In today’s medley of notable posts from the NHL blogosphere: Why it’s okay to root for Sidney Crosby’s return…Why should we care about Wayne Gretzky playing in the Winter Classic alumni game?…A look at which players have the most write-in All-Star votes…Another trade could be coming for the Blues…John Carlson’s sophomore slump…The schedule for this season’s HBO “Road to the Winter Classic”.

Why all the hubbub over Gretzky not suiting up for 2012 Winter Classic Alumni Game?

BACKHAND SHELF: Justin Bourne explains why he cheers for Sidney Crosby, while Ryan Lambert doesn’t believe it’s a big deal for Wayne Gretzky to skip this year’s Winter Classic alumni game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those who claim to hate Crosby have to get used to the fact he’s what Bourne calls ” a moment-maker”, a true star who rises to the occasion. Like Bourne, I also cheer for Crosby, for the very reasons he so eloquently cites. Just like I used to cheer for Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky, Guy Lafleur, Bobby Orr and Bobby Hull over the past 40-plus years I’ve been a hockey fan. I also recall folks used to profess to “hate” those players, too, until after they retired, then most go on to praise them for being great talents.

As for Gretzky not participating in this year’s Winter Classic alumni game, I realize the main reason is because he and the league’s brain trust aren’t exactly on the best of terms right now, but quite frankly, this is much ado about nothing. Gretzky already played in an alumni game, in the 2003 Heritage Classic (left), for the Edmonton Oilers, the team where he had his greatest years, and which he’s most identified with today. He was only a Ranger for what? Three or four seasons? And by that point, he was in the twilight of his career, all the greatness behind him. Let those who made the most indelible impressions while wearing Rangers uniforms be in the Alumni Game. 

PUCK DADDY: Greg Wyshynski looks at this year’s write-in all star candidates making the most impact.

ST. LOUIS GAME TIME: A look at potential Blues trade candidates.

JAPERS’ RINK: Examines the sophomore slump of Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson, suggesting the reason behind it is he might not be working as hard as he did in his rookie season.

PUCK THE MEDIA: presents the schedule for HBO’s 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic.