Vancouver Needs A Little Pest Control

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.

As the final details are added to the Chris Pronger suspension (a TV producer serendipitously found the incriminating video evidence on a random tape in a van....seriously?), I feel one loose end remains untied. And that loose end would be Canucks forward Ryan Kesler, a cocky mollycoddle (yeah, I said it) that's been on the receiving end of half the embarrassing suspensions in the League this year. It's woodshed time, junior; not only because you're a sniveling turd that deserves some comeuppance, but because, in the end, it may just offer you some goon salvation.

Kesler, you may recall, instigated Pronger's infamous skate-stomp by applying the Leg Scissors of Death — second only to the Flying Butt Pliers in their effectiveness — near the end boards; or as the protectionist Vancouver media saw it, it was a case of "Pronger's skates getting entangled in his legs." Despite his implicit role in this debacle, Kesler happily played judge and jury to the media in discussing the severity of the suspension ... much like he did after Jesse Boulerice's cross-check to his face last October.

Unless you're John McClane, the same thing doesn't happen to the same guy twice, unless he's asking for it. But Kesler has avoided scrutiny for his actions and his reactions; hell, even Bobby Clarke took all the blame when Kesler signed an offer sheet with the Flyers. What, did he trip on something and his pen just happened to fall on the dotted line?

If Kesler sounds like the kind of kid who grew up in Michigan but rooted for Ohio State ... well, guilty as charged. He's a player who likes to start trouble but can't finish it; seriously, getting your ass handed to you by Sam Gagner in a fight is like getting pummeled by Michael Cera as he sings a Moldy Peaches song. And as Colin Campbell inferred yesterday on XM, Kesler's the kind of player that helps keep the instigator in hockey: "In the new culture of the game, it's turn the other cheek, aggravate the other player. If you took the instigator out, these guys still would not fight." Somewhere, Don Cherry weeps...by the way, have you seen the new Don Cherry McFarlane figure? Looks like something from a hockey-themed episode of "Hello, Larry":

Vancouver Needs A Little Pest Control

I'd actually like Kesler - I mean, he once told a trainer to cut off his broken finger so he could get back into a playoff game. USA Hockey needs a few more pains-in the-asses, but I like my characters to have a little character. Maybe if Kesler was administered a few Durden-esque annihilations by his peers, he'd adjust the attitude and cowboy-up a tad. Ah, who knows...maybe I'm just bitter that Phoenix shit the bed against Vancouver last night in a must-win game. Great throw-down between Daniel Carcillo and Rick Rypien, however.

If the Playoffs Started Today. Peter Forsberg was unaware he was hired to play offense and defense, and the Avs lost to the Wild, 3-1, last night. That moved Minnesota into first place in the division and a potential first-round series against Calgary. More importantly, it set up a dream match-up: Detroit and Colorado in Round One. Mr. Claude Lemieux, please pick up the white courtesy phone...

Dammit, Kyle. Islanders fans are usually dreaming about draft picks at this point in the season anyway, but tonight is different: Kyle Okposo, their No. 1 pick in 2006, will debut against the Leafs. The power forward has been called "the most anticipated prospect drafted by the Islanders since Rick DiPietro," which obviously speaks well for his future job security. He'll skate with Richard Park and Blake Comeau and wear No. 21 ... thus ending any hope that Mariusz Czerkawski will one day have his number hanging from the Coliseum's rusting rafters.

Puck Headlines

* "What's that?" "A hockey bag." "How many ya got?" "Like, eleven." "Dude, we can totally smuggle 550 pounds of hydroponic marijuana in those." "Shit, man, that's all you gotta say." [Standard Freeholder]

* If the cops start charging players who get into fights with assault, that's seriously going to cramp my man Brashear's style. In other news: We have a Chris Ferraro sighting! [ Times Colonist]

* If NHL players were professional wrestlers, past and present. I reject this list by virtue of the fact that I once saw The Goon wrestle. [HF Boards]

Vancouver Needs A Little Pest Control

* If the NHL Draft were held today, these would be the Top 10 picks. No, I haven't heard of nine of them, either. [Ultimate Hockey Warrior]

* Raskolnikov climbs into the mind of Mike Keenan for some pregame motivation. Reading lines like "You encephalitic dipshit! Don't make me pull out my laser pointer!" is my natural high. [MYFO]

* Finally, he's one of the greats, he wore No. 99, and now he's been reduced to pimping discount furniture...