Kane goes for a mullet
Traditionally, one of the more playful aspects of the NHL playoff experience is the growing of the postseason beard - and in recent years, because of the influx of so many young players, they tend to get a lot of light-hearted kidding from teammates because of their inability to grow more than a light dusting of hair on their chinny, chin chins. Patrick Kane, entering his second playoff on behalf of the Chicago Blackhawks, isn't even going to bother, according to the Chicago Tribune, which reported that he is growing a playoff mullet instead. Kane described his attempts to grow a beard last year as "pretty embarrassing" so he went this route instead. Said Kane: "I'm bringing back the '80s look, I guess. [I'll]kind of look a little trashy for a little bit, but I think it's fun and the boys all got a good laugh out of it so that's what it's all about."
Schneider knows Coyotes
Mathieu Schneider is a former Red Wing now playing for the Phoenix Coyotes, making him one of the more popular interview subjects leading up to their playoff opener, but there was another timely back story at work there too. Schneider originally signed this year to play with the Vancouver Canucks and when that didn't work out, was assigned to their minor-league affiliate in Winnipeg, until the Coyotes added him as a depth player at the deadline. Thus, in one year, Schneider played in both the Coyotes' past and present home. Schneider had nothing but praise for his short time in Winnipeg, but wasn't sure if the city had the corporate support to operate a successful NHL team. How about Phoenix? "It's one of those markets that's on the fence," said Schneider. "It could go either way. The fact that this team has had such a good season makes people optimistic."
No jokin' about Jokinen
What's next for Olli Jokinen: Likely Russia, given that he didn't exactly set the world on fire in New York, after joining the Rangers in a trade with Calgary for Chris Higgins and Ales Kotalik. Jokinen last Sunday took the final shot of the season for the Rangers. His inability to score in the shootout against Philadelphia's Brian Boucher cost them a chance to land the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. Jokinen was a $5-million player; after wearing out his welcome in the four corners of North America (Florida, Phoenix, Calgary, New York), it is hard to imagine anyone signing him for any amount of money. Jokinen, supposedly a goal-scorer, not a set-up man, had four goals in 26 games for the Rangers.
Brouwer is back
The Blackhawks were without one of the more important members of their supporting cast, winger Troy Brouwer, for the final four games of the regular season, so he could spend time with his father, Don, who was hospitalized with an undisclosed illness. Brouwer, a 40-point man, returned to the team last week and was scheduled to open the playoffs on a line with Kane and Dave Bolland ... Voting for NHL awards was completed this past Wednesday, prior to the playoff openers, so that postseason play has no bearing on the results. The closest competition will likely be for the Norris between the Blackhawks' Duncan Keith and the Capitals' Mike Green. Green led all defenceman in scoring with 76 points, but Keith was No. 2 at 69 - and he saw a total of 2,180 minutes, 34 seconds of action this year, more than any other NHL player.
Mueller not ready
Peter Mueller, the Colorado Avalanche's concussed winger, didn't make the trip to San Jose for the first two games of their playoff series against the Sharks and hasn't been cleared to skate yet, suggesting he isn't close to returning to action. Mueller was actually injured in a collision with the Sharks' Rob Blake, who was the unfortunate victim of the winning goal in the opener - Chris Stewart's centering pass deflecting in off the veteran defenceman and San Jose captain who, ironically, won his only Stanley Cup with the Avs.
Jones eyeing return
The news is better for the Sharks' David Jones, who had an excellent start to the season (10 goals in 23 games), but underwent major knee surgery in November and hasn't played since. Jones is close to getting clearance to play; and could see action at some point in the series if the Sharks think they need him.
Where is Turco headed?
The goaltending carousel will spin again this summer, and the most interesting name out there is likely to be Marty Turco, whose future in the Dallas Stars' organization effectively ended when they acquired Kari Lehtonen from the Atlanta Thrashers at the deadline. Dallas didn't actively shop Turco, but one wonders if they would have moved him to Philadelphia if the Flyers had made a big pitch for his services. Brian Boucher acquitted himself well in the opener vs. New Jersey, but it remains to be seen if he can stay on a roll for up to eight weeks, which is what's required to win a championship. Turco presumably would only go to a team where he would be the clear No. 1, which could be Washington or Chicago if the goaltending falters on either of those two contenders this postseason. Another option might be Tampa, which will be under new leadership by the entry draft. If Turco lands there, he'll be reunited with his former back-up Mike Smith.
Has Harding's time come?
Also on the market, but a potentially cheaper alternative: Minnesota Wild back-up Josh Harding, who underwent hip surgery last Monday and is often thought of as one of those back-ups that could mature into a starter if given the chance - much like Turco did when Eddie Belfour was given his walking papers by the Stars a decade ago. If St. Louis doesn't re-sign Chris Mason, they could be shopping for a goalie as well.