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(Darren Calabrese)
(Darren Calabrese)

NHL Notebook

For NHL players, the cheque is (nearly) in the mail Add to ...

TOUGH TALK IN BOSTON: One of the first players traded away by Dale Tallon when he took over as the Florida Panthers’ GM two years ago was Nathan Horton, who landed in Boston, and promptly won a Stanley Cup (though he was on the sidelines for the final games, thanks to the Aaron Rome hit). But Horton’s inconsistency, which is what got him turfed out of Florida, surfaced again when the Bruins played Florida earlier this week, and though a member of the Bruins’ No. 1 line, Horton only earned 16:39 of ice time from coach Claude Julien. The Bruins have stumbled just a little these past few weeks, after two sensational months, and with Brad Marchand suspended, the Bruins needed more from Horton, not less, and Julien was not afraid to say so, as reported by the Boston Globe and Herald: “Horts has got to pick up his game. No ifs or buts about it,’’ Julien said. “A guy his size has got to get more physically involved. He’s got to compete a lot harder. He’s skating hard. You see him on the backcheck, he skates hard. But we need more from him.”

I N THE NICK OF TIME: HBO’s 24/7 gets most of the ink, but the NBC Sports Network has a new series called NHL 36, in which cameras follow one player for 36 hours. The first victim - er subject - was Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Kane is a natural, who likes the spotlight just fine. Lidstrom is the opposite - 41, a family man, steady as she goes in terms of his personality. Lidstrom is one of the least known superstars in the game, gracious but ultra-quiet. It will be interesting to see if they can tell us something we don’t already know about him.

ORIGINAL SIX HEAVEN: Speaking of Boston, the Rangers, Chicago and Detroit, all four are among the top five teams in the league through Friday morning which, according to NHL.com, is the first time since the 1973-74 season when four Original Six teams are ranked this high this deep into the season. The only interloper this time around is St. Louis, revitalized under new coach Ken Hitchcock, and destined to get a new owner soon, according to the Post-Dispatch, which reports that minority owner Tom Stillman has put together a group that has a tentative deal in place to buy the team. You’d have to think Final Four consisting solely of Original Six teams still represents a long shot, what with Vancouver, San Jose, Philadelphia and Washington all still to be heard from, but it would make great theatre if it ever played out that way.

AND FINALLY: Miller’s comments to the Buffalo News this week, spoken before he lost a 4-1 decision to Winnipeg Thursday night, were telling and insightful because they illustrate the difference between the NHL today, in the salary cap era, and the NHL two decades ago, when you’d still get the occasional blockbuster, multi-player deals designed to shake a team to its roots.

Miller’s contention is that no such deal is going to happen, no matter how many Internet rumours suggest that it could: “If you guys really think there's going to be any kind of trade made anywhere that's going to affect this team any more than we can affect it in this locker room, you guys are just ... I don't know. I don't know what to think because there's no such trade.

“There's not ever going to be a trade in the history of the NHL that's going to affect anything like that. There's no chance anybody comes into this team and just shakes it up or we can even move multiple players and get any kind of return.

“If you want to just destroy a team and go out and be reckless and do something, yeah. Then there's going to be new guys in here. But other than that, this locker room is going to be pretty much the same, if not completely the same and we gotta find it from in here . You can't sit and wait for somebody else to (expletive) do it.”

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