Three (News) Stars of the Week: Sid takes a seat, Ovi allegations, and the NHL is rearranged

“Three (News) Stars of the Week” will run every Friday. It’s our way of acknowledging the week’s big NHL stories that gave us lots of page views, thereby increasing PHT’s attractiveness to advertisers.

Third star: Sid on the shelf

The hockey world got a jolt Wednesday when it was learned that Sidney Crosby would be sitting out the next two Penguins games “as a precaution.” The game’s best player that’s only just returned from an extended concussion-related absence felt a slight headache after Wednesday’s practice, thus the decision to take a little break. “It’s been a long road back and we want to err on the side of caution,” said Crosby. No official word yet if he’ll be in the lineup Tuesday when Pittsburgh hosts Detroit, but as soon as we know, you’ll know. Just keep hitting refresh.

Second star: Ovechkin on the juice?

That’s what John Steigerwald implied in a column for a Pennsylvania newspaper. And yes, Steigerwald is the brother of Penguins play-by-play man Paul Steigerwald. And yes, the Penguins and Capitals have a rather fierce rivalry. Not surprisingly, the column produced an internet frenzy. It also provided a good lesson for all you aspiring sports journalists out there. Want to get your name out there? Steroid allegations never fail. For best results, accuse a Russian.

First star: So long, divisions

The NHL’s board of governors met this week in Pebble Beach. Not to yank tee shots into the Pacific, but to drastically realign the league. Assuming the NHLPA says it’s cool, there will be four conferences next season – two with eight teams, two with seven. The top four teams from each conference will make the playoffs. The first two rounds of the playoffs will be played within the conference. There might even be a Leafs-Rangers Stanley Cup final, but let’s cross that bridge to the apocalypse when we get to it. Or blow up the bridge. Whatever.

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    “Ovechkin on PEDs?” writer has radio fight, stuns listeners


    When we last checked in with John Steigerwald of the Washington (Pa.) Observer-Reporter, he was accusing Alex Ovechkin of using performance-enhancing drugs. That was yesterday.

    Since then, Steigerwald’s piece has been scrutinized by Deadspin, SB Nation and Yahoo! Puck Daddy writer Ryan Lambert, who conducted the most thorough evisceration — an evisceration that earned him a spot on Steigerwald’s Trib Live Radio show.

    The interview aired earlier this afternoon (here’s the audio) and it was contentious right off the hop. The two argued for nearly 30 minutes over a myriad of topics, including Steigerwald’s brother (Paul, the Pittsburgh Penguins play-by-play man, who Lambert called “a loathsome homer”), if Ovechkin’s mother was ever on steroids (Steigerwald insinuated she was) and if Sidney Crosby is a vampire (which was either the high or low point, depending on your view).

    It was, um, interesting.

    Some Twitter reactions from around the hockey world:

    Shawn Roarke, “I still can’t put into words the radio interview between Lambert and J. Steigerwald. Holy canoli.”

    Adrian Dater, Denver Post: “Interview of the year.”

    James Gordon, Ottawa Citizen: “This is just unreal.”

    Michael Hurley, “I now know what it would sound like if an Internet commenter hosted a radio show.”

    And now, the final (and perhaps most definitive) word on this entire situation…

    Mike Commodore, Detroit Red Wings defenseman: “Every player has been tested for ‘roids multiple times every year since new CBA. Ovi never failed. Argument over.”

    Columnist accuses Ovechkin of performance-enhancing drugs with stunningly little proof


    From the “throw stuff at wall, hope it sticks” file: John Steigerwald — author of the infamous “That Giants fan had getting beaten into a coma coming to him” piece earlier this year — has suggested Alex Ovechkin’s recent decline is because he’s not on performance-enhancing drugs anymore.

    From the Washington (Pa.) Observer-Reporter:

    There are whispers and maybe even some out-loud conversations around the hockey world about Ovechkin’s problem being a lack of artificial help.

    In other words, performance-enhancing drugs.

    The guy was superhuman when he first came into the league. He had the hardest shot anybody had seen in years. Goalies around the league talked about how it was different from everybody else’s shot.

    He’s taking about half as many shots as he used to.

    Here are the main propositions that led to Steigerwald’s theory:

    1) Ovechkin’s doctor was charged with bringing PEDs over the border from Canada.

    2) A Washington D.C. chiropractor was investigated after he bragged about supplying steroids to members of the Capitals and Washington Nationals.

    3) The same doctor who had Ovechkin as a patient also treated Tiger Woods.

    4) In his autobiography, Georges Laraque said steroids were commonplace in the NHL and that many players quit doing them prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics, because Olympic drug testing is much tougher than the NHL’s.

    I haven’t seen such reliance on hearsay and conjecture since Lionel Hutz sued the creator of Itchy & Scratchy.

    In the spirit of making (and debunking) conspiratorial accusations, PHT offers up the following:

    1) John Steigerwald is the brother of Paul Steigerwald, play-by-play man for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    2) Ovechkin’s competed in four IIHF World Championships — which also have stringent drug testing — in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010. (Puck Daddy’s Dmitry Chesnokov notes Ovechkin got tabbed for a random steroid test in 2010.)

    3) The PED/Tiger Woods doctor reference is to Dr. Anthony Galea. Good luck trying to find anything beyond message board material linking Ovechkin to Galea.

    4) John Steigerwald is a sports columnist for a community paper covering two counties in Pennsylvania. The paper website’s current front page story is four local high school students singing Christmas carols for a rotary club fundraiser.

    Let me ask you: Does this publication sound like it’s privy to super-insider scoops about incredibly famous athletes?