In today’s roundup of notable early morning NHL headlines and stories: Chicago’s Patrick Sharp aiming to return for opening night…Red Wings appear headed to the Eastern Conference next season…Could Clarke MacArthur face a suspension?…Some former NHL’ers faced difficult adjustment to retirement…Players like Colton Orr could be “endangered species”…The loneliest position in pro sports.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp hopes to return to action in time for the team’s season opener on October 7th. Sharp has been out of the lineup since an emergency appendectomy on September 12th.

DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings owner Mike Illich not only claims his team will get a new arena, but that GM Gary Bettman promised him the Wings would be the club to move in the next divisional realignment, meaning they could be moved to the Eastern Conference next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been widely speculated the Red Wings would move to the Eastern Conference following this season. Looks like this is the first confirmation, even if it didn’t come officially from league sources.

KUKLA’S KORNER: Wonders if league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan will review Toronto Maple Leafs forward Clarke MacArthur’s hit to the head of Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader in last night’s Wings-Leafs tilt.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The replay makes it appear an intentional hit to the head, but proving that intent is another matter. That Abdelkader wasn’t injured on the play could be a determining factor in a possible suspension for MacArthur.

**UPDATE** The NHL has suspended MacArthur for the remainder of the preseason and the first two games of the regular season. Looks like “Sheriff Shanahan” believed there was intent there.

VANCOUVER SUN: Yvonne Zacharias on the difficulty some former NHL players experienced once their playing careers ended.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Players who’ve earned millions of dollars in their careers won’t get much sympathy from hockey fans who earn less in their lifetimes than some of these players earned in one season. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s not an issue of concern, or isn’t worth addressing. The NHL and NHLPA have in recent years – and especially since the last lockout – done a better job of introducing programs and improving pension benefits for retired players to help them make the transition from hockey to the real world.

Still, there’s always room for improvement. Dealin with a significant lifestyle and workplace change  for some can be a difficult adjustment.

SPORTSNET.CA: Mike Brophy writes Maple Leafs tough guy Colton Orr intends to continue fighting, despite the risks and the possibility the role of “designated fighter” could be phased out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I certainly wouldn’t want to have Orr’s job, and I do appreciate the hard work it took for players like him to get to the NHL, and the difficulties they face in their role. That being said, there is no place for “designated enforcers” in today’s NHL. The only reason Orr is in the NHL is because of his pugilistic abilities. Unless players like him can contribute in other areas of the game, there’s no place for those whose only skill is being a good fighter.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: Roy MacGregor on the explosive and lonely world of a hockey goaltender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The position has seen many changes over the decades, but it’s still one of the toughest jobs in pro sports.

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4 Responses to NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 1, 2011.

  1. CoachBowman_2003 says:

    I think MacArthur will get 3 to 5 games max.

  2. Grizzledbear says:

    As long as there’s a need to keep other teams cheapshot artists in check, there will be a need for players like Colton Orr. The way to make the role of an enforcer go away is to rid the game of the Cooke’s and Avery’s first.

  3. Pixie says:

    The game is evolving and there really won’t be room for an “enforcer”. I think a message can be sent to players like Cooke and Avery by suspension by Shanahan and the own club reigning them in. Someone like Cooke needs his club, especially Sid, to get him to focus on his grit and skills versus cheap shots. Interestingly, a player like Kaleta who is known for agitation and physical play realizes his type of play is going to shorten his career due to injuries. Kaleta has some skill and can stir things up – he just needs to focus more on playing rather than revenge or enforcement. Avery is out the door in NY – takes more penalties and really hasn’t added value for a couple of years. Guess he is sloppy seconds!

  4. GHT120 says:

    Shanahan seems to have finally reached the perspective I have advocated for some time that instead of looking for intent he is just assessing the act.

    Even some of the most blatant head-shots had no INTENT to injure, but rather a reckless disregard for the consequences of the hit.

    Well the “I didn’t mean to hurt him” defence is finally out the window.

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