February 14, 2011

Grabner's 1st Star; Mario; Konopka

As expected, Michael Grabner was named the NHL's first star of the week after scoring eight (!) goals in four games this week.

Grabner's performance was one of the few things that did not go unnoticed in a week that was full of fights and comments.

For Grabner, this is the 2nd time in the past week the 23 year old has been named one of the NHL's three stars.

The past weeks performance helped Grabner reach 24 goals, giving him a tie for the rookie lead and moving him into a tie for 13th overall in the league as well. Grabner is firing on all cylinders right now and doing everything right, on both sides of the puck. If anyone told me he was going to get better as time went on, I would have believed it. But if you told me that it was going to take about 40 games to see what we are, I'll admit I would have probably laughed a bit. I always knew Grabner was an awesome talent, but didn't think it would take this short a time for his hands to catch up to his feet.

Congrats to Michael for the honor.

LEMIEUX/KONOPKA COMMENTS: Some folks have asked me what I felt about Mario's comments after the league handed down their punishments. In all honesty, he is entitled to his opinion. However, I feel he is wrong, and obviously not paying attention to what is going on here or what the real issue is (officiating, which I have written about enough here these past few days).

Of course, Lemieux is being labeled as a hypocrite, as he should. He employs the guy who was called one of the top two dirtiest players in the entire league recently in Matt Cooke. Max Talbot meanwhile, instead of trying to prove that he has usefulness as far as offence is concerned, is too busy whacking and running guys, and then refusing to fight when challenged.

Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones, Mario.

If the league would learn how to properly make calls, such as the various ones that come from guys like Cooke and Talbot, then the players wouldn't be playing with such a chip on their shoulder.

I'll tell you what Mario. You say you need to rethink if you want to be a part of this league. You said that you feel the NHL has failed. When Cooke tries to end someone's season again, talk about how the NHL has failed to keep the players safe. When Jordan Staal sucker punches a fighter again in the face with his glove on, talk about the NHL failing there.

Let me venture a guess: he won't. This is hypocrisy at its finest folks.

Zenon Konopka had some fantastic comments today, in response to what "Super Mario" had to say. The best thing was when Konopka said he's going to remove Lemieux's poster from his door at home. I would too, if I had one. I was never a fan of his though, so I don't have that issue. Oh well.

Konopka has been pretty consistent in saying that they have to take care of their own players, regardless of what the outside says or does. For as long as the league will have crummy officiating, this will keep happening.

And speaking of officiating, Howie Rose echoed the sentiment Sean had on our show this past Sunday as far as giving certain players "preferential treatment." I realized more now that Sean may be on to something.

Within the first minute of the Capitals - Coyotes game on Monday night, a penalty was called on Derek Morris. Of course, the way the play unfolded consisted of Alex Ovechkin skating into Morris' stick as he was defending, causing it to come up a bit to the mid section. Veteran referee Don VanMassenhoven, standing 15 feet to the right and watching the play unfold as Ovechkin came around the net, made no call. The referee at center-ice however did - a much younger, more inexperienced ref.

Why is that? Is it because it's Ovechkin and you give him the benefit of the doubt? As time goes on here, it's things like this that are frustrating everyone and make me think that Rose or Sean could be on to something. Absolutely no need to make that call there. If VanMassenhoven wasn't calling anything there when he was the guy who could see it all, then I'm convinced there was nothing to call.

The bashing of the Islanders will continue and I'm fine with that. In all honesty, folks are getting out of hand with their opinion on the Islanders actions, refusing to look at the big picture and understand what the heart of the issue is here. As Konopka stated, Boston and Montreal can have this huge fight and it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. But when the Islanders get frustrated because of non-calls and the Penguins skating after players with this cheap-shot aura about them, it's terrible.

Stay classy Mario. Stay classy Pittsburgh. Stay classy NHL.

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