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Rossi: Saturday could be game-changer for NHL’s discipline game.

Snow is falling, so this will be a short – by my recent standard, anyway – blog post. Some quick hits from Friday:

 

>> From what I’ve heard, there were quite a few lawyers in the Player Safety hearing for Boston’s Shawn Thornton. A ruling will be made public on Saturday.

Predictions are a fool’s game, but it is safe to report that Player Safety VP Brendan Shanahan has fumed over Thornton’s attack on Brooks Orpik since it happened, and that he does not view it as having any place in this sport.

However, Thornton does not have a track record, so there is no precedent to hit him with a lengthy suspension.

The guess here, based off conversations, is that Thornton will get a lengthy suspension, though.

It has always been easier for Shanahan – or his predecessors – to make come down hard on repeat offenders such as Matt Cooke or Raffi Torres.

Coming down hard on Thornton, who has no history and is reputable around the NHL for playing a respected hard style of hockey – that will be something this league has not seen.

It will be something perhaps challenged by the Players Association, criticized by some owners and general managers, and called out by a majority of players.

It will also be something to applaud by fans of hockey.

The NHL will take a step toward real change regarding safety – a change that Shanahan has told me (and others) he badly wants to see happen – when it changes the game of supplemental discipline.

Changing that game means deterring players from having a history by throwing the book at them when something like Thornton did is done.

Saturday could be a big day in the NHL.

Here’s hoping…

 

>> I implored Jeff Zatkoff to enjoy his Saturday night.

“Let’s see if I start,” Zatkoff said.

My eyes rolled.

Zatkoff laughed.

As the Friday night proved, Marc-Andre Fleury is probably the Penguins’ MVP as this season nears its halfway point.

Zatkoff, though, has been quite a story.

After a horrific first NHL game – a 6-3 loss at Florida on Oct. 11 – he has won four of five and allowed 10 goals while racking a .924 save percentage over that span.

He has earned this hometown start at Detroit on Saturday night.

 

>> About that MVP candidacy for Fleury… maybe it should be a league MVP? The GAME STORY offers some statistical – and anecdotal – support: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/pensgalleries/5243726-74/fleury-devils-penguins#axzz2nIuCOF12

 

>> The latest on Orpik and some thoughts from Ray Shero about James Neal in the NOTES: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/5243728-74/orpik-penguins-player#axzz2nIuCOF12

 

>> Count me as a fan of the Stadium Series jerseys. They are not the new alternates, and if what I’m hearing is true, you will be all happy-happy-joy-joy when those are unveiled this summer.

 

>> A look back at columnist Dejan Kovacevic’s thoughts about Jaromir Jagr’s potential last game in Pittsburgh: http://triblive.com/sports/dejankovacevic/dejancolumns/5226035-74/jagr-game-lemieux#axzz2nIuCOF12

Jagr does not sound like he’s thinking about leaving the NHL, at least he didn’t sound that way on Friday.

The Penguins may have to sign him on the condition that he does retire.

(FAKE CONVERSATION)

Mario: Uh, Jags…

Jagr: I love you.

Mario: Two million. We retire your number. Just quit.

Jagr: My heart is in Pittsburgh.

Mario: Um, yeah, we need a signature, too.

 

>> A previous blog post about what my thoughts were with Orpik on Friday: http://blog.triblive.com/chipped-ice/2013/12/13/rossi-looking-back-on-covering-crosbys-concussion/#axzz2nJZ9mQyd

 

>> Be safe. Be warm. Save me some milk at the stores.

 

>> Josh Yohe has the club in Detroit on Saturday. Nothing big scheduled, eh?

 

Be EXCELLENT to each other,

Rossi

 

 

Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi has covered the Penguins for parts of every season that Sidney Crosby has played in Pittsburgh. So, since 2005. He has led the Trib's NHL coverage since 2007, when he became the primary Penguins beat reporter. He joined the Tribune-Review in November 2002. Rossi, 35, is local chapter president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. He also dabbles in radio, as ClearChannel's "Penguins Insider," and TV, as "NHL Insider" for Root Sports Pittsburgh, and as a semi-regular contributor to The Final Word, a Sunday sports show that airs on WPXI. In 2012, Rossi was recognized nationally by Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism for his coverage of youth sports for a Trib series that investigated concussion protocol. In 2013, he teamed with Carl Prine for an investigative piece about athletes' charities what was honored regionally. A graduate of West Virginia University and Keystone Oaks High School, Rossi was raised in Crafton and Green Tree and currently resides in Brookline. He is currently working on the authorized biography of Evgeni Malkin. Follow him on Twitter: @RobRossi_Trib

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