How to Neal with elbows

I don’t need to tell you what happened to James Neal Saturday – but I will anyway.

Neal took an elbow, albeit seemingly coincidental, from the Rangers’ Michael Del Zotto Saturday. After attempting to play the puck around the net, Neal came in behind Del Zotto, who swung his right elbow around behind him.

It didn’t look like much at first. But it doesn’t take much to cause a lot of damage upstairs – just ask Pittsburgh’s other two superstars.

Anyway, the move wasn’t penalized by the officials. In cases of penalty-worthy plays, intent is hardly ever a factor. Inadvertent high stick? Coincidental trip? Accidentally shoving an opposing player with all your might into the boards from five feet away? Doesn’t matter. Penalty.

If the NHL wants to continue the appearance of caring about its players, particularly regarding head injuries, that call has to be made – and it has to hurt. Five minutes in the box will keep players’ elbows from flying around without regard for anyone around them.

Earlier in this generation of hockey players, a similar problem occurred with high sticks. Players were getting cut left and right from inadvertent high sticks, officials started calling it whenever they saw it, and players began focusing a lot harder on keeping their sticks down.

Call me a reactionist because it happened to James Neal if it makes you feel better about disagreeing, but type “NHL elbow penalties” in Google, and you’ll see at least two cases from no more than two months ago come up in the top five results.

2013 Winter Classic, Take 2

Take 1 never happened for some reason…

Earlier in the week, the NHL announced – again – that the 2014 Winter Classic would be played at The Big House on the campus of the University of Michigan between the host Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said the same plans are in place for 2014 as they would’ve been for this year – but again failed to mention why this year’s Winter Classic was cancelled…he must have forgotten already.

The commish also added that he thinks the league will be able to do more for next year with all the extra time they will have to plan for the event.

Gee, ya think? How about personally going up to each person who bought tickets for that game and apologizing to them profusely?

Just because the NHL vowed to try again in Detroit for 2014, doesn’t make it right that it cancelled the first one in 2013. That was expected of the league if you ask me. The NHL had the perfect opportunity to show some courtesy to its fans by saying, “We’re genuinely sorry that we had to cancel this game, but are happy to announce we’re going to do even more for you in 2014!”

But instead? “Hey! We’ll have more time to plan out cool stuff? Aren’t we great?!”

The Green Men do it again

Vancouver’s Green Men have to be the most entertaining fans in the NHL. Known for their trademark green body suits and ridiculous antics through the glass of the opponent’s penalty box, the Green Men broke out a new one last week.

When Calgary’s Tim Jackman went off to the sin bin Saturday in Vancouver, the Green Men had a magic trick for him. This might just be their best yet

How anyone – the broadcasters, the penalty box supervisor – keep from losing it with those guys is beyond me.

Calgary ended up losing the contest, 5-2.

Roberto Luongo hates his contract

Forgive me for being a bit late on this one, as this happened after last week’s HHR was posted.

After a lot of trade rumors, Roberto Luongo survived the trade deadline and stayed in Vancouver last week. Now, “survived” might not be the appropriate term since Luongo obviously wanted out of the Canucks’ organization, but you get my point.

When asked what the “stumbling block” was that prevented the goalie, who has spent a lot of time recently serving as Vancouver’s backup, from being moved to another team, Luongo responded, “My contract sucks.”

That statement was blown up a little bit by some national media outlets because of how harsh it sounded on paper. But by watching the presser, you could tell it was more of Luongo accepting his fate.

What I mean by that is Luongo’s contract was initially 12 years, $64 million. Over two years, Luongo’s GAA has gone from 2.11 to 2.44, and his save percentage has dropped from .928 to .904. Vancouver simply doesn’t want him anymore, and he simply doesn’t want Vancouver.

Now most of our readers here at FF know that I’ve hated those big contracts for quite some time – mostly because it’s a way to cheat the salary cap. But now, I hope teams are learning their lessons when they get stuck with players they can’t use anymore, but still have to pay them astronomical amounts of money.

Therrien an Adams candidate

Since we’re three-quarters through the season, there’s been a lot of talk lately about who award finalists might be.

Montreal coach, and former Pittsburgh coach, Michel Therrien has been mentioned by almost everyone for Jack Adams for his getting the Habs to where no one thought possible – second in the conference.

So I just wanted to share a few thoughts.

I know his critics are ‘not impressss,’ but he’s finished with the ‘patetic performances. It’s like…are we gon’be hauppy to’ see him win the Jack Adams? ‘I tink his goals…I really start to believe his goals is to be the beeest coach in da league…and he’s doang sush a great job.’ Anyone who thinks he doesn’t deserve this award ‘suffs.’

That’s all I really had to say.

Don’t get that one?

Mason jarred

The Flyers just can’t win when it comes to goalies.

Philadelphia brought in netminder Steve Mason from Columbus at the trade deadline, hoping he could provide some stability between the pipes.

But in his debut for the Flyers last night on Long Island, Mason let in four goals in a tough 4-1 loss to the Islanders.

To make matters worse, the Islanders – yes, the Islanders – are having dreams of playoffs. With last night’s win over the struggling Flyers, New York moved into the seven spot in the East.

To make matters even worse, Columbus, from where Mason came, pitched a 4-0 shutout last night against San Jose. And who recorded that shutout? Yup – former Flyers’ goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. Man, you’ve got to love that irony.

Well that will do it for this week’s Humpday Hater Report. Be sure to tune in next week for more. Until then, happy hating!