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.