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.