demanded more of against the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight.

New Jersey won the game on Thursday while they’re currently trailing on Friday. Either way, they’re fighting harder after being asked to (blanking) play harder.

Update: The Penguins ended up winning 4-1.

As a clarification, not everyone involved in this fight was an experienced pugilist:

Maybe he’s a natural.

Panthers embrace 1,888 points with Jaromir Jagr Night on Jan. 6


Plenty of people are congratulating Jaromir Jagr for the tremendous feat of becoming the NHL’s all-time second leading points producer. It only makes sense that the Florida Panthers will go all-out for him, too.

Specifically, the team is hosting “Jaromir Jagr Night” during their Jan. 6 game against the Nashville Predators.

Some of the planned stuff is pretty by-the-books, including the first 10,000 fans getting a commemorative t-shirt.

The fun stuff comes in thematic pricing based off of Jagr’s jersey number 68 and his 1,888 points:

Ticket offers for the evening are themed around Jagr’s 1,888th point and jersey number. Offers include an $18.88 upper goal zone offer and a $68.00 sideline and sideline premier offer that includes a $15 food and beverage credit.

Nice, right?

As you can see, a wide variety of people are rolling out the red carpet for the living legend. In case you missed it, enjoy this video of former competitors and current teammates congratulating him:

Heck, even the Pittsburgh Penguins seem like they’re going to play nice.

Anton Rodin finally set to debut for Canucks after long, winding road to NHL


It’s a long time coming for Anton Rodin, who’s making his NHL debut for the Vancouver Canucks tonight.

Usually, PHT’s “Looking to make the Leap” feature is for players who can’t legally buy alcohol in the United States. Even taking NCAA-developed prospects into account, Anton Rodin was a relative graybeard for that off-season series.

(He was 25 at the time of that writing; he’s now 26.)

We’ve already seen one inspiring story of a 26-year-old making his NHL debut this week, but Rodin’s story is a little more complicated. As Jason Brough wrote, he seemed like a failed prospect (53rd pick of the 2009 NHL Draft) for the Canucks:

Most Canucks fans had already written off Anton Rodin. He was the guy who came to North America in 2011 and couldn’t even cut it in the AHL. Just another draft bust for an organization that’s had plenty of those in its history.

He showed some promise in Sweden, and even with knee issues really hampering his climb, Rodin finds himself here today. It should be fascinating to see what he can do against the Calgary Flames tonight.

Video: Rare fights for Mike Cammalleri, Jordan Staal

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Your mileage may vary, but from here, it’s often entertaining to see an infrequent fighter get into the occasional squabble.

It doesn’t hurt that, in most instances, that guy’s fighting because he actually wants to. It’s a little tougher to reconcile with the future implications of fighting for enforcers who drop the gloves several times per season.

But for those rare fighters, it can be kind of fun, at least if no one gets “hurt” beyond a bruise or bump here and there.

Thursday presented at least two rare fights, as Michael Cammalleri feuded with Nick Cousins as a part of a fairly nasty New Jersey Devils 4-0 win against the Philadelphia Flyers.

(See video of that fight above.)

Hockey Fights’ listings indicates that the bout with Cousins was the third fight of Cammalleri’s career.

Meanwhile, Jordan Staal fought with Zach Bogosian during the Carolina Hurricanes’ 3-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres:

The two-way forward fights a bit more often, as this was his fifth according to Hockey Fights.

For a full list of Thursday’s feuds, click here.