Proteau’s Blog: Sopelly amazing

– Defenseman Brent Sopel, whose previous career high in goals was 10 with Vancouver in 2003-04, now has two in three games as a Los Angeles King this year. Coach Marc Crawford is practically delirious in his praise for Sopel.

“If you look at our team,” Crawford told the Los Angeles Daily News, “and look at who is our best offensive defenseman, you’d probably say (Lubomir) Visnovsky or (Rob) Blake, but (Sopel is) right there.”

Upon further reflection, ‘practically’ doesn’t enter into it. Crawford is delirious.

– Poor Barret Jackman. The Blues defenseman won a Calder Trophy winner in 2002-03, but injuries have limited him to just 80 NHL games since then. He missed the majority of the 2003-04 campaign with a separated shoulder, and a broken jaw – suffered in a fight with Darcy Hordichuk – put a premature end to his ’05-06 season. He’s now expected to be out until mid-November with a knee injury.

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– Greg Johnson never had a 20-goal season and as the all-time games leader for the Nashville Predators he didn’t get much media attention. But there was a reason the 35-year-old was a 12-year NHL veteran and Nashville’s captain for the last three seasons: hard work. A newly-diagnosed heart condition forced the Thunder Bay, Ont., native to sign his retirement papers last week, but league observers will attest that heart was Johnson’s strongest suit.

– A brief statistical summary of Sean Avery’s contributions this year: Three games. Two assists. Two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. If there were a Polar Opposite Lady Byng Trophy, Avery would be the clear-cut favorite.

Perhaps the Polar Opposite Lady Bing Trophy could be named the Sean Avery Trophy since he has set the standard for counter-productive pestiferousness.
– Tim Erskine