Some quick hits before the Stars-Islanders affair tonight...
I've been catching classic Whalers games on NHL Network. While reveling in their green awesomeness, I was reminded that the late-'80s Whale has to be the best collection of Schnurbarts on one team in NHL history. Think about it: Ferraro. Tippett. Babych. Quenneville. Even Verbeek sported a little upper lip fun. Those were some quality mustaches, man -- and on many of their best players. (Ron Francis: an anti-schnurbarte.)
When I see teams running up against the cap, like the Nidermayer-Selanne-Schneider-Bertuzzi-Klee rodeo in Anaheim, I don't see great teams "broken up by the cap." I see GMs who refused, or neglected, to plan accordingly and manage their cap. Injuries happen, players decline: It stands to reason a smart GM would build some hedge room into his moves. I mean, from $39M to $56M+ since the lockout, and they're still hitting the ceiling?
Do you love clean hits but hate when some goon reacts to them as if they're cheap shots? There's a great Japers' Rink riff on this topic (h/t SBN's Pension Plan Puppets), with a link to lovably grumpy Ken Campbell covering it, too. I've gone on about this before, but it's a new site, so what the heck: The beauty of this great game is skill, speed, skating, checking. Despite its hiccups, the "new rules" [aka The Rulebook] allow all of these to happen at once. So a guy delivering a good check today has to be able to skate to get to the body -- the best of both worlds -- rather than wait for his teammate to hook and serve somebody up. Why some goons don't realize that's called checking is beyond me.
Speaking of confusion over the rules, I don't like to discuss Sean Avery. But he's in town, so alright fine. In brief: Nice skills, shame about the circus act. He reminds me of the guy who, when everyone is trading harmless bawdy jokes, he crosses the line and brings up someone's mom/sister, or throws proposed violence into it, just for shock value. Crosses the line, quiets the room. There is the argument that any league publicity is good publicity, but I'd rather have a less popular league in exchange for keeping my soul intact, thanks.
By 5:30, I'll put up the first live game open thread in Lighthouse Hockey's storied 2-day history. With SB Nation's very fast, smooth software, the game threads are an in-game place where anyone watching (or studying/commuting and wishing they were watching) can chime in with running commentary, chat back-and-forth, or after the fact (which more likely at this point) review a quasi-live blog from yours truly.