Morning Skate: Monday, December 19


Morning Skate: Monday, December 19

The Pro Hockey Talk boys ponder the possibilities of Patrick Roy as coach andor general manager of the Montreal Canadiens. Wouldnt be shocked if this happens and it could make things very, very interesting between the Bruins and Habs. I would love to see a pro boxing style war of words between Cam Neely and Roy as the figureheads of their respective franchises.

The Hockey News has dug up another medical expert that wants to talk about people being dead andor demented by 40 years old after playing in the fight-happy NHL. Talk about Chicken Little-type stuff.

Kyle Turris arrives in Ottawa after costing the Senators a pretty hefty price, and the Sens have to hope that the former lottery first round pick is worth it.

Some interesting comments from Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero when it comes to Sidney Crosby and his potential return from concussions.

The Quebecois arent happy that Randy Cunneyworth doesnt speak French, but then again the Quebecois always seem to be unhappy about something when it comes to the Habs.

The Sabres have struggled this season, and nobody could have thought it would be this bad in Buffalo.

For something completely different: Monkeys riding dogs and wrangling goats during the halftime show of PatriotsBroncos. That is all different kinds of awesome.

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

David Harris is expected to be a savvy middle linebacker who will line up his teammates when they help. He's expected to provide some level of leadership, even in his first year in New England, as an accomplished-but-hungry 33-year-old who has not yet reached a Super Bowl. 

What Harris is not expected to do is improve the Patriots pass-rush. He was in on one sack in 900 snaps last season.  

But in a roundabout way he might. 

MORE: How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

There are dominos to fall now that Harris has been added to Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's defense. How much will Harris play, and whose playing time will he cut into? Those questions don't yet have answers, but one of the more intriguing elements of the Harris acquisition is how he will benefit Dont'a Hightower's game.

If Harris can pick up the Patriots defense quickly -- and all indications are that there should be few issues there -- he could take some of the all-important communication responsibilities off of Hightower's shoulders. 

Ever since taking the reins from Jerod Mayo as the team's signal-caller, Hightower has had to be on top of all requisite pre-snap checks and last-second alignment changes. It's a critical role, and one that Hightower performs well, but those duties place some added stress on the player wearing the green dot. Perhaps if part of that load can be heaped onto Harris' plate, that might allow Hightower to feel as though he's been freed up to focus on his individual assignments.

Harris' presence might also impact where on the field Hightower is used. Hightower may be the most versatile piece on a Patriots defense loaded with them, but with Harris in the middle, Hightower could end up playing more on the edge, where he's proven he can make a major impact (see: Super Bowl LI).

For Belichick and his staff, having the ability to use one of their best pass-rushers -- and one of the most efficient rushers league-wide, per Pro Football Focus -- on the edge more frequently has to be an enticing byproduct of the move to sign Harris. Especially since there are some question marks among the team's end-of-the-line defenders behind Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich. 

We'll have to wait for training camp before we have an idea of how exactly Harris fits in with the Patriots defense. But the effect he'll have on his new teammates, and Hightower in particular, will be fascinating to track.