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Daily Cupcakes - December 7th, 2011

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Gary Bettman talks concussions.

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday that there was not enough data yet to draw conclusions about the link between concussions and a degenerative brain ailment that has been found in four dead hockey players.

The league wrapped up its Board of Governors meetings a day after The New York Times reported that former New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, an ailment related to Alzheimer’s disease.

CBC talks rivalries, and how things might change with the new realignment.

The immediate concern with the NHL's new four-conference alignment has been whether the 16 best teams will make the playoffs and whether the best teams always advance to the final four

This occasionally was a problem under the old Smythe, Patrick, Adams and Norris division templates between 1974-75 and 1992-93 seasons. Under the new format, four teams from each conference will make the playoffs and the first two rounds of the playoffs will be decided within each conference (which conference winners will meet in the third round will be determined by the general managers at their meeting in March).

More is coming out about Derek Boogaard, and some of it is scary.

They got together in Minnesota in the summer of 2010 for some skating, some gym time, but mostly to work on their punching skills.

The level of familiarity was such that there was no need to talk business, Still, Calgary Flames forward Tim Jackman has fond memories of his sessions with fellow NHLers John Scott and Derek Boogaard, then members of the Minnesota Wild – all of them part of a smallish, pugilistically inclined hockey fraternity.

"Obviously, it’s scary," Mr. Jackman said of Mr. Boogaard’s fate. "It’s a physical sport. It’s our choice to play it … it’s kind of the price that we pay to play in this league," said the 30-year-old, who has fought seven times in 26 games this season and 29 times dating back to 2009.

That’s not to say Mr. Jackman isn’t confronting some thorny questions. "Hopefully, I don’t have anything wrong with my brain," he said.