It was a busy day down in the sunny western metropolis of San Jose. The city’s airport saw the retirement of its top sniffing dog, Crazy Jack, and a deer jumped through a living room window, carelessly vandalizing a lamp and a butter tray.
Since I’m bright and cheery after somehow soldiering through the year’s most depressing day, let’s start with the good news. Eager was part of the Blackhawks’ salary cap exodus over the summer, and was traded to the Thrashers along with Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel, and Akim Aliu. Atlanta has experienced a resurgence in the standings largely due to the acquisition of Byfuglien, but Eager’s production has been almost non-existent, which is to be expected for a player whose career high is 11 goals.
Eager was an throw-in piece during the Byfuglien deal, and was to be counted on to play a checking line role with the Thrashers. With Patrice Cormier’s call-up in late December a likely factor, Eager saw his ice time progressively dwindle as he became expendable. Early in December he was receiving 13-to-15 minutes per game, and lately he was getting on the ice for as little as six minutes.
Eager will now provide depth and a much needed injection of physicality to a San Jose team that’s slowly beginning to turn the corner, but recently lost six straight games. Wellwood also adds depth after a brief and failed stint in the KHL where he had five goals and eight points over 25 games. Claimed off waivers after signing a one-year contract with the Blues, we think Wellwood will enjoy his return to the fun and sun of the west coast…
Now all the Sharks have to do is keep Wellwood away from Henry’s Hi-Life–makers of San Jose’s best chicken and pork chops since 1960–and maybe they can coax some production out of the fizzled winger. Maybe.
Lastly, Scott Nichol was docked four games for his elbow to the head of Phoenix Coyotes defenceman David Schlemko Monday night. Another forward who thrives on his physical play and finished 11th in the league last season with 226 hits, Nichol is no stranger to the long arm of the NHL’s law.
After being drafted by the Sabres in 1993, Nichol made the minor league rounds for seven years before finally cracking Calgary’s lineup in 2000. He’s had a career riddled with injuries during stints with four teams and has never played a full 82-game season, his highest usage being the 75 games he played for Chicago in 2003-04.
So Nichol has had to efficiently use his time to pile up his record of thuggery, one that’s highlighted by 802 penalty minutes over 541 career games. This is Nichol’s sixth suspension, and by the time it’s over he will have missed 27 games. Put in a far more entertaining perspective, Nichol’s time missed due to suspension exceeds his total goals scored over the past four seasons (25).
Jaroslav Spacek knows all too well how Schlemko feels. He was on the receiving end of a sucker punch in 2006 that led to a nine-game suspension for Nichol, the longest of his career.