It was a weekend of relatively unexpected NHL news. First, although rumors of his involvement with the NHL Players’ Association had been bubbling since the summer, the freshly-retired Eric Lindros was announced as the NHLPA’s first-ever ombudsman.
In his new role, Lindros – who, in the midst of all the “Hall of Fame or not?” debate about his career, didn’t get recognized for his extremely generous, $5-million donation to a London, Ont., hospital – will be responsible for collecting and investigating complaints from union members.
It’s a perfect job for him to prove that all the pushing and shoving he did off the ice was as much about gaining respect and rights for NHLers in general as it was about protecting his own interests.
• Even more unexpected was the unveiling of a brand new XM satellite radio show hosted by – wait for it – Gary B. Bettman!
Even if it winds up being the hockey equivalent of The Chevy Chase Show, I sincerely hope Bettman’s program lasts long enough so he can get Ron MacLean as one of his guests; and I really sincerely hope he holds the Hockey Night In Canada host hostage live on air until MacLean agrees with Bettman’s philosophies on the game. Payback’s a bitch.
• Perhaps the most unexpected news of the weekend happened when the Blackhawks beat the Red Wings 3-2 Sunday. And they did it on the strength of two power play goals – which bumped their power play average to seventh-best in the league – and two assists from Robert Lang.
I guess that Lang signing is working out better than many, including myself, thought it would. Now, if the Hawks make it that far, and Lang plays well during the playoffs, that’ll be another level of shock and awe altogether – especially to Red Wings fans who watched him float his way through the post-season last spring.
• Finally, I believe an apology is in order from all those media types and fans who laid into Sharks GM Doug Wilson for signing Jeremy Roenick this summer, don’t you? And not just because Roenick has re-discovered his scoring touch, either; by all accounts, he’s been a positive influence on the team.
Granted, that hasn’t helped San Jose out of its middling start to the year, but it’s a lot more than most expected out of him. And it’s a much better way to ride into the sunset than Roenick almost did last season.
Whether you’re a JR fan or not, you’ve got to admit it’s a nice story.