Hockey Blog Beat – Thursday, September 1, 2011.

A collection of blogs regarding the sudden passing of Wade Belak….the pros and cons of paying for potential…Reasons for Islanders fans to be excited about Michael Grabner…A look at the Penguins goaltending depth…What to expect of Buffalo’s Derek Roy during pre-season.

ON THE FORECHECK: Dirk Hoag has a collection of links on the passing of Wade Belak.

PUCK DADDY: Greg Wyshynski on the Faustian bargain of hockey enforcers, that they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

” For any of us that has ever felt disposable and unappreciated in our jobs, or rudderless when we lose them, these players become even more relatable. We swallow pride, punch a clock, do what’s best for our family. Then, eventually, you wonder what it was all for. How you cope with that reality determines if you endure.”

HOUSES OF THE HOCKEY: Kent Wilson examines the degrees of psychological stress enforcers like Belak face during their careers, and calls upon the NHL to more seriously investigate this issue.

PENSION PLAN PUPPETS: posted a reader’s response to the news of Belak’s death, which deals with the impact of depression.

NUCKS MISCONDUCT: “WAACH ‘Cast” noted the comments of former NHL player Tyson Nash slamming the NHLPA for its inability to prepare players for the transition back to the real world once their playing careers are over are receiving flack, but suggested those comments highlight the need for more talk on this issue, and soon.

THE STRANGEST ONE OF ALL: Scotty Wazz takes to task those who claim the NHL and NHLPA didn’t do enough to help players like Belak, Rick Rypien and Derek Boogaard, and reminds critics there is no easy way to treat depression, especially if those who suffer from it aren’t willing to come forward and seek treatment.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I highly recommend reading these posts. Ultimately, there’s no easy answers for what happened to Belak, Rypien and Boogaard.

Yes, the NHL and NHLPA should look to do more to assist players seeking treatment for addiction, depression, and transitioning out of the game once a playing career is over. It must be remembered, however,the league and PA do have programs in place to assist players, and while there’s always room for improvement in such programs, they’re not clairvoyant. They can only provide help, especially when treating depression, if the player seeks it. Even then, there’s no cure-all. They’ll do the best the can. I do agree with Kent Wilson that there should be studies into the stress faced by enforcers.

Perhaps the best way to address that role would be to eliminate fighting altogether from pro hockey, or at least the role of the enforcer entirely, but that’s going to meet with considerable opposition, not just from players, coaches, GMs, and team owners, but also from many fans.  Remember, the NHL’s resistance to banning fighting is because the fans love it. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t see it in the game. Until the majority of hockey fans call for the elimination of fighting from the game, the role of the enforcer will remain, and so could the potential physical and psychological risks that come with it.

BROAD STREET HOCKEY: Travis Hughes examines the pros and cons of teams signing promising young players, like Philadelphia’s James van Riemsdyk, to lengthy expensive contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In today’s salary cap world, teams have to gamble and pay for potential, lest they risk losing that player to free agency down the road, and watch them become big stars elsewhere. It’s the way of things now.

LIGHTHOUSE HOCKEY: “WebBard” examines reasons for Islanders fans to get excited about Michael Grabner’s upcoming season, suggesting he could post up better numbers playing a full season, including training camp, with the Isles. Last season, he was claimed off waivers early in the season from the Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stability entering this season could be just what the doctor ordered for Grabner, who had a terrific second half last season, which could translate into a solid season-long performance.

PENSBURGH: “FrankD” examines the goaltending depth of the Penguins beyond their tandem of Marc-Andre Fleury and Brent Johnson.

DIE BY THE BLADE: Zachary Zielonka suggested the play of Derek Roy probably won’t make or break the Sabres upcoming season, it’ll be a significant factor in how well they play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the off-season additions, the Sabres will still look toward veteran leaders like Roy to carry them. A healthy Roy could indeed be a significant factor in how far the Sabres go this season.