Sports Outside the Beltway

NHL hands Steve Ott three-game suspension for hit to Jordan Leopold

The incident happened last Sunday. From AP-

DALLAS — The NHL suspended Dallas Stars forward Steve Ott for three games without pay Wednesday for his hit to the head of Colorado Avalanche defenseman Jordan Leopold.

No penalty was assessed on the play in the first period of Sunday’s game, but the suspension came after a review of the play.

Ott appeared to leave his feet to make the hit on Leopold against the boards, and Leopold left the game with a head injury. Leopold missed the Avalanche’s Tuesday game against Atlanta.

Ott will miss Thursday’s game at Detroit, as well as games against Vancouver and Anaheim before being eligible to return March 22 against Los Angeles.

Ott forfeits his salary from those three games, amounting to $12,834. The money will go to the NHL players’ emergency assistance fund. It is Ott’s first career suspension.

The NHL some how thinks this is just. Ott puts a player out of the lineup for three games, and he gets suspended for three games. This kind of brutality will continue till the NHL throws the book at players like Ott, Chris Simon, Todd Bertuzzi and others.


Jordin Tootoo gets new deal from Nashville Predators

I guess a low scoring thug deserves to make nearly one million a year in the NHL.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Nashville Predators signed forward Jordin Tootoo, the first Inuit to play in the NHL, to a two-year contract extension.

General Manager David Poile announced the deal worth $1.95 million Thursday, after the team’s morning skate. Drafted in 2001, Tootoo has career-highs with seven goals and 13 points in 41 games this season.

“Jordin is a physical player that can not only get under opponents’ skin and draw penalties, but has proven he can score at this level as well,” Poile said. “We are excited about watching his continued development over the next two seasons.”

The 24-year-old Tootoo has 40 points and 365 penalty minutes in 210 career games with the Predators. He debuted in the league Oct. 9, 2003, against Anaheim and helped the Predators to their first playoff berth.

Poile when he says Tootoo has proven he can score at any level is just laughable. Tootoo has scored 40 pts in 210 NHL games. That is goals and assists. That isn’t a proven scorer, not for a forward.

What Tootoo’s real job is an enforcer. The NHL really employs these guys, denials not holding up when the league barely punishes players like this when they get out of control.

Exhibit A- Tootoo’s sucker punch of Stephane Robidas of the Dallas Stars last March.

That’s what Tootoo’s real job is in the NHL. Why else would Jordin get paid as much as he does for so little offense?


Post NHL All-Star game playoff assessment- Western Conference

From top to bottom, the standings

Detroit Red Wings 51-37-10-4-78
San Jose Sharks 50-28-15-7-63
Dallas Stars 54-29-20-5-63
Anaheim Ducks 53-27 20-6-60
Minnesota Wild 50-28-19-3-59
Calgary Flames 50-25-17-8-58
Vancouver Canucks 51-26-20-5-57
Colorado Avalanche 50-26-20-4-56

Phoenix Coyotes 50-27-21-2-56
Columbus Blue Jackets 52-25-21-6-56
Nashville Predators 51-25-21-5-55
St Louis Blues 49-23-19-7-53
Edmonton Oilers 53-23-25-5-51
Chicago Blackhawks 50-23-23-4-50
Los Angeles Kings 52-20-29-3-43

Note- The numbers above from left to right are- Games played, wins, losses, Overtime losses, total points

Teams in Bold are Northwest Division teams

I think its more than reason to say Detroit, San Jose, Dallas, and Anaheim are going to make the playoffs, while the LA Kings have no chance. Edmonton’s chances are slim also.

The closest division is the Northwest. Three points separate first to fourth place. I like Vancouver because of Goalie Roberto Luongo. The division is both talented and very tight and I could see anyone but Edmonton could come out on top and deservingly so. The Avalanche, Wild, Canucks nor Flames rate as mediocre or badly underacheiving teams unlike members of the Southeast Division.


NHL owners approve scheduling changes

All NHL teams will meet again once every season. From AP-

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The NHL’s board of governors approved the sale of the Nashville Predators and changed the league’s scheduling format Thursday night to allow every team to face each other at least once every season.

Paul Kelly, the new executive director of the NHL Players Association, also addressed the league’s owners during a late-afternoon session to open the board’s two-day meeting at an elite resort on the Northern California coast.

After a three-year experiment in developing rivalries in hockey’s far-flung outposts, the NHL voted to go back to the scheduling format used before the 2004-05 lockout, most notably decreasing the current eight games against every team’s divisional opponents to six.

Starting next season, teams will play just 24 total games against their four divisional foes, 40 against the rest of the conference and 18 against the other conference — one game against all 15 foes, and three home-and-home series against wild-card opponents.

First let me state, my interest in hockey was only rekindled in the last year. Otherwise I had watched little of the sport since the end of the NY Islanders Dynasty in the early to mid eighties.

The arrangement where teams didn’t all meet seemed dumb to me. Fans in the west miss out on seeing players like Sidney Crosby and fans in the east miss getting to see……. well see what problem I have. LOL, make that former Florida Panther and ace goaltender Roberto Luongo. Now I can learn about the LA Kings, San Jose Sharks etc. To be honest I’m sick of Atlanta. You would be too if you had to see the Thrashers and Panthers cross sticks eight times a year.


Former NHL MVP Eric Lindros retires

He had his share of injuries and controversy in a career dating back to the early 90′s. From AP-

LONDON, Ontario – Former NHL MVP Eric Lindros retired Thursday in his hometown, ending a career derailed by a series of concussions and other injuries. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound power forward had 372 goals, 865 points and 1,398 penalty minutes in 760 games for Philadelphia, Toronto, the New York Rangers and Dallas.

He won the Hart Trophy as league MVP in 1995 and was part of the Canadian Olympic team that won gold in 2002. He also won silver for Canada in 1992.

The 34-year-old center made it through 13 seasons despite the concussions and other injuries that eventually limited his playing time. The injuries restricted him to an average of only 58 games a season, but he was an impact player when healthy.

Lindros was a free agent and hadn’t played this season. He’s expected to join the staff of the NHL Players’ Association.


But controversy seemed to overshadow Lindros wherever he went. He was selected first overall by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1991 draft, but refused to play for them. He was traded to Philadelphia where he enjoyed the best years of his career until injuries and a feud with general manager Bob Clarke ran him out of town.

Lindros helped lead the Flyers to the 1997 Stanley Cup finals, but his once-tight relationship with Clarke — Lindros said Clarke was his childhood hero — began to unravel by the end of the 1990s. Clarke had a problem dealing with Lindros’ meddlesome parents — his father, Carl, was his agent — and it slowly deteriorated over the years.

The boiling point came when Lindros criticized the team’s medical staff for failing to diagnose his second concussion of the 1999-00 season. Clarke then stripped him of his captaincy, and the star was ostracized from the team until he returned for Games 6 and 7 of the conference finals against the Devils.

After taking a 3-1 lead in the series, the Flyers lost three straight to the Devils. Lindros, playing his first game in nearly 12 weeks, scored Philadelphia’s only goal in a 2-1 loss in Game 6. He left Game 7 in the first period after a check by Scott Stevens gave him his fourth concussion of the season and sixth overall.

Then the drama really unfolded.

Clarke questioned the severity of Lindros’ concussions, and ripped his parents for meddling in their son’s life. Yet Clarke offered the former MVP an $8.5 million contract to return for the 2000-01 season.

Lindros was a good player for many years. I wish him well in retirement.


Are you ready for some hockey?

The 2007-08 NHL season has its North American opener tonight.

DETROIT – If you don’t count two regular-season games played in London over the weekend, tonight is the NHL’s opening night.

The Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks, who split two games in England against the L.A. Kings, are in Detroit to play the Red Wings.

Elsewhere, the Montreal Canadiens travel to Carolina to play the Hurricanes, the Ottawa Senators are at the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Dallas Stars visit Denver to play the Avalanche.

The Florida Panthers begin their schedule tomorrow with a road game at the New York Rangers. Based on the acquisition of Goalie Tomas Vokoun, the team’s play late in the 2006-07 season, and the current talent on the team, I’m predicting a third place finish in the Southeast Division and a playoff spot next spring.


The Eagle has flown- Eddie Belfour no longer wanted by the Florida Panthers

In the wake of the Tomas Vokoun deal, Florida management has decided they no longer need the veteran goaltender.

General manager/coach Jacques Martin said Friday it will not be Ed Belfour, 42. Belfour played in 58 games last season and set the franchise record for consecutive starts, but he will not be invited back.

Look for Florida to re-sign Alex Auld and Craig Anderson, and have them compete for the spot in training camp. The loser will have to look for work elsewhere.

Eddie did a good job in goal last year before tiring near season’s end. Besides Auld and Anderson, do the Panthers’ have anyone in the minors worth giving a shot to? I don’t much about Florida’s farm system, but what I know of Auld and looking at Anderson’s stats, don’t make me confident in their ability to be an adequate backup. Who knows I could be wrong.

The Panthers chose Keaton Ellerby in the first round of this weekend’s NHL Draft. One scouting expert wasn’t impressed.

But draft guru Kyle Woodlief isn’t so sure.

Woodlief, who publishes the independent Red Line Report and is considered hockey’s answer to Mel Kiper Jr., said Ellerby failed to progress in his third season of junior hockey last season and had enough conflicts with Kamloops coach Dean Clark that he was benched for a time.

“I just think he lacks hockey sense,” Woodlief said. “He’s a big kid, he skates well … (but) I expected him to step up and take a dominant position this year and he didn’t do that.”

Woodlief said Clark almost never disciplines a player, but decided he had no option with Ellerby.

“He wasn’t listening to the coaches, (he was) really full of himself. Dean Clark had to sit him for a game or two. And it’s tough to get on Dean Clark’s bad side.”

Woodlief rated Ellerby the No. 21 prospect in the draft, while the NHL’s Central Scouting had him No. 5. In his comment on Ellerby, Woodlief wrote: “Has even less hockey sense than (NHL Commissioner) Gary Bettman.”

Ouch! A player with a big head before turning pro is liable to only have it increase in size. We’ll have to wait a few years to see if Florida management or Woodlief is right about Ellerby.


Canucks Top Stars in Game 7, Take Series

In a Game 7 that was closer than the score showed (Dallas pulled the goalie down 2-1 and Vanouver netted 2-empty net goals to pad the score), the Vancouver Canucks won thier series against the Dallas Stars in seven games by scores of 5-4, 0-2, 2-1, 2-1, 0-1, 0-2, & 4-1. One of the impressive stats for the series was Marty Turco becoming only the 13 goalie in NHL history to record 3 shutouts in a playoff series.


Detroit, New Jersey Win 1st Round Series; Dallas-Vancouver Game 7 Tonight

The New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings booked tickets to the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with their Game 6 wins in their respective series on Sunday. This leaves the Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks as the only teams who have not finished their 1st round series, they play Game 7 tonight in Vancouver.

The Detroit Red Wings have won thier series against the Calgary Flames in six games by scores of 4-1, 3-1, 2-3, 2-3, 5-1, & 2-1.

The New Jersey Devils have won thier series against the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games by scores of 5-3, 2-3, 2-3, 4-3, 3-0, & 3-2.


Rangers Sweep Thrashers

Well, I’m 0 for 1 on my picks so far as the Rangers swept the Thrashers out of the Playoffs winning the four games with scores of 4-3, 2-1, 7-0, & 4-2. The Rangers just stuck it to the Thrashers as the veteran leadership figured to lead the Thrashers was hardly a factor in the series. Good job by the Rangers overall they turned their season around after looking like they would miss the playoffs two months ago. They got hot to make the playoffs and have carried that through, if they can keep this play up their second round opponent will have a tough series ahead.

Update on other First Round Series:
New Jersey Devils tied with Tampa Bay Lightning 2-2
Buffalo Sabres lead New York Islanders 3-1
Ottawa Senators lead Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1
San Jose Sharks lead Nashville Predators 3-1
Detroit Red Wings lead Calgary Flames 2-1
Vancouver Canucks lead Dallas Stars 3-1
Anaheim Ducks lead Minnesota Wild 3-1


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