Does Sidney Crosby’s latest injury signal the beginning of the end of his career?…  Craig Patrick named Blue Jackets senior advisor…Opportunity is now for NHL to embrace the future…The simple system that works for the Coyotes…Is Gary Bettman really that bad?…What’s your favorite hockey tradition?…Analysis of Ryan O’Reilly’s improved performance…Do the Canadiens miss their most useless player?…Why Blackhawks fans shouldn’t panic over Corey Crawford’s struggles…A weakness in Craig Anderson’s game…Analysis of the Maple Leafs numbers…”Should you fire your coach?” quiz.


Beginning of the end for Crosby?

RANT SPORTS: FIVE HOLE DIVE: Steve Palumbo wonders if Sidney Crosby’s recent injury perhaps signals the beginning of the end of his career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a fair question, but while Palumbo believes Crosby’s days are numbered, I’d suggest we don’t leap to conclusions about this. His recent sidelining is only for two games, done for precautionary reasons, and tests revealed he suffered no concussion-related symptoms. As the TSN analysts noted, players who return from concussions tend to be a bit paranoid at first over their condition, being extra cautious over symptoms which may not be concussion-related. Let’s see how he does over the next year or two before we start seriously suggesting his career is in jeopardy.

INSIDE HOCKEY: Ed Cmar offers up his take on the Columbus Blue Jackets hiring Craig Patrick as a senior adviser, raising pertinent questions over Patrick’s role with the club.

THE M-DASH: Jay Menard suggests the NHL’s recent realignment scheme signals an opportunity for a brighter future the league needs to embrace.

RED LIGHT DISTRICT: Phoenix Coyotes’ head coach Dave Tippett’s “simple system” has been the key to his team’s surprising performances since 2009-10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tippett has done a magnificent job keeping the Coyotes focused on their game rather than become distracted by uncertainty over the franchise’s future in Arizona.

CANUCKS ARMY: A look at possible defense trade targets for the Vancouver Canucks, focusing on Anaheim’s Toni Lydman, Tampa Bay’s Brett Clark and Montreal’s Josh Gorges.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lydman and Clark might be available near the trade deadline. Forget about Gorges, the Habs will re-sign him.

Has Bettman done more harm than good for the NHL?

THE HOCKEY WRITERS: Michael Viola pokes holes in the myth NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has done more harm than good for the NHL.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve certainly had my criticisms of the Commissioner over the years, especially during the last lockout, but overall, he’s done more good than harm. That, however, won’t prevent the majority of hockey fans believing otherwise, despite the obvious evidence to the contrary as cited by Viola.

RAW CHARGE: Matt Amos wants to know, “What is your favorite hockey tradition?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t say I have much of a tradition now, but when I was a teenager, it used to be making a plate of Ritz Crackers and Cheez Whiz, and settling down in front of the TV on Saturday nights to watch Hockey Night in Canada. That was during the Habs dynasty of the late-1970s, when a loss was a rarity, and you knew they were gonna win the Stanley Cup every year. Good times to be a young Habs fan, not so good for fans of other teams.

MILE HIGH HOCKEY: Is Avalanche forward Ryan O’Reilly merely on a hot streak, or is he emerging as a star in his own right?

HABS EYES ON THE PRIZE: Statistical information suggests the Montreal Canadiens miss Scott Gomez far more than fans think.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, Gomez isn’t worth the huge salary he’s getting, and yes, his offensive numbers are way down over the past three years, but there’s no denying Gomez’s other contributions help the team far more than realized.

SECOND CITY HOCKEY: Blackhawks fans nervous over goalie Corey Crawford’s current struggles should look toward Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard a year ago, suggesting like Howard, Crawford could rebound.

SENSHOT: Jared Crozier identifies a particular weakness in the goaltending style of Craig Anderson, pointing out how it’s costing the Senators.

PENSION PLAN PUPPETS: A look at the Toronto Maple Leafs numbers so far this season compared to last.

DOWN GOES BROWN: Present, for the tickling of your funny bone: “Should you fire your coach?”