Wednesday, June 30, 2010

On the Topic of the NHL Going Green

Have you heard about the NHL Green initiative?? If you haven't, you probably aren't alone because I just heard about it today when surfing around trying to find something to write about. I don't know if it's just me, but I find this whole thing a bit odd for the NHL; but I'll touch on that later.

The NHL promoted a lot of the Green thing during the Draft. In their press release, they touted that many of the teams were staying in hotels within walking distance to the hotel (which is usually the case in most drafts), that most of the signage was made of recycled materials, there were recycle bins on the Staples Center concourse, and unsold, prepared food was donated to a food bank. Granted, using those stats when it come to LA is a bit odd, mostly with all the smog created. If you were on the I-405 like me, you know that there were many people not going "green" at all. What can you do?? Yet, it's a good ideal for the NHL to promote and with all that signage the NHL Draft carries, it's solid to tout that.

That said, the NHL was been doing some features about how some of the players were doing their own thing with the Green initiative; like Martin Brodeur using energy efficient light-bulbs and Scott Niedermayer using a zero-emissions car. Yet, at the same time-- there's only so much you can promote before it gets stale. Like with the arena features they're doing-- it's the same story, but different city and a slight change here and there; but it's the same gimmick over and over again. Sure, a noble cause-- but something that will lose its shelf life sooner or later and people will get it very easily.

The interesting part that I see in all of this is the fact that the NHL probably uses the most energy in regards to the other sporting leagues, sans NASCAR, because of the engines and stuff there. Still, the ice surfaces uses a lot of chemical and a lot of energy to keep the rink cool and to keep the people in the stands warm-- a rough balance. Plus, the arenas have to use more energy the deeper a team gets into the playoffs thanks to the seasonal changes, which is probably something that's counterproductive to the whole cause. Plus, you have those Sunbelt teams who have to use a lot of energy because of the climate location where they are at, but that's something you could probably assume from the start. It seems that a lot of these things, coupled with the stuff on the concourse and people driving to the events, roadtrips or otherwise; you're not really doing too much for the cause. Plus, when it's really tucked away into the NHL interweb sphere; the message isn't really getting out there and putting that message of going Green to the masses.

While it's a good idea to have this cause put out there by the NHL, the fact they aren't pushing it too much and haven't really thought of the counterbalance that is produced in the arenas makes you wonder if this is just for show or if the league is actually looking at some things to really reduce their "carbon footprint." Maybe making the schedule shorter and having more outdoor games are the answer....the latter happen twice this coming season; the former probably never happening. Good on the NHL for putting forth the effort to make the league more eco-friendly, but unless they keep it up and do something more than just the PR push-- it's an empty gesture.

As least we know that Dion Phaneuf is this plan, right Sean Avery??

Monday, June 28, 2010

Good Idea, Bad Idea: 2010 UFAs

If you're a fan of the "Animaniacs" as I was, you'll remember Mr. Skullhead's "Good Idea, Bad Idea" segment, where they...well, have a good idea and bad idea based on a similar scenario. I feel that the unrestricted free agency market in the NHL is that kind of gimmick, where you look at options of a similar ilk and decide if it's a good idea or bad idea. Huzzah. In any case, I'll take the position and have two options that teams would be safe with and those that are not so safe. Got it?? Good.


GOOD IDEA: Dan Ellis-- While the goaltender market is really vast with some big names. The safest bet is Ellis. If given the chance, Ellis can as good as some of the bigger names out there, but cost a little less. Even in a even-keeled platoon program, Ellis will be able to adjust better and play to what got him some buzz after his 2006-07 campaign. While he has slumped, you can chalk that up to the team he was on rather than his own skill. He'll probably be very affordable and less of a risk than others out there.

BAD IDEA: Ray Emery-- Granted, his name has all been dropped in terms of who could be available, but some may think he could be as affordable as he was to Philadelphia. At the same time, the injury issue is always popping up with Emery; as is the inconsistency and possible turmoil in the room that it could provide. With his stats on the decline, he would probably price himself out of the market with a little more than he's worth in general and to some teams out there.


GOOD IDEA: Brian Pothier-- With a full season back under his belt after a long-term injury, Pothier could be a guy that may be overlooked, but provide a lot for the team that picks him up. While he may not be the offensive-minded player he was when he was in Ottawa, he is still a solid option in his own zone and could be an affordable pick-up and a bargain for some team in need of depth on the blue line.

BAD IDEA: Andy Sutton-- While some may view him as a cheaper option to pick up for a sturdy defenseman, the fact he got worse when he was dealt to a new team on the trade deadline isn't very promising. Though he is a big, hulking defensemen who can throw the body around; when he's going after those hits-- he could be a liability in his own end, as seen by his minus-10 output last season. Sure, a better team with more backing could help him out for a bit, but the odds are regardless of where he goes-- he'll be too much for too little.


GOOD IDEA: Matt Cullen-- His stats may not be as explosive as some others, but he does provide some kind of depth scoring and is a solid face-off guy. He'll also go all-out for a team and do what he needs to in order to make a play for his team and try to transition out of his teams zone. He has a Cup ring, which provides experience, and has a veteran presence, which should help the younger kids coming up.

BAD IDEA: Alexander Frolov-- While he has the ability to be great, the points decline for the past three seasons, couples with the issues off the ice with him should make Frolov a deterent for teams looking at giving this Russian a new home. Especially when you look at the other Russians who have burst onto the scene, Frolov was the one time forgot and his stats decline has shown as such. Maybe a change of pace and new gameplan could help him; but it doesn't seem like a likely ideal.

GOOD IDEA: Brandon Bochenski-- You can debate that Bochenski never got a great shake in any organization he was with; starting with Ottawa where he was thrust into a position he wasn't particularly set with yet. That said, it almost seems that if there's a need for a secondary or checking line guy, Bochenski could be the energy guy who could pot a couple here and there. He could move in and out of the top-six, but would probably be more suited in a checking role guy on the fringe of the second line.

BAD IDEA: Pavol Demitra-- Sure, when he's healthy, Demitra could be a great player; albeit inconsistent at times. But, the injuries could be the big factor as it seems that as he's getting into a groove, Demitra gets hurt and totally ruins his flow in terms of getting back to his form in St. Louis. Unless he'll come down from his past $4M price tag, which you'd hope he would, then he could be worth the risk; but even then it's a sketchy situation.

GOOD IDEA: Mike Comrie-- Comrie is a poor man's Mike Fisher, and not just because of the Hilary Duff/Carrie Underwood thing. He's a solid guy in his own zone and has the ability to be an impact player....if he wanted to. While motivation could be a big concern, when he wants to be one and if he's in the right setting; Comrie could be a steal at the menial price for a fringe top-six guy. Buyer beware because Comrie could be a guy could turn unhappy at a drop of the hat.

BAD IDEA: Alexei Ponikarovsky-- When he's called upon to be on the top line of a weak team, he could be fantastic, but that's probably not a spot he would want to be in. While he does have the skills, the fact is he wouldn't use them when he's on a better team. While I'm sure he'll get offers, I don't think he'll be the secondary scorer most teams would be looking for. It should be something to see if/when he gets signed, not only how much he gets, what team, and how he'd be used.


As always, it's a buyer beware and just an idea for what I think could be solid picks. They're very out there, I know-- but when have I ever been one for rationality?? It'll all depend on the team that picks them up and how they are utilized. And yes, there's guys like Frolov and Ponikarovsky who could venture to the KHL, but they'd probably want to stay in the NHL because they know they'll have paychecks where the KHL has been having issues with that in the past year.

The frenzy begins July 1st.

Absurd Goalie Monday: Gary Simmons

If nothing else, you can say this guy had one of the most bad-ass masks for the times. While it was the start of the era of painted masks and while he didn't need to utilize it much, it still stands out as one of the most memorable masks of the time. He was in every odd expansion place before landing in LA-- which is where the NHL Draft was this past week. Not really a connecting theme, but we'll say it is and assume I planned it out that way. This week, we look at "The Cobra" Gary Simmons.

Simmons started off his career with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Central Alberta Hockey League. While it seems those stats from the 1960's have long been lost; the ones the stuck around are of a series that he probably wish may have not had happened. Simmons was able to carry the Oil Kings through the CAHL playoffs, taking the Abbott Cup for the Western Canadian Junior title and moved to the Memorial Cup finals against the Niagara Falls Flyers. While he had a solid 8-0 record to capture the Abbott Cup, the Flyers were too much for the Oil Kings, with the Flyers outscoring the Oil Kings 27-11 in the five games, with Simmons taking all of those goals-against. After his career in juniors, Simmons went to the IHL for the 1965-66 season, toiling between the Port Huron Flags, who moved to Des Moines and the Oak Leafs, then heading over to the Toledo Blades before the season was up.

It was a strange turn of events, seeing Simmons going to Newfoundland and playing senior hockey with the Conception Bay Cee Bees. In there, Simmons would be a solid keeper, going 23-14-0 in his first season in 1966-67, while going 9-4 in the 13 playoff games with the Cee Bees. Simmons stuck around again for the 1967-68 season with a little less luck than the previous year, going 20-17-3 in his 40 games and only playing six games and going 4-2 for the playoffs. It was a dismal season in 1968-69, with Simmons going 8-27-5 for the Cee Bees and throw into question his abilities. Simmons moved from Newfoundland back to Alberta, playing for the Calgary Stampeders of the Alberta Senior Hockey League, though he wasn't sure what he was able to do-- but put all the doubters to rest. Simmons bounced back in a big way for the 1969-70 season, going 30-8-0 in his 38 games with a 2.97 GAA. For the 1970-71 season, Simmons was picked up by the Western Hockey League's (non-junior) San Diego Gulls, where he would go 5-6-0 in 14 games for the Gulls; but wouldn't be enough to keep him for the 1971-72 season, where he would go back to the Stampeders for 21 games.

Someone from the WHL saw something in Simmons, as the Phoenix Roadrunners picked up Simmons for the 1972-73 season, where he would 18-15-2 with three shutouts on the season, playing a platoon system with Don Caley. Simmons would be back with the Roadrunners for the 1973-74 season, stepping into the starting role for Caley. He would not disappoint much, going 28-17-2 for the Roadrunners and 8-1 in the playoffs. Phoenix is where Simmons got his nickname, with his coach Bob Barlow saying that Simmons was "like a cobra" after a reporter described Simmons as a snake in the net. That would be the artwork for Simmons' mask after that point. However, that's where the reality started to become interesting and a bit more intense for Simmons.

The Roadrunners were granted WHA expansion after the 1973-74 season and the rights of the players from the WHL days were transferred over. However, in some sort of crazy situation, the NHL and WHA could trade between the leagues-- which is what happened with Simmons being traded to the California Golden Seals of the NHL for cash. Simmons would team up with Gilles Meloche as the tandem, with Simmons seeing 37 games with the Seals and going 10-21-3 for the 1974-75 season. Simmons had a small bounce-back after his subpar season, going 15-19-5 for te 1975-76 season in 40 games, closing the gap with the goalies. The Seals were moved from California to Cleveland and became the Barons, where Simmons would follow, but only get 15 games in the 1976-77 season fort he Barons (2-8-4) before he was on the move again.

The Barons sent Simmons and Jim Moxey to the Los Angeles Kings for Gary Edwards and Juha Widing. Simmons would have very little work behind Rogie Vachon in LA, playing only four games in the 1976-77 season, going 1-2-1 in them. More limited work for Simmons and more struggles with only 14 games in and a 2-7-2 record to show for it. Simmons would not make the Kings roster and would be send to the AHL's Springfield Indians, but would only play five games (2-2-1) before deciding to hang up the pads.

FOHS buddy and trade rumor royalty Lyle Richardson of Spector's Hockey did an interview with Simmons three year's ago and is definitely worth the read. Click the links for Part One and then after that Part Two.

Simmons now lives in Lake Havasu City, Arizona where he and his wife own and run a combination lingerie and adult toy store (not as good as a combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell) and it is a fitting retirement plan-- an unusual retirement for a guy with an unusual route to the NHL. One thing you can't say is that Simmons didn't pay his dues. He went all around for a place to play and did all he could to make it. It was a short-lived career, but will always be a memorable one if only for one mask.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

First Round Friday: Shock and Dull

If there's nothing else to sum up the first round of the NHL Entry Draft this week, it was uneventful. For a lot of people, no one knew what was going to happen, which definitely showed in the selections after the first two picks. Even with a lack of trades, the almost four hour first round didn't provide too much electric in the crowd. If nothing else,the move of Keith Ballard to Vancouver for Steve Bernier and Michael Grabner was the highlight of an otherwise uneventful trade situation. Some bulletpoints to point out from the first day.

-The soundtrack for the Anaheim Ducks is probably going to be "Feel Good Inc." as they were able to steal not only Cam Fowler at the 12th pick, but traded for the 29th pick and took Long Beach native Emerson Etem, all of this with the haze of Scott Niedermayer's retirement still looming over-top of him. If nothing else, the Ducks should use their dropping stock for motivation in their development and maybe show some teams what they missed out on. Of course, you have to have the right players for that (read: not Angelo Esposito), but I think the mentality of these guy will fit perfectly for the vengeance angle.

-For a Draft that was suppose to be defense-heavy, only two were picked in the top-10 and eight in the first round overall. While it's a heavy debate that defensemen usually take more time to develop their game (always a case-by-case, see Doughty, Drew); the ability to have these players rights should hold more value than what some people think. If you could have someone like Cam Fowler in your system and then track his development, you have two years in order to decide if he was worth the high pick or not. Odds are, he is-- but still-- it's better to have them and not need them than to let them go by the wayside.

- If there was any doubt about hockey development in the US, the 11 players picked that were developed in the US really show how well the country is developing wanted players. Sure, the fact they haven't played a NHL game yet makes it a tad presumptuous in terms of saying that USA Hockey is getting better-- it's a good sign that they have brought them to this point and have been able to give them the chances to move onto the next level. Sure, there's some places that might not be as strong in others, but the US is a big country population-wise and you'll have a few misses here and there.

-You've got to love taking shots at an old team, especially after retirement. According to who you listen to and how you take things, that's what Mark Tinordi did when he questioned the Washington Capitals fanbase after his son Jerred was picked by the Montreal Canadiens 22nd overall. Elder Tinordi said that with them living in Millersville, Maryland (about 40minute from the old Capital Centre); Jerred didn't know about fan support and will learn it when he gets to Montreal. It's one thing to pump-up the fanbase in Montreal (like they need it), but it's another thing to knock down an organization that actually enjoyed your play during your tenure there. To each their own though and Mark will think what he thinks, but it's in bad taste to take a shot like that during the best time in your kins life.

-To say the crowd in LA was somewhat dormant would be an understatement. While some of the picks got more fanfare than others; the overall feeling of the Los Angeles crowd was stagnant. Granted, the crowds was very mixed between every kind of support, mostly with Edmonton supports, who came down in droves to see the Taylor Hall pick. Granted, the Kings pick and the selections of hometown boys Beau Bennett (20th, Pittsburgh) and Etem (29th, Anaheim) got the loudest roar; the fans were very reserved and underwhelming coming off the energy of Montreal a year prior. Granted, there's probably nothing that would match the Montreal electricity, but you'd hoped they try. Minnesota should be interesting, mostly because it'll be the US equivalent of Montreal for support.

That's all I have, because I've got nothing. In any case, we'll be doing our show, which will be coming to a YouTube near you-- probably before any shows get updated prior to that. We know, we know-- got it loud and clear.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Quick Draft Check-In

Just checking in from the Media Risers in the NHL Draft. The best bet is to check my Twitter page for insight, TwitVids, and random silliness that Check it out:

There you go. A lot of buzz for a lot of nothing, aside from Keith Ballard going to Vancouver, mostly because he couldn't take Tomas Vokoun off the books by decapitating him.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Spakle and Fade

While the Everclear Draft Weekend doesn't start until Thursday for the FOHS fateful, that's what June 22, 2010 was for most people. Probably the most exciting non-game/event day in the recent memory of the NHL; thanks to all the news made. It had everything, but when it came to the main cog-- it fell a little short.

-First, it's started with the NHL schedule being released, the earliest in a while. While I personally didn't care, most NHL road-trippers did. I just wondered the start time of the Heritage Classic and to see if I can weasel my way into the event in some way, shape, or form. Other than that-- check out the Sensational Sean Leahy's write-up about anticipated games.

-Then, we had the trade that had the Boston Bruins picking up Nathan Horton and Greg Campbell from the Florida Panthers for Dennis Wideman, the 15th overall pick in the Draft, and a third-rounder in 2011. For the Bruins, the acquisition of Horton is an improvement, considering he has five straight seasons of 20 goals or more, something the Bruins have missed-- although the injuries issues is something that the Bruins could and should be concerned about. At least they also got the disciplinarians son in the deal as well. Wideman had a season to wipe-away, though he will be the cornerstone in the Panthers rebuilding defense. If he can improve his +/-, the Panthers may have something.

-At the same time, the Edmonton Oilers announced that Pat Quinn had stepped down as head coach and moved to Senior Adviser to the GM, making way for co-coach Tom Renney to take over. Renney was going to get this job eventually, but the fact the rebuild is in full swing, it's better they did this sooner than later. Renney's last job was with the New York Rangers and replaced Quinn once before in Vancouver. While his style isn't exciting, it's often successful for Renney. Whether it will work with the new look Oilers will remain to be seen.

-After that, the NHL said good-bye to Scott Niedermayer; as the defenseman called it a career after 18 years and leaves on 42 players left from NHL '94. Niedermayer won wherever he went and really shouldn't be waiting long after the waiting period to be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. I mean, four Stanley Cups, two Olympic Gold, World Juniors Gold, Memorial Cup Champion, World Championship Gold, and he ate the bowl. Not much else you can say, because it says it all in his stats and what he did when he was there. Sadly, we'll miss one of the best playoff beards ever because of this retirement.

-Then the main event-- the Hockey Hall of Fame nominees. This year, it was an allotment for four players, two women's players, and some builders. There was a lot of ruckus around who was going in, who wasn't-- but it created for great off-season debate.....but seemed to be a huge letdown in the end.

Though it is fitting, the first year that the women are introduced, they will be the majority as Angela James-- the Gretzky of women's hockey to start off with; and Cammi Granato will be going to the Hall. James was an innovator in the women's game for Canada, where she was a big fish in a developing small pond and really gave something younger girls could aspire to in Canada. Same goes with Granato, who was basically the USA version of James, only on a smaller scale. Granato did a lot for the women's game in the US and really helped pass along the torch in these new times.

That being done, only ONE spot was filled in the male side, that being Dino Ciccarelli. For a long time, many have wondered when he would get his chance. 600+ goals, 1200 points on the nose; but for some reason-- mostly media unfriendly and a bad rap from the ice-- Dino was always overlooked and pretty much pushed aside. However, in a seemingly weak class; they couldn't avoid him or the outcry of some fans now. Even though he never won a Cup, he did well on so-so teams at the start of his career, but couldn't be a hanger-on in his later years. He did enough to be the Hall of Famer he is now.

It's sad that there's only one. The debate about Adam Oates, Joe Nieuwendyk, Pavel Bure, hell-- even Eric Lindros being on the dias this year, and nothing came of it. Is it something where it was a wide-open field and other votes canceled out others?? Was the hype about this year's class something that was overdone and they weren't the spectacular to begin with?? Maybe we'll find out soon, but it seems like that many could have been looking too deep into the whole thing and overestimated the voters of the Hockey Hall, per usual.

Another thing I'm ticked about is the exclusion of Pat Burns in the Builder's category. We all know that Burns is dealing with Cancer and it would have been the best time to put the great coach into the Hall, but the voters did not. Sure, we shouldn't dismiss the fact of Jim Devellano of the Red Wings and the late Daryl Seaman of the Flames should be there-- but you would have hoped that the voters in the Hall had some kind of heart to include we are.


That was the day it was. A lot of opening acts and a somewhat disappointing headlining gig. In the end, it'll only create for more of a debate in next year's Hall of Fame-- but that's what the off-season is for. We saw new beginnings, transitions, endings, and the map for next season. It was every possible emotion fans could have in one day and not have any games played. Hope fans savored it, because it could mean we're in for a long off-season if this is the most exciting day.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Absurd Goalie Monday: Stephane Fiset

As much as you don't think-- these AGMs are a little hard to do when you don't have some inspiration. Luckily, I went to Twitter to get some options on at least a team that the AGM should come from. This pick closed out one franchise and opened up another, but knee injuries would hamper the closing years of his career. This week, we look at Stephane Fiset's career.

Fiset's career got off to a bumpy start in Midget AAA, going 8-21-1 in his time with Montreal-Bourassa. Even with that, he moved onto the QMJHL with the Victoriaville Tigres and was thrown into the starting role right away, playing 40 games with a 15-19-4. Even with a so-so record, the Quebec Nordiques took Fiset in the second round of the 1988 Draft. With a better team in front of him for the 1988-89 season, Fiset was able to play better with a 25-14-0 record; as well as an appearance in the World Junior Championship and went 3-2-1 as the Canadians finished out of the medals. Fiset would capture the CHL Goaltender of the Year honors, as well. In the 1989-90 season, Fiset started out with the Nordiques, but went 0-5-1 and was sent back to Victoriaville as he went 14-6-3 made a return to the World Juniors, where he would go 5-1-1 and take home tournament top goaltender honors as the Canadians took home the Gold.

After a quick NHL stint, Fiset made a step past junior and went to play for the Halifax Citadels of the AHL for the 1990-91 season. Fiset would fight Scott Gordon and Mike Bishop for time, but would get 36 games in, going 10-15-8. Fiset would get a call-up to Quebec late in the season, going 0-2-1 in his three games. Fiset would start the 1991-92 campaign in Halifax, with occasional call-ups to Quebec due to injuries. In Halifax, Fiset would compile a 8-14-6 record while he would sport a 7-10-2 record while with the Nordiques. After spending three games in Halifax to start off the 1992-93 season (2-1-0), Fiset would get the call-up to Quebec to back-up Ron Hextall. It was a quite a success in Quebec, as Fiset would go 18-9-4 in his 37 games behind Hextall. With that showing, the Nordiques were able to get rid of a disgruntled Hextall and put Fiset at the forefront.

The Fiset Era began at the start of the 1993-94 season, but would see Fiset sidelined for 18 games due to a slipped disc in his back. Even so, Fiset got 50 games in and would 20-25-4. The season would also include one game in Cornwall with the Aces of the AHL (one loss) and a trip to the World Hockey Championships where Fiset would win a Gold Medal and go 2-0 with the Canadians. The shortened 1994-95 season saw the Nordiques and Fiset blossom, as the team would have first seed in the East and see Fiset go 17-10-3, though he would fight off rookie Jocelyn Thibault for playing time. After Fiset slipped in the playoffs, Fiset would be benched for Thibault. However, Thibault did no better and Fiset would be put in for the last half of Game Six to close out the Nordiques organization. The Quebec team moved to Colorado and became the Avalanche in the 1995-96, which had Fiset as the starter for a time. Fiset would go 14-3-2 before the Avalanche moved Thibault for Patrick Roy. The acquisition of Roy would put Fiset to the bench and would see him go 7-3-5 to round out the year, a year the Avalanche would win the Stanley Cup and see Fiset get a ring in the process.

Fiset didn't have long to celebrate, as he was traded with a first round pick to the Los Angeles Kings for Eric Lacroix (son of Colorado GM Pierre Lacroix) and a first round pick. This was two days after the Avs won the Cup. Fiset would split time with Byron Dafoe in the 1996-97 season, but it would also start his injury issues-- as he would be hampered with groin injuries during the season. Fiset would play only 44 games with a dismal 13-24-5 record. Fiset stayed healthy in the 1997-98 season, as he would play 60 games and have a 26-25-8 record, but would only play two games in the four-game playoff sweep; as Jamie Storr took over for the other two games. The injury bug would haunt Fiset in the 1998-99 season, missing 23 games due to groin issues, but would still get 42 games in with a 18-21-1 record. Because of his injuries, the 1999-2000 season would see Fiset battle with Storr for playing time, with Fiset seeing 47 games with a 20-15-7 record. As bad luck would have it, Fiset's 2000-01 NHL campaign would be a swift one, as he would severely sprain his left knee in the pre-season, missing the first 25 games of the season. He would come back, first to play three games with the Lowell Lock Monsters of the AHL, going 1-0-2, before getting called back up to Los Angeles. He would play seven games (3-0-1) with the Kings before he would severely sprain his left knee again and miss the rest of the season, sans one 12-second stint in the playoffs.

With all his injuries, Fiset was out of the fold for the Kings in the 2001-02 season, which saw him in the AHL with the Manchester Monarchs, playing behind Travis Scott and Marcel Cousineau. Fiset would play 23 games with the Monarchs, going 7-7-6 before he was traded by the Kings to the Montreal Canadiens for future considerations. Fiset would play two games for the Habs with a one-loss record to show for it. After that season, and thanks to injuries; Fiset announced his retirement from hockey.

Fiset has dropped from the limelight, but still participates in events around the Montreal area, like the Norman Leveille Golf Classic to support the Norman Leveille Center, which supports people with a light or moderate deficiency on a physical and intellectual level.

Fiset seemed to get better as his time in one place went onward. While he did get a lot of accolades like his Cup ring and Gold Medals, it always seemed that bad luck was on his side. Whether it was because of trades to bulk up at his position or injuries that set him back when he was getting better-- he could never catch a break. Yet, at the same time-- he had a pretty good go at it, even if bad breaks came along.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

An Ode to Stan

Next to me in that picture is Stan.

Stan is a guy who is always there for a laugh. He's always there for an intriguing thought. He always has an antidote for something and god knows he'll let you know about it, even if you don't want to hear it. He always made his opinion known and because he was hard of hearing (legit) for most of my life; that's probably why I'm the loud, boisterous person that I am when in conversation. Stan is a friend to everyone and really easy to get along with-- a trait I inhabited from him. He also saved me from being Stanley Junior.

Stan exposed me to hockey when he was able to get numerous tickets to Washington Capitals games because he did work around the Capital Centre and was able to make friends and score some tickets every now and again. That exposure got me to love the game. Since we were 45 minutes from Landover, Stan and I had some father/son time while driving too and from; drives that to this day we remember.

Most importantly, Stan was my motivation when playing hockey. He always got up for the early games, drove me to the 6am practices playing pee-wee, always up for the early road trips up and down I-95 during my travel year. Never a discouraging word for me, mostly because he picked up the game through me play and watching games with me on TV. He always made little points hear and there when up in the stands, but most importantly told me that regardless of what happened on the ice, as long as I had fun out there-- nothing else matter. Sure, he loved when we won-- but at the same time; the one season we had a rough year-- he always said one thing to get my mind off the loss and made me realize it was just a game. I briefly ramble on about my life in hockey over at the old Cycle Like the Sedins site.

Even to this day, even with his surgeries on his back when his life got down in the dregs-- when we talked and got through the current events-- it went right back to hockey; though he doesn't keep up with it because I'm not back in Glen Burnie to hog the remote. He listens to the show from time to time and encourages me to do what I need to do in order to succeed in what I want in life. He said that while life is a bitch, things in the universe happen to balance themselves out and happen for a reason. He always tells me to enjoy myself and to not sweat the small stuff-- because if you do; you'll never get anywhere and be a bitter, bitter person.

While Stan was a stern man, he's a fair man. He'll also tell you why not to wear sandals in Key West. Most importantly, Stan is a helluva father and really what I try to mold my fatherhood with little Kaity. I owe a lot to Stan, more than he knows or more than I'll share-- but thanks to him, I'm the person I am today. Which is either good or bad, all depends on how you view.

Happy Father's Day, Stan.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Halak to St. Louis; The (Carey) Price is Right for Montreal

In what could just cement the thought of John Davidson's hockey mind being one of the best out there; his St. Louis Blues come out of nowhere to acquire Jaroslav Halak from the Montreal Canadiens for Lars Eller and Ian Schultz, two of the Blues prospects.

With all the Blues have done in their short time of rebuilding, this is a PERFECT part to fill out the roster. Nothing against the possible goaltending, but the addition of Halak is going to give the Blues a shot in the arm they need and probably something they will need in order to finally move onto the next step. Granted, that is if Halak's run with the Habs last year was any indication of what he could do throughout the whole year. Odds are the Blues will be able to sign Halak, as Mason is a UFA and Conklin still has a year left, while the Blues has $28.5M locked up in 11 players thus far. John Davidson will find a way to get Halak signed.

That said-- it's now up to Carey Price to carry the Canadiens....that is if Cedric Desjardins doesn't bypass him during training camp and becomes the starter that way. This is such an interesting news for the Habs and their fans, as it seemed primed for Halak to re-sign and be the starter for the foreseeable future. Halak was the one who pretty much carried the team with his play, but maybe because of that-- he priced himself (no pun intended...if there is one) out of the Canadiens' long-term plans, especially with the Habs doing so much with Price and putting so much into his future over Halak, even though it seemed a scenery change would have been the best of Price after his struggles this season. Time will tell if that's still the case.

However, the Habs get two decent prospects. Eller is one of the top ones for the Blues and he has had two goals in his seven games with the Blues, while putting up 57 points in 70 games with the AHL's Peoria Rivermen in his first pro season in North America. Eller was highly touted when playing in Frolunda in Sweden and really turned it on once he got more time with the team. You can expect the same if he's in the top-6 fold for the Habs. Ian Schultz is like a Dustin Byfuglien mold-- a big-body forward, who's not afraid to mix it up in front or drop the gloves when needed. Plus, he has some decent hands and could create some plays, as well. It's not like the Habs are getting completely hosed, but it could take some time to bring these guys up-- which is something that won't go over well at all with Habs fans.

Rioting in Montreal is happening through Twitter and probably in sports bars in the area. This is not going over well and nor should it. That said, it will be a wait and see. Halak's heroics could be a one-time deal and he may lose his luster, while Price gets confidence back from this and actually lives up to expectation. Hey, crazier things have happened, but you can't do anything until the first year is done on this trade. At least this will be actual news before the draft happens.

When Listening is a Waste

According to TSN's super sleuth Darren Dreger, Oilers GM Steve Tambellini is listening to offers for the first overall pick in the Entry Draft. As of yet, Tambellini hasn't heard the right deal to trade for. In the end, there probably won't be any deal that's good enough for a rebuilding team like Edmonton to move the first pick and have their pick of the litter in order to be a cornerstone to the rebuild.

Let's be honest, though-- the kind of deal will have to be extreme for the Oilers to actually move the pick. It's a deal that most sane teams probably wouldn't do mostly because the asking price will be way too much for a young kid who probably won't hit his full potential until a few years after he's drafted. Plus, any supporting cast that he may have had would be traded the other way in order to get him. It's detrimental for the team trading the roster players for the pick because you're going off on possibility rather than reality. Plus, it's not like Edmonton is the most desirable place for players to play, as I have pointed out before. Who's to say many of the players traded would actually play to their potential if they aren't happy with the trade-- another risk that the Oilers would have to deal with in trading the pick.

The thing that I don't get is why would anyone be willing to trade away the first pick overall. Rather than tease other teams, why not just shut it down after the lottery saying you won't move it because the return probably won't be worth it unless it's for two of the top-ten in points the season prior. In fact, the last two times the first overall was moved was by the Florida Panthers in successive years and they were for the third overall pick both in the 2002 (which was Rick Nash for Jay Bouwmeester) and 2003 (Marc-Andre Fleury for Nathan Horton); both of which were Mike Keenan drafts and definite losers on both accounts.

While you did have instances like the pick being traded on the trade deadline; not knowing about the pick being the first overall, like 1998, Vincent Lecavalier's rights traded twice, then 1982 when the picks was traded in July of 1981 between the Boston Bruins and Colorado Rockies; that actually turned out better for the Colorado franchise (which moved to New Jersey) when Ken Daneyko at the 18th pick was better than Gord Kluzak. Once more in 1980 between Montreal and Colorado, where the deal was done in September of 1976 of all times.

In fact, the last time roster players were traded for the first overall pick was in 1975; when the Philadelpha Flyers traded Bill Clement (energy vampire), Don McLean, and the 18th overall pick for the first overall; which the Flyers used to pick Mel Bridgman. The Caps picked Alex Forsyth with the 18th pick and played exactly one game with the Caps; his only NHL game.

As history tell us, there's little to no chance that the Oilers will trade this pick and for them to say they are entertaining offers is a bit off the deep end and just something for people to talk about during the time from the end of the Stanley Cup Finals and the Draft...or maybe the awards show. While it's nice of Tambellini to throw people that bone, in my mind-- it's just mindless talk to get the crazy rumor mill going which will produce nothing by idiocy from all over the internet. It will take too much in order for the Oilers to give up the pick-- which is something little to no teams would do-- though I'm sure someone will come up and amaze me by doing that. Though it would make people forget the time span until the season actually starts.

World Hockey Summit Situation

It was announced on Wednesday that Daniel Alfredsson would lead up the leadership team for the Molson Canadian World Hockey Summit, which will be held in Toronto in August 23rd through the 26th. Alfredsson will be alongside Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, women's hockey pioneer Hayley Wickenheiser, and Lightning GM Steve Yzerman. Two Canadians, an American, and a Swede. Not exactly the world, but that's neither here nor there. The whole agenda will be on growing and developing the game in every facet on every level.

Topics include skill development in younger players, what can be grown off of the 2010 Men's Olympic Games, development amongst juniors while comparing the North American and European way of developing players, and long-term agenda when it comes to world tournaments through the IIHF. However, the two topics that I'm interested in learning from will be on the development of women's hockey and the growth of participation of the game.

For the women's hockey, the key will be on what's going to happen with the development of the game. Jacques Rogge of the IOC demanded that women's hockey needed to get better or else it may see it's demise in the Olympics. While it's an obvious statement-- seeing as how Canada and the US are dominate in that field; the other countries don't seem to be developing as quickly. While Sweden did have a glimmer of hope for a second, they seemed to have decline a bit over the years; which makes it really a two-team race through and through. However, I don't know how much the other countries will be willing to give to their women's national teams. Plus, with really not many options after college; the desire to actually give money for the glass ceiling of sport is something most Olympic contingents won't be keen on giving to when they can be distributed somewhere else. While there are two professional leagues in Canada, the publicity and development of them is something that seem to be suspect at best. The suggests that come out of it will be interesting, as will the reaction by some of these competiting nations when it comes to developing their programs in one way or another.

The other topic about participation is something that is going to be probably one where lay-people will be concerned and intrigued about. Hockey, for the most part, is one of the most expensive sports at the youth level. Outside of the equipment; parents have to deal with rink fees, league fees, and traveling around the residing areas to worry about. With the tough economic times, most of the people can't afford to deal with all of that; therefore while a kid can be put into hockey-- the longevity of their career may be short lived. Plus, with all the gear becoming more and more high-tech, the price tag will continue to go higher, rather than leveling out to affordability. Those that do move on have to deal with the competitive nature of travel teams, high school teams, junior teams, or college teams; which some may or may not lose the zest for the game if they get cut one too many times. While North America and some of Europe won't be a problem, I'm sure that many would like a deeper depth pool from all around the world and maybe find a gem in the last place thought of. Yet, that gem may not be able to deal with the pricing of it-- which I noted earlier.

While the idea of the summit is solid, the fact of the matter is that most of the public will be concerned mostly with the safety of the game and the development of the game. Other issues like transfers and most levels of hockey aren't going to be a hot-button issue outside of the fandom portion of people's psyche. The development and growth are going to be what people will practically thing about it, especially those who want to put or keep their kids into hockey. Plus, while the leadership doesn't have too much diversity; the panelist and representitives of the NHL, IIHF, Canadian Hockey League, and plenty more will give a nice variety of ideas-- or so one would hope. If the rhetoric is the same from each portion, the odds are that not much will get done and we'll be in the same spot when the next summit comes around.

The odd part about this is that media and fans aren't really given much of a voice on the prospective panel of things. You would think for a game who utilizes social networking and rely heavily on the media as much as hockey does-- the voice would be more prevalent and there would be some kind of inclusion of these such ideals rather than leaving them out of panels, while making them pay $450 CDN per person for only 500 people. Especially when most of the issues will be a buzz in the blogospheres and things like that-- maybe they would open up some aspect of their summit to new media. Granted, it's still early in the announcement process for this event; but I won't hold my breath about it.

It's been 11 years since the last summit in 1999, which basically dealt with the Canadian side of things. I guess the ideal of Canada being the end-all be all has leveled out to the believe that other nations may be able to give their two-cents in about all of this. It should be an interesting thing to look forward to, especially to see what, if anything, comes from all of this. If nothing else, it'll give people something to talk about right before the start of NHL training camps in mid-September.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Direction of Dion

The big announcement came yesterday in Toronto, the one that was going to change the way people look at the Leafs roster. Something that was about three seasons in the making and something that was whispered about for a while, but finally made official on Monday.

They'll have a shoulder patch and stripes at the hem of the jersey.

Oh, and Dion Phaneuf is a the new captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Now, GM Brian Burke said that Phaneuf was the best choice for the role and knew it when he traded for him. Many will say that Phaneuf got the role for the lack of anything else on the roster that could be considered for the captaincy, therefore-- Phaneuf wins by default. Either way, the dealing is done and Phaneuf is the 18th captain for the Maple Leafs and the first in two seasons since Mats Sundin left the team.

The question isn't really if Phaneuf has the credentials to be the captain for the Leafs. He was an alternate captain for the Calgary Flames for a time and he does have enough skills to warrant being a captain. While Burke said that Phaneuf did bring a vocal aspect of leadership to the Leafs room, which may or may not have happened in Calgary, depending on what story you listen to; he does have times where he leads by his actions whether with a big check or dropping the mitts to shift momentum. In all those aspect, you can say that Phaneuf does have what it takes through his play.

The biggest issue is whether or not Phaneuf can mentally take the role of captain for the Toronto Maple Leafs. We all know, the Toronto media is cutthroat and can love you at one moment, but try to run you out of town the next. Phaneuf did seem to be shaky when it came to criticism when dealing with the Calgary media; how will he be able to deal with 100 times that much pressure and criticism when he's in arguably the toughest market to play in?? Odds are if he gets down in the dregs and is there for a while, the heat will be on and the test of character will come through and determine if he was the right choice over having a vacated once again.

It says nothing of the 26 games, because when you trade for someone like Phaneuf; who does have a solid resume behind him; you know what you're getting and don't have to play the loyalty card to someone who may or may not be cut out for it or may not be there for the start of the season due to possible trades. Plus, it's not like they're giving it to a rookie; it's a guy who has been considered as a Norris Trophy candidate at one point and does have a lot of solid upside to him. If you have that, then the lack of games with the franchise really shouldn't matter.

In the end, the real test is going to be whether or not the new captain can take the heat from the media if the team is doing badly or he himself is doing badly. Phaneuf did have the chance to see what Jarome Iginla was able to do with the pressure when he was hounded by the media, though the personality types of Iginla and Phaneuf are night and day. Also, he'll have a decent amount of old Leafs around the area to get some pointers from if/when the heat is on. It will be another interesting sidebar to watch for the Leafs this year after, I'm sure, a whirlwind summer for the club. The one thing you can say is even when the chips are down-- Toronto keeps themselves in the fracas.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Absurd Goalie Monday: Kari Takko

While we relish in the fact that Antti Niemi is the first Finnish goalie to win the Stanley Cup, it just furthers the ideal that Finland is a goalie factory. With the likes of Miikka Kiprusoff, Pekka Rinne, and Niklas Backstrom coming from the Suomi; you have to wonder how this all came to be. It never was that way, but there were a few who forged the way for Finnish goalies. This week we look at the first one to have a regular spot in the NHL, even if in a small capacity and coming with a funny name. This week, we look at Kari Takko.

The problem when doing the European goalies is that the stats aren't often accurate or there at all. Thus, this made compiling any kind of stats extra difficult. In any case, Takko started out his career playing with Assat Pori in the Finnish League, where he would play limited time between 1979-80 until 1982-83. In that times, Takko would be on the Finnish World Junior team, being a part of Finland silver medal team in 1981 and bronze medal team in 1982. After the 1981 season, Takko was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques, but didn't seem to have the interest in going over; which saw him get more time in Pori, where he would see increased time in 1982-83 (21 games), 1983-84 (32 games, three shutouts), and 1984-85 (35 games, three shutouts, taking home the Ylonen Trophy as best goaltender). During that time, Takko was a part of the 1984 Finnish Olympic team (6th place finish) and was re-entered into the NHL Draft and selected by the Minnesota North Stars in the 1984 Draft.

Takko would eventually come over to North America to play for the Springfield Indians for the 1985-86 season. It did take some time for Takko to adjust to the North American game, which he got plenty of time to in Springfield by playing 43 games, most of all the Indians. It was a rough go, as Takko went 18-19-3. Takko did steal the hearts of the Springfield coaches and fans; winning the team MVP, team Rookie of the Year, and Most Popular Player. He was able to get a call-up to Minnesota late in the season, where he would lose his only appearance, though stopping 31 of 34 shots.

The 1986-87 season saw Takko start out with Minnesota, getting much more time behind Don Beaupre, though a slump would see him go down to Springfield for a month (3-2-0), he would play 38 games and go 13-18-4 for the year. It was a full year in Minnesota for 1987-88, though behind Beaupre and having to deal with a late-season injury that hampered him. It didn't get much better for Takko, as the North Stars weren't that good (worst in the NHL) and it showed in the 8-19-6 record. The 1988-89 season saw another back-up season for Takko, as he would start in Minnesota, backing up former AGM Jon Casey, but saw 32 games. Takko would go 8-15-4 with Minnesota, even getting playing time in the playoffs, going 0-1 in three appearances. The bottom fell out in the 1989-90 season, as Takko would struggle and play only 21 games with a 4-12-0 record. He was sent down to Kalamazoo in the IHL to start due to missing most training camp with a broken ankle. Yet, Takko would start in Minnesota for the 1990-91 season, but lost his two appearances, which sent him to Kalamazoo for five games, where he went 4-1-0.

However, with the suspension of Grant Fuhr, it opened up a market for Takko. The North Stars traded Takko to the Edmonton Oilers for Bruce Bell in November 1990. The Takko-Bell trade has been the tastiest trade in the history of the NHL, as Neil Little was never traded for anyone named Caesar. Takko would only play 11 games for the Oilers before Fuhr returned, but went 4-4-0 while backing up Bill Ranford.

It would be the last time for Takko playing in North America for a professional team, as he would return to Finland and Assat Pori, where he was welcomed back with open arms. Though the 1991-92 season would be an adjustment for him, going 13-11-2 in 28 games; Takko would return to form in the 1992-93 season with 21-16-8 record with three shutouts. Though, Takko's real homecoming would be the 1993-94 season, where he would go 25-16-7 in 48 games, with three shutouts. Those stats were enough for him to take home the Ylonen Trophy for best goaltender honors once again. The 1994-95 season was a bizarre one, with Takko going 20-18-11, but also going 4-3 in the playoffs with three shutouts, though it wasn't enough for Assat to take the SM-liiga title. The next two seasons wouldn't be kind to Takko and Assat, as Takko would have an 18-21-4 record in the 1995-96 season, while he bounced back a bit in 1996-97 with a 16-16-9 record.

Takko would migrate to the Swedish Elite League by going to HV71 for the start of the 1997-98 season, where he would play 39 games and have five shutouts in that duration. Another solid year for Takko as he would play 40 games for HV71 with another five shutouts to his record in the 1998-99 season. Takko would round out his term with HV71 playing 39 games, recording four shutouts, and had a 2.51 GAA for 1999-2000. Takko would hang up the pads for good after the 1999-2000 season.

After his playing career, Takko was named an amateur European scout for the Dallas Stars starting in the 2001-02 season. Takko now is the Director of European Scouting for the Stars.

There's a lot to be said about Takko, who seemed to have a great international career; despite the so-so NHL career he had. He seemed to be a fan favorite, as it showed from his first year with the Springfield Indians. Though he has the unfortunate luck of being with the North Stars when they were horrific, he couldn't say he didn't have the chance to make a name for himself and it seemed like he made the most of every chance he could get. When he knew his time was up in the NHL, he went back home where he excelled even more. It was just happenstance that he was at the wrong place at the wrong time for him to make Finland known as a goalie factory prior to this new renaissance.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Making a Mockery Draft

The past few years I've been doing the NHL Mock Drafts and really turning out to be a craptastic prognosticator. But, it's all in good fun, so why not try it out yet again. Maybe this year, I'll actually have some success, but even still-- I can't get into the minds of the NHL general managers; which makes it all the more challenging, but all the more fun to look ahead, as well.

While I won't explain in the main post why I picked who I picked where, I'll do what I can't explain if you question it. I will make this assumption though-- Taylor Hall will be the first overall pick because he has been consistently talked about and consistently good during his time in Windsor. Tyler Seguin kind of shot up the charts, but the Oilers need goal-scoring in a hurry and Hall will provide that more over Seguin.


1. EDM-- Taylor Hall, Windsor (OHL)
2. BOS (via TOR)-- Tyler Seguin, Plymouth (OHL)
3. FLA-- Brett Connolly, Prince George (WHL)
4. CBJ-- Cam Fowler, Windsor (OHL)
5. NYI-- Erik Gudbranson, Kingston (OHL)
6. TB-- Nino Niederreiter , Portland (WHL)
7. CRL-- Brandon Gormley, Moncton (QMJHL)
8. ATL-- Alex Burmistrov, Barrie (OHL)
9. MIN-- Nick Bjugstad, US High
10. NYR-- Derek Forbort, US Development Program
11. DAL-- Ryan Johansen, Portland (WHL)
12. ANA-- Mikael Granlund, Finland
13. PHX (via CGY)-- Jack Campbell, US Development Program
14. STL-- Austin Watson, Peterborough (OHL)
15. BOS-- Mark Pysyk, Edmonton (WHL)
16. OTT-- Vladimir Tarasenko, Russia
17. COL-- Quinton Howden, Moose Jaw (WHL)
18. NSH-- Evgeny Kuznetsov, Russia
19. LA-- Emerson Etem, Medicine Hat (WHL)
20. PGH-- Riley Sheahan, Notre Dame (NCAA)
21. DET-- Jarred Tinordi, US Development Program
22. PHX-- John McFarland, Sudbury (OHL)
23. BUF-- Tyler Pitlick, Minnesota State (NCAA)
24. ATL (via NJ)-- Alex Petrovic, Red Deer (WHL)
25. VAN-- Jeffrey Skinner, Kitchener (OHL)
26. WSH-- Brock Nelson, US High
27. MTL-- Jaden Schwartz, Tri-City (USHL)
28. SJ-- Calvin Pickard, Seattle (WHL)
29. ANA (via PHI)-- Dylan McIlrath, Moose Jaw (WHL)
30. CHI-- Charlie Coyle, South Shore (EJHL)

Odds are I won't do any well; mostly because I either went too on the line with some picks and too far out of reach on others. It's always a mind game, which I stink at more often than not. I'll be there in person, so if you hear about a guy yelling at each pick like a lunatic-- odds are it'll be me.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

On the Topic of Hossa and Bourque

I don't know why this thought came across my mind, but it just randomly hit me as I wake-up to the fact that the hockey season is over. However, it is my belief that Marian Hossa's Cup moment is BETTER than Ray Bourque's moment. While, both were able to get the Cup directly after the captain; I think there's more of a relief off of Hossa lifting the Cup than Bourque lifting it up.

While both moments are great, the sense of relief I felt for Hossa after twice being denied the chance to lift it in consecutive years, then signing a 12-year deal-- many wondered if he'd be ever able to win the Cup after the bad luck he had, including the shoulder injury to start the year. For a guy who was so close for the past two years; the weight off his shoulders is tremendous and you could see the excitement in his face once he got passed the Cup, almost reluctant to touch it because he thought the others were more worthy to touch it after Jonathan Toews, then when he got it-- you knew he didn't want to let it go.

Conversely, the Bourque moment was a nice, touching moment; but it wasn't like Bourque ever got close to it before-- which is something that may have made his moment emotional for the fact it was it third Finals appearance, first in 11-year break in-between; the last time being swept in 1990 against Edmonton. While the emotion was there, I think Bourque could have lived with himself and been able to sleep well at night if he hadn't won a Cup. Granted, that wouldn't have made up for him not being able to win the ultimate prize, but he would have always been know as one of the best defensemen in the modern era.

But at the same time, both did win Cups. Great players like Dino Ciccarelli, Marcel Dionne, Mike Gartner, and Darryl Sittler do not have Cup rings, but still considered to be some of the best guys out there. That's a list that Bourque would have fell into, but probably not Hossa-- especially in the era that he is playing in.

With all that said-- both were very touching and relief moments for both of these players. Granted, if you ask me-- Lanny McDonald's moment in 1989 was the best. Being the captain for the clinching game and being the first to touch the Cup after winning it; his first in his 16-year career-- now that's a way to go out.

My point probably isn't right to some/to most/to anyone except me; but I'm sticking to it. Let me know how you feel in the comments.....or not.

What's Next: Chicago Blackhawks 2010

First off, I CALLED IT!!

Second, like I said on my Twitter-- it's a damn shame that former GM Dale Tallon (now with Florida) couldn't be there on the ice to celebrate with the team that he pretty much created from the bottom up. I'm sure it's a bittersweet moment for him to see the team he help build do the laps with the Cup.

That said, it was a folly by Tallon that made the Hawks have to really get to this moment with this team, especially with the money that was doled out to the likes of Marian Hossa, Brian Campbell, and Cristobal Huet. Notwithstanding, the Hawks were able to pull it off and win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1961, snapping the longest drought to date for years between the Stanley Cup.

Now, the inevitable question of what's going to happen next with this team.

Up-front, the likes of captain Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, David Bolland, and Hossa will be there for the long-term, but Tomas Kopecky, Troy Brouwer, and Dustin Byfuglien having one year left and Kris Versteeg and Patrick Sharp with two years left; it makes you wonder how they're going to dance around it. Obviously, Byfuglien will be a big guy to get signed due to his versatility and intensity; but could you get rid of the other guys without having to deal with any big shake-up. Versteeg and Brouwer are great when a man-down, but could you have other guys come up at a lesser price. Sharp and Kopecky could just be cut down to a numbers game, even with their secondary scoring ability at times. Even all of that: Adam Burish, Ben Eager, Bryan Bickell, and Jack Skille all need contracts for next season, plus the likes of Kyle Beach and Akim Aliu knocking on the door to get into the big club. I do not even GM Stan Bowman trying to figure this mess out in time for next season.

Defense is no better for Bowman, who has Campbell with six more years at over $7M, Brent Seabrook needing a new contract after next year and probably looking for a raise, Duncan Keith, who has 13 years left at a $5.5M cap-hit; all the while having Brent Sopel with a year left and probably trade bait and needing to sign others like Niklas Hjarmalsson or Jordan Hendry or someone else to fill out the six defense; though Byfuglien could drop back to play some and kill two birds that way. While the Hawks may have a great core of players, the odds of them staying together are going to be rough to manage. Again-- not envious.

Even more over, Antii Niemi is without a contract after this year and his Cup win will only make his asking price higher. Offer sheets may be out there, but even so-- the Hawks may do anything to keep him, especially because the faith in Huet is lost and Corey Crawford may still not be the answer, even though he's been waiting in the wings for the longest time. It'll be hard to deal Huet's contract, especially with two years left and ability to collapse like a house-of-cards on a windy day. This could be the biggest situation to fall on the Hawks, as Niemi did keep the Hawks in it more often than not when the going got tough.

Joel Quenneville definitely earned his keep and showed that his pick-up was something that was definitely needed for a team this young and with this kind of skill set. And while Bowman did inherit a gong-show of a payroll, they got the job done they needed. Rocky Wirtz did what his father couldn't and made hockey relevant again in Chicago and the fans came out. If anything, Wirtz could be....check the savior of this market and could be looked at by many on how to conduct business even when you have a lot of strikes against you from a previous ownership.

Regardless of what's going to happen next year, in two years, or whenever-- the Chicago hockey fans should revel in this victory. They need to take it all in and enjoy every minute, as it may be fleeting. They believed in the new direction and the kids did alright. Let the worries begin in July-- the fun needs to continue through June.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

What's Next: Philadelpha Flyers 2010

All good things must come to an end and it finally did for the Philly Crew. After all the turmoil that this team had gone through-- the goalie carousel, the coaching change, winning on the last day in a shootout-- the Flyers were much better than a seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and it showed as they were within two games of winning a Stanley Cup. However, they have plenty of momentum to build on.

Daniel Briere's performance in the playoffs shows that he is able to produce and is worth his money that GM Paul Holmgren has put into him over the long-term. Captain Mike Richards showed his try guts and really stepped up when needed, despite a disappointing output in the Finals. True warriors are the duo of Jeff Carter (playing with essentially two broken feet) and Simon Gagne (out with various injuries), who will have contracts up at the end of next season and the organization will have to shuffle some money around if those guys will be there beyond next season. While Daniel Carcillo (RFA), Darroll Powe (RFA), and Aaron Asham (UFA) are the only forwards without contract next season in all of this, the Flyers look pretty solid up and down the roster regardless of their re-signings.

The two issues result in the back-end. First, the defense, where Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen account for a cap-hit of $12.5M for the next three years, while Matt Carle and Oskar Bartulis are the only other defensemen with contracts next season. Decisions will be made about Ryan Parent (doubtful) and Braydon Coburn (very likely) when it comes to their RFA status, but there's going to be little money to go their way; which will hurt them in terms of depth. Even so, Pronger and Timonen showed they can still long huge minutes without wearing down too much, though fatigue could have been the reasoning for many of Pronger's penalties; though you couldn't deny how much he did rattle the Hawks for the first four games of the Finals.

The other problem is what to do in net. With little money to go around and Brian Boucher the only goalie signed to a deal-- this is where the Flyers will have to get creative. There's no doubt that Michael Leighton was the reason this team was able to get as far as they did and played very well, though it finally caught up to him in the Finals. He should get a contract, but the reality of the situation is that if he asks too much, he will be priced out of the franchise. Odds are the Ray Emery experience is over, which has promise; but was mediocre at best. While Sebastian Caron and Johan Backlund are probably gone to UFA, Jeremy Duchesne and Michael-Lee Teslak could be re-signed to AHL deals. Verdict is still out on the future of Nicola Riopel.

Full marks to Peter Laviolette, who was a big part of the turnaround and motivating the team when they were down. Paul Holmgren should be congratulated, too; but he has his work cut out for himself in the off-season. He'll have to find a way to mix things up in order to get the right guys paid and the wrong guys out of the room. He seems to have the magic touch and probably will be able to get what he needs to get done before the start of the 2010-11 season.

All in all, the Flyers have a lot to build off of, but they have a small window to repeat a performance with the group they have. The money issue is going to catch up to them soon enough and then they will have to hope for the best with the new crop of Flyers coming through the doors of the Wachovia Center. It was a magical run that got the city back up for hockey again and while it was a disappointing ending, the memory will remain fresh for a while.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Boucher to the Bay and Arniel's New Jacket

A lot of hustle and bustle while most of the world was trying to sleep, but now-- it seems to be a little more clear and we can actually discuss it all.

First, hours after he turned down a deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets; Guy Boucher accepted the vacated job of the newly revamped Tampa Bay Lightning, which marks the first of many moves for new GM Steve Yzerman. Boucher, who won the AHL coaching honors with the Hamilton Bulldogs this season, would be the youngest coach in the NHL at age 38.

And while the Jackets fans will be disappointed, if you had a chance to start with the likes of Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, and Steven Stamkos in the line-up and Steve Yzerman as your'd probably take that job, too. Nothing against Columbus, but with the Bolts; it's a whole new page in that organization history. New everything in there and probably very little expectation, with the exception of trying to forget the past few years of mismanagement from the previous ownership.

Boucher has been successful at every level he's coached at, from Major Junior where he was a coach in the Memorial Cup twice, once as an assistant in Rimouski with Sidney Crosby in the spotlight and once as a head coach with Drummondville, where he won the QMJHL title during his tenure. He was throw into Hamilton and succeeded there, even when the Canadiens calling up the best players on the Bulldogs, Boucher guided the team to 52 win this past season and got them to the final four in the AHL. Seeing as he's able to deal with young talent, it should be a good deal for the youngsters like Stamkos and Victor Hedman; but the interesting thing will be how he's able to deal with the vets on the team and how much he'll have to adapt to that situation.


With Boucher going south, the Blue Jackets are seemingly going with sort of the same mindset with a Canadian AHL team, setting their sights on Manitoba Moose head coach Scott Arniel. Arniel has been in Manitoba for four season coaching, going 180-106-33 in his years there, losing the Calder Cup back in 2009 to Hershey. However, that was the only time that the Moose were out of the second round under his watch; which could be good or bad because they did get to the playoffs, which the Blue Jackets need at this point.

Yet, Arniel should be just fine with Columbus, especially after expectations weren't reached last year after their first playoff appearance in 2009. While the team is still learning and Steve Mason will hopefully get his magic back, which he seemed to lose this past season. Arniel has been on many people's list over the past few years and now will get a chance to show that he's as good as advertised, even if it could be a test in patience with a team that many people don't know how to judge. There's times where it seems they're one piece away from being an elite team and others where they look like an expansion team year-after-year.

Now that the coaching issue is done, Howson now has to look at what to do to give Arniel the chance to succeed. One point was to get someone to play with Rick Nash, as well as to pick up the slack should Nash have a slump or is out of the line-up due to injury. Also another defenseman could be crucial as well, but the partner for Nash would and should be top priority.


All in all, the teams seemingly had their #1 or #2 guy; as the Jackets did have an immediate back-up when Boucher turned them down. And it's a good thing they got it done quick, especially with the NHL Draft coming up in about two weeks. While the impact will probably not be immediate, the good thing for both of these guys is that they are going into situations where not much is going to be expected. Both franchises are going to be rebuilding from the bottom up in some situations and anything they accomplish will be taken away as a moral victory and building block into the future.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Absurd Goalie Monday: Chris Terreri

There are few guys who have been as innovative as this guy. If not for this guy, the odds of water bottles being on top of the net may not have happened....for at least a few more years. That notwithstanding, he is the last starter of the New Jersey Devils before the Martin Brodeur era came into town, something that may or may not be used in any kind of trivia. This week, we look at the career of Chris Terreri.

The Providence, Rhode Island native started his career with the West Warwick Wizards in high school before committing to Providence College. Terreri got off his freshman year with only 11 games in 1982-83, but played admirably; going 7-1-0 with two shutouts and 1.93 GAA. That was good enough for the New Jersey Devils, who drafted Terreri in the fifth round of the 1983 Draft. His sophomore year, Terreri would play behind Mario Proulx in net, seeing a much different result-- playing in 10 games with a 4-2-0 record and higher 3.07 GAA. In his junior year in 1984-85, Terreri would make Providence proud, first going 21-15-5 on the season; while propelling the Friars to the first every Hockey East championship, beating Boston College 2-1 in the Championship game. That would move them onto the NCAA Tournament, where the Friars would be in tough in the first round, winning by one goal on aggregate against Michigan, then beating Boston College in the Frozen Four in three overtimes. However, the magic would run out with RPI beating Providence 2-1 in the finals. Terreri would take NCAA Tournament MVP, NCAA All-Tournament Team, and Hockey East MVP for the season.

I mentioned in the opening, the water bottle being utilized. During that three overtime game in the tournament, Terreri and BC goalie Scott Gordon skated to their nets during one of the overtime periods and placed a water bottle on top of their nets. It was the first time this practice was used and showed a sign of solidarity, as both agreed to take one rather than having the playing field unbalanced. Bob Froese was the first NHL goalie to use a water bottle in those 1985 playoffs, though the Islanders called foul on Froese and the Flyers at first, the bottle stayed (because it was velcroed to the net) and it went into practice full-time the next season.

Terreri would close out his college career in the 1985-86 season, not being as fortunate as the year before, going 6-16-0 in his 22 games, closing it out on a disappointing note. He would, however, go play for the United States in the World Championships, playing in five games with one shutout, despite the country finishing 6th.

Terreri would then move onto the pros, playing mostly for the Maine Mariners in the AHL in the 1986-87 season, backing up Kirk McLean. Terreri played 14 games, going 4-8-1 while in Maine, but did get a call-up to New Jersey, playing seven games and going 0-3-1 in his games at the first part of the calendar year.

The 1987-88 season saw Terreri stay out of the pros for the first part of the season, joining the US National Team in order to play in the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. He would play 26 games in preparation, going 17-7-2 in the warm-ups, but only got action in three games behind Mike Richter, going 1-1-0 in his games, as the US would finish 7th. Off the high of the Olympic experience, Terreri would go to the Utica Devils of the AHL, where he would put up an impressive 5-1-0 in his seven games played. The 1988-89 season had Terreri in a starter's role in Utica, getting in 39 games to prove himself and going 20-15-3; which got him a call-up to New Jersey, but more troubles going 0-4-2 in the eight games of action.

In the 1989-90 season, Terreri was the full-time back-up to Sean Burke in New Jersey. Terreri did see a good amount of time and actually was able to prosper while in New Jersey compiling a 15-12-3 record; his most successful in Jersey to date. He would be tested in the 1990-91 season, as he would get much of the starter's time, as management disputes with Sean Burke left Terreri as the main guy. Terreri did well when thrown into the fire, putting up a 24-21-7 record and went 3-4 in the playoffs. With Burke sitting out the 1991-92 season, it was put onto Terreri, who performed so-so with a 22-22-10 record, going 3-3 in the playoffs, as the Devils were ousted in the first round again. There would be split time with Terreri and former AGM Craig Billington in the 1992-93 season, which saw Terreri lose his grasp on the gig; going 19-21-3 on the year.

Terreri would start off the 1993-94 campaign as the starter, but while his numbers were alright, he was warming the seat for the prospect behind him-- Martin Brodeur. Terreri had an impressive 20-11-4 season with a 2.72 GAA on the defensive Devils team. Terreri saw less time in the 1994-95 shortened-season, playing 15 games and going 3-7-2. However, Terreri was along for the ride during the playoffs, which he was able to get a Cup ring for it-- as the Devils won their first Stanley Cup. Terreri started off in New Jersey for the 1995-96 season, but only got four games (3-0-0) in before he moved off the East Coast for the first time in his career.

In November of 1995, Terreri was traded to the San Jose Sharks for a second round pick in the 1996 Draft. Terreri would take over the starting role on the lowly Sharks, playing in 46 games and going 13-29-1 record in San Jose. In 1996-97, Terreri would be behind newly-acquired Kelly Hrudey and only get 22 games in, going 6-10-1, but with an impressive 2.75 GAA and .901 save percentage. Even still-- it wasn't enough to keep him in town long.

In January in 1997, Terreri, along with Ulf Dahlen, Michal Sykora, and conditional draft pick were traded to the Chicago Blackhawks for Ed Belfour. Terreri would only get seven games in during the season, but had a 4-1-2 record in those games. Terreri would get the starting gig for the 1997-98 season, but due to a fractured finger and strained groin (not at the same time), he would only get 21 games in and lose his gig at the #1 spot. He would go 8-10-2 in Chicago and 2-0-1 in his three games of rehab with the IHL's Indianapolis Ice.

Terreri would go back into a familiar place in the 1998-99 season, as the Blackhawks traded Terreri back to the New Jersey Devils for a conditional pick. Terreri knew his role in New Jersey, playing behind Brodeur once again. The 1998-99 season only yield 12 games for Terreri, but he was up to the task, with an 8-3-1 record. In the 1999-2000 season, Terreri was less impressive, only having a 2-9-0 record in his 12 games, but would be on the roster for yet another Stanley Cup ring, as the Devils defeated the Stars to win their second Stanley Cup. Prior to the 2000-01 season, Terreri was picked up in the Expansion Draft by the Minnesota Wild, but he was traded back to the New Jersey Devils with a 9th round pick for Brad Bombardir. Back with the Devils, Terreri got 10 games in and went 2-5-1 before the Devils knew he couldn't be a viable option anymore.

At the 2001 Trade Deadline, Terreri and a 9th round pick were traded to the New York Islanders for John Vanbiesbrouck. Terreri would only play eight games for the Islanders, going 2-4-1. When he knew he couldn't hack it, Terreri hung up the skates....temporarily.

After his retirement, Terreri caught on as an assistant coach with the then-affiliate of the Devils, the Albany River Rats. Thanks to some injuries, however, Terreri had to strap on the pads once more during the 2005-06 campaign, as he would come in net for relief of the River Rats goalie, letting up four goals in 31 shots in 40 minutes of play, as well as getting the loss to his credit. Terreri now serves as goalie coach for the Devils affiliate in Lowell.

You could see that it took awhile for Terreri to grow accustomed to the level of play that he was playing at, but when he finally got into his comfort zone; he excelled very well. He has many individual and team accolades to be proud of and his experience of getting accustomed to new levels should pay off when the Devils finally get the need for young goaltenders in their system.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Dany Heatley 2.0??

For the season year in a row, one of the Ottawa Senators top guys is talking about how much he is disappointed with playing in Ottawa. This time, it's Jason Spezza, who has been revealed to be unhappy right now with being a Senator and pretty much being the guy that the blame goes to in terms of the offensive woes that plagued the Sens this past year. While Spezza does get a hard time from the Ottawa faithful, how much do you really want him to do.....oh, right-- score more than 57 points and actually find a way to stay healthy.

Granted, he does have better than a point-per-game clip in his career and did say that he's actually happy to play in Ottawa during a scrum on Thursday-- but it does remind many Sens fans of the fiasco that happened last summer with Dany Heatley and ultimately saw the Sens not get much out of the trade, but it was the best they could get. The same could be said for Spezza, who's no-trade clause doesn't kick in until July 1st, as he has five years left on his contract at a cap-hit of $7M; something that many teams won't be able to shoulder.

Depending on who you talk to, the story will change. Mentioned sentences earlier, Spezza said he was happy. All the while, TSN's Bob McKenzie said that Spezza told GM Bryan Murray he was fed up with being the "whipping boy" for the Senators woes up-front, which is a fair point. Last season, Spezza missed 22 games and really couldn't be the end-all, be-all for the Sens issues scoring; but in '08-'09, his 73 points in a full season does send off alert-bells when it comes to the long-term. And while Heatley's departure did leave a gap in the arsenal for the Senators, that's a time where someone like Spezza could have stepped it up and been the superstar. Though, one thing in McKenzie's piece about Spezza having a rough playoff year-- I'd take a point-per-game stat, albeit in seven playoff games.

Yet another thing that makes me worry-- especially as a Sens fan-- is the fact that it seems Ottawa is slowly become Edmonton East, as it seems not many guys want to be in Canada's capital as one many believe. When you have the "super" stars of the team not wanting to be there, you have to wonder what internal issues there has to be with the organization. While the likes of Daniel Alfredsson and Chris Phillips have pretty much stayed there for their career thus far, you have to wonder if they'd get as much press or money elsewhere if not in Ottawa-- which is the cause for them staying there. I'm glad they're there and that they have guys who will have their numbers retired as full-time Senators or somewhat lifers in the town.

With all of that, the angle you have to take is what will happen at the end of all of this. The Dany Heatley thing is still very fresh in the minds of people in Ottawa and this is a eerily similar situation. While Spezza would probably get a rejuvenation from a new postal code, the contract he has would be a rough one to move. The Senators would have to do a lot of work to sweeten the pot for someone to take the center. After the issues last year, Murray probably doesn't want to be undercut like he was last season in the Heatley deal. Granted, it may be the only thing that Murray can get-- less than face value to take a big contract and upset player off his hands.

At the same time, I'm sure a team like the Columbus Blue Jackets could be a nice destination for Spezza, as it would give them someone to be the top-line center to play with Rick Nash on the top line and be more effective. Granted, that could give them two underachieving, oft-injured forwards-- but if they're on, they'd be a force to be reckoned with.

The turmoil in the summer in Ottawa seems to be the annual thing-- first with Ray Emery, then Heatley, now Spezza. This situation really depends on how you look at it, as Spezza is saying one thing; Murray's camp is claiming another-- somewhere in between, the truth lies. The heckling and jeering is something that will wear on anyone, but I would think it would wear on Spezza especially after the issues he had in order to actually break the everyday line-up under Jacques Martin regime and then having the crowd turn on him as quickly as they did. It is all about "what have you done for me lately" in the terms of sports and Spezza is the latest casualty to it. In the end, if Spezza is on the Sens roster come opening night-- the focal point will be how he plays after this disagreement has played out like it has and if he'll play well enough to get teams interested and make him move his NTC or if he'll dog it and be the goat everyone says he is while collecting a large paycheck at the same time.

Let the Spezz-Watch begin.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Top Lines Turmoil

Whether it's a testament to the depth of each team, how the defense of the opponents have stymied them, or if they are just slow out of the gate; the "top" lines of the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers have done little to nothing when it has come to the first two games of the Finals. Let's go to the tale of the tape:

PHI: Mike Richards (1a, -3), Jeff Carter (1a, -3), Simon Gagne (1g, -4) = 1g, 2a, -10
CHI: Jonathan Toews (-2), Patrick Kane (-3), Dustin Byfuglien (1a, -2) = 1a, -7

Obviously, the output in the two games haven't been what to be expected; but the question is could the trend continue on. Especially for the Blackhawks top guys now that they head to Philadelphia; it could be a lot harder for them to get going on enemy territory, even though the Hawks are great on the road. It seems that while the defense of the Flyers has been keeping them at bay and out of the normal scoring areas (read: Byfuglien vs Pronger); those three having only 10 shots in two games is something that won't get it done and you can sense they are rattled. They seem to be gripping the sticks too tight, which makes them a little more self-conscious and overthink the simplest of plays. With all that against them, the tide can change if they are able to get one break go their way.

The Philly crew looks like they could have jump-started their spree with the last goal in Game Two and looking more attacking on the Blackhawks defense. The top three mentioned had 10 shots in each of the first two games, but seemed a bit more effective when it came to Game Two. Going home should be good for them, in order to feed off the home crowd, but again-- they need one little break and they could change this series like that.

While it might only take a weird bounce to kick-start these top lines, will they get it. Aside from the first two periods of Game One and the craziness that came with that, the last four periods have shown the series that everyone expected. The defenses have been very good and it will probably come to depth being the determining factor in all of this, since the top dogs are getting shutdown. In that, the scoring edge has to go to Chicago, if only because they have a more dynamic group behind the top guys. That takes nothing away from Philadelphia, mostly because Danny Briere has been brilliant in the playoffs, but it seems that the team effort shows more from the Blackhawks side of the ice than it does on the Flyers side.

The struggles of the top lines will go on until they break out and play the game people expect them to play. Though, in the case of Chicago, you wonder if the overexposure to someone like Dustin Byfuglien may have gotten into their head and they got shaken due to one thing or another. Luckily, the game doesn't live and die with three players-- which is the reason why the Hawks are up 2-0 in the series while getting only one point for their top-three.