Brace yourself, Tom Kostopoulos — this one’s gonna sting.
It won’t hurt as much as the shoulder check you issued to the jaw of Red Wings defenceman Brad Stuart Friday that will have the NHL’s wheel of justice turning right into this morning’s 11 a.m. conference call hearing.
But it’ll leave a mark for sure as your blatant blindsiding is sure to cost you several games and quite a few sheckles as one of the NHL’s repeat offenders.
Sadly for you, the hit comes on the heels of yet another headshot debate sparked by the recent concussion suffered by Sidney Crosby.
While Stuart was being examined by doctors who debated the merits of surgery on the broken jaw (they opted not to operate and simply wired his mouth shut), disciplinarian Colin Campbell and the league refused comment pending the result of the hearing.
What is decided today could be a landmark ruling for a Rule 48 offender.
Five games minimum seems to be a no-brainer given Stuart’s vulnerability next to his net while swatting away the puck and the fact Kostopoulos paid no attention to the puck whatsoever while using his shoulder to initiate contact with Stuart’s jaw. The former Flames defenceman is out six to eight weeks, and it’s a significant loss for the Wings as he’s been the blueline partner of Norris Trophy frontrunner Nicklas Lidstrom all year.
Campbell confirmed they were reviewing it and insisted on refusing official comment.
You can bet that’s bad news for you.
As one GM told me, “That’s a sickening example of exactly what we want out of this game. It’s the reason we added Rule 48.”
Commie uses the door
Mike Commodore left the Blue Jackets in Los Angeles and flew back to Columbus yesterday after meeting with GM Scott Howson regarding his trade request.
“We are trying to work out a trade for Mike over the next few days,” said Howson.
“Failing that, he will be assigned to the AHL.”
Scratched by Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel for eight of the team’s last nine games, the 31-year-old defenceman might prove tough to trade due to a $3.75-million cap hit through 2012-13. That said, a source says several teams have expressed interest in him, and Howson is open to the possibility of taking on some salary in exchange.
Five months after rupturing his Achilles tendon, Sami Salo is back practicing with the team, but Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis told the Sun yesterday it’s not a question of when he’ll return — it’s still a matter of if he can.
“I think people are really jumping the gun,” said Gillis, somewhat agitated over repeated questions about how he’ll shoehorn Salo’s $3.5-million cap hit into his lineup.
“For some reason, people want to discount the type of injury he had. He suffered a 95% rupture of his Achilles tendon. There are people who never walk after something like that. We don’t know if he’s going to play. He’s three practices in and it’s going OK, but it’s still a long ways off.”
Canucks mum on deals
Two of the Vancouver Canucks’ top three defencemen — Kevin Bieksa and Christian Ehrhoff — are unrestricted free agents at season’s end, and Gillis says he has no plans to talk to either about contracts until the season is over.
“We haven’t talked contract with any of our UFA guys,” said Gillis of his blanket approach.
“We tried that and talked to players before during the season and just found it wasn’t productive or good for the team environment.”
The orbital bone of hotshot Vancouver prospect Cody Hodgson has healed, but he’s experiencing blurred vision and can’t exercise much because of it. He’s likely two weeks away from rejoining the Manitoba Moose, and his play will be closely monitored as the Canucks eye calling him up down the stretch ... WHL commissioner Ron Robison will meet with all parties involved Tuesday to resolve the Gregg Drinnan issue that has the Kamloops Blazers beat writer banned from contacting the team or it’s personnel due to what the team calls ongoing negative reporting. The only reason it might be of interest is that the team’s owners are Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla, Mark Recchi, Darryl Sydor and Tom Gaglardi.
Francis appears regularly as a panelist on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada