Around the NHL: 8/16/11

Sorry for the lack of a mailbag yesterday. The kids and I were out at the Octagon Sports pro camp over at the St. Louis Park Rec Center and there wasn’t really any questions to be answered so, we had a day off. I’ll be heading there a few times a week, so I’ll put up some thoughts once more players get there.

Anyway, on to our look around the NHL. Enjoy!

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Rick Rypien Found Dead
We’re starting with a sad story today, as 27-year-old enforcer Rick Rypien was found dead in his Alberta home on Monday.

Rypien’s dead was reported by News 1130 in Vancouver as a “non-suspicious, sudden death,” and, past that, no more details have been released.

Rypien is the second NHL player this off season to be gone to soon and, out of respect for him and his friends and family we aren’t going to speculate about the cause or circumstances of his death.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family during this trying time and, once more concrete information is available, we’ll have more on this.

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Kaptain Kontroversy in New Jersey?
As funny as it sounds, there might be a controversy brewing in Newark surrounding the captaincy of the New Jersey Devils.

Will it be Ilya Kovalchuck, the $100 million-dollar man or will it be Zach Parise, the team’s franchise player whose future with the team is seemingly in limbo? Or will it be someone else like Patrik Elias (despite his insistence that he doesn’t want the job)?

For me, I can’t even imagine why there is any controversy here. The right call, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is Parise and the

There should be a C added to that picture this season

rationale goes beyond a simple power play to try to convince him to stick with the team past this coming season.

First of all, Parise is the team’s true franchise player. He was drafted into the organization and has been the cornerstone of the franchise since he first suited up in a Devils’ sweater. In Parise, you have not only a strong player, but a player with a strong pedigree (son of former North Star J.P. Parise) and a player who has won everywhere he’s been. Not only that, but you have a player that has been the face of the Devils’ franchise for all the right reasons (as opposed to being the face of the franchise due to illegal cap circumvention.)

In Kovalchuk, you have a player who sat back, waited and went to the highest bidder. Does Kovalchuk really want to be in Newark? I have no doubt that he does. (He chose it over Hollywood, for crying out loud.) But he’s been the name that people think of when they think of the Devils for all the wrong reasons.

Kovalchuk does have the experience of being a captain on his side, but is that really a good thing? The Thrashers slapped the captaincy on him in the hopes that it would convince him to re-sign in Atlanta.

The experiment failed.

The franchise didn’t win and Kovalchuk left.

Now don’t get me wrong here. I love Kovalchuk. I’m probably one of his biggest supporters and he’s one of my favorite players outside of the Wild, but he’s not a captain. He’s not the guy you want your players looking to for guidance. He’s not the guy you think of and say to yourself, “Now there’s a great leader.”

I’m sorry, but he’s just not.

On the other hand, Parise has been a leader everywhere he has played. From North Dakota to the Devils to Team USA.

He is the man for the job and it’s not just a power play to keep Parise on the team. It’s the right call.

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Crosby May Not Be Ready For Camp?
In the interest of full disclosure: I hate Sidney Crosby.

I’m sure he’s a great guy and he’s certainly a great player, but I just can’t stand him.

Don't worry Pens fans. He'll be back.

But, my personal decisions aside, if he’s not ready for training camp, that’s a huge blow to not just the Pittsburgh Penguins, but the NHL. Crosby is a huge draw around the league and he makes the league more intriguing to watch. If he’s not ready to play this season, that’s a huge blow.

Should it be a cause for concern?


Should anyone go into full out panic mode?

Absolutely not.

Head injuries are funny things (funny, weird, not funny, ha-ha). They’re unpredictable. One day you can be on top of the world and the next you can be unable to get out of bed.

Crosby is in a precarious position right now. He’s been cleared to work out and he’s doing so. As some Penguins blogs are pointing out, there’s a good chance that he’s feeling light-headed after workouts because, well, everyone does at one point or another.

He’s an elite athlete who is likely pushing himself to get into shape for training camp.

Yeah, he’s going to have instances where he’s not feeling his best.

As has been pointed out, though, the biggest key is going to be whether or not he is cleared for contact once camp comes around. If he is, great. If he isn’t, though, it’s going to be a huge hit for everyone.

Until then, though, it’s a disservice to everyone to speculate.

Crosby is still working out and that gives every indication that he’s doing just fine.

So, Pens fans, don’t panic…Yet.

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We’ll be hitting up more of the Octagon camp tomorrow, so we’ll try to get some photos to throw up here and we’re going to have the prospect report done tonight for you, focusing on the Wild’s newest prospect – Charlie Coyle.

Enjoy your day and we’ll be back later tonight!

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