Puck Headlines: Could mononucleosis alter playoff, rookie races?

Here are your Morning Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.

• First reaction to hearing Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason is battling through mononucleosis: He was smoochin' Phil Kessel! Second reaction: How did one of his Calder Trophy rivals slip that into his water bottle? Third reaction: Coach Ken Hitchcock better be right when he says he hopes "the worst of it is behind us now," because a three-goals-on-eight-shots performance like Mason had against the Dallas Stars over the weekend can't happen if the BJs expect to remain in the Western Conference playoff race. [Dispatch]

• Speaking of Calder candidates, Minnesota Wild cult icon Cal Clutterbuck disagrees with "Hockey Night in Canada" blowhard Don Cherry, who called him "Buttercup" (video from Jan. 31, four-minute mark) and cowardly for fighting with a visor on. Clutterbuck also has some candid words about a boarding call he had on Vancouver Canucks pest Alex Burrows. [Pioneer Press]

• If we covered the Philadelphia Flyers beat, we'd be bitching about there being too many penalties in the NHL this season, too. [Philly.com]

• Is the return of defenseman Sergei Gonchar the last, best hope for the Pittsburgh Penguins to get their collective ass in gear? [Penguins and Steel City Sports Fan]

• Very interesting coverage of this Larry Brooks column from over the weekend about revenue sharing and the New York Islanders. Mirtle takes a look at the entire concept of "saving" the Islanders, while The Forechecker has an exhaustive breakdown of the idea that the Islanders are a "small market team" and should be eligible of revenue sharing help from the NHL. Great reads, both of them. [NY Post]

• And of course, a great read in its own right: "Things you might see at Bates Battaglia's bar." [Barry Melrose Rocks]

• The late Don Sanderson's father on the future of hockey fighting: "If the coach sends five idiots out to 'send a message' and start a fight, the coach has to answer for that and he has to pay a price. ... There has to be accountability for everybody." [Globe & Mail]

• Spector breaks down some of the big names available (or rumored to be) at the deadline, and explains why trading Marian Gaborik is like trying to sell a soiled mattress at a garage sale. And yes, that was us calling him soft and untradeable. [THN]

Brendan Shanahan is moving up the New Jersey Devils' lineup, playing on a line with Brian Rolston and John Madden in practice. [Fire & Ice]

• Former New York Rangers goalie Mike Richter will not seek elective office in New York State for the time being. Thousands of "Richter Saves!" buttons are put back into storage. [Politics on the Hudson, H/T Puck Daddy reader Neil]

• You could do a lot worse than opening the season with the San Jose Sharks and the Calgary Flames facing off in Finland. That said, it's a shame these fan bases would be deprived of seeing good hockey on their own soil. [Calgary Sun]

• A roving gang of Toronto-based, Doug Gilmour-inspired vigilantes known as the Little Killers run the city like the Sons of Batman in "The Dark Knight Returns." [Getty]

• Another look at the 2010 U.S. Olympic roster, which could have up to five Buffalo Sabres players on it. Canada and Russia quake at the thought of Paul Gaustad, reserve forward! [Let's Go Sabres]

• Will the players and the NHL work together to "ease" the salary cap and allow more movement at the trade deadline? [Boston Globe, fourth headline]

Dustin Penner is called one of "biggest and most expensive floaters this side of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade" after getting benched and yanked off the top line for the Edmonton Oilers over the weekend. Well, at least they took care of that parody song. [Edmonton Sun]

• A little late, but Jay Feaster's take on the Detroit Red Wings' quasi-suspensions was interesting from a management perspective: "It is unfortunate a class act such as Lidstrom and one of the league's model franchises, Detroit, were the ones forced to pay the price. The fact those aggrieved are so well liked and respected made the hue and cry even greater. However, it is in precisely such circumstance the rest of us need the commissioner to enforce his edicts fairly and impartially." [THN]

• Did you know that Vegas casinos were offering hockey-related Super Bowl wagers, including "total sacks in the Super Bowl plus 1.5 versus Alexander Ovechkin shots on goal?" [Sun Media]

• Captain Chris Clark may be done for the season for the Washington Capitals. The team will certainly miss his cap hit leadership. [Capitals Insider]

• Finally, "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" is unleashed at the NHL All-Star Game in Montreal. And this is why Sidney Crosby needed to be at the game:

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