Hockey Hearsay shines a light on stories of interest from around the hockey world and runs weekdays, year-round.
PENGUINS’ CROSBY AT PEACE WITH CONTRACT CHOICE
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review points out that while the projected salary cap for next season sits around $71 million, the Penguins have already committed an additional $4.55 million of the $6.7 million of extra space in their cap with new contracts kicking in for Evgeni Malkin (eight years, $76 million) and Kris Letang (eight years, $58 million).
Captain Sidney Crosby’s 12-year, $104.4 million deal began this season, carrying an Average Annual Value of $8.7 million.
A player can max out at 20 percent of the cap, so Crosby could have commanded an annual salary of about $14 million.
“I definitely wanted to make sure that me, personally, I gave myself every chance to win,” Crosby said. “That doesn't mean someone else has to do that. But if I'm 45 and I look back and say, ‘I did everything I could. ... I worked as hard as I could, took less on a contract, did everything I could to give us a chance to win,' I can live with that. That's the most important thing.”
KOLZIG, BIRON TACKLE GOALIE FIGHTING ISSUE
The Washington Post notes there may be an appetite for getting rid of goaltender fights in the NHL in the wake of what happened this season between Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ray Emery and Capitals netminder Braden Holtby.
“I think sometimes there’s knee-jerk reactions to everything. It just seems we look at one incident and all of a sudden want to make a rule change,” Capitals goaltending coach Olie Kolzig said. “It rarely happens nowadays. I don’t know if they need to put a rule in like that. If . . . the league or the department of player safety feels like a suspension is warranted then that might be one way to deal with it, but I don’t think they need to put a rule in.”
Recently retired NHL goaltender Martin Birton, now an analyst for MSG Network’s New York Rangers broadcasts, offered this: “It’s not a matter of goaltenders fighting. I call that an assault,” Biron said of what happened between Emery and Holtby. “It doesn’t matter if you’re 200 feet away and you skate all the way down to do it or if you do what Shawn Thornton did the other night. It’s still considered an assault even though you’re five feet away. To make it so goalies can’t skate down the length of the ice wouldn’t do anything to fix that.”
EX-SABRE DEFENDS ROLE IN LAWSUIT AGAINST NHL
Morris Titanic spoke with The Buffalo News about being part of the lawsuit where some retired NHL players are suing the league over head injuries.
Some observers have called this action a money grab.
“From my observation, the guys that are saying negative things about it are the guys that are invested in the game,” Titanic said. “They’re either in broadcasting or working for a team or they’re trying to work for a team. They have some kind of investment in the National Hockey League, which I can understand. That’s fine. You have to make a living somehow, but you’d almost prefer they don’t say anything because a lot of them were all players once themselves.
“That aside, only playing 19 games for Buffalo didn’t much matter. You’re playing somewhere. Whether things happened while you were in Buffalo, in the American League, junior, who knows? There’s really nothing I guess from what I’ve read about this CTE and things of that nature, there’s really not a specific injury that you can put a finger on that, ‘Yeah, well, it happened on that date and that’s why he’s all messed up.’ ”
"What I say doesn't matter," Jets right-winger Blake Wheeler said, via The Winnipeg Free Press, following Saturday’s 6-4 loss to the Dallas Stars.
"It's what you do out on the ice. You can blow smoke as much as you want in the media. We've been blowing smoke for three years, everyone, myself, everyone that's stood in front of a microphone in the last three years, we've said the same sh**. What do you want me to say. That's about it. I don't know what else to say."
BRIERE: FLYERS’ COUTURIER WILL BE DOMINANT
The Courier-Post outlines how Flyers center Sean Couturier has been getting stronger annually and is continuing to emerge in a checking line role in Philadelphia.
Former teammate Danny Briere, who was also Couturier’s landlord while the veteran still played with the Flyers, predicts big things for his young counterpart.
“It’s just a matter of time before he becomes a dominant force in the NHL,” Briere said. “He’s got everything to be one of the top players. It’s only a matter of time.”
JAGR PREACHES OFF-DAY PROFESSIONALISM FOR DEVILS
Via Fire & Ice: New Jersey Devils forward Jaromir Jagr, reflecting on Friday’s loss to Columbus – which came after a day off for the team Thursday.
“(When the team) practices, it’s up to the coaches. They understand we need a break, too,” Jagr said. “But I think everybody should know their own body and know what they really need. It doesn’t mean if the coach gives you a day off you’re just going to lay in the bed and do nothing. It’s not going to help you. You know what your body needs. You’re a professional. You should know and just get ready for the game.”
VIDEO WORK HELPS BLUES’ STEWART
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch illustrates how physical Blues winger Chris Stewart has been playing better of late, thanks in large part to extra video work with assistant coach Ray Bennett
“With Stewy, it’s no different than anybody else,” Bennett said. “Players go through phases where strengths of their game don’t appear as often as you’d like. So Stewy is a great big man who should have tremendous puck-protection skill. Sometimes he doesn’t feel he’s good with the puck, which is inexplicable ... but that’s what happens.
“We show him situations where he’s been really good with it, controls it, possesses it. It’s the same thing with his checking. When he checks and his stick isn’t on the ice, then (opponents) pass through. It doesn’t matter how strong you are, how big you are, how much contact you get. If the puck continually goes by you as you check somebody, that’s a problem.”
MCDONAGH EMERGES ON RANGERS’ BLUELINE
ESPN.com writes about the evolution of New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh, including a look back at the early days.
Chris McAlpine, then a first time agent who coached McDonagh for a Minnesota area fall league of elite players: "He just seemed that much more mature than any other kid I'd met at that age. He does just have that presence, on the ice in the way he competes and plays, and off. He's a good teammate and he just exudes that, 'I'm a leader.'"
Former University of Wisconsin assistant coach Mark Osiecki, now assistant coach of the AHL's Rockford IceHogs: "He's so even. Hockey is a game of mistakes, but his ability to handle the ups and downs -- not losing the intensity -- but his pulse is even almost all the way through."
STROME MATURING IN ISLANDERS’ SYSTEM
Newsday indicates Ryan Strome’s back-to-back AHL player of the week awards before his recall to the Islanders from Bridgeport weren't the product of his pure offensive skill; they were more about the development of his game.
"There are guys who can have a so-so night and come up with three points at this level,'' Sound Tigers coach Scott Pellerin said. "That wasn't what Ryan was doing. He was playing complete games. That's why he got the call.
"He's a unique player in that I'll sit down to show him some video and after a second, he'll go, 'I know exactly what I did there.' He's got the ability to recall parts of his game and understand why he did or did not do what he needed to do.''
THEY TWEETED IT
Ninja bread cookies - because ginger's don't deserve to have a cookie named after them... pic.twitter.com/MNDw6uAW9W
— Matt Kassian (@kassassination) December 15, 2013
— nino niederreiter (@thelnino25) December 15, 2013