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Tuesday 10: Suspension news, Doughty and more

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It's been a little bit of a strange opening to the preseason schedule. Certainly, some players are testing Senior VP of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan, who already has handed down five suspensions. At that rate, Shanahan is going to be a  pretty busy guy.
 
I'll lead off this week's edition of the Tuesday 10 with a few thoughts on one of the suspended.
 
1
When you ask scouts about James Wisniewski, they give you a pretty straight-forward description: "Skates well, heavy shot, competes, too often makes poor decisions with and without the puck." That last part is the biggest reason why he's been with five different organizations since he entered the League with the Blackhawks in 2005-06.
 
The Blue Jackets, desperate for an offensive-minded defender who could help their struggling power play, were hoping the good would outweigh the bad when they signed Wisniewski to a bloated six-year, $33 million free-agent contract in July.
 
It didn't take long, however, for Wisniewski to live up to his reputation, taking a reckless run at Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck during a preseason game this past Friday. As a result, he was slapped with an eight-game suspension. This marks his fourth suspension since March '08 and his second of such length.
 
In this case, he's really put his new team in a bind.

The Blue Jackets' defense isn't to be confused with Canadiens' blue line of the late '70s. Columbus needs Wisniewski to work on its power play. More importantly, the Jackets need to get out to a good start if they're going to make the playoffs in the ultra-competitive West. Now, they'll have to find that good start with their big-money summer acquisition watching from the press box.
 
2
The negotiations between the Kings and star defender Drew Doughty took another turn Monday when top team executive Tim Leiweke decided to speak publicly on the matter to Los Angeles Times reporter Helene Elliott. In a nutshell, Leiweke said the team isn't going to blink in these contract talks.
 
At some point, you have to wonder about the collateral damage to the long-term relationship between the team and its young star defenseman.
 
The Kings are scheduled to leave for Europe after Saturday's exhibition game against the Avs in Las Vegas. While things can change on a dime in contract negotiations, I don't get the feeling that Doughty will be on that flight.
 
3
On Saturday night, Sabres GM Darcy Regier talked to CBC's Elliotte Friedman about the renovations to the club's home dressing room and hockey facilities within the First Niagara Center. Regier said the team did its homework, checking out other top facilities around the League; but they were most influenced by Vancouver's setup at the Rogers Center.
 
Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff gained an intimate knowledge of that building through his work as an assistant coach for Team Canada at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. The Canadian squad used the Canucks' dressing room during the tournament.
 
Having spent all he can spend on player salaries (that pesky old salary cap!), new owner Terry Pegula is using his wealth to upgrade the franchise in all areas. That seems pretty smart. If you have it, why not use it.
 
In Toronto, young defenseman Jake Gardiner is pressing the coaching staff for a spot on the club's opening-night roster. The 21-year-old Minnesota native has impressed with his skating, puck skills and poise. Those are three nice attributes for a young defenseman.
 
Gardiner came to Toronto from Anaheim on Feb. 9 as part of a multi-player swap. Leafs GM Brian Burke certainly was familiar with the former University of Wisconsin standout from his time on the West Coast. When Burke was managing the Ducks, he selected Gardiner at No. 17 in the 2008 Entry Draft.
 
When Burke had the chance to add him to the mix in Toronto, he grabbed it. Now, some eight months later, Gardiner might play himself into an NHL job.
 
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