5 For Thought: Teemu on suspensions, Stastny’s future, 24/7: Leafs/Red Wings, and more.

1. Teemu Selanne thinks the NHL should dish-out tougher suspensions.

NHL legend Teemu Selanne. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

NHL legend Teemu Selanne. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Ducks’ legend Teemu Selanne recently spoke out against NHL suspensions, claiming, “I don’t think they’re [severe] enough. The next night, the same thing happens.” Read Selanne’s quote, and full article here, courtesy of the Globe & Mail‘s Roy McGregor.

Coming from Teemu, the comment is a revelation. Remember, the Finnish Flash played the bulk of his glory days when NHL thuggery was an accepted everyday occurrence. In Teemu’s rookie season Caps’ Dale Hunter orchestrated this vicious assault on Islanders’ Pierre Turgeon. If someone pulled a ‘Hunter’ today, he’d probably never play another game in the NHL.

Hunter wasn’t the only NHLer out for blood back then. There are many more examples of malicious violence from the 90’s, including this vicious hit by former Av Claude Lemieux in the Western Conference playoffs against the Detroit Red Wings.

If you want to know how much better things have become – how less often dirty plays occur in the NHL these days – YouTube search Bryan Marchment.

This is likely Selanne’s final season in the NHL. Luckily, he’s managed to avoid career ending injury, however, many of his contemporaries were not so fortunate. Former partner in crime Paul Kariya was forced to retire early because of multiple concussions. Many of the head shots Kariya suffered were deemed legal when they occurred, like this one courtesy of Scott Stevens in the 2003 Stanley Cup finals.

The incredible thing about the Stevens hit is that Kariya came back from a concussion to score a goal later in the game. If that happened today, Kariya would’ve never been allowed back on the ice. Sadly, the head shots caught up with the Ducks’ former captain.

Selanne made a very valid point when he said, “the next night, the same thing happens.” The current game length of suspensions is clearly not deterring violent acts from occurring multiple times each week. That being said, how extreme can the league get with supplemental discipline? The John Scott incident seems like it might present the perfect opportunity for the league to make someone a ‘fall guy’ and set an example. Let’s see what they do with Scott.

2. Stastny contract talks at a stalemate.

Avalanche centre Paul Stastny. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Avalanche centre Paul Stastny. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

According to NBC’s Rotoworld, contract talks are non-existent between the Colorado Avalanche and Paul Stastny at the moment. The Avs’ centre becomes an unrestricted free agent in the upcoming offseason and his future in Denver is up in the air right now.

Stastny is one of many potential high-end centremen within the organization. But he’s the oldest and highest paid, making him the most expendable unless he severely out performs younger talents like Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly, and Nathan MacKinnon.

Stastny is not making a strong case to remain an Av moving forward. His 5 points this season is worst among team centres. While the season is young and scoring production isn’t everything, Stastny’s track record suggests he won’t post massive offensive totals this year in Colorado. His career high 79 points was recorded in 2009-10 – not exactly reassuring moving forward. And his $6.6 mil a season doesn’t help. See entire Avalanche payroll courtesy of Cap Geek dot com.

It’s almost a certainty that Stastny is no longer a member of the Avalanche next season if he expects the same pay he currently earns. They simply possess too much depth at the position to keep him around at his current cap hit.

There are some NHL teams with much less depth at centre and I’m willing to guess those teams would be more open-minded about a future with Paul Stastny down the middle at big dollar value. For example, the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, and Nashville Predators to name a few, could benefit from the addition of Stastny. He is a talented playmaker and adequate face-off man, something all three teams need more of.

At the moment, there is no evidence of urgency to trade Stastny, as far as we know. The Avalanche are first in the Central Division after almost a full month of hockey. It stands to reason a team that has only lost one of its first 9 games may avoid drastic player personnel changes while the wins are piling up. However, if they hit a rough patch and contract talks continue to be non-existent, it makes sense the Avs start shopping Stastny around while he still has some trade value. There will likely be interested buyers in the Eastern Conference.

3. Mason is doing his part for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Steve Mason with the Blue Jackets. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Steve Mason with the Blue Jackets. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

For all the terrible results the Philadelphia Flyers have suffered this season, it’s hard to fault their traditional organizational weakness – goaltending. Between the pipes, Blue Jackets’ castaway Steve Mason has performed strongly for his offensively challenged club. Mason’s 0.930 SV% and 2.17 GAA are all-star material, despite the Flyers 2-7-0 record.

The lowly Flyers have only allowed 25 goals this season, which isn’t terrible. That’s less than the Chicago Blackhawks (27), Vancouver Canucks (35), and Detroit Red Wings (30) – all of which have at least 9 points more than the Flyers in the standings. Lack of scoring is ruining the first portion of Philadelphia’s season.

Mason had a very strong start to his NHL career with the Columbus Blue Jackets then kind of faded into irrelevancy as the years went by. That being said, his sudden resurgence in excellence is not a huge surprise. He has always been a talented puck stopper. This season he’s on his way toward proving he can become the goalie everyone thought he’d be when he was a Vezina finalist in 2009.

4. 24/7 Coming Soon.

One of the biggest unfortunate side-effects of the 2012-13 NHL lockout was the cancelation of the Winter Classic, and arguably more so, HBO’s epic mini-series 24/7. If you’ve never watched it, 24/7 provides a behind the scenes look at the participating players and teams in lead up to the New Years Day classic game.

Television dates were announced yesterday. Episode 1 will air Sunday, December 15th in Canada on Sportsnet at 7:30 PM Eastern Time. For full season episode dates view this link to Sportsnet.ca.

In the US, 24/7 will appear on HBO.

Leafs’ head coach Randy Carlyle says he will try to be on his best behaviour when the cameras start rolling. He told the Toronto Star, “In the environment that’s created within the room, I hope that I have enough patience and enough wherewithal when those times come to not embarrass myself.” Read full Toronto Star article here.

The Leafs are the first Canadian franchise to take part in the NHL’s Winter Classic. This will be the second appearance for the Detroit Red Wings, who beat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4 in the 2009 edition at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois.

5. Jagr & Brodeur: Two legends poking fun.

New Jersey Devils beat writer and Twitter staple Tom Gulitti tweeted a series of entertaining quotes and paraphrases from Devils practice today.  The tweets centre around comments made by Devils’ future first ballot Hall of Famers Jaromir Jagr and Martin Brodeur. They may be north of forty, but Jagr and Marty are still enjoying life in the NHL, evident by their enthusiasm and humour.