In this morning’s collection of notable early morning NHL headlines: League deputy commissioner backs up Brendan Shanahan…Don Cherry could face a lawsuit from 3 former enforcers…Lightning lose Mattias Ohlund to knee surgery…Tuukka Rask won’t settle for being a backup…Former Senators enforcer Peluso defends fighting in hockey…Blair Betts faces uncertain future…Hall of Famer Ken Dryden finally gets his day with the Stanley Cup.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly supports league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan following a report a group of general managers complained Shanahan was being too forceful in handing down punishment. Daly denied he and Commissioner Gary Bettman had heard from disgruntled club officials.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As long as Bettman and Daly continue to back Shanahan, he’ll be able to continue his stricter enforcement of Rule 48 governing hits to the head. It appears the league brain trust is serious about it.

OTTAWA CITIZEN: Don Cherry could face a lawsuit from former NHL enforcers Stu Grimson, Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson, who were furious Cherry singled them out for verbal abuse regarding their opinions on the role of enforcers in today’s NHL, and weren’t mollified by Cherry’s subsequent refusal to apologize for those comments.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those three aren’t seeking money or demanding Cherry be taken off the air. They merely want Cherry to apologize, on air, for his remarks. Cherry, of course, refuses to apologize, but this time, he might not have much of a choice. Grimson, Nilan and Thomson aren’t going to back down.  Cherry may finally have bitten off more than he can chew.

ESPN.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning have lost defenseman Mattias Ohlund indefinitely to minor knee surgery, though he could be out for up to six weeks.

Does Rask have a future in Boston?

BOSTON HERALD: Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask doesn’t consider himself a backup goalie.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: At some point, Rask’s performance could force the Bruins to make a difficult decision. Tim Thomas remains their starter, winner of two Vezinas in three years, and the playoff hero who helped end the Bruins 39 year Stanley Cup drought, but if Rask also plays well, where does he fit into their future plans?  Will he be content backing up Thomas? Or does his solid play make him attractive to other teams, thus forcing management to consider a trade? 

OTTAWA SUN (VIA CALGARY SUN): Former Senators enforcer Mike Peluso defends fighting in hockey and doesn’t believe it should be banned.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt we’ll see a total ban on fighting in hockey, but I do believe the role of enforcers is going to change, as the era of the “goon” whose sole talent is his pugilistic skills may be drawing to a close.

PHILLY.COM: Flyers center Blair Betts’s NHL career may be in jeopardy due to a lingering knee injury. Betts was claimed off waivers last week by the Montreal Canadiens but was returned to the Flyers after failing a physical.

TORONTO STAR: Hall of Fame goaltender Ken Dryden will finally get his day with the Stanley Cup.