Each week we’ll take a look at some of the most pressing questions around the NHL, as well as some of the more ridiculous things hockey fans seem to care about. It’s The Comeback weekly hockey mailbag!

1. Is it me, or is $5,000 not a huge fine for spearing a guy in the balls? I’m not rich by any means but I’d pay $5,000 to hit some people I work with in the balls.

– Jeff

It’s the best bargain going in sports. Brandon Prust speared Brad Marchand in the balls over the weekend and was pretty pleased with himself the day he was fined, saying, “Best money I’ve ever spent.”

Look, men are stupid. We are. From the time we reach the age of pubescence, we love hitting each other in the balls. It’s just a thing we do. I can’t explain it. When you’re 12, there’s nothing quite as funny as flicking a friend in the balls in such a way that the pain is delayed. He doesn’t know if he was hit hard enough when all of a sudden, waves of anguish bring him to the floor and we all agree it’s hilarious, even the person whose balls and stomach hurt.

Should it be a one-game suspension? Should the NHL take a stand against reckless genital brutalization? Yeah. But what can you do? I’ve lost the will to be indignant about weak punishments in the NHL. If players don’t care, why should I? If a bunch of millionaires have agreed that a jab in the balls is worth $5,000, what sort of insane person would I have to be to argue with that level of insanity?

Of course, that also means when Brad Marchand is retired, 45 years old and has a piece on The Players Tribune titled, “Balls Out: How Two Decades of NHL Testicle Spearing Left Me Unable To Perform Sexually,” I’m not going to cry over it.

 

2. What do you think of this idea to deny the Edmonton Oilers another first-overall draft choice? Should the NHL consider doing something to prevent tanking and giving the Oilers another No. 1 they’re going to waste?

– Matt

People love to joke about “east coast bias” in all sports. It’s real and it isn’t. No one is intentionally discriminating against players and teams in the Pacific time zone; it’s simply the result of games starting at the same time a large portion of the country is going to sleep (or rightfully not having any interest in Flames-Canucks).

So when people whine about an agenda against their favorite sports team or players, it’s funny. Just about everyone in this business doesn’t give three moist farts about whether a team wins or loses. We just want a good story, a good quote, no overtime and a bar within walking distance of the arena.

However, I don’t know how to defend this cry-baby stuff about the Oilers not being worthy of No. 1 picks anymore.

Was anyone pissing and moaning when the Penguins were building a winner with No. 1 picks? Did anyone author a manifesto about how the Penguins weren’t worthy of these picks? Was it because the picks worked out? So the Oilers shouldn’t get to pick first because they’ve been bad at it? Because they haven’t had the good fortune of slam-dunk generational players at No. 1? What kind of ridiculous logic is that? Isn’t that the point of the draft?

I know everyone has to fill the days during the endless death march that is the NHL regular season, but come on with this.

 

3. Would the Canucks be better off dumping all the veterans not named Sedin, Miller, or Tanev to make full time NHLer’s out of rookies (McCann, Horvat, Virtannen, Baertschi, Shinkaruk, etc)?

– Juan

The Canucks were a mediocre team that got lucky in a bad division last season. That can screw with how management views a team. Look at the Flames. They were horrendous and the luckiest group of humans on the planet. The Canucks weren’t that bad but they were beneficiaries of good luck too, that is, until they lost to the awful Flames in the playoffs.

In both cases, it sort of messed with expectations.

I’m all for aggressive rebuilding. If you’re not actively trying to trade Sedins at this moment, what are you doing? If the goal is to win a Stanley Cup and you know full well that isn’t happening again with the Sedins, trade them to Nashville and get yourself some first-round picks. Some teams would agree to cage matches for Ryan Miller. Take advantage of that.

The Canucks are 10th in the West in points percentage, have lost 19 of 29 games and have just nine regulation wins. Don’t be a team that’s hanging on for dear life just to get your ass handed to you in the first round. Trade everyone that’s not part of the future.

 

4. Lord of the Rings question: Would you rather live in the Shire, Gondor or Rivendell? Mordor real estate too volatile, so take it off the table.

– Robert

Sigh. I hate the LOTR movies. Hate them. I don’t understand what adults find so interesting about a group of people on a “scary” adventure where no one (except Sean Bean, who always dies) dies. “Oh look, Gandalf is dead.” “No, he’s not. He’s just a different color now.”

The only place I know without looking into it is the Shire. I’m 6-foot-3 with a big head so there’s no way I could live there. I’d be hunched over and banging my melon into every doorway if I bought one of those huts. I’m also forever grossed out by feet, so seeing gigantic hairy ones every time I left my home isn’t for me.

Wikipedia lists Gondor as “a realm of men,” which sounds awful, so no to Gondor. Looks like Rivendell is the answer. It’s a land of pale people and there’s a good chance I’d bump into Cate Blanchett. Essentially, that’s how I live my life in New Jersey, only the odds of meeting Cate would be exponentially higher if I lived in Rivendell.

 

5. Where do you ultimately see Travis Hamonic ending up and what return will the Isles get?

This is probably way wrong, and I’m guessing here without knowing what is happening in Travis Hamonic’s personal life, but my guess is the Islanders don’t trade him until the offseason.

There are so many things working against the Islanders. One, they are a good team that wants to win now. Two, they are a team playing in a building that’s like 60 percent full on most nights, which bleeds into point three, which is a team in that scenario can’t get just trade a guy like Hamonic for futures and become worse now. Four, not only is Hamonic a young, solid, top-pairing defenseman, his contract is ridiculously team-friendly, and five, asking to be dealt as close to Winnipeg as possible essentially leaves Garth Snow with zero viable trade partners if he hopes to get equal value back.

No matter the defenseman you want in return, the player will either be not as good, older, or on a worse contract. As much as Snow wants to accommodate Hamonic, he can’t afford to submarine his team at the same time.

The only player that makes any sense is Jacob Trouba, but the Jets would be crazy to deal him unless the Islanders are throwing in something else besides Hamonic. It’s such a messy situation.

 

6. Do you think the Rangers move heaven and earth to re-sign one of their three best players this season in Keith Yandle or does his strong play this season only prove that his price will be too high?

Also, Is Steven Stamkos going to Toronto or is Steven Stamkos going to Toronto?

How cool would a LeBron-esque coming home be?

– Eric

I disagree with the premise that Yandle is one of the Rangers’ three-best players. If we’re ranking them, I’d put Henrik Lundqvist, Mats Zuccarello, Ryan McDonagh, Derick Brassard, Derek Stepan, Rick Nash and maybe Oscar Lindberg ahead of Yandle. Still, there’s nothing wrong with being the second-best defenseman and eighth-best player on a team.

The issue is money and personnel. Yandle will probably get $6 million a year for four or five years this summer. And he’s worth it. But the Rangers only have seven forwards signed for next season and about $18-20 million in space. It’s not impossible that they’d retain Yandle but it would be difficult. If the Rangers were able to shed Dan Girardi’s contract, it’d be a no-brainer.

The other issue is Yandle is a huge defensive liability. That’s always the knock on any defenseman that’s gifted offensively, but the knock is earned here. There’s a reason why he’s fifth among Rangers d-men in even-strength ice time. His propensity for the catastrophic turnover is unrivaled on the Rangers.

So, you have to pair Yandle with a defensive-minded right-handed shot that would allow him to roam. If you pair him with Kevin Klein, that means Ryan McDonagh has to lug around Girardi, who may not even be there next season if the Rangers keep Yandle. Then you’re left with a lefty-lefty pairing of Marc Staal and Yandle, and Alain Vigneault prefers having righty-lefty pairings.

Can you imagine four years of a Girardi/Yandle pairing as they age into their mid-30s and Lundqvist approaches 40?

As for Stamkos, despite his right wing complaints, I’d remain stunned if he doesn’t work something out in Tampa and further stunned if he chooses to spend his prime years with a team that’s in Year 1 of a rebuild. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity for two straight weeks of Cleveland jokes in the space, but I’ll let it go.

 

7. How often do you see dongs in locker rooms? There are always videos of postgame locker rooms where there are dongs in the background accidentally and since you’re in locker rooms, I’m guessing you’ve seen your fair share. Is it uncomfortable? How many have you seen? Are they all huge? Asking for a friend.

– Pat

Dongs are a myth in NHL locker rooms. Whether it’s post-practice or post-game, there just aren’t dongs flopping around like maybe there were in the 1980s or like you see in movies. There are cameras everywhere, be it professional ones or ones on our phones, and like all men, we prefer to brag about our dongs instead of whipping them out for all to see.

Also, in modern NHL locker rooms, there are two rooms for players. There’s a front room where players get into and out of equipment and conduct interviews and a back room where they shower and get dressed, where I assume it’s a veritable cornucopia of flopping dongs as far as the eye can see.

I have seen one NHL dong in about eight years of being inside locker rooms. I will tell you the story of that dong now.

It was after a game and I needed to speak to a player about something unrelated to the game. Usually, you’d do an interview like this on an off-day or in the morning, but this was the only time to get this guy. The room had cleared out but the team’s PR person told me to wait and grab the player as he was coming out of the back room.

There I am, standing in a room that was empty except for me, one player and what I assume were three of his friends. They were chatting about 15 feet from me and I was just trying to mind my own business, not listen to their conversation. The last thing I wanted to do was overhear something like, “Yeah, so it’s been two weeks and the cops haven’t said a thing. I’m pretty sure we got away with it.”

Anyway, I’m just pacing in a small circle in the corner when I turn around and there it is, the biggest dong I’ve ever seen in my life.

And I’m talking life. You know how when you’re watching porn and you’re like, “Man, I am inadequate, that can’t be real.” Well, if any porn star were in this room with me, he would have felt those feelings for the first time in his life. I couldn’t believe this thing. Dirk Diggler would’ve been like, “I can’t compete with that.”

I also couldn’t believe how comfortable this player was with his nudity. He was talking to three buddies — three fully clothed, non-teammate buddies — and he just got completely naked in front of them. I played sports growing up so it’s not as though male nudity is weird to me, but it was weird to just do it in front of three guys who at no point were going to get undressed. It was like he was at a high school reunion, catching up with guys from his AP History class, and he whipped out his dong without breaking stride in a conversation about Mrs. Carter.

But it was an incredible piece of hardware. I still think of it when I hear his name. It was as if someone took a tube sock and dropped four cans of soda in it. If someone broke into his house, he could have hid in a corner, jumped out, and subdued the invader with a quick dong to the temple.

So yeah. One dong. That’s my answer.

If you want to be a part of next week’s mailbag, send a tweet to @davelozo.