You've never seen anything like it and I haven't either.
One after another, goalies are down with injury. Some for a game or two; some for a month. And there's the truly sad case of Ben Bishop; gone forever. Done.
Remarkably, in his farewell to the NHL, the very competent goaltender pinpointed his nemesis – the Butterfly.
"If I was a forward," Bishop lamented, "I'd still be playing now. But with the Butterfly, the torque you put on your knee." Then, a pause: "It didn't get better."
In plain English, the Butterfly is an unmitigated disaster because it inherently forces goalies into contortions that damage the groin area not to mention – as Bishop notes – the knees.
George Grimm, who has written an entire book about Rangers netminders – "Guardians Of The Crease" – has studied Igor Sheterkin's style since the Russian's Broadway debut, and pinpoints his concern.
"Igor suffered a leg injury that may not get better doing the Butterfly," warns Grimm. "My advice to (Rangers coach) Gerard Gallant would be to spell Shesterkin down the stretch so he's not burned out of the playoffs."
If you want to know about a serious problem confronting NHL goalies, try this partial list of sidelined puckstoppers for 2021-22. Bear in mind that the season is not even half over:
Mackenzie Blackwood, Petr Mrazek, John Gibson, Dustin Tokarski, Craig Anderson, Darcy Kuemper. Jordan Binnington, Braden Holtby and Mike Smith. (No need to bore you with a longer list; you get the point.)
Hall of Famers such as Ken Dryden and Johnny Bower stopped pucks with a stand-up, cut-down-the-angle technique.
"My advice," Bower once said, "is to stand up as much as you can. If you fall (go) down, you'll be in trouble."
Author Griimm, who studied goalie styles before writing his book, agrees with Bower's advice.
Grimm: "Considering the number of 'lower-body injuries,' modern goalies would be wise to heed Bower's advice. The Butterfly can be dangerous to their health because it puts them in an awkward position. And that's led to a slew of lower-body injuries."
Former NHL goalie Steve Baker points out that the Butterfly is tough on the ball-and-socket hip joint.
The point is twofold. 1. The Butterfly can be dangerous to a goaltender's longevity; 2. Stand-up goaltending could be less dangerous and, actually, more effective; especially against the "top-shelf" goals.
And if you don't believe me check out the most recent tapes. Goalies reflexively go down to their knees – or do the Butterfly – and constantly give up far too much upstairs air.
THE WINNIPEG JETS SHOCKER OF ALL SHOCKERS
Knowing Paul Maurice since his Whalers days, I was stunned to the core by his totally unexpected resignation on Friday. Matter of fact it reminds me of Jim Rutherford's bolting from his Penguins lair; seemingly without reason nor explanation.
Classy as they come, Maurice refused to continue doing a job he felt no longer was working for him, nor his Jets. We're talking about a coach who not only knocked "Invincible" Edmonton out of the playoffs last spring but did so in four straight.
But the Habs swept Peg in the next round and that had to ultimately result in Paul's decision. He summed up Hockey 101 with these right-on words:
"There's a shelf life for what we do. The only way that shelf life gets extended is if you win championships. You need to win!"
(P.S. The Hockey News Annual pegged Maurice's Jets at 20-1 to win Stanley.)
NEXT QUESTION: Who's the next coach to go?
I'M JUST SAYIN'
1. No, it isn't a sin that Alexei Ovechkin has scored a ton of goals on the power play. On to Gretzky's record for Alley-Oop!
2. I'd like to know if Vegas is posting odds on the NHL playing in the Beijing Winter Olympics. My guess right now is that it doesn't happen.
3. If I'm Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong there's no way in the world that I'd trade Jakob Chychrun. Jake is to the Yotes what Cale Makar is to the Avs and Adam Fox to the Rangers. Ergo The Cornerstone!
4. This year's version of addition by subtraction – Evander Kane.
5. It's good that Bettman, Inc. got to Vegas first. The Oakland A's ownership is eyeing a move to Nevada; ditto for a major league soccer team.
6. Under rough, tough, irascible Punch Imlach, Toronto won four Cups. The latter-day Imlach is Darryl Sutter. That's why Calgary should be considered for The Stanley.
7. Another reason to like Marc-Andre Fleury: He still uses a wooden goalie stick.
THE READERS WRITE: Zachary Weinstock of Manhattan suggests the following rule adjustment. "A minor penalty taken with under two minutes to go in the third period of a game in which the penalized team is ahead by one goal should become a full two-minute power play for the team trailing by one goal. The game clock should expire only when the two-minute clock penalty clock expires. Or, when the defending team controls the puck after expiration of the penalty." (I second the motion because it makes sense!)
THERE'S A NEW NHL 'HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION'
Over the years, players who never seem to lose fights get an unofficial media designation as "NHL Heavyweight Champion."
I remember Rangers defenseman Lou (Leapin' Louie) Fontinato getting that title until he lost a vicious fight with Gordie Howe of the Red Wings during the 1958-59 season. (I watched it from the old-MSG press box.)
Later, the Canadiens John Ferguson acted as ice cop for Jean Beliveau and Bernie (Boom Boom) Geoffrion. As far as I know, Fergie never lost a bout and helped the Habs to several Stanley Cups.
After being pushed around – and out of the playoffs – last spring, the Rangers opted for big-time toughness this season and signed free agent Ryan Reaves. Not surprisingly, a few eager journalists immediately awarded him the "Champ" label.
Reaves' title held up until last week when his Rangers invaded Denver and Colorado's 6-foot-5, 233-pound defenseman Kurtis MacDermid challenged the roughian Reaves, who tips the scales at 6-2, 225.
As coach Jared Bednar succinctly noted,"Kurtis brings 'security' to our team."
Going toe-to-toe against Reaves, MacDermid of Sauble Beach, Ontario, stayed even in the punch count and then went ahead to stay with a punch that sent Reaves to the ice.
Just to put a coda on the conflict, MacDermid pinned his foe to the ice until linesmen called off the bout. Sportsmanlike, MacDermid never threw another punch once Reaves was on his back.
Normally, a two-minute bout such as this would be ignored by the media; but not this time. The Denver Post's Mike Chambers perceived its significance and so did his paper's headline-writer. His banner headline read:
AVALANCHE DEFEATS REAVES: Without explicitly saying so, it was apparent from Chambers' story that New York's enforcer now is the former NHL heavyweight champ.
The new title-holder – until someone floors him – is Kurtis MacDermid. Or, as teammate Cale Makar asserts, "Dermy's a strong guy!"
INTERESTING OBSERVATION DEPARTMENT: This from a veteran of the NHL journalism scene: "Hockey writing has completely drIfted from on the ice to off the ice!"
WHO SAID THIS? "Sometimes people ask, 'Are hockey fights for real?' I say, 'If they weren't, I'd get in more of them.'" (Answer below.)
DIDJA KNOW? The Devils first-ever third jersey – primarily black – symbolically honors all of the State's pro hockey teams. Of that group, the most unique of all happens to be the Newark Bulldogs.
Playing in the Canadian-American Hockey League (now the AHL) the Bulldogs were supposed to skate in a new arena called "Newark Madison Square Garden." Construction began late in 1927 and by early 1928, a foundation had been laid in downtown acreage.
Meanwhile, a team was assembled, coached by Hall of Famer Sprague Cleghorn, and they even made the 1928 playoffs. What made the feat even more extraordinary is the fact that Cleghorn's beauties didn't play a single game at home.
Construction money ran out by the summer of 1928. Rather than fold the franchise, CAHL leaders allowed the itinerant Bulldogs to play "home" games in Springfield and Providence. By 1929, The Great Depression had set in and the now non-Newark Bulldogs became a CAHL non-entity!
(Answer to "Who Said This?" Wayne Gretzky.)