I have been running around like a madman all day while trying to get stuff in order. I have about a million and one things that are coming up, and I need to make sure they all get my undivided attention when they arrive. Today was supposed to be that day where things got organized, but I honestly feel like I'm further behind than where I started. Without saying it, there have been some serious stories in hockey that I should comment on, so I'll do that here. Let's get to it.
- I'm definitely the opposite of a fan when it comes to John Buccigross, but his recent work on ESPN deserves a huge amount of credit. Buccigross sat down with Brendan Burke, Brian Burke's son, and told the story about how the young man decided to tell his father and the hockey world that he was gay. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Brendan Burke, and the amount of courage that it took to reveal this side of him is greater than any hockey story. But now that both he and the story are out, can we move on? Brendan Burke is just like another other young man: hard-working, courageous, upstanding, and a hockey lover. Being gay doesn't change who he is or how much respect I have for him. Nor should it change you.
- You have to feel bad for Florida's Keith Ballard. Not only does Ilya Kovalchuk score a goal where Ballard had him virtually out of the play, but Ballard's temper tantrum costs the Panthers their goaltender, Tomas Vokoun, for the rest of the evening. As Sportsnet's Daren Millard was saying, the only other time this has happened is when Slovakian player Tomas Surovy whacks his goaltender, Jaroslav Halak, across the back of the head after the Czech Republic scored their eighth goal. I'm sure Ballard has taken enough teasing from his team at this point to last an entire career.
- Washington's Alexander Ovechkin has been told to sit for two games after being ejected for the second time within the last two weeks. Ovechkin had Carolina's Tim Gleason lined up, but Gleason moved and Ovechkin's adjustment caused a knee-on-knee collision that left Ovechkin worse for wear. Colin Campbell handed down the suspension today, but Ovechkin's time off might be better as he can give his sore knee time to rest. Either way, Alexander Ovechkin is now on Campbell's wall as a "first-time offender". That will only mean longer suspensions if he continues to play near or over the edge.
- Here's your obligatory Toronto Maple Leafs update: after a 3-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens tonight, the Leafs sit with 21 points in 26 games on a 7-12-7 record. By my count, they need 60 points to tie last season's total of 81, and 61 points to beat last season's total, corcing me to give away a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey to a lucky reader. If they continue at their current pace, they will end with 66 points in 82 games - far off what they need to achieve. I predicted a 64-point season for this Leafs squad, so I'm not far off. Lots of hockey to played still, though, and someone could still win that Leafs jersey!
- 31 days until the Winter Classic from Fenway Park. Are you getting pumped? I know I am. I love these games!
- The AHL will see an outdoor game this season as well! The Syracuse Crunch will host the Binghamton Senators on February 20, 2010 in the Mirabito Outdoor Classic at 1pm. While I'm not all that enthusiastic about the corporate name stamped on this game, this should be another great event for hockey this season!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!