Reviewing the NHL’s PED record, plus updates on Corey Crawford, Blake Wheeler, Josh Harding, Filip Forsberg and Colby Armstrong.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the NHL’s strong PED record is legitimate, noting hockey’s bigger issue is with painkillers and sleep aids, which the league and NHLPA has addressed with new procedures which went into effect at the start of last season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would be naive to believe the NHL in particular, and hockey in general, has been squeaky clean when it comes to PEDs. Indeed, Jose Theodore and Bryan Berard failed pre-Olympic drug screening in 2005 but weren’t suspended by the NHL because the testing took place prior to the league’s new drug policy going into effect at that time.
The NHL has been criticized in recent years (noticeably by former IOC executive Dick Pound and former NHL enforcer Georges Laraque) for its PED policy, but to date no player has been suspended for using performance enhancing drugs. Either the league, teams and players are doing a magnificent job of covering up the usage, or the problem isn’t as serious as it is in other major professional sports. Last February, I wrote about this topic, urging the NHL to become a leader in PED prevention. The league, in conjunction with the NHLPA, may be on its way to filling that role.
**UPDATE** Former NHL defenseman Sean Hill received a 20-game ban for violating the NHL’s PED program in 2007, which carried through into the 2007-08 season. Hill subsequently signed with the Minnesota Wild, who defended Hill’s assertion he ingested a banned substance unknowingly via supplements. Hat tip to “NYRFan” (in the comments section) for the reminder.
CSNCHICAGO.COM: Despite facing a hectic off-season in the wake of winning the Stanley Cup and getting selected to Canada’s Olympic orientation camp, Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford claims he won’t be changing his off-season approach. Crawford will also have to get used to a new goalie coach, as former ‘Hawks coach Jimmy Waite was recently hired by the Montreal Canadiens.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Blake Wheeler, who recently re-signed a six-year deal with the Jets, believes the club is poised to move up to the next level, and expects big things in the near future.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Having Wheeler in the fold for six years should go a long way to helping the Jets reach that next level.
NHLPA.COM: Minnesota Wild goalie and 2013 Masterton Trophy winner Josh Harding recently announced his new charity for multiple sclerosis, a disease which Harding has battled in his NHL career.
CSN WASHINGTON: The Nashville Predators expected big things from Filip Forsberg, whom they acquired in a late-season trade from the Washington Capitals. Forsberg was recently dropped from Sweden’s WJC 2014 roster because it’s expected he’ll be playing for the Predators next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I and several observers noted, if Forsberg blossoms into an NHL star, Capitals management could regret that trade.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Former Montreal Canadiens forward Colby Armstrong has signed with Vaxjo Lakers of the Swedish League.