There have been a number of things happening in the world of hockey besides Sean Avery and the circus following him. Yes, I've been guilty of talking about him as well, and this entry will feature the last comments on Avery and his suspension for a long time. And it occurs to me that with all the Sean Avery talk on blogs and in the media, there's a need to look at ourselves and discover what makes us passionate fans. There's a need to look at the game, and rediscover what makes it so great. There's a need to lose the bad news while we embrace the good news. Somewhere, we lost the path, but it's time to get back on the right track and look at the good news that may have been missed this week.
- Let's start with the Minnesota Wild. Colton Gillies, winger for the Wild, will not be released to Team Canada for the upcoming World Junior Championships in Ottawa. GM Doug Risebrough stated that he encourages players to go if it's their first time to the Championships, but "anyone who has been asked to come twice, I usually have declined". While I'm disappointed that the big winger won't be suiting up for Canada, it shows the amount of faith that Risebrough has in Gillies, and the skill level that Gillies is playing at. Good on you, Colton, and good luck on the rest of the NHL season!
- CBC's Hockey Night In Canada showed the NHL game between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens last night, and I am highly impressed with the Canadiens. They simply outworked, out-hustled, outshot, out-chanced, out-everythinged against the Rangers last night. With Boston showing that they're a legitimate contender this season, the old rivalry of Boston-Montreal might reach the heights of the 1970s when Orr and Esposito would battle Lafleur and Shutt. This is one of the best stories in hockey this season, and everyone should watch these two teams play at least once this season.
- Speaking of the Canadiens, they broke out their 1915-16 jerseys last night, and they looked phenomenal. The smallest details weren't overlooked, and I was impressed. The "C-A" logo on the front was gorgeous, and the logo on the sleeve made the jersey feel vintage. La Clube Athletique de Canadien was back in fine form last night. The Canadiens replaced their famous logo sticker on their helmets with the "C-A" logo, they wore all blue gloves instead of their red-white-and-blue, and the stripes were removed from their breezers. Classic, vintage look, and this writer approves.
- Sticking with the Canadiens and their history, I found another picture of Jean Béliveau with the Quebec Aces from the Life magazine gallery. This was taken in 1952, and check out the net: is that a shooter tutor? You bet it is. If Béliveau can practice with one, kids, you should ask Santa for one for Christmas. Mr. Béliveau didn't get as good as he was without practicing.
- 46 year-old Chris Chelios will begin his conditioning stint in the AHL by playing for the Grand Rapids Griffins this weekend. He'll make history as the oldest player to ever suit up in the AHL when the Griffins play the Hamilton Bulldogs. Personally, Chelios' longevity is amazing when you consider that his fractured leg was thought to have ended his career earlier this season. Good luck, Mr. Chelios, and I hope to see you in a Red Wings jersey before the season is out!
- Speaking of returns from injuries, Carolina Hurricanes' forward Justin Williams returned to the ice against Pittsburgh last night - two months ahead of schedule! Williams hadn't been in a game since tearing his Achilles tendon in the pre-season, and it was expected he would be out a minimum of four months. If everything is 100% on Williams, that is an amazing recovery. After having some brutal injuries the last few seasons, here's hoping that Williams can avoid the IR for a long time.
- Sticking with the Hurricanes, head coach Peter Laviolette was relieved of his duties on Wednesday, and replaced by former Hurricanes head coach Paul Maurice. I like Laviolette, and I thought he was doing a great job with little to work with. When Rod "The Bod" Brind'Amour is -18 on the season after being one of the Selke Award candidates the last few years, it should tell you how weak the Hurricanes' team defence is. Hopefully Paul Maurice has some success, or it might be a long summer in Raleigh.
- With the Canadian dollar free-falling in value, the Canadian teams are seeing some tightening in their purse strings. With the Canadian dollar valued at $0.80 compared to the American dollar, the cost of the salary cap goes up by just under $11 million USD per team. If things stay the way they are, the players will lose that fat escrow that they have been saving. That might spell the end of the Collective Bargaining Agreement this summer. Anyone ready for another labour war?
- The last word on Avery: it's over. Let's move on. Agreed?
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!