Thursday, January 19, 2006

As the World Turns: Ziggy Palffy Retires, Eric Cairns is in the house!


It’s been a tumultuous 24 hours for Sidney Crosby.

First, his wingman Zigmund Palffy (pictured) retired suddenly due to a re-occurring shoulder injury.

The talented right winger retired from the NHL on Wednesday much to the shock of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who signed the 33-year-old to a three-year contract on Aug. 8.

Palffy, a native of Slovakia, cited to a Slovakian newspaper that a chronic shoulder injury, which had required two previous surgeries, as the determining factor in his decision to step away from the game.

I’ve head some moronic suggestions that Palffy retired simply because 1. He is busy planning his wedding 2. He was fighting with Sidney Crosby and/or 3. He was pushed out by the Penguins as they needed cap room to keep Marc-Andre Fleury on the roster.

The simple fact is that Palffy’s shoulder has been injured about 4 times now, and Palffy is not the type of person who loves hockey so much that he would play with constant and intense pain (ala Steve Yzerman).
I have a much more in-depth look at Zigmund Palffy’s over at Hockey Rants.

"I know that he was hurting," Crosby said. "His shoulder, his back -- his back hurt him for a long time. And with that hit that Hordichuk gave him, I think his shoulder was pretty sore, too."
The Penguins went quickly to work finding Palffy’s “replacement”, goonish forward/defenseman Eric Cairns.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired 6-6 and 241-pound defenseman Eric Cairns from the Florida Panthers in exchange for a sixth round pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, it was announced today by General Manager Craig Patrick.

Cairns, 31, has appeared in 429 career NHL games with the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and Florida Panthers, recording 41 points (9+32) and 1,090 penalty minutes.

While Eric Cairns is not going to reproduce 0.01% of Palffy’s offence, he will bring an element of protection that Crosby desperately needs.

From’s Bob MacKenzie:

It's obvious why the Pittsburgh Penguins traded for tough guy Eric Cairns, because the word on the street was out there, loud and clear all over the NHL: it's open season on Sidney Crosby.

Forget for a moment what you think of Sid the kid. You may be among those who thinks Crosby is a precocious, petulant prima dona with a bad temper, or you may be in the group who believes he's an ultra-competitive superstar franchise player with dynamic qualities.

What matters right now, though, is what happened on Monday night when the Vancouver Canucks ran roughshod over Crosby every chance they got and what happened was nothing.

For reasons only the Pittsburgh penguins ownership, management and players can explain, the Penguins' best player -- there's no debating that point, by the way -- was offered no protection from Bryan Allen and the other Canucks who targeted him for extra physical abuse.
Watching the Canucks push around Crosby, it was easy to see why some might speculate that the Penguins have some internal problems. The fact is, who would protect Crosby? Marc Recchi? Tomas Surovy? The Penguins needed some nasty beef and Eric Cairns does his job fairly well.

Still, Eric Cairns plays very little in comparison to Sidney Crosby. Crosby plays against the meanest and nastiest defensive defensemen, so he is still going to get pushed around a lot. Cairns may help deter those who might take a few ‘extra’ liberties with El Sid, but it’s not going to just turn into easy street for Sidney.

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