It's starting to look like that Fabulous Weapon Dave Bolland will be making his return to the Hawks this week. Let the rampant line shuffling begin. According to Kuc, Bolland was skating between Sharp and Hossa. I've already aired my views on this, as I think Sharp the Winger plays to similar a game to Hossa (which Sharp the Center most definitely did not, and I don't think he's gotten enough credit for reshaping his game). But perhaps with the added layers to his game, Sharp can do whatever he needs from wherever he's asked, and we should at least see what it looks like for a few games. The line looks to lack a playmaker, as Bolland is more of a puck-distributor (i.e. just putting it exactly where it needs to go instead of creating chances). However, all of these guys have a cloud-level high Hockey IQ, and if Sharp has his legs going they'll certainly create headaches for opponent's with furious backchecking.
-In that article Ladd left practice early, and I doubt this will be the last time over the next two weeks some winger is "hurt" to put off dealing with the ridiculous logjam the Hawks have at forward.
-There have been rumors circulating about the Hawks acquiring another d-man soon. I find it hard to believe anything will be done before the break. With the Hawks cap situation, why would they pay anyone to do nothing for two weeks when they can hold on for just a couple games? As for the names thrown about, none get my pulse racing either way. Jay McKee would be more than all right as a #6, and provides more size to go with Sopel. Aaron Ward strikes me as just a guy. Sean O'Donnell has actually been real good in LA and I wouldn't mind him here. Could do wonders in teaching Hammer. Garret Exelby has a nasty streak the others don't, but he doesn't always crack the lineup in Toronto. That says enough.
Anyone being brought in would have to be an improvement on what you have. Sopel has been, well, good (on the scale for #6 d-men). So if it's Barker who's going to be replaced, all those names give you a very safe and uncreative third pairing, which is probably just fine. But you can't give up both Barker and an extra forward for bottom-pair, aging, rental d-men. Or can you?
-Niemi starts tomorrow, and if he plays well we can look forward to more interesting days on the blog. It probably has more to do with the Blues not being able to score backstage at a Coldplay show with a 12-inch dong and a pound of coke, and Huet will be needed against Phoenix, where the margin of error is smaller. Or not.
-We haven't commented much on all the Leafs doings, but to me it's a very Shakespearian trade. Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Phaneuf is the perfect Burke player: Big, hyped as nasty when in fact he's just stupid, and overrated by a factor of 12. Time is still on his side and maybe the trade wakes him up, the skill set is there. But I don't see it. As far as what went to Calgary, that's a bag of nameless garbage except for Ian White, who may turn out to better than Phaneuf anyway. Calgary seems to be trying to solve their scoring shortage though quantity of new forwards instead of quality. Bringing in the even more useless Kotalik and Higgins shows you that. The guess here is that the Flames don't even make the playoffs.