Thursday, May 29, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
"Every executive I’ve spoken to over the past month says they’re convinced the Anaheim Ducks will at some point this summer free Burke from his obligations and allow him to join the Leafs.
“He’ll be there,” is a common refrain, “and he’ll be there this summer.” ....
Burke still hasn’t signed his contract extension and apparently has no intention of doing so. "
- The Hockey News
"It was Bettman who, three years ago, quashed the notion of compensation for hiring people under contract when Peter Chiarelli went from the front office of the Ottawa Senators to become GM of the Bruins. Suffice it to say it was something of an ugly affair and Bettman ruled then that compensation would no longer be forthcoming to teams that allowed their executives to speak to, or be hired by, other teams."
- The Hockey News
"When requests are made to talk to Lemieux, either in a one-on-one setting or in a group format with reporters covering the finals, word politely comes back through the team that the man who is the Penguins' part-owner doesn't want to take the spotlight away from his young team.
What a load of hooey.
This has nothing to do with taking any spotlight away from his players. They have been playing in the spotlight for weeks now. And since Sidney Crosby became a Penguin three seasons ago, the spotlight has never been far from this Penguins team.
No, this is more about Lemieux's detachment from the game or, at least, detachment from having to share his thoughts and feelings about the game."
Some things never really change.
Wayne Gretzky was able to handle the media with ease throughout his career, even if he mastered the technique of speaking for a few minutes without really saying anything.
Lemieux was always more of a recluse and never seemed comfortable being a spokesperson for the game or the NHL. It always seemed like he had been forced into the spotlight someway or the other, whether it was his heroic battles with cancer or having to take over ownership of the Penguins.
That's not to say that Lemieux is without class. He's always been a gentleman and carries himself with poise and dignity. But he does have a responsibility to help sell the game and granting a few interviews is the least he could do. He is an owner for chrissakes. Instead of getting our cliche interview, we get to watch Mario sip Cabernet Sauvignon in between plays.
It's never a good thing when the biggest sports network in America (ESPN) is complaining about access.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
Then comes word that it's actually not the real Memorial Cup but a replica. Seems a little odd not to hand out the real trophy but maybe they foresaw something like this.
You can be sure the NHL would dread something like this happening to the Stanley Cup on American television. They too have a replica but they insist that the one they hand to the players is the real thing.
Why bother to have a replica at all anyways? I've never been more disappointed in my life than when I was told that the Cup I was looking at in the Hall of Fame in Toronto was a carefully reproduced dupe.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
You could say that the NHL got the ball rolling with the creation of the Maurice Richard Trophy in 1999 but they also created the problem where other great players such as Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe and Bobby Orr are not similarly honored. No offense to the great Rocket, but the three aforementioned players were just as important to the history of the game as the former Hab’s star.
So do you bend over backwards and try to create three new trophies or does the league take a serious look at renaming some of their existing hardware?
There is no law that says you have to honour these players with their own trophies but it would create a positive buzz for the league and allow fans to actually identify the awards with names they actually know something about. Yes, that might seem like a disservice to three names I’m nominating to get changed, but much like the rings get taken off the Stanley Cup once the names underneath them get filled, the people honored for these three trophies have been celebrated for most of the century so far and should not be seen as being replaced.
It might just be time to honour some other deserving names for the next 50 to 100 years.
Here are the three trophies I propose to be re-named. Any other suggestions would be great to hear.
Hart Trophy (for most valuable player in the NHL) should be changed to:
The Gordie Howe Trophy.
Who else to name this trophy after than Mr.Hockey himself? Gordie won the Hart 6 times during his incredible 26 NHL seasons and is widely considered to be the most complete hockey player to ever play the game. Only Wayne Gretzky with 9 has won more Hart’s than Howe but Gretzky’s major claim to fame will always be his scoring exploits and he seems more suited to have the Art Ross Trophy named after him. It would be a fitting tribute to a legend that still may be the most popular and well-known hockey player of all-time.
Originally named after: Dr. David Hart, donor of the trophy and father of one-time Montreal coach and general manager Cecil Hart.
Art Ross Trophy (for the highest scoring player in a season) should be changed to:
The Wayne Gretzky Trophy.
Complete no-brainer. Gretzky won the Art Ross an astounding 10 times including 7 in a row from 1981 to 1987. Only Gordie Howe and Mario Lemieux even come close with 6 wins apiece.
Originally named after: Arthur Howie Ross, donor of the trophy, Hall of Fame Player and one-time coach and general manager of the Boston Bruins.
James Norris Trophy (for best defenseman in a season) should be changed to:
The Bobby Orr Trophy.
Another easy one. Orr revolutionized the position in his relatively short 12 year career and won the Norris Trophy an incredible 8 years in a row from 1968 to 1975. Only four players have scored more points per game on average – Gretzky, Lemieux, Howe and Mike Bossy.
Originally named after: James E. Norris, former owner of the Detroit Red Wings.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Around The League ... Pearn/Martin Reunion In Florida? ... Tough Year For Gerber ... Meet Larry Pleau - The Invisible Man
Brian Biggane of the Palm Beach Post has the story:
"Jacques knows my philosophy and he knows what I bring from a coaching and teaching perspective," Pearn said. "I doubt anyone in the NHL has had a closer relationship with him over the years." ...
Pearn, 57, said he thought he might join Martin when he came to Florida in 2004, but that the Rangers made a significantly higher offer.
"I certainly enjoyed the time Jacques and I spent together," he said. "We complement each other very well."
Pearn is credited with having a significant role in developing young Ottawa players such as Marian Hossa, Martin Havlat, Wade Redden and Chris Phillips.
- Palm Beach Post
In case anyone missed this, prepare yourself for the best "own goal" of all time. Martin Gerber is the victim of his own defenseman at the World Championships here in Canada.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
"Tyler is an offensive defenseman, really adept at knowing when to pass the puck out of the zone or to put the wheels on and carry the puck out of the zone. He helps the Ottawa 67’s power-play from the point and is really reliable. I find him to be equally adept at the defensive game as well as the offensive game, yet I find him to be more closely aligned with an offensive defenseman-type player."
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Marty Ehrlich, executive producer at Versus, has been pushing for a new puck-tracking system with NHL executives. If Versus gets the OK, it would test puck tracking on its studio show before trying it during a game, he says. There would not be any computer chips embedded in pucks, at least at first.
"We're looking to track the evolution of a play," says Ehrlich. While puck tracking is on his "wish list," he admits it's still a "sore subject" with hockey purists. "There's people who looked at it as a great success at Fox. A lot looked at it as a dismal failure." ...
John Shannon, the NHL's senior vice president of programming, says the league's open to another attempt at puck tracking — as long as it doesn't compromise the integrity of the game. "The one thing you have to admire is Fox's ingenuity at the time. It was great promotion for the game," he says.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
"When you're down three games to one in the playoffs, I felt like it was an opportunity for me to get in there with the experience I have," said Kolzig, who is tied for 22nd on the NHL's career victories list with 301. "Our backs were against the wall, but it didn't happen. I said to myself: 'My time here in Washington has passed. They've chosen to go in a different direction, and this was the exclamation point on it.' "
After the Game 7 loss in Washington, Kolzig removed his nameplate from his locker stall and skipped a team meeting the following morning. He said he plans to frame the nameplate with a jersey.
"In my mind, there wasn't anything hateful," Kolzig said of removing his nameplate. "I wasn't there for the meeting because I didn't want to have to face the media. I wanted to avoid [reporters] as long as I could. It got blown out of proportion. "
- Washington Post
Thursday, May 8, 2008
"The catch is, it has to be done away from the ice - like at the Zamboni entrance.
The NHL forbade the Wings, under threat of $10,000 fine, to do so during round one, because debris allegedly came off the slimy creatures and became embedded in the ice. Al Sobotka then took to doing his renowned overhead twirl in the Zamboni entrance, but the NHL put the kybosh on that as well. "
"The casino is a long way away, and our players are very disciplined," Tippett said. "It won't be a factor at all."
So will the blackjack tables be off limits? "Our players can do whatever they want as long as when they drop the puck, they're 100 percent," Tippett said. "
-Dallas Morning News
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
"What the Leafs should’ve done was cleared out both Ferguson and Maurice at the same time and installed an interim coach whose strings management could easily pull with an eye toward improving the franchise long-term.
Instead, by leaving Maurice in charge for the remainder of the season, they created a situation where he was coaching to hang onto his job – hence his insane insistence of playing goalie Vesa Toskala for 30 straight games before Toronto was eliminated from playoff contention – rather than doing the smart thing and positioning the team for a better draft slot.
Now, rather than drafting in the top five of a deep draft, the Leafs will choose seventh overall, and Maurice is gone anyway. It’s small moves like this that add up to the reason why Toronto has been pining for a Stanley Cup championship for the last 41 years."
-The Hockey News
Despite being a focal point for criticism all season long, the Senators defense core is still very respectable and can even be considered top 5 in the league if they manage to replace Wade Redden with another highly skilled puck moving rearguard.
But that won’t be easy.
The players who fit this category and happen to be unrestricted free agents are as follows:
Brian Campbell – San Jose
Ron Hainsey – Columbus
John-Michael Liles – Colorado
Michael Rozsival – NY Rangers
Mark Streit – Montreal
That’s about it. The obvious target for the Senators and other teams around the league will be Brian Campbell with Hainsey an unheralded second choice.
The dilemma for the Senators is that they already have a player who is almost as good as those two in Wade Redden and he actually wants to stay in town. Granted, he doesn’t seem to be the same player he was before the lockout and this might be attributed to the new rules that forbids obstruction, leaving Redden vulnerable to hard fore-checking forwards taking away the time and space he once used so well in years past. Even with that said, Redden might be a better choice going forward if he is willing to take a significant pay cut to stay though that scenario can’t be taken for granted.
Some team is bound to offer Redden 6 million per season and that will probably top the Senators offer by about 3 million. Hard to say no to money like that.
If the Senators decide to look in-house for a solution, there is some optimism when it comes to Brian Lee. The young rearguard looked surprisingly good when he stepped in to take over for a worn out Luke Richardson and he is expected to play a similar role to Redden when he matures.
But is he ready for that step right away? Chances are he’s not but stranger things have happened.
Andre Meszaros is another player who can move the puck and score goals on the powerplay. Only 22, he has taken a lot of heat from the fans for his mistakes but there is no way that management is ready to move him. Meszaros is a very valuable commodity and he will only improve with age. He’s a restricted free-agent and he might put the Senators in a precarious position if he demands the type of money that similar players are getting. Meszaros made just under a million dollars last year but Keith Ballard is making 2.5 million in Phoenix, Dan Hamhuis is making 2.25 million in Nashville and Matt Carle is making almost 3 million in San Jose. Any extra money given to Meszaros obviously makes it harder to pay the Brian Campbells, the Ron Hainsey’s and the Wade Redden’s.
Fortunately, the Senators have two dependable horses in Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov who are already signed for at least the next two seasons.
If the Senators can convince Mike Commodore to stay in town, they will be flush with toughness on the blueline. Commodore is big, mean and nasty and was one of Ottawa’s best players in the playoffs after struggling down the stretch with his new team. If Commodore won’t stay, look for the Senators to go after one of the following unrestricted free agents:
Brad Stuart - Detroit
Brooks Orpik – Pittsburgh
Jason Smith – Philadelphia
Aaron Ward – Boston
Of these four defensive defenseman, Aaron Ward might be the most obvious fit, not only money-wise but because he once played for the Nepean Raiders of the CJHL and Bryan Murray will tell anyone who listens that he likes to bring in local players. Ward had a pretty good year in Boston and he is big and dependable. It also doesn’t hurt that he has been on three Stanley Cup winning teams, the last being Carolina in 2006 with Commodore.
The Senators also have Lawrence Nycholat who has been toiling in the minors despite being good enough to play on at least half of the NHL’s rosters. If Christoph Schubert remains at forward instead of his natural position on the blueline, then Nycholat has a chance to step in and play some minutes. He could also be used in a trade if the Senators decide to go that route. Either way, Nycholat is an asset that should be used before his value diminishes.
Other prospects include Eric Gryba, a mammoth defenseman playing college hockey, a couple of Russians in Kirill Lyamin and Vitali Anikeyenko and last years pick, Ben Blood, who was still playing high school hockey in his draft year.
These are still long term players and look for the Senators to grab a top defenseman in this years draft because it doesn’t look like the Russian kids are going to come over the ocean anytime soon.
The core group that the Senators have on the blueline is far from perfect, but in reality, it is the least of the Senators problems going forward into next season . With one big piece or two small additions, the Senators can feel confident in this group. They just have to concentrate on building depth in their prospect pool or the team will be paying big bucks for older free agents in two or three years time.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
The fallout from this decision ended up costing Paddock his job.
Still, Gerber remains a favourite to return to the crease because Bryan Murray has already stated that Emery will be shipped out of town (way to help your bargaining position Bryan). This is an unfortunate turn of events for a team that was primed to win a Stanley Cup with a young hotshot goalie, a solid defense core and an elite group of forwards. Now the team is in disrepair with little depth in Binghamton to refuel the drive.
Brian Elliot remains an intriguing prospect and could very well be the backup to Gerber next season. He had an okay season in Binghamton with average stats but he has impressed a lot of people in the organization. His status as a future number one goalie remains cloudy despite unbridled optimism from the fans.
Short of sticking with the potential of Emery (and that potential is vast once he grows up a little), there are very few options on the free agent market.
It basically comes down to Jose Theodore, Dan Ellis, Cristobal Huet and Olaf Kolzig.
Theodore’s comeback season ended on a sour note when he got lit up by Detroit in the second round and Kolzig showed poor character when he didn’t even bother to show up for Washington’s final meeting because he was so incensed at losing his job to Huet. He is also past his prime as an effective goalie and may be staring at retirement.
As for Huet, it is hard to imagine Washington not doing everything it can to get him under contract to continue the positive vibe that ended against the Flyers in the first round. If Huet rejects playing in D.C., then he would certainly be an upgrade on Gerber if only for the fact that Huet actually has a playoff win on his resume.
It is also expected that Nashville will make every attempt to resign Ellis before he hits the market which makes it unlikely he will end up in Ottawa. If that is the case, Chris Mason will be available but he's a risky proposition after having a tough season.
In short, there are no miracle cures for the Senators goaltending problems.
Or they can pray that Elliot turns into last year’s Carey Price.
It’s a long summer and many things can happen.