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NHL: pluses and minuses around the league

The Penguins make a huge move by acquiring Brenden Morrow from the Stars. Tampa Bay's Guy Boucher is fired two years after getting the Lightning to the Eastern Conference finals.

March 24, 2013|By Helene Elliott
  • Brenden Morrow (10) was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday.
Brenden Morrow (10) was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)

Pluses

The rich got richer Sunday when the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired left wing Brenden Morrow and a third-round draft pick from the Dallas Stars for touted defense prospect Joe Morrow and a fifth-round pick. The Penguins, winners of 12 straight games, had enough young depth on defense to make a move that positions them to win the East. Brenden Morrow, the Stars' classy captain and a free-agent-to-be, waived his no-trade clause. This is one of those rare deals that should help both sides.

Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, out a month because of a back injury, scored the third goal of his career Thursday to take the career lead among NHL goalies. Brodeur, who will be 41 in May, was the last New Jersey player to touch the puck before an attempted pass to the point by Carolina's Jordan Staal slid into his own net, which was empty because of a pending delayed penalty.

Not long ago, the idea of a high school team from Southern California winning a national title would have drawn laughs. But thanks to the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League, the Rancho Santa Margarita Eagles — coached by former NHL forward Craig Johnson — became the USA Hockey national champion Sunday with a 4-3 overtime victory over Regis Jesuit of Aurora, Colo. Eemil and Eetu Selanne, sons of Ducks right wing Teemu Selanne, played for the winning side. Several NHL alumni have settled in Southern California and coach youth teams, giving local kids a tremendous boost up the hockey ladder.

Minuses

Two years after Guy Boucher coached the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Eastern Conference finals, he's their ex-coach. He was fired Sunday by General Manager Steve Yzerman, who's trying to avoid a second straight playoff miss. The Lightning was 14th in the East when Yzerman took action, saying, "I am not happy with the direction we are heading." Top candidates to replace Boucher are former Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff and Jon Cooper, coach of Syracuse (N.Y.) of the American Hockey League.

The fickle finger of NHL justice was never more feeble than when the league declined to punish New York Rangers winger Rick Nash for elbowing Florida's Tomas Kopecky in the back of the head last week. The blow was high and reckless. The NHL's spin: It should have been a minor penalty but no more because Nash didn't target Kopecky's head. The inconsistency of rulings is maddening.

The Calgary Flames extended their road futility to 0-8-1 and have given up 38 goals in those losses. Their playoff hopes are gone and their chance to start rebuilding by trading Jarome Iginla to Pittsburgh vanished when the Penguins instead acquired Brenden Morrow. General Manager Jay Feaster has a lot of work to do before the April 3 trade deadline.

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