Rumor Roundup: Maple Leafs, Kings, and Hurricanes buzz

Phil Kessel (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Toronto rumor mill continues to churn with speculation over possible moves by the struggling Maple Leafs leading up to the March trade deadline. TSN’s Darren Dreger believes the next few weeks will determine if the Leafs become deadline buyers or sellers.

Over the weekend, the Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran cited a source claiming the Leafs were quietly shopping defenseman Dion Phaneuf, winger Phil Kessel and others exclusively to Western Conference teams. McGran claimed nothing was imminent, suggesting interested clubs could wait until the deadline to pursue Phaneuf and Kessel because of their hefty contracts. Read more

Even with defensive Devils, Martin Brodeur worthy of spot alongside all-time greats

Ken Campbell
Martin Brodeur Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Martin Brodeur’s 125th and final NHL shutout, with the exception of the fact it was recorded with the St. Louis Blues, was a fairly routine affair. He faced just 16 shots and made a couple of big stops in the first period, but in general terms had a fairly easy night.

Brodeur’s critics will try to diminish his laundry list of accomplishments by saying that Brodeur had far too many nights like that during his career, that he was the beneficiary of playing for teams that played defensive hockey with a religious zeal and didn’t allow chances, either in high number or high quality, that most other goaltenders had to face.

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Blue Jackets can’t catch a break, Jeremy Morin sidelined with accelerated heart rate

Jared Clinton
(Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

If you thought the Pittsburgh Penguins had it bad with injuries this season, imagine being a fan of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

With six Blue Jackets already on the shelf with injuries ranging from groin, to back, to knee, to triceps, Jeremy Morin is joining the other players already on injured reserve with what the team is simply calling an upper body injury. Morin’s injury may be a bit more serious, however. Read more

Alex Ovechkin takes goal scoring lead with blistering slapshot

Jared Clinton
Alex Ovechkin (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

At the All-Star Game’s Hardest Shot Competition, many thought the players to watch were Dustin Byfuglien and Shea Weber, but it was Alex Ovechkin who surprised, landing himself in second place with a 101 MPH blast.

He put that cannon on display Wednesday night and took the NHL’s goal scoring lead in the process. With less than three minutes left in the second frame, and the Capitals on the power play, Ovechkin received a Mike Green no-look pass right in his wheelhouse and turned on it. Blink and you’ll miss Ovechkin’s 29th goal of the season hit the back of the net. Read more

Separation between East’s have & have-not teams will make NHL trade deadline unique

Cody Franson (Abelimages/Getty Images)

If you don’t know by now the NHL’s points system is essentially a competitive funhouse mirror designed to give more teams the appearance they’ve got a shot at a playoff spot, you should. The league has, to the credit of its business acumen, recognized more teams can sell tickets to fans deeper into their regular-seasons if those fans see the teams are only four or five points out of a post-season berth; now, there’s very likely a very slim chance that team can leapfrog a bunch rivals playing each other down the stretch for one of the last playoff positions, but that’s not the point. It’s a mirage of sorts, and it works.

But the way things are shaping up in the Eastern Conference this year, not even the “loser point” looks like it’s going to create the illusion of competitiveness between the teams that make the post-season and the ones that don’t. Of course, most teams still have approximately 35 games to play, so you can’t be sure about anything just yet, but with the trade deadline set for March 2, it’s starting to look like the East’s eight non-playoff teams are going to serve as a feeder system for the much tighter West. Read more

Pens’ Marc-Andre Fleury robs Caps’ Michael Latta of highlight-reel goal

Adam Proteau
Marc-Andre Fleury (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was getting the business at the NHL All-Star Game in Columbus for surrendering seven goals on 16 shots, but that game meant nothing. And in his first regular-season game since All-Star weekend, Fleury was showing the form that got him named an all-star in the first place, robbing Washington’s Michael Latta of what would’ve been a highlight reel goal.

Latta split the Penguins’ defense and looked like he was about to deke Fleury out of his equipment, but the veteran netminder jutted out his left leg just enough to stop the puck from crossing the goal line: Read more

Remembering hockey friends we’ve lost via the scourge of mental illness

Adam Proteau
Rick Rypien (Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

Once again, Bell Canada’s admirable “Let’s Talk” campaign, which focuses on raising mental health awareness, has dominated social media via the #BellLetsTalk hashtag and in part due to the communications giant’s pledge to donate five cents for every tweet or retweet it got on Twitter. But it wouldn’t be doing much good if we didn’t continue the conversation beyond one designated day each year. And we’d be remiss in the hockey world if we didn’t stop and remember the people mental illness has taken from this community.

Mental illness took away Rick Rypien, the Canucks enforcer who was engulfed by clinical depression and committed suicide in August of 2011. Mental illness claimed the life of Daron Richardson, daughter of former NHLer Luke Richardson, who ended her life when she was only 14 years old. Mental illness robbed us of a full life for Terry Trafford, the OHL player who killed himself days after his 20th birthday in March of last year. It took Wade Belak, another physically tough customer who endeared himself to NHL fans on and off the ice, at age 35 in August of 2011. Most recently, it took Clint Reif, the beloved Blackhawks assistant equipment manager, just days before Christmas at age 34.

And that’s to say nothing of hockey people who’ve attempted to hurt themselves or been affected by mental illness. Read more