More Pens-B's tension; All-Star facelift?

March, 14, 2010
3/14/10
1:58
AM ET

The tension is building ahead of Thursday's rematch between the Bruins and Penguins in Boston, but it's the kind of buzz the NHL doesn't enjoy too much.

Bruins star center Marc Savard is likely done for the season, and the player who decked him, the Penguins' Matt Cooke, escaped suspension.

Just what are we in store for Thursday night? One Bruins source e-mailed me Friday and said given the ongoing legal issues still associated with the Todd Bertuzzi/Steve Moore incident six years ago, he wanted no part of that kind of situation. And that's exactly the message NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell will have for both teams when he talks with them this week ahead of the game, reminding them of that Vancouver-Colorado incident and the ensuing mess.

Campbell, by the way, will be on hand in Boston on Thursday, along with Terry Gregson, the NHL's director of officiating. As of Saturday, it wasn't clear whether NHL commissioner Gary Bettman would be there or not.

Cooke himself phoned Campbell on Friday, wanting clarification on just what exactly is a legal hit. I'm told Campbell warned Cooke that he's got a very short leash going forward.

As for Savard's status, it doesn't sound good.

"No improvement," Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli told ESPN.com on Saturday.

Savard is still sensitive to light and has pounding headaches -- classic symptoms of a long and serious concussion. Chiarelli reiterated Savard is likely done for the season.

By the way, Pittsburgh and Boston could easily meet in a 2-versus-7 playoff matchup. How dramatic would that be?

But it's because of that very playoff race I suspect Bruins players will have to control themselves in some fashion Thursday night. They need the two points.

The future of the All-Star Game


The NHL is thinking long and hard about coming up with a better concept for the mundane All-Star Game, which we were spared this season thanks to the Olympics.

One idea floating around in the NHL head office is to somehow give an international hockey feel to feed off the Vancouver experience, possibly staging some form of a mini World Cup. I stress this is very conceptual at this point, but still interesting nonetheless.

Speaking of international hockey, I'm told the Russians have recently approached Hockey Canada about staging a Summit Series in 2012 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the '72 classic. The Russians also want it to be best on best, so it would be Sidney Crosby & Co. versus Alex Ovechkin & Co. Of course, the NHL and NHL Players' Association would have to sign off on it, and I'm not sure there's an appetite for it at this point.

What about USA Hockey and Hockey Canada getting together with the NHL and NHLPA to do some form of series with top players? Given the recent gold-medal game in Vancouver, why not capitalize on the burgeoning rivalry between Team USA and Team Canada? Food for thought.

Plekanec and the Habs


The Habs and Tomas Plekanec's agent, Rick Curran, continue to talk, and all signs point to the Czech center likely staying put instead of hitting the unrestricted free-agent market July 1.

"We continue to have positive conversations ... not likely to finalize any agreement until after the season has completed," Curran told ESPN.com via e-mail Saturday.

I suspect the Habs need to create some cap space after the season before fitting in any new deal for Plekanec, but it does sound like the Canadiens will likely retain him.

The competition committee


There will be changes on the NHL side of the competition committee. Kevin Lowe and Bob Gainey, both no longer GMs, will be formally replaced in time for the group's next meeting in June, an NHL source told ESPN.com on Saturday.

Lowe actually hasn't taken part for a year, as Devils GM Lou Lamoriello sat in for him a few times last season. But now, the league will make official changes after Gainey stepped down as Montreal GM. However, Thrashers GM Don Waddell and Predators GM David Poile will be kept on for another year, the source said. The replacements for Lowe and Gainey have not yet been determined, but one will be a Western Conference GM and the other an Eastern Conference GM.

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