Morning Skate: The elephant in the room

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Morning Skate: The elephant in the room

Katie Carrera from the Washington Post says that ice time is the elephant in the room for Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals during their playoff run.

Bob Mand from the Hockey Writers says that the absence of Nathan Horton was instrumental in Bostons first round exit. I would agree on one level, but they still had enough to get by the Washington Capitals if other players were close to their normal level of production. The numbers before-and-after Hortons injury also have to take into account that Rich Peverley was also missing for a significant portion of that season chunk as well. But on balance I agree with the premise, and wonder how strongly Horton bounces back from his concussion issues next season.

CBC rink side reporter Scott Oake bares his soul to the world in a touching story about the loss of his son to drug addiction little more than a year ago.

The Senators are looking to sign Erik Karlsson, but theyre also hoping to do it on a budget after a monster season from the Swedish defenseman.

Mike Knuble, Keith Aucoin and Joel Ward have been dominant for the Capitals as a fourth line thus far during the playoffs. The Bruins could tell you all about that firsthand.

FOH (Friend of Haggs) Puck Daddy AKA Greg Wyshynski asks whether Dale Hunter is pushing all the right buttons, or whether hes simply an accidental genius.

Kevin Dineen goes over his first very successful year at the helm of the Florida Panthers, even if the Jack Adams voters felt it appropriate to skip him over for consideration.

For something completely different: the new Dark Knight movie trailer was released today and it caused a tremor in the geekosphere. Check it out.

Kraft, Pats still bitter: NFL 'really messed this up badly'

Kraft, Pats still bitter: NFL 'really messed this up badly'

It's been almost two years exactly since the Deflategate saga began during the AFC title game between the Colts and Patriots on Jan. 18, 2015.

Since then, Robert Kraft has expressed his displeasure at how the whole thing was handled by the league -- particularly as it relates to the treatment of quarterback Tom Brady -- on multiple occasions. And according to a story in the New York Times, that feeling hasn't subsided.

"Sometimes, the league really messes up, and I think they really messed this up badly," said Kraft . "But we’ve all agreed to subjugate our right to disrupt everything.

"I mean, we can, but we’re a partnership. There’s jealousy, there’s envy, there’s stupidity. Sometimes, life is unfair, and you have to suck it up and move on and not use it as an excuse."

Brady served his four-game suspension to start this season, and Kraft opted to accept the league's punishment for the team following the 2014 season: They were docked two draft picks (a first and a fourth) and fined $1 million.

The piece includes Kraft's thoughts on President-elect Donald Trump ("Loyalty is important to me, and he has been a wonderful friend," Kraft said), as well as comments from others on how Kraft has handled his situation ("I think Bob has exhibited disagreement, but he’s also very capable of making and influencing change," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said). 

You can read the full piece here.

Bell excused from Steelers practice for 'personal reasons'

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Bell excused from Steelers practice for 'personal reasons'

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have had perfect attendance at each of their last two practices. The Steelers, on the other hand, have been working with less than a full deck.

All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell has been conspiculously absent from Pittsburgh's practices each of the last two days. On Wednesday, he was listed on the injury report as a non-participant due to non-injury related reasons. On Thursday, coach Mike Tomlin announced that Bell had been excused from practice due to "personal reasons."

Tomlin added that Bell will be ready to go against the Patriots on Sunday so it seems as though the team is painting this as a nothing-to-see-here situation. And it probably is. Whether or not Bell practices at all this week won't necessarily have any bearing on the AFC title game; if he's healthy, he'll be a factor. 

If for some reason he doesn't follow up his 170-yard performance against the Chiefs with another strong game, however, people will wonder how his preparation was impacted by missing out on the first two of his team's on-the-field sessions this week.