A quick mix of the things we gleaned from the week of hockey, serious and satirical, and rolling four lines deep.
1. “He didn’t really have much of a choice.”
That’s what Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ray “29 Penalty Minutes” Emery said of peaceful Washington Capitals goalie Branden Holtby, whom he rushed and pummeled Friday night in the most lopsided fight since Man vs. Food.
Even though he “didn’t like” Emery’s attack in a 7-0 rout, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman echoed Emery’s sentiment — hey, we didn’t have choice — when the league decided not to summon Emery for a player safety hearing because there’s nothing in the current rule book the NHL can use as precedent.
What a joke. What good is having a department of player safety when an unwilling player — a goalie — is forced to defend himself against another player that skated the length of the ice to launch bombs at his head because… why? He stopped more pucks than you? Philly is trying to oust Buffalo as the laughingstock of the NHL?
Misters Bettman and Shanahan: If there is no precedent, feel free to try and set one.
So what if Emery appeals and overturns a suspension? At least the NHL would have taken a stand against this kind of nonsense — and the NHLPA would be the ones looking like hypocrites if they went to bat for Emery and not Holtby. The silence is sickening.
2. Could Hockey Night in Canada have asked for a juicier Saturday night? Setting the stage for the match-up between the Leafs and the Canucks, you have the long-awaited jersey retirement of Pavel Bure; you have the Sedins re-upping for four more years the day prior; you have a fired-up Mason Raymond facing the team that no longer wanted him; and you have Roberto Luongo confirming he was “shocked” not to be wearing a Leafs sweater at this point. Going into the contest, the Leafs and Canucks had similar records but had yet to face each other since 2011-12.
Too bad only one team showed up. Talk about letting the air out of the balloon.
3. Canucks forward Ryan Kesler lauded the physical shape of Hockey Hall of Famer Pavel Bure, who returned to Vancouver on Saturday to have his jersey pulled to the rafters. Bure, 42, looks about six years younger than his age, dresses sixty times better than Gino Odjick, and he’s younger than the still-active Teemu Selanne. “He could probably still play now if he wanted to,” Kesler told HC @ Noon. Would love to see him skate circles around the other alumni at the Heritage Classic.
4. The Halifax Mooseheads piled up a franchise-record 15 goals Friday in Rouyn-Noranda, clobbering the Huskies 15-5. Nik Ehlers, Brent Andrews, Andrew Ryan all had five-point games; Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Jonathan Drouin chipped in with a pair of goals in the slaughter. As ridiculous as 15 goals is, however, the Q’s record for most goals in a game is 26. In 1978, Sherbrooke embarrassed Shawinigan 22-4.
Watch all 15 Mooseheads goals:
5. Bought-out and forgotten, goaltender Rick DiPietro, who’s only 32, began his comeback in earnest last week with the American Hockey League’s Charlotte Checkers, the affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes. The former No. 1 draft pick gave up nine goals and took a pair of losses in his first two games for the Checkers.
Rough start. If he finds his game fast, DiPietro (4.53 GAA, .875 save percentage) has a very real opportunity here. Free agent castaway Manny Malhotra earned his way back into the big league last week via a tryout with the Checkers, and the Hurricanes’ goaltending situation is in shambles again. Cam Ward is on injured reserve for the next few weeks with a lower-body ailment, and Justin Peters ranks 61st in GAA and 53rd in save percentage, posting 3.49 and .890.
6. “Screw you, Peyton Manning. You ruin everything,” said the Denver fan who only likes hockey. Although the NHL-leading Colorado Avalanche are off the greatest start in franchise history and Matt Duchene is leading a thrilling crop of young forwards, few in Colorado are actually supporting the team by buying tickets. Overshadowed by the Broncos, Don Cherry’s favourite team to watch is drawing just 13,000 or so at the gate. You have to believe the Avs’ attendance will see an abrupt increase once the Super Bowl is over. They deserve it.
7. An NHL game was broadcast live in China for the first time ever: Leafs-Oilers last Tuesday. Puck dropped at 9 a.m. local. By 9:20, the Chinese furiously began trying to figure out how the Leafs could get outshot so drastically and still win so many games:
8. Look at the Phoenix Coyotes’ roster. Now look at their record (10-3-2). Dave Tippett, our early front-runner for Coach of the Year (don’t hit us, Mr. Roy), surpassed Bob Francis for the most wins all-time by a head coach in franchise history with 166. Phoenix has earned a standings point in 11 of its last 12, and Tippett’s .608 points percentage tops that of all other Coyotes coaches. If he maintains his play and doesn’t get injured, goaltender Mike Smith will be off to Sochi in February.
9. We already showed you a pillowcase full of NHL-meets-Halloween costumes, but this is priceless. Kid dressed as Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville trick-or-treats at Coach Q’s house:
What are the chances? I never happened to knock on the door of Michael Jackson or the Great Gazoo.
10. Due to political reasons (he’s a Maple Leaf now), Dave Bolland declined his invitation to attend the White House and be honoured alongside his 2012-13 teammates of the Chicago Blackhawks. (This was before his injury.) A man’s gotta do what’s in his heart, but what an opportunity to turn down. The Leafs have five consecutive days off between games, so the only thing the White House visit would have conflicted with is a Carlyle bag skate. It’s quite the show of loyalty to his new club, but look at this from the Blackhawks’ side: You’re celebrating the Cup win on the biggest national stage without the guy who scored the Cup-winning goal. These are rare life moments. Seize them.
11. Seeing George Parros sans moustache is like seeing Mr. Peanut without his monocle or Samuel L. Jackson without his Kangol. There’s a naked vulnerability there that causes you to do a double-take and leaves you feeling uncomfortable. But it’s all for charity, and Parros — whose physical makeup is 10% water, 90% testosterone — will push another one out in a couple days.
12. File under Completely Random Marketing Stunts: The ECHL’s Toledo Walleye hosted a very specific kind of throwback game. For “A New Hope” Star Wars Night on Saturday, the hometown Walleye sported special X-wing pilot sweaters while the visiting Kalamazoo Wings donned Darth Vader-themed jerseys. Fan were encouraged to dress as wookies and bounty hunters.
Makes sense that the home team was the light side of the force here, but that’s got to be confusing when the Wings are ones not dressed as X-wings.
Even the dark side of the force has an element of light. The Vader jerseys were auctioned off to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project; proceeds from the X-wing getups went to the National MS Society.