Ken Campbell, The Hockey News' senior writer, is in his second tour with the brand after an eight-year stint as a beat reporter for the Maple Leafs for the Toronto Star. The Sudbury native once tried out for the Ontario League's Wolves as a 30-year-old. Needless to say, it didn't work out.
We’re likely going to hear a lot over the next little while about Dennis Wideman’s “intent” when he drilled linesman Don Henderson from behind, an action which earned him a 20-game suspension from the NHL for abuse of official.
There is the camp that believes there was no ill intent on Wideman’s part, that it was an unfortunate accident and that Wideman was perhaps a little dazed from the hit along the boards that he took from Nashville Predators winger Miikka Salomaki, a hit that occurred about 8.65 seconds before Wideman took Henderson out with a crosscheck from behind.
One of the more interesting discipline hearings of this season will take place this afternoon when Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman defends himself at the NHL offices in Toronto. Suffice to say there are a number of moving parts at work here.
The NHL is faced with a vexing situation. On one hand, if it does not suspend Wideman at least 10 games for abuse of an official, there is little doubt the on-ice officials who work the 1,230 games each season will not be happy. Linesman Don Henderson reportedly spent a night in hospital after being crosschecked from behind by Wideman in the Flames 2-1 loss to the Nashville Predators last Wednesday and the officials, quite understandably, are concerned about their workplace safety.
During one of the countless news conferences NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has held over the years, a reporter once suggested to Bettman that if a CEO of a major corporation had the same track record he did, that person would be shown the door. The NHL’s board of governors obviously doesn’t agree.
There is absolutely no doubt on this. Bettman signing a seven-year contract extension that will take him through the 2021-22 season and just past his 70th birthday is based entirely on merit. Regardless of what you think of Bettman, he has made his bosses very, very happy. And for the most part, very very rich, either in the present or when they sell and cash out. He has played a huge part in the NHL transforming itself from a ticket-driven business with about $400 million in yearly revenues to a $4 billion industry.
Well, we now know that the NHL was pretty concerned about John Scott playing in the All-Star Game. In a piece for The Players’ Tribune, Scott alleges that someone from the NHL called him and told him point-blank, “This game is not for you, John.” That person then alleged asked Scott, “Do you think this is something your kids would be proud of?”
Nice work. As if the league hadn’t made this enough of a debacle, Scott threw some pretty good gas on the fire there. He basically went on to say that was where he decided he was going to play in the game come hell or high water (insert joke about him being dispatched to Newfoundland to play in the minors here). “Because while I may not deserve to be an NHL all-star,” Scott went on to say, “I know I deserve to be the judge of what my kids will – and won’t – be proud of me for.”
Nobody but the Florida Panthers and actor Kevin Spacey knows exactly what “Spacey in Space” means, but the last time the Panthers had a gimmick like this, they rode it all the way to the Stanley Cup final.
In 1995-96 it was the year of the rat. And if the Panthers keep playing the way they have of late, who knows? They might just be able to ride “Spacey in Space” to boldly go where no Panther has gone before, a Stanley Cup parade. There’s still a long way to go and a lot to prove, but the Panthers are undoubtedly for real. And they also go into the all-star break as the top team in thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses.)
You have to wonder how the NHL Officials’ Association feels about the incident in Calgary Wednesday night involving Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman and linesman Don Henderson. It was a bizarre turn of events, to say the least.
In the second period of the Flames 2-1 loss to the Nashville Predators, Wideman took a pretty substantial hit in the defensive zone, then picked himself up and, as he made his way to the Flames bench, crosschecked Henderson from behind and sent the linesman tumbling to the ice.
Take a look at the incident here:
So what does Alex Ovechkin not playing in the All-Star Game have to do with John Scott playing in it? Well, probably a little more than you’d think.
Ovechkin is the most dynamic scorer on the planet, one of the NHL’s marquee talents and one of the players that would give this all-star weekend a fighting chance of being more compelling than the no-hit scorefests we’ve seen over the past decade. John Scott is entirely the opposite, a player who can barely play in the minors and has fewer goals in his eight-year career than Ovechkin has had in his past seven games.
One thing we can all agree upon is that without reigning Hart and Vezina Trophy winner Carey Price in the net, the Montreal Canadiens have been dismal. What isn’t so clear is how much the absence of Price has to do with that. Basically, are the Canadiens the same team as last year when Price’s otherworldly play masked a host of weaknesses or would the Canadiens be in pretty much the same situation even in Price were playing?
It’s hard to say how many losses Price would have stolen if he had been healthy, but we’ll have to assume that it would be at least a handful. But really, would the Canadiens be in a much better position right now?