If you haven't noticed, Eric Lindros is taking charge, the New York Rangers have become a legitimate force in the Eastern Conference and have overtaken the Islanders for first place in the Atlantic Division.
Lindros scored three goals, including his 300th in the NHL, and assisted on another to lead the Rangers to a victory over Atlanta on Sunday.
"I think he's won them over," said linemate Mike York about Lindros' relationship with New York fans. "He has a big heart. He's an emotional guy. He's the kind of guy that gets everybody going."
Added captain Mark Messier, "He's really just dominating out there right now, in every area."
Edmonton's depth will truly be tested with Ryan Smyth out for at least eight weeks after breaking his right ankle against Chicago last week. Smyth's possible spot on the Canadian Olympic team is also in jeopardy, with teams required to submit their official Salt Lake rosters on Dec. 22.
If the owners are worried about escalating salaries, it certainly doesn't show. They hand out fat contracts as if they were food stamps and even teams not known for spending are getting into the act.
It wasn't much of a surprise, for instance, when New Jersey agreed to a five-year, $40-million contract extension for goalie Martin Brodeur, but it's astonishing to see Calgary on the verge of signing goaltender Roman Turek to a four-year extension for nearly $19 million.
In anticipation of Los Angeles' first NHL All-Star game in more than 20 years, NHL Cool School has been applying hockey themes to English, math, social studies, science and health education for kids in grades 4-6 around the Los Angeles area.
The children will also receive free field trips to NHL All-Star FANtasy, an interactive hockey theme park to be held at the Convention Center from Wednesday, Jan. 30 through Saturday, Feb. 2.
Some NHL Cool School participants will have opportunities for monetary scholarships and tickets to the All-Star Game at Staples Center on Feb. 2. Details: (800) 4 NHL FANS.
The NHL referees in the Olympics will be Bill McCreary, Stephen Walkom and Dennis LaRue.