Thank you, Mikko Koivu!
Look, we're not ones to celebrate an injury to any player, especially one to an affable Fin such as Koivu (we're not that depraved!). That said, the Scott-Hartnell-for-All-Star campaign was a real nice change of pace for the Flyers' winger, who was skating the "checking/energy" guys only a few months ago.
Since moving up to the top line with Giroux and Jagr, Hartnell has looked like a player legitimately capable of hitting the 30 goal mark for the second time in his career. With higher point totals than multiple members of the All-Star roster, Hartsy's exclusion from the game has been rightly considered a snub, though we have a feeling his on-ice attitude may have been a factor.
Well, with Koivu out for at least the next two weeks with an upper-body injury (rumors say it's a shoulder issue), the NHL now has a chance to reconsider and put Bird Dog in his very first All-Star game.
Frank Seravalli of the Daily News lists the potential candidates to replace Koivu here, mentioning that the league could opt for the Wild's Danny Heatley in an effort to keep each team represented. The Devils' Ilya Kovalchuk and ex-Flyer, current-Florida Panther Kris Versteeg are also named as possible subs.
For reference, as of the January 12th roster announcement, Hartnell's 37 points were higher than the totals for eight members of the team, including the now injured Koivu. Unfortunately for Hartnell's chances, however, there are plenty of other players throughout the league with similar point totals and substantially less checkered resumes.
We'll hold out hope; we just won't hold our breath.
>>>Hartnell to Get All-Star Call? [DN]
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# of hours / week: 10 – 20 hours
Deadline: November 20
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For the fourth year in a row, Villanova was picked to win the Big East in the league's preseason coaches' poll.
The Wildcats received eight of the 10 possible first-place votes in the poll, which was released on Wednesday and doesn't allow coaches to vote for their own teams. Seton Hall and Xavier received the other two first-place votes.
Villanova finished the 2016-2017 season with a 15-3 record in the Big East, good for first place in the conference, and capped it off with the Big East tournament crown.
The Wildcats finished last season with a 32-4 record overall and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The team returns two starters from last season, including forward Mikal Bridges, who was picked for the All-Big East second team, and point guard Jalen Brunson, who was selected as the 2017-2018 Big East Preseason Player of the Year. Brunson's averages of 14.7 points and 4.1 assists led him to an All-Big East first team selection in 2016-2017.
Sophomore guard Donte DiVincenzo, who averaged 8.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game on his way to making the Big East all-freshman team, is another returning player that will play a big factor for 'Nova. The Wildcats also add freshman forward Omari Spellman to the mix after he redshirted last season. Spellman was picked in the coaches' poll as the preseason Freshman of the Year.
Jay Wright's squad tips off the 2017-18 season on Nov. 10 against Columbia.