A quick mix of the things we gleaned from the week of hockey, serious and less so, and rolling four lines deep.
“I didn’t have to say too much to Max. He knows,” Tie Domi told me at the Centennial Classic. He was shaking his head. “You learn from experiences and try to take a positive out of it. It’s early in his career. It’s OK to play with an edge, but fighting isn’t part of the game.”
Fighting isn’t part of the game. —Tie Domi
A brawler destined to go down in folklore, the elder Domi retired with 274 career fights and the third-most penalty minutes in NHL history (3,515).
I offered the counterargument to his son’s scrap, that Max’s willingness to drop gloves would earn him respect from his teammates, that it shows his passion.
“Yeah, but at the same time, it’s a 1-1 game and a fourth-line guy he’s fighting. Max just scored a goal to tie the game, and the next shift he’s fighting a fourth-line guy. He’s out for six weeks,” Tie said.
“I knew when he didn’t come back he was really hurt, because he plays hurt a lot. I knew it was something he couldn’t play with.”
Max needed surgery on his punching hand. The Coyotes are operating the second-worst offence league-wide and are the only club still looking for a 10-goal scorer.
“I don’t like it. I did enough fighting. I did it the most,” said Tie, summoning a chuckle. “So I did enough for our family and many more. He’ll just take the positive learning experience out of it. He’s just got to realize that he can’t put himself in that situation.”
2. Sticking with the Coyotes for a minute, they’re one of just two teams that have posted a bunch of their players on Kijiji.
On another expiring contract, Vrbata is cheap ($1 million cap hit). He leads all Coyotes with nine goals and 15 assists. This week he fired his 44th career shootout goal, making him the most prolific shootout sniper of all-time.
With playoff races destined to run down to the wire, every point counts. Vrbata is three for five in the skills contest this season, among the NHL leaders. He’s useful — and motivated. The guy cashes a $500,000 performance bonus at 20 goals and again at 40 points.
3. The NHL and new clothier Adidas are reportedly doing away with alternate sweaters for the 2017-18 campaign. This is the type of news that upsets me greatly.
MORE QUICK SHIFTS: 12 Unofficial NHL Awards for 2016
4. OK, here’s the situation: Alex Ovechkin has already scored twice on Rivalry Night. He’s bolting down the left wing on a Capitals 3-on-2, looking for a hat trick. Nicklas Backstrom cuts to the net to open a lane for the puck-carrying T.J. Oshie. Oshie looks at Ovechkin’s tape, causing defender Kris Letang to stop following Backstrom and cheat on an interception, then makes the most beautiful no-look pass to a now-open Backstrom for the goal.
Take a bow, T.J. This is some Copperfield-level slight of hand:
Here’s a zoomed in, slow mo look. The head fake that precedes the pass is just absolutely filthy. pic.twitter.com/7f3sK3Zsle
— Shane O’Donnell (@shane1342o) January 12, 2017
5. All-Star Game captain Patrick Kane hopped on Hockey Central at Noon this week. He was saying how he and former teammate Patrick Sharp used to mock any player who would say they had no idea what their stats were.
“I could probably tell you my shots on goal and Corsi, too,” the defending scoring champ said.
Love the honesty.
6. Toronto Maple Leafs legend Dave Keon gave his assessment of the team at the bye week.
“The young players have to improve and keep improving,” said Keon, one who doesn’t count chickens prior to hatching.
“Develop an attitude of competing and not sitting back after having a little success, because I think that’s counterproductive. You have to keep pushing. Some of the young players are playing very well. They’re learning as they go, and hopefully they’ll keep it up.”
“We now understand how good we can be when we’re playing our best,” Marner said. “More of a 200-foot team now, not just a run-and-gun team. That’s important. We don’t want to be a rush team. We want to be a cycling team. Get down low and wear you down.”
Asked Stammer whisperer Gary Roberts how his protege is doing.
“He’s healing,” Roberts said. “Poor guy’s been through it. Poor kid just can’t seem to… I worry about him. I keep telling him, ‘It’s going to make you tougher,’ but it’s tough, right?”
9. In addition to bringing back the $1 million winners’ prize, the NHL will add a fun twist to its All-Star Skills Competition, which becomes a four-way contest between divisions. The winning (most skilled?) division gets to pick its semifinal opponent and when their semifinal is played.
Logic may suggest that you want the first 3-on-3 game in order to rest up for the final, but last year’s champs, the John Scott–led Pacificos, won playing back-to-back. More important: Playing second means you get to sleep in after an all-star Saturday night known to stretch past the pumpkin hour.
As a fan suggested on Twitter, how great would it be to see the No. 1 playoff seed choose its Round 1 opponent? Gimmicky, for sure, but a quick way to build a rivalry.
10. So some dude named Jason in Minnesota cleaned off his frozen windshield with a pair of skates instead of a scraper, and it went viral enough that it made the mainstream news. Like, with quotes from multiple sources and everything. This is hilarious on so many levels.
“I was proud of him and I was charmed by his inventiveness,” said his wife, Lucie.
Note to self: Must reevaluate wife-charming strategy.
11. Whenever I get frustrated by the murky greyness that clouds almost every goalie interference call, I think about the ridiculousness of reviewing an offside for eight minutes and it doesn’t seem so bad.
Check out this comparison. (Full disclosure: Thomas Willis works for the Predators.)
— Thomas Willis (@TomAWillis) January 6, 2017
— Thomas Willis (@TomAWillis) January 11, 2017
12. When John Hamm takes a break from munching on Jon Hamm’s john ham to unveil the remaining 67 players on the NHL’s greatest 100 players list on Jan. 27, a reported six active NHLers will be on the list. Here’s my stab at the six.
Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Jaromir Jagr will be locks. Joe Thornton — 13th all-time in assists and climbing — should be a no-brainer. That Jonathan Toews got invited to the All-Star Game, even though he admitted himself that he didn’t deserve it, suggests he’ll be honoured.
That leaves one spot, which I think should go to Jarome Iginla, who ranks 16th all-time in goals (611) and is likely to surpass Joe Sakic and move into the top 15 by the time he’s done.
But what of Roberto Luongo, fifth all-time in wins but getting passed over for Vincent Trochek as the Panthers’ all-star invite? Or the Sedins? If not them, do any Canucks make it? Bure? Do you name Toews but not Patrick Kane, who may be the most prolific American player not named Brett Hull by the time he’s done?
Duncan Keith has two Norris trophies, three Cups, one Conn Smythe, two Olympic golds, and he’s a Blackhawk. If they elect an active D-man, he’s the bet.
My head hurts.