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Net gains

Chris Osgood is 15-4-6 this season with the Red Wings. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Chris Osgood is 15-4-6 this season with the Red Wings. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

This week’s mailbag is all about fighting in hockey! That’s a joke; I employed it in the hope of frightening off all the humorless, pro-fisticuff fascists scared out of their shorts at the prospect of a continuing debate on the issue.

The truth is, as long as players continue to get seriously injured in fights, that aspect of the sport will remain a topic for discussion. And yes, there will be one question on the topic in today’s file. If you don’t wish to read it, cover your eyes and skim over that part – you know, the same way the NHL has done in regard to fights over the years.
 
Adam, Why is it that all these players who have put off retiring are now back in the NHL? I'm tired of seeing guys – Scott Niedermayer, Brendan Shanahan, and Mats Sundin just to name a few – who wait until December or February to sign with a team.

Why is it these guys are let back in? Is there no rule in place for how late a player can come into the season?
Ken Boris, Roscoe, Ill.


Ken,

There isn’t a rule in place that sets a deadline for players to sign with a team, and I don’t expect we’ll see one.

However, when you look at the distraction that situation has presented in both Anaheim (with Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne) and now Vancouver (with Sundin), I think a lot of franchises are going to hesitate before bringing in a self-sidelined player in the middle of the season.

It’s too much of a distraction to the rest of the team – not to mention, a risk that the player coming in won’t find his form from the previous season.

Adam, Is a team allowed to call up a player from a junior team if they have drafted him (i.e. Cody Hodgson with Vancouver, Jordan Eberle with Edmonton or P.K. Subban with Montreal)?
Philip Rich, Pointe-Claire, Que.


Phillip,

Yes, any team can call up a player from their junior franchise – provided they’ve signed an NHL contract, of course.

Adam, With the understanding that hockey is "Canada's Game," why do they measure the Hardest Shot Competition using miles per hour and not kilometers per hour?
Chris Steffens, Seattle


Chris,

Point taken. However – and I’m going to sound like Gary Bettman here, which I know is never ideal – I don’t accept your premise.

Hockey may be most popular in Canada; it may also be the country that produces the largest amount of elite players; but the game itself doesn’t belong to any nation. That’s part of the provincial mentality that has held the sport back for so long.

Hi Adam, I have a younger brother who plays in the SPHL (Southern Pro League), and the other night they had a game in an opposing team’s rink and the slogan to attract fans was "Guaranteed fight night."

If the NHL is so concerned about fighting in the league, why do they allow hockey to be marketed like that in affiliate leagues? Don’t get me wrong, I love fighting as much as the next guy, but I think hockey is a much better game and shouldn’t be marketed in that manner. Does the NHL have anything to do with marketing in the leagues under the American League?
Casey Heintz, Strasbourg, Sask.


Hi Casey,

As I’ve noted numerous times before, the NHL is not concerned about fighting. To the contrary – not only do they accept it, they encourage and reward it.

The lower minor leagues sell a different product in different markets than the NHL or AHL, so it doesn’t surprise me to see them do what they do. But I think you’ve touched on one of the key issues that need to be stressed – namely, that hockey shouldn’t need to promote fighting when so many other elements of the game are thrilling in the extreme.

The only conclusion you can come to is virulently pro-fighting types out there just don’t believe enough in the game itself to have the stones to play it as the rulebook dictates.

It’s ironic, because we on the anti-fighting side get accused of hating hockey all the time; to me, the “banning fighting will lose fans” argument is a clear case of projecting your own insecurities in regard to the game’s attractiveness onto those with whom you’re arguing.

Hey Adam, I am a dedicated reader of The Hockey News and an even more dedicated fan of the NHL. I am probably amongst a rare few in the U.S. Armed Forces that follow the NHL more than the NFL, MLB, or any other sport.

With that in mind, I am a diehard Red Wings fan (please don't hold that against me). The Wings have been doing pretty darn well by anyone's measuring stick, however, their once highly regarded defense is now being lampooned by critical hockey writers.

Although I won't defend the lackluster results throughout the first half of the season, it seems as though the goaltenders are the fall guys, as usual. Chris Osgood is only getting older and Ty Conklin is a gap-filler at best.

Who do you see the Wings going for at the trade deadline in net, if anybody at all? Or do you see the Wings holding on with what they got? I got faith in Ozzy and Ty. Here's hoping for a repeat.
All the best,
David Lee, New Mexico (but currently stationed at Osan AB, South Korea)


Hey David,

Thanks for your dedication to THN and your service to your country.

You’re right – goalies usually receive an inordinate amount of blame when things aren’t going swimmingly (and conversely, too much credit when things are looking great). But unless Osgood or Conklin are injured, I don’t see the Red Wings dipping into the trade market for a goalie.

The market for netminders isn’t exactly hot right now (see the cases of castoffs Martin Gerber and Jason LaBarbera); and with Detroit’s tight salary cap situation, they’re certainly not going to deal for somebody with additional years on his contract. The Wings have been rewarded for their faith in Osgood before and I’d bet that faith still exists.

Adam, On the NHL.com website, game summaries include a Time On Ice Shift Chart. It records start of and end of shift for each player down to the second. How is this accomplished? Many, many workers with stopwatches, computer chips on the player, or…?
Russell Nea, Wentzville, Mo.


Russell,

Or…a computer program that tracks each player’s minutes the moment they jump over the boards. In fact, each NHL game has two statistics officials assigned to it, and both have laptop computers they utilize to monitor every line and defensive pairing’s ice time.

Ask Adam appears Fridays only on TheHockeyNews.com. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.

Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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