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Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun are back to debate your hot topics. Today, they tackle Sidney Crosby's recent comments about David Steckel and the Rangers' decision to send down Michael Del Zotto.
Burnside: Good day, my friend. A lot of interesting buzz around the NHL today. Let's start with a story you reported late Tuesday on the league's decision not to act on the collision between Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby and Washington's David Steckel in the Winter Classic.
Hard to tell from the various camera angles whether Steckel even saw Crosby as he turned to go up the ice, but the bottom line is, he did hit Crosby in the head with his shoulder when Crosby wasn't looking. I thought that was the whole point of the blindside rule being introduced. I'm not saying Steckel should have been suspended, but why wasn't he given a fine to reinforce that these are things players have to be vigilant about? Of course, the incident has reinforced in some quarters that Crosby likes to complain too much. Thoughts?
LeBrun: I chatted with a league source Tuesday who said they looked at it but thought, in the end, it was incidental contact, so no fine or suspension for Steckel. In fact, the league didn't even phone the Caps. When the hit happened, my immediate reaction was it was bad and Steckel should at least be fined. The more I viewed the tape, the more I thought it was a simple collision, even if it does look bad.
As for Crosby, he was asked about the hit by local media Monday after finally watching the replays. Should he have said simply "No comment"? He was asked a question, and he answered it. Maybe he should have just said he didn't think the hit was bad and keep his true inner feelings to himself. But this is a player who has been bombarded by the media since age 14, when he was a young phenom in Canada. He answered honestly, and that's fine with me.
Burnside: Well, he's certainly not the first guy to complain about what he believed was a dirty hit. I recall the Rangers complaining about an alleged Crosby slew foot earlier this season for which there was no punitive action.
Speaking of the boys from Gotham, the Rangers made an interesting move this week, sending Michael Del Zotto to the Rangers' farm team in Hartford. Del Zotto burst onto the scene as a rookie, collecting 37 points last season, but was a minus-20. This season, he seemed to lose his way with the hard-working Rangers. He had been a healthy scratch before being sent down. (He had just nine points.) Some Rangers fans are up in arms over the demotion, but the youngster who will replace him (Ryan McDonagh) is a pretty good prospect. (He was part of the Scott Gomez deal.) Do you see Del Zotto coming back any time soon?
LeBrun: Del Zotto hadn't played in the four previous Rangers games before being sent down Monday. The Rangers want him to get his confidence back. I'm told he definitely should be back up with the big club at some point. He just needs to let it come to him and not force it; he just wasn't playing with confidence. As for McDonagh, his promotion was noted by Habs fans in cyberspace. That trade looks worse and worse every day. Mind you, I'm told McDonagh won't play Wednesday night, as coach John Tortorella sticks with Matt Gilroy as his sixth defenseman.
Burnside: Gilroy is yet another homegrown talent who has evolved into an option for the Rangers. After being known as a team that couldn't draft or develop players, GM Glen Sather and his staff have quietly produced a hardworking team that is seemingly building itself into a solid playoff club. Shocking. It will be interesting to see if Gilroy, who spent some time in the minors last season looking to improve his overall game, can stick with Tortorella's crew this time around. If not, watch for McDonagh to join the Rangers' youthful blue line in the coming days. Regardless, it's something that bodes well for this team, no?
LeBrun: The Rangers' average age actually went up with McDonagh's call-up -- that's how youthful this team's core is, and it's nice to see. After years of trying band-aid solutions via free agency, the Rangers are doing it the right way. They still need to reach outside, however, for a bona fide No. 1 center. Those players don't grow on trees.
Come July 1, you can bet they'll be among those vying for Brad Richards if he hasn't signed an extension with Dallas. And the Rangers will be high on Richards' list in part because of the old Tampa Bay /Torts connections. But that's for down the road. Right now, the Rangers are a fun team to watch, as blue-collar as I've seen them in years. Tortorella deserves Jack Adams Award consideration, in my opinion. Until tomorrow, my friend.