Bleacher Report Article: 2012 Penguins Free Agency: What We’ve Lost/Gained & How It’ll Impact Next Season

Newest Bleacher Report Article on the Penguins. Check it out!

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Bleacher Report Article: Why Pens vs. Flyers is the Series to Watch

Check out my newest Bleacher Report article on the crazy Pens vs. Flyers series. It was featured on the Pens page of B/R last night (see below pic and link)!

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1151570-penguins-vs-flyers-why-it-is-the-series-to-watch-for-any-nhl-fan

Penguins vs. Flyers, Game 3: Penalty Count Embarrassing

Not much to say about this other than it is embarrassing.

This wasn’t playoff hockey, it was a wrestling match.

Even I could do better than Jeremy Roenick’s game analysis

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Dear Jeremy Roenick,

You should not be allowed on television to discuss NHL hockey. Yes, you may know a lot about the game and the players, you might appeal to an American audience who really has no one to piggy back on now that Pat Kane is playing so badly, and you might be a great announcer for the Blackhawks or the Flyers, but you should not be talking about the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Not only are you incredibly biased in your hatred for the Penguins, you have even made Mike Milbury come out and speak highly of the Pens (another fairly shocking occurrence) in order to give some truth to pre/mid and post game shows. See last night’s tweets:

Last night, you argued that a clear head-hit against Letang was legal and it was actually the Penguins’ defenseman’s fault for not knowing how to ‘properly take a hit’. I am not saying to take the hits out of hockey, or going soft, but this was clearly a dangerous hit to the head. I can’t say I was upset when Mike Milbury started to shoo you off the show. See that video here: 

Jeremy, you are still too vested in the game. I can understand caring about your team, but to be a good analyst you should not be so biased. It is like watching a current player trying to talk about the opposition and why they aren’t as good as the home team. I can say this Jeremy because you cried when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2009/2010 season. You need to step away from the game for a second and try to think about your current role representing the NHL. I mean, you were sad when Oduya announced he would wear ’27’ for the Blackhawks this year. Here is what you said on twitter that day, “Really???? Nothing against oduya… But seriously??? Not really happy about that at all. Gotta be honest” So Jeremy, what I have to say to that is: get over yourself, you aren’t playing hockey anymore.

Another time we saw your bias come out shining was during the past winter Olympics. When everyone was disucssing the Ovechkin vs. Crosby showdown, you took it to another level. See that video here:  The first thing you said on the comparison was, “How can you compare Ovechkin with Sidney Crosby”.Well, Jeremy- here is how, they were going into the Olympics with the same amount of goals in the lead. Both teams were strong, and if I remember correctly, Sidney Crosby scored the game winning goal in the Olympics for Canada to win the gold. Can you say that about Ovechkin?

You should reconsider the way you speak about hockey and try to separate yourself from your playing days. It is annoying to watch, and incredibly biased.

Sincerely,

FiveforBoarding

11 month old neck injury, finally assessed

This weekend was a weekend of superstars. The All-Star Game and Super Skills competitions took place in Ottawa, Team Chara pulled out a third-period win on Team Alfredsson, and Sidney Crosby came back into the spotlight. But regardless of the All-Star festivities (and Chara’s new record for the hardest slapshot of all time), Crosby’s news was the most shocking.

Yesterday it was reported that a spine-specialist from California diagnosed Crosby with a previously hidden neck injury (fractured C1 and C2). Even though it is said to be healed, this was the first time Crosby and worried Pittsburgh fans heard anything about vertebrate injuries in addition to Crosby’s 11-month+ concussion symptoms. This is shocking for a couple of reasons.

Crosby is being seen by the best doctors in the world. He has seen numerous specialists from all over the US and it took 11 months for doctors to see a neck injury? The NHL is saying how they are really assessing players for their concussions, but apparently they are not having doctors do MRIs and CAT scans on players heads and necks?

Pittsburgh fans have been very persistent in pushing for information on their captain’s health condition for the last year. A #Crosbywatch started on twitter a while ago, and numerous statements have been released by doctors, coaches, and Sid himself. One of the memorable early conversations about Sid’s concussion was when Doctor Michael Collins referred to Crosby as a Ferrari (You don’t want your ferrari with the best features running like a cheap old car) and said the concussion wasn’t the Boogeyman. But, if the concussion isn’t the boogeyman, maybe his neck injury is. It hid and terrorized Crosby and the city of Pittsburgh for 11 months- and now it is mysterious and no one knows what it means for the future. Is a neck-injury prone to re-injury like a concussion? Even though it is supposedly healed, are there ramifications for Crosby not properly treating it for the last 11 months?

The only thing to do is keep an eye on #Crosbywatch and see what doctors say for the future. Just make sure to take everything they say with a grain of salt!

Ovechkin Skipping All-Star Weekend

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Alexander Ovechkin announced last week that he is skipping the NHL’s All-star weekend. After his announcement, many mixed reactions surfaced about his decision. His statement said, “My heart is not there. I’m suspended, so why I have to go there? I love the game; it’s great event. I’d love to be there, but I’m suspended. I don’t want to be a target. I feel I’m not deserving to be there right now. If I’m suspended, I have to be suspended, so that’s why I give up my roster [spot]”

Ovechkin was still upset about his suspension for his hit on Penguin Zbynek Michalek. Even Verizon Center owner Ted Leonsis and Capitals GM George McPhee came out to say that they both disagreed with Ovechkin’s suspension. You can see the suspension hit and explanation video here: .

Players weighed in on Ovechkin’s decision through twitter. Andy McDonald of the St. Louis Blues was especially upset with Ove’s decision (see tweet below). Another NHL player who took a different approach to Ove’s decision was twitter-addict Paul Bissonnette of the Phoenix Coyotes. He tweeted: “Hey, it’s too bad Ovechkin isn’t going to the All Star Game. NHL could have added a rap battle to the skills competition.”

Clearly players have different options on Ove’s decision, but what about the NHL’s viewpoint? Well, it seems to be wishy-washy. In 2009 the NHL started to crack-down on players deciding not to attend the All-star game. Both Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk were suspended for a game because of their decision not to go. In addition, an injured Sidney Crosby  avoided suspension by flying out to the game and doing promotional work for the NHL even though he wasn’t playing. But this year, the NHL has not suspended anyone for not attending the All-star game. Ovechkin did not prove he was hurt (a stipulation enforced in 2009) and he did not go to help out with the promotions for the NHL.

The NHL’s decision to not suspend Ovechkin, Selanne, and Lidstrom (both Selanne and Lidstrom sited their age as their reason not to play in the game) could mean increased all-star back-outs in the future. If all-star players decide not to participate in all-star weekend it could mean a serious annual revenue loss for the NHL. Sponsors might back out, fans wouldn’t get hyped about the event, and merchandise sales would plummet. I mean, who would watch an all-star game with no all-star players?

Another argument regarding the NHL’s decision not to suspend Ovechkin is he is no longer as important to the NHL as he was a couple of years ago. For the past year and a half Ove has been in a major slump that has begun to eliminate his role as one of the main ‘faces of the NHL’. Without putting up the numbers, how can Ovechkin be viewed as one of the most important all-stars? Would the NHL be as accepting to a player like Evgeni Malkin or Pavel Datsyuk if they made a statement that they would not attend the All-star game?

Concussion Junction

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Recently, the NHL has been dealing with the major issues surrounding concussions. It seems that everyday fans are hearing more bad news about some of their favorite players. Numerous all-star game starters have been benched due to their poor head-health. There was even an article written on yahoo sports about an “all-concussion team” and how they would be a solid group of players.

Hockey has always been a rough game. Players are tough and hits are hard. But, concussions seem to be getting more common and increasingly serious. Captains Chris Pronger of the Philadelphia Flyers and Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins have both been out of commission with post-concussion symptoms for a period of months. Their returns have no definite time-table and fans are beginning to worry if it means the end of these iconic players’ careers.

Fans also seem to be worried that by changing too much in the game (and making concussions more avoidable), the integrity and fast-paced nature of the play would be lost. There is a line to be drawn; when is it okay to slow down the game or change it in order to keep players safe? The league has already ruled that all boards need to be made out of plexi-glass which has started to soften the impact of hits. But is plexi-glass soft enough? Where on the ice are the majority of detrimental hits happening? Is it into the walls, the ice, or the plexi glass? These are things the NHL should look at. Wherever the biggest danger is, they need to start there.

Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the NHL, has come out and sighted new concussion baselines and measures (which were seen on HBO’s 24/7) as something the NHL has improved on. But their new boards and baseline checks are not efficient enough. Concussions are still a major problem that both teams and fans are starting to notice. When the best players in the NHL are sidelined with head-injuries and past enforcers are starting to die from prolonged damage to their brains, drastic measures need to be taken to change the NHL.

So the question is what more can be done? Well the NHL has already changed the plexi-glass, created a department of player safety (I am sure you have all seen those Brendan Shanahan explanation videos), and apparently softer elbow and shoulder padding is in the works. I think if the NHL continues to make the ice a safer place for head-injuries eventually they will slow. I just hope the league can make these changes quickly enough that there are no more major career-threatening injuries and nothing that will destroy the feel of the game.

All and all, the NHL shouldn’t stop fighting in the league and shouldn’t turn the boards into memory foam. The league does need to make softer padding, enforceable punishments for illegal hits, and players need to be educated about how to deal with concussions properly and avoid hits that could cause them. Maybe the best way to avoid concussions is to make a larger playing area. With more space on the ice, players might have more room to play the game and skate rather than get locked up on the boards. Why hasn’t the NHL tested something like that?