Saturday, October 27, 2007

Trouble Between the Tunnel

It may be a bit premature, especially considering the fact we’re ten games into the season, but with the best New York team being the Isles, there could be trouble brewing for the other area clubs. However, much has changed in the landscape of both the Rangers and the Devils that the causes for concern could be just a chemistry issue.

First, you look at the Rangers. This is a team who went out and decided they had enough money to basically do what they did before the lockout, which was get the best players’ money could by. In this case, Chris Drury and Scott Gomez, both are coming from the free agent frenzy. Yet, at the beginning of this season—only Drury seems to be comfortable enough with the system Tom Renney is running to get some consistency on the score sheet. Gomez has been shuffled around the line-up, which could cause for a lack of production as the comfortability factor is not there.

What should sting even worse is that the Rangers have a league-worst 16 goals-for this young season. With the likes of Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka, Drury, and Gomez; this team should have more than 16 goals in 10 games. It begs the question of how much did Michael Nylander mean to this squad?? Oddly enough, the Rangers have only given up 21 goals, thanks to the work horsemanship of Henrik Lundqvist.

With the struggles early, you have to wonder when or if Jaromir Jagr will become a disturbance to this club, as well as how long before Tom Renney gets shown the door, should the struggles continue.

Moving through the tunnel over to New Jersey and the stink of the sulfur isn’t the only thing that is foul in Jersey. The Devils have gotten off to an awful start, no thanks to nine straight on the road as their new building, the Prudential Center, was finished and Bon Jovi finally stopped squatting on the land.

With new coach Brent Sutter behind the bench, we have been able to see John Madden and Jay Pandolfo flourish in the hard-nose system; yet with the departure of Gomez and Brian Rafalski—the Devils have lost some of their kick.

The kick was seemingly to the groin, as the normally defensive sound Devils haven’t been showing their true defensive form, giving up 34 goals in 10 games. Martin Brodeur appears almost human in net, as he is sporting a 3.30 GAA and .876 SV%.

The offense for the Devils is just as atrocious, with the team being shutout on two occasions already this season. Throughout the 82-game schedule in ’05-’06, the Devils were shutout the same amount. The absence of both Gomez and Rafalski are being shown on each end of the ice, with Gomez’s set-up prowess being missed most; especially by Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta.

Like I said—it’s still early and I don’t want to get all Eric Francis on the Rangers and Devils saying they won’t make the playoffs after 10 games; I’m not a presumptuous ass. However, for these teams to be struggling as badly as they have been, it could make people put their finger on the button—albeit very early.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hartley the First to Go

It's quite ironic, really. To be honest, I was going to write up a piece about who are the candidates to be fired first as head coach in the NHL. In it, I was going to say that Bob Hartley was the most likely to be first, especially given the play of his team as of late. Lo and behold, what gets announced today?? The Thrashers fired Hartley and will replace him for the interim with GM Don Wadell.

The thing about this is that it almost seems like a long time coming. The Thrashers less than stellar appearance in their first playoffs, coupled with the loss of some key players this off-season and the atrocious start to the season they have had so far-- it's a perfect storm for who ever is in the eyepiece of the firing rifle.

However, the fact is that the Thrashers are the only team in the NHL without a single point, they have scored only nine goals in six games, they have given up 27 goals (three above LA for most goals against), and the only real signs of life they have had is against a Devils team who is a shell of its former self.

You can look at Wadell not making a bigger splash in the off-season as an excuse, but when it comes to team motivation and team play, the onus falls onto the coach. Hartley has had a track record of winning and that's why he was brought into the Atlanta dressing room. Hartley did bring a bigger mentality to the locker room and with their playoff appearance, albeit brief, the Thrashers looked like a contender for the future. Yet, they stumbled out of the gates (well, more like fell flat on their face) and haven't been getting the firepower needed out of their big guns. Because of that, Hartley takes the fall.

With the coach gone, the time is now for the Thrashers to take it as a wake up call and get into gear before it's too late. With Wadell behind the bench and doing the duel role for the foreseeable future, it could put a few players on notice who have been dragging ass.

That said, for a bigger picture on what to look for from the Thrashers and what this could all mean-- check out Fire Wagon Hockey for the most honest coverage of the Thrashers I've seen to date.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Too Much, Too Soon??

We are just over a week into the season, but the questions seem to be coming up about certain topics; coaching, free agents on the market, who's going to be in net-- however, the one question I'll pose to you today is dealing with the possibility of some teams doing too much, too early; which could effect their play later on in the season.

First, the Calgary Flames. Obviously, Mike Keenan has been know to play his best players all the time to get them the ice time to make a difference. That's all well and good, but there has been a noticable difference in the Flames this season than in season's past. Granted, they don't have the best track record when it comes to October, but it seems that they are playing much sloppier than usual.

One example is Dion Phaneuf, who in his third year is logging almost 30 minutes a game. Sure, he's a great young defenseman, but you have to wonder if he's ready for that big of a responsibility yet. As the games drag on, he seems to be getting more and more fatigued and let's more and more get by him; pucks, men, the game.

Jarome Iginla could be another example if he had great October's to begin with. With the exception of last season, Iginla has never had the best track record in the first month of the season.

With the Flames on a big downswing and have to play from behind all year thus far, they will need to get something going in one way or another in order to keep the fans happy and their playoff hopes bright.

Staying in the West, the Cup champion Ducks won their first game since their England Adventure on Wednesday against the Bruins. However, with the exception of their shootout lose to the Wings, the Ducks have not looked like the most recent champions of the league.

The big question with the Ducks is how much does this have to do with the absence of Scott Niedermayer, Teemu Selanne, and the injured J-S Giguere?? All three played a big part in the success of the Ducks last season and have left a fairly big hole. It doesn't help either that Mathieu Schneider is out and that Ilya Bryzgalov hasn't been as good as the Ducks would have hoped.

The good things for the Ducks is that now they have some rest after coming back to North America, especially after playing three games in four days when the got back from London, as well as the emergence of Jonas Hiller as a competent back-up, which could great controversy when Giguere finally does get healthy. Not to mention Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Francois Beauchemin have all emerged as great scoring threats, though one of those names is not like the others.

Now, I know two truths-- it's early in the season and that these athlete's are well-conditioned and should be able to deal with all the twist and turns thrown out there. Yet, it does still make for great discussion and some controversy in the early going.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Another Day, Another Doubtful Deal

We thought this was over. We thought that they had finally had a deal. At long last, the fate of the Nashville Predators was determined and it was going to be sold to a group of local investors in order to stay in Nashville for a time being.


It seems that according to the Tennessean, one of the investors doubt that the deal will go through; as some of the alterations that the group want to make to the deal with the City of Nashville doesn't sit well with the city council. David Freeman said that the nine changes the group proposed was rejected by city council and really puts this deal in doubt.

Some of the changes included an option to let the Predators leave Nashville if the season attendance dips under 14,000 on average and if the group loses $20 US. Also, the changes includes the team taking almost all state and local taxes from the arena for hockey and other arena events. Other revisions included the city putting up a new source of revenue stream for the arena make "Fun Zones" to kill excessive utility cost. I don't know how one goes with the other, but hey.

Now, here's the thing-- and this is just me-- it seems that the only way the Predators will ever get sold is that if the City and current owner Craig Leipold comes to the realization that one of the clauses for a new owner is the option to move the team if there is no support from the city. It will be hard to give that up, especially when so much time and money was put into it in one way or another-- but it's real. No new investor wants to come in and accept that they will have to take a monetary loss and be handcuffed by the fact they must keep the team in a place the doesn't/won't support it.

It would have been a good idea to get the local investors into the fold, however the fact they want a clause to get out if there's no support is probably showing their true colors. Sure, it's an insurance policy, but when you have the locals starting to question the loyalty of the fans; something is wrong. It could be underestimating the fan or it could show that those investing probably wouldn't do much to promote their own team on their own business side, but something is rotten there when you want all those clauses.

I don't know if the Preds will ever get sold and if they do-- odds are they'll be headed to either Kansas City or somewhere in Canada. To counteract that, the fans need to do their parts. It's hard to put the onus on the people supporting the team, but that seems to be the bottom line. It could seem like a hard sell, but that's why they needed the local investors to help pump up the team. With that dead-- it seem all but assured that the Predators tenure in Nashville is almost as extinct at the sabertooth tiger on their uniforms.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

London Calling

The first game in the NHL this season is in the books. It was the first time an NHL regular season game was played in Europe and while it was a while before the worked the kinks out, the game went off pretty much without a hitch. Here's some observations from the first game that I saw.

-It was a little surprising to see that Jonathan Bernier got the start for the Kings, but he put on a great show for the Kings in the 4-1 win. Jason LaBarbera seems to have been usurped again from the starting gig. There's going to be a lot of questions if Labarbera can't get his game in tack, like the mojo that he's only an AHL caliber goalie. As for Bernier, should he stay up the whole season and play like he did today-- I wouldn't be surprised to see him win the Calder.

-The Ducks are without Teemu Selanne, Scott Niedermayer, and Dustin Penner; but they looked very sluggish on the offensive side of things. They did outshoot the Kings 27-21, but they didn't seem to have too many quality chances. Randy Carlyle is going to have to change some things around with the lines and get the fire lit under guys like Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf; both of whom are supposed to pick up the slack and get something going in the absence of the big names.

-I think all fantasy owners and Kings fans can rest easy about Mike Cammalleri. I think many were wondering what would happen after he got his arbitration ruling of 2-years $6.7M. With two goals and an amazing game-- Cammalleri is showing he is worth the money.

-Look out for Anze Kopitar this season. I have my doubts that he'll have a sophomore slump, especially the power game he had today and the fact he won the MVP of that oddball Red Bull tournament in Austria; Kopitar is looking to turn some heads and get some pub about himself out there.

-A good turnout to the O2 arena, with plenty of jerseys in the crowd from all around. Thank goodness for London being a flight hub. It was definitely interesting to see the wide variety of NHL jerseys and European jerseys. I think CBC said that all but one team in the British Elite League was represented in the crowd. Considering all the other things going on in England (rugby and premier league) it was pretty nice to see those in the crowd.

-The ice was odd, wasn't it. The smaller neutral zone, the higher boards-- it was an interesting scene on TV and I'm sure just as odd on the ice. Just imagine someone like Andy McDonald trying to hope the boards and then looking like he was in pee-wee hockey struggling to get over the boards.

-The Ducks really need to get rid of the wordmark for the logo. Not only is it a piece of crap, but on the new jerseys, the logo looks incredible small on the jerseys. Why not just use the webbed-footed "D" like what's on the wordmark for the logo?? I know, it's too simple, but yikes.

That's it for game one, only 1,200+ to go.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Storylines Galore

We're days away from the new NHL season and of course, you're going to have storylines. Here are some, team-by-team, of what you could ponder while watching them on the ice this season.

ANAHEIM: What can the Champs do for an encore?? With Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer out, it'll be interesting to see how much Ryan Getzlaf and Chris Pronger can step up. Also, how much of a factor will Todd Bertuzzi play this season??

ATLANTA: A brief appearance has set high-hopes for the Hot-lanta fateful. With defense still the lingering question, the Thrashers need to hope Kari Lehtonen is all that he is cracked up to be. The Thrashers should also be hoping for some scoring outside of their top line.

BOSTON: Will Manny Fernandez flourish or falter?? After leaving a defense-first team like Minnesota to a team with the 2nd worst plus/minus in the league (-328, behind Philadelphia), Manny will have to be on his game. Look for Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron to be big players once again for the Bs.

BUFFALO: Thomas Vanek is under the microscope this year, not only with his salary, but also with the departure of Chris Drury and Daniel Briere. The consistency of Maxim Afinogenov will also be at the forefront since he is now a marquee player for Buffalo.

CALGARY: What will Mike Keenan do?? How Keenan works with the likes of Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff will be the determining factor when it comes to the success of the Flames. Should they gel well together, then things should be fine for the "C" of Red.

CAROLINA: Retooled from last year's disappointment, the Hurricanes will be looking for some answers on whether or not Cam Ward and Eric Staal can carry the team. The health of the defense should be something to look for as it was the downfall of last year's edition of the Canes.

CHICAGO: The youth movement is alive and well with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews at the head of the Hawks class. Martin Havlat should have an explosive long as he stays healthy, and Brent Seabrook should be the stallwart defenseman from now until he leaves Chicago.

COLORADO: After coming close to the playoffs last season, the Avalanche have retooled on defense and upfront to add more grit and possibly get them over the hump and get back into the playoffs. Now, what to do with Jose Theodore??

COLUMBUS: Could this be the year for the Jackets?? They weren't big players in the free agent market, Nikolai Zherdev seems to be playing himself out of a spot, and the goaltending still resembles that of an AHL team. The onus will be on Rick Nash and David Vyborny to be the leaders on the ice, on the scoresheet and in the room.

DALLAS: Scoring needs to be the big thing that the Stars worry about this season. Their defense seems to be in order, Marty Turco has been solid, but the forwards will be the ones that have to step it up. Mike Modano will be under the gun to get back to his old ways, while Brendan Morrow needs to look to stay healthy.

DETROIT: With Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk becoming the new scorers for the Wings and Nicklas Lidstrom being the franchise defenseman, the one question is whether or not the goaltending can be as solid as it was last season.

EDMONTON: It can't get any worse of the Oilers, even with their top defenseman, Joni Pitkanen and Sheldon Souray, being a combined -53 last season. Dustin Penner will now have to earn the fans' respect after being poached from the Ducks, while the consistency of Dwayne Roloson will be looked at heavily and could create tension should he not perform.

FLORIDA: With Tomas Vokoun between the pipes, the Panthers can rest easier when it comes to the last-line. However, the youth of Stephen Weiss, Nathan Horton, and Greg Campbell will need to help out Olli Jokinen in sharing the scoring load.

LOS ANGELES: With Dan Cloutier now a distant thought in New Hampshire, the Kings now have to hope that Mike Cammalleri and Anze Kopitar's performances last season were no myth. The good thing for the Kings is that they may have the most underrated defense in the West with the additions of Brad Stuart and Tom Preissing.

MINNESOTA: Niklas Backstrom is now the main man in the State of Hockey, but now he has to live up to his Jennings Trophy performance last season. Brian Rolston and Mikko Koivu will have to be able to duplicate their amazing seasons last year should Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra come up lame.

MONTREAL: The big debate will be when will Carey Price become the #1 goalie?? With such high expectations set for Price, it's only a matter of time before the Habs fanatics call for the head of Huet, Halek, and Gainey if the goaltending becomes a big question for Montreal.

NASHVILLE: The summer of uncertainty has left the Predators a shadow of their former selves. With Steve Sullivan out for at least three months, JP Dumont and Alex Radulov will have to be the strength of the right side. Chris Mason should be able to continue his ability to surprise those who doubt him.

NEW JERSEY: Never underestimate a Martin Brodeur team. However, without Scott Gomez, the production of the Devils offense will be a big question, especially considering they were the lowest scoring playoff team last season in the NHL. Defense will be suspect too, with the departure of Brian Rafalski.

NY ISLANDERS: After a shocking playoff last season, the Isles will look to build with Ted Nolan behind the bench. Rick DiPietro will need to step up moreso in order to justify his 15-year deal (year 2, if you're scoring at home), while newcomers Mike Comrie and Bill Guerin will be the top-production for the Isles.

NY RANGERS: With a loaded offense, especially with adding Chris Drury and Scott Gomez, the Rangers shouldn't have to worry about scoring. The back-end will be the big question with a young defense looking to protect Henrik Lundqvist in net.

OTTAWA: Can the Eastern Champs do it again. They have most everyone back from last season, but the true question is what can Dany Heatley, Wade Redden, and Jason Spezza do while in their contract seasons. The wrist of Ray Emery and play of Martin Gerber will also be question in the early part of the season.

PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers can only get better, and with Daniel Briere having $10M to be happy about, it's time for him to put up or face the wrath of Flyer fans. Martin Biron should be looking in his rear-view as Antero Niittymaki is healthy and looking to regain his spot as #1. The addition of Kimmo Timonen should also provide a two-way defenseman that will help the transition with the first pass.

PHOENIX: With a jumble in goal, the Coyotes will need to find something hang their hat on. Shane Doan will need a lot of help up-front, Ed Jovanovski will have to be the anchor on defense, and Wayne Gretzky will need to motivate his team somehow or risk fans calling for his coaching demise.

PITTSBURGH: Even with a brief five-game playoff appearance, many are saying the Pens are Cup contenders. Though they have the outline for a great playoff team, the question of whether they have the desire or defense to do so will be the main one asked amongst the hockey world.

SAN JOSE: They've locked up Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, they made little change to their club, the big questions for the team by the Bay is whether Evgeni Nabokov can stay strong as the #1 and if Jonathan Cheechoo can regain some scoring touch.

ST. LOUIS: The Blues have improved by adding Paul Kariya to the front, but the big story will be whether or not Erik Johnson can live up to his #1 Overall status. Manny Legace should be better and healthier from last season, but should face many shots with a suspect defense.

TAMPA BAY: With two of the quietest 100-point scorers in Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St-Louis, scoring shouldn't be a problem until you reach the second line. Marc Denis and Johan Holmqvist will be on the hot-seat, especially with Karri Ramo breathing down their necks.

TORONTO: Andrew Raycroft will be pushed by newly acquired Vesa Toskala and should Raycroft start to slip-- you know Torontonians will be looking for Toskala to be in the pipes to be the savior of the squad. Also, whether or not Mats Sundin can be lured into another contract after this season will be something to watch as well.

VANCOUVER: Now that they have know where they play since it's on their jerseys, the Canucks will have to find someone to be able to play with the Sedins, all the while trying to spark the scoring touch of Markus Naslund. With Roberto Luongo holding down the fort, stopping goals will be no problem.

WASHINGTON: What will Alex Ovechkin do?? With the new faces of countryman Viktor Kozlov, set-up men Michael Nylander and Nicklas Backstrom, and many underestimating him-- it's all setting up for AO to put on a super-hero like performance in the US capitol. Now, if the Caps can get him under contract, all thoughts will be eased. Don't be surprised if Olaf Kolzig has a suprising season.

So that's that-- some things you can look forward to according to Wazz. If you have some storylines you think we at the Show could look at-- shoot us an email.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Tale of Two Games

There's quite the buzz around some games this season. Obviously, the first games in London, England is one of them and more recently; the just announced "Winter Classic" that'll take place on New Year's Day.

I'll start off talk about the London game first. As I've mentioned it before, to have a game outside of the US is a great job for the NHL in expanding the game on a global scale. England and Great Britian is a budding hockey network. The Elite League in Britian does need some more talent, and by having this NHL game; it could create more interest of the game at the grass roots level and could compel more people to support their team and the game as a whole.

We'll see how well this goes over attendance wise and viewership wise, but I think in the grand scheme of things-- it could open up more chances to have regular season games overseas. If there's an owner with a vested interest, it may create a better chance of more games like this happening in the very near future.

Moving onto the "Winter Classic", it'll be interesting to see what happens with this. Now, I like the idea of having an outdoor game. The Heritage Classic was an amazing feat and showed that something like this could be a good ordeal for the game. Yet, somehow-- the scheduling of this event is very suspect.

Of course, New Year's is traditionally the time for Bowl Games and the NHL is hoping that this gimmick game in Buffalo will create more buzz for the sport and increase in the ratings. For some reason, I don't think they thought this cunning plan all the way through. The game is a 1 PM ET start, and depending on how you spent the night before and what Bowl games are on the may or may not get viewership for the game. Sure, it showcases the NHL sweetheart teams in Pittsburgh and Buffalo; but I don't think you'd be able to create a buzz big enough to surpass the juggernaut of college football.

Secondly, though Buffalo does get cold in the the winter months, who's to say that this won't be the warmest winter on record for Buffalo?? If that's the case and it's 50F on New Year's, that not only will make the ice really craptastic, but it would put the players at risk for injuries-- and I'm sure the NHL wouldn't want that (especially with Crosby on the ice).

Finally in my complaints, I just hope this doesn't happen every year. Yes, the outdoor game is a good idea and should be used in the future. That said, if the NHL starts to do it every year, there's a slight possibility that it could lose it's luster and may leave some teams left out if they don't get a shot at the "Winter Classic." I can just see Florida and Tampa Bay looking to get an outdoor game. It'll be the first roller hockey game in the NHL history.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Confessions of a Fantasy Hockey Junkie


"Hello, my name is Wazz and I'm a fantasy hockey junkie. It all started back in 2001 when I started college. I started with one team, then two-- now I have five teams this year. In fact, I've started websites with back-stories and updates for my fantasy hockey team...and it's affiliates."

That's how it would go if there were support groups for my condition, but it is that bad. I do get a little psycho with my fantasy hockey with research, buying books, and all that jazz-- but it's all in good fun. With the new season coming up, the new fantasy hockey season starts-- which includes that of the FOHSHL, which has the biggest league ever with 56 teams heading into the season.

I don't think I'm alone either, as many people (obviously in Canada) take part in some office pools. The fantasy sports industry as a whole is a big money business with pay leagues, draft guides, office pools, and so on. It's an industry that been booming for a while and probably won't let up anytime soon. It let's people get away from their real lives and focus on being the armchair GM and coach that they usually are when watching the games and tracking their players.

However, it's something that may be a little obsessive, but like The Hockey News draft guide states-- most fantasy hockey owners could be smarter than NHL GMs. In theory that could be correct in some aspects.

Let's be honest, when you play a fantasy sport-- you have to be on top of your shit if you don't want to get murdered and humiliated. It also goes on to say that fantasy owners would work better under a cap than some NHL GMs and would recognize better value along with some players. Granted, the risk of your job isn't quite as high and the demand from fans and beating up by the press isn't there-- but it is certainly something that would be interesting to see.

I think the one thing that could be used as a defense is that if a back-up goalie could be a GM and succeed (for the most part), then anyone can do it. I don't think we're far away from seeing someone go from armchair GM to assistant GM, especially in hockey. Hockey fans are probably the most knowledgeable fan base out there. They know their team, the other teams, and what players could boom and bust at any moment. If there is one league to take a chance on a person as their GM who used to play fantasy game for a living-- it could be hockey.

It would be quite the litmus test to see how one fantasy owner would fare as a GM for an NHL team. It may not happen anytime soon, but it certainly would be a great sociological study. I, in all my humbleness, would like to be the first volunteer for this study; my references are available upon request at my email,

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Around the Rink 05.29.07

The Stanley Cup Finals have started and if Game One is any indication, we're in for a fine display of hockey. Granted, there were some sluggish points to the game, most of that due to the week lay off, but the game was one that definitely would keep interest. As a Sens fan, it's something that is hard for me to watch because of the huge disappointment that could happen should they not make a series of it, but it's damn enjoyable.

As we broke on the Show last Wednesday, the Nashville Predators have been tentatively sold to Jim Balsillie pending league approval. Balsillie, you may remember, backed out of a deal with the Penguins earlier in the season. While this move seems a little more in favor of Balsillie, there is still a chance that the Preds may not move after the '07-'08 season. The only way the Preds could move is if they average under 14,000 paid attendance, stressing paid. Despite low ticket prices and a damn fine arena, the Preds averaged 13,000+ last season.

The deal itself is worth $200M in the bank for outgoing owner Craig Leipold, which may bring an end to this chapter of his life, which included squabling with the City of Nashville, lack of local business support, and losses of $70M over nine seasons.

Personally, Nashville has been lingering to boom for some time. However, with the team in the playoffs for the past three seasons and still empty seats in the crowd-- this could be the last stand for the Predators in Nashville.

Oddly enough, Balsillie bought land just outside of Toronto for some unknown project. Could it be for a new arena?? Stay tuned.

The Phoenix Coyotes seemingly have found their GM, former New York Rangers assistant GM Don Maloney. Maloney was previous the GM of the Islanders way back when and has drafted the likes of Todd Bertuzzi, Tommy Salo, Bryan McCabe, and Ziggy Palffy.

As we have been saying for a while, this is basically just a very glorified scouting position since the owner is behind the bench. Maloney will have a good amount of say in what way he wants to go, but as long as Wayne Gretzky is behind the bench-- Maloney probably won't win as much as he loses.

Want loyalty?? Look no further than Teemu Selanne.

Before Selanne reached the NHL, he promised a group of his childhood friends that if he ever made the Stanley Cup Finals, he would fly them out to see the games. Promise kept, as a group of 16 Finns dressed in orange t-shirts with Teemu's name graced the Honda Center for Game One and more than likely will show up for the rest of the games as well.

This could seem like a sappy news story, and it is in some cases, but that's just damn cool that he would remember his buddies like that. Plus, it's better now with the cash he's making, he can afford it.

That's all for now, but there will be a whole lot more on the Face Off Hockey Show this Wednesday available live at 9 PM ET or on the Podcast if you feel like watching Game Two. As always, check the message boards for all the fun happenings there.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Around the Rink 05.07.07

Though it was a spur of the moment thing, Edmonton Investment Group; owners of the Edmonton Oilers, turned down the offer of Rexall Pharmacy billionaire Daryl Katz to buy the Oilers for $145M. The 37 owners of EIG turned down the offer despite Katz saying he would keep the Oilers in Edmonton and build a new arena.

Personally, having someone like Katz as one owner over 37 owners they have now is a better predicament. One voice is much better than 37. Especially with the prospect of a new arena privately funded would be better for the Oilers and their fans.

Some shake-up in the Phoenix Coyotes camp is going on with Craig Patrick emerging as a leading candidate for the GM position. With the GM interviewing process starting today, the Coyotes will look for someone who can build a good team with the money out there. Of course, like we have said before, with Wayne Gretzky behind the bench as an owner, the GM is doomed from day one.

Also, the Coyotes fired their play-by-play guy, Curt Keilback. Keilback has been with the team since 1979 dealing with the Jets/Coyotes radio and TV calls. The Arena has their press box named after him. Now, it's a sad thing that one link to the Jets history is gone; but personally I didn't like how he called the game and I thought he was a tad annoying. That said-- best of luck to him.

The NHL, NHLPA, and IIHF has a tentative agreement as far as transfers go, but it all depends on the agreement of the Russian Hockey Federation....again. A deal that would run until 2010-11 season and would be a flat rate. A ratification will need to be done by Tuesday at midnight for it to happen.

This will be a non-starter for Russia, because they want the NHL agreement to be like European soccer and based on the two teams who want the services. We'll see how this plays out, but I don't think this will have a different outcome.

There could be a goalie logjam in Boston, especially with the re-signing of Hannu Toivonen and the signing of Tuukka Rask, coupled with Tim Thomas in net-- it could be interesting. Sure, Rask will start out in Providence; what happens if Toivonen starts to struggle; that's when things may get interesting.

The one thing about the Bruins and young goalies is that they tend to struggle when hyped as much as they are. Andrew Raycroft and Blaine Lacher are names that haunt the Bruins fateful dreams. Though you never know if Rask will be like that, but with some saying he's the savior of the franchise-- it makes it hard for the kid to deal with any learning curve he may endure with that much pressure put on him.

If you haven't heard about the Shane Doan controversy going on in the Canadian Parliament, it's a mess.

The thing is, Government and Sports should never intersect. The Canadian Government with this situation and the US Government and the Steroids situation-- they need to keep their nose out of sports; especially when they have other stuff to deal with. There's much more going on in the world to deal with something that was cleared two years ago.

Oddly enough, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called Doan to encourage him.

That's it for now, check out the Show every Wednesday live or on Podcast or check out the Message Boards for the fun going on there.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Second Round Preview and Predicitions

Well, I got three out of eight and two exactas in the first round. We'll see if I get better as it goes on.


(1) Buffalo Sabres vs. (6) New York Rangers: Well, the Sabres won in five games over the Islanders, but they didn't look too, too impressive. They got goals from 11 different players, but depth may not be their best thing right now. The top guys like Chris Drury, Daniel Briere, and Thomas Vanek have to be their best. Ryan Miller will have to find the goalie who carried the team last season if they want to get to the Conference Finals.

The Rangers made easy work of the Thrashers, which saw Michael Nylander take the offense under his wing and led them to the win. Let's not slight Henrik Lundqvist either. He played very well in his first playoff series win. They'll face stiff opposition, but the Rangers have the tools to get it done if need be. RANGERS IN 6.

(2) New Jersey Devils vs. (4) Ottawa Senators: This is a re-match of the 2003 Eastern Conference Finals. The Devils got off to a shaky start, but once Martin Brodeur found his game, they locked up the Lightning. Scott Gomez and Zach Parise put on a show, but in the end-- Brodeur was the main key in yet another series win.

The Senators shut down the high-powered Penguins offense and showed that they were a different team. Ray Emery, Daniel Alfredsson, and Jason Spezza showed their top forms, but Chris Kelly was the big surprise so far this playoffs. Dany Heatley needs to get his game going for this team to be really unstoppable. SENATORS IN 7.


(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (5) San Jose Sharks: After the Red Wings won, many Wings fans were rooting for the Stars, but couldn't get the match-up they wanted. Now they'll have to hope that they are as good in the first round heading into the second round. Dominik Hasek will face a barrage of shot for the Sharks offense, which the scoring will need to be there in order to move on.

The Sharks are looking to right the wrongs of last playoffs. With Evgeni Nabokov on his game and Patrick Marleau showing his leadership ability, the Sharks could be on their way to get back to the Conference Finals. However, it would be nice to get Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo going. SHARKS IN 6.

(2) Anaheim Ducks vs. (3) Vancouver Canucks: Anaheim's GM Brian Burke may not lead on, but deep inside, you know he wants to beat his old team. The Ducks have gotten plenty of help from their power play with Chris Pronger and Ryan Getzlaf being the top producers. The tandem of J-S Giguere and Ilya Bryzgalov have been very good in their appearances and the hot one will start as long as they are on top.

For the Canucks to have success, they'll need to learn to score more. The Sedins have play well, but will have to lead the charge. Veterans like Trevor Linden and Markus Naslund will be the leadership and actually help ease the young guys. However, with Sami Salo and Kevin Bieksa out, the defensive depth is going to be the real question. Roberto Luongo has been good, but there's only so much he can do to keep them in the series. DUCKS IN 6.

So that's it for the Wazz playoff preview. Make sure you check out the Show this week to see Lyle/Orb IV; the best match-up of an expert and Magic Orb since Lyle/Orb III.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Around the Rink 04.19.07

People in Columbus can rejoice, Doug MacLean's era of tyranny has ended. After the ownership group met last night, the Blue Jackets only GM and President was shown the door after a very unimpressive six-year stint in the organization.

The question is now who will fill the void. Names like Steve Tambellini, Neil Smith, Pat Quinn and Craig Button have been thrown out, but in my opinion, guys like Tambellini and Smith should have the inside edge when dealing with a salary cap formula. This will be a developing story for a while now, but at least there is some closure for some fans when it comes to MacLean.

In other ownership news, Phoenix Coyotes CEO Jeff Shumway made it clear that the Coyotes won't have a "country club mentality" for next season. Meaning, those who want to play on the Coyotes will actually want to play hockey instead of soaking up the sun and hitting the links.

As we stated last night, the one thing they need to take care of is who's behind the bench. Gretzky can still be a part of the day-to-day operations of the team, but to be the coach where you're untouchable-- that's not a place any GM would want to be in. It's just not that feasible to have. However, it was good of Shumway to come out and make this known to everyone that they are serious about winning. Whether that translate into actual winning, we'll see.

The 2006 #1 Overall Pick, Erik Johnson, will forego his last three season in the NCAA with the University of Minnesota to sign with the St. Louis Blues. Johnson had four goals and 19 assists in 39 games as a Gopher. Johnson was invited by Team USA to take part in the World Championships happening over in Moscow.

The big question is whether or not this is the right move for Johnson. Many feel that he's ready to make the jump to the pro, even after one year of college. The good thing about Johnson signing is that he'll have guys like Barret Jackman and Bryce Salvador to help him through the transitioning period he may endure.

In a crazy story out of Russia, Alexander Semin was thrown off the Russian World Championship team because he arrived three hours late to the team's first meeting and practice. The finger pointing has begun with Semin's agent Mark Gandler and Russian GM Sergei Nemchinov.

The story itself is quite bizarre with so many twist and turns, but check out the TSN story in its entirety.

The NHL came down on Brad May hard, handing him a deserved three-game suspension for hitting Wild defenseman Kim Johnsson from behind during a fracas at the end of Game Four. May will miss the last games of this series and maybe some of next series. Johnsson won't appear for Game Five.

Imagine Brad May getting caught for this?? The thing is that the Ducks are trying to bring in a hard-hitting expose in the playoffs, which is fine. The thing they have to worry about is getting too out of control and then losing focus at the task at hand. Sure, it's good to bring a little rough stuff into the playoffs to jazz it up a bit, but you have to wonder now if the refs are going to keep a closer eye on all the Ducks from here on out.

That's all for now, but check out the Show live every Wednesday and always on the Podcast. For more hilarity, check out the Message Boards and get in on the discussion.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Around the Rink 04.15.07

The intensity of the playoffs are here and there's no better example of that than in the Nashville/San Jose series. There has been controversy, fights, and scoring to appease any fan. However, the question that keeps getting thrown around when it comes to this series is respect. With incidents that involved Alexander Radulov get a one-game suspension for elbowing Steve Bernier from behind and Scott Hartnell get ejected for kneeing Jonathan Cheechoo; one wonders if respect is given enough in this game.

Though players want to finish their checks, there is a right way and wrong way. We have seen far too many "wrong way" to finish checks, which is why the respect thing comes into play. Players need to have common sense when thinking about finishing their checks. In both incidents, Hartnell and Radulov had the intent to finish their checks, but both wound up not letting up when seeing the opposing player in the vulnerable position, which led to injury, ejection or suspension.

As much as people like the action happening, something has to give or this could get ugly and not in a good way.

Are you as confused with Bob Hartley's decision to bench Kari Lehtonen as I am?? Lehtonen is the franchise goaltender on the team and is in the franchise's first playoffs. Why would you give him the hook after he help bring the team to this point?? Why would you break his confidence in this moment?? Lehtonen had a decent Game One, but the thing that has hurt the Thrashers all year, defense, is hurting now in the playoffs. Lehtonen faced 38 shots and in Game Two, Johan Hedberg faced 39.

If you want Lehtonen to grow as a player, you need to play him and back him up in every way, shape, and form. If he has a rough outing, don't bench him-- keep playing him in order to keep his confidence up and to let him know that there will be no knee-jerk reaction to a bad mishap. This could come back to bite the Thrashers if they are delicate in this situation.

In more Thrashers news, they did something pretty unique for the fans who attended Game One. They handed out scarfs as a giveaway, which I think is a pretty cool idea. Now, of course, it doesn't get cold enough for fans to actually use these; but this is akin to the European soccer fans with the scarves and their respective teams.

I, for one, would love to have one of these things; so you know I'll be surfing eBay for them or hope the Thrashers read this and send some over. The former seems to be the best bet, though.

Did you catch the 4 OT marathon in Vancouver?? I know I fell asleep after the 3rd OT, but it seems that many more watching Versus missed it due to no fault of their own. However, that's not what I want to discuss.

Since that double-hitter, it seems that these marathon games have become a concern to some, even prompting sites to ask the question whether or not we should change the marathon games. Isn't this what we wait all year for, the possibility of a marathon playoff game?? Look, the fact of the matter is that nothing needs to be changed for the playoff overtimes. It's something that has been out there forever and created more drama, joy, and heartbreak than anything in hockey could be.

The Chicago Blackhawks have the first pick in this year's NHL Draft. The big question is whether or not they'll pick a trainer with their first slot. The Hawks have been just a disastorous place to play both on and off the ice. Though some bright spots like Martin Havlat, Duncan Keith, Jeff Hamilton, and Brent Seabrook have shone through, the fact of the matter is that the Hawks are the most injury riddled team in the NHL.

It may be a death sentence for whomever goes to Chicago with this pick. However, in the "Shallowest.Draft.Ever" it's a crapshoot on who they are actually going to pick. Quite frankly, they don't need young defense, they need more help for Martin Havlat when he stays healthy.

The Phoenix Coyotes cleaned house firing GM Mike Barnett, assistant GM Laurence Gilman, and director of hockey ops Cliff Fletcher. While, this was a long time coming, as we said in the show, the real problem is behind the bench. Wayne Gretzky hasn't been a great or good coach, but the problem is-- he can't be fired unless the majority ownership pushes him out.

However, that's another story for another time-- the real question now is when or if the Columbus Blue Jackets will push out Doug MacLean. MacLean hasn't been able to produce much in ways of playoff caliber teams in Columbus, though the pick-up of Ken Hitchcock has helped him stay on life support for the time being. Whether or not something happens, we should know by the Draft; but it shouldn't surprise anyone if MacLean does get canned.

That's all for now. Make sure you check out the Show for all the fun and excitement, as well as the Message Board, which contains the Lyle/Orb: IV thread.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

First Round Playoff Preview

Well, it was a wild weekend, but the match-ups for the Quarterfinals are set and it's time for my preview of the whole thing. Now, your results may vary, but this is how I roll.


(1) Buffalo Sabres vs. (8) New York Islanders: Now, on paper this looks like it'll be a blow-out. On the ice, it probably will be the same result. The Sabres are too powerful and have too much depth to bow out to an upset. The play of Daniel Briere and Thomas Vanek has been amazing and with Maxim Afinogenov and Tim Connolly back, who knows what they could really do with the added fire power.

However, give the Isles credit where credit is due. They did come a long way and did what they needed to get the eight seed, but I don't see Wade Dubielwicz putting on a Johan Hedberg circa 2001 performance in the playoffs. Anything is possible, but the odds are squarely against the Isles. Sabres in 5.

(2) New Jersey Devils vs. (7) Tampa Bay Lightning: Here's an interesting match-up; a team with all goaltending and little scoring against a team with all scoring and little goaltending. Martin Brodeur has been sensational again this season and really doesn't look like he's letting up. If Patrik Elias, Scott Gomez, and Brian Gionta can get in top form, the Devils could be hard to stop.

Vincent Lecavalier is living a dream season and Martin St. Louis is have a great bounce-back season. However, the one thing to crush their hopes is the inconsistency between the pipes. Seeing as how the goalies for the Bolts have no playoff experience in the NHL and the Devils have been together for years-- this one may be a no-brainer. Devils in 6.

(3) Atlanta Thrashers vs. (6) New York Rangers: The Thrashers' gamble paid off when they went on a mini-spree at the trade deadline. The question now becomes, did they use it all to get into the playoffs and have nothing left in the tank. Who knows what guys like Kari Lehtonen and Ilya Kovalchuk could do with this extra season, but it'll be the stepping stone for many more appearances to come; I'm sure.

The Rangers are back in the playoffs for the second straight season. Last year, they were ousted in four games, but now they're a year older and may have learned from the mistakes. The only question will be whether or not Jaromir Jagr can find his goal-scoring ability. Thrashers in 7.

(4) Ottawa Senators vs. (5) Pittsburgh Penguins: If you want offense, this is the match-up for you. The Senators have been down this road before and right now, it's time for a pay-off or send-off. They looked to have matured through the season, but now is the time for guys like Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, and Wade Redden to step up to the plate. Ray Emery has been up and down, but you can bet he'll get the job done when called upon.

The Penguins have the best young team out there on the ice today. They have shown they can score at any time in any situation. However, will the inexperience be the death of them?? Some say the Pens don't understand the pressure so they'll be lethal-- I think the other way around. Marc-Andre Fleury will have to come up huge for the Pens to think about moving on beyond the first round. Senators in 7.


(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (8) Calgary Flames: The Wings are in the same position they were in last year; top team in the West facing a bi-polar Alberta team. However, the Wings look like they could have learned from their mistakes and may be firing on all cylinders. This will be a match-up of two of the top goalies in the game with Dominik Hasek having his ring already.

The Calgary Flames as an eight seed. That's scary to me, especially considering that the Flames have been able to score like they haven't before. The one downfall is that their defense has suffered through the scoring and has given up almost too many goals this season. If they can right that ship, they could be a scary team to face. Flames in 7.

(2) Anaheim Ducks vs. (7) Minnesota Wild: A replay of the 2003 Western Conference finals, Anaheim is going into this in an odd situation. Though they have been fairly dominant, they have had some rough patches and injury issues that have kept them from really being an elite team. Though they have Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger; something about their defense doesn't really strike me as being one of the tops.

The Wild have gotten plenty of help from Niklas Backstrom. He has been rock solid and won the William Jennings Trophy for fewest total goals against. Also with Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra seemingly healthy again, the Wild have a good chance of being big time dark horse in this. Wild in 6.

(3) Vancouver Canucks vs. (6) Dallas Stars: If you like defensive hockey or need a cure for insomnia, this is your match-up. In the four match-ups this season, the games have all ended in a 2-1 score with each team have two wins, including one overtime win. Now, this is the first playoffs for Roberto Luongo, which should be interesting to see how he fares in all this. The Sedin Twins will be the offense for the Canucks.

Marty Turco has a lot to prove and this could be the place to do it. The Stars are an underdog and really need to pull themselves together as a team to get the job done. Interesting stat, only New Jersey had less goals in the regular season than the Stars and Canucks. Stars in 7.

(4) Nashville Predators vs. (5) San Jose Sharks: No, this is not deja vu from last season, it's another Sharks/Preds match-up. The Preds are relatively healthy this season, though. Tomas Vokoun is set for a big run, while Paul Kariya and Peter Forsberg look to be the top duo in the post-season.

The Sharks made a big charge thanks to Joe Thornton who had another outstanding season. If Jonathan Cheechoo can keep his momentum going and the Sharks get great goaltending from Evgeni Nabokov-- they could see some big thing in the city by the bay. Predators in 6.

So that's it for the Wazz playoff preview. Make sure you check out the Show this week to see Lyle/Orb IV; the best match-up of an expert and Magic Orb since Lyle/Orb III.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Devil You Don't Know

A bombshell was dropped today in the NHL as the New Jersey Devils fired head coach Claude Julien. No reason was immediately given, but Lou Lamoriello will take over as the bench boss for the Devils for the rest of the season.

To say this caught some off-guard is an understatement. The Devils are the tops in the Atlantic, they have 47 wins, they are battling the Penguins for positioning, and now they shake-up their bench. It does remind many of when Robbie Ftorek was fired late in the 2000 season when the Devils won their second Cup, but even now it's a tad late to be screwing with things.

There's a couple of scenarios that could have led to this. First, players voiced the displeasure of Julien, which is highly unlikely as they have been winning without their top players. Second, Julien had a personal problem that needed to be dealt with, but then wouldn't he just resign?? Finally, and most likely of all, is that Julien and Lamoriello had a falling out, which lead to this.

Now, truth be told, Lamoriello did a decent job of coaching the Devils last season with Larry Robinson stepped down; but that was early enough in the season to fix some things and for the players to adjust. Now is probably not the best time to spring this on a team, especially when you have a Cup contending team like the Devils.

There's only two ways that this ordeal works out well for the Devils. One, if something is revealed about Julien and someone in the organization not getting along, or two, the Devils win the Stanley Cup because of this move and it didn't matter what happened or who was behind the bench. We'll see what happens, but I'm sure more to this story will come out sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Around the Rink 03.27.07

It seems that the fighting debate is starting up after Todd Fedoruk was knocked out cold by Colton Orr last Thursday. NHL Disciplinarian Colin Campbell said that fighting should be looked at, but NHL commish Gary "The Count" Bettman said it's a part of the game and won't change.

Personally, I think some are overreacting to Campbell's statement. Let's not fool anyone here, Campbell knows what would happen if the NHL took out fighting, much more stickwork. All this was is a PR deal to make people think that something is going to happen to fighting in the NHL. If they didn't, more scrutiny would be given to the NHL for not doing something for the safety.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for safety; but it'd be much safer to keep fighting than worry about sticks to the head.

The Phoenix Coyotes announced that they would be inducting long-time Winnipeg Jet Dale Hawerchuk into the Coyotes "ring of honor."

Now, I have no issue with Hawerchuk being inducted because he was a great player. The problem I have is that he has no ties to the Coyotes organization other than the fact that he played for the Jets and the transfer of records and all that jazz came with it.

You can't fault the Coyotes in trying to do this, but let's not do it because you feel obligated to do so. You could probably ask 100 people in Phoenix who Dale Hawerchuk is and I bet 90% of them wouldn't have a clue. Stop trying to be like the Winnipeg Jets, Phoenix Coyotes-- you'll never get to that cult status.

How bad do you have to feel for the Isles?? They have all this momentum after the trade deadline with Ryan Smyth and M-A Bergeron playing well, then Rick DiPietro goes down not once, but twice with news that he is out indefinitely with post-concussion symptoms.

Right now, it's time for Mike Dunham to earn his paycheck and help lead the Isles into the playoffs. It won't be an easy road as the Isles have to take on teams already locked in the playoffs and those who are fighting with them to get into the playoffs.

Good news for the Flyers, they have a new savior in net. Martin Biron signed a two-year, $6.7M deal with the Flyers. Biron has been fairly consistent with what has been in front of him for the Flyers, though it should get better for next year. Paul Holmgren has put his stamp on this team more so with this move.

The question now is who do you dump?? The obvious choice is Robert Esche mainly due to his craptasticness, but is it likely that the Flyers could dump both Esche and Antero Niittymaki?? Though Niittymaki has tremendous upside, his injuries are what hinders his stock the most and may not be the best option for a rebuilding Flyers team. With cheap back-ups always available, it will be interesting to see the logjam that may occur.

For more of this ranting and raving, including thoughts about Jack and Erik Johnson jumping to the NHL, listen to Face Off Hockey Show this Wednesday at 9 PM ET or whenever the Podcast gets up. Until then, check out the message board for all the randomness there.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Around the Rink 03.21.07

The playoffs are heating up and it's going to come down to the last week, at least in the East. Out West, we'll see if Colorado can keep their hot streak up or if Calgary keeps losing like they have been. That match-up could come down to the last day as the Avs and Flames face off against each other.

The East is going to be a gongshow to the end. The Maple Leafs, Hurricanes, and Canadiens are tied for 8th, while the Islanders are in 11th one point back. The 7th place Rangers are only one point up on the 8th seed and the Lightning are three points up. The Islanders, however, have the advantage with at least a game-in-hand advantage over the other contenders.

This is what hockey is all about.

Jordin Tootoo was the latest player to be suspended for his actions on the ice. After checking Mike Modano, Tootoo was rushed by Stephane Robidas. Robidas was assessed a charging minor for intent, but before he could even make contact with Tootoo, Tootoo swung his right hand around and knocked Robidas out cold. Tootoo was given five games for the incident.

There's plenty of blame to go around with Robidas charging at a guy, but Tootoo punching a guy in the mush with his glove on is pretty greasy. Tootoo is an agitator and rightfully so, but he can still chuck the knuckles if need be. Sure, the thought of someone charging from behind is frightening, but you would think that bracing himself would have been the best option rather than cold-cocking someone.

Did you catch the St. Louis Screw-Job?? Let's just say that even as an Ottawa Senators fan I was disgusted. If you didn't see it, two definite goals were waved off. The first, they didn't review it until after the puck was dropped for the face off, at which point it was null and void. The second goal, they said David Backes pushed Martin Gerber's glove into the net with the puck in it, but it was in without Gerber even having possession. Needless to say, the shots of Blues' President John Davidson weren't happy ones.

One point was brought up on a message board I frequent that the officiating this year has been the most inconsistent it has been in years. I tend to agree, mostly on the fact that everything is a shade of gray. Nothing is black or white anymore, nothing is uniformed for every game. It's a hit or miss chance depending on the referee. I don't know what Stephen Walkom can do, but something needs to be done when it comes to consistency in the calls.

You want to know how deep the Nashville Predators are?? Even though they don't have Peter Forsberg, Steve Sullivan or Scott Hartnell in the line-up, they are still tops in the West and NHL. But I think the real question is whether or not this is a blessing or a curse for the Preds. Let's be honest, they were able to play well last year when Tomas Vokoun was out, but could this be a little too much.

The Preds are a high-power offense and may be hurt a little bit by the lack of speed and all. Plus, even if those three do come back, how much rust will be on them when they come back. The upside is that they are back and could spark a long run for the Preds.

Make sure you check out The Show tonight at 9 PM ET or on the Podcast whenever the hamster on the wheel is able to put it up. If all else fails, check out the Message Board for some random and fun stuff.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Around the Rink 03.13.07

Finally, closure. At least we think it's closure. Of course, I'm speaking about the Pittsburgh Penguins finally picking a place....and it's Pittsburgh. All the posturing, traveling to other cities, bickering back and forth-- it all finally came to something. The deal will be finalized this afternoon.

The deal itself will keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh for 30 years, with a new arena to be built by 2009. The arena will also be funded by the red hot slots.

Great joy for the Penguins, but heartache for cities like Kansas City and Las Vegas who were courted. Kansas City more so, because they have an arena still without a tenant. Thoughts for KC will have to turn to the Nashville Predators situation, but only time will tell with that.

Chris Simon's suspension was handed down and it's interesting, at best. Simon was suspended the rest of the season (15 games) and the entire post-season (TBD). However, there's a minimum of 25 games-- meaning if the Isles play less than 10 games, the remaining games will carry over to the '07-'08 season. If they play more than 10 games, Simon will return, if signed, at the start of the '07-'08 season.

Good move by the NHL. It's the longest suspension in history, regardless of the playoffs happening and if the Isles max out every series-- it could turn out to be a 43 game suspension. People think that this will cut down the stick work-- but if they haven't learned from Wayne Maki or Dino Ciccarelli; they never will.

If the NHLPA could fall further into obscurity, I don't know how. Both executive director Ted Saskin and senior director Ken Kim have been sent home on a leave of absence. This is stemming from a Toronto Star report that Saskin and Kim were tapping into players email boxes to track what they were doing.

Quite frankly, I don't see why someone would do that. Let's be honest, if the player has an NHLPA email address, they probably have a personal email address that they use more frequently. At least, you'd hope that was the case and not just imagination. There's still much to be uncovered, but in the end-- the NHLPA continues to be in shambles, one brick after another.

Does Paul Stastny have a shot at winning the Calder Trophy?? Many assume no, mainly because that was awarded to Evgeni Malkin when he defected. Yet, Stastny must have not seen that memo. Stastny's 18-game point streak is a record in the NHL for rookies. Not only that, but Stastny has been a catalyst for the Colorado Avalanche; keeping their playoff hopes alive.

When you look at the numbers, Stastny isn't too far off Malkin's numbers; but you always have to factor in the East Coast bias, simply because Stastny plays in the West and not many writers can stay awake that long to watch his games. Stranger things have happened, though, and the Sean-O's "Second Half Surge" is in effect. It'll be an interesting awards night, that's for sure.

That's all for now. Check out the Show this week for great guest, a whole lot of laughs, and maybe some hockey. If you can't wait-- the Message Board awaits you.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Simon Says Slash

Well, I figured I'd be the last one to the "weighing in on Chris Simon" party. If you didn't see Chris Simon's try-out for the Mets on Ryan Hollweg's face, you can see it here on GooTube. As of right now, Simon has been suspended indefinitely pending a hearing, which is basic stuff for the NHL after a match penalty.

This also came on the three-year anniversary of the Moore/Bertuzzi incident. Why they are commemorating three years is anyone's guess.

Anyway-- to the matter at hand. Should Simon be suspended?? Well, yeah. How long?? With the Colin Campbell doing what he does-- who knows. Personally, I'd like to see Simon sit for the rest of the regular season and maybe some of the playoffs, like so much Todd Bertuzzi. Simon, however, doesn't have the luxury of a work stoppage pending. Granted, the grit for the Isles will be gone, but his 27 points may not be missed as much.

Yet, this sparks the debate on how a suspension should be handled and what needs to be done and all these crazy schemes to see justice in the NHL.

The common one is the "player suspended until injured player comes back," which does have some signs of intelligence, but falls flat when real thought is given into it. Say someone like Alex Ovechkin or Jarome Iginla hits someone knee-on-knee or slash someone or whatever. These guys are suspended. Now, if the player is seriously injured and that rule comes into effect; what's stopping a coach from keeping said player on the IR to hurt the chances of the Caps or Flames or whomever. That's not only bad for the team, but bad for the NHL.

Granted, it seems the superstars are never really punished, but that's another entry for another time.

Another one that's out there is the ever popular "lifetime ban." Personally, I think this is the emotion of people getting the best of them, but it'll never happen. Now, I haven't read the cliff notes of the CBA yet, but I'm sure that there's something in there that is making that a non-option. Plus, the lawsuits that could stem from that would be far worse than trying to make a statement.

We'll see what happens this weekend and the beginning of next, but this has been a frantic 15 hours. The one thing the NHL really needs to consider is that this suspension should be on par with what Dale Hunter, Marty McSorley, and Todd Bertuzzi got-- the latter to a less extent because it wasn't a stick involved issue. Whatever they do to Simon WON'T, I repeat, WON'T set an example. Despite a 29-goal season way back when, Simon is a "goon" as some people would say. If the NHL wanted to make an example of someone-- they would have given Ovechkin a suspension for what he did to Danny Briere.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Around the Rink 03.07.07

Well, it's the beginning of the month, which means it's time for the usual "Penguins are threatening to leave town" propaganda. This is getting a bit old, but it seems like it has some merit. Mario Lemieux called the deal with the City of Pittsburgh and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at an impasse and will look at options to move. We've heard it before, sure-- but now Gary Bettman will meet with the Penguins to see what's going down to bring closure one way or another.

Now, Bob McKenzie makes a good point, which makes me feel dirty saying that. McKenzie said that this could be an effort on making sure the Pens get everything out of the city and state that they can. With Bettman in the fold; this could be the moderator they need in order to keep the Pens in Pittsburgh for years to come.

Another controversial hit, as Cam Janssen of the New Jersey Devils took out Tomas Kaberle on Friday night. Kaberle is out indefinitely, but wants to come back this season. Janssen received a three-game suspension.

The hit was definitely late and the flop Kaberle took into the boards made my neck hurt, but had Kaberle had been more aware of Janssen, would it be as serious as it was?? I'm not saying Kaberle didn't protect himself, but you have to wonder if he knew Janseen was coming; would he have done something differently??

You take out the heart and the body dies. That's what biology and Mortal Kombat has taught us. It seems that the Edmonton Oilers are showing it on the ice. Since Ryan Smyth was traded, the Oilers have lost all three games since, getting shutout twice, and scoring only two goals in that span. Now, with Ales Hemsky out and any hopes of the playoffs a far reach-- some may wonder what would have happened is Smyth was still there.

Smyth, however, seems to be thriving on Long Island, as is ex-Oiler M-A Bergeron who has eight points in seven games with the Islanders. It's salt in the wound, I know-- but it's an interesting stat.

Another question is whether Kevin Lowe will be able to attract any free agents to Edmonton this off-season. With the Pronger issues, it seems that no one is willing to head to Edmonton.

It'll be an interesting show this week, so make sure you check out FOHS live at 9 PM ET or always on the FOHS Podcast. Have you checked out the FOHS Message Boards?? You should.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Deadline Day 2007

While I was flipping between TSN and Rogers Sportsnet for the first two minutes, I knew that Sportsnet would be a gongshow. William Houston of the Globe and Mail confirmed my assumption.

Anyway, onto the day; I was a little disappointed at the moves....but at the end of the day, the last deal will be the one anyone talks about. So, we start with it.

Unable to get him signed to a new contract, the Edmonton Oilers (on Mark Messier night) traded the face of the franchise, Ryan Smyth, to the New York Islanders. In return, the Oilers get a 1st round pick, Robert Nilsson, and Ryan O'Marra. The Oilers and Smyth were working on terms of a contract, but couldn't come to an agreement. Smyth said he wouldn't take a "hometown discount" and was asking for a multi-year deal at $5.5M.

Now, this could signal the possible white flag of the Oilers. They gave up M-A Bergeron a week earlier and now with Smyth-- you have to wonder if they are giving up on the season. It should take the wind out of the sails of the team just because Smyth was the guy in Edmonton. Now, we'll see where this takes the Oilers, as they are seven points out of a playoff spot in 9th place.

The Buffalo Sabres were busy, but also made some questionable deals. First off, the Sabres finally traded Martin Biron, but not to a contender and not out West. Biron went to the Philadelphia Flyers for a 2nd-round pick. To compensate that, the Sabres picked up Ty Conklin from the Columbus Blue Jackets for a fifth round pick. To compensate for front line injuries, the Sabres got Dainius Zubrus and Timo Helbling from the Washington Capitals for Jiri Novotny and a 1st round pick.

You can't blame the Sabres for trying to get a forward, but Zubrus has really benefited from having Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin on his wings. Plus, Zubrus is only a rental with his asking price being too high and the Sabres having to sign Chris Drury and Daniel Briere.

Now, for the Biron/Conklin swap.....WHAAAAAAA?!? Now, this doesn't make sense at all. That's like trading a Porsche for a Gremlin. If Ryan Miller goes down, do the Sabres think that Conklin will be the guy to carry the load?? I understand they needed to get something for Biron, but that's not the way to go about it all.

The big name that went was Bill Guerin, who went to the San Jose Sharks for Ville Nieminen, Jay Barriball, and a 1st round pick. Guerin will bring even more depth to the Sharks offense, but defense may be the question. We'll see how it comes around with a little slump the Sharks are going through, but their offense is scary good on paper-- now they need to come through on the ice.

As much as I hate to admit it, the Pittsburgh Penguins did pretty well during this deadline. They added muscle to the team and while it may not be enough to win a Stanley Cup, it will be enough to get their stars into the playoffs for a big run.

The Pens picked up Gary Roberts from the Florida Panthers for Noah Welch, while Georges Laraque got picked up from Phoenix for Dan Carcillo and a 3rd round pick in '08. Both Laraque and Roberts had to waive their no trade clause.

While Roberts is a great vet and Laraque the muscle; the issue with Laraque is that he has a no-movement contract. That means Laraque can't be traded, sent down or bought out unless he approves. Laraque has another season on his contract making just over a million bucks, which is a little much for a fighter.

The Pens also picked up Nolan Schaefer as a goalie for Wilkes-Barre Scranton.

One of the interesting moves is the Detroit Red Wings taking a big chance on Todd Bertuzzi , but they didn't give up much-- just a conditional draft pick and prospect Shawn Matthias. Bertuzzi hasn't played since October and has had to deal with some back surgeries in order to get better.

That said, if Bertuzzi is healthy, he'll bring some much needed grit to the Red Wings roster and will be the muscle if he can hold out on his health.

There were plenty of other deals to talk about, but you can check out Face Off Hockey Show for the analysis from us and Spector's Hockey's Lyle Richardson. We'll do all we can to break down the deals made, not made, the winners and the losers.

If you need all the round-up for the Trade Deadline, check out TSN's trade page for all the deals big or small.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Overpaying In Atlanta

It didn't take long before the dominos started to fall, and it looks like those in the ATL are ready to make a serious playoff run. First, the Thrashers picked-up defenseman Alexei Zhitnik from Philadelphia and then this morning, they finalized a deal to get Keith Tkachuk.

The Zhitnik deal was announced after the early games last night. It sent Zhitnik to his third team this year, while Philadelphia got defensive prospect Braydon Coburn. Zhitnik has 23 points this season with the Isles and Flyers, but we basically picked-up to help the awful puck moving defense in Atlanta and bring some veteran leadership to the fold. The Flyers will enjoy Coburn, who never found his nitch in the Atlanta organization. Coburn is a definite upgrade over Freddy Meyer IV who was traded to the Islanders to get Zhitnik.

Tkachuk waited a little bit to give Atlanta an answer, considering his no-trade clause; but he eventually lifted it. In return, the St. Louis Blues got Glen Metropolit, a 1st and 3rd round pick in the 2007 Draft, and a 2nd round pick in the 2008 Draft. Tkachuk has done well with the Blues with 20 goals and 43 points on the season and will add much needed depth to the Thrashers front line. Metropolit was in his first year back from three years overseas, and didn't do too shabby with 12 goals and 28 points, including a +9.

Now, the Zhitnik trade may be mortgaging the future for the here and now, but I can understand what the Thrashers wanted to. They needed someone on defense who knows how to play the position and can move the puck around too.

The Tkachuk deal is leaving me scratching my head. Draft picks, nowadays, are just a goldmine of talent. And considering that the Thrashers could be fighting for a spot, the Blues could have two nicely positioned first-round spots. Not only that, but the Thrashers will probably only get Tkachuk's services for the remaining 18 games and whatever playoff games they have, since Tkachuk is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. This is a scenario where it is mortgaging the future.

Let's be honest, the Thrashers have been in free-fall mode for the past couple of weeks, and the odds of them making the playoffs on this pace is not really a guarantee. If they spent all this for nothing; then the ownership may have to question the future of GM Don Waddell and head coach Bob Hartley.

When all is said and done, you really can't fault the Thrashers for trying....even if they do fall flat on their face.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Around the Rink 02.24.07

Alright, let's get the Brawl in Buffalo out of the way. Now, it was an interesting piece to see, considering the history these two teams (Buffalo and Ottawa) have had in the past two seasons. However, the debate of "late hit" or "dirty hit" is really subjective. Looking at the video replay, you could make the case for Chris Neil's hit on Chris Drury as being a touch late, but no stride was made before impact and no elbow was up, which would have been obvious since they are the same size.

The aftermath of that, with Ray Emery going with Martin Biron and then Andrew Peters was bizarre; but the question on my mind is why put your top line out there after the hit?? Let's be honest, sure the Sabres have last change; but isn't that the point where you waste your time-out to put your third or fourth line guys in??

The result of the hit is Drury being placed on IR indefinitely for a concussion and a must-watch scenario for tonight.

Anson Carter is on the move again, as Carter was traded from Columbus to Carolina in exchange for a 5th Round Pick in '08. Carter has 27 points in 53 games and was brought in as a precautionary measure assuming that Nikolai Zherdev wasn't going to come over to North America.

Carter has had a season to forget, which is why most people are shocked that the Canes went out in got him. Sure, he's a depth player while Erik Cole is out, but Carter has only 24 games experience in the playoffs; which won't help the Canes out at all. We'll see if having some true talent on a line with him will help his cause, but this move is quite the odd one, for sure.

Georges Laraque could be on the move soon, as he was a healthy scratch on Thursday; sparking speculation of his departure. Pittsburgh radio stations were already saying Laraque to Pittsburgh was a done deal; which is going on 48 hours without it going down. This is due to Laraque's no-trade clause.

However, shouldn't the Penguins have gotten some muscle earlier in the season?? When you look at what has happened this season with Sidney Crosby; you would think that after the first time, they would get the picture and get right on it. Fact of the matter is, if they trade for muscle; the Pens will only use him for whatever is left of the regular season (may include some healthy scratches) and that's it, unless they can provide otherwise.

We'll see where Laraque goes, because he's sure he'll be heading somewhere come Tuesday.

We talked about some of the GM meetings during the last show, but it's interesting about the teams not wanting to deal with the three-point games. Some say that it wouldn't create much excitement and would water down the game or whatever other party line they were spouting off.

Look, are you trying to tell me that a divisional match-up, where you could get three points over a rival, wouldn't create more passion or parity?? My god, that could change the landscape of the game and really bring passion to it. Let's be honest, if you could get a three-point advantage over the other teams compared to the one-point if it goes to overtime....why wouldn't you do it; it just make sense.

Of course, you'll have the smart-ass Bettman bashers going, "Of course he wants to bring in three-points, he's a basketball guy." Shut up, stupids.

That's my time, unless something big happens; I'll be back on Tuesday to maybe do some "live blogging" for the trade deadline. We'll see how well that goes over, though. Until then, check the message boards for the hilarity happening over there or if you missed a show, check out the Podcast.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Forsberg Deal

It finally happened. After month of build-up, meeting after meeting with Flyers GM Paul Holmgren, and countless Lyle Cherry appearances, Peter Forsberg was dealt to the Nashville Predators for Scottie Upshall, Ryan Parent, and two picks. Forsberg is said to be suiting up for tonight's game against St. Louis.

Now, this deal can work one of two ways-- first, it can work out that the Preds get a healthy Forsberg which will help them get that much closer to the Cup. Or, it could mean that the Preds get an injured Forsberg after a couple of games, then lose him back to the Flyers due to the UFA deal he has going on.

There are plenty of people who think the Preds overpaid for a rent-a-wreck like Forsberg, and they could be right. However, Upshall really hasn't reached the potential that was build up for him and has been passed over numerous times during the camps. Secondly, the Preds are so deep in young defensemen, they needed to do something or else there would be a huge logjam that no team would want. They would have been traded off eventually, but to do it for someone who is considered to be the best player in the world when healthy-- you take the risk.

Even if Forsberg gets injured, what would it matter to how the Preds are doing now?? They are second in the entire league in points, they have forward depth coming out of everywhere (like a 3rd line center with 20 goals, right David Legwand??), and neither Parent nor Upshall really had much to do with their success. So, should this whole experience go flat, it's not really a loss in the grand scheme of things.

Another theory is that Forsberg's skate boot problems will magically disappear now that he's in Nashville. That's a decent one, but I don't think Forsberg was really holding out to play in Music City, USA-- he is legitimately hurt.

As it stands, the Predators are a better team now then they were 24 hours ago, on paper. The sad thing is-- Forsberg alone outscores the Predators roster in playoff points. If he can stay healthy throughout, the Preds could become the front-runners....more so.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Around the Rink 02.12.07

Oddly enough, the Calgary Flames are making the biggest splash, first with Craig Conroy; now they acquired Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau from the Boston Bruins for Andrew Ference and Chuck Kobasew. This came as a surprise as it seemed that the Edmonton Oilers were the front runners for the services of Stuart, but the team from down the QE2 ended up being the big winners.

However, personally, I have to wonder if they gave up too much. Granted, Kobasew can't stay healthy and Primeau is decent as a 3rd or 4th liner-- that's a push. The thing that gets me is why trade a defensively solid player like Ference for a guy who had the third lowest plus/minus in the league before being traded?? They already have some two-way defensemen in Dion Phaneuf, Roman Hamrlik, and more recently, Mark Giordano. We'll see if this move pays off, but if it doesn't-- there will be plenty of angry fans.

As for the Bruins, they are continuing to re-build; but if you're scoring at home-- the deal last December is now Joe Thornton for Marco Sturm....not something you want to see.

Another move made is Ladislav Nagy being traded to the Dallas Stars for Mathias Tjarnqvist and a first-round pick. Nagy has eight goals and 41 points through 55 games and has been in Wayne Gretzky's doghouse for a good chunk of the season. Tjarnqvist had four points and averaged 10 minutes a game.

However, to trade away a first-round pick is what makes this deal a little bit crazy in my eyes. Nagy has all the tools to be a big star, but either rarely displays them or is injured most of the time. However, with the Stars "goals by committee", anything that seems like it could be an upgrade may help in the long run.

Some sources are now saying that the NHL will be playing in London, England to start off the 2007-08 game, as it is rumored that the LA will make the trek across the pond to debut the O2 Arena, one that was developed and created by Anschutz Entertainment Group, the same group that owns the Kings. Their rumored opponent is the Anaheim Ducks, who back in 1998, played the Vancouver Canucks in Japan.

This is not the worst idea in the world, though you'll have people yelling and screaming about taking a home game away from both teams-- but if you want to expand the game; this is the way. As many of you know, we have plenty of fans in the UK and their dedication to the game deserves to be rewarded and this could be the thing to do it.

The NHL is laying the wood to Ray Emery, who laid the wood to Maxim Lapierre. Emery was suspended three games by the NHL after a vicious slash to the head and face area of Lapierre. Lapierre was knocked into Emery, who took exception. When Lapierre and Emery were trying to get up, Emery took the heel of his stick and hit Lapierre at the top of his visor. Luckily, no serious injury occurred.

However, I say good on the NHL for this one. I'm a Sens fan and I still think that Emery deserved something. You can't condone these sort of head shots. I understand that some goalies are complaining about being protected, but once martial law occurs, something has to be done-- which is what happened in this case.

There's a lot of people making a stink about what's going on with Gary Bettman after it was revealed that he's not looking to step down, despite rumors on the contrary. You know, I'm not the biggest fan of Bettman, but since his tenure-- he has given some relevance to the league in terms of expansion (maybe too much) and profit (373% raise since his coming in). However, people still hate Bettman, and some with good reason.

The problem I have with it is that no matter what happens-- it's all Bettman's fault. Penalties, no penalties, sky being blue-- all Bettman's fault. Hockey fans claim to be the most dedicated, which is true-- but they also seem to be the most fickle. No matter what happens, nothing is ever good enough. It's not just Bettman, but I'm sure whoever his successor is; he'll get the same scrutiny. Not even that, but people underestimate the power that the Board of Governors has over Bettman and the entire NHL, but that's for another day.

Bettman contract runs out at the end of the CBA term, which is after the 2010-11 season. As long as the money is rolling in-- Bettman will stay in power. Get used it and get over it.

That's all for now, but make sure you check out FOHS Wednesday from 9 PM ET to 11 PM ET live. There's always the Podcast if you can't make it or the Message Board for good waste of time.