* Has it occurred to anyone that the Pittsburgh Penguins -- led by that advocate of clean play, Mario Lemieux -- seem to involved in every other head-hunting episode this season. 

* Remember this is the team that gave us Matt Cooke. 

* That's the same Matt Cooke who gave Marc Savard a lifetime sabbatical from the NHL.

* That's the same Matt Cooke who suddenly has become cleaner than Mister Clean; or so his propaganda ministry claims.

* Maybe we shouldn't complain about head-hunters such as Deryk Engelland. After all, with the NHL turning into Mayhem, Inc. not a peep of protest is heard from the once-big-talking Donald Fehr. Guess the Donald is upset that the Salary Cap isn't going up to $1 Billion.

* Isn't it the acme of weird when the players' union supports Shaun Thornton's 15-game suspension when the NHLPA should be on the side of the victim? (Oops! I should know better. I'm talking about the NHLPA; otherwise known as the National Hockey League Pay-me-more-and-more-and-more Association.

* Speaking of big-dough and small results, how about David Clarkson's absolutely nothing-but-suspensions career in Toronto.

* Doesn't Clarkson remind you of Bobby Holik and Scott Gomez? Does for me. Both Bob and Scott were at home, playing their best hockey in New Jersey. And getting well-paid. Then the agents talked; left Lou and their careers went into a tailspin.

* Everyone who knows hockey in New Jersey knew that Clarkson never was as good as his "career" year.

* Isn't something screwy going on when every other back-up-to-a-back-up goalie enters the NHL and suddenly becomes a star?

* By the way, the best goalie outside of the NHL is Keith Kinkaid, the Long Island lad who guards the Albany Devils twine.

* If there's one worthwhile item in Bobby Orr's book it is BO's claim that Don (Grapes) Cherry belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame Builders Section. At least half the characters in the Builders section haven't done half of what Grapes has done for The Game.

* For my money Howard Dolgon, who owns the Syracuse Crunch, is one of the best promoters of any sport anywhere. Would I ever love to see him run an NHL franchise. Boy, oh, boy, would I!

* Funny thing is that the East is such a mish-mash that if the Islanders ever got their act together, they actually could make a decent playoff run in the second half. Hey, they did it before!

* Wasn't  James Neal's kick-in-the head maneuver as bad as Shaun Thornton's slew-foot punch in the head? How does Neal escape with a mere five-game suspension? I don't get it; do you?

* His followers are waiting for the real Henrik Lundqvist to step forward.

* People ask me why I pick Gordie Howe over Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr as the greatest player I ever saw. The reasons: 1. Howe fought his own battles; Gretzky never had to fight with Dave Semenko as gunner's mate; 2. Bobby Orr did not stand the test of time. (Only ten years in the NHL.) Plus Orr performed in the first years of NHL expansion when quality of play was at its lowest.

* Not two teammates are funnier than Jaromir Jagr and Dainius Zubrus when the pair of vet Devils twit each other. Or, as Marty Brodeur said when I asked him which one is funnier, the future Hall of Famer shot back: "It's a tie because they are an act."

* Ever since the late 1940s this was the time of year for the chant in Toronto, "What's wrong with the Leafs?"

* I wonder whether anyone will ever teach Erik Karlsson how to play defense. Or is that beneath the offense-man?