The National Hockey League Heading Into Winter PART I

Updated: December 5, 2013

By-  Staff Reporter


As the calendar turns to December and January, the (NHL) National Hockey League has some exciting divisional races and some difficult legal issues (concussion syndrome) to straighten out. There is also the financial question relating to the teams in the south and the Phoenix Coyotes in the west. The balanced schedule should help the Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche, and Phoenix Coyotes with traveling issues.

Other great news is the return of the First Native Indian/First Nation, head coach in Buffalo, the rise of the new hockey powers in the east, and the fall of the old guard. This could be the most exciting year in the National Hockey League.

The N.H.L. may have found the right formula to attract new fans. The League has created four new divisions, Atlantic, Central, Metropolitan, and Pacific. The divisions are geographically correct creating great new rivalries in the East and Western Conferences.

Eight teams from each conference and the first four teams from each division will make the playoffs with two wild cards. The League has resisted this for years because the League wanted the teams with the best records in the playoffs. It will be very interesting if one division has a lower winning percentage when they enter the playoffs. Under the old system the higher win total would go to the playoffs. This year it might not happen.

The League will have to address the Class Action Law Suit filed by ten former players.  The issue like the National Football League is concussion and head trauma injuries.

The lawsuit contends the NHL ignored medical research on head injuries and didn’t promote players’ safety until it instituted a concussion program in 1997 and concussion protocols in 2011

Here are the names of the players filing Brad Aitken, Darren Banks, Curt Bennett, Richard Dunn, former King Warren Holmes, Gary Leeman, Bob Manno, Blair Stewart, Morris Titanic and Rick Vaive.

Here is an idea on the subject of cross checking from behind. If the player can read the name of the other player of see his number then he should not touch that player. If a player cross check his opponent face first into the boards he should receive an automatic three game suspension and a fine. Many veterans are not happy with this group because the vets are stating that they all knew when they were little leaguers they know of the dangers of the game of hockey. This is the same argument the NFL put forth years ago.


Three coaches have already been fired and it’s not even at the half way point of the season. The last place Philadelphia Flyers did not wait. In the second week of the season Peter Laviolette was the first to get his walking papers as the Flyers were not responding to his style. The Orange and Black are back in the playoff picture after a very slow start.

The second coach was Kevin Dineen as the last place Florida Panthers have been floundering for years. The year before the Panthers made the playoffs but a 3-9-4 start sealed Dineen fate. Goalie Tim Thomas injuries and the Panther defense did not help.

The third coach of the year was in the northeast and the Buffalo Sabers. Buffalo was struggling to score goals and it shows on the ice losing games. This team had a 4-15-1 start. They fired their general manager Darcy Regier along with head coach Ron Rolston. The Buffalo Sabers got smart “Going Back To The Future”, with the hiring of Ted Nolan and Pat LaFontaine. LaFontaine will be President of Hockey Operations and Nolan will be interim head coach. Both men are veterans of the Buffalo Saber organization. Nolan who is First Nation/ Native American Indian was the first Native head coach in hockey history.

Thanks to the Los Angeles Times Sports Department and Reporter Helen Elliott

Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove on Disabled Community Activist. Email at

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