Preseason Madness (and Sharks update)

This summer was a turbulent one for the NHL to say the least. Unfortunately the arrival of preseason hasn't ended any of the absurdity. The incident in London, Ontario was a disgrace, but because it likely was the action of one bad person I'd rather not dwell on the topic. What really concerns me are the embarrassing actions by the players of the game we love.

A good starting point is Wiz's hit on Cal Clutterbuck. Wisniewski looked like a bully in peewee hockey who likes to hit the smaller, defenseless players. There is no place in this sport for a play like that, and the suspension was deserved. However, if that were the only such incident, there would be no need for this article. Brendan Shanahan is making videos daily explaining the violent, illegal hits that are getting players suspended. I haven't disagreed with any so far. I think these suspensions are doing a great job of highlighting a really ugly aspect of this game. If you read Eklund's post on Hockey Buzz saying he disagreed with Wiz's 8 game suspension, go back and read the fan Message Board, in which almost every poster thought the hit was illegal and warranted a suspension. If you want to see how the game should be played, check out Trevor Gillies (clean) monster hit on Derek Smith.

Another sad moment this preseason was Wayne Simmonds outburst directed at Sean Avery. Everyone knows Aves is not a very likable player, but what Simmonds did was inappropriate. The NHL took an easy way out, in my (and Brian Burke's) opinion. They may be getting the calls right on hits to the head, but they certainly missed this one. It seems pretty obvious from these videos that Simmonds was responsible:

*Sharks updates: The third line is set, but competition for the fourth line is still on, with six or seven players in the mix for the final three spots. The bottom defensive pairing is up for grabs as well, but I'd like to see Colin White get a spot. His reliable defensive play will be a definite boost on the PK. With Niittymaki out for a while, Greiss will be the backup netminder. If there's a silver lining to the injury, it's that Niemi will have many consecutive starts to get in a groove. So let's hope he can.

With the season just one week a way, let's hope that the suspension frenzy dies down and some good, competitive hockey takes its place.

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