Thursday, December 28, 2006

Around the Rink 12.28.06

It looks like the Pittsburgh Penguins will hold their own destiny in the hands of Mario Lemieux. Lemieux took the team off the market last Thursday, which you would have known if you weren't living under a rock. The drama for the Penguins continue as Lemieux said he would explore other options, including relocation. However, Mario said that if the City of Pittsburgh would buy a new arena, the odds are better that the Pens will stay in Pittsburgh.

With some sightings of Mario in Kansas City and in Houston this past week, one has to wonder when the announcement of whether they are staying or going will come. You have to figure that if the City of Pittsburgh doesn't break ground soon on an arena project; then the Penguins will learn to fly, especially away from Pittsburgh.

In other news, Jim Balsillie is still interested, but I doubt that he's a player right now in this game.

If you're an Ottawa Senator center; take cover because you're probably next. First, Jason Spezza sustains a knee injury that will keep him out 4-6 weeks, now Mike Fisher has a MCL injury that will keep him out for the time being. It's not what the Ottawa Senators needed to hear, especially with the season they have been having.

The big question now is whether or not the Sens will make a trade for an affordable center. Looking at the depth chart, they have Chris Kelly, Dean McAmmond, Antoine Vermette, and Josh Hennessy. Not the big names you would expect on a team like the Sens. Keep an eye on John Muckler and what he may do next.

Does it strike anyone else as odd that Don Cherry and Kelly Hrudey are too upset that Rory Fitzpatrick could be starting the All-Star Game?? Especially for Cherry, who was in the running for "Greatest Canadian", when many though he shouldn't have been. Maybe they forgot to have a sense of humor about it, maybe they forgot it's a glorified shinny game. The issue is they are too obsessed with this whole thing that it's making them look foolish and bitter.

Memo to Mr. Cherry and Mr. Hrudey-- lighten up. If the All-Star Game was supposed to be a great big thing, if it was supposed to be who the NHL wanted in there-- then the NHL would pick the All-Star team. This is what you get with fan balloting; movements like this to get someone in. When it's left up to a popularity contest; then why would you even worry about something as meaningless as this. And to Kelly Hrudey-- get over yourself. Don Cherry worked very hard to get the respect he gets. You're just some jobber to mold Scott Oake into the next Ron MacLean minus the puns. You sit there, be the token goalie analysis, and stop acting like everyone cares about what you're saying.

The NHL has talked about re-alignment, dropping the divisions from six to four; which would make the divisions uneven, which would spark the debate of expansion (or even contraction) coming into play to even them out.

I'll rant on this tomorrow when I get the nog out of my head, but it will include what I would re-align the divisions in every scenario (ie: Pens moving; Pens not moving).

Hope everyone had a good holiday. If you missed anything on the show, check out the FOHS site, the FOHS Podcast, the FOHS Message Boards, and if you're bored, the FOHS MySpace.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Penguins Crap Out

The future of the Penguins in Pittsburgh was dealt a severe blow, as the Isle of Capri lost its bid to gain the only slots license in Pittsburgh; thus giving the Penguins a new arena. The winning bidder, PITG Gaming, has said they would provide $7M a year for 30 years towards a new arena; but the city, county, taxpayers, and Penguins would have to contribute as well in order to make it work.

After the announcement was made, both the Penguins brass and NHL were very pessimistic about the Penguins future in Pittsburgh. Commissoner Gary Bettman said that they would support the Penguins in whatever they decide to do, while the Penguins stated that they'll exhaust every option. TSN's Bob McKenzie said that it could be another four to six weeks before the real decision comes down to really see what's happening.

So right now, it comes down to who will be the person to save the Penguins. Obviously, the names come out of the woodworks; like Mark Cuban, Frank D'Angelo, etc. The real question is whether or not the Penguins would be a viable option for Pittsburgh. If there's a more lucrative deal to be had somewhere else, why wouldn't an owner want to go where the money's at?? If somewhere like Kansas City, Winnipeg, Houston, or wherever will give a better deal-- then you know that someone would want to head out there.

We'll see how this all pans out, but right now-- it doesn't look good for Penguins fans.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Around the Rink 12.18.06

The Pittsburgh Penguins are up for another bidding war. It seems that Frank D'Angelo, owner of Steelback Brewery, is looking to purchase the team and keep them in Pittsburgh. D'Angelo has said that if the Isle of Capri doesn't win the Wednesday bid, his group would build an arena with their own money and use the Steelback name for the arena name and sell Steelback beer in the arena. Our buddy James Mirtle doesn't seem too happy about it.

Also interested is Mark Cuban, who's bid failed two owners ago, and former prospective owner Jim Balsillie, who seems to be still in the running even though he pulled his bid this past weekend. However, Mario Lemieux said that Balsillie pulled out during a crucial time, which was a breach of contract with the Penguins; so he's keeping Balsillie's deposit and has said any deal with Balsillie is dead.

The vote will come down on Wednesday whether or not the Isle of Capri will get the slots license, which will bring a new arena to Pittsburgh. If the IoC can get the license, it'll probably ease a lot of minds of prospective owners. If not....we'll see what happens.

Alexei Zhitnik is on the move, as he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers from the New York Islanders for Freddy Meyer IV. Neither defenseman have been doin that well for their respective teams, which mades this trade even odder.

However, you would think that the Flyers would want to keep their young prospects in check, rather than get older. Yet, it seems that they are going the opposite way. Of course, the reasoning is just due to all of the injuries and lack of production on the blue line; Zhitnik was a prime, yet expensive choice. We'll see if this pays off in the grand scheme of things, but I doubt it'll have any help at all.

What has happened to the New York Rangers?? Within a span of two games, they have given up 15 goals. Henrik Lundqvist was left in for eight goals in Saturday's loss to Toronto and Kevin Weekes was in for the other seven. They only scored three goals in that span as well, which doesn't make sense considering who they have on their team.

Now, if the Rangers are going to revert back to their old form of not caring and letting teams walk all over them; I wouldn't be surprised to see some guys being moved before the end of the season hits. It has started already, with Sandis Ozolinsh being placed on waivers today. Though I have plenty of respect for Tom Renney and his crew; they need to do something quick before it's too late.

The dream of having every NHL have an AHL affiliate seems to be one step closer to become a reality. This weekend, the Colorado Avalance announced that they will have their primary affiliate with the incoming Cleveland hockey team that starts in 2007-08 AHL season. A name for the team has yet to be announced.

With the deal as it is, there are only two teams without a primary affiliate, the Florida Panthers (two teams) and Edmonton Oilers (five teams). The Avalanche haven't had their own affiliate since 2004-05 when they were with the Hershey Bears. Some people discount how important it is to have a primary affiliate, especially when it comes to developing players. It's much easier to get a kid into the line-up who knows the system from the AHL team, as opposed to using someone else's primary affiliate, who may have a different system than what you're trying to impose.

That's all for now, but make sure to check out the FOHS site, FOHS Podcast, the FOHS Message Boards powered by, and the FOHS MySpace, if you're not already on it. And if you are-- tell all your friends.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Another Sale Bites the Dust For the Pens

Just when it looked like things were turning around for the Pittsburgh Penguins and stability was within site....there's a swerve. The swerve this time is with potential owner Jim Balsillie, or should I say, former potential owner. According the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Balsillie has withdrew his bid to become the new owner of the Penguins; thus putting the team out on the market again. Apparently, Balsillie and the NHL couldn't reach a deal in the last minute of the consent process, thus leading Balsillie to withdraw his bid.

According to TSN's Sources, the NHL tabled the consent that Balsillie would have to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh, regardless of the circumstances. Though it's not technically dead, Balsillie and the NHL are not talking. There have been ideas of trying to eliminate the wording so Balsillie is free to do what he wants; but everything right now is in limbo.

Obviously, this isn't going to sit well with Mario Lemieux's camp, who thought this was all sign, sealed, and delivered. However, the one stumbling block that would keep anyone for seriously pursuing the team is the whole deal with gaming licenses and the new arena. Gary Bettman, understandably, would want to keep the team where they are at, so he wouldn't be facing an outcry like Winnipeg and Quebec City had. Yet in terms of reality, you can't force a market if there isn't one to be had.

The Penguins are a talented team and are one or two signings away from being a big time contender, yet there seems to be no buyers out there due to the constraints that are put in place before the sale even happens. I'm sure Balsillie didn't think much of the plan when he tabled his purchase, nor did Sam Fingold who tabled a price beforehand. Sad to say, but it seems like the lame-duck ownership, as well as the City of Pittsburgh have the Penguins held hostage. Should someone not meet their demands; the team won't be sold. Pretty craptastic business management if you ask me.

So, we get back into the fun, fun speculation on what's going to happen next for the Penguins. Who's going to be the big guns to swoop in and save the team. Mario isn't going to do it, who knows what Mark Cuban could be thinking, and we never know-- maybe the NHL will have a change of heart and realize that if there's not a market in Pittsburgh, it's just best to let it go.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Around the Rink 12.08.06

Mark December 20th down on your calendar Pens fans. That's the day it will be decided whether or not Isle of Capri will win the slots license and saving the Penguins in one fell swoop. New prospective owner Jim Balsillie met with the Board of Governors to give an update, but a vote on the transfer of ownership of the Penguins will take place this next week.

The big issue, aside from transfet, is the Isle of Capri bid. If that wins, then they will build a new arena; thus saving the Penguins from moving. If they don't win, the question of whether the Penguins will stay in Pittsburgh is re-visited. During the meeting with Balsillie, the conversation was pretty much having to do with exhausting every resource out there before even thinking about moving the team. The saga continues.

Also, if Isle of Capri fails and the city's plan "B" falls through; look for Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario (Balsillie's home) to be a frontrunner in getting a new team.

The Board of Governors couldn't come to an agreement on what the schedule and playoff format should be in the upcoming season. Of course, we all know that this problem won't go away just because a consensus isn't reached at this caucus. You can bet this will be brought up again and again and again until something is done about it to benefit all teams involved.

Also at the BoG meeting, it was revealed that the Salary Cap will be raised again, possibly up to $46-$47.5M for next season. Though attendance is down, ticket prices are up, new sponsors and deals are being made, and merchendising is up. All of that, along with linkage, boost the Cap number. The thing that I want to know is how much teams will scurry if the Cap takes a drastic turn the other way.

My AHL rant wasn't real worth of it's own post or to be published...but here's the long and the short of it. I was looking at the Hockey News and flipping through the pages and I saw the San Jose Sharks uniform. When I looked at the article that containted the picture, it was an AHL article and it was the Worcester Sharks uniform-- an exact ripoff of the parent club's uniform.

I'm not a big fan of cloning minor league teams to fit the parent club. Teams like the Houston Aeros and Bridgeport Sound Tigers have recently changed their uniforms to fit their parent club, but had pretty decent uniforms to start off with. I don't see the need or reasoning to have these drastic changes when they are not needed. Luckily, there are teams out there like the Hershey Bears, Chicago Wolves, and Rochester Americans who have kept their own identity through all their years in the league.

Now, I'm all for having some kind of idenitifiable patch or something to let people know that they are affiliated with said teams. However, to completely redo a team's logo, jerseys, and identity is just not needed and more often than not, draws the ire of fans of the team.

That's all for now, but make sure you check out the FOHS Message Board for all the fun stuff that goes on there, and if you missed a show, check out the FOHS Podcast to catch up on whatever you missed out on.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Around the Rink 12.03.06

The question du jour is whether or not Alex Ovechkin deserves a suspension from his hit on Daniel Briere. For those who missed it, during the second period, Briere dumped the puck in and went for a chance. As he was turning to the bench, Ovechkin hit Briere in the lower back with an elbow and it sent Briere head first into the player's gate. That brought out a melee, which saw Ovechkin, Adam Muir, and Paul Gaustad all ejected. The NHL doesn't seem like they will suspend Ovechkin.

Now, while Briere returned to play the rest of the game; the NHL should have at least made it one or two games to send a message. There has been far too many incidents which is showing that the NHL is almost under martial law. Too many instances of dirty hits have gone on without any repremand. If the NHL want so to get some respect, then they need to do something to get more respect into the game.

The Edmonton Oilers got bad news when it was learned that Ryan Smyth is out indefinitely with a fractured thumb. Smyth sustained the injury Saturday night when he bent his thumb back when trying to check Rostislav Klesla in a 4-0 Edmonton loss. The Oilers are already without Ales Hemsky, who is still about a week away from returning from his shoulder injury.

The injuries are taking it's toll and it seems the Oilers are playing tired. Dwayne Roloson hasn't finished his last two games and there has been little to no scoring for the Oilers. You almost have to wonder if the high from the magical run to the playoffs is wearing off.

The NHL Board of Governors will be meeting this week. The one thing that will be up for debate, again, is the unbalanced schedule; something that couldn't be decided when the GM met a little while back. Also on the agenda is the playoff bracketing, which would see the NHL go to an NCAA-tournament ideal, where there is set bracketing regardless of upsets.

Now, the schedules; I've gone over that. However, I'm still kind of on the fence about the bracketing. Will it work?? Possibly. Will it create less confusion?? You bet. I really can't think of any con side, though if a team makes it to the second round, loses in the round, and wouldn't have had played that team in the old standard; there could be plenty of bitching and complaining about it. We'll see how it all pans out.

Can the NHL just give Evgeni Malkin the Calder now, because it seems it's going that way anyway. Malkin was given the Rookie of the Month for a second straight month. While impressive, there's guys like Anze Kopitar and Paul Stasny who deserve a look at the award too.

Granted, this could be traced back to the fact that both Stasny and Kopitar play in the West and aren't seen as often; which is traced back to the schedule. Yet, if the NHL really wants to give Malkin the Rookie of the Year-- just do it now so the charade can be done with and we can all move on with our lives.

That's all for now. I'm sure that I'll have that little AHL rant done sooner or later, but we'll see. Until then, check out the FOHS site, FOHS Podcast, and FOHS Message Board to hold you over until then.