Over the last week, the Minnesota Wild have been on the wrong side of a few decisions from the NHL disciplinary office. No, they haven’t see a few of their players relegated to the press box with suspensions; but they have seen a few of their players sidelined by borderline hits. The frustrating part for some fans in Minnesota is that in each case, Brendan Shanahan ruled that the offending opponent did not deserve supplemental discipline.
Today, Michael Russo of the Star-Tribune caught up with the Shanahan to talk about the recent trend of decisions that have gone against the Wild. The NHL suspension master told Wild GM Chuck Fletcher that it doesn’t “escape me that this has now happened to your club three times.’… I can’t suspend a guy because he hit the wrong guy on the wrong team. [Fletcher] understood. Hey, it’s a tough call. You’re calling a GM the day after he loses one of his best defensemen to an injury. It’s not a pleasant job that we do. But we do it everyday.”
The hits in question were a dangerous shove from behind by Cody McLeod that injured Jared Spurgeon, another dangerous play by Lennart Petrell on Marek Zidlicky, and finally borderline hit by Zach Bogosian on Pierre-Marc Bouchard. On their own, they were all questionable plays that have gone either way. When each and every one of the hits went unpunished, there was a little frustration bubbling under the surface in the State of Hockey.
This open conversation is just another example of the great transparency that Shanahan has brought to the NHL offices. Obviously, no decision maker is going to admit to any bias, but he took the time to address a market that may have concerns and explain his thought process for each of his judgments. Fans may agree or disagree with the final decision, but at least everyone understands the factors that contributed to the decision.
The 66-year-old Bernie Parent may have said it best. After stopping all six shots he faced in about four minutes of play in the NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game, the Flyers legend exited stage right for the last time to a memorable standing ovation. Always a man who was quick with a joke, Bernie Parent had this to say about his afternoon in the sun: “I’m still in my prime.”
The 45,000+ fans took full advantage of their opportunity to salute the man that brought a pair of Vezinas, a pair of Conn Smythes, and a pair of Stanley Cups to the City of Brotherly Love. The only thing that was missing was a sign that said: “Only Jesus saves more than Bernie Parent.”
Check out his sendoff here.
It’s no secret that the Ducks are struggling. They’re one of the worst scoring teams and one of the worst defensive teams. They’re competing with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the worst record in the league and they’re already on their second coach of the season. Very little is going right in Anaheim these days.
It looks like Bruce Boudreau is digging a little deeper for the answers. Despite playing the vast majority of their career together (and all of this season), Boudreau split up Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry to start tonight’s game against the Colorado Avalanche. How big of a deal is this for the Ducks? Well, this is almost like the Canucks choosing to split up the Sedins to get their offense going. Even Ducks beat writer Eric Stephens called them “the twins” to start the game.
Corey Perry ended up with Bobby Ryan and Saku Koivu to start the game, while Ryan Getzlaf started the game with Nik Hagman and Teemu Selanne. The line combinations don’t matter as much as the message behind the move: things need to be shaken up in a big way to turn things around.
Perry is still leading the team with 14 goals this season. He’s second on the team with 29 points, but the play has been a far cry from his second half performance that earned him last year’s Hart Trophy. Meanwhile, Getzlaf only has six goals and is a minus 17 through 36 games this season. It’s hard to say what exactly is the problem—but it’s clear that something is wrong.
Boudreau is looking for any answer to get his two biggest guns going again. Maybe a little time apart can help the Anaheim Twins find their game before it’s too late.
Wait, is it already too late?
There’s a report out of Nashville that the Predators will make it official and put captain Shea Weber on injured reserve to free up a roster spot. We already knew that Nashville’s superstar defenseman Shea Weber would miss the Predators game against the Calgary Flames on New Year’s Day due to concussion-like symptoms—now we know that the organization is making preparations in case they have to deal with life without Weber for a longer stretch of time.
Weber hasn’t played since December 23rd against the Dallas Stars, during which he was the recipient of a Mark Fistric hit that likely caused his concussion. The Preds will have a few days off before they take the ice again on January 5th, coincidently against the Stars. Like any other concussion, there’s no telling whether Weber will show progress by Thursday. What we do know is that moving Weber to injured reserve would allow the organization to bring up another defenseman from the Milwaukee Admirals as a contingency plan.
In his absence, his partner in crime Ryan Suter has been averaging over 29 minutes per game to help pick up the slack. The Preds fell in their first game without their captain to the rival Red Wings, but have been able to rally and win their next two games against the Wild and Blues. They’ll have three games at home while Weber continues to try to recover and rejoin his team.
Ever since Victor Hedman left in the middle of Tuesday’s game against the Flyers, people have braced themselves for the worst. Today, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman delivered the news that people were afraid to hear: the budding star defenseman will be sidelined indefinitely with a concussion.
As everyone around the hockey world has learned, concussions are impossible to predict. When responding to a question about Hedman’s timetable for a return, Yzerman said: “You’re concerned obviously with what’s going on around the league right now. But it’s day to day.”
Unfortunately, Hedman has been unable to practice since leaving the game against Philadelphia after only four minutes of ice time. Yzerman explained that right now, Hedman is “trying to do normal day-to-day activities.”
Take that however you wish.
Even though Hedman’s offensive statistics haven’t been what the organization would like to see for the 2009 second overall pick, he’s working over 22 minutes per night for the team that has depends on him in every situation. He’s one of Tampa’s leading penalty killers and has drawn some of the most difficult assignments on a nightly basis.
Now, he’ll be battling with a much different foe while he tries to work his way back to the ice. In the meantime, the Lightning will have to find a way to improve upon the team defense that is tied for the second worst in the entire league.
Losing one of their best defensemen isn’t going to help.