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NHL: pluses and minuses around the league

The late Ruslan Salei gets a big honor and Ed Jovanovski makes his return to Florida's lineup. USA Hockey executives get a painful lesson in media accessibility.

January 06, 2014|Helene Elliott
  • Former Anaheim star Ruslan Salei in action during a playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche.
Former Anaheim star Ruslan Salei in action during a playoff series against… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

Times columnist Helene Elliott rates the pluses and minuses in the NHL from the previous week:

+ Good to see the late Ruslan Salei elected to the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame. The former Ducks defenseman played internationally for Belarus; he was killed in the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv plane crash in 2011. Retired Detroit Red Wings Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom also were chosen, with Soviet-era Olympic champions Viacheslav Bykov and Andrei Khumotov.

+ Ed Jovanovski returned to Florida's lineup on Saturday, eight months after undergoing a relatively new procedure called hip resurfacing surgery. "There's not much data behind this, but I have the whole support of my doctors in New York who are very confident that my hip bone is stronger that it ever was," he told the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

+ Tampa Bay has stayed competitive in the Eastern Conference despite losing standout center Steven Stamkos to a broken leg, winning seven of its last 10. However, goaltender Ben Bishop left the game Sunday at Edmonton because of an upper-body injury. If he's out long-term, they're in trouble.

- Naïve or clever? USA Hockey executives gave reporters from ESPN.com and USA Today special access to Olympic selection discussions and then claimed to be aghast when both published Brian Burke's harsh criticism of Bobby Ryan. General Manager David Poile apologized to Ryan, but Burke came off as petty in the fascinating behind-the-scenes accounts. Still, the uproar over Burke's comments got USA Hockey more publicity than it would otherwise have gotten.

- The Nashville Predators are 0-4 in shootouts, which might come back to haunt them. They hadn't even scored in the tiebreaking procedure until David Legwand succeeded against Florida on Saturday in a six-round shootout loss to Florida.

- Even the return on Saturday of team captain Shane Doan, who missed a month while suffering from a case of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, wasn't enough to end the Phoenix Coyotes' woes. A 5-3 home loss to the Philadelphia Flyers left them 2-4-4 in their last 10 games. Defense and goaltending should be their strengths but have been wobbly.

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