With the unveiling of the Carolina Hurricanes' alternate jersey yesterday, I was a bit distracted. After all, how many teams unveil a new jersey everyday? Especially one that has sparked so many opinions. Honestly, what's the fascination with black jerseys? It seems like every NHL team has one now. I'm sick of black. Someone bring back the green Wild jerseys. At least they were different. In any case, I wanted to keep everyone up to date on what's happening elsewhere, so here are your major news stories for the last few days.
- Florida Panthers' forward Richard Zednik was back on the ice after his horrific accident last season. It's good to see him back and fully-recovered from that accident, and attending training camp. While the memories will never go away and the visible scar running down the right side of his neck will probably last for the rest of his life, it's a testament to medical science and the human body when it comes to a recovery from an injury like that. Good luck on the season, Mr. Zednik!
- The QMJHL has decided not to ban fighting in the wake of the Jonathan Roy incident last season. They have, however, put some extremely harsh penalties on aggressors this season. If a goalie skates the length of the ice to fight another goalie who is not engaged in the melee, it's an automatic ten-game suspension. A player fighting a goalie will receive a five-game suspension. Anyone who engages in a second fight during the same pause in the game will receive a five-game suspension. Anyone who instigates a fight during the pre-game warm-up will receive a ten-game suspension. And any player who is an aggressor in a fight can be suspended up to 15 games by league disciplinarian Raymond Bolduc upon his review. Also, fines will range between $500 and $5000 for any team that has a player or coach suspended. I think these might be deterrants for any QMJHL team, especially when playoff spots are on the line.
- The Carolina Hurricanes will announce today that they have signed Eric Staal to a multi-year contract extension. The 23 year-old has established himself as one of the bright, young stars in the NHL, and looks to be a fixture with the Hurricanes for the foreseeable future. In 327 NHL games, Staal has amassed 124 goals and 159 assists for the Hurricanes, and led the franchise to their first Stanley Cup in 2006.
- Speaking of the Hurricanes, doesn't this version of their new alternate jersey look a thousand times better than what they introduced yesterday? What is the fear of colour in the NHL? Why can't teams appreciate a splash of colour?
- Theoren Fleury just can't walk away from the game. After testing his baseball legs earlier this summer, Fleury has announced that he will join the Bentley Generals, the reigning Alberta Senior AAA champs, in an effort to win the Allan Cup. The Generals are coached by former NHLer Brian Sutter.
- No, it's not Halloween, and yes, that is Jordan Staal at your front door. The Penguins' players and staff were out delivering season tickets to lucky people yesterday. Sidney Crosby, Maxime Talbot, Marc-Andre Fleury, Pascal Dupuis, Sergei Gonchar, Jeff Taffe, Brooks Orpik, Tyler Kennedy, head coach Michel Therrien, and the aforementioned Staal delivered tickets to 35 lucky people after they had renewed for this upcoming season. Personally, this is one if the best PR ideas I've seen in the NHL. Good work, Penguins!
- The Florida Panthers signed defenceman Keith Ballard to a six-year contract extension on Tuesday. He's the fifth Panther to sign a deal for five years or longer. The Minnesota native was acquired by the Panthers at the 2008 Entry Draft in the Olli Jokinen trade. The 25 year-old is now locked in through the 2015-16 season if he's not moved before that.
- The Ottawa Senators have invited free agent defenceman Luke Richardson to training camp. However, the odds seem stacked against the 39 year-old with all the young faces on the blueline. I doubt he's going to crack the top-six in Ottawa, but he has a boatload of experience, and should be able to teach the younger guys a few tricks.
- HubHockey came through in a huge way yesterday. HH attended the "State of the Bruins" event yesterday, and got a sneak peek of the new Bruins alternate jerseys. I'm not overly thrilled with the logo and lack of hem striping. Again, these jerseys will make the Bruins appear to be wearing a one-piece uniform. The usage of colour makes them better than Carolina's new threads, but these still don't rank very highly. More to come from me once the "official" unveiling happens.
- The Buffalo Sabres will introduce their new alternate jerseys on Saturday, September 20. Mark your calendars. This one has all the potential to be a train wreck or a phenomenal look.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!