Puck Headlines: EA Sports' NHL 09, now featuring Barack Obama

Here are your Morning Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.

• You may recall hearing that virtual campaign ads for Sen. Barack Obama would be popping up in several video games from Electronic Arts. That includes EA Sports titles, which includes NHL 09. Japers Rink published the screen shot featured here, with one basic question: "Keep your politics out of my video games or cool and clever?" Can we suggest a third option: Uh, creepy in a Big Brother sort of way? [Japers]

Jaroslav Halak gets the start tonight for the Montreal Canadiens against the Florida Panthers, and Andrei Kostitsyn may not play until Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks after that nasty hit over the weekend. [Habs Inside/Out]

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• For the record: Panthers/Habs is your Versus game of the night. The Dallas Stars and Sean Avery playing in MSG against the New York Rangers, with Avery being billed as "Garden villain" in the NY papers? Local television. Honestly, this just boggles the mind. [Daily News]

• The Ottawa Senators are inconsistent. In other news, water remains wet. [THN]

• Big news in the world of hockey blogging this morning: Our friend James Mirtle has a new home at Fromtherink.com, taking over as the manager of NHL blogs for SB Nation. We'll hopefully have more about this as the new gig develops. Congrats to James, who certainly is one of the true pioneers of this medium and a valued Friend of Puck Daddy; and congrats to SB Nation, which is going to have quality writers swarming them like Tkachuk to a buffet with Mirtle at the helm. [Mirtle]

• The irrepressible Mark Madden is giddy about the Alexander Ovechkin/Evgeni Malkin feud, to the point where he believes the Pittsburgh Penguins should go after the "disrespectful" Washington Capitals star. "If Ovechkin won't respect Malkin's status as a superstar, the Penguins can't respect Ovechkin's status as a superstar. If that means that Eric Godard does Ovechkin a favor by rearranging his face, so be it." [Beaver County Times]

• Speaking of the Caps, a really interesting look at former NHL player Darcy Verot; a reckless player during his days in the League, and now a burgeoning star for that style of play in the KHL. [The Red Skate]

• We'll give Tampa Bay Lightning beat writer Damian Cristodero credit for one thing: If the Bolts can actually turn this train wreck around, he'll look like a genius. [Lightning Strikes]

• Is Marian Gaborik too fragile for a $9 million a year free-agent jackpot? And will his lower-body injuries reduce his trade value should the Minnesota Wild have to deal him? [Boston Globe]

• This Adam Burish photo needs to be a poster.

• Potential topic of conversation at this week's GM meetings: Hiding big salaries in the AHL, like Kyle McLaren and Peter Schaefer. Should teams be forced to pay for their mistakes via the salary cap hits for these guys? [Ottawa Sun]

• Meanwhile, Larry Brooks takes an interesting look at how the NHL is "inflicting 13.5-percent escrow deductions from its players' paychecks during the first quarter of the season," perhaps in preparation of some tough revenue times. [NY Post]

• After newspaper columnist Bob Smizik slammed hockey fighting, The Pensblog absolutely owned Bob Smizik. [Pensblog]

• Puck the Media has a grand opening live chat at 1 p.m. today. [Puck the Media]

• Great feature story this weekend about disgraced Nashville Predators co-owner "Boots" Del Biaggio, and how he increased his cred by being a hockey groupie for players like Luc Robitaille and Mario Lemieux. [Tennessean]

• At what point exactly should the Rangers start getting concerned about Markus Naslund? [Scotty Hockey]

• Finally, some fantastic classic NHL commercials appeared on YouTube this morning, with varying degrees of video quality: One about "Scoring," one about "Winning" and this one about "Skating." Get the action reaction, yo:

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