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THN.com Blog: Pre-season happenings with regular season impacts

Mike Comrie and Brian Gionta fight in pre-season action. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Mike Comrie and Brian Gionta fight in pre-season action. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

As we head full-steam into the NHL regular season tonight – it’ll be nice to have a bread-and-circuses reprieve from the crumbling financial situation  – three things caught my attention as the pre-season wound down:

They may have lost a pair of games to the Rangers, outshot 80-40 in the process, and had their new coach tear a strip off them publicly, but the most embarrassing thing coming out of Tampa this week was trading highly touted prospect Logan MacMillan for depreciating defenseman Lukas Krajicek…in a round-about way.

In February of 2007, the Bolts dealt a first-rounder to Anaheim – which then took MacMillan 19th overall – for Shane O’Brien, who, along with Michel Ouellet, was sent to Vancouver for Krajicek and prospect Juraj Simek Monday.

Yes, the two distinct deals were done under different Lightning regimes, but it’s yet another thing the microscope will closely watch develop as the Koules-Barrie experiment gestates.

Adam Proteau said it recently, but it’s worth saying again: No matter what your feelings about overall pugilistic behavior in hockey are, players of significance shouldn’t be fighting in the pre-season.

Columbus’s Raffi Torres, playing his first game since a knee injury sidelined him late in 2007, got a whole period and a bit of hockey in before being lost again, this time for six weeks with a separated shoulder sustained in a tilt with the Hawks’ Ben Eager.

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The same fate befell Carolina’s Scott Walker, who, the team announced Monday, will be out until December after tearing a ligament in his hand while fighting with the Flyers’ Nate Guenin.

Even skaters who make their hay with their fists, such as the Flyers’ Steve Downie, who strained his MCL in a fight last week, should holster them.

It’s all well and good to come to the defense of a teammate; heck, that’s what a good teammate does. But in the pre-season, when the games don’t matter an iota, the fine line between bravery and stupidity is drawn with a much broader stroke.

While some teams are sure to over-achieve and look to grab players from high-spending underachievers, March 3 – the NHL’s trade deadline day – is unlikely to have the same furious action we’ve seen the past two seasons.

More than half of NHL franchises are, or in all likelihood will be, within $3 million of the salary cap ceiling. This means the majority of teams, including all the expected contenders minus Dallas, will have little wiggle room for rent-a-players.


Edward Fraser is the editor of thehockeynews.com. His blog normally appears Thursdays.

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