The NHL regular season has begun. The Detroit Red Wings are undefeated. Patrick Roy and the Colorado Avalanche won their first game, and Roy managed to make it through the game without storming the ice bathed in the blood of his enemies. So, you know, things are going well. A few bits of NHL news have piled up recently, and I wanted to take the time to write about them before they become too stale.
First off, the NHL has hybrid icing now. It sort of jumped out at us. Seriously. They put it into action the day before the season began. I mean, it has been discussed in the past, but to see it be so abruptly integrated is a surprise. A pleasant one though, all in all.
If you are unfamiliar with hybrid icing, basically it is now a race to cross an imaginary line at the face off dots when a puck is iced, not a race to touch the puck first. So, if a puck is iced and the defender crosses this line, it is icing. If the player on the team that iced the puck crosses the line first, no icing. The goal is to try and avoid the injuries that come from players racing to touch the puck and crashing into the boards.
I like hybrid icing. It allows there to be some degree of a race, but it is slightly safer. Admittedly, players crashing into the boards and seriously injuring themselves is a rare event, it is frequent enough to make it worth a minor change. Plus, Don Cherry has been against old school icing for a while, and if that dude things something is a bit much, you know it is a bit much. The rule about players not being able to take off their helmets before a fight is looking a bit more flimsy. Apparently two guys took off one another's helmets before a fight, which frankly makes the rule worthwhile to me. Just make fighting a 10 minute misconduct and be done with it.
Now for a couple more pieces of news. One good (maybe) and one bad (definitely). First, Phil Kessel signed an extension just before the season. The deal is for eight years and $64 million. So, quick math, that's eight million per season. That's the new going rate for a top level forward under the new CBA, and Kessel is that. All the jokes aside about the trade that brought him to Toronto and Kessel's demeanor, he is a great player. He's one of the best goal scorers in the NHL, and he scored 52 points last year en route to leading the Leafs to the playoffs. Plus, he literally just turned 26. The deal will take up the rest of his prime, and a bit of the downturn of his career more than likely. Still, it's a worthwhile deal for both sides here.
Lastly, and unfortunately, Tomas Vokoun is going to be out for 3-6 months. Vokoun is having problem with blood clots, which is very serious, and there is even some talk he may retire, since he is 37 and all. This is a bummer, obviously. Hopefully Vokoun gets this cleared up and is back sooner rather than later. The Penguins need him too. Marc-Andre Fleury is not a reliable starter, and now instead of a top notch veteran backup, they have to rely on Jeff Zatkoff. Now, Fleury needs to shoulder the load, perhaps all season. That can't be encouraging to the Penguins.
That is all for now. Surely more NHL news will pop up. Especially if Mikhail Grabovski continues to try and rule over us all.