Wednesday nights

So evidently you can expect something big to happen in the NHL tonight, considering every time I post the Humpday Hater Report Wednesday morning, it is followed by some big, breaking news.

My point…

Ruff times

It was fun reading all the “when Lindy Ruff was hired” comments last week after the longtime Sabres coach and the organization parted ways. Personally, I was eight, and very excited about going to Disney World that summer.

Ruff coached Buffalo since 1997, after a four-year stint with the Florida Panthers. Remember the year of the rat? (I know you do, Tom Barasso). Ruff was an assistant on that team.

Last Tuesday, Sportsnet’s Patrick Hoffman wrote a piece on why Ruff should be fired. While the thought of the action wasn’t insane, it was a little brash for many fans. Apparently, the Sabres are avid readers of Hoffman, because the following day, they fired Ruff.

The Sabres, perhaps cursed, lost their following two games after dismissing the coach. The first was a 3-1 loss to Toronto, the second a 4-0 loss to the Islanders. Yikes.

They did, however, just pick up a 2-1 win over Tampa Bay last night.

As of last evening, Buffalo resides in the bottom (14th) of the conference at 6-12-1

Don’t ever change, Mike Milbury

Mike Milbury is a God send for someone like me. He makes doing columns sooooo easy. It’s really amazing that he is still employed by NBC.

During last Thursday’s broadcast of the Pens/Flyers game, Milbury described Sidney Crosby and the previously not-concussed Evgeni Malkin as “crack addicts,” when talking about their fondness for the offensive game.

When the Trib-Review asked Sid about it later, “I wasn’t aware of it. He watches so much hockey, he must know. I’ll try to do a better job of playing defensively.”

Great to see he has a sense of humor about it. I must say I liked Matt Niskanen’s response better.

“It’s a little irritating,” he told the Trib-Review. “I try not to get too flustered by it. He always has a boneheaded remark to make.”

THANK YOU for confirming that hockey players agree about this guy.

Through talking to a lot of friends and colleagues, I’m finding out that Mike Milbury is actually making ROOT Sports attractive.

Wow.

What my name ‘gain?

Oy. Here we go again. I find it amazing that the league which is trying to change its reputation to something safer and cleaner after the 2004-05 lockout has since seen its best two players concussed.

The Gudbranson hit on Malkin has already been well analyzed. And you can argue all you want, but, by the rules of the NHL, it’s a legal hit. Don’t listen to what Steigy tells you.

But it shouldn’t be. Sure, Malkin knew he was there. Sure, he wasn’t right next to the boards. But Malkin was in a defenseless position. And this is the gray area that will cause arguments. Does the NHL have an obligation to protect players in these situations?

Don’t confuse what I’m saying as taking away such plays like open-ice hits. If a player is skating with his head down while possessing, or attempting to possess the puck, and the hit is clean with the shoulder or hip, then great. That’s one of the most exciting plays in hockey (unless your name is Eric Lindros).

Officials have been calling more boarding calls, though they’ve also called penalties on a lot of clean hits, too. They’ll get consistent, but it may take some time.

So the problem the NHL is presented with is something similar to the NFL’s defenseless receiver. Now is this just a freak play? Was Gudbranson too aggressive at a dangerous distance from the boards? And does the league have to act on said situations?

I don’t know the answers, but these will be the questions facing the NHL should these types of hits (again, legal hits) continue to injure players.

Happy birthday, Kovy!

Now take a seat.

That was what happened to Alexei Kovalev on his 40th birthday last weekend when the Florida Panthers scratched him from the lineup. AK-27 hasn’t played since, as most Pens fans noticed last night.

Having scored only 5 points in 14 games, I think it’s safe to say that scratching Kovy wasn’t the Panthers’ gift to him, but instead his gift to the Panthers.

ROOT Rants

I haven’t brought this segment back in a while (mostly because I’m muting my television), but Bob Errey left me no choice during the Pens/Lightning game Sunday night.

I’m not sure if Errey has some sort of Gary Roberts/Fiji water fetish, but his reaction seemed a little over the top when the cameras caught Roberts drinking water.

The video was up on YouTube, but has since been taking down. If someone finds it elsewhere, please share.

Panthers fans

Yes, all five of you.

I know there’s a lot about the Florida Panthers in this edition, but I can’t help but wonder what this franchise would be like if it had consistent backing by its fans.

As we saw last year, this is a good team. They won the Southeast last season. Granted, it’s a weak division, but they still took advantage of the opportunity. Though they’re currently last in the Southeast at 6-9-4, it’s still better than other years in Sunrise.

Seeing an empty arena last night was just depressing. It reminded of the days when I could walk up to Mellon Arena and get tickets the day of a game.

But I’m sure Gary Bettman had a legitimate reason for expanding to Florida, all while taking teams away from Canada. He seems like a smart guy, right?

Well that does it for this week’s edition. Be sure to check back next week for more. Until then, happy hating!