Each week, the NHL on TSN panel voices its opinions on the hot topics of the day in the Wednesday Night Hockey Quiz.
As a follow-up, TSN.ca offers you the opportunity to chime in on all the big issues with our insiders. Read up on all the questions and answers, and put in your own two cents on our popular Your Call feature.
What message is the NHL sending by not suspending Alexander Ovechkin for skipping the All-Star Game? That it's optional for everybody or it's just All-Star and not worth going to war with the Capitals and their superstar?
Bob McKenzie: There's no hill to make a stand on here. They just gave him a three game suspension, they didnt feel like making it a four-game suspension. I know that there will be people that will say that they're setting a precedent. The NHL will split the hair and say 'if you're suspended we'll talk about it in the futurei. If there was no suspension here there wouldn't be an issue and they would force him to go.
Marc Crawford: I think they're sending the message that it's optional. I'm one of those guys that says they are setting a precedent here. For years guys have wanted the break at this time of the year, especially the older players. And the NHL and the stars, they have a responsibility to sell the game. I think if you're chosen you've gotta be there.
Aaron Ward: No hill to make a stand on. They derive no benefit from getting into an altercation with Ovechkin, a star. He obviously doesn't want to be there. I think you might question the type of effort you might get based on some of his interviews post-announcements. I expect players to provide that dissenting voice. You see already Andy McDonald putting it out there saying, "classless move opting out."
After skipping the trip to the White House will Tim Thomas still be a Boston Bruin 2012-2013?
Ward: I say yes. You count the givens: the Stanley Cup, the Vezina, the Conn Smythe and all of these things. You only have to look at the Philadelphia Flyers going to the playoffs this year to see how important it is to have a quality goaltending tandem. Thomas staying in this environment might be good. He put his team in a compromising position, this could be pressure that forces him to play very well down the stretch.
Crawford: I say no. He's got a no trade contract that expires July 1st and I think that if the Bruins do not win the Stanley Cup then Tuukka Rask is going to take over. Tim Thomas will still be a very viable commodity that the Bruins will cash in by trading him somewhere else.
McKenzie: I will say yes, that he will stay with the Boston Bruins. In the event that he doesn't perform in the playoffs with one year left on his contract I just don't see that many teams that will want to take a $5 million cap hit even though he's only making $3 million in salary next year. And this whole thing with the White House and everything else will be forgotten if he plays in net the way that he can and the way that he did when he got them their Stanley Cup ring.
Question: How many Canadian teams will make the playoffs this season? A)2 B)3 C)4 D)5
Crawford: I think there is going to be three. I think for sure the Vancouver Canucks will be there, I like the chances of Ottawa now and I love the chances of Toronto as well. I'd love to say that I think Calgary is going to be there but I just think the West is going to be too tough. Hopefully I'm wrong for their sake.
McKenzie: Ditto for me, I will say three and I will pick the same three teams that Crawford did. The Canucks are sitting pretty, Ottawa the surprise team this year and I believe the Maple Leafs can and will make the playoffs
Ward: Two! First I want to commend my fellow panellists for going out on a limb on this one. Way to check the standings fellas, now I get to take all the heat. But I'll go with Vancouver saying that's pretty much a shoe-in. The two teams out of Ontario, I think one of these teams will be challenging the other for it. Ottawa I don't see how they maintain that level of performance and Toronto I think they might struggle
Question: With President Obama alluding to Brad Marchand's nickname, "the little ball of hate," who is the greatest all-time little ball of hate? Is it Brad Marchand, Pat Verbeek or our beloved Ray Ferraro?
McKenzie: It's the original, the one, the only Patty Verbeek. He was the one the name was bestowed upon when he got to the New Jersey Devils in the mid 1980s. Over the course of his career on the ice, off the ice, he was a prickly individual who once cut his own thumb off in a farm accident.
Ward: Ray Ferraro. I played with Pat Verbeek, he is legendary but Ray for one reason. I had a confrontation with him in Atlanta where we got in front of the net and I cross-checked him the first time. He knew that the next cross-check was coming so in advance he threw himself forward, kicked his legs over the back of him and nailed me in the groin, dropping me for about three minutes. Also, when I asked him if it was okay if I shared this story, his response was, "Absolutely okay, I am proud of my cheapness; all necessary for survival."
Crawford: I would say the original, Pat Verbeek. He was as competitive of a guy as their was in the National Hockey League. He played a power forward's game at his size. And when you play 20 years, 1500 games and over 3,100 penalty minutes that's pretty amazing.