Sunday, October 24, 2010

NHL in a Nutshell- Charity Work, Broken Bones and an Extension for Jack Johnson?

Greetings, Pens Nation! It's a bit strange writing a post on a Monday afternoon but as I said Friday, I'm trying to post the news as it comes, not saving it until Friday, for this week. We'll see where it goes from here. Admittedly, not all of this is brand-new news so I'm playing a little catchup here.

-Great news for the Penguins. Zbynek Michalek (I still have to double check and make sure I'm spelling his name right) practiced with the team for the first time since being injured against New Jersey on October 11th. He says he's not 100 percent yet but is improving quickly and is happy to be practicing with the team again. No official word on when we can expect him back in uniform.

-On the other hand, we can expect to see Arron Asham in the lineup against Tampa Bay on Wednesday. His return, along with Brooks Orpik returning against St. Louis on Saturday, lead to Ray Shero announcing that Eric Tangradi and Andrew Hutchinson have been re-assigned to Wiles-Barre. Yes, the Big Dog is going back to the kennel. He's been decent, but not spectacular, so far at the NHL level and might benefit from playing an (almost) full season on the first line in the AHL, considering he spent last year mostly on the third line. Think of how stacked the Baby Pens are now. They're already 6-0 and Tangradi and Hutchinson make them even better.

-Rumor is circulating that the L.A. Kings and Jack Johnson are working on a three-year extension. No word on potential monetary terms.

-Via his agent, Allan Walsha, Ondrej Pavelec has been officially activated from the IR and is ready to go for Atlanta. Great to hear that he's back on the ice, even if we never find out exactly why he fainted in the game against Washington.

-The Kings and Avalanche took part in a very interesting Twitter-inspired charity on Saturday night. The two teams, who faced off Saturday night, induced a "hashtag battle". During the game, whenever someone tweeted #GoKings or #GoAvs, the team donated $1 to a local cancer-related charity of their choice. #GoKings received 29,374 mentions and #GoAvs got 13,876, which means that $43,250 total was raised as a part of Hockey Fights Cancer month. (#GoKings and #GoAvs were also the number one and two trending topics in America and Canada and ended up trending worldwide.) This was a very creative and fun way to use social media to raise money for cancer-related charities. Kudos to both the Kings and Avalanche.

-More charity work recently came out of the NHL. Scott Hartnell's Carrot Top-esque hair is no more. On Saturday, the Philly winger got a haircut for the first time in three years and showed some class in the process, donating his shorn mane to "Locks for Love". "Locks for Love" is a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to children who're financially disadvantaged and suffering from medical hair loss, such as cancer. Look at how different he looks:

I'm having a flashback to 2004 when Johnny Damon left the Red Sox to sign with the Yankees and had to get a trim. Like Damon, Hartnell is almost unrecognizable without his infamous locks. In other news, Head coach Peter Laviolette reports after today's practice that Hartnell speed has almost doubled since Saturday for some strange, unidentified reason.

-The Bruins lost more than the game Saturday night against the Rangers. Defenseman Johnny Boychuk suffered slight fracture in his left forearm in the first period of the game and will miss roughly a month of action.

-According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, Kovalchuk missed a team meeting on Saturday morning which led to his being a healthy scratch that night against Buffalo. (Kovy declined to comment when asked if he had missed the meeting.) McKenzie also reported that the Russian sniper balked at playing right wing because he prefers the left side, but supposedly that has nothing to do with his being a healthy scratch.

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