Devils won’t be laughing for long at P.K. Subban’s new moniker



We here at Slap Shots would like to congratulate Mackenzie Blackwood for becoming the first fifth-grader to play in the NHL.

Because the Devils goaltender displayed the mentality of a 10-year-old, and not a very aware one at that, with a verified posted comment on P.K. Subban’s verified Instagram account on Thursday, in which Blackwood referred to the defenseman as, “SLEWBAN.”

He even added a little on-fire emoji to the comment on Subban’s post that pictured the postgame congrats following the Devils’ 3-0 victory over the Flyers on Wednesday.

Blackwood thinks it is funny that Subban has already kicked the feet out from under five opponents, and not been suspended for any of them? Hahaha. Sammy Blais suffered a season-ending torn ACL on one of those plays. Oh, hilarious. Would Blackwood invent a nickname for a player who injured Jack Hughes on a dirty play?

Defenders of the defenseman have insisted straight down the line that Subban’s transgressions do not fall under the definition of slew-footing, which the league insists with a straight face that it takes very seriously.

Now here is Blackwood anointing No. 76, “SLEWBAN.”

You won’t find the comment if you check Subban’s account now. To the Devils’ credit, we are told that once alerted to the posted comment, management immediately addressed the issue with Blackwood. The goaltender soon after deleted the comment.

MacKenzie Blackwood
MacKenzie Blackwood made light of P.K. Subban’s dangerous antics in an Instagram comment.

Still, the next time it happens with Subban, and surely there will be a next and sixth time because the defenseman apparently cannot help himself, the department of player safety might not go into contortions trying to exonerate the man his goaltender calls, “SLEWBAN.”

There is room in the game for both Jacob Trouba’s hits and for the Trevor Zegras-Sonny Milano insane alley-oop play. The first highlights the sport’s essence. The second highlights the remarkable skill and creativity of its young, emerging athletes.

Yes, the NHL should always be looking for ways to make the game safer. But it is dangerous out there. You can’t run out of bounds. You have to keep your head up. That’s the way it is. Players do put themselves at physical risk every time they take a shift. That’s why the canard trotted out during every labor negotiation that owners are the ones taking a risk is so offensive.

The Zegras-Milano adaptation of “The Michigan” in Buffalo on Tuesday has received more than 50 million views on myriad social media platforms. It was jaw-dropping. And guess what? It was done in an environment in which a Sabres player could have drilled Zegras while the puck was on his stick. That is what adds to it.

Anyone who has issues with the alley-oop sounds like a guy babbling nonsense at a bus stop.

MacKenzie Blackwood
MacKenzie Blackwood
Getty Images

You turn around one day and the Flyers are on their sixth coach in nine years, on their way to a sixth playoff miss in 10 years, and in wonderful position to extend their Stanley Cup drought to 47 years.

Only the Maple Leafs, waiting since 1967, and the Sabres and Canucks, who have never won since their entries into the NHL in 1970-71, have longer droughts than the Flyers, who once upon a time were far more fun to pick at.

The Lightning lost their entire third line after the playoffs, Barclay Goodrow, off to the Rangers (and what in the world was he doing with that sneaky trip from behind at the buzzer in Buffalo on Friday?); Blake Coleman, off to Dallas; and Yanni Gourde, off to the Kraken.

They have played without Nikita Kucherov since the middle of October, they are playing without Brayden Point and they don’t for the moment have Anthony Cirelli or Erik Cernak.

But they do have Steven Stamkos. They do have Jon Cooper behind the bench.

And they are 17-6-4.

Is it unfair to have expected more than a little more so far from Mathew Barzal, who is one of my favorite players in the league to watch?

The concussion-spotter in Winnipeg last Sunday who did not spot that Joseph Woll was hit in the head by Pierre-Luc Dubois or that Neal Pionk took a knee to the head from Jason Spezza probably should no longer be a concussion-spotter.

That was the game in which Pionk went knee-to-knee on Rasmus Sandin, a play for which he received a two-game suspension. That was the game in which, seconds later, Spezza responded by driving his knee into the falling Pionk’s head, an act for which he received a six-game suspension (though he is appealing).

Neither play that drew supplementary discipline was penalized by the referee tandem of Brad Meier and Reid Anderson.

But were they suspended? Of course not. They were back at it two nights later, Meier working in Winnipeg and Anderson in Detroit.

Why not?

There is nothing more predictable than Gary Bettman rushing to the defense — all the while, condescending — of whatever latest incarnation of dysfunctional ownership exists in Arizona.

The Coyotes, revealed to have fallen $1.3 million in arrears in state taxes by the estimable Katie Strang’s reporting for The Athletic, are the great Steve Martin’s stand-up act come to life.

You don’t know how to be a millionaire without paying taxes?

Here’s how he tells it and the Coyotes ownership apparently lived it.

“First, get a million dollars. ‘Steve, what do I say to the tax man who comes to the door and says you have never paid taxes?’ ”

“Two simple words in the English language: ‘I forgot.’ ”

Finally, according to Forbes, the Sabres’ valuation has increased by 30 percent over last year to $500 million and Slap Shots is just waiting for the announcement from the Pegula ownership clan that the team can now rehire all those folks in the office who were laid off a year ago because of the pandemic.


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