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Morning Buzz: Mark Spector loves the Canucks; Liles re-ups with Leafs; plus an ear in two parts

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It's Wayne Gretzky's birthday today, and there are no games scheduled in the NHL. There are, however, a surprising number of links to pass along considering it is now the All-Star break and there was one game in the NHL last night. Enjoy while you can, because tomorrow this post could resemble Christian Bale in The Machinist.

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Vancouver Canucks News & Notes

Mark Spector, noted Canucks detractor, does a 180 and says a lot of fairly nice things about the team in his latest column. [Sportsnet]

Roberto Luongo has been playing pretty incredible hockey for a few months now, and claims that he has never felt mentally stronger. At this point in his career he's seen just about everything. [The Province]

More on Luongo, who's making a habit of posting dominant numbers in January. [Canucks Army]

Cody Hodgson is putting up better numbers in his rookie season than both Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler (he's also on a much better and deeper team than they were). [Vancouver Sun]

The Vancouver Sun wants YOU to grade the performance of each and every Canuck to this point in the season.

Henrik Sedin is listed at 20/1 odds to be picked first in the ASG fantasy draft. If Daniel Alfredsson ends up picking first, you could make worse bets. [The Province]

NHL News & Notes

Last night, the Montreal Canadiens lit up the Detroit Red Wings 7-2. Did Scott Gomez score?

Below is Scott Gomez's last goal in the NHL. How has he gone nearly a full calendar year without getting at least a lucky bounce, a deflection, a puck off the skate, something?!


After the embarrassing loss to the Habs, Mike Babcock had this to say: [Ansar Khan]

"I'm not going to look at the video of this at all, I'm going to go out and drink, actually, is what I'm going to do.''

John-Michael Liles signs a 4-year, 15.5M extension with the Maple Leafs. See this is why I could never be a GM, I don't think I could ever commit to a guy with two conjoined first names. [CBC]

The Sharks have put goalie Antero Niittymaki on waivers. [Bob McKenzie]

Deadspin suggests that Tim Thomas' time in Boston may be coming to an end. Bullshit. This White House thing may be a PR nightmare for the club, but they're really just going to let go of their Conn Smythe-winning goalie who recently set the record for save percentage and is in the midst of another stellar season? [Deadspin]

To save you some time, Justin Bourne has amassed all the Tim Thomas hate into once handy blog post. [Backhand Shelf]

Sportsnet gives the 4 playoff match-ups they're dying to see. Leafs vs. Bruins? Don't care. Blackhawks vs. Red Wings? Yes, please. Rangers vs. Devils? Really? Bruins vs. Canucks? Anytime! [Sportsnet]

Why the NHLPA rejected realignment. [Puck Daddy]

Cam Charron explains why the Edmonton Oilers' rebuild isn't working. I tend to agree; sure they're drafting future stars, but you still need the supporting cast, and what they have now will not cut the mustard. [Legion of Blog]

The Cannon talks about an "Occupy Nationwide" movement happening in Columbus, to protest the continued employment of those in positions of power within the organization. [The Cannon]

Last Saturday Matt Hendricks caught an Alex Ovechkin shot off the ear, and it split his ear in half. The link includes a photo, and it's not for the squeamish. [PHT]

Remember when I posted about the Tampa Bay Lightning mascot spraying an obnoxious Bruins fan with silly string? The mascot was fired for it! [SB Nation]

Today in NHL History

[Jan 26, 1980] The Islanders & Whalers play a penalty-free game.

AND

[Jan 26, 1961] The Great One is born somewhere in Brantford, Ontario to Walter and Phyllis Gretzky.