Morning Skate 131: Good and Bad from Carolina

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Morning Skate 131: Good and Bad from Carolina

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

RALEIGH, N.C. Now that its over and in the books, we can take stock with a little whats good and whats bad about NHL All-Star weekend in its latest form down in Hurricanes country.

It was largely a successful weekend with the turnout of Carolina Hurricanes fans and the great southern tailgating atmosphere outside the RBC Center prior to the game a wrinkle that 'Canes fanes have brought with them from college football and inserted them into hockey, where many traditional markets dont have the space or setup for it.Heres a quick breakdown:The Good: The NHL fantasy draft was an unmitigated hit and is something many of the other sports could learn from with their own over-hyped exhibitions. The fastest skater competition and hardest shot competition continue to be the stalwarts of the SuperSkills Challenge portion of the weekend. The goalie race was six different flavors of awesome. Carolina proves that a Sun Belt southern team can host an All-Star weekend and do it with the same effectiveness as the traditional markets. The Fan Fair portion of the events hosted by Carolina was excellent.The Bad: Much of the SuperSkills competition dragged and didnt really captivate. The All-Star Game on Sunday continues to be a gigantic bore with no real effort or intensity the two things that normally define what good hockey is all about. The NHL completely botched the media access portion of the event by allowing only red carpet type access to the players, which means that outlets spent good money to get access ranging only slightly higher than what the paparazzi receives. That needs to never happen again unless the NHL is happy with nobody covering them. Two words: Clay Aiken. Two more words: Guardian Project.On to the links: An interesting NHL player poll done by CBC and the NHLPA which reveals, among other things, that Zdeno Chara has the most fearsome slap shot on the planet, and that players really, really dont want to play for the Islanders. A really sad story about Rhode Island native and Harvard hockey alumnus Tommy Cavanaugh, who seemed to have everything but was battling serious mental illness throughhis entire life to a tragic end. Suddenly Mike Felger has developed some remorse and pity for Phil Kessel? Interesting he does thiswhen his NHL peers didnt seem to extend that kind of empathy orunderstanding during the drafting process. Bill Meltzers take at hockeybuzz.com on potential second-half shake outs for some Eastern Conference teams. The AHL All-Star game is in Hershey, a great hockey stop and an excellent place for the minor league hockey world to convene for the week. Jamie Arniel will participate in the skills challenge and All-Star game while representingthe Providence Bruins. A few more All-Star thoughts from Friend of Haggs (FOH) Yahoo! Sports hockey blogger Puck Daddy now that the weekend has come to a close. The Daddy battled marvelously despite a head cold that plagued him throughout the events. Fellow FOH Craig Custance from the Sporting News says that some of the other Southern Fried hockey teams could learn a thing or two from the Carolina Hurricanes franchise.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.

Sunday, May 21: Has Kessel changed?

Sunday, May 21: Has Kessel changed?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while finding it unbelievable that some people are questioning the heart of Isaiah Thomas at this point.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Arthur with a column on Phil Kessel playing all of his cards right with the Penguins. It’s something he never did in an untenable Toronto situation where he and Dion Phaneuf were expected to be franchise players instead of the “third banana” type roles they were meant for on good teams with Ottawa and Pittsburgh.

That was very clear when he was with the Bruins early in his career, was not a good match with the hearty crew that ended up winning a Cup in 2011 and basically didn’t want to play for Claude Julien anymore after just three seasons. It was more clear when he pulled the same reluctant public figure card as Toronto’s high-paid star forward in the NHL’s biggest media market, and never did more than put up his numbers. Now in Pittsburgh he’s clearly well behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the pecking order, plays in a place where he can fade into the background a little bit without too many problems and a lot of his eccentricities are viewed as charming, or Phil being Phil, rather than Kessel being viewed as a bit of an odd duck or a malcontent.

But to this Bruins writer he’ll always be the guy that clashed with Julien over the stick that he preferred to use, clashed with Zdeno Chara on the ice for his work habits and was ultimately a player that wasn’t very popular at all in the Bruins dressing room despite the obvious talent and the courageous battle with cancer he waged during his first year in Boston. He’s obviously matured and is more well-rounded in some ways than his Boston days, but in many ways he’s the exact same Phil that doesn’t want to change for anybody or anything.

*Here’s the New York Islanders season in review after disappointing with a failure to get into the playoffs, and a big situation coming up with John Tavares.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Nashville Predators forward Ryan Johansen done for the playoffs after being diagnosed with “acute compartment syndrome.” What a big blow to the Predators.  

*The Ottawa Senators are still looking to push the Penguins to the brink in the Eastern Conference Finals, but it’s obviously going to be a difficult task for them.

*Don Cherry and Ron MacLean had their Coach’s Corner on Hockey Night in Canada this weekend, and tackled some hot topics like the Nashville crowd throwing a dead duck on the ice.

*Ryan Getzlaf addresses the fine from the NHL for using a vulgar slur on the ice, apparently aimed at nobody in particular according to the player.

*Here’s a set of statistics that effectively sums up the pathetic regular season put forth by the Colorado Avalanche.

*For something completely different: In an interesting rumor, the Mr. Robot show creator is apparently in talks on an Obi-Wan Kenobi standalone movie.