Monday, December 31, 2007
But this scenario seems unlikely in the Sens case. I don't think Ray Emery is going anywhere despite the media and the fan base ready to run him out of town.
He's simply too good, despite some of the overblown hype around his personality.
But look for Cujo to surface somewhere.
Maybe Tampa? Pittsburgh? Toronto?
Interesting article yesterday from the ever vigilant Larry Brooks of the NY Post on Colton Orr's controversial hit on Matt Cullen of the Hurricanes.
From The NY Post:
"The hockey police were at it again this week, fretting and fussing because of injuries sustained by Matt Cullen as a result of an open-ice check he took from Colton Orr at the Garden on Wednesday while cutting across the Rangers zone carrying the puck with his head down.
It was not a hit to the head. It was not an illegal hit, either, despite the illegitimate decision by the four-man officiating crew that originally made no call, but upon seeing Cullen flat on the ice and briefly unconscious, then took the cowardly way out and gave Orr a five-minute major for interference after a lengthy caucus.
NHL VP Colin Campbell's decision not to suspend Orr after a review of the video is evidence enough that no foul had been committed in the collision. Regardless, we were inundated again in the play's aftermath by pleas from the pseudo-intelligentsia for the restoration of "respect" between players; about how even if the check was legal, it was somehow unethical. "
Here's the hit and the ensuing aftermath.
That was quite the scrap Saturday night between Chris Neil and Donald Brashear. A lot of people in Ottawa are complaining that Brashear rejected Brian McGrattan as a dance partner early in the game, but that was probably due to the fact that it was early in a close contest rather than Brashear being afraid of Gratts. Honestly, do you think a man beast like Brashear is afraid of anyone?
But Brashear has always been a bit of a cherry picker. Remember the time back in the early 2000's when Brashear was with Philly and just started pummelling on a defenseless Chris Phillips? That was brutal.
Kudos to Neil for standing in there for that hellish barrage.
With all that being said, McGrattan issued a public challenge today for Brashear which will be hard for the Cap fighter to dodge.
Friday, December 28, 2007
But when captain Daniel Alfredsson feels the need to publicly call out Emery because he’s not working hard enough, it becomes hard for me to defend him anymore.
If you haven’t heard, Emery had a major fit at the end of the game-day skate yesterday before the tilt with the Islanders, smashing his stick and throwing it into the stands (ala Mats Sundin). When John Paddock called out Emery earlier in the year for not working hard in practice, I took it with a grain of salt. Perhaps it was just Paddock’s way of trying to light a fire under him.
Now, according to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, Alfie had this to say about Emery:
"To get considered for a start, (the coaching staff) is looking for (Emery) to show that he wants to be in there," said Alfredsson, who didn't see the incident. "You have to work hard in practice to show that you want to play. That's what most players do when they're not playing and the goalies are no different."
Rarely, if ever, has Alfredsson called out a teammate on the record. I’m sure he’s had his issues with some in the past, but being the captain, we can assume he took care of it privately. The fact that Alfie felt the need to say this publicly probably means that all other avenues of communication have either failed or been cut off completely.
That’s not good news. For the team or for Emery.
It might mean that Emery will demand a trade to a team where he can actually get some starts and that would put GM Bryan Murray in a bind. Murray saw first hand what a healthy and motivated Ray Emery can do. But now he might be forced to choose between the two goalies to ensure the harmony of the dressing room and that won’t be an easy choice, despite the almost certain public support of Gerber.
Ottawa, despite being the fourth largest city in the country, and a national capital, is largely conservative and low-key and Martin Gerber’s personality is a lot easier for the average public servant mowing down Ruffles in his townhouse in Kanata to relate to. Emery seems like he’s from outer space to these people with his Hummer and his sharp clothes. They instinctively root for Gerber, despite all hockey logic, because he doesn’t scare them. This town once embraced Patrick Lalime as well before his historic meltdown against the Leafs in 2004.
While everyone might be ready to run Emery out of town on the next bus, it’s important to keep perspective.
Nobody wants another Lalime moment when the chips are down.
If Emery can take Alfie’s advice and turn his head around, the Sens might find themselves with a goalie who has something to prove. If he can’t, then he should start packing his bags right now.
And Senators fans can start praying that Gerber doesn’t turn into another Lalime.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
"Ray Emery, who has started just two games in the last eight, vented some frustration with his lack of playing time today. As he was leaving the ice, Emery slammed his stick on the boards then swung his stick, taking out the water bottles on top of the boards. As he was leaving, he hurled his stick into the stands. Neither general manager Bryan Murray nor head coach John Paddock had any comment on the incident saying they didn't see it take place. Murray said he wanted to speak with Emery after practice but that the goalie had left before he had a chance to speak with him... Martin Gerber will get the start in goal tonight when they host the Islanders. "
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Black Aces will be taking a short break for the holiday season and should be back on the 27th or the 28th. In the meantime, enjoy these Top Ten videos from TSN, starting off with the top 10 goals from the player of the year, Sidney Crosby.
Top Ten Plays of 06-07
Top Ten Hits of 06-07
Top Ten Coaches Rants
Top Ten Stadium Delays
Friday, December 21, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
That goes back to the ridiculous notion that no matter what a player does late in a close game, no penalty should be called so that "players can decide a game, not the referees."
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
It’s the elephant in the room. The Ottawa Senators need another top-six forward, at least according to GM Bryan Murray who has openly said this to the media. That’s a nice tidy phrase, top-six forward, but in reality, what kind of players can be considered to be available and on top of that, what kind of player can you get when you obviously don’t want to part with any of your own top-six forwards?
Here are some likely candidates from around the league, taking into consideration salary, availability, contract status and common sense. For instance, the Senators aren’t going to pry away Martin St. Louis from Tampa Bay for many reasons, but they might be able to get a Marian Hossa. Two elite players. Two vastly different situations.
Let’s have a look.
Marian Hossa – This deal seems highly unlikely but it’s possible because Hossa is an unrestricted free agent and the Thrashers are probably a bubble playoff team with the chance of sinking out of contention. The cost would be astronomical because Hossa will be sought after highly by any number of contenders including the St. Louis Blues, New Jersey Devils and San Jose Sharks. Even Edmonton is a possibility with Jarret Stoll as bait. But he would be a nice fit with Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley. Actually those three talents together would bring the apocalypse upon the rest of the league.
Mike Comrie – Seriously. If the Islanders continue to tank (and I don’t think they will) Comrie all of a sudden becomes a rental player because of his one year contract. Comrie won over a lot of people with his surprisingly scrappy play and we all know he has the skill to be a number 2 centre. Is it possible? He could be had for considerably cheaper than most other top forwards.
Ruslan Fedotenko – The Islander may be having a slow year but he has shown in the past that he can score big goals in the playoffs as he helped the Lightning to the Stanley Cup in 2004. Also an unrestricted free agent.
J.P. Dumont – Another player having an off year who has shown he can score in the past. If the Predators fall on hard times, Dumont will be signed or shipped off somewhere.
Jarret Stoll – There’s no way this guy should be struggling but he is. There is too much potential to be tapped here and his contract is up at the end of this season.
Geoff Sanderson – Having a woeful year but still has speed. Probably not a top-six forward but his goal scoring skills are tempting. He could thrive with the right linemates.
Patrick Marleau - Just go down two posts to see why I think he'll be available and a good fit in Ottawa.
Andrew Brunette – Scored 83 points last year. Unrestricted next season. Only available if Colorado plummets.
Sergei Fedorov – If a sure-fire Hall Of Famer becomes available, it would be prudent to kick the tires. Fedorov has gotten a bad rap lately but he can still skate like the wind and is great at all facets of the game. Fedorov would be a major boost to the Senators powerplay, either as point man on the first unit or a centreman on the second. His salary is huge but manageable come February. Unrestricted next year. Columbus would let him go for a solid prospect because they know they’re not in a position to win a Cup this season despite their improved play under Ken Hitchcock.
I have to say, out of all these players, the three best short-term players for the Senators would be, obviously, Marian Hossa and Patrick Marleau and, surprisingly, Sergei Fedorov.
If Peter Forsberg miraculously recovers and wants to play in Ottawa, then all bets are off.
Feel free to suggest any other players I might have missed.
The moves that Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler put on Olaf Kolzig were freaking sick. All three scored on perfect dekes and all on the backhand. They’re still looking for Kolzig’s groin which is probably hanging from the rafters.
It was also strange to see new Caps coach Bruce Boudreau put Alex Ovechkin in the third shootout slot after Viktor Kozlov and Alex Semin. As it turns out, Ovechkin never got a chance to shoot and the Caps lost the game. Mike Babcock on the other hand made sure that his two most skilled players in Datsyuk and Zetterberg got in there right away to put down the hammer.
Another note: Semin came in and put one high on Dominik Hasek, popping the water bottle into the air like an exclamation point. Visually, the water bottle getting popped like that is great but unfortunately, the NHL has made a new rule that all water bottles have to be placed in a holder that sits at the back portion of the net to ensure that it doesn’t obscure the overhead camera during a disputed goal. That means we won’t be seeing that bottle flying too much anymore but thankfully for the viewers, Hasek was breaking the rules during the shootout.
Remember the shootout goal that Sidney Crosby scored during his rookie year against Montreal? That water bottle flying in the air was perhaps more memorable than the nifty deke that Crosby laid down.
Monday, December 17, 2007
With the injury to Mike Fisher, it looks like Chris Kelly will get the chance to play with Daniel Alfredsson and Antoine Vermette on Ottawa’s revamped second line.
But long-term, is a healthy Mike Fisher and Kelly really the solution Ottawa is looking for?
I doubt it. In all honesty, Fisher isn’t consistent enough offensively to offer the secondary scoring that will be needed in the playoffs when teams target Jason Spezza for shutdown. Fisher is a valuable asset for the Senators, but probably best suited for a third line banging role.
Kelly is basically a penalty kill specialist and Vermette has never been consistent in the scoring department.
So it seems like a trade is necessary, especially after Ottawa could no longer afford the services of Mike Comrie who would probably be a perfect fit to play with Alfie on the second line right about now. Over in San Jose, the dilemma is the sub-par play of captain and number two centre Patrick Marleau. There all kinds of rumours that Marleau doesn’t get along with head coach Ron Wilson, especially after Wilson seemed to target Marleau for San Jose’s losses in recent playoffs.
Could a trade be worked out that would be beneficial to both teams? Probably, but it would mean that Ottawa would have to give up on one young roster player and a decent prospect.
So who would San Jose demand in a trade for Marleau? Probably Antoine Vermette and another young centre like Ilya Zubov or Alex Nikulin from Bingo. Or maybe even Patrick Eaves even though San Jose has plenty of wingers in the same mould. It’s entirely possible that Ottawa may try to offer Chris Kelly instead of Vermette because of Kelly’s contract situation but San Jose already has a player like Kelly in Mike Grier. They would definitely need someone with more offensive potential, and who on Ottawa is more synonymous with potential than Antoine Vermette?
In today’s Ottawa Sun, Bruce Garrioch talks about the chance that Vermette has to show his stuff with Fisher out of the lineup, but haven’t we heard that many times before?
Perhaps all Vermette needs to blossom into a scoring threat is better ice time and he would probably get that in San Jose taking over Marleau’s minutes.
On the other hand, Marleau would bring plenty of blazing speed to Ottawa and would seem like the perfect fit for a guy like Alfredsson.
But who really knows if such a deal is possible. Not too long ago, Marleau was considered the franchise player for the Sharks and letting him go would leave a contender a big hole to fill on their second line. Is Vermette worth a gamble for the Wilsons in San Jose?
We’ll see soon enough.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Scott Walker of the Carolina Hurricanes only got one game for a headbutt to Mike Fisher which is a break from NHL standards, as pointed out by Al Strachan on last night's broadcast of The Spin. Strachan says the NHL standard has always been 3 games for a headbutt and so we are now getting more mixed signals from head of discipline Colin Campbell in a season where the NHL has come down hard on head shots.
People are always complaining that the NHL needs new blood in the commissioners office but perhaps what's needed is a replacement for Campbell. Maybe the NHL needs a guy who wasn't a player or a coach. Someone who can look at discipline more objectively and without the stigma of being part of the old boys network.
Regardless of the suspension, Mike Fisher showed some much needed toughness for a Senators squad that has been accused in the past of not sticking up for each other. Perhaps that stigma is old and outdated, but many people around the league still view Ottawa as a middling physical team with too much skill and not enough brawn. Walker clearly ran Martin Gerber and Fisher responded. Good on him even if he lost a couple of chiclets from the headbutt.
Speaking of toughness, Brian McGrattan took on legendary enforcer Georges Laraque last night and came out of it with a sprained shoulder. No word yet on whether the Senators will be calling someone up from Bingo to replace him. Doesn't it always seem like everyone who tangles with Laraque gets hurt somehow? Laraque is an absolute powerhouse and is one of a long line of heart and soul players that Edmonton dispatched in recent memory, including Ryan Smyth and Jason Smith. Laraque was a big part of the Edmonton community through his charity work and his one-time radio show and desperately wanted to stay in the blue and copper uniform. When someone is the best at what they do, you don't get rid of them.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Let's start it off with the abhorrent crew of New York Rangers from the 70's doing a Vidal Sasson ad. Phil Esposito, Ron Duguay, Anders Hedberg etc. Utterly revolting yet compulsively watchable.
Tastes Great Mom!
Can I See Some ID Please Rob Ray
Adam Oates As A Sleazebag Nice marketing move.
You Don't Have To Be Sweet To Be Good Hextall crushes a paper puck.
Go To Hell Shanahan You Freak
Mess and Gretz
Gretzky and puppy dogs
Monday, December 10, 2007
The most recent edition of the Hockey News carried a picture of Detroit Red Wing defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom on the cover proclaiming him to be the best European ever. It’s hard to argue, but let’s do it anyways.
I would rank Lidstrom as the 3rd best Euro ever behind number one Dominik Hasek and number two Jaromir Jagr.
Let’s look at the reasons why:
Has there ever been a more dominant goaltender in his prime than Hasek while he was with Buffalo? Hasek took over the number one job in Buffalo in 93-94 and kept it until he was traded to Detroit in 2001-02 were he won his one and only Stanley Cup with, ironically, Nicklas Lidstrom (who, in his favour, has 3 Cups on his resume). But those Buffalo teams were a lot weaker than Detroit had during the same period, yet Hasek racked up these accolades:
2 straight Hart Trophies for MVP in 97 and 98
6 Vezina Trophies including three straight from 97-99
6 NHL First All-Star team selections
2 Lester B. Pearson awards as the MVP voted upon by the players
1 Stanley Cup
Jagr was THE dominant offensive force of the mid to late 90’s and on into the 00’s. The mantle was passed from Wayne Gretzky to Mario Lemieux to Jagr and he didn’t dissapoint.
5 Art Ross Trophies as leading scorer including four straight from 98 to 01
1 Hart Trophy
7 NHL First All-Star team selections
3 Lester B. Pearson awards
2 Stanley Cups
Nick has had a brilliant Hall of Fame career and deserves all the accolades, including one time teammate and captain Steve Yzerman calling him “the best player in the world”.
7 NHL First All-Star team selections
4 Norris Trophies
1 Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs
3 Stanley Cups
That’s nothing to sneeze at and perhaps he will wind up having a better overall career than Hasek, but as for pure dominance and effect on the league, I still say that Hasek and Jagr were a notch above him. But not much.
It may be that people are too affected by the current play of the three stars. Hasek is winding down his career (which started late anyways) with the Red Wings and is not as good as he was in his prime. The same can be said for Jagr even though he notched over 100 points last year.
But if you had to have only one Euro player in his prime, wouldn’t you choose Hasek or Jagr over Lidstrom? Maybe you wouldn’t but that’s a choice we’ll never get to make.
Regardless, all three have been great to watch over the years.
Friday, December 7, 2007
The latest myth to take hold is that teams need a Martin Brodeur or a Patrick Roy to win a Stanley Cup. I counted at least three emails read over the air in the past two days that stated the same thing, with all three concluding that the Senators will never win a Stanley Cup because they don’t have a goalie similar to the two legends.
Cliches and myths are replacements for independent, rational and logical thought. Just a brief, cursory glimpse at some of the past Stanley Cup winning goalies completely destroys the notion that so many fans hold to be true.
Jean Sebastien Giguere won the Cup last year with Anaheim. The year before that, rookie Cam Ward won the Stanley Cup with Carolina. Nikolai Khabibulin won a Stanley Cup for Tampa in 2004. Chris Osgood and Mike Vernon each won a Cup for Detroit in the late 90’s.
None of the above mentioned goalies will be Hall of Famer's.
Therefore, despite the loud wails of ignorant fans whose grasp of hockey history extends as far back as the Senators last game, it is entirely possible that one of Ray Emery or Martin Gerber can lead a team to a Stanley Cup.
The pads the goalies wear today are big enough that even Calista Flockhart could lead a team to a Stanley Cup just by standing there.
So if you’re one of those out there who constantly emails the radio show with the Roy/Brodeur myth, please, for the love of everything good and decent, stop.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
"It may seem too easy to come down hard on Martin Gerber, especially given the love-in Ottawa fans have had with him up until recently, but this is exactly what happened last season. Gerber started allowing soft goals every game and the team went into a freefall. Enter Ray Emery and his confidence (bordering on arrogance - not that that's always a bad thing for an NHL goalie) and the team turned things around.
Let's face it, Emery will probably never be one of the truly elite NHL goaltenders. We're talking Luongo, Kiprusoff, Brodeur, etc., but one thing his does give you, and something that Gerber and Ottawa goaltenders before him didn't, is the confidence that he's unlikely to give up that one soft, weak, deflating goal that sucks the wind out of the entire team. "