James O'Brien

Montreal Canadiens v Ottawa Senators - Game Six

Bettman refutes link between concussions and CTE


Concussions and the salary cap are common topics for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, yet he provided some interesting comments about both on Thursday.

Following the death of former defenseman Steve Montador and looming litigation regarding concussions, Bettman refuted the connection some have made between concussions and CTE, as the Associated Press reports.

“From a medical and scientific standpoint,” Bettman said about a possible link between concussions and CTE, “there is no evidence yet that one leads to the other.”

Interesting. Chris Nowinski – the co-founder of the Boston University CTE Center and someone who is “fighting concussions every day – seemed to disagree with Bettman’s observations.

In case you’re wondering, here’s the definition of CTE, according to Nowinsky’s CTE Center:

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head. CTE has been known to affect boxers since the 1920s. However, recent reports have been published of neuropathologically confirmed CTE in retired professional football players and other athletes who have a history of repetitive brain trauma. This trauma triggers progressive degeneration of the brain tissue, including the build-up of an abnormal protein called tau.  These changes in the brain can begin months, years, or even decades after the last brain trauma or end of active athletic involvement.  The brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia.

Which side is right? Perhaps time will tell on that matter.

One thing we’ll know for sure far sooner is whether or not Bettman’s salary cap estimates prove accurate for the 2015-16 season. He once again predicted that the ceiling with rise to about $71 million, according to the AP.

NHL GMs can be excused for being a little concerned up until the moment that figure is confirmed, though.

Babcock says goodbye to Detroit in style

Official Announcement Of Mike Babcock As Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach

Red Wings fans may feel jilted now that Mike Babcock chased the challenge and cash in Toronto, yet they’d be hard-pressed to deny that the scowling head coach accomplished a lot in the decade he spent in Detroit.

Babcock didn’t forget the fans, either, as he took out this full-page ad to say thank you … and goodbye.

The text reads:

Detroit Red Wings Fans,

Thank you for an amazing 10 years!

We’ll never forget the support you’ve provided us and will always cherish the memories we’ve shared together in Hockeytown.

– The Babcocks.


Sarcasm is basically inevitable on social media, so of course there’s been a quip here and there, especially regarding Babcock’s big-money contract.

That’s a pretty good way of looking at it.

To some, it’s still a little bewildering to imagine someone else behind Detroit’s bench, but this another (classy) reminder that it’s all real.

OK, it’s still a little stunning:

PHT Morning Skate: Charitable beards and young Mike Babcock


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Even if you’re one of those cold souls who think that playoff beards are played out – really? – this story should warm your heart a bit: the Washington Capitals’ (copyrighted!) Beard-a-Thon raised more than $30K for the American Special Hockey Association. (Capitals)

Want to get your mind blown a little bit? Check out these photos of young and very young Mike Babcock. (BarDown)

Former WWE star CM Punk’s passion for the Chicago Blackhawks is no secret, but you can find out more about his fandom here. (The Hockey News)

Alex Killorn believes that his mom is more impressed with his degree than his NHL career. Well, it is from Harvard. (Tampa Bay Times)

More on Joel Quenneville’s decision to go with “fresh legs.” (CSNChicago.com)

The “ripple effect” of Babcock’s contract. (Sportsnet)

Clearing the defensive zone might not be so clearly beneficial. (Jen LC)

What’s wrong with Lundqvist?

New York Rangers v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Three


You don’t often see Henrik Lundqvist this dejected. Then again, you don’t often see the New York Rangers’ franchise netminder allow 12 goals in two very important games.

If you ask former NHL goalie Brian Boucher, the Tampa Bay Lightning are making Lundqvist look human. Watch as he breaks down which of Tampa’s six goals from Game 3 might have been on him, and which ones may have come down to bad luck:

At the end of that video, you can see a dejected Lundqvist talk about the overtime game-winner and his struggles in general. One could argue that he’s rattled … or at least exhausted.

(Of course, it’s interesting to note that Ben Bishop’s more or less gotten off the hook after looking shaky in his own right in Game 3.)

As Lundqvist notes, it’s on him and his team. As this video dictates, the Rangers have gotten away from the disciplined style that got them this far:

It’s uncommon for the Rangers to give up so many chances, but on the bright side, New York was in Game 3 and has certainly been in bigger binds than this (you only need to look one round back to see that a 3-1 series deficit won’t buckle them). Will it be easy? Not necessarily, but don’t count Lundqvist & Co. out just yet.

Brian Boyle is right, ‘The Triplets’ are scary good

Detroit Red Wings v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Two

One could excuse many hockey fans for not being totally aware of Tampa Bay’s trio of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov before the playoffs began. You really can’t miss “The Triplets” if you’ve paid attention to the postseason, though.

Kucherov scored the 6-5 overtime tally in Game 3, yet the chemistry Palat and Johnson showed probably exemplified the trio’s dominance more than anything else. All three forwards scored at least one goal on Wednesday.

Here’s the Kucherov clincher:

While Johnson assisting Palat was a work of art:

The rave reviews keep piling in, too.

Brian Boyle described “The Triplets” as “scary good.” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper really nailed the notion that the trio is making a mainstream breakthrough:

Some might be wondering how the Rangers can slow them down, beyond maybe slowing down the general level of play. One hint may be to try to avoid less-than-ideal matchups.

Here’s the problem, though. If you shift to many sources against “The Triplets,” then Steven Stamkos’ line could take over. Actually, that already seems to be happening; Stamkos is asserting himself while Alex Killorn is making an impression:

For some, this is a coming out party, yet careful observers noticed the trio as one of the best lines in the NHL in 2014-15. That latter group may end up expecting this kind of dominance … but they might not be alone.

It’s hard not to, though, right?

Now we just need to come up with a better nickname than “The Triplets.”