News Playoff Blog: Datsyuk a difference-maker

Even after the world-class walloping Detroit laid on Pittsburgh in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final Saturday, I’m not prepared to suggest the series is over. Sort of.

I mean, the Penguins have shown great bounce-back ability in these 2009 playoffs. To imagine they don’t have the gumption for one great final push to a goal that, for the second straight season, seems painfully close, but agonizingly far, is absurd.

The question is, do they have the resilience to win two consecutive games against a Red Wings team that got its heart and soul, if not two fully healthy feet, back when Pavel Datsyuk returned to the lineup and showed the world why the Wings believe he is the league’s most valuable player?

The answer, I’m afraid for Pens fans, is ‘doubtful.’ Make that ‘extremely very highly doubtful.’

• Need another example of why Gary Bettman gets stuck with the ‘disingenuous’ label so consistently? It was right there in one of the NHL’s final submissions for its legal battle with BlackBerry magnate Jim Balsillie: The news that David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski, co-owners of the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts, are interested in purchasing the financially devastated Phoenix Coyotes and keeping them in Arizona.

That’s right – Bettman and the league would have you believe two men with a vested interest in appealing to the hearts, minds and wallets of their current team’s Ontario-based customers are now intent on denying that same group of consumers the opportunity to watch another hockey team play in the province.

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I had to schedule a laugh break every four words or so just to finish typing that previous sentence. But in the Neverland that is Bettman’s NHL, it makes perfect sense to tell people the sky is green when everyone with a functioning pair of peepers knows what the real (color) scheme is.

Not only is that business approach logical, it is preferable – at least preferable to having Balsillie’s passion for the game (as well as his apparent PR skills) seep into the hardened hearts of the league’s upper crust.

Clearly, and almost laughingly at this stage, Bettman and his power base within the league want Balsillie to regard the NHL more like Never-never-never-we-said-absolutely-never-land. Yet remember, none of this is personal.

Now please excuse me. I have one more laugh break to attend to.

Ray Emery in Philadelphia? Who says the Flyers have neither a sense of humor nor of irony?’s Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action from the night before, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.

Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

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