* Now’s the time for the Penguins to trade Sidney Crosby. The No-Longer-Kid is on the downside of his peak and won’t achieve his heroics of yesteryear. Still time for the Pens to cash in on a return. Who’d be realistic trade partners? How about the Canadiens, Maple Leafs or Kings?
* Anyone who says the Penguins never would deal their captain has forgotten that icons Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier once said au revoir to Edmonton. Only Edmontonians were unhappy.
* When the Rangers waived Tanner Glass, the move told the rest of the NHL that the Blueshirts could win without a certified tough guy. The trend continues. That, however, could change if Alain Vigneault decides to give Dylan McIlrath a regular turn on defense. Right now, Dan Boyle is in Dylan’s way.
* If The Hockey News ever publishes another wonderful “Jersey Issue,” I would include the star-spangled uniform worn by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutters (1942-44) in the thrilling, old Eastern Amateur Hockey League.
* Frankly, I’m tired of hearing that Claude Julien “is on a short leash.” The thoughtful French-Canadian is one of the best bench bosses around, and Cam Neely should have figured that out by now.
* John Tortorella’s best quote of his first week behind the Columbus bench: “I’m trying to change no matter what the perception is — that I’m just some sort of idiot who won’t change.” Glad to see Torts took the blame — “I overworked my guys in practice” — for his BJs dreadful two periods in New Jersey last Tuesday. But they woke up in the third and won on a wise and pivotal time-out.
* Zdeno Chara doesn’t like to talk about it because invariably he does his good deeds quietly, but the Bruins captain helped Al Arbour’s condition in the final months of the iconic coach’s life. I got this straight from Big Z even though he won’t brag about it.
* Speaking of sweet stories, the miracle of Gordie Howe still being with us is all about his doctor son, Murray, who chose medicine over hockey. But Hall of Fame brother, Mark, tells me that Murray played youth hockey with Wayne Gretzky.
* The longer the Steven Stamkos’ sign-a-contract-already saga drags on, the more I’m convinced that he wants to wind up the Maple Leafs.
* My Weekly Best Line From Yesteryear: When Hall of Fame goalie Lorne (Gump) Worsley was asked why he didn’t wear a face mask, a la Jacques Plante and other masked goalies, Worsley shot back, “My mask is my face.”
* Many name players left Lou Lamoriello’s Devils for bigger dough. They got the money, all right, but their careers tailspinned after leaving New Jersey. Namely, Bobby Holik, Scott Gomez and, of course, David Clarkson. That said, I’m happy that Gomer is still hanging around the NHL.
* My All-Time Favorite Referees And Why: 1. King Clancy, because he loved a good fight. 2. Bill Chadwick, because, remarkably, he became a Hall of Famer with only one good eye. 3. John Ashley, because his demeanor on the ice was as distinguished as that of a Supreme Court judge.
* As walk-ons go, Lee Stempniak is making a very good impression with the Devils so far. Kudos to GM Ray Shero for nabbing him.
* Alexander Barkov’s broken hand is one more example of why forwards like the Panthers ace center should not be blocking shots.
* When it comes to penalty shots, I put my money on the goalie 99 percent of the time; except when the Sharks Brent Burns takes it.
* Now that I’m accepting e-mails, here’s one from Joel Cohen in Raleigh: “Keep an eye on Cam Ward, especially after Eddie Lack’s lackluster performances. In the end this puts more value on Ward either for a solid contract or as late-season trade bait.”
* Travis Green has grown into being one of the best young coaches on the continent. He proved it with the Portland Winterhawks and is underlining the point these days behind the AHL’s Utica Comets bench. The NHL will be his next stop.
* Martin Brodeur is only a front office aide in St. Louis but he’s acting like a GM, helping to import Devils buddies. First it was Scott Gomez, and most recently Dainius Zubrus and Martin Havlat have a chance to plug holes in the Blues offense. Nepotism? Nah. If they’re no good, they won’t hang around.
* Here are my ideas of a good toughie and a bad one. Chris Neil — good toughie. Zac Rinaldo — the other kind. Then again, plenty of coaches love having Rinaldo types around because they give foes the heebie-jeebies every time they’re on the ice.
* One of these days, a goalie will get the bright idea that he should never venture out of the crease and, that way, he won’t make some stupid play behind the net.
* Quick Quiz: Who should be both the happiest and saddest player in the AHL? Quick Answer: Andrew MacDonald of the Phantoms. The jolly back liner is the highest-paid player in The A. The sad part is that he belongs in The Show.