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QUICK HITTERS

And justice for some: There's an interesting theory about why NHL vice-president of player safety Brendan Shanahan won't hit offenders with even longer suspensions and it's tied to the appeal process.

The theory goes like this: Shanahan doesn't want his suspensions constantly being pushed upstairs for appeal. It ties up commissioner Gary Bettman and drags out the process. So he looks for the sweet spot where the player gets punished but doesn't consider it worth an appeal.

The system needs to be overhauled again. Shanahan can't be watering down league justice to keep the system moving. What's next? Plea bargains?

Jay's justice: This comes from longtime NHL defenceman Jay McKee's Twitter account. "Has the NHL ever considered letting actual players decide the length of a players suspension? Veterans with 500+ games could vote on length."

Here comes Kitty: The Anaheim Ducks could set a franchise record with an eighth straight win on tonight but standing in the way are old coach Randy Carlyle and former teammate Joffrey Lupul. Carlyle, now coaching the Leafs, will be facing his old team for the first time since being fired during the 2011 season.

Case for Kane: Evander Kane is off to a strong start to his season and with five goals in nine games he's likely going to be getting some attention from Team Canada's scouting department. Kane wasn't invited to Canada's orientation camp this summer but he can still play his way on. His mix of speed, finish and power -- Kane ranks third in the league with 35 hits this season -- is unique. One area Kane must clean up is his penchant for minor penalties, as he also ranks second in the league in that category with seven. Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman won't want a player who takes cheap interference calls on his team in a tournament where an ill-timed power play against could cost a country a medal.

Cash for Alfie: The Detroit Red Wings signed Daniel Alfredsson to a base contract of $3.5 million with a bonus of $2 million after 10 games, which he reached on Monday night.

Monahan the man: Flames rookie Sean Monahan has five goals and three assists for the Calgary Flames through seven games, sitting second in team scoring, behind Jiri Hudler. The NHL's CBA allows junior aged players to play nine games before a contract kicks in and the first year of the race to free agency begins. The Flames could still return Monahan to junior at a later date but would get to no relief in terms of the contract. Calgary is in the midst of a rebuild and this decision will be interesting to watch unfold.

Goalie watch: While lots of positions are nailed down for Team Canada, the one area the remains wide open for our Olympic team is the crease. The best Canadian-born goalie in the NHL this season has been Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury, with a 7-0 record, .930 save percentage and a 1.84 goals- against average. Fleury, however, has had back-to-back post-season meltdowns, which could colour the selection committee's view of him. Montreal's Carey Price and Chicago's Corey Crawford are also off to strong starts and Cam Ward has shown some flashes down in Carolina. Still a wide open race.

Timeless Teemu: Ducks forward Teemu Selanne has scored in three straight games and now has 678 for his career. The 43-year-old Finn is the first NHL player aged 43 or higher to score goals in the three straight games since Gordie Howe turned the trick at age 51 in his final NHL season.

5 STORYLINES TO WATCH:

2222 Patrick's PARTY: Rookie coach Patrick Roy has his Avalanche off to a screaming start and it's all about intensity. Seven wins against just one loss and a perfect 4-0 road record. If they were handing out the Jack Adams Award today it would go to St. Patrick.

3 Super SID: Sidney Crosby is the NHL's best player and is having the best start to a season of his career with seven goals and 10 assists through eight games. Injury has regularly disrupted Crosby's career but when he's healthy he's in a class by himself.

4 Pacific PARITY: The fourth-place team in the Pacific has enough points to sit either first or second in any other division. The San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, Phoenix Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings are all off to strong starts and have to be considered contenders. This is the strongest division in hockey and when you factor in the fifth-place Vancouver Canucks the Pacific could take up five of the Western Conference's eight playoffs spots this spring.

5 Swimming WITH SHARKS: San Jose GM Doug Wilson has done a brilliant job of rebuilding his roster on the run. Wilson didn't rebuild as much as he reloaded by keeping a number of his aging stars while adding an influx of talented youth. The Sharks are the best team in hockey today with a 7-0-1 record for 15 points. With San Jose, however, the regular season hasn't been the problem. It's the playoffs where they've stumbled, bringing forth the question that always seems to be asked about this team: Is this the year?

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 22, 2013 C2

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