News for today gets broken into three very simple categories:
- News about James Wisniewski's suspension
- News about the gong show that was the Rangers / Flyers game last night
- Anything else
As to the Wiz, I'm even going to subdivide - first, let's look at the National Media's reaction: Puck Daddy, PHT. Next, the reaction from his teammates / the Dispatch. Finally, here's a look from your fellow Jackets fans - which I have no doubt we'll be hearing more of as the day goes on: Martini Hockey, Light The Lamp, DBJ, The Hockey Writers, TMM, and Eric Smith.
After getting a little sleep on it, I'm still pretty mixed. I absolutely agree that, yes, Wiz made a stupid hit, he should have known better, and he deserved a suspension. Where I remain contrary is that I feel like Wisniewski's hit, though after the whistle, was nowhere near as dangerous as the hit that saw Jody Shelley suspended for 5 games. If Shelley had been suspended for, say, 10-12 games of the regular season? I'd be swallowing this a lot easier. As it is, I felt like Wiz deserved, perhaps, 5-6 games, and the remaining suspension was the new equivalent of "Two minutes for being a Blue Jacket."
My reaction may also be tempered depending on what comes out of the official NHL reaction from last night's Rangers / Flyers tilt, where...well, there was a lot going on, really.
First off, you have former Jackets prospect Tom Sestito delivering a vicious hit on Andre Deveaux. This in a game where there had already been two fights, and there would be another three "roughings" (that sure looked like fights to me) as the game went on.
In the words of Martini Hockey? Grow the **** up, guys. Meanwhile, LTL is watching to see how this is handled to know if this is all Smoke and Mirrors. I have to admit I see his concern about players know for drawing penalties instead shifting to trying to draw suspensions. It's an area I hope the NHL keeps a close eye on.
Even uglier than the Sestito hit, though, was an incident between Wayne Simmonds and Sean Avery where Avery claims Simmonds used homophobic slurs while taunting him. There's more reactions from PHT and Puck Daddy. As of last night, the NHL's stance was that they are "looking into" the incident.
The fact that Simmonds was the victim a disgusting racial taunt in London a few days ago, and being praised for the cool and collected way he handled it, makes this even worse. It's a textbook case of "You should be better than this."
I realize that more than a few people will say "Well, it's Sean Avery", and I don't have a lot of love for the man either, but there was no place for this. Hockey is one of the professional sports that's done the best job of breaking down some of the culture of hatred and stereotype against the LGBT community. It really doesn't help that Avery has been a spokesperson for some of those efforts. If it's not OK to use racial slurs against a player of color while you're enraged at him and trying to taunt him into a fight (and guess what, it never has been and still isn't!), it's equally not OK to use homophobic slurs. The NHL needs to review this carefully and act accordingly - even if Simmonds isn't suspended from game action, he needs to feel this one in the pocketbook.
On to the rest of the news - believe it or not, more stuff happened yesterday!
Over at TMM, Jeff had some thoughts about the quickening pace of training camp.
Over at The New Jackets Fan, Chris is getting into fantasy hockey...and needs a little help on D.
Despite the "Major NHL announcement" yesterday being the open secret of the Winter Classic, there was one surprise - Barry Melrose will be joining the NHL Network. He's still working at ESPN, but will also be on the NHLN team for major events and producing a blog for NHL.com
Columbus Buisness First outlines the economic impact of losing the Jackets. Most interesting is that they're also including potential revenue for future events, such as hosting the 2013 All Star Game or a 2015 Winter Classic. They also include the possibility of hosting the NCAA Men's Hockey regional tournament or a Frozen Four at Nationwide, or becoming a host for events like the NCAA men's or women's basketball tornament, at least for the early rounds.
Douglas Murray popped Maxim Lapierre in a preseason tilt on Sunday, and Canucks coach Alain Vigneault compared the hit to the play that sidelined Nathan Horton during the Stanley Cup Finals. Is it too soon to make that kind of reference, especially when your team was the offender in that case?
Michael Arace has a nice feature on Cam Atkinson for today's Dispatch, and how he's looking to crack the lineup in spite of his doubters.