Morning Skate: Thursday, September 29

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Morning Skate: Thursday, September 29

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
Claude Julien knows its going to be a bit of a safe new world in the NHL this season as players, coaches and managers attempt to adjust to the new head shotboarding punishments being handed out by NHL Senior VP of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan.

Shanny isnt pulling any punches, and has handed out over 20 games of suspensions and 500,000 in lost game salary before the NHL preseason is even two weeks old. The biggest and most meaningful was the eight game regular season suspension for Columbus defenseman James Wisniewski that will cost more than a half million dollars in salary as a repeat offender.

The NHL isnt going to turn into a warm and fuzzy game of tiddlywinks anytime soon, but the belief is that setting the tone now will lessen some of the catastrophic injuries suffered by players like Marc Savard over the last few seasons.

Its like anything else. When youre trying to insert new rules youve got to go not overboard but youve really got to go to the extremes to send a message. Right now I really think hes sending a message, said Julien. At least hes bringing awareness that theyre serious about it. As a player youve got to be careful how youre going to be hitting guys with those head shots.

Eventually everybody will get comfortable with it and it will make things better. Thats how you need to put in the new rule. If you put something in and dont go to the extremes to apply then there will always be that gray area. Im supporting what Shanahan is doing right now. Hopefully the players understand that hes not trying to punish them or make a name for himself. Its about trying to clean up that part of our game that needs to be cleaned up.

Thats what everyone is hoping for, and so far everything Shanahan has done is coming up aces for player safety and bettering the game. On to the links:

Columbus defenseman James Wisniewski spoke with Aaron Portzline, and is looking ahead rather than dwelling on the slap down he received from the league this week.

The Vancouver Canucks will be recognizing local heroes that distinguished themselves during the Game 7 riots, and rightfully so given how many good people in Vancouver had nothing to do with the post-game chaos.

The Buffalo News wonders whether the Sabres will see the good or bad Brad Boyes once the season begins. He could be a key component for a loaded Sabres roster heading into an important season.

The USA Today has a photo gallery of the suspensions handed out from Brendan Shanahan thus far, and its an impressive compilation.

The winding road of recovery for Sidney Crosby as detailed in an excellent piece on Grantland.com yesterday afternoon.

Kudos to hockey humorist Down Goes Brown for satirizing the reign of Colin Campbell by imagining what his video breaking down the Matt CookeMarc Savard head shot would have looked like.

For something completely different: Joe Posnanski from Sports Illustrated does a great job of painting last nights baseball picture as one of the greatest regular season nights in Major League history.

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

Morning Skate: Guy Boucher proves to be a man of the people

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Morning Skate: Guy Boucher proves to be a man of the people

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while putting the pieces together now that the hockey season is O-V-A-H here in Boston. 
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Arthur takes a look at the end of the season for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who put on a good show with their young, talented crew. 
 
-- In the interest of self-promotion, here is this morning’s interview with Toucher and Rich where I talked about the Bruins taking a step forward despite their season being over. 
 
-- He might look and sound like a Bond Villain, but Guy Boucher was far from it in stopping to shake hands with Senators fans at the airport after their playoff win over the B’s. 
 
-- Interesting that John Stevens is named head coach of the Los Angeles Kings, since the change isn’t expected to be a big departure from what was already going on there. 
 
-- The San Jose Sharks are all done for this season, and one wonders if GM Doug Wilson is going to have to choose between Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau moving forward. 

 -- Speaking of the Senators, PHT writer James O’Brien has Clarke MacArthur and Craig Anderson making Ottawa’s playoff victory all the more emotional

 -- For something completely different: Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is coming to a theatre near you soon, and here’s a review. I’m looking forward to this one.

Haggerty: Cassidy should be rewarded for a job well done

Haggerty: Cassidy should be rewarded for a job well done

BOSTON -- After the Bruins were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs Sunday, nearly every player was in agreement in identifying the turning point of the season:

The coaching change.

The B's went 18-8-1 in the regular season after Bruce Cassidy replaced Claude Julien and rallied to make the playoffs after a late-season, four-game tailspin had them in danger of missing out for the third straight year. And despite being ravaged by injuries, they showed fight and spirit in pushing Ottawa to six games, including a road victory in a double-overtime, Game 5 thriller, before eventually succumbing in overtime, 3-2, on Sunday.

Certainly there were moments of sloppiness -- ill-timed penalties, moments when the Bruins simply couldn't bust through Ottawa's 1-3-1 trap -- but Boston's gutty playoff showing, coupled with the regular-season surge, makes it seem clear Cassidy deserves to be awarded the full-time head coaching gig. 

Several Bruins players voiced their endorsement of Cassidy on Sunday, lauding him for bringing energy, offensive thrust, and open-mindedness to using younger players. 

"The results speak for themselves," said David Backes, who played some of his best hockey in Games 5 and 6 once he was paired with center Sean Kuraly. "We were climbing uphill when [Cassidy] took over and we made our way [to the playoffs] . . . [He] certainly did a heck of a job."

And how does Cassidy -- who had gone more than 13 years since his last NHL head coaching job before replacing Julien on an interim basis, and spending the previous eight seasons at the AHL level in Providence -- feel? 

"Absolutely. 100 percent," said Cassidy, when asked if he wanted the Boston job on a permanent basis.

And if he got it, perhaps those improvements would continue.

"Maybe a full year with him, he changes a few things," said Backes.

"That will be determined going forward by management whether I continue to be the head coach, and what players will be here will [also] be determined by management," said Cassidy. "So it's a tough question to answer [on what improvements need to be made]. I think we scored some goals this year. We were good on the rush as well and the power play . . . and we were always a good forechecking team. This series took on a personality that we were going to have to score on the forecheck. 

"I thought that's why you see guys like [Noel] Acciari and Kuraly get into the lineup and really contribute. It's the strength of their game, and maybe less so from other guys that are more line rush guys. Don't forget, we had a lot of neophytes going into this series in terms of National Hockey League playoffs. So there's a learning curve for them and that's part of the growth process that we hope that, if we're sitting here next year at this time talking about advancing, that they learn something from this year. That's what every team goes through and the [David] Pastrnaks of the world, [Charlie] McAvoy . . . pick your players that are new to it, and [they] have to learn from [it]."

The decision to start Anton Khudobin in Brooklyn late in the regular season after the Bruins had lost four in a row was a turning point-type move, where Cassidy certainly pushed some buttons with No. 1 goalie Tuukka Rask. And his insertion of Kuraly for Ryan Spooner in Game 5 worked on every level, and probably prolonged the series. So give him credit for both of those things along with the pumped-up offense he helped orchestrate in the final few months of the regular season. 

The Bruins won't be making any public statements or pronouncements on Monday, but one has to assume Cassidy holds the inside track on the job after guiding the team back into the playoffs for the first time in three years. Certainly there may be courtesy interviews for other candidates like Providence College coach Nate Leaman, but it's difficult to see anything else Cassidy would have to accomplish to be fit for the position. 

As Backes said himself, the results speak for themselves.