While the All-Star break should have been a time for Wild fans to curl up and take a nap, there was quite a bit of news that fans need to know. Here is a summary of events:
Kurtis Foster is being hosed by a strict rule and lack of foresight by the NHL.
According to Section 13.8 of the collective bargaining agreement, teams are not permitted to send players to the minors on "conditioning loans" for longer than "14 consecutive days."
Upon Foster's request, the Wild begged the league to make an exception. The team offered up Foster's medical records. The team offered to fly Foster to New York to be examined by NHL doctors.
Yet, the league refused to make an exception. If Foster is in Houston one second longer than two weeks, he will have to clear waivers.
This is just one of oh so many reasons why I hate the NHL corporate structure. Hard, rigid rules with no room for actual cogniscent thought. Foster is was obviously injured bad enough to need more than a usual rehab stint. I understand the rule as much as the next guy, if you allow an exception for the wrong reason, it sends a bad message. I get it. This is not a bad message to send. A guy breaks his femur (the strongest bone in the human body) in three places, and you subject him to the same 14 day rehab stint that aguy with a bad hang nail gets?
Sometimes, someone needs to step up and turn the brain back on. Let the company line slip just a bit. Everything will be ok. The world will continue to rotate, the sky will still be blue.
And where is the NHLPA on this? Make some fuss. The PA is far too quiet on far too many issues of player safety.
Backstrom does well at the Faux-Game
Backstrom did well in events designed to showcase offense over the weekend. He did well in the skills competition, stopping the first three skaters cold in the Shootout Elimination Challenge. He was robbed by the ref on the furth skater, as the puck never crossed the goal line, but hey, it's fake, right?
In the actual fake game, Backstrom played the second period, and let in his share of goals, but also made his share of stunning saves.
He made it clear he belonged there, and played extremely well despite not having a defensive system in front of him to make him look better than he really is. (That last part was sarcasm...) The price tag is rising everyday, and Risebrough needs to see that.
Has Chris Snow Thrown in the Towel?
In the most recent blog post by Hockey Operations, Director of Hockey Ops Chris Snow makes the case that Boston, Detroit, and San Jose have won so many of the points available thus far that the rest of the league has little chance to change their own fortunes in the stretch run.
Here at the All-Star Break, San Jose, Boston and Detroit are gathering more than 73.8 percent of the points available to them, a feat accomplished by just 10 other teams since 1967-68, when the Original 6 league doubled in size.
It is a rather interesting read, right up until the end, when Snow seems to use the information to surrender the season to these three clubs and start the planning for next year.
The dominance of The Big 3 presents implications for the league standings...
The associated implications are less predictable: How will general managers behave come the March 4 trade deadline? Will The Big 3 go all-in, looking to add the one piece they each may need? Will other teams spend assets (prospects, picks) to get better? Or, will they elect to wait for next year when time/circumstances/cap issues cut the Big 3 to a Big 2 or Big 1?
To me, this reads as a surrender proclimation. "Since the three top teams are so good, we aren't going to really do much of anything leading up to the trade deadline that would potentially help us, so expect much for the next two months. But hey, the Sharks are really good, maybe you should watch them."
Maybe I am taking this post a little to far, or putting my words in his mouth. Maybe it really was intended to just say that it will be a tough row to hoe the rest of the season, and that there may not be big moves made this year since the three best teams in the league have all but claimed the title.
To sum up the break: Backs played as well as can be expected, Fozzy is going to be rushed back to the NHL because the NHL and the PA care less about the health and safety of the players than they do about their rules and the image of the league, and the leader of the Hockey Ops department has already called it a season.
Add that to the fact that the NHL suspended Lidstrom and Datsyuk for skipping the All-Star game due to injury, Colin Campbell issued a stern warning to Sheldon Souray for breaking Craig Weller's head with a plastic cast rather than suspending him, and the NHL is praising the outcome of a game that finsihed 12-11.
Anyone else just a bit frustrated?
But the fans in Montreal did not disappoint. When Gary Bettman was presented, they booed him with the full fervor of the hatred of all hockey fans.