Morning Mashup: Bueller? Bueller?

Morning Mashup: Bueller? Bueller?

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Someone’s going to be handing out tardy slips, and some notable names are missing around the NHL.  So join us for the Wednesday Mashup and take a look at the presence of  absence in the league this week.

Alexander Ovechkin, freshly suspended, will not be taking part in the Some Stars Game this weekend.  Ovechkin not wanting to play due to the suspension is specious reasoning, no two ways about it.  His inclusion to the festivities this year was on previous history and name, not merit.  He’s one of the games poster boys, someone who generates revenue at these events.  In what amounts to a flash bulb hyped game of shinny, Ovechkin could have put a little shine on his image.  He could stand to put in some face time.

That is heart wouldn’t be in it is no excuse either.  No one’s heart is really in this game.  My question is simple: why hold this game during the regular season?  Why play it at all if its invite only but attendance optional? Two of the biggest stars of the past two decades, Nick Lidstrom and Teemu Selanne, won’t be there because who’s going to tell them anything. Kris Letang, Scott Hartnell and Jordan Eberle will be at the game replacing Dustin Byfuglien, Jonathan Toews and Mikko Koivu who are injured.  Jamie Benn’s name might get scratched off the list of players at the All Star Game too.  It makes me wonder if NHLers hate Ottawa as much as Leafs fans do.

Tim Thomas is… like… really weird. He refused to meet President Barack Obama, who took time off from running a country that allows Tim Thomas to make $6 Million a year to congratulate the Boston Bruins for winning the Stanley Cup.  His politics notwithstanding, anyone who refers to him or herself as a “Free Citizen” and uses that rhetoric as an excuse for anything is going to sound loony.  While I might not like Stephen Harper, if he wanted to fly me in to see him for some banal accomplishment I’d managed, I’d go; or at least I’d lie and say I was battling the flu.  I don’t understand what player agents get paid for, but someone needs to have a talk with Thomas about brand/image management.  The optics of this whole procession has me shaking my head.  Thomas refused an honour, opening up speculation.  He explained himself using far flung ideological platitudes, opening himself up to scorn, ridicule and more speculation.  He refuses to make any more comments, opening himself up to only more speculation.

Also totally absent from this whole fiasco is a sense of perspective and measured response.  Noted satirist and sports reporter Dave Hodge had a bon mot about the names of Thomas’ children and the ominous acronym their initials formed.  He later felt compelled to issue a mea culpa after way too many people couldn’t take a joke.  The best joke of the day, worst room to tell it in.

Moving finally to the Leafs, both Colby Armstrong and John Michael Liles remain out of the line up until at least next week.  After hopeful news earlier this month on the matter, neither player was able to return prior to the All Star break.  That Liles has been taking days off the ice is a little disconcerting.  I get the sense that Armstrong will suit up sooner, and that raises questions as to who will sit for him.

With coach Ron Wilson stating that he doesn’t intend to demote anyone with Armstrong’s return, it suggests that Nazem Kadri’s spot in the line up is safe.  Beyond that, any of Mike Brown, Clarke MacArthur, Joey Crabb and Nikolai Kulemin should be on notice.  Colby, when healthy, is an ideal bottom six player who is burning to play.  If he’s fully recovered from his concussion, his reinsertion to the lineup could be a key to a successful stretch drive for the Leafs.  Or his boneitis could flare up again.

LEAFS LINKS:

Mislav with another excellent Game in 10

Down Goes Brown is an eternal optimist

PPP is doing the Top 25 Under 25.  There’s another 15 to read.  You’re not getting any work done today.

A surprisingly nice write up on Matthew Lombardi’s return from injury.  Surprising considering the source.

VLM with a good historical piece on why last night was huge for the Buds.

Michael Stephens has been writing for Maple Leafs Hotstove since 2010, and has featured in the 2010 and 2012 Maple Leaf Annuals. Former Editiorial Intern at The Hockey News. Undergraduate degree from the University of Windsor. Chat me up about all things hockey on twitter @MLHS_Mike