The NHL Closer is written by Greg Wyshynski, of FanHouse and The Fourth Period. He is also the author of Glow Pucks And 10-Cent Beer.

I imagined Pittsburgh Penguins fans waking up this morning in a tequila haze - the stench of strange women and unimaginable debauchery on their breath - rolling over in bed to discover a still-fresh Marian Hossa tattoo they don't remember getting. Yesterday's big trade produced immediate backlash from Pittsburgh faithful. Maybe it was ConkBlock's 50-save performance in beating the Islanders last night, or just the natural waiting period between deadline euphoria and lucid analysis; whatever it is, Penguins fans have convinced themselves they didn't get hosed after all.


Pittsburgh fan Pat Lackey on NHL FanHouse looked at all the head-scratching about yesterday's trade and wondered, "How Is This a Bad Thing?" He's right: trading Eric Christiansen, Colby Armstrong and Angelo Esposito is not mortgaging the future. Like Joe Starkey of the Tribune-Review wrote: "That was Angelo Esposito, not Phil or Tony." Even my ultra-cynical boys on The Pensblog have called for fans to disregard any threat of Hossa skating away as an expensive rental this summer: "It's the job of the fans to cheer on the team. If you're gonna wonder about the Pens future every time Hossa touches the puck, you're a mistake."

If you consider the package Pittsburgh traded to be spare parts and question marks, this trade works even if the Pens don't win the Cup and Hossa walks. (I still think they gave up too much, and Hossa will be this year's Forsberg-to-Nashville.) It's almost more dangerous if he does sign with the Penguins: Adding that free-agent salary with all of those kids, including Malkin, up for contracts in the near future? No thank you, sir.

You Can't Spell Ottawa Without '0'. When a contending team fails to make a significant deal at the deadline, there's this inevitable, uncomfortable conversation that occurs between the players and their beleaguered general manager. It's one of those douche-chill producing chats; the kind that usually begin "You know, your mother and I love each other very much, but..." Boston GM Peter Chiarelli had one such conversation before last night's 4-0 Bruins' domination of Ottawa. According to forward David Krejci, who scored his first NHL goal in the win, Chiarelli told the team he "believed in them" and said "we have good chemistry on the ice, and that's why he didn't make any trades." Yes, I'm sure Chiarelli left the phone off the hook all day Tuesday as he watched "Battlestar Galactica" box sets. I mean, what's at stake really besides Chiarelli placing his neck into Jeremy Jacobs' guillotine this summer?


That said, and even though six points separate them in the standings, I don't think there's anyone who'd rather be Ottawa than Boston right now. Atlanta wanted Antoine Vermette, Nick Foligno and a No.1 pick for Hossa, and GM Bryan Murray didn't want to give up the pick. Maybe his mind was, perhaps, thinking about what color suit he'll wear behind the bench when the Ottawa media forces coach John Paddock out and Murray back in. The team's in disarray, the goaltending blows, the deadline was a disaster...this team would be pounding on the panic button right now if it wasn't staggering around like Joseph Hazelwood trying to locate it. The Ottawa Sun said it best:

Montreal 5, Atlanta 1. "Thanks for not giving us Hossa, assholes."

Pretty Much The Worst NHL Record Ever Set. Edmonton defeated the flailing Octopussies, 4-3, last night, as Detroit is now just five points (!) up on Dallas in the West. If you had told me the Oilers were going to set a record this season, I thought it would have been for the largest collection of sobbing rainy-faces in one arena when Ryan Smyth came back to town with Colorado. Instead, Edmonton has set a new benchmark for skills competition superiority: Last night was the Oilers' 13th shootout victory, a new NHL record. Congratulations to Edmonton for amassing more pathetic charity points than any other team in hockey. Here's a preview of the banner that will hang in Rexall Place next season in commemoration:

Puck Headlines

* Following in the footsteps of great Americans like Michael Wilbon and Will Leitch, Gary Bettman takes his hits on a Washington Post chat. The usual sunshine up the ass and 31 flavors of horseshit: No dropping the instigator, no teams in financial trouble, no anti-Canadian bias. But all due respect to the man who has turned this League into a national punch-line that alternates between sucking NASCAR's exhaust and the fun out of my favorite sport: When he says "we probably have the lowest ticket prices of the four major sports," he is L-Y-I-N-G. [Washington Post]

* Why is it valorous for Mats Sundin to exercise his no-trade clause, but traitorous for Bryan McCabe and Pavel Kubina to do the same? [Pension Plan Puppets]

* One Minnesota Wild fan's plea to Baby Hockey Jesus. "Smite Skoula." [Land of Lakes and Hockey]

* Coach Ken Hitchcock invites 120 Columbus women to join him for an evening of "learning about hockey." I'd call this the most pimp move of the year, except I'm sure it was just an excuse for Hitch to schedule another complimentary buffet into his daily consumption. [Columbus Dispatch]


* Finally, here's a junior hockey fight apparently filmed by the stoner from "Cloverfield." Is it just me, or does that one linesman spend an uncomfortable amount of time sprawled out on top of the young lad?