In today’s early morning NHL headline roundup: Brendan Shanahan hands down his first two suspensions as NHL disciplinarian…Fan tosses a banana at Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds…Canucks Mason Raymond’s career in doubt…Sharks goalie Niittymaki sidelined again by hip surgery…Heatley, Setoguchi to make preseason debut with Wild…Modano to retire a Star…Blackhawks great Bobby Hull’s opinion on origins of the “thug era”…Group in talks to purchase Coyotes…A final act of kindness by the late captain of Yaroslavl Lokomotiv.
PHILLY.COM: reports the NHL has suspended Flyers enforcer Jody Shelley for ten games – five preseason, five regular season – for his hit from behind on Toronto Maple Leaf Darryl Boyce in a recent preseason game.
CALGARY HERALD: reports the NHL has suspended Flames enforcer Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond for five games following his hit from behind on Vancouver’s Matt Clackson in a recently preseason game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: New league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan is off to a good start with these two suspensions, which also included a video explanation by Shanahan detailing the infractions. But as TSN’s Pierre LeBrun noted, these two were easy because they were enforcers and repeat offenders. Let’s see what he does if Washington superstar Alexander Ovechkin were to run Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke.
PHILLY.COM: reports a fan tossed a banana peel at Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds during a shootout attempt in the Flyers 4-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at the John Labatt Centre in London, Ontario last night. Simmonds, who is black, hoped it wasn’t done as a racist taunt. The perpetrator was not found.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fans shouldn’t toss anything on the ice at any time. If this was done as a racial taunt against Simmonds, it’s disgusting, and if they catch the idiot who did it, I hope he’s banned for life from the John Labatt Centre. I’m also certain his antics weren’t representative of the rest of the fans who attended the game. No room for racism!
VANCOUVER SUN: reports Canucks forward Mason Raymond remains sidelined with a broken vertebrae in his back and wonders if he’ll ever play again. Raymond was injured during the Stanley Cup Final when he was shoved backward into the boards by Boston Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boychuk wasn’t deliberately attempting to injure Raymond, but this does illustrate the dangers of “finishing your check” when a player is already in a compromising position near the boards. Here’s hoping Raymond makes a full recovery and can continue his playing career.
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: reports Sharks goalie Antero Niittymaki will be out for twelve weeks following hip surgery in Los Angeles.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This explains why the Sharks brought back Thomas Greiss this summer. Niittymaki had hip surgery in the past, and this latest setback might not bode well for his future as an NHL goaltender.
STAR-TELEGRAM.COM: reports the Dallas Stars have signed Mike Modano to a one-day contract, enabling him to officially retire as a Star.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Classy move by the club.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: reports Blackhawks Hall of Famer Bobby Hull traces back the rise of the modern enforcers to the Philadelphia Flyers “Broad Street Bullies” era.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hull isn’t late to the party in criticism of the role of enforcers, as he was among the first to protest those types of players during his WHA career. And Hull was no shrinking violet, as he fought his own battles for much of his long pro career. Because with his great strength, word got around it wasn’t a good idea to tangle with The Golden Jet.
ARIZONA REPUBLIC: reports a group comprised of former Arizona lawmaker John Kaites and Chicago sports magnate Jerry Reinsdorf are once again looking into the possibility of purchasing the Phoenix Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After over two years of this, I just want this to end, preferably with someone buying the team who’ll keep it in Phoenix, but either way, just end this seemingly never-ending story! Somebody buy this team!
THE GLOBE & MAIL: Allan Maki reports Yaroslavl Lokomitiv captain Ivan Tkachenko anonymously transferred money to a 16-year-old cancer patient just moments before boarding the doomed Yak-42 aircraft which would crash and take his life and those of his teammates. Tkachenko reportedly quietly and anonymously donated money to sick children for years.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Puck Daddy Greg Wyshynski recently observed, “ there are countless players who donate money or time without publicity. Tkachenko was one of them; and it appears he made quite a difference before tragedy claimed him and his teammates.”