Uniondale, N.Y. — The headlines out of Major League Baseball have been big, bold and rather startling.
The Houston Astros, a World Series champion, were found of cheating, stealing signs, and were struck with severe sanctions and penalties.
The allegations of cheating have arisen in football, and have now been confirmed in baseball.
Could it happen in the NHL?
Given the nature of the sport, the speed with which things are done on the ice, Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill doesn’t think it would, or could.
“No, I really don’t,” Blashill said. “We don’t have (anything similar). Football and baseball, they have a way to kind of try to steal signs, and you’ve seen that a little bit, with video on the other team’s sidelines in football, but we don’t really have that in our sport. It’s such a fluid sport, it’s not really (possible).
“I don’t see that happening.”
Now, in hockey, there’s always talk of certain veteran players trying to find an edge in the faceoff circle, or star players drawing penalties, or getting favorable calls (same as in the NBA).
Teams might know every nook of their ice surface, and know where a puck might bounce differently.
But, in the end, Blashill feels the people in the game simply wouldn’t cross a certain line.
“Obviously everyone is trying to get every edge they can, and sometimes when you try to get every edge, you can cross the line,” Blashill said. “But I don’t think there’s any edge to be gained where somebody would be crossing the line in hockey.
“You put people in spots where you’re paid to everything you can to win, but yet you can’t cross the line. In life, integrity is looking in the mirror, and we call have to look in the mirror and answer to ourselves here.
“I just know, in the hockey perspective, I don’t see anything like that (cheating), I really don’t. We have a bunch of guys with a bunch of integrity, doing it the best way they can without going over the top.”
Even now, four seasons removed from his days with the New York Islanders, Frans Nielsen remains one of the more popular players to have played on Long Island.
Nielsen, 35, spent 10 seasons with the Islanders, annually providing the organization with consistent, high-level, two-way play.
For the Wings this season, the offense has been missing from Nielsen.
He entered Tuesday’s game with only six points (three goals, three assists) in 41 games — the least-productive offensive start of Nielsen’s career.
Still, the fact Nielsen had a two-goal game last week and has been more active offensively for a period of time, gives the Wings hope Nielsen’s offense is coming around.
“It hasn’t gone his way offensively, but I do think through the course of the year his game has been building and getting better,” Blashill said. “He’s just more impactful on a shift to shift basis. He always cares a bunch and works real hard and plays accountable defensively.
“(But) like anybody else, if you’re not scoring, it hurts your confidence a little bit. He’s got some of that back with a little bit of scoring.”
The Wings didn't hold a morning skate Tuesday, but Blashill said Dylan Larkin, Patrik Nemeth, and Nielsen, all of whom didn't practice Monday, would likely be available for the game against the Islanders.
...Goaltender Jimmy Howard has had a difficult season, but Blashill said the Wings can help Howard by playing stronger in front of him.
"We have to make sure we do a real good job in front of him," Blashill said. "We have to make sure we're not allowing any unneeded chances and not beating ourselves. We want them (opponents) to defend as much as we can, and he has to come in and play the way he's played throughout his career at different stages."