Will NHL Players Follow NFL Players And Sue Over Concussions?

  • Tuesday, December 27, 2011 7:49 AM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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The concussion crisis in professional ice hockey continued today with the sobering news that Nashville Predators star forward Shea Weber is out indefinitely with a concussion.

The news regarding Weber is the latest blow to the NHL and its efforts at limiting hits to the head and promoting the sport to a wider audience. Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, Mike Richards, Jeff Skinner, Joni Pitkanen, Kris Letang, Chris Pronger, Zbynek Michalek, Marc Staal, Robert Bortuzzo, Jay Beagle, Milan Michalek, Brayden Schenn, Radek Martinek, Marek Zidlicky, Nathan Gerbe, Nino Niederreiter, Peter Mueller, Marc Savard, Ian Laperriere and Mike Green. These are some of the victims but the list is even longer. One of these players with concussion symptoms is unacceptable. This many is a crisis that must be dealt with.

Some analysts say the increased speed of the game following new rules implemented after the lockout are to blame for the increase. Did removing the red line cause more neutral zone crashes between opposing players? Perhaps. Others argue that the increase in concussions is a result of improved detection and treatment by the league. Would a bigger ice surface help avoid collisions? Would stronger helmets with more padding protect the players from head injuries in the event of a collision? Maybe.

There are many possible reasons behind the increase in concussions and many possible solutions. They should all be on the table and should be the number one topic of discussion in the NHL until there is a noticeable decrease in head injuries.

Otherwise, there is the very real possibility NHL players could take legal action similar to what 21 former NFL players recently did in suing the NFL over "severe and permanent brain damage they say is linked to concussions suffered on the job." According to the USA Today story, the lawsuit "accuses the NFL of deliberately omitting or concealing years of evidence linking concussions to long-term neurological problems."

Yes, football and hockey are violent sports. But that doesn't mean the leagues, players and fans should accept concussions as part of the job risks these athletes signed up for. If legal action is the only avenue players have to protect their precious noggins than more power to them.

Jeremy Roenick: Next 'Price is Right' Host?

  • Friday, December 17, 2010 6:40 AM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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Check out Mr. Personality Jeremy Roenick introducing Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby on "The Price is Right." All I have to say is Drew Carey should be worried about his job security because J.R. is a natural. As far as Sid and Ovie, well, to be kind, they are the two best hockey players in the world and that suits them just fine. And I've never seen someone so excited to possibly win a trip from sunny Southern California to icy Western Pennsylvania. Classic.

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In Case You Missed Last Night's Debut of HBO's '24/7 Caps-Pens'

  • Thursday, December 16, 2010 10:08 AM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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I'm one of the millions of unfortunate souls who missed last night's premiere of HBO reality series "24/7 Caps/Pens: Road to the Winter Classic."

Of course, seeing Ryan Getzlaf's big toothy grin after scoring the overtime goal for Anaheim to send Washington to their seventh straight loss didn't exactly put me in the mood to watch HBO chronicle the Caps' losing streak and Pens' winning streak.

But nearly 24 hours later and after reading one glowing review after another online, I can't wait to see this show and Caps coach Bruce Boudreau's cuss-filled tirades, which apparently put Jets coach Rex Ryan to shame. Thankfully, HBO is airing a bunch of repeats, and the first episode is available anytime to purchase On Demand.

Click here for the full HBO schedule with all the upcoming airings of "24/7."

At least the Pens lost to the Rangers last night for their second straight defeat. It would be nice if the tables were turned for the next episode this Wednesday night with the Pens going on a losing streak and the Caps hopefully starting to win some games again. With Atlanta and Tampa Bay only two points behind Washington with 38 points, they need every win they can possibly get. And the red-hot Flyers are leaving both the Caps, the Pens and the rest of the league behind. They are sitting pretty at the top of the league standings with 47 points.

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As Winter Classic Nears, Capitals and Penguins Going in Different Directions

  • Sunday, December 12, 2010 2:49 PM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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I just witnessed the Washington Capitals suffer perhaps their worst loss in the Alex Ovechkin era with a 7-0 thrashing by the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on a cold, rainy December night in Manhattan. The defeat extended the Caps' losing streak to six games and will inevitably lead to hand wringing by the media and soul searching from the top to bottom in the organization. As a Caps fan, I have not felt this deflated since the Game 7 loss to the Montreal Canadiens after blowing a 3-1 lead in the first round of last year's Stanley Cup playoffs.

Maybe the biggest question this organization has to answer is a structural one. When owner Ted Leonsis and General Manager George McPhee decided to blow up the team and rebuild, they drafted, picked up in free agency and traded for high-flying, offense-first players -- Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, just to name a few. And when the Caps are cruising through the regular season in the weak Southeast Division and goals are coming easy, then the offense first structure looks brilliant. But when the playoffs roll around and offense is at a premium and defense is emphasized, then the house of cards collapses and the Capitals are simply awful. That was evident the past three years in seven-game losses to the Flyers, Penguins and Canadiens. This season, McPhee acknowledged the defensive deficiency when he traded offensive-minded forward Tomas Fleischmann for stay-at-home defenseman Scott Hannan.

Even with Hannan however, the perhaps fatal flaw in the structure of the Capitals is being exposed by an improved Southeast Division. The Atlanta Thrashers and Tampa Bay Lightning are now right on the tail of the Caps in the standings and are threatening to leave the Caps in the dust if the slump continues. And the game tonight against the Rangers exposed every weakness the Caps have been criticized for -- too young, too much offense, not enough defense, not mentally strong, no heart, no killer instinct, no identity, no discipline.

So as the Winter Classic date of January 1st quickly comes up, the Caps are a team in turmoil. It is gut check time to say the least for the team that won the Presidents Trophy last year and has received so much hype and given so much hope to long-suffering Caps fans who have poured their hard-earned money and their hearts out for this team by rocking the red at the Verizon Center every game night after years of disappointment.

We will soon find out the true character of this team at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

And the team they will face is red-hot, having won 12 straight games. And their Captain Sidney Crosby has an 18-game point streak. With their most recent win at Buffalo, the Pens matched a franchise-best by winning their seventh consecutive road game. And Pittsburgh is pulling away from the pack atop the standings with a record of 21-8-2 for 44 points.

It should also be noted that Crosby and the Penguins have already proven themselves by getting to the Stanley Cup Finals three years ago and winning the Cup two years ago. On that magical Cup run they also beat the Caps in a thrilling seven-game series which ended with a 6-2 blowout at Verizon Center (see above for all the reasons why that happened).

So needless to say, as these two proud franchises clash outdoors in front of 65,000 fans and millions watching around the world, it really shouldn't be a contest. The Pens should blow out the Caps. But then again, when these two teams get together you can just throw out win streaks or losing streaks and get ready for one of the fiercest rivalries in all of sports.

NBC's Crosby-Ovechkin Winter Classic preview:

Preview of HBO's '24/7 Caps-Pens'

  • Monday, November 22, 2010 1:47 AM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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In case you missed it last Saturday night, here is the 12-minute preview of the upcoming HBO reality series "24/7 Caps-Pens: Road to the NHL Winter Classic."

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NHL Shakes Up All-Star Game

  • Tuesday, November 16, 2010 9:17 AM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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Credit: Grant Burke at http://www.grantburkeart.com

Perhaps the NHL should change its name to the Dynamic Hockey League. While Major League Baseball made the mistake of placing too much weight on its All-Star Game by having it decide home field advantage in the playoffs, NHL Vice President of Hockey and Business Development Brendan Shanahan decided this year to shun any seriousness and instead turn the game on its head by transforming Raleigh, North Carolina's RBC Center into a pond hockey pickup game on the last weekend of January, 2011.

The Western vs. Eastern Conference format has been scrapped for a player draft in which the two captains will choose their teammates. Fans will still get to vote to send their favorite players to the game via an online ballot. Click here to vote for your favorite players. The voting started on Nov. 15 and goes until Jan. 3.

But this is where it gets interesting. Two captains will be chosen by the players. It will be fascinating to see who they select. Will it be Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin? Or maybe a surprise pick such as Zdeno Chara or Jonathan Toews or Joe Thornton?

And then comes the real fun. On the Friday before the game, a fantasy draft will take place with all 54 NHL players during which the captains will select the remainder of the team. Will they load up on defense or offense or try to find a combination of both? Will they play favorites by choosing their teammates or not choose their teammates because they don't want to appear to be playing favorites? Will they choose a young team or a veteran team or a combination of youth and experience?

Already this new format is creating buzz around hockey circles. It instantly creates excitement for an event that frankly was becoming a bit stale, what with the annual Winter Classic the past few years becoming the marquee event on the NHL schedule after the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Kudos to the NHL for not being afraid of change when it makes sense. And this change, as crazy as it sounds, make a whole lot of sense.

HBO Aims Lens at Caps-Pens

  • Thursday, September 23, 2010 6:30 AM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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Multiple sources have reported this morning that Home Box Office network is bringing "Hard Knocks" to the National Hockey League with "24/7 Penguins/Capitals Road to the Winter Classic" -- an in-depth reality series in the weeks leading up to the highly anticipated showdown on New Year's Day at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

This announcement is a real coup for the NHL and almost assuredly will bring in boffo ratings to the cabler (to use my former employer Variety's slanguage dictionary) and will also likely assure sky high ratings for the game pitting Alex Ovechkin's team against Sidney Crosby's team.

According to NHL.com, it marks the first time HBO will document two teams simultaneously and the first time teams will be filmed in the middle of a season.

The first episode will air on December 15th at 10 p.m. EST with an encore at 11 p.m. and subsequent episodes will air on the following Wednesdays at 10 p.m. with multiple replay dates and the ability to watch the shows anytime on HBO On Demand.

Wayne Shares His Wisdom

  • Friday, March 26, 2010 2:06 PM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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NHL legend Wayne Gretzky is holding his fantasy camp at the Bellagio in Las Vegas this year and he was gracious enough to sit down with NHL Live! interviewers E.J. Hradek and Craig Button to talk shop.

Here are a few gems from the Great One:

On what it will take for the Washington Capitals to win the Stanley Cup this year (hint: it has to do with the same position played by Grant Fuhr when the Edmonton Oilers and No. 99 were a Stanley Cup dynasty):



On the Phoenix Coyotes' cinderella season and Ilya Bryzgalov for MVP:



On what L.A. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty brought to Team Canada's gold medal run in the Vancouver Winter Olympics:



On Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane's great play in the Olympics and his teammate Jonathan Toews being a modern-day Bryan Trottier:



On Sidney Crosby:



On what Wayne is doing now:

Highlights: Caps Ice Pens 4-3

  • Wednesday, March 24, 2010 4:31 PM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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Of course the game lived up to the hype. It seems every time these bitter rivals tangle that fans are treated to some fantastic hockey from both sides.

But my how the tables have turned. With their come-from-behind shootout victory over Pittsburgh tonight, my Washington Capitals have won all three games against the Penguins this season.

When I was growing up as a Caps fan in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, there were two constants every spring -- the Cherry Blossoms would bloom along the Tidal Basin and the Caps would lose to the Pens in the playoffs.

For so many years the Pens had our number and the number of fans from Western Pennsylvania filling up half of the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland was just plain embarrassing. Bus after bus would roll into the Capital Centre parking lot and unload thousands of black-clad fans with Lemieux or Jagr on the back of their jerseys. And more times than not they would celebrate another playoff series win over the Caps.

But change has come to Washington and I'm not talking about Obama. While Pittsburgh beat Washington in seven games last year to eventually win the Stanley Cup, the Caps have their best chance in a long time to finally silence all those obnoxious Penguin fans.

Owner Ted Leonsis and General Manager George McPhee have been nothing short of brilliant in building the pieces of this team to shape a Stanley Cup contender.

Now we have the answer to the hated Penguins. They have Crosby, Malkin and Staal. But we have Ovechkin, Semin and Backstrom. They have Fleury. But we have Theodore, who played tonight like the Hart and Vezina winning goalie that he is.

And instead of half of Pittsburgh busing down to D.C., the Verizon Center rocks the red every home game. The Caps have some of the most passionate fans in the NHL as is evident when every seat is taken and the VC becomes a sea of red.

The ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup, but I hope the Caps get to face off against the Pens in the playoffs this year because after years of suffering at the hands of Pittsburgh, it's about time for some sweet, sweet revenge.

Highlights from tonight's game courtesy of NHL.com:

Caps-Pens On NHL Net Tonight!

  • Wednesday, March 24, 2010 10:08 AM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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I'm a big fan of the NHL Network. The channel is a hockey fan's dream with the NHL on the Fly show providing nightly updates, live game look-ins, instant analysis from legends like Denis Potvin and Larry Murphy, and marquee matchups such as tonight's Caps-Pens battle in D.C.

The channel is offering a free preview on many cable providers nationwide until the end of this week. That means many channel surfers will be pleasantly surprised when they stumble upon the best rivalry in hockey.

Ovechkin vs. Crosby. Steel City vs. Nation's Capital. Defending champs vs. the team that wants to unseat them this year. Blood. Sweat. Tears. Passion. Everyone gets amped up for Pens-Caps and it should be a great game tonight on NHL Network.

Throw the book away when these teams meet. Previous records, stats, trends don't matter. This is personal. This is the Pittsburgh Penguins versus my Washington Capitals.

My advice is forget ESPN and turn it to the only channel in the universe that matters tonight and that is the NHL Network.

Game starts at 7 p.m. EST and 4 p.m. PST.

Let's go, Caps!

Canada Beats USA 3-2 In OT To Win Gold

  • Sunday, February 28, 2010 10:34 AM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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Team Canada defeated the Americans 3-2 in overtime to take the Gold Medal in the final event at Canada Place before Sunday's closing ceremony of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

Sidney Crosby scored the game winner against goalie Ryan Miller, setting off an emotional celebration amongst the thousands of red-and-white clad maple leaf flag waving Canadians in the stands and streets of Vancouver.

The United States tied the game with 24 seconds left off a shot by Zach Parise, which sent the game into the extra session.

The 14th Gold Medal for Canada in these games set an all-time Olympics record.

The USA's total medal count of 37 led all countries and also set an Olympics record for most medals. The Americans topped Germany's 36 in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

In the consolation game Finland defeated Slovakia 5-3 in a come-from-behind victory for the Bronze Medal.

UPDATE: Not surprisingly, Sunday's epic game was the most-watched hockey game in the United States since the Gold Medal game in 1980 when the USA beat Finland after the "Miracle on Ice" against the Soviet Union. Sunday's game drew an average viewership of 27.6 million and a rating of 15.2. The peak of 34.8 million surpassed the 32.8 million viewers who watched the 1980 game.

The game was also not surprisingly the most-watched TV broadcast in Canadian history.

Buffalo, home of tournament MVP Ryan Miller, was the top U.S. market.

USA upsets Canada 5-3

  • Sunday, February 21, 2010 3:42 PM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the greatest United States Olympics hockey victory -- the 1980 Miracle on Ice team that defeated the Soviets in Lake Placid -- the USA defeated Canada 5-3 in Vancouver, B.C.

While Brian Rafalski scored two goals and had an assist, the hero of the game was netminder Ryan Miller. The Buffalo Sabres goaltender turned away 42 shots in a magnificent performance.

The win was by far the biggest upset since the Miracle on Ice and stunned Canada. Not only was the host country expected to defeat the Americans, who looked shaky in their first two games, but beating the attention-grabbing neighbors to the south would have been a source of rare pride in this humble nation.

But it wasn't to be and it is back to the drawing board for Team Canada. As Canadians try to shake off that sick feeling in the pits of their stomachs, their national team will now have to play another preliminary game to make it to the quarterfinals. But Canada can still regroup and make a medal run.

Meanwhile, the United States is now not only respected but is oozing with confidence after their victory. The Americans now have to be in the discussion with Canada, Russia and Sweden when it comes to taking the Gold Medal in these Olympics.

But for now a country that needed a feel-good boost got it. And so let's savor this moment when we can all come together as Americans as we did in 1980 and celebrate another Miracle on Ice.

Russians beat Czech Republic 4-2

On a day when Evgeni Malkin scored two goals and added an assist to upstage his Pittsburgh Penguins teammate Sidney Crosby, it was Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin who provided the game-changing moment with a devastating hit on Jaromir Jagr to send Alex Semin and Malkin to the races. Semin passed to Malkin who shot the puck into the back of the net for a 4-2 lead.

The last game against Slovakia, Ovechkin leveled 6 foot 8, 253 pound defenseman Zdeno Chara not once but twice. Ovechkin loves to hit almost as much as he loves to score. And he isn't afraid to go after the big boys.

Here is the video of Ovechkin's crushing hit on Jagr:

Puck Set to Drop in VanCity

  • Monday, February 15, 2010 8:50 PM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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I love the Winter Olympics. I don't care if it's curling or alpine skiing. It's all good. But men's ice hockey starts today and everything else takes a back seat to the best players in the world facing off for their home countries. Nothing beats it.

Will Sid the Kid deliver a Gold Medal for the host country?

Will Alex the Great and the Russians ruin Canada's medal hopes?

Will goaltender Ryan Miller and team USA deliver an upset or two?

Will Peter Forsberg and Sweden repeat their Torino heroics and win gold again?

And what about Teemu Selanne's Finnish squad? They are no pushovers.

An important factor concerns the size of the rink at these games. Normally for the Winter Games the ice sheet is bigger which generally favors the more finesse play of the skilled European players. But a last-minute decision was made to stick with the NHL-sized Canada Place sheet because of the significant number of seats that would have had to be removed to accomodate an international-sized rink.

The common wisdom is that this favors Canada and the USA because North American players are used to dealing with less time and space to work with and also play the game in a slower, more rough-and-tumble way suited for smaller rinks.

But on second examination, I'm not so sure this applies anymore. With so many European-bred players making the adjustment to the NHL-sized rinks I don't think it will be as big a factor as some pundits proclaim. Players such as Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin have learned to change their style of play and have thus been incredibly succesful. And in fact this entire generation of NHL Euro stars has succesfully made the transition to the smaller rink. However, the rest of the non-NHL players on the European teams is another question. Teams such as Latvia and Slovakia may indeed struggle, but I don't think NHL-stacked teams like Russia and Sweden will have much of a problem.

The anticipation has been building for hockey to begin in this puck-mad city and country. It was fitting that national heroes Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky (pictured above) lit the Olympic flame inside BC Place last Friday night. And to see The Great One riding down the streets of a rainy Vancouver on his way to the outdoor flame lighting as the frenzied throngs chased his car was unforgettable.

This is a city and a country that appreciates and loves the game of hockey like no other.

So Game On!

I'll be at The Parlor sports bar in Santa Monica this weekend live-blogging the men's hockey games so be sure to check out SportsFanLive's Olympics live blog page.

I will be leaving for Vancouver a week from this Wednesday and will be attending a couple of hockey games and a speed skating match and will be updating The Hockey Stop blog with my observations from the Olympics so be sure to log on starting Feb. 24 for daily hockey coverage from Vancouver. It is my first Olympics so it should be exciting.

Here is the men's ice hockey schedule:

Tuesday, February 16

12 p.m. USA vs. Switzerland (Men's Preliminary Round -- Group A, Game 1)

4:30 p.m. Canada vs. Norway (Men's Preliminary Round -- Group A, Game 2)

9 p.m. Russia vs. Latvia (Men's Preliminary Round -- Group A, Game 3)

Wednesday, February 17

12 p.m. Finland vs. Belarus (Men's Preliminary Round -- Group C, Game 4)

4:30 p.m. Sweden vs. Germany (Men's Preliminary Round -- Group C, Game 5)

9 p.m. Czech Republic vs. Slovakia (Men's Preliminary Round -- Group B, Game 6)

Thursday, February 18

12 p.m. USA vs. Norway (Men's Preliminary Round - Group A Game 7)

4:30 p.m. Switzerland vs. Canada (Men's Preliminary Round - Group A Game 8)

9 p.m. Slovakia vs. Russia (Men's Preliminary Round - Group B Game 9)

Friday, February 19

12 p.m. Belarus vs. Sweden (Men's Preliminary Round - Group C Game 10)

4:30 p.m. Czech Republic vs. Latvia (Men's Preliminary Round - Group B Game 11)

9 p.m. Finland vs. Germany (Men's Preliminary Round - Group C Game 12)

Saturday, February 20

12 p.m. Norway vs. Switzerland (Men's Preliminary Round - Group A Game 13)

4:30 p.m. Latvia vs. Slovakia (Men's Preliminary Round - Group B Game 14)

9 p.m. Germany vs. Belarus (Men's Preliminary Round - Group C Game 15)

Sunday, February 21

12 p.m. Russia vs. Czech Republic (Men's Preliminary Round - Group B Game 16)

4:40 p.m. Canada vs USA (Men's Preliminary Round - Group A Game 17)

9 p.m. Sweden vs. Finland (Men's Preliminary Round - Group C Game 18)

Tuesday, February 23

12:00 - Men's Playoffs Qualifications - Game 19

Scheduled 4:30 - Men's Playoffs Qualifications - Game 20

Scheduled 7:00 - Men's Playoffs Qualifications - Game 21

Scheduled 9:00 - Men's Playoffs Qualifications - Game 22

Wednesday, February 24

12:00 - Men's Playoffs Quarterfinals - Game 23

Scheduled 4:30 - Men's Playoffs Quarterfinals - Game 24

Scheduled 7:00 - Men's Play-offs Quarterfinals - Game 25

9:00 - Men's Playoffs Quarterfinals - Game 26

Friday, February 26

12 p.m. - Men's Playoffs Semifinals - Game 27

6:30 p.m. - Men's Playoffs Semifinals - Game 28

Saturday February 27

Medal Event Scheduled 7 p.m. - Men's Bronze Medal Game - Game 29

Sunday, February 28

Medal Event Scheduled 12:15 - Men's Gold Medal Game - Game 30

Best Sports Weekend Ever?

  • Tuesday, February 9, 2010 8:58 PM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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This past Super Bowl weekend was simply awesome for fans of hockey and football, and specifically followers of the Los Angeles Kings, Washington Capitals and New Orleans Saints.

Most of the Monday morning water-cooler discussions rightfully centered on the Saints' feel-good victory over the Indianapolis Colts in Miami. New Orleans' win was the tonic this nation needed to have something to feel good about in the midst of a seemingly endless jobs drought and divisive rhetoric about, well, almost every issue being debated in Washington. Plus the still raw memories of Hurricane Katrina's devastation.

This nation and the city of New Orleans needed a Saints victory and we got it. So thanks to Drew Brees and company for a hell of a performance last Sunday. You gave the whole country (outside of Indianapolis) something to celebrate and come together over and that is special.

If the Saints had won the Super Bowl and nothing else happened that would have been enough. But two of perhaps the most exciting hockey games of the year took place in rainy Los Angeles and snowy Washington, D.C. and what a treat they were!

First on Saturday afternoon at Staples Center I was lucky enough to nab two $100 seats for $20 each from my co-worker to the game. So my friend and I hopped on the subway and headed downtown to the arena where we took our seats seven rows up and one section to the right of the visitors bench. I was so close I could almost hear backup goalie Chris Osgood talking shop with Todd Bertuzzi, Henrik Zetterberg, Nicklas Lidstrom and the rest of the Detroit Red Wings teammates.

The many Detroiters in attendance had a lot to cheer about in the first period as the Wings built up a seemingly impenetrable 3-0 lead going into the intermission. But then the Kings came alive and scored four unanswered goals in the final two periods to win 4-3 on a shot by Michael Handzus past Jimmy Howard to send the purple-and-black-clad fans into a frenzy.

The win was L.A.'s ninth straight, which set a franchise record for consecutive wins. As I waited for the Blue Line train at the Pico station with the celebratory Kings fans, I couldn't wait for NBC's national telecast of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals in D.C.

Because of the record snowfall in D.C. the game was somewhat in doubt. The Pens had lost in Montreal 5-3 the day before and since the D.C. area airports were closed they had to fly to Newark and take a bus down to Washington. They even stopped at a rest stop in Maryland to pick up some Burger King (I won't say it was the fast food that caused the Penguins to lose because the meat industry might sue me).

Like the Kings, the Caps had to overcome a three goal deficit to extend their winning streak to a mind-boggling 14 games -- only three short of tying Pittsburgh's 17-game streak set in 1993. The Caps were down 4-1 before Eric Fehr cut the lead to one and then two goals by Alex Ovechkin for a hat trick tied the game before a near capacity crowd ready to let loose after the Great Blizzard of 2010. Caps fans were rocking the red at the VC no matter what the conditions were. They probably would have sledded across the Arlington Memorial Bridge, along the National Mall and up 7th Street to get to the game if that was the only form of transportation.

And the Caps provided these loyal, courageous fans with a thrilling finish. With everyone in Capitals Nation still feeling the bitter sting of the 7th game playoff loss to the Pens last year, the Caps turned the table for at least one day by beating the Pens 5-4 in overtime off a Mike Knuble tip-in past Marc-Andre Fleury to send the red-clad crowd into the snow happy (and this Caps fan doing cartwheels in his apartment in Los Angeles).

What a weekend!

Other notable news from around the rink:

Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke's son dies

The hockey world is in mourning over the tragic loss of Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke's son Brendan at the age of 21. Burke, the student manager of Miami University's NCAA hockey team in Oxford, Ohio, died along with a friend at the scene of a two-vehicle collision during heavy snow in Wayne County, Indiana at around 2:50 p.m. Friday. Brendan was driving back from Michigan State in East Lansing because he was interested in attending the law school there.

Burke's youngest son made headlines last November when his father revealed to the media that his son was gay.

"I think it's important my story is told to people because there are a lot of gay athletes out there and gay people working in pro sports that deserve to know there are safe environments where people are supportive regardless of your sexual orientation," Burke said.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a news release that Brendan was "a young man of courage and character. Words simply cannot express our sorrow over his loss."

New owner for Lightning

Boston Red Sox minority owner Jeff Vinik has agreed to buy the Tampa Bay Lightning pending approval from the league's Board of Governors. The St. Petersburg Times writes about how GM Brian Lawton will be on the hot seat as he tries to impress his new boss.

Caps-Pens TV ratings

NBC's broadcast of the Caps-Pens last Super Bowl Sunday scored a 1.3 overnight rating, which tied the season high of the Pens-Flyers telecast of two weeks ago. It was also the best ever rating for a Pittsburgh-Washington game.

Caps embrace social media

The Washington Post's Gene Wang has a story on the Caps and owner Ted Leonsis' embrace of social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter to promote the team. Here is an excerpt courtesy of Kukla's Korner Hockey Blog:

"The Washington Capitals in recent years have moved more aggressively than any other NHL team toward embracing social media Web sites such as Twitter and Facebook, targeting supporters who get their information from non-traditional outlets.

Now, with the team in the midst of a franchise-record winning streak led by one of the world’s most dynamic hockey players in Alex Ovechkin, owner Ted Leonsis is hoping the social media strategy will pay off in expanding the club’s popularity and engagement with fans.

“The team blew up, and the team got great with really young kids who were very identifiable by the same generation that used that technology,” Leonsis said last week from his office at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “So the co-mingling of this understanding of social media and technology and the team doing great, and the city wanting a winner, has really made this a very magical time for the franchise.”

NHL News Recap: Kings Make Statement Against Pens

  • Thursday, November 5, 2009 7:36 PM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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If the Los Angeles Kings make the playoffs this year, they will look back at Thursday night's 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins as the pivotal turning point in the season.

Yes, L.A. was already riding a 5-0-2 run and looking very much like a playoff-bound team. But their biggest test of this young season was before a sellout crowd of black-clad fans at Staples Center -- some in Penguins jerseys, most sporting the Kings crown. That is because the defending Stanley Cup champs were undefeated on the road at 7-0.

So could the young, talented Kings match the gritty, playoff-hardened Penguins and snap their road winning streak? The answer was a resounding yes. Former Penguin Rob Scuderi and his teammates showed their mettle with a furious third period.

After Pittsburgh took a 2-1 advantage, the NHL's leading scorer, Anze Kopitar, tied the game in the final session with his second goal of the night, before Jarret Stoll scored the game-winning goal. Michael Handzus and Dustin Brown padded the lead later in the period.

Goalie Jonathan Quick played a masterful game behind the net with 32 saves. Quick robbed Billy Guerin, who was camped in front of the net and took a quick pass from Sidney Crosby. Quick made a spectacular save with his right pad while in the splits.

If anything the Kings sent a message to the rest of the National Hockey League that they are for real and that they believe they can make the playoffs this year.





The Chicago Blackhawks brought their fathers on a Western road swing this week. The hockey dads are accompanying their sons to Phoenix and Denver for games against the Coyotes and Avs.

So did the 'Hawks players put in the extra effort for their dads Thursday night or did they get a scolding after the game from their fathers?

Final score: Coyotes 3, Blackhawks 1.

Time for some drills at the backyard rink boys!

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