Players don’t respect each other. You hear it all the time.
That’s what makes little exchanges like the one between Jason Arnott and Vesa Toskala during last night’s Leafs-Preds game so unique.
Arnott, who had 12 shots in the game, had just been stoned by Toskala for the umpteenth time in the third period as his team tried to crawl back from a 3-0 deficit. As the play moved back toward the Nashville end, Arnott lingered for a moment around Toskala’s crease and gave him a look as if to say, “What the heck have I got to do to get one by you?”
My guess is Toskala’s mask could barely conceal what must have been a huge Finnish grin. “Try harder,” was clearly the goalie’s message.
Unfortunately, the nasty dynamic that exists between players was also on display in the same game when Radek Bonk senselessly rammed Staffan Kronwall from behind into the boards.
But it sure was refreshing to witness a player expressing deep admiration for an opponent’s skills. Makes me hope respect is within sight.
SHOOTING FOR GLORY
Ilya Kovalchuk is on pace for a 69-goal season, having tallied 22 times after 26 games. Nobody has scored 70 since 1992-93, when Teemu Selanne and Alexander Mogilny each ripped the NHL for 76.
In a league where scoring is down and no one team (sorry, Detroit) is compelling enough on its own to create a serious buzz, it would be fantastic to see Kovalchuk become only the ninth player in NHL history to crack the 70-goal barrier.
It’s hard to say what trajectory Mark Recchi’s career will take, now that he’s been placed on waivers. What I do know is this: If the NHL record book had a category to identify what percentage of your points were well-earned, Recchi would card a 100.
Whether on Cup-winners such as Pittsburgh and Carolina or also-rans like Montreal, Recchi’s legs never stopped moving, his heart never stopped pounding and he never, for one shift, looked like a guy who took playing in the NHL for granted.