Friday, February 29, 2008
Coach Bryan Murray was standing up and screaming at the referees from the bench on numerous occasions, nearly having an embolism when Jason Spezza was tossed for butt-ending a Flyer with his stick. Mike Fisher filled in Steve Downie late in the game and the rest of the team was in a surly mood - certainly a nice change of pace from the comatose Paddock era.
From the Ottawa Citizen:
"I thought they worked real hard," Murray said. "I wanted them to play with real energy, and for the most part they did.
"We have some things to clean up, no question, but, from an effort and attitude point of view, it was very good. It's just disappointing we can't score more than one goal in the game."
Ray Emery was strong in the nets, and most surprising of all, the Senators rolled four lines and got feisty games from players like Dean McAmmond, Christoph Schubert, Shean Donovan and Chris Kelly.
McAmmond and Donovan in particular looked like new men and Schubert was running Flyers through the boards when he wasn't ripping slapshots on Martin Biron. Schubert ended the game with a team high 5 shots. Donovan had 3 shots which is most likely close to a season high for him.
It's interesting to note that Murray immediately addressed the major problems of the Senators in only one game: emotion from the bench (which led to emotion on the ice), physical play, a role for a fourth line and a better distribution of minutes.
Donovan played 10:53 and McAmmond racked up 12:20 of time on the ice. Granted, that might be a little high for McAmmond because Spezza was kicked out of the game early, but it certainly looks like Murray wants to spread the ice time around.
Another move Murray made was re-pairing Wade Redden with Andre Meszaros. It didn't seem to pay off as Redden was -2 and Meszaros was -3. But logically, it makes sense to have Meszaros playing more minutes than Mike Commodore. It's all about roles and Commodore might be miscast as a second unit defender. He might succeed more as the 5th guy. Meszaros and Redden have had moments in the past where that pairing has worked so expect Murray to be patient.
It pains everyone to see it, but it's become obvious that Luke Richardson is having trouble in his own zone right now. It might be a good move to call up Lawrence Nycholat from Bingo and let Richardson get some more rest so that when he does get in games, he's more effective. Alternating Nycholat and Richardson every other game may be an option that works.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Here’s the idea:
Double the width of the bluelines, making them 24 inches instead of the current 12 inches (that’s what she said…).
The extra 12 inches of blue paint should be in the offensive zone, thereby giving skaters an extra foot when going into the offensive zone, either carrying the puck or accepting a pass. Most offside calls nowadays are made in those 12 inches that this extra width would cover, so in theory, this should cut them down a fair bit. Remember, I said in theory. The dimensions of the offensive zones would stay exactly the same as well but simply have an extra foot of blue paint in them that would mean nothing when coming out of the zone.
The only drawbacks to this might be that, in theory (and total ice surface) this will increase the size of the neutral zone by two feet (24 inches). It’s deceptive because the neutral zone will look exactly the same, and in fact be the same 50 feet between the bluelines. But, of course the extra width of the bluelines would expand it nonetheless.
The first season back from the lockout, the league reduced the neutral zone from 54 feet to 50 feet to offset the neutral zone trap that many teams were using. By making the bluelines bigger they might be helping one problem (too many offsides) but adding to another (more space to implement trap).
The other argument against this is that offsides won't be reduced because players will still cheat to the edge of the line as much as possible, making this change useless.
I’d like to know what you think.
In today’s Ottawa Citizen (which has much better coverage of the firing than the Ottawa Sun), Ken Warren has written his best piece all year, detailing the slow unraveling of Paddock as head coach. Warren is the first local reporter to deeply analyze how the team has played this season through its systems, its allotment of ice times and its emotional character. Great reading and hats off to Warren who has always been a good columnist.
I’m not sure why Warren didn’t write any of this stuff earlier in the year, as it is evident by reading that he knew of the malaise long before it reached epidemic level, but hey, better late than never. Even his analysis of the Ray Emery situation is reasoned and probing instead of overly emotional and sensationalistic which is something Warren’s “professional” colleagues could take a cue from.
From the Ottawa Citizen:
“The early victories led to increased expectations, and Paddock continued to lean heavily on his top players, particularly Alfredsson, defencemen Volchenkov and fellow defenseman Chris Phillips. It wasn't uncommon for Alfredsson to receive 24 or 25 minutes of ice time in November and December. That ice time came at the expense of third- and fourth line players, who often played little or not at all in the third period of games. At that time, complaints from those on the bottom end of the roster were pushed aside because of the team's success.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
A solid move by Bryan Murray to add two Stanley Cup rings to the lineup.
In 104 playoff games Lapointe has 19 goals, 24 assists and 198 penalty minutes with two championships with Detroit in 97 and 98.
Lapointe might be best known for getting a huge free agent contract from the Boston Bruins in 2001 where he went on to underwhelm everybody after scoring 27 goals in his last year in Detroit.
At this point in his career, Lapointe will play on the fourth line, which under John Paddock probably means very little. If Bryan Murray indeed does take over behind the bench (or assistant Ron Low) as TSN indicated this morning, then Lapointe might play a larger role.
In reality, Lapointe is probably the consolation prize for losing out on Tuomo Ruutu who was dealt to the Carolina Hurricanes for Andrew Ladd.
Lapointe has been a healthy scratch lately for the Hawks.
Has a rink named after him in Lachine, Quebec.
Probably the biggest wine collector in the NHL next to Mario Lemieux.
Pierre McGuire also stated that GM Bryan Murray sat down with Paddock recently and told him to ramp up his style to get the team going. McGuire said that Murray was concerned that Paddock was not emotional enough and that the team was “flatlining” because of it.
By no means does this imply that Paddock is as good as gone but it should be noted that Bryan Murray once fired his brother, Terry, so letting go of Paddock might not be that far fetched.
Monday, February 25, 2008
The beat writers will no doubt soft peddle the Paddock criticism in the next few days, bringing up the fact that the team didn't panic last season when fans were calling for Bryan Murray's head. This is a different situation. For one, the playoffs are less than 20 games away. And two, at least Murray had a track record as an NHL coach.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
From the Edmonton Sun:
"I just thought it was time," Smyth said yesterday. "It was getting a little long and I just took care of business."
Friday, February 22, 2008
It seems that way to me when for at least four or five games, Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley look listless and tired.
Perhaps the biggest clue might be the quote that Spezza laid on the media last week about the team maybe having to “rest our way out” of the current funk they find themselves in.
The facts are that Paddock rode this line hard in some kind of attempt to obliterate the rest of the league early on and now that the Senators are struggling, these guys don’t seem to be physically able to pull them out.
Alfredsson hasn’t looked the same since his hip injury and is obviously having trouble with his skating. If Paddock rushed him back into the lineup because the team was losing games, that probably won’t look very good on him if Alfie struggles into the playoffs.
But then again, Paddock hasn’t exactly excelled at decision making all year long.
Keep Emery In The Nets
It would be a mistake to take Ray Emery out of the nets for Saturday’s matinee against the Penguins. Paddock should follow through on what he started this week. Keep playing him until his game is back in gear. Taking him out now will only slow that process and further confuse the situation. This team is crying out for a consistency in approach and Paddock would be wise to stick with Emery to see how he responds to a tough loss.
In the playoffs, it’s important for goalies to bounce back after losses. Paddock should let them practice it.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Unfortunately, the greedheads are running amok in fat city once again, but this time it's not the NHL owners who are willing to sell the soul of the game but a group of renegade goalies. Haven't goalies ruined this game enough?
Led by player agent Rich Winter and a group of players that include Martin Brodeur, Dominik Hasek and Marty Turco, among others, this group is proposing to sell advertising space on every team's goalie jersey as depicted in the official mockup picture above.
According to the Toronto Star, this sell-out would generate an extra $30 million in revenue for the league and thus increase the slice of the pie that the players are guaranteed (54% of league revenues). When broken down, this amounts to only $1 million in extra revenue for each team and just over $500,000 extra, by team, to members of the NHLPA.
That's right. The players are willing to throw over a hundred years of history out the window for just over $500,000 per team, which in today's payroll scenario is like a fart in the wind.
From the Toronto Star:
As to the prospect of hockey traditionalists bristling over ads on uniforms nowadays, veteran Anaheim Ducks defenceman Mathieu Schneider, who's worked on marketing issues on behalf of the NHL Players' Association, says: "We've changed the uniforms so much already over the years. It's not that far a stretch."
Roloson echoes that sentiment. "I think it's a great way to grow (hockey-related revenue). They have (uniform ads) in Europe and it doesn't take away from the true jersey look."
The Oilers goalie shrugs off the prospect of criticism from traditionalists, who, he says, will "freak out" even more if the NHL makes the goalie nets bigger, something Roloson expects to happen. "And we have advertising on the boards, don't we?" .......
"This is the wave of the future," says Winter, the Edmonton player agent. "The NHL isn't as profitable as other leagues, and we have very little choice but to pursue new ways to create revenue so we can reinvest in our sport. It's just a way to pay the bills."
As of right now, the plan is only for the goalie's sweaters to have the ads but you just know that it's only a matter of dollars before the experiment is applied to the rest of the players as well.
Hopefully the exposure of this plan will generate enough skepticism and anger from the fans to get these geniuses to back off and stop screwing with the game in such a disrespectful manner. Just because the NHL is not a high revenue sport at the moment doesn't mean a bunch of spoiled goalies should be able to sell a half-baked idea to the always money hungry owners at the direct expense of our retinas and our traditions.
Can you imagine the Yankees or the New England Patriots sporting McDonalds logos on their sweaters?
Now just imagine the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens logo's being displaced by a Molson or a Budweiser symbol.
That's the reality of this proposal and it should be exposed and rejected for the piece of garbage that it is.
With John Paddock finally coming to his senses and giving Ray Emery some consecutive starts (Emery will play Thursday against Columbus as announced today), perhaps Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray can now concentrate on getting Martin Gerber's contract off the books for next season and alleviate the tension that inevitably comes with having two number one goalies.
Why would Tampa want a guy like Gerber?
Just listen to Lightning GM Jay Feaster as quoted by Erik Erlendsson.
From the Tampa Tribune:
"It's a bridge," Feaster said. "We are not looking for a 10-year thing. We need a two-to-three year bridge to Ramo, who we believe can be a legit No. 1 goaltender."
To me that sounds exactly like a role Martin Gerber can fill. All he'll need is a small contract extension and perhaps a vote of confidence, something that is not coming anytime soon in Bytown. The Senators would only ask for a token pick in return or might even get their hands on goalie Johan Holmqvist to back up Emery. Or perhaps a guy like Jason Labarbera could be snagged out of L.A. to replace Gerber.
It's that time of year.
Brett Hull, speaking from the GM’s meetings in Naples Florida, wasn’t holding anything back when asked to comment.
From The NaplesNews:
"Something needs to be done, and we need to put together something to get it done," Hull said. "It goes back to Rule 21: Goalkeeper equpiment is to protect the goalie, not block the net."
"We're tired of hearing about it ... we understand it all comes down to wanting to win, but we have to do something when you're illegal."
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
The NHL has finally forced Roberto Luongo to cut off those "cheater flaps" that stick out from his leg pads and Luongo is, predictably, not happy about it. Boo hoo.
From the Vancouver Province:
"Just two months after Marty Turco and Mike Smith created the so-called "pad flap," the NHL seems to have reversed its opinion. In response to Turco's mock protest in December, Kay Whitmore, one of the NHL "goalie police," said there was nothing wrong with Luongo's knee flaps, two pieces of equipment that jet out from his leg pads.
Before the Feb. 5 game in Dallas, Luongo was asked by Whitmore to cut them off and he did.
"It wasn't because they were illegal, it was just because," said an obviously miffed Luongo. "There's a bunch of other goalies who still have the same thing. But that's fine. I have more important things to worry about, you know what I mean. I'm the only one that I've seen that has had to do this. You should ask Whitmore why."
Hopefully this is just the start of a league wide crackdown on the Michelin men masquerading as NHL goalies. They might want to take a hacksaw to Luongo's shoulder pads while they're at it. How they even got those canyons into the arena is a mystery for the ages.
On January 20, 2008, the Ottawa Senators went into Philadelphia having won 5 of their last 8 games and were firmly entrenched in the number one position in the Eastern Conference.
That game was hyped even more by the fact that the Senators, for the first time this season, had a chance to say something to Steve Downie who was back in the lineup after nearly decapitating Dean McAmmond in the pre-season with a flying elbow the likes of which are usually reserved for the WWE and the Japanese parliament.
Strangely, the Senators didn’t even put a mitt on Downie in a 6-1 loss and the only fight of the game was a lopsided decision in Riley Cote’s favour against the Senators Brian McGrattan. Some people questioned the Senators heart after such a poor showing of toughness and John Paddock was on the record lauding praise upon Steve Downie while Dean McAmmond languished on the fourth line getting little to no ice time. With friends like that, who needs enemies?
Since that notorious match, the Ottawa Senators have only won 4 times in 12 games and the lead they once held in the Eastern Conference has dwindled to zero heading into tonight’s re-match with the Flyers. The goaltending has collapsed under Paddock’s ridiculous “win and your in” rotation system and the whole team looks uninspired and directionless under Paddock’s tutelage. Even the local media who enjoyed a lengthy honeymoon with the new coach are starting to ask questions in this week’s papers.
Some might say that Philly game was a turning point in the season for the Senators. Perhaps they would like to reverse that downward trend tonight against the team that might have put them in the death spiral to start with.
According to reports, there will be no Steve Downie tonight so the Senators will be able to concentrate solely on hockey. But those poor showings of character and grit don’t wash away easily.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Over in Atlanta, 6"4, 230 pound Bobby Holik just might become available at the trade deadline and the impending unrestricted free agent comes with two things that Chris Gratton simply doesn't have - 2 Stanley Cup rings.
The only snag for the Senators is that Atlanta GM Don Waddell is in a bind. His team is only two points out of eighth place in the East and two points behind Carolina for tops in the South East division. On the surface, that doesn't sound like a team who will be selling come the trade deadline but Atlanta is in a strange position with Marian Hossa who has basically let it be known that he won't re-sign in Atlanta this summer.
That probably means that Waddell will have to move him this month and that might spark a bit of a sell-off, especially if Atlanta falters in the next week. Chances are the Thrashers will hold on to players like Holik and Mark Recchi and try to get an impact roster player for Hossa to stay in the playoff picture.
But Bobby Holik would certainly be a better acquisition than the journeyman Gratton or a smallish (but feisty) centre like Mike Comrie.
This should get interesting.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
After tonight's loss to the New Jersey Devils, we can probably say that a "Paddock Watch" is now officially under way.
And not just for losing his job.
The watch is now on to see who will be the first Ottawa columnist to say anything negative about John Paddock instead of hauling out the usual "players have to do better" template that we've seen all year.
In fact, the Senators might make NHL history by firing a coach before he even gets a bad word said about him in the papers.
The Senators came out flat against a New Jersey team that played an overtime game the night before and arrived late in the night in Ottawa. With a two game losing streak of their own, the Senators showed no urgency until the last five minutes of the second period. The effort was stellar after that but it amounted to another notch in the loss column all the same.
You have to question the motivational skills of the monotone Paddock when you couple the flat start with his trademark black-hole of emotion behind the bench. When the Senators were getting nailed with multiple penalties in the first half of the game, the CBC cameras were quick to try and catch Paddock's reaction.
He barely mustered the energy to shake his head. Not even Jacques Martin was that catatonic on the bench.
But don't expect any articles questioning his tactics in tomorrow's paper. You'll read how neither one of Martin Gerber or Ray Emery is grabbing the number one role and how the players just have to work harder.
Maybe the players aren't working hard because they're tuning Paddock out. It at least warrants a look by somebody who can officially ask questions.
By The Way:
Shean Donovan only got 4 minutes and 13 seconds of ice time despite playing well in recent games. He still managed 2 shots on goal in those 4 minutes. Compare that with Randy Robitaille who got over 13 minutes, had one shot and was minus 2.
Dean McAmmond got just over 5 minutes of ice time and Brian McGrattan was a healthy scratch once again.
It's clear that Paddock has no use for the "foot soldier" type.
Strangely, it's those types of players who often are very important in the playoffs.
Friday, February 15, 2008
This much should be clear to anyone who follows the Ottawa Senators on a regular basis.
He’s proven in the playoffs. He’s a better athlete. He’s not prone to confidence issues. He doesn’t give up the backbreaking goals that Gerber does. He’s younger and thus a better fit going forward.
John Paddock should just put this team on the right track by playing Emery for at least 5 games in a row to get him into a groove.
Emery has always played best when he gets consecutive starts while Gerber is just plain streaky and mentally fragile. Gerber has never won anything of signifigance and has almost zero playoff experience or success.
Everyone knows Emery is the better goalie, including management, but there’s a sense that Emery doesn’t deserve the role because of his attitude and demeanor.
Yes, Emery has had some issues with discipline but at some point the team (and especially the fans) have to put that behind them and move forward.
Senators fans should ask themselves this question. Do you want to win or do you want a lovable loser?
Then again, if management has decided that Gerber is the guy, at least go with him and put up with his gaffes.
To me it’s that simple.
Paddock is not setting this team up for success by jerking around with a half-assed goalie rotation that everyone can plainly see isn’t working. If Paddock doesn’t stop this charade then Bryan Murray should force him to step down and get on with business.
This is a team that is crying out for a consistent approach, whether it’s in nets or in line combinations. Paddock has come in and done nothing but create pure chaos in a lineup that should be cruising to the first round with confidence.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
You have to feel for poor Michael Russo, a reporter who covers the Wild for the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis.
Every time he has to go to Vancouver, something insane happens.
"What is it with Vancouver? Last time I was in town, there was what was believed to be a mob hit.
Yesterday morning at 2:30, a Starbucks was blown up! That is one of the most disgraceful things I’ve ever heard of.
I’ve been depressed about it all day......"
Let's hope he doesn't decide to take a walk down Hastings Street. If a demolished Starbucks gets him depressed, the East side would probably shatter his mind.
Russo also notes that there are some questioning the character of injured Canucks defenseman Willie Mitchell who returns to action tonight. Apparently, head coach Alain Vigneault has questioned his ability to play through pain. Russo tries to get Wild coach Jacques Lemaire's opinion (he coached Mitchell for a few seasons) and Mitchell defends himself from the accusations.
From the Star-Tribune:
"Speaking of Lemaire, funny moment came when a reporter tried to get Lemaire to comment on Willie Mitchell’s ability –or inability? — to play through injury in Minnesota. Lemaire looked at him like, “You think I was born yesterday?” before denying comment.
If you’ve paid attention to the coverage here the last few weeks, Vigneault has made subtle shots about Mitchell’s willingness to play through a back injury, with Mitchell replying yesterday, “He’s a coach. He doesn’t know how I feel, he doesn’t feel my pain, he doesn’t feel those things.”
In fact, according to Adam Proteau's Hockey News blog, Prospal dedicated his two goals in Tuesday's win over the Habs to Torts, but not in the way you might expect.
From The Hockey News:
"Prospal – never exactly a favorite of head coach/grumpus-in-chief John Tortorella to begin with – followed up his two-goal performance in the Bolts’ 3-2 win over Montreal Tuesday with a post-game TV interview in which he called the evening one of the most rewarding of his career.
The 32-year-old Czech, who was dropped from the Lightning’s top line recently and subsequently had his ice time cut severely, also said in the interview that he felt his performance Tuesday shoved it up “somebody’s” behind.
Prospal refused to name the behind in question, but immediately after, and I’m sure by some strange and random coincidence, he was called into Tortorella’s office for a 25-minute meeting with the coach and GM Jay Feaster – while still wearing his equipment.
After that, Tortorella all but identified himself as the object of Prospal’s ire.
“I'm not here to be the happy man and make everybody happy,” the coach said. “I'm here to make calls as far as the game is concerned.”
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
But then again, don't put it past Alfredsson to adapt to anything and make it look good.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
From the News and Observer:
"Corvo acknowledged that his family didn’t like living in Ottawa and being away from home, but said it had more to do the small-town attitude that surrounded the team and the nature of the criticism.
It’s hard to say for sure but you’ve got to think that Corvo was talking almost specifically about the rabid anti-Ray Emery crusades that have maligned the local press and the talk radio shows in recent months.
There seems to be a bit of a backlash against the press from the Ottawa players lately, including the Wade Redden and Brian McGrattan incident where the two threatened to shove a couple of cameras up a few arses and expose their junk in respective order.
Now even mild-mannered Dany Heatley had this to say in today’s Ottawa Citizen about Emery:
"I just think people should lay off him right now," Dany Heatley said yesterday.
To me, it sounds like the only relationships that are threatened lately are not necessarily in the locker room, but between the players and press.
Monday, February 11, 2008
From the Chicago Tribune:
"To me that's interference," Hawks coach Denis Savard said. "A goalie shouldn't be able to get bumped. What's the difference if a guy goes right at the goalie and runs him right out? I don't think there's any difference there."
Said Khabibulin, who responded with a punch to Shannon's helmet:
"I guess there's no such rule against it. If there's no rule, I guess he can do that. But he's going to pay the price for that.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Why is Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray revealing details of his trade talks with other GM's?
He's obviously trying to publicly shame Wade Redden into waiving his no-trade clause which is a surprising tactic from the usually classy Murray. By trying to turn the fans against Redden, Murray is simply adding to the chaos that has already engulfed this team. What's the goal here? Hope the fans boo Redden out of the building for being perceived as selfish?
Roy Mlakar needs to sit down with Murray and resident arsonist John Paddock and explain to them again the meaning of public relations. The Ray Emery situation was handled poorly and now there's another fire that must be put out.
What an absolute joke.
Redden hasn't played well this season but he deserves more respect for what he has done for the organization over the years. Why would players want to sign in Ottawa when they know that the organization will treat them like garbage if they're struggling?
It comes out today that Bryan Murray claims he did not leak the story and is somewhat upset that it did. The fact is that the story somehow got from Murray's office to the press in a matter of an hour and Murray bears some responsibility for this latest fiasco.
Just take look at today's Ottawa Sun poll.
The question is "What should the Senators do with Redden? Waive him? Bench him? Keep him in the lineup?"
Waive him? Intelligent hockey discussion has come to this in a supposedly knowledgeable and passionate hockey town?
Now that's great marketing for a small market franchise. Turn the fans against the players. Works every time.
Friday, February 8, 2008
Everyone is celebrating the fact that Dany Heatley roared back from a separated shoulder and got 3 points but the win had as much to do with the Senators finally getting some clutch saves late in a game from Ray Emery.
The beleaguered goalie had a strong first period (after getting booed by the fans when he was announced as the starter prior to the puck drop), a shabby second but finished strong with a game saving stop in the last minute. For once, Emery looked confident and concentrated, clearing rebounds and staying in position. He let in four goals but, as Don Brennan noted in today’s Ottawa Sun, don’t let that fool you. “Emery was solid.”
Unfortunately, the defence again looked porous and soft, especially Wade Redden and Andre Meszaros. Redden coughed up the puck at the start of the first period right into the slot but Emery made the save. Senators colour commentator Gord Wilson was raving about Redden’s game but I’m not sure what kind of Kool-Aid Gordie was drinking. At least twice Redden bobbled pucks at the Panthers blueline forcing the team to skate back onside and looked like he has zero confidence. He can still contribute on offense but at this point, even Joe Corvo looks better in his own end.
Jason Spezza looked like his old self now that he has Heatley to pass to and played a hell of a game.
As big a relief as this game was to Senators fans, the team is nowhere near the juggernaut that they should be.
One theory might be that because John Paddock depended on his first line so much through the first half of the season, the rest of the forwards didn’t have as much responsibility as last year and found it hard to crank up their games when they were finally given a chance to play important minutes. I’m talking about the likes of Chris Kelly and Dean McAmmond who still haven’t regained their form. These are important players who must be better for the Senators to contend and so far, Paddock hasn’t managed to light a fire under them.
Brian McGrattan is finally getting some minutes from Paddock and is probably playing the best hockey of his life right now. He is a tenacious forechecker and surprisingly nimble and defensively aware (if you can call a freight train nimble). He might have made the defensive play of the game when he raced back and lifted the stick and stole the puck from a Florida player who was breaking into the Ottawa zone. Here’s hoping Paddock can realize that McGrattan can serve a role on the fourth line. You don’t see the Anaheim Ducks sitting George Parros for ten games in a row and they manage to win here and there. They even win Stanley Cups.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Glass got roped into fighting Toronto's Ben Ondrus in the closing minutes of Tuesday's 8-0 Panthers victory.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Ted Nolan’s a good coach but he’s not that good.
Here’s a list of the Islanders who will be unrestricted free agents in July.
That’s pretty much the core of the team and Sillinger and Bill Guerin only have one more year on their contracts. GM Garth Snow absolutely has to get some assets in return for these guys or the Islanders will be in a lot of trouble this summer.
I’m positive that teams will be making a pitch for Comrie, Hunter and feisty defenseman Meyer. Ruslan Fedotenko has gone into the tank this year but many will remember how he contributed to Tampa Bay’s Cup win in 2004. Comrie could very well end back up with the Senators where he played some good hockey last year.
Wouldn’t a healthy Satan be perfect on the Devils?
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
I predicted Montreal to finish 13th in the East while I pegged Phoenix at 15th in the West. As Rod Stewart once sang, "look how wrong you can be".
It's astonishing to me how good Montreal is this year. After a quiet summer where they lost Sheldon Souray and replaced him with the likes of Bryan Smolinski and Roman Hamrlik, I figured Montreal was headed for another lost year. Wrong. If anything, they look like a team that doesn't have too many holes and even Alex Kovalev is resurrecting his career. It must be a fun time to be a Habs fan right now.
As for Phoenix, I'll just take a mulligan on that one. Who could have predicted their turnaround? Guys like Radim Vrbata and rookie Peter Mueller have exceeded expectations and waiver wire pick up Ilya Bryzgalov has just been lights out.
Here's how I predicted the final standings to shake out. I've had better moments.
3. Tampa Bay
5. New Jersey
7. NY Rangers
8. NY Islanders
1. San Jose
10. St. Louis
12. Los Angeles
You hear it at hockey games. You hear it on classic rock stations 20 times a day. You even hear it on Guitar Hero. Now it’s become the Senators theme song. Eugene Melnyk should be paying Ozzy royalties from the gong show that’s become the Senators this season.
Senators fans will wake up this morning to blanket media coverage of a 40 minute team meeting that ended badly for a few cameramen who were just doing their job. Allen Panzeri of the Ottawa Citizen describes the confrontation:
“Normally mild-mannered Wade Redden told a group of photographers and TV cameramen to stick their cameras where the sun doesn't shine, though in much cruder street language. Brian McGrattan said he should have exposed himself, also in considerably cruder street language.
It wasn't exactly a shining moment in the 16-year history of the franchise.”
You know things have gone badly when one of the players threatens to show his junk to the TV cameras and he’s not even drunk. I’m not sure what the Senators public relations department has been doing the past couple of months, or if the team still has one because the media have been feasting on these guys.
No matter how you feel about Ray Emery, the Senators should have done a better job of putting their spin on the situation. The fact was that Ray was late for a couple of practices yet the media spun it as if Emery went on a killing spree in Vegas and showed up only to urinate on the Senators logo that decorates the dressing room floor.
Coach John Paddock and GM Bryan Murray made no attempts to diffuse the situation and the result is a major fan backlash against a player who may still have to wear a red uniform for at least the rest of the year. Stoked by hack sports radio jockeys like Glen Kulka, callers are even proclaiming that they’d rather lose with Martin Gerber than win with Ray Emery. And where has team president Roy Mlakar been through this mess?
Where’s the damage control? It’s certainly not coming from coach John Paddock. Is there a player he hasn’t thrown under the bus other than Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson? Paddock seems to operate strictly at a minor league level. The players are treated like children who need constant criticism and the minute they go into a funk, they find themselves on a different line or sitting on the bench. Then they have to answer questions from the media because Paddock had just ripped them a new hole in a press conference.
The playoffs are only two months away yet the goaltending situation is more muddled than ever. Paddock has shown no confidence in either one and doesn’t think it proper to let them get more than a game or two to get the ball rolling. Again, strictly minor league.
At some point, you have to think that Bryan Murray should consider the option of moving back behind the bench but that seems utterly far-fetched. Paddock is Murray’s guy and he’s definitely going to at least give him one shot at the playoffs even though blind people can see that this team is headed off the rails in a big way, not just in the dressing room but in the fans living rooms.
And to top it all off, Eugene Melnyk’s company Biovail is now the target of a grand jury investigation for a drug it launched in 2003 while Melnyk was still pulling the levers.
When did the circus leave Toronto and come to Bytown?
Monday, February 4, 2008
Here's another batch of brain damaged quotes from hockey's best and brightest. Be sure to check out past editions of Classic Quotes by clicking the tag underneath the post.
“Boy, that was a great game tonight, fellas.”
- Excitedly said by a Flyers fan who was the occupant of a car that Philadelphia Flyers Sean Burke and Branko Radivojevic rammed into after leaving their hard fought game in 2004. No one was injured.
“Just charge me with the usual.”
- Bob Probert to the police (according to the report ) after crashing his motorcycle into another car earlier on in his career. His alchohol level was three times the legal limit.
“We get nose jobs all the time in the NHL, and we don’t even have to go to the hospital.”
- Brad Park, legendary defenseman for the Rangers, Bruins and Red Wings during the tough days of the 70’s and early 80’s.
“It must be the body. It’s chiseled out of marshmallows.”
- Tony Amonte talks about his uncanny ability to remain injury free during his reign with the Chicago Blackhawks in the 90’s.
"Sinden! There's a bus leaving for Oklahoma at six a.m. Be under it!"
-A fan heckling first year Boston coach Harry Sinden in 1966 at the Boston Garden.
“I find it. I find his skin. At first, I passed by it because I didn’t know it was one of ours. But then I go back.”
-Sergei Fedorov talking about finding a chunk of Detroit teammate Darren McCarty’s forehead on the ice after McCarty was cut by a St. Louis players skate. Fedorov and Brendan Shanahan gingerly picked up the skin with their stick blades and gave it back to McCarty who required 40 stitches to put it back on his dome.
“I’m going to look for opportunities to grab the puck by the hair and try to do something with it. I mean, it’s not like I have to save the whole country with it, I just have to put it in the net."
- Sergei Fedorov in 1998.
"This could be the year the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup. I still can’t shake the thought of seeing Leafs captain Mats Sundin riding down Yonge Street in the back of a convertible during a Cup parade, just like George Armstrong did in 1967. Pat Quinn chomping on a victory cigar. Tie Domi, the little goon who could, doing a back flip with a half-pike off the CN Tower and gently landing on his feet padded by a lifetime contract with the organization, like the one Darryl Sittler has."
- Mike Brophy of the Hockey News goes gaga over the Leafs in the March 14, 2003 issue. The Leafs lost in the first round to Philadelphia shortly after.
“I don’t give a shit about the Toronto Maple Leafs.”
-Bobby Clarke, then general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers, in response to Maple Leaf GM Pat Quinn complaining that Clarke was in breach of good business manners because he refused to trade Eric Lindros to the Leafs during the 2001 season.
"I believe everyone was put on earth for a purpose. Mine was to sell newspapers."
– Eric Lindros to reporters in 1992. Time would prove him correct.
“I want to thank all you fans who have stuck around. It is like Novocaine on ice.”
- Chicago radio announcer Darryl Reay after the lowly Hawks lost 4-0 to the Dallas Stars during the 2003-04 season.
- Neil Smith, then GM of the Rangers, yells at a drunken Philadelphia fan who kept taunting Smith with chants of “1940!” in the hallways near the Philadelphia pressbox in 1993. 1940 was the last year the Rangers won the Cup until winning in 1994.