Playoff Predictions.



The worst playoff team in the West is better than half the playoff teams in the East. It's kind of a crapshoot out here, where the teams dominant on paper (Detroit, Nashville) get to beat up on the same few minor-league teams for half the season.

Calgary over Detroit (7)
The Flaming Cowboys have too much grit for the Datsyuk-Hasek version of the Red Wings. Detroit's dominant power play, with Lidstrom on the point, will light up Kiprusoff in enough games to push this to seven. Datsyuk will play better than in playoffs past, but not well enough to erase the doubts about his new long-term $7.6 million contract. The Dominator is delicate and a long, hard-hitting series will test his groin as he flops around making ridiculous saves. Iginla will score a bunch of goals, this time with Huselius and Langkow actually chipping in some help. Calgary's blueline (and especially defensively questionable Phaneuf) will look better than they are shutting down Datsyuk and Zetterberg.

Minnesota over Anaheim (6)
That playoff-built Ducks team is in for an upset. They got the worst draw for their style of play. Twin Towers, blah blah blah. Of course Niedermeyer and Pronger are awesome and game-dominating and won't leave the ice except during intermissions. Too bad Minnesota only needs to score one goal to win. Does anyone know the names of the Wild defencemen? Doesn't matter - Jack Lemaire will lace the Ducks' skates together and smother them in the neutral zone. Gaborik will be ridiculously good, scoring goals and leaving juicy rebounds for Brian Rolston. Perry and Getzlaf are going to have a lot of trouble with the Wild's stifling defensive system. Selanne less so, and kudos to the old Finn for at least one game-winning goal.

Vancouver over Dallas (6)
The Stars have Turco. The Canucks have Luongo. My biggest doubt here is whether Dallas can actually win two games (I figure they take Games 2 and 5). Turco won't suck as badly as he has in the past two playoffs, since he's behind a wall of scary D (Zubov, Boucher, Norstrom, Sydor) with a good system and back-checking forwards. Norstrom was a great pickup and will make it tough for the Canucks forwards to score. Modano vs Linden, the war of the 1988 draft picks! Modano never fails to impress, but Trevor's going to eat up the PK minutes and get a timely goal or two. No team has had to contend with the Sedins' cycling game in the playoffs since they emerged as legitimate superstars. Noone in the league is stronger than them at keeping the puck along the boards, a style of play suited to the playoffs. Turco's puck-handling skills are so strong that the Canucks will have to find ways to gain the offensive zone without resorting to the dump & chase. Both teams will be smothered on the power play and look brilliant on the penalty kill, so penalties won't be as much of an issue. Luongo will calmly shut the door and Turco will start packing his bags and checking the goalie want ads in The Hockey News.

Nashville over San Jose (6)
A real tough pick, the two main variables being Foppa's foot and which Joe Thornton shows up (the MVP or the inconsistent playoff guy). So who wins the superstar battle of big centres? Both will score points in buckets, especially on the power play. Forsberg gets to play beside a speedy Kariya and in front of Timmonen's long passes. Thornton will look streaky, dominating a couple of games as the Sharks eat up those young Predator defencemen (Weber, Suter) but looking average in others. I see Legwand and the pluggers throwing the Cheechoo-Thornton line off in a couple of games, and Vokoun stealing another with miracle saves. Nashville has the speed to light up Toskala or Nabokov - one bad game and they're playing with the sketchy goalie-switch thing. The Preds also have an awesome backup (Mason) but won't go to him unless Vokoun is injured or chokes. He won't.


There's a theme here. It's not that I've picked the top seed in every case (which I have). It's that the East lacks depth and defensive ability. Buffalo, Ottawa, and of course New Jersey are the only teams left in the East that can play defensive hockey. Hotshot offence can win a single game, but defensive consistency will win out over the length of a playoff series. Which is a good thing (we won't have to see Tortorella foaming at the mouth for long) and a bad thing (Lecavalier, St. Louis, Crosby & Malkin will all be gone in a week and a half).

Buffalo over New York Islanders (4)
Too bad the Islanders don't have a chance against the Sabres. I like Ted Nolan and you gotta admire a team scraping into the playoffs on a third-string goalie (Dubielewicz). Leafs and Habs fans can sulk jealously, but they would have been out almost as fast. The East is weak. The Sabres, however, are not. They will buzz around the offensive zone relentlessly, raining shots down on the Isles. Ryan Miller will get leg cramps waiting for the action to come to his zone. Whenever Rick DiPietro gets back, it will be too little, too late. Oh, and Ryan Smyth will get enough goals and scrappy in-front-of-the-net action to earn him a big fat contract which will give an Eastern Conference team (Toronto? Philadelphia?) future cap problems.

New Jersey over Tampa Bay (6)
The Lightning ran out of luck when they drew the Devils. Outclassed on the blueline and in net, they will rely on their big three up front (St. Louis, Lecavalier, Richards). That stifling NJ system will shut them down or hamper them in a couple of games, but they'll run up the score in a couple more. TB's big three play too many minutes, making them susceptible to defensive pressure as the series drags on. The TB blueline, with Boyle and Kuba, will give Gionta/Gomez/Elias a hard time. But NJ plays a complete team game and, most of the series, will only need a couple of opportune goals to win. The most disciplined team in the East will quietly wait for its chances, while TB dramatically wins a couple and loses four. Too many penalties, a couple of defensive-zone mistakes, and NJ's ability to shut down St.Louis/Lecav (at least some of the time) will determine the outcome of the series. Brodeur is so much better than Holmqvist/Denis that he will take candy from those diapered babies. Mmm, candy.

Ottawa over Pittsburgh (6)
The Senators are a multi-lingual team: they know five or six different ways to say "choke". But this year, the Leafs aren't in the playoffs to kick them around. This is their round, anyway. The Penguins are fast, exciting, and unbalanced. Fleury will get some valuable but frustrating playoff experience as the Pens' defence collapses again and again. Gary Roberts is overrated. Crosby and Malkin will not disappoint, and Jordan will strengthen the argument that he's the most talented of the Staal brothers (so far). Heatley and Spezza will match the young Pens snipers goal for goal, but the difference will be Ottawa's offensive depth (Fisher, Schaefer, Vermette) and defensive consistency. Ray Emery will disappoint, but not til the second round. He's from Hamilton, so for him "choke" is "choke". See Buffalo vs Ottawa in the second round for more details.

Atlanta over New York Rangers (5)
The Rangers come in on a hot streak. Doesn't matter. Shanahan will be great, but Jagr will **** the bed as he skates around with Bobby Holik's weight on his back (is that a mixed metaphor or just a really disgusting image?). Avery will stir up trouble with some Thrashers, but will also take stupid penalties which Atlanta will capitalize on. That wicked power play will bombard Lundqvist with its one-two punch: first Hossa! Now Kovalchuk! Mighty Henrik will stand on his head but give up second- and third-rebound goals. Two teams with porous defence will mean high-scoring games. Atlanta's offence is better and faster, and Lehtonen will see fewer shots than Lundqvist.

Leafs D-man Logjam.


I know there will be a lot of rumours about the Leafs trading away Kubina or McCabe this summer, but it is starting to look like the Leafs will have to do something. Maurice hinted in his season-exit media scrum that Kronwall will most likely skip ahead of Harrison and Wozniewski in the depth chart and Karel Pilar is making big strides in his comeback, winning a Czech league championship and playing well for the Marlies. Kubina's defensive zone play late in the season was very impressive; McCabe's defensive zone play was mediocre at best. McCabe definitely seems to be a very expensive powerplay specialist on a mediocre powerplay unit (15th in league at 17.7%) on a team filled with skilled offensive defensemen (Kaberle, Kubina, Colaiacovo and White are all proficient on the powerplay). Does Colaiacovo's strong play and emergence as a top 4 d-man make McCabe expendable? If so the Edmonton Oilers need a powerplay quarterback and have several young offensive forwards, the type that the Leafs desperately need. McCabe for Lupol and a 1st round draft pick or high end prospect? A trade like this would be win-win, pushing both teams closer to a post-season birth on paper. Trading McCabe would depend heavily on Mrs. McCabe waiving her husband's no-trade clause, which might make this very far fetched speculation indeed.

Lightning Goaltending.

Richard Ilfeld

Bolts fans certainly hope that ‘Homer” finds his world championship form, and take the Lightning deep into the playoffs. Probably not, but the triumph of hope over experience is a big part of being a sports fan.

Denis didn’t work out, and it’s too soon to tell if either Ramo or Holmvquist will be serviceable NHL Goalies at the playoff level. But some of the blame has to go to the Lightning defence, which many nights has far too much in common with the Devil Ray’s relief pitching.

The Bolts pack it in tight, and keep their sticks on the ice, and just beg for a goalie who is calm and covers the whole bottom of the net when he can’t see the puck, which is usually. An active goalie, trying to see and make saves, is out of position a lot.

The Bulin Wall was a lot quieter in goal than either of the current two, and seemed to let the puck hit him a lot more. That said, however, my opinion is that in the cup year the defence played two steps farther out from the goal, and ‘Habby’ saw a lot more of the ice than either of the two current goalies.

The Lighting have given up more goals than any other playoff team – on fewer shots against than most. I think the defence stepping out and challenging may allow a few more shots, as that’s always an option for a forward who’s pressured, but may result in fewer goals against.

The OTL Point.


This is a moot point as all playoff match-ups are decided and there is really nothing left to say, but every year I can’t get rid of the nagging voice in the back of my head that wonders “what if teams didn’t get a point for losing?” Well, after mathematically figuring it out, under no circumstances should the NY Islanders have made it into the playoffs. Should we continue to reward teams for taking longer to lose a game?

Here are the standing as they would be after 60 minutes (no OT or SO), after 65 minutes (but without rewarding points to the loser of OT) and under the OT, SO system we have now but using only a Win and a Loss column, respectively.

60 minutes

1. Ottawa 82 44 25 13 – 101 pts
2. New Jersey 82 36 24 22 – 94 pts
3. Atlanta 82 29 28 25 - 83 pts
4. Buffalo 82 38 22 22 – 98 pts
5. Pittsburgh 82 31 24 27 – 89 pts
6. Toronto 82 32 31 19 – 83 pts
7. Carolina 82 34 34 14 – 82 pts
8. Montreal 82 34 34 14 – 82 pts

1. Detroit
2. San Jose 82 48 26 8 – 104 pts
3. Calgary 82 38 29 15 – 91 pts
4. Nashville 82 42 23 17 – 101 pts
5. Anaheim 82 39 20 23 – 101 pts
6. Dallas 82 35 25 22 – 92 pts
7. Vancouver 82 32 26 24 – 88 pts
8. Colorado 82 36 31 15 – 87 pts

65 minutes

1. Ottawa 82 46 28 8 – 100 pts
2. New Jersey 82 39 25 18 – 96 pts
3. Carolina 82 40 37 5 – 85 pts
4. Buffalo 82 43 25 14 – 100 pts
5. Pittsburgh 82 37 29 16 – 90 pts
6. Montreal 82 36 35 11 – 83 pts
7. Toronto 82 36 35 11 – 83 pts
8. Atlanta 82 36 35 11 – 83 pts

1. Detroit 82 48 24 10 106 pts
2. San Jose 82 49 29 4 102 pts
3. Vancouver 82 44 29 9 97 pts
4. Anaheim 82 44 24 14 102 pts
5. Nashville 82 45 26 11 101 pts
6. Dallas 82 41 28 13 95 pts
7. Minnesota 82 38 27 17 93 pts
8. Calgary 82 40 34 8 88 pts

Only a Win and Loss column using the system we have now

1. Buffalo 82 53 29 106
2. New Jersey 82 49 33 98
3. Tampa Bay 82 44 38 88

4. Ottawa 82 48 34 96
5. Pittsburgh 82 47 35 94
6. Atlanta 82 43 39 86
7. NY Rangers 82 42 40 84
8. Montreal 82 42 40 84

1. Nashville 82 51 31 102

2. San Jose 82 51 31 102

3. Vancouver 82 49 33 98
4. Detroit 82 50 32 100
5. Dallas 82 50 32 100
6. Anaheim 82 48 34 96
7. Minnesota 82 48 34 96
8. Colorado 82 44 38 88


Go away Alex and First round predictions


Before i get to my first round predictions, a word on the Canadiens. In today’s edition (April 9th) of the Journal de Montreal, former Habs coach and now Analyst on RDS, Jacques Demers and former winger , Guy Lafleur, blasted Kovalev and are hoping that Gainey gets rid of him. Demers, is concerned that Kovalev’s attitude could have a bad influence on the youngsters, I agree with Demers. Lafleur, made a more general assesment of the team, but did point Kovalev. It will be harder for Gainey to buy out Kovalev than it will Samsonov. There is no doubt that the fans will not allow Gainey to present the same team on the ice come September. The Habs need to re-sign Markov and Souray, get bigger on the wings and find a number one center, Koivu can’t do everything. One thing Carbonneau has to do from now until training camp starts in September, is find a coach for the defensemen. I have stated that my number one candidate would be Larry Robinson, he enjoys working with youngsters and no threat to Carbonneau. Robinson who has been an assistant and coach in the NHL, would be a good help to Carbonneau.

Ok now to my first round predictions. The Eastern conference :

Islanders vs Buffalo

Buffalo in 4

Note :

Buffalo is just too strong for the Islanders, they are quicker, the fire power will be too much for the Islanders to handle. The Islanders have used up alot of energy in the last few weeks, i don’t think they have enough left to overcome the more talented Sabres. Sorry Islanders fans, but it’s the truth, but console yourselves, I would not of given any more chance to the Leafs or Habs to beat Buffalo.

Tampa Bay vs Devils

Devils in 7

Note :

For Tampa to beat New Jersey, they have to a big obstacle, Mr. Playoff himself, Brodeur. One of the best money goalies in the playoff history. Brodeur is not unbeatable, but if he gets in zone, Tampa’s fire power could be in bigb trouble, along with their shaky and questionnable goaltending.

Rangers vs Atlanta

Rangers in 6

Note :

I mentionnned Brodeur earlier, I think Shanahan can be as much as a factor in this series as Brodeur in Tampa-New Jersey series. He is also a three time Cup champion, he is the reason the Rangers were able to get in the playoffs. He takes off alot of weight off Jagr in the leadership department. Experience wise, the Rangers have the edge over first time playoff performers Atlanta.

Pittsburgh vs Ottawa

Ottawa in 6

Note :

The series I qualify as being the best in the first round. When Ottawa captain, Daniel Alfredsson, jumps on the ice and looks across at the Pittburgh team, he will see a Senators team ten years ago, when they made the playoffs for the first time ten years ago. As in the Rangers-Atlanta series, experience will be the factor that will decide the series outcome. Both teams ride on a high octane offense, but good defense and goaltending also have be part of the main ingridient. In that department, Ottawa has the edge. Emery who has playoff experience under his belt, will have to outshine Fleury for the Sens to move on. It should be a good series.

The Western Conference

Calgary vs Detroit

Detroit in 7

Note :

This is a chance for the boys from Hockeytown to redeem themselves. They have only past the first round once since they won Lord Stanley’s mug five years ago under the guidance of a certain Scotty Bowman. It will be far from being a walk in the park for the boys from motown. It’s going to be a physical series, but the Wings in the end will prevail. The Wings have the advantage of having two goaltenders with experience and have won the cup in Detroit in the past, as the Flames solely rely on Kipprosuff. Detroit’s defence, is among the best puck moving ones in the league, also count on the experience of the best money playoff defenceman in Chris Chelios, and Lidstrom is no slouch either.

Minnesota vs Anaheim

Minnesota in 6

Note :

I think this series will be the shocker of the first round. Jacques Lemaire loves being in the underdog position. Lemaire is the most underestimated coach in the league, a tag he wore in his playing days in Montreal, and he feels fine with that. Lemaire does not wait until the playoffs to prepare his team, that starts the first day of training camp. He is demanding, but gets the results he is looking for. Lemaire knows he is facing a good team, but has experience on his side, and can match witts with anyone, after all he did learn from the master himself. Good defence and patience will be the order of the day for Minnesota to win.

Dallas vs Vancouver

Vancouver in six

Note :

Two things Gm Nonis did during the summer that changed the Canucks. One the Hiriing of Alain Vigneault, who came in and changed the attitude of the dressing room and the trade that brought Luongo to Vancouver. Those two factors have been the reason the Canucks are in the playoffs, and could go deep. Both Dallas and Vancouver are not the most offensif teams in the playoffs, but I think the Canucks have the edge, as they are a quicker team than Dallas, and that could be the difference. Turco may be the most experienced of the two goaltenders, but Luongo, has size and knows how to use it.

San Jose vs Nashville

Nashville in 7

Note :

As it is called in baseball, we call this series, the rubber match one. Both teams met last year in round one, and the Sharks won it 4-1. The Predators have changed since then. Arnott and Forsberg in and Perreault out. Gm Poile has put his neck on the line with the Forsberg trade, gave up alot his team’s future to acquire Foppa, so he will be looking for a good return on that short term investment. The other difference from last season for the Predators, is that they have had solid goaltending all season and can count on a better go around this time.

So folks there you have it, time for some real hockey to start. As Spector puts it, predictions are for gypsies, but it makes it more fun to watch. Enjoy the games and have fun.

More Playoff Predictions.

Tony Ducey.


Buffalo vs. N.Y. Islanders- After clinching a playoff spot on the final day of the season, the Islanders face a tough challenge in the Opening Round with the Buffalo Sabres. Though I realize that in the playoffs anything can happen and any team can win, I doubt, very much, that the Islanders stand much of a chance in this series.

Prediction: Buffalo in 4.

New Jersey vs. Tampa Bay: Another series that I think will be short, New Jersey is a good hockey team as is Tampa Bay, but in the playoffs defence wins and I would take New Jersey's over Tampa's any day.

Prediction: New Jersey in 5

Atlanta vs. N.Y. Rangers: Atlanta makes it to the playoffs for the first time and has to take on the New York Rangers, I expect this series to be better than the first 2 I predicted, still because the Rangers have been to the playoffs before I like them more than I like Atlanta.

Prediction: N.Y. Rangers in 6

Ottawa vs. Pittsburgh: Now here is a series that could be one of the most entertaining in this year's playoffs, both teams have talent to boot, Heatley and Spezza vs. Crosby and Malkin, both teams are dynamic on offence and may face questions in goal, the only difference there is the defence and the fact that Ottawa's is better than Pittsburgh's.

Prediction: Ottawa in 7.

Detroit vs. Calgary: These 2 teams meet for the second time in 3 playoffs, as in 2004 I pick Detroit to win this series, I think that while they could be upset in a later round, they have the talent to last a round or two.

Prediction: Detroit in 6.

Anaheim vs. Minnesota: Anaheim is a team that went into this season and indeed the playoffs as Stanley Cup favourites, Minnesota is a good hockey team but I don't see them beating Anaheim.

Prediction: Anaheim in 6.

Vancouver vs. Dallas: On more than 1 occasion this year, while I have been doing these playoff predictions, I have predicted a lengthy playoff run by the Canucks and that does not change here. Marty Turco, it has been said, has something to prove in this year's playoffs, unfortunately Vancouver will be to much for the Stars and Turco will prove nothing.

Prediction: Vancouver in 6.

Nashville vs. San Jose- A toss-up series if there ever was one, you can flip the coin on this one as both teams have great talent and could very well win this series, as for who wins this series there are people who think Nashville is the better team and maybe they're right but maybe it's the Sharks fan in me but I see San Jose winning this series.

Prediction: San Jose in 7.

I'll be back at the end of Round 1 with my Round 2 predictions.



In reading your update on Foppa (Colorado?) it resonated with an
article in the Philadelphia Inquirer sports section quoting Jason
Starke of on the possibility of a new precedent in
baseball-the part time (millionaire) ballplayer, using Roger Clemens
as the prime example. I think the same could, or should happen with

Forsberg is still extremely productive-at least a point-per-game. And
as any true superstar should (IMO) makes those players around him
better. But his extended absences are also detrimental to a team like
the Flyers who look wobbly when he is absent from the lineup.

Imagine him having the latitude to pick a team in, say mid January, a
team that is clearly headed for the playoffs, a team where he would
have clearly identified productive linemates. He could demand a nice
payoff-assuming the potential teams were savvy enough to preserve some cap room, say $3 mil as opposed to $5 mil for an entire season, and it would be entirely his choice. He would be joining a team that was used
to playing without him, making his presence a total bonus.

I don't expect him to sign with any team until late summer-at the
earliest, so it would not surprise me to have that extend into the
late fall or early winter.

"Jeremy, Denver CO".

Forberg: Denver Post writer Mark Kizla made a big deal
in the Sunday Post regarding Peter Forsberg's comments
that he'd be open to returning to Colorado if
everything worked out. Before digesting this tidbit
too much, I think there are a number of things to keep
in mind.

One, Kizla is not the Post hockey beat writer (Terry
Frei and Adrian Dater cover the Avs day-to-day in the
Post). Kizla is more of the "shock-jock" for the Post,
the screaming head who's job is to pretty much shoot
off his mouth to stir up as much controversy as he can
and therefore sell papers. His insight into the true
goings-on with the Avs is lacking, shall we say. It's
so much like him to try to make it look like Peter
already has one foot back in Denver.

Two, I think Forsberg was moreso being cordial with
the issue instead of lending any true credence to his
intentions. I do believe him when he repeats his
health will ultimately determine his future, but I
don't read too much into it when he says "yes" to a
loaded question like "Would you be open to returning
to Colorado if everything fell into place nicely?"

Three, there's another key number to keep in mind: 42.
That's how many games Forsberg missed this season,
further adding to his unfortunate history as injury
prone player. Sure, his skate issues may have been
resolved but his reputation speaks for itself. Without
a salary cap, he was a luxury the Avs could afford.
But with the cap restrictions, he is a big gamble with
the contract he commands with all the years of wear
and tear on his body.

Finally, center is probably the area of least need for
the Avs. Sakic has shown he hasn't come close to
slowing down with a 100 point season. Paul Stastny was
a find this year in his rookie campaign. The Avs are
also strong down the middle in their prospect ranks
with the likes of T.J Hensick, Ryan Stoa, Codey Burki,
and Mike Carman coming down the pike over the next few
years. Even the Avs do decide to make a splash at
center, I would think it would be much more likely
they use their ample cap space to chase a Daniel
Briere or even Chris Drury, who are both younger and
less of an injury concern than Forsberg.

So basically, no...I don't think there is significant
chance that Peter will return to Denver.

The Habs.

John Mont.

John from Springhill again, albeit bleeding profusely in Habs red ! Since our last correspondence The Habs , of course, have missed the playoffs, where I believe with Huet in goal they probably had the best chance of beating Buffalo.I just read your column in Fox Sports hence this missive.

Like I mentioned in my previous two notes, Montreal missed the boat in not unloading players at the trading deadline. Samsanov , of course, was useless and no one wanted him. But Kovalev probably would have caused some interest. Souray you thought would re-sign with The Habs, but now may not, and despite his stats is he worth $6 million given his slowness, plus/minus, albeit a great offensive presence. Alas it's too late now so let's try to re-sign he and Markov as Montreal has lots of salary cap room.

What we do need is some size up front, and skill, and yes Kovalev doesn't count. Two weeks ago he said he was excited this time of the year, scored two goals twice, and then when we needed him he did nothing. You mentioned trading Ryder in your column, but in the key game against Toronto he and Higgins were the two who came to play, along with Saku. So, if it were me I would trade a lot for a few, as I've always believed in quality over quantity. Although he is small Briere would be great up front. The other thing, is there anyway they could pry Lacavelier away after the season. I believe he's always wanted to come to Montreal, and I would trade whatever it took to get him.

Down through the years top teams always have at least one elite player from Richard to Belliveau, to Lafleur. Montreal has not had one in years, and without a top 10 scorer how can you generate offence ? Lacavelier would be that guy, and his team needs to reduce pay roll. Yes I know he was a scoring machine this year, but San Jose got Thorton last year, why not go after Lacavelier ? Ryan Smith is an excellent character player, and there are some other skilled players , but Montreal needs an impact player, even if we have to trade away a lot and pay him the League maximum.

I don't like Lindy Ruff, but look at his record as a coach ? Scotty was not liked by his players , but look at what he did in Montreal, St. Louis, and Detroit . Is Guy the man for the Habs ? I loved him as a player, but he can't seem to motivate players, and you hear rumblings about players not liking him. If he could speak French I venture Ted Nolan would have Montreal well into the Playoffs. Everyone knew he was a great coach who was "black balled" by the NHL, and here he is one year back and his Team made the Playoffs by winning when they had to, unlike our Habs.

We do have Price in the wings although he is a couple of years away. Good young prospects in Hamilton who showed they belonged in Montreal more than most of the vets. Yet not one is an impact player, which we need more than anything. Montreal players need to know they will be replaced if they do not produce, and we need to start with the dead wood like Samsonov, Kovalev, and Abby who will be gone anyway.

What do you say about Lacavilier, Lyle ? Could he be pried away ? Is there another similar impact player available ? Pronger put the Oilers in the Finals, but he would never come back to Canada. You would think Souray could be the same impact player, but he is slow, gets beaten to the outside a lot as evidenced by his plus/minus, yet we need him for his offence. Should we trade a lot to Philly, for example, to get the #1 pick, if there is that impact player out there ? Could we lure Lemaire back to Montreal to coach or failing that possibly Robinson ? Questions that need answers my friend as I sit here frustrated in Springhill, N.S.

Thoughts on the Sharks.

GJ Berg.

Of the 24 currently on the NHL roster, 19 players are under contract
for next season with an estimated $36m+ cap hit; four pending UFAs:
Guerin, Smith, Hannan and Rivet and one RFA: Davison.

My current thinking it that who the Sharks re-sign/trade/whatever may
be based on how far they go into the playoffs (especially as there
has been no rumored negotiations with pending UFAs since the January
time frame). IOW, if they don't get the Cup, they may re-sign all
four UFAs and keep their goal tending tandem intact; but if they do
make the cup, they may re-sign 1-2 UFAs, leaving holes in the NHL
roster for players like Setoguchi or Mitchell to join the forward

Toskala's trade rumored price last off season was roster player,
prospect and pick. Although there's only one year remaining on his
contract, based on his play this past season, I can't see the Sharks
lowering the price. If Toskala is traded, the Sharks may be looking
for a veteran backup (~$1m salary) for a year or two before Greiss is
ready to back up (allowing more time to develop in the AHL rather
than having him sit on the bench before he may take over the #1 slot
down the road) as I don't know that RFA Patzold is ready/capable for
backup duty in the NHL (and has been rumored to want to return to

Doug MacLean.


In your Spector's Notes on the above topic of Doug MacLean, you comment on his hiring of Hitchcock might give him a reprieve. If my memory serves me, it was the McConnells who made that decision. I recall hearing that Doug preferred Andy Murray. I might be on that point, but I'm certain the McConnells pushed for Hitch and they were responsible for the final decision.


While you may be right about McLean staying, just some clarification:
Hitch's hiring was not a McLean move, that came from above - that's the
worst kept secret in these parts. It was no secret Doug wanted Andy
Murray, instead - he didn't want to take on such a presence like Hitch -
the control thing.

I do think a change has to be made, for financial reasons - I think both
writers laid it out there, as well as laying out the bigger risk:
Sending a bad signal that this (sub-mediocraty) will continue, and wreck
any potential for this sleeping giant of a market.

More Comments Regarding "NHL Center Ice".

Chad Evans.

Just a quick word in response to the letter written by Stephen Renauer regarding the Center Ice package. Renauer writes, "with my DIRECTV subscription, I can take the Sports package for $12 a month and see all these US based broadcasts for less money."

No he cannot watch any hockey games through the 'sports' package. All games are blacked out other than the local game on the local Fox Sports network. You must have Center Ice to watch games not showing in your local market.

That is, unless, he simply wants to watch the first week of NHL action which is fed out free of charge.


I was reading about the Centre Ice subscriber in the US who was commenting on the selection of broadcasts. I don’t know if it really makes a difference, but the reader uses Directv, I myself have Dish Network, and through a Dish Network Centre Ice sub you can choose which broadcast you’d like to watch (i.e. the feed from TSN or Fox Sports Pittsburgh), and HNIC is broadcast in full (with no interruption) including both the pregame Saturday Night show and the After Hours show. Anyway just some information I thought I would pass along, keep up the great work, your site is awesome, and easy to navigate, I hope when you upgrade it doesn’t become a mess like some of those other info sites out there.

Jon Farzalo.

i just wanted to respond to the one who spoke out about Center Ice. I have also had it for a few seasons and I love it...i do WISH they would somehow provide both feeds (home and away) and let us choose the one we want...

...however I have Directv and tried to do the thing where you buy the Sports Pack for 12$ a month, but it doesn't work....all games televised on Center Ice are blacked out on the Sports Pack channels. This may not be the case where this guy is from, but in North Carolina, it see anything but Hurricanes games you MUST have Center Ice, or wait for NBC to pick one up here or there.

Response to Stefan Anthony.


Your loyalty to your city is commendable and admirable but you just slammed how many cities in the process of claiming how wonderful edmonton is. have you ever lived in any of the cities you just slagged? have you ever visited any of the cities you just slagged? if not i would suggest you take your own advice and keep your mouth shut as well.
kevin lowe screwed the pooch on the ryan smyth trade. he should have been looking before hand wether it made it look like ryan was on the block or not. theres no question he could have gotten a better deal elsewhere. ryan could have signed the deal offered to stay in edmonton as he claims he wanted but he didnt for whatever reason be it money or seeking a no trade clause. statements by both post trade makes it seem that it was not money but something else.

glenn sather who you rip for causing the mess you claim lowe had to clean up seems slightly unfounded for a few reasons. sather was heralded for his eye for talent during the drafts and keeping the oilers competive on a shoestring budget. he could have bolted for greener pastures much earlier because at the time of his departure to new york he could have gone wherever he wanted.

coffey asked to be traded because he was never going to get the money he wanted from edmonton and messier played the bulk of the prime years of his career in edmonton helping them to 5 cups before asking for the trade. gretzky more than likely asked to be traded to la to be closer to his wife i highly doubt it was his request to be a king for no other reason because as one of the best players in the game he could have gone anywhere he wished. prongers request for a trade was a surprise since he signed that longterm contract in the first place and personally if i was lowe and it was possible(i dont know if he had a no trade clause or limitations as to where he could be traded) would have shipped him off to the worst team in the league and not thought twice about it.

if you want to bash a team for trying to buy the cups thats one thing but to lump detroit in with the rangers is a bit ridiculous. the rangers tried to buy the cups for years and succeded in doing one thing and that was wrecking the league salary structure. detroit on the other hand did spend money but they did what the rangers couldnt do and thats win cups in the process. if you look at detroits rosters those teams that won had players on the team they drafted and developed in addition to players they signed or traded for. you seem to forget that before steve yzerman was drafted they were a crap team and had been for a long time prior. the flyers tried to buy cups as well not learning from the rangers mistakes and failed also and look at them now they are terrible and there farm team is rated dead last by hockeys future because of that path. edmontons farm talent is ranked 17th which could be an indictment of the drafting ability or the fact that they have been a competitive for some time drafting lower as a result pick one. the panthers are a crap team right now suffering from the reign of mike keenan and will be for a time to come. most players are competitive by nature and want to win so most dont want to be traded to a bad team let alone sign with one that looks like there going to struggle for years. name a player that wanted to go to hartford or quebec or any expansion team that came into the league.

yes edmonton had a subpar year and every team has them its part of the process in building a winner but part of that process is watching a team take the criticism wether its beacuase of the front office or the players. as an oilers fan who knows hockey even you have got to agree this team quit after the smyth trade and subsequent multiconference jilted lover routine both sides played. i dont for the life of me remember any oiler team simply tanking it like this one did. theres no excuses to be made for the way they dropped this team has talent its not an expansion franchise and the fans expect and deserve better than what they got.

no one is jealous of the success edmonton had as you repeatedly and incessantly mention. edmonton hasnt won a cup since 1990 and before last year went to the finals last when? how is anyone jealous of a team that hasnt won it all in almost 2 decades. that would be like penguins fans making that statement when they havent won since 92 or candiens fans when they last won since 93. be happy that the oilers were as great as they were and assuming your as old as i am happy that you got to see such great teams and have a team rich in tradition and pride. be happy that your oilers never struggled for years like some teams did (penguins, devils, san jose, florida, hartford, quebec, the 70s and 80s leafs, just to name a few) be happy that the oilers in most years are competitve and make the playoffs as much as they have. be incredibly happy there is a salary cap and edmonton still has a team unlike winnipeg and quebec and hartford.

if you want to be pissed people trash your town fine no one blames you for it but dont be a hypocrite and do the same to other hockey towns making yourself no better than what you complain about.



What a homer you are, you're not a hockey fan, you're an oilers fan and it shows, you know nothing outside of the little bubble you live in. You type up a long winded, painful to read, 12 paragraph letter (that could have been done in 2) bitching and moaning about other fans slagging your city and then you slag Detroit right in the middle of it. Hello? Pot calling the kettle? Detroit must be doing something right, no one's ever left there complaining about the life-style or the culture, can't say the same thing about Edmonton can we?

Fact is most Wings players live in the surrounding suburbs, why? Diversity, it's different everywhere you go, not the same gray and brown year round. With a salary cap in place and players being able to get near the same amount of jack out of any team they choose, quality of life will become a bigger issue with players, that's what you should be worried about, what the players think of Edmonton instead of what the fans are saying.

Bruins shouldn’t toss aside Toivonen.


Spector's Note: The following appeared on Cory's Blog last week. It's been posted here at his request.

It’s been 16 months since the day it happened, but the Bruins can still feel the pain. On November 30th, 2005, the Boston Bruins dealt their captain, their franchise, Joe Thornton, to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for top-six forward Marco Sturm, top-four defenseman Brad Stuart, and grinder Wayne Primeau. A definite steal on San Jose’s part, considering such a grand return for a low cost, and also adding to the fact that Thornton would go on to win the Art Ross trophy, compiling the most regular season points.

Since that date, the Bruins have gone down a different path. While Sturm has signed a contract extension, the Bruins shipped Stuart and Primeau to the Calgary Flames in favour of Andrew Ference and Chuck Kobasew.

Is it a surprise to anyone that Boston will miss the playoffs this spring for the second consecutive season? The Bruins have an abysmal .475 winning percentage this season, linking to one of this team’s major criticisms – Goaltending.

Tim Thomas, 32, an at best ‘1A’ NHL goaltender, played the majority of the Bruins’ season, winning 30 of his 65 games. What do I mean by ‘1A’? Think Chris Osgood, Kevin Weekes, or Martin Gerber. Certainly, they can all be good goaltenders, but can not (or can no longer) be that ‘go to’ guy.

The Bruins have locked Thomas into a contract that expires after the 2008-09 campaign, but at an affordable price tag of just above the one-million dollar mark.

Also in the Bruins system, is waiver claim Joey MacDonald, as well as Philippe Sauve, Brian Finley, Hannu Toivonen, and Tuukka Rask. Finnish goaltenders Toivonen and Rask are easily the best of the bunch.

Note that this isn’t the first season the Boston Bruins have had goaltending problems. In fact, it’s the second year in a row with such concerns. After a sub-par campaign last season from sophomore, and former Calder Trophy winner, Andrew Raycroft, the Bruins felt Raycroft was simply ‘a flash in the pan.’ On draft day, the Bruins sent Raycroft to the Toronto Maple Leafs, desperate for a starting netminder after buying out veteran Ed Belfour’s contract, in exchange for the rights to top goaltending prospect Tuukka Rask. A risky move for any General Manager, especially the Maple Leafs’ John Ferguson, under such media and fan scrutiny.

However, the trade has seemingly worked out well for the Maple Leafs. Last game, Raycroft tied Ed Belfour’s franchise mark for wins by a Maple Leafs goaltender in one season, with 37. Raycroft will be looking to break the record, and lead the Toronto Maple Leafs into their first post-season visit since 2004.

Meanwhile, the Bruins find themselves in quite the conundrum. The outlook on Tuukka Rask isn’t much, if at all, clearer. Rask would prefer to stay in his homeland Finland to continue his military training, which was in fact one of the factors in his trade away from the Maple Leafs organization, aside from also having the benefit of top goaltending prospect Justin Pogge under contract.

Rask presently remains unsigned to an entry level deal, and should he not land any sort of contract before this summer’s NHL entry draft, he’ll re-enter the draft pool, leaving the Bruins entirely empty-handed.

The Bruins may not believe it, but they are a rebuilding club, built around their new franchise player, Zdeno Chara, and a exceeding youth, with names like Patrice Bergeron and Phil Kessel topping the chart.

They must continue their development of this potential franchise goaltender. This season alone, Toivonen has been assigned and re-called from the minors nearly half-a-dozen times. It’s almost ridiculous to even considering moving a goalie who has barely been given a chance, with less than 40 NHL games under his belt.

The Bruins cannot afford to do anything drastic, such as giving up their development of Hannu Toivonen. In no way should he be seen as a scapegoat for such a futile season on the Bruins part.

The Bruins cannot afford to lose another Andrew Raycroft.


Should The Bruins Fire or Retain Coach Dave Lewis?


Dave Lewis is not a scapegoat; He IS the problem. This team, on paper, is quite talented, but he could get nothing out of them. They were blown out of more games this year than in previous seasons combined. This team was embarrassing to watch on many a night and the coach holds responsibility for that. He consistently had checking line guys on scoring lines and offensive players on checking lines. There seemed to be no offensive scheme and players spent to much time looking as if they didn’t know what they should be doing. This team has speed, but never played an up-tempo style. If Lewis is brought back, the Garden will be even emptier than it is now. They need a whip-cracker who can motivate and recognize each players strength and have them play a style that utilizes that.


The problem is not Dave Lewis. I kinder like the Coach. The team can not keep on hire and fire Coaches keep with one Coach. The problem is Jeremy Jacobs if he keeps filling the seats he is make money and that’s all he cares about is MONEY not the Stanley Cup. The team needs a new owner and this how it could if everyone just stops going to games he is not making any money so then he would have to sell the team. It was like the Boston Red Sox the team was sold and a new owner took over and the team won the World Series. That’s the only way the Bruins are going to win. Jeremy Jacobs talks a good story but it is all BS.


Once again I have a disagreement with you on this issue.

As someone who has followed the Bruins very closely all year I can without a doubt say Lewis is the worst
coach in the NHL right now and possibly the worst coach in Bruins history. Now let me give you the MANY reasons why:

1) Has a love affair with certain "role" players and puts them in positions they are not suited. Exhibit A: PJ Axelsson known throughout the league as a shut down specialist. In Lewis' bizzaro world PJ is suddenly a top line forward and PP specialist. Of course this stifled our offense and we missed out on many scoring chances as PJ is not a finisher. Asset clearly being misused.

2) Is very similar to #1. Picture this you are down 3-2 in a must win game with two minutes to go. Who do you put out? Well anyone with a brain would put out Savard, Murray, Bergeron, Kessel, and Mara (before his trade). Lewis in his infinite wisdom puts out Mark Movers, Shean Donavan, and Jeff Hogan. I am not kidding. This happened more than once. Whenever we called up any of our strong rookies from Providence, they got 4-5 minutes of total ice time per game on the 4th line and when they weren't productive, were sent back to Providence. See David Krechi (sp), Petr Kalus, Mark Stuart, Matt Lashoff for more details. We favours mediocre veterans over giving youth a chance and that is s death sentence for this franchise. Bochenski scored on a torrid pace after coming from Chicago. Lewis puts him on the 4th line to play with losers like Tenkrat, Hoggan/Mowers as a reward. Great job Davie!

3) Never gave the following players a change: Jurcina (doing VERY well in Washington), Boyes (playing VERY well for the Blues)), and Toivonen (confidence ruined by Lewis). This not a coincidence, any young players that play for him are scared to be creative with the puck or take a chance. Also any players with creativity get stifled by his defence first system. Nice system when you have the largest goals for differential in the league, obviously its not working. Which leads to boring uninspired play.

4) The teams has 11 delay of game penalties, and the fewest fighting majors in the league. We have been blown out 10 games this year by 5 or more goals and shut out more times than I care to mention. Lewis castrated Chara and took away any toughness he had. Rough play is frowned upon by Lewis.

5) Zero emotion being the bench cannot inspire his players.

I could go on and on and if you would like me to expand on any of the points I'd be happy to. Chiarelli has a plan and a vision for the team he wants and Lewis is NOT the coach for that type of team. He has not adapted and cannot adapt to the new NHL and for that and many others reasons I and many other Bruins fans will have a party the day we getws fired.

Give 'em Three Years.


Not quite sure the extent of the hockey knowledge on this forum but as a player of the game for 20 years and an avid B's fan. The rants in this
section are quite funny. Samsonov's a wily quick 2nd line left wing who
ocassionally loses the puck skating into the zone. That's the problem, left
wingers arnt supposed to carry the play into the zone. The center is. Now you get him cheap and throw him on a line with Savard and Murray for a second line. I bet he gets 25+ goals. For a left winger that's pretty good. Unless you play a left wing lock. As for Thomas. VERY good goaltender and the problems with the B's is defense not scoring or goaltending. The big mistake was signing Chara. A slight improvement over Gill in stickhandling. They should have re-signed Leetch for pucks and brought in a FAST defenseman to get the puck up quicker. Now, you have a couple of lunks who play the old school pin in the borads game...oh well just a rant...

A Fighting Chance.


I'd like to address some of these Pro-Fighting arguments. First, I'm against fighting in the NHL. And before all the sports writers, and Pro-fighting people toss out there that I must not understand or play hockey, They are wrong. I play, I coach, and I'm a fan.

At one point I would've agreed that there is nothing wrong with fighting in Hockey, but ever since the 'New NHL' took hold, I don't think theres any place left for it.

Frankly, maybe the league and players should all clean up their acts
in regards to what they allow to happen on the ice so that, fighting isn't
needed. I find this "cowboy justice" in the NHL to be a joke. It makes the League, Ref's and players look like they have absolutely no control over,
or regard for their own rules, or one another, And as if they have no interest in ever doing so.

There is a glaring lack of respect in this league at ALL levels for
their own players, and worst of all their fans.

I see an NHL where rules are enforced properly to begin with so that
retaliatory running / and fighting aren't even needed. But the Pro-fighting crowd seem to punch drunk to understand that concept and see how we can make it work for the new NHL. Lets look at the Olympics and All-Star contests. Those two venues manage to be devoid of goonish play and fighting most of the time, and I don't see players in those venues dropping like flies every 30 seconds because fighting isn't widely accepted in those venues. Why is it seemingly so impossible for the NHL to rise to that level of sportsmanship?

And don't even get me started with the way USA hockey wants us to coach the kids.. they certainly don't preach 'cowboy justice' at the youth level. Maybe theres a reason for that. We hold our children playing hockey to a standard we don't even hold the professionals too.
And thats sad. It's this hypocrisy from top down that leads to the sort of things we have all seen lately in the NHL. It won't stop until the game is cleaned up forcefully by actually enforcing it's own rules and players
start playing respectfully, and respecting each other. The League, and the Ref's have to be the ones to initiate that step and thus far, they seem unwilling to attempt to protect the 'New NHL' they are building. Tradition once again, a goonish tradition at that is standing in the way of real progress.

Canucks Re-signing Salo.


I am writing to comment on your take on the signing of Sami Salo by the Vancouver Canucks to a 4-year extension at $3.5 millions a year. You mentioned that the Canucks have $38 millions committed salary next season, and therefore they'll find cap space tight once again unless Nonis moves some players away. In my opinion, it is too early to make this conclusion. First and foremost, the cap figure for the next season has not been determined yet. It is very likely that we'll see another increase in the cap, to the proximity of $46 millions. Second, the $38 millions number only tells one side of the story. The other side of the story is how many and which players will become free agent this summer. Off the topic of my head, the significant ones are Sopel, Pyatt, Bulis, and Linden. Only Pyatt could be due a significant raise, the other will likely make less than they did this season or leave the team. It may not be a surprise to see the Canucks with around $3 million cap space left to start the season.

The Kings Centers.


Mike Cammalleri may have played center in College but has been used exclusively as a winger in LA. He has played with Kopitar; except when injured, for almost the entire year this year, on a line with Dustin Brown at LW. LA hasn't had a #2 center since moving Conroy. Armstrong has assumed that role when healthy, since the Conroy trade but would be better suited as a #3. That leaves Lundmark and McCauley at center. O'Sullivan can play center or left wing and Brown could also be moved to RW should the need arise. Frolov is a LW, so with O'Sullivan playing LW Brown is better served to play behind Cammalleri as the #2 RW but that isn't happening at the moment.

I wouldn't dismiss rumours of LA acquiring Drury as "Kopitar and Cammalleri are their top 2 centers". It makes a ton of sense when you look at the Kings line up. They have a huge hole at center, as Cammalleri is a winger not a center.




I just read an article on TSN Sports Todd Fedoruk wants the league to allow fighters to wear 4 ounce gloves like the UFC and MMa fighters. Why wont we have every rink build an octagon shaped ring at one end of the arena so that when they want to fight they can go in to the ring and fight no holds bar as well.
All sarcasm aside i am amazed he suggested this idea as a solution to the amount of damage being done during fights. players are bigger and stronger but to allow such a thing would put a black mark on the league that would never be taken away. The last thing that is necessary is for the fighters to wear gloves this isnt a boxing match or ufc fighting its a hockey game. The game takes enough of a black mark from fighting to begin with and the fact that he suggests it it is ridiculous. (personally i enjopy the odd scrap on the ice)
Fighting is and always has been part of the game and probably always will be unless the league mandates it has to go. It does seem however more so in the past few seasons that the tough guys are taking on a more prominent role again than they have been. Look no farther than the instigator rule being changed atthe GM meetings. I dont mind the rule change but it would seem to me that they wouldnt have to make the rule change if a few simple things took place.
1. consistent officiating it differs night to night. som crews refuse to let a game get out of hand with the chippy stuff while others either ignore it or let it get out of hand. several games this year i have watched blatant penalties not called angering one team or the other prompting them to respond in kind to the others cheap shot. this is on the officials to take control of game and do there jobs not swallow a whistle.
2. league discipline try handing out real fines and suspensions for hits from behind and to players who headhunt. sean avery is a perfect example against the pens he left his feet and landed on jocelyn thibault intentionally while thibault was in the crease touching off a scrum. or ovechkins hit from behind on briere or jansens hit on kaberle. todd bertuzzi and chris simon are the biggest examples. bertuzzi should never have been allowed to play again after his attack on steven moore instead they suspend him and call the lock out year a season suspension what a crock. chris simon chopped down ryan hollweg after a hard hit and he could have killed him. i dont care that he didnt kill him or hollweg was fine the point is he could have that should be enough to warrant a life time ban. hello wayne maki ted green anyone? blatant attempts to injure should be dealt with severely and quickly and teams wont feel the need to keep guys who play 5 minutes or les a night on the roster.
these are simple solutions and there not hard to implement this is whats needed not 4 ounce fighting gloves. Now more than ever the league needs to grow and attract fans and allowing such nonsense as fighting gloves will achieve nothing but make a great sport look like a circus, freak show, and a joke or all 3.
After that article I actually do think Todd might have suffered more severe damage than originally thought



Wasn't sure if you've been keeping up on Brett Hull's commentary on NBC. Particularly the rousing speech he gave this weekend during the Pens - Boston game. Basically Brett's opinion boiled down to ; Players who injure other players or intentionally try to hurt other players should be more severely punished / fined / or suspended. Of course, a point I agree with. But then, he goes off on how big hits / physical play and fighting are still a part of hockey, and how the instigator rule has stopped players from being able to defend themselves and how the NHL needs to drop the rule and how they shouldn't ban fighting.

As I'm sitting there listening to all this I simply couldn't help but think...
'Brett Hull would probably still be playing this game if the league had taken better steps a decade ago to get a faster more skills based game without fighting, and extra physical play. If it weren't for a career of mucking, clutching, and grabbing, greats like Brett, Wayne, Mario, Stevie Y, And who knows who else would probably still be playing had their bodies not been subject to the "physical" NHL they seem so intent to preserve while sitting behind desks.

Just though that was interesting, and how I think sometimes,
the players miss the forest for the trees when it comes to this issue.



I'm sick of hearing that the Flyers are going to get both Drury and Briere. They aren't. Do the Flyers have a lot of money? yes. Are both going to commend big salaries? yes. Does Philly have a bit of an inside track with Don Luce, a former Sabre and member of the Sabres organization calling the shots? yes. But the writers in Philly really have to stop telling the fans they are going to get every big name free agent thats out there. Every Drury/Briere rumor for Philadelphia starts in one place: Philadelphia. Basically they're hyping themselves so their season ticket base doesn't go away. It really makes everyone else in the hockey world sick.



i feel compelled to make a comment about the recent blow up about violence in hockey. i am a life long bruins fans. and i can remember many days sitting on my grandfathers lap watching the games. and i can still remember how he explained to me why the fighting happened, why it was allowed, and why it had a place in the game. i don't think the fighting itself is really the issue in the sport. its simply the easiest thing to pick on. and i believe it's being unjustly grouped in with the incidents caused by Tootu, Bertuzzi, and yes even McSorley when he was with the bruins and swung on Brashear. i believe that the rash of physical attacks over the last few years can at least partly be blamed on the "new NHL". first and foremost the league needs to figure out whether it is all about the "old school" game, or if it truly wants a new game entirely. i think the officials are being blamed for being stuck in the middle of a rule system that they cant completely understand, and
that the league itself is making it nowhere near easy on them. if the officials cant figure out how to properly call the penalties by the new rule book, then how can we expect the players to truly understand what is really a legal hit, or whether or not they are in the right when defending they're star players. maybe its just me, but doesn't it appear that all the recent incidents are just the tip of the iceberg showing how poorly the league is ruling over the sport. here's an amazing idea that I've yet to hear from anyone making comments about the "violence in hockey". why not let the NHL PA once and for all give the players themselves a voice on whether they want fighting allowed in the sport. these are the people putting there body's on the line to make a living and entertain us. shouldn't they have the ultimate word on what they do? whether fighting is banned or not the sport can survive. but not if the league just hovers somewhere in the middle, there needs to be a
ruling one way or the other for the sport to flourish again. and don't get me wrong, i love to see a good old time scrap between the bruins and flyer's, but that isn't the only reason i love this game. its the sport as a whole.



Thank you for putting in print what Caps fans have been grousing about for a couple seasons. Maybe TPTB will pay attention if it's in the press.
Ever since the great purge before the lockout season, Caps have been short on veterans. Management doesn't seem to get the concept that even the best young talent needs vets to teach them the tricks of the trade. When they do get a good mentor in Zubrus, they trade him over contract length, stranding Ovie to not only fend for himself but translate for Semin. That's when Ovie started complaining openly - that hit him hard.
I was surprised to read Caps attendance in down. My section is fuller than ever, but I'm right by the bench. I guess it's people wanting to get an up-close-and-personal look at Ovie. But even a recent charity event with all the players in attendance didn't draw close to the crowd it did last year.


Should the Bruins Bring Back Samsonov?

Spector's Note: I recently noted in my trade rumours page that the Boston Herald suggested the Bruins should consider bringing back Sergei Samsonov if he's bought out of the final year of his contract by the Montreal Canadiens in June. I asked Bruins fans to send in their opinions, and the results are below. It appears most would welcome back Samsonov, provided signing him wouldn't prove costly.

Eddie Hayes.

On the topic of Samsonov being a Bruin, I'm not sure where he fits right now.

If they freed up a top 6 spot, then discounted, yes, bring him in. But he would have to be discounted, and I would assume, a roster player would have to be traded. Murray would be my guess. If they could dump Murray's 4.15M and sign Samsonov for maybe 1-2M, Then I say bring him back. But without trading a guy, you have 6 forwards, that can play on the top two lines (Savard, Murray, Kessel, Bergeron, Sturm, Kobasew). Plus down in Providence, they have Offense waiting to come up, in Krejci, Kalus, and Karsums.

Obviously being a Bruin fan, this opinion is a glossy one, of their current offense. Really glossy, as they just ran off a streak of 3 games, scoring 3 total goals. But that's my opinion.

Robert Fahey.

He was a great forward for us, but always injured. B’s may want to consider what he could be picked up for on the last year of his contract. He could provide the speed and punch (especially with Kessel and Bochenski) on a 2nd or 3rd line that the B’s need. If things don’t work out, then his cost was minimal and let him go after the next year. Samsonov will surely want to try to regain form with whatever team sings him, but I think he’ll stand out more with a team who has speed and a fan-base that knows him already.

Off the topic, I wish the B’s would consider going after a #1 goaltender. We haven’t had one since the days of Andy Moog and Reggie Lemlin (sp?) and that’s sad. The B’s have always “hoped” for a prospect or washed-up want-to-be to pull through for them, but it has never happened.

Steven Hobbs.

As a Bruins fan, I find my team is in an interesting position. They are slowly starting to take shape since Joe got traded. It appears that they are trying to build their team in the mold of the buffalo sabres. However, they are clearly a 2nd-tier sabres team. But they do have flexibility to spend up to the cap, so I expect them to make some more deals in the offseason. If I were them I would trade Glen Murray (Love the guy but his style no longer fits with the team and they could use the $4M in cap space). Samsonov may fit into the direction they are going with speed like savard, kessel, bergeron, sturm, but sammy would need to come in at 1.5M or less. Although Chiarelli said he wouldn't spend big money, the Bruins need a #1 goalie. Giguere would be a great fit. I like Thomas' heart, but he's not a great goalie. If you are going to try building a run and gun team, you need to have a netminder that can bail you out.


In my opinion, I think the Bruins should re-sign Samsonov in the off-season.

1.) Because of his poor play this season, Samsonov would be very cheap.
Chiarelli already said that he didnt want to sign big name players this year because of cap space. 2.) Samsonov was in his best form when he was with the Bruins and with chemistry already with the team it would give them a boost maybe towards a playoff birth for next season. #14 is still available and the only person i see fit for the number next season is Samsonov, maybe a 1 year contract, $1million or less with incentive of re-signing depending on his play next season.


Should the Bruins acquire Samsonov if he becomes an UFA? The answer is yes! Three years ago the Bruins had a second line of Samsonov-Nylander-Bergeron. This line was a powerful line of speed. In the first round of the playoffs, it outplayed the Thornton line. Over the lockout, the Bruins lost Nylander to the Rangers. I can a very similar style of line for the Bruins with Savard in the center and Bergeron and Samsonov as his wings. The Bruins also traded Brad Boyes, so the Bruins needed any extra offensive spark! Samsonov would also come at a cheap price allowing the Bruins to possibly shoot for goaltending depth.


samsonov was good here in boston until he had wrist surgery.since then his career has been on the for him coming back to boston providing he gets bought out from montreal he would have to sign for a huge discount but i still think chiarelli wouldnt sign him. someone will definitely sign him though and take a chance.


I’d like to start by saying that I am huge Bruins fan, and have been forever, so any Bruin-bashing are not a result of bias or dislike for the organization, its only because there are some things that still need changing (like a coach who doesn’t act like a Grandma and try to put positive spins on everything. If you suck, then you suck. There shouldn’t be ‘oh, but you did a good job winning that one face-off garbage’.) I think that if the price was right, he would make a good addition to Boston’s wingers. Boston has too many “filler” players on their roster right now who are not capable of producing at level the Bruins need to be successful. There is a major thing to be considered here. A few years ago when Boston won the Eastern Conference and played Montreal in the first round (their historic 3-1 series lead the disappeared in futility) Boston’s best forwards in that series were Samsonov and Michael Nylander. Peter Chiarelli stressed that he will only go after mid-level free agents in this off-season, so I think they should pony up 3mil and try and lure Nylander away from the Rangers should he hit the open market. Reuniting Samsonov with Nylander might rekindle the chemistry between those 2 players and help put Samsonov’s career back on track. Even though Boston’s bigger hole right now is the glaring need for an offensive D-man to QB the power play (Because lets face it, Chara is entirely out of his element in that role.) To make this move truly work, they should try and unload Glenn Murray this off-season because he is expensive, aging, and becoming injury prone (see groin pull….). If they could free up the 4+mil they are paying him, they could target a good offensive blueliner (Denis Wideman is NOT the answer, that trade still pisses me off because Boyes was out of his element in Lewis’ system). Anyway, back to Sammy. If he would be willing to accept maybe a base of 1-1.5mil, with incentives should he hit 25 Goals and 60 points, he would get an addition 1mil at those 2 milestones. It would not be the worst thing should he want to come back, but definitely DON’T make the same mistake as Montreal and load his contract upfront, make him prove himself and earn the money he feels he deserves.


They never should have traded Samsonov in the first place! I know
that was pre-Chiarelli, but they pretty much moved him for nothing.
The bag of smoke the past management group blew was absolutely
ridiculous. Marty Reasoner, Yan Stastny and a 2nd round selection,
being a great value, was just silly. (See below note)

Samsonov has big upside, which was seen in Boston. He works hard and
he's already fit with and had his best years with Murray (and
Stumpel) and could close the revolving door on the other side of
Murray nicely (No offense to PJ Axelsson). That would give the Bs a
very nice set of 3 Lines. I've actually looked at the numbers and
when Samsonov has had a steady pivot man and his production has
always gone up and he's been much more consistent (i.e.. years with
Stumpel in the middle). Think what could be possible reunited with
Murray and having Savard in the middle.


Sammy Samsonov has always been a "dangler" and with the Bruins would constantly turn over the puck at the opponent's blue line. When he was younger and more agile, he was a threat to score off of these dangles ... now he has lost some of his abilities and will have to be coached into the right role in an offense ... I think the Bruins who have a clinker at the helm (Lewis) will not be able to use him without a coaching change ... but, to be certain, he was much more "at home" in Boston .... and that may have an intangible positive effect on him ..... "may" is the operative word.


I do not think the Bruins should go after Samsonov. The reason is that the Bruins have a player like him Marc Savard. What the Bruins did is a goalie and a player that shoots the puck who can score 40+ goals. That’s is going to be had to come by. The two goalies the team has is not going to do the job. Tim Thomas is a great back up goalie but not a starter he is hot one game and cold the next. I do not understand why the team traded Brad Boyes.


My name is Jay and I am a Boston Bruins Season Tickets Holder for 10 years now...I broke in with Thornton and Samsonov and I believe that bringing back Sammy at a discounted price is exactly what he needs and also what the Bruins are lacking among other things..Sammy brought fans out of their seats and at least was consistent with his scoring while a healthy Bruin. Yes, his last three years where injury filled but this year he has been healthy but benched so I say bring him back along with a legit NUMBER 1 goalie and not the best backup in the league as they have as their starter now.


As a Briuins fan, I would hate to see Samsonov back in Beantown. Sure this guy was good, he was good at making a move then a second move, then giving up the puck. Ever since his rookie year he has been far from impressive as far as I am concerned, very over-rated and I guess we are seeing that now that he is in Montreal where he doesn't have Allison or Thornton to play with.

Tim Thomas.


I agree with your analysis about Thomas. This guy is way too inconsistent ( that's the second year, in a row, that Thomas suffered a 10 games or so very cold streak ) to be consider as a #1 in this league. There's no coincidence why Thomas wasn't picked up by another team but the Bruins before his 32th anniversary. Yes, Thomas can be stellar but, in many key games, he felt apart; allowing the "momentum killer " goal. The major factor about the Thomas situation is the " Cinderella story ". Some fans clearly falled in love with Thomas because he " shouldn't be there " but the fact is that Boston is on the verge, with Toivonen, to scrap another promising goaltender. In fact, i wonder if Boston doesn't have a shot at the Guiness record for the number of young promising goaltenders scraped. You should have seen, on Bruins fans boards, how many fans knocked down Toivoinen and how they were quick to put the blame on him ( and trade ) because they wanted, so badly, to see Thomas between the pipes. Of course, when Thomas did the same blunders, those Thomas supporters were nowhere to be seen on boards and when they did, they blamed the coach, the defensemans or the forwards. But, of course, all those factors were not in play in Toivonen's case....

Boston will not go anywhere until they really acknowledge the fact that they have a problem between the pipes. Thomas is not a part of the long term solution but he's a part of the shortsighted vision of Jacobs ( chasing the 8th spot, makig a 1st round and run with the cash ) and that's why Bruins fan will have to suffer another year with him. Like or it, in order to progress, Boston will have to make a move. Sadly, for them, the market is pretty thin and the performance of Chiarelli to acquire a real #1 was, at the very best, subpar.This year have been a total waste, seasoning wise, for the B's. Toivonen regressed, Boyes and Jurcina were traded ( for the wrong reasons ), Lashoff and Stuart didn't see NHL action ( well, 2 or 3 games ) and Lewis... Oh well, that's another debate...


What If the Oilers Dealt Pronger to Toronto?


I was reading your blog about the Oilers tailspin and had an interesting thought. Imagine if the Oilers had accepted the leafs package for Pronger (Kaberle and Stajan). Sure they got all those first round picks from Aneheim and better for the future of the Oilers, but was it a MUCH worse deal for the present team? It seems to me that Kaberle is exactly the type of powerplay quarterback that the Oilers desperately needed this season. After this season Lupol isnt looking too much better than Matty Stajan either. Stajan has made some beautiful 30 foot passes, tape to tape, while playing a very solid defensive game. It's pure fantasy based speculation, but I'm pretty confident that if Kevin Lowe had accepted the Leafs offer, the Oilers would be very much in the hunt for a playoff position and wouldn't have been able to let Ryan Smyth walk away.

Response to UFA Soapbox.

Tim Swaddling.

Good points about Anson Carter and the perils of Unrestricted Free Agency. Perhaps in a future article you could expand on the issue with some analytical look at some other examples of how UFA can turn into a nightmare if the wrong approach is taken. EG - Jason Allison over pricing himself or thinking that he could wait out the market and get what he deemed his right value rather than taking something in January or February just to get playing in order to get into a groove in time to help a team's playoff run. Yanic Perreault took the opportunity to play in front of what he thought he was worth after a successful statistical season with Nashville and look where it got him.
Another big obstacle of UFAgency you could talk about is how just by taking money one thinks they're worthy of is no indication that things are going to work out in terms of personal situations, case in point Samsonov in Montreal where clashes with coaching and management have impacted his ability to play on the ice. Perhaps staying in Edmonton would've been a better idea to try and expand on the successes formed there instead of bolting to the highest bidder?

Another point might be from a team's perspective, where throwing money at UFAs can land you in some hot water if one is not careful - case in point the Flyers, who threw a free agency spending party like it was 1999 on players who were more suited to 1999. As a result, they sunk like stones with players who skate like they have them in their skates.

And I'm sure you can pick out more examples for each point. Good job.

And an overdue PS - I did read your article about how pissed you were about missing the Buffalo-Ottawa game, but I can't believe you think it would be good for HNIC to move to TSN out of spite for the Leafs based programming the CBC does. Regardless of what you think of the Leafs broadcasting, the CBC is available to every Canadian, TSN is specialized programming available only to those who can afford it. HNIC provides a weekly top notch hockey broadcast to all Canadians, not just the ones who can afford cable or satellite packages. I currently live in Windsor, but I am from a farming community in rural southwestern Ontario and can assure you that there are quite a few out there in the country who work hard all week and either can't afford a dish or cable, or in many cases (including my parents' house, even in population packed southern Ontario) cable is not even available, but look forward to being able to see some hockey on Saturday night because CBC is always available to them. To have HNIC be put on TSN would be a major cultural loss for the social values and principles that Canada upholds in terms of providing it's citizens with universal access to many things. Hockey programming in this country, especially this country, should not come with a mandatory price tag and be available only to those that can afford it.


I noticed a minor error in your latest soap box report. Although it's only a minor mistake, you state that after the lockout, Anson Carter signed with the Canucks for $1.65 mil, when in fact it was only $1.00 million. So, in fact, Carter did manage to double his money via unrestricted free agency ($2.5 million).

The Leafs Cap Situation.


After reading the comment about the Leafs going after a top line scorer this off season, I thought that something should be pointed out. Tie Domi's contract also comes off the books this summer. That is 1.25 million extra that is not allocated to anyone. Given Tucker's new contract of 3 million, and he currently makes 1.6. The money they had allocated to Domi will essentially go to Tucker. So, in the end, the Leafs have lost only minimal cap space. Factor in the increase in cap, Peca's 2.5 million coming off, and O'neill's 1.5 too. The Leafs should be able to get the player they are looking for.


There was a mistake in the Toronto Sun article you citied stating that Sundin's cap hit next year would be $6.3mil. The average amount of the salary is applied to the cap so if you made $2mil and $3 mil in a 2 year deal the team would take a $2.5mil cap hit both years. So the team option on Sundin is really worth over $7mil if they pick up the option. JFJ asked the league to let him pass on the option and resign Sundin before he hits UFA but hes not Lou Lamoriello so they declined. From the rumours I've heard it sounds like Sundin would sign for a 3 year $13.5-15 mil deal should JFJ pass on the option and sign Sundin as an UFO. This could mean the difference between Michael Peca staying or leaving.

In Response to "Taking Runs".


To say that taking fighting out of the game would stop big name players from being carted off the ice on stretchers is ridiculous. The exact opposite would happen. Fighters are on the team to PREVENT the star players from being run at. Take for example the Rangers/Flyers game the other night. The previous game the flyers and Fedoruk had been taking liberties on Jaromir Jagr, and almost put him out of the game. Note: Coltyn Orr was not in the line-up that night. So on this meeting between the division rivals, Orr suits up, KOs Fedoruk 30 seconds into the game, Rangers go on to win handily. Now I hate as much as the next hockey fan to see a player go down unconscious, but do you think any flyer player felt like running at Jagr after that? I agree that attacks like Tootoos should not be tolerated, cheap shots have no place in any sport, but if you know that a cheap shot warrants a date with Coltyn Orr, or Derek Boogard, or any other big enforcer, it would definitely persuade me to refrain. As for the comment about everybody liking All-Star games, I’d have to also disagree, I find the all-star game boring, intensity is what makes hockey great, and the all-star game has none of it. So to conclude, fighting does not put star players out of the game, but rather keeps them in it.

My Opinions.


I think the NHL could expand two teams to 32 by putting two teams in: Houston, Winnepeg, Kansas City, Portland/Seattle, Outside Hamilton, Norfolk/Virginia Beach, or Las Vegas.

Based on the selection you would create 4 conferences of 2 four team divisions. What could be done is make it West, Central, SE and NE. Another alternative is to split it NOrth and South with all 6 candian teams and Buffalo and detroit in one would be an issue.

Its so obvious that edmonton has gone flat after the ryan smith deal. Goalie is NOT to blame. The fact Pronger was dealt was not the reason either. They lost that edge and hot streak entering the playoffs last

What I see with the Sabres ..... Zubrus is very resignable within budget where the mentioned long term salary was about $3M. They will lose either Drury or Brierre. My feeling is the focus will be on Brierre first---especially if Connolly returns because he can take over for Drury in the PK and PP.


More "Taking Runs".


I find it sadly ironic that after writing up my 'Taking runs' email to you that things have come down the pike as they have recently in the NHL with more star players out with head injuries because of goonish play. Jordin Tootoo's recent suspension seems to indicate that at least the NHL is attempting to take a proactive response to this. But I feel more can be done, and hopefully, the NHL and NHLPA gets it's act together to ensure their own livelyhood, and safety.

As for my 'Fans speak out' column this time, I humbly submit the following.

Goons need to be eradicated from the NHL. Face it, If Hockey stays -this way- it's going to die. Fans of every other major sport understand the consiquences, and Fighting, and attacks like Tootoos are not taken lightly in any other sport. Look at any other sport where something like this happens, look at the negativity to generates for those leagues by it's fans.

Artest at the Palace? The College football helmetless head stomping? 'Mellos sucker punch. Everyone was outraged by these acts, but We here in Hockey fandom take 'tradition' as an excuse to send our star players to the hospital while allowing 5 minute a night, 3 goal goons to suck up ice time and dumb down a great game.

No one has any problem with the all-star games, or the olympics being devoid of such thoughtless acts. But the NHL is exempt for some reason, for blind tradition.

Quit being hypocrites NHL Nation, you all love this now, until it's your star forward being taken off the ice on a stretcher, then, oh then how the tune changes.

Thanks Lyle. When you talk to people in the NHL and NHLPA tell them that this fan wants this to end. I love the speed, the skill. I don't miss the fighting, I don't miss seeing my stars wheeled off the ice on stretchers. I bought into the "new NHL" and I want to see it delivered.

Officiating in the NHL.


Most disappointed by the strike two years past, I found myself
struggling to forgive and get back into the game last year. Not
helping, was the lackluster play of my team, the Blues, and the selling
and dismantling of the roster. Upon the hiring of Andy Murray and the
Blues turnaround this season, I find myself excited about the future of
the franchise. The one thing that still prevents me from become fully
engaged in the league again is the inconsistent and sometimes blatantly
awful officiating. This has been the problem of the NHL for years and
is by far the worst officiating in professional sports. I have the NHL
satellite package and watch countless other games nightly that all have
me shaking my head. The officials, more often than not, change the
outcome of a game rather than simply enforcing the rules of it. When
will we have a commissioner that actually addresses the problems of the
league and puts the NHL back among the other major sports in North

Minnesota's Goalie Controversy.


If you ever pop over to the official Minnesota Wild board, you’ll find it full of goalie controversy threads (It’s been going on since Roloson and Fernandez were goaltenders) about the situation with Backstrom and Fernandez. I don’t see Fernandez being moved because he hasn’t ever proven to be a number 1 goaltender, his contract is large, and most teams have settled on who they want as a goaltender already this year or are saddled with other contracts, thus taking on Fernandez’s contract might be difficult…

Tim Thomas.


I'm a long time reader and you have posted some of my stuff before. I'm not looking to have this one posted. I just wanted to disagree with you about Tim Thomas. I know you are an Habs fan and get to see the Bruins 8 times a year or so, if you don't catch them playing agains the Leafs or whatever, but Thomas is a great competitor and one of the only reasons the B's have done so well this season, he gives them a chance to win every night. The Bruins could have made it to the playoffs with Thomas, and he would have probably played better than Jussi Markenen did last year in the playoffs, or right before- i can't quite remember. Anyways, I think you and many critics are off-base with Thomas. He mmay be a Journey Man, he may not be an Elite Netminder, but if his defence wasn't so sloppy and he wasn't the only one playing with heart, the Bruins would be a much better team.

Response to my Article on the Kings.

Darren Field.

I read you column on Fox all the time. Yes this has been a very tough season for Kings fans. I appreciate your coverage on them and really do hope you are right. They have a great young core and good coach. The problem has always been that management/ownership is not committed to putting a winning team on the ice. We shall see in the coming years if this new plan works. I pray that it does. Keep up the great work.

Andrew Khan.

Just wanted to pass along a quick note to say hello as well as say great job on the Kings’ future article on FOX. Nice work and pretty spot on.

It sure sounded like you are optimistic about O’Sullivan, but as a Kings fan who watches this kid night in and night out I smell big time bust. I sure hope I am wrong, but his first NHL season should be forgotten. He is soft and has no determination whatsoever – there are other players in his peer group who are producing more in less ice time, although some factors like a better team/ teammates need to be accounted for. Over all though, I was disappointed with O’Sullivan’s play this season. Hopefully he realized this season how much work is necessary to stay in the NHL (he made the opening night roster by default; Belanger was traded and that opened up a forward position) and works on that this summer.

Response to "josh p.".


I’m not sure what he was trying to show by saying Lecavalier’s +/- would be better if he didn’t play 2:00 every PK. Does he know that goals against are not counted as a minus? And team record is important, but not when Tampa is behind Pittsburgh in the standings. How could you run with such a poorly argued statement on the MVP?



Kevin Kearney.

Spector's Note: The following first appeared on

With another trade deadline come and gone, I think it's interesting how some NHL general managers are instantly branded as clinically insane or new members of MENSA. It seems that the majority of the armchair
GM"s on this website have already passed judgement on the winners and losers of this year's deal derby. However, looking at a past deadline trade might just put things in perspective for everyone.

Most people on know that during his tenure I had always been a staunch supporter of former Philadelphia Flyers GM Bob Clarke. At the 2002 trade deadline, Clarke picked up future
Hall of Fame center Adam Oates from the Washington Capitals. At the time, the move was understandable from the Flyers perspective. Their power play had been abysmal for the better part of that season. Their two top centermen, Jeremy Roenick and Keith Primeau, were both injured and would be out for significant amounts of time.

Conversely, there were a great many people on the website and in the media who panned the deal. I clearly recall some HTR members saying:

"McPhee had Clarke on his knees."

"He just stole those picks."

"Clarke got ripped off for a 39 year old UFA."

"I can't believe they gave up their top goalie

All that and more, even the obligitory Clarke-hating insults.

How about we look at that deal now:

To Philadelphia: C Adam Oates

To Washington: G Maxime Ouellet,
1st round pick in 2002 draft,
2nd round pick in 2002 draft, and
3rd round pick in 2002 draft

Adam Oates:

Yes, Oates left the Flyers after the season to sign with Anaheim. He was not offered a contract by Philadelphia. However, during his one year in Anaheim combined with his next (and last in the NHL) in Edmonton, his skills and speed had clearly diminished. Had he re-signed in Philadelphia, Clarke would have still been panned for paying him for two sub-par

As mentioned before, Roenick and Primeau were out for a while, and the power play was terrible. Oates contributed immediately, and the Flyers went on to win the Atlantic Division. The Flyers were then routed by
Ottawa in the first round, scoring only two goals in the process. Oates assisted on both of them.

While he wasn't re-signed and the team was terrible in the playoffs, the deal was one that Clarke had to make. Had he stand pat, Oates would, in all likelyhood, have been dealt to the Colorado Avalanche. The rumor circulating after the deadline was that McPhee had a bidding war going on between Clarke and Pierre Lacroix. Clarke won. Or lost, according to some people.

Maxime Ouellet:

Considered to be the lynchpin to the deal, Ouellet, a former first-round selection of the Flyers in the 1999 draft, was indeed considered the Flyers' top goalie prospect and had a bright future as a #1 NHL
netminder. Washington was excited to acquire him and viewed him as an eventual successor to Olaf Kolzig. It didn't happen. He couldn't even push Kolzig's backup, Sebastien Charpentier. Ouellet toiled in the AHL for
the Caps until midway through the 2005-06 season. He was traded to the Vancouver Canucks for a fifth round selection in the 2006 draft (RW Tomas Zaborsky). Kolzig is still the #1 goaltender in Washington.

Draft picks:

First round selection in 2002 draft (26th overall) - D Martin Vagner. Vagner never signed an entry-level contract and re-entered the draft two years later. He was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes in the ninth
round (268th overall). He has yet to sign an NHL contract or play in the NHL.

(Philadelphia selected D Joni Pitkanen in the first round of the 2002 NHL Draft).

Second round selection in 2002 draft (59th overall) - G Maxime Daigneault. Currently playing for the Caps' minor league affiliate Hershey (AHL). Still considered a decent prospect, but scouting reports state that he needs to get quicker and tighten his butterfly style.

Third round selection in 2002 draft (92nd overall) - C Derek Krestanovich. Has played for three different ECHL teams. Have not been able to ascertain if his rights still belong to the Caps, but he is not listed
on their website or any other prospect website as part of their organization.

(Philadelphia traded its other second- and third-round selections in order to move up to select Pitkanen.)

I agreed with the decision to get Adam Oates in 2002, and I stand by that decision five years later. This trade was an attempt to get the Flyers over the hump. A gutsy decision that no one should have considered "desperate." It didn't work out for Philadelphia, but it didn't exactly work out for Washington either. McPhee was supposed to use these "stolen" building blocks for the betterment of his franchise and only came away with one goaltender who may or may not start a game in the NHL. Looking back on it, hardly a great return for a future HOF'er in Oates.

So think about this when you criticize people like Don Waddell. Waddell deserves credit, the same way Clarke did, for trying to put his team over the hump. Atlanta has a very good chance at not only winning their
division, but making a run at the Stanley Cup. You may not like what he gave up in order to get Alexei Zhitnik and Keith Tkachuk, but you have no right to call him on the carpet for doing what is best for his team.

Think about this when you laud Paul Holmgren and Larry Pleau, both of whom have been showered with accolades for accumulating building blocks for the future in the form of prospects and picks. You may love the job they have done now, but you have know idea how they will pan out five years from now.

(For the record, I love what Holmgren has done - for now. But I'm not prescient - I'll wait and see how things unfold in five years.)

Here endeth the lesson.

Buying out Kovalev and Samsonov and …


As Spector mentionned in his Sunday rumour round up, Bob Gainey will have a difficult time in finding takers for both Kovalev and Samsonov. The other option for the former Habs captain, is to buy them both out, which might be the best. Samsonov has an another year at 3,525, 000 million, at 2/3 thirds, comes up to 2,350,000. His cap hit is the same amount as his salary, so it comes up to 1,1750,000, roll it over twice the amount of years left on the contract, it should come up to about 600, 000 a season. In Kovalev’s case, it would be 1.5 million over four years, which in the first two seasons would be savings of 3 million a season, but Gainey can choose to absorb it over two years at 3 million a year or over three years at 2 million. I think the 1.5 million option would be the best. If both stay, they will eat up 8,025, 000 million in cap space, if Gainey buys them out, he saves 5,350,000 million in cap space if he chooses to absorb all of Samsonov’s buy out in one season.

I don’t see Gainey retaining the following players next season, Aebischer, Bonk, Ryder, Murray, Ninnimaa and Perezghogin. The Habs need scoring, toughness and more size and a guy behind the bench for the Defencemen, yes I have a candidate, all time Habs great, Larry Robinson, he enjoys teaching the young players and can help the veterans also, and with the good crop of young talent the Habs have on the farm that will be pushing to come up, he would be the ideal candidate, the Habs have not had that kind of guy since Jacques Lapperrière left ten years ago.Plus Robinson would not be a threat to Carbonneau. Would Big Bird accept ? Give him a call Carbo and see. The Team needs to improve and needs an identity, I’m thinking, Ryan Smyth, if he decides to test the market, I know that Gainey tried to pull him out of Edmonton in his first season as Habs Gm. A lot of work over the summer for Mr. Gainey and company.

I’m glad to see that the NHL reacted quickly on the Simon stick swinging incident. It has no place in the game, but it’s those kind of things that the league needs to look at more than trying to eliminating fighting. It was the hit from behind that created the whole situation in the first place, eliminate that. I like the rule the Quebec Major junior hockey league has, a hit from behind results in a five minute penalty and an automatic game suspension, the NHL should do the same. And do the same for shots to the head. Those are much more dangerous than two tough guys dropping the gloves, they are consenting to drop them, the player hit from behind is not, no more than the player getting a hit to the head.

We are about a month away from the beginning of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and you have to wonder if some teams are not taking things a bit too littlely. Example, the Ottawa Senators, this last week played four games and blew leads in three of them and lost, so big deal they got a cheap point in their overtime loss against Toronto on Saturday night, a point in my opinion they did not deserve. If I am Bryan Murray I would start to have concerns about this. Yes it happens during a season where you blow a lead, in an 82 game season it happens ten times it’s not that bad, but three times in the same week, there is a problem. Yes there is unwritten rule not to run up a score, in the case i stated, it was not. You go in to the third period leading by 2 or 3 goals, you continue to swarm your opponent in his zone, look for a mistake and pounce on it and make them pay. The main thing, be hungry, want more, if you don’t get it, keep them from scoring a goal that will change the game, you control it at 4-1 or 3-0, keep it that way, don’t give an inch, don’t conceed center ice and cut off all passing lanes. If they do get in your zone, apply what I call the 3 and 9 defence. What is that you ask ? It’s simple, you force your opponent to the left side, using the face off circles as your guide. The one on the left will be at 3 o’clock and the right at 9 o’clock. Your centerman and goalie are the main ingridients to success, they become the seconds hand as they have to move with quick precision. Your goal playing defence is to keep the other team outside of those two time zones, in other words, take away time and space to execute. By limiting that, you have a better chance at getting the puck back and creating 3 on 2’s or 4 on 2’s and catching your opponent flat footed. All of this is a question of testing your team’s will to win, to compete and unite for the one and only goal, win the Stanley Cup. New Jersey has done it twice, Colorado, Detroit, Tampa Bay and Carolina have acomplished that goal during this decade, the Ottawa Senators have to ask themselseves, do we want to be next ? Guys, Detroit, Nashville, San Jose,Buffalo, New Jersey and Anaheim will be asking themselves the same question also. If things fall into place, we should have great playoffs this spring.

Responses to my Recent Comments on the Canadiens.

"David in SA"

I just read your link to the article in the gazette to break up the Habs. It is almost funny to think that the press would buy into a 3 to 5 year plan. Centering the team around Carey Price could be good, but he has not yet played in an NHL game (lofty expectations there).

The problem with the Habs is lack of production from the guys who make the most money. They are hampering the team and cannot be moved because they don't produce for the money they make. There is better young talent on the team than I can recall in years. The kids from Hamilton have stepped in pretty well and the young regulars would make a perfect support group for a talented core of key players. That is what the team is missing, core players who play like core players.

Contracts and cap space make that difficult to cure. The Gazette writer advocates going with the draft (you should always go with the draft), but who will score goals for them? They have not found a goal scorer in the draft since Richer in the 80's. If they were to fall as far as Pittsburgh, they may run into cap troubles if their young players mature at the same time. Plus, I think their young base is already too good to let them fall that low.

Changes are needed, but I can't fully agree with his suggested method.


First, samsonov's days in montreal are most probably numbered. He publicly stated he regrets ever signing in Montreal and that he has enough and wants to go perform somewhere else!... (title : ''samsonov en a ras-le-bol'') As for a buyout, buying out kovalev and samsonov would actually free a little over 5M from cap space next season, 1.8M the season after but would be a 1.5M loss for each of the 2 seasons after that due to the fact that you can extend a buyout on twice the remaining period of the contract! Therefore, like mentionned, since it's very hard to attract UFAs in Montreal, it's worth the try since the roster should be filled with cheap youngsters for the next couple seasons unless of course a couple players are willing to come play here, which chances are slim to none!


Just a few words about all that has been written in light of the Alex Kovalev "affaire" and the resulting UFA signing concerns in Montreal..

I think that in short, today's UFA players will sign where they are closer to win the Cup, where they can win more money, and, exceptionally, in today's world, where they can truly make a difference (that is, signing to a rebuilding team, and make a name for themselves by rebuilding it) - If you look at the trend of the signings of the biggest UFAs in the past year, you will see that I am right. It is very rare to see key players go out and sign for Columbus, Washington, etc..

As such, Montreal has not been close in 15 years to win the cup or to show for a team on the rise, and the tax situation is also the worst in the whole league... For me these are the deep reasons for the UFA situation.

My other point is about the language factor - Saku Koivu has been asked to say a few words in French because he is here since more than 10 years and is the Captain ! He could at least be able to say Bonjour and Au Revoir to the fans that pay him good money. The other players like Souray, Ryder, Bonk, even Rivet, were never asked this because again, they are not the front face of the franchise like Saku is ! The French media have never been against those guys because of their unability to speak French. We understand that anyway everyone can live 100% in English in Montreal, and does not NEED to speak French, per se. So I think the anglo media has been quite happy to hit on the French once more in this situation, but the reality is that it is a pure politeness sign to be able to greet people in their own language in their own land. In that sense, we can also compare to the soccer star like Zidane, that have learned Italian while in Italy, Spanish while in Spain, and so on. And he is able to do a full conversation in these languages ! That's commitment, and that is not even the level that any french media (and fans) have been asking to Saku...

Finally, in this all UFA topic, one thing I regret is accountability ! When a Samsonov makes 3.5 millions a year, he has to perform! Regardless of this, he is very keen to blame coach, organization, players around him, etc... In the hockey world, there is no accountability anymore... and no pride for success...

This is why I miss 80's hockey !


Over the summer...Mr Gainey along with the coaching staff...gotta sit down have a long talk and get rid of the deadwood...having watched them whenever I could 2006-2007 I would personnaly get rid 90% of the team...the draft picks if they are good enough to make it in the pass Hamilton and where ever else...put them right on the team...Pittaburgh don't seem to be doing to bad and they brought a few in like guys if your gonna draft good players and put them in the AHL they'll look good down there but they won't be helping the habs...take a page out of Pittsburgh's book...malkin-crosby-staal...I don't need to say more and the Habs will compete with any team...Draft, Draft, Draft...never mind signing deadwood.

Response to Alex C's grades to the Eastern Conference GM's.


I have to strongly disagree with you giving Lou Lamoriello a C- as a grade at this point in the season. Your reason why is because he is against the cap. Well he was against the cap last summer too, AND still managed to sign Patrik Elias, Brian Gionta, Scott Clemmenson. He did this all while maneuvering through the CBA as if he wrote it by "shedding" bad contracts, and using his draft picks. And as of writing this He has the Devils 4 points out of the Presidents trophy, and 1 point out of being the top seed in the eastern conference..... and this man deserves a C-? i think you need to look at more than just where a team is in relation to the cap when handing out grades, as you have GREATLY under valued Lou Lamoriello.

NHL TV Time.


Can someone explain to me how the NHL tv time deal works? I am uneducated in this and very confused. I would have thought if the league wanted more fans they would NOT alien hockey fans based on regional contracts. Are we supposed to only watch the Rangers/Islanders/Devils in the tristate aread for example? I am huge Ranger fan but would love to see other teams play also while not missing out on my Rangers. I have MSG to watch the Rangers BUT the NHL f'd up and put the Islanders vs. Rangers on VERSUS (formerly OLN) MSG nor FSN couldn't show it. If i was the league I would have ensure this rivalry would have been prominent and very accessible to the NY/NJ fans. It is playoff time nonetheless.

Can someone answer why other t.v networks cannot pick up a game here or there? I would love local tv stations or even cable stations to pick up NHL games from around the league so fans across teh nation can pick up the action as well as their local teams. Take the hit on revenue and get the most exposure right? It makes no sense to me. Like when FOX was with the NHL. I only saw local teams in my area play. Well what if the game sucked? I couldn't switch to see other teams? WHy cannot several local stations and local cabel stations show multiple games? I think this would give greater exposure and entice more people (NEW FANS) to watch. right?

Somewhere greed and tv contracts are holding up the success of the NHL

Is Ryan Smyth Worth $6 million?


I thought to myself is Ryan Smyth worth close to six million dollars? The trade shocked me at first, then made me realize it might not be such a bad thing after all. What makes him worth over what the oilers offered? Is it the fact that he scored 30 goals four times in his career? In all cases probably not. I hate to say it but, Ryan Smyth (Most likely Don Meehan) Tried to use the sentimental factor to get more money out of the Edmonton Oilers. His career stats don't stand out like higher paid players in the league. He hasn't even averaged a point per game pace. So I agree with what Kevin Lowe did. How he did it is another thing... at the deadline, something he tells me they could have gotten more, if he was more agressive shopping him.

Where does this leave the Edmonton Oilers? According to they TSN Hockey pannel they are now in a two year rebuilding phase. I wouldn't trust those guys as far aa I could chuck them. I don't believe that to be the case. They Oilers are sitting on a lot Draft Picks and young prospects, not to mention the core of there younger roster. Hemsky, Stoll, Torres, Horcoff, Lupul. They also have the leadership from Staios, Smith, Moreau. Along with the goaltending of Rolosson. There are only a couple peices of the puzzle missing. There are a lot of good UFA's available, but the trade market may be there as well. Who would have thought the Oilers would've been able to get Chris Pronger? I have this feeling that the Oilers will be a major player in the off season. Who they can get is what I can't wait to find out.

Who Should Be NHL MVP?

"josh p."

I'm putting a post here in hopes of attracting a healthy debate. I really think most people have basically given the MVP award to Sidney Crosby this year, and I dont think he deserves it. My personal choice would be the man who is leading the NHL in goals, tied for 6th in Game-winning goals, 2nd in the league in Short-handed goals, top ten in Power Play goals and second in points., Vincent Lecavalier. But by all means, I want to hear what you have to say.

I know I'll probably hear it from you guys, but to me, Crosby isnt half the player Lecavalier is. Vinny is a force every night for his team, logging over 22 mins a game on the ice, playing power play, penalty kill and even strength. His even rating may turn some people off, but when you're on the penalty kill nearly the entire 2 minutes, it will affect your +/-. The most telling stat for me is that 6 of his 45 goals are game-winners, several other are game-sealers, and that more than 65% of his assists are PRIMARY. Compare that to Crosby, who has about 50/50 Primary to Secondary in the assist column. If you've ever read this article , you know that the secondary assist can be a very misleading stat. If you re-calculate the assist of Lecavalier and Crosby, removing all secondary assists, it looks like this: (sorry the data is about a week old)

Player GP G A Pts w/o secondary assists

CROSBY PIT 58 26 41 67

LECAVALIER T.B 64 41 26 67


When you look at this, the gap in points between Lecavalier and Crosby is erased, but Lecavalier still has all those goals. And to me, goals are more important than assists. If you look at scoring consistency, Lecavalier has been held scoreless in only 8 games this year, compared to Crosby's 12. Further, Lecavalier has only gone 2 consecutive games without a poin ONCE. Crosby is now mired in a 3 game skid, however, he hasnt gone more than 2 games without a point in a row.

I know many of you will talk about Crosby's effect on every player on the ice, his role in the locker room, blah, blah, blah. To me Crosby does nothing that Lecavalier doesnt do better. EXCEPT ONE THING:

Crosby whines better.

Take this from someone who plays the game: it's ok to be mad about a call, even if its a good one. But if you're a player that can be found talking to the referee about calls after EVERY WHISTLE, then there's a problem. I like Crosby as a player, and he seems like a great guy, but if you're a leader of a team, there are times when you have to lead by example (And I'm not talking about Jarko Ruutu's new-found prowess at diving). Sometimes, you get a bad call, and then you just have to suck it up and kill the penalty. To me, that should make Crosby inelegible for MVP, at least until he grows up a bit and matures.

The MVP shouldn;t just come down to statistics. Team record is important, but for the time being I'm looking at both PIT and TBL as teams in similar standings (they actually are pretty close) and what happens in the playoffs should weigh heavily on the voter's minds. The purpose of this post is to open up everybody's mind, and to prevent Crosby from winning the MVP just because everybody assumed he deserved it most.

One final note, I disregarded Martin Brodeur from this list for a reason. I dont believe a goaltender should win MVP. Just like in baseball, goaltenders have their own award, and MVP should be limited to skaters, not a goaltender who plays in a defense-first system, especially not a system that still traps even if the team is down 2 goals. To me, Brodeur is a great goalie, and a certain Hall of Famer, but his system is set to help him out in every way possible. Im not knocking the trap here, even though I think its killing Hockey's marketability. Brodeur is a great goalie, and he should win the Vezina hands-down, but he should NOT be included in MVP voting.

State of the NHL.


I am sure most think hockey is heading in the right direction but I am a bit worried. I am more than happy to be corrected on any point. From my observations I see the NHL not being able to sustain the fan base and growth needed to keep from faltering again. As a hockey fan I am aware for the most part we will always have the "true hockey fans" but isn't the point of any sport or business to attract and grow your base year after year? I highly doubt we have had a significant increase in fans from year to year. If anything I would call it a wash. We gain some and lose some. Typical example. I went to the Islander vs. St. Louis game recently. Ryan Smith's 1st home game as an Islander. I am a Ranger fan but hey it is hockey right?. Anyway. Wouldn't you think you would do anything in your power to have a sell out crowd as a league and team to welcome home a new Star player you are hoping to resign? I am not sure of the t.v. ratings but over a third of the building looked empty. They have something called "HAVOC" seats. All the season seats that didnt sell (ice level). I paid 20$ and I was utterly shocked how empty it still was. Blame it on whomever but my point is....what efforts were made to ensure a huge showing?

I really think this comes from several factors of on ice and off ice hockey decisions.

The product on the ice is fair. Yes there have been many exciting times but still misses that "it" factor. Checking seems to be down and well dives still seem to be up there. I honestly can say that the goalie restrictions is a HUGE mistake. You virtually take the goalie and make him a glorfied garbage can in the net. It isn't fair to guys like Brodeur who can launch passes up to his teamates on the other blue line during powerplays just because the league thinks that is what was causing the game to be "slow". I never liked shrinking the space behind the net. Set ups like Gretzky did are a fundamental. IF a D-man wants to come get you, you should have room to move around him and not be "forced" to the front of the net. You want more space on the ice for players to do something then make the ring bigger not change zone depths.

Off the ice decisions like taking up markets where "quick fix $$" is the answer isn't a viable option to sustaining a business for the long term. Warm weather environments are starting to work out to some degree but if we look at the overall landscape we still don't have a huge portion of sell out crowds. To me that would be more important than having more arenas and more teams with 50% houses. Maybe it is just me but Kansas City for the Penguins is absurd. Unless someone can guaruntee sell outs for several years noone should go anywhere. 3rd jerseys bring in tons of revenue for the teams right? Good but what does it do to bring in NEW fans and satisfy the current fan base in welcoming them to MORE games , more frequently? The league and the owners need to spend their $ on better things and give better deals to ensure packed out houses for the long term and get the individual team players more involved with fans. Example. I stood over an hour in 10degree weather for a cheap ticket to see the Islanders play. (Ryan Smith's 1st game I alluded to earlier) Not ONE player, coach, or organization member came out to welcome us and thank us for coming there and freezing our asses off to see them play. So is a privaledge to freeze to buy a ticket to see your team? The league needs fans more than the fans need them.

Suspensions. I could give a rats butt if Chris Simon, Todd Bertuzzi, Marty McSorley were choir boys, community saints or what not but after what they did wouldn't you think the league should suspend them for at least one full 82 game plus playoff season AND send them to counseling for anger management? Noone is perfect but that is NOT how you market it to other sports, parents of young kids and fans how serious or in these cases lack theirof you take your BUSINESS.

I am digressing but I am tired of the poor product. I miss the old days. Yes the game needs to evolve but let's be reasonable. I think a few things need to happen and I am sure they would never BUT here we go. Please reply and give me your voices.

1. No more SHOOT-OUT. Well I am torn on this but I am no longer excited seeing a penalty shot during a game. Also the game should be decided as a team not who has the best player on the ice. Make the OT 4 on 4 for 20mins. No shoot-out. The only way it should stay if they correct my next point.

2. NO more extra points. This is the problem with American culture and why the other sports (i.e Football, Baseball, Basketball) do not take us seriously. Who in their right mind gets rewarded for losing? So the trap in the OT just to get to the shootout bc you'll at least get a point? No point for losing. This will make teams take extra chances and be more agressive in regulation and OT to ensure those 2 points. Also you'll see more skilled players and maybe less goons bc they will be needed more. This will not happen bc this is $$ driven by the owners to ensure a closer chance to playoff revenues. So 2points to win ZERO for a loss.

3. Won't happen BUT make the rink BIGGER. Bigger players, fasters players so the natural progression is LARGER surface. The Olympic and International leagues all have larger surfaces so make the NHL, the alledged premier league of hockey, LARGER. Do not make college, AHL and other minor leagues bigger, just the NHL rinks. Again this will not happen bc the leagues loses seats to sell for$$. If they think for a moment since they are not selling out already it makes viable sense. LONG TERM.

4. New marketing strategy. Last time i checked the commercials for the NHL and it's players SUCK. They wear only their Jerseys and people still don't know who they are nor their teams. Merely putting a face on camera with a jersey does not MARKET the league. Can anyone say NASCAR?????. Yes that is right. Hire a bunch of marketing/advertising staff from NASCAR bc they do it better than ANYONE in the world.

5. Bettman RETIRE. You did what you could now it calls for fresh ideas not on how to change the game but how to attract new fans, make your current ones happier and improve league revenue long term( other than changing the on ice product). I am going out on a limb here but how does Paul Tagliabue sound? Yes retired from the NFL but I am sure give him what he wants and this guy can work wonders. No nonsense in the NFL, former lawyer knew nothing about it and turned it into the best sport america has. Baseball is no longer America's is. Let's get hockey in the top 3

6. Selfish of me but do not increase the salary cap so soon. Give younger players more chance to go wherever they want as soon as their contract is up. I am not a huge fan of RFA. UFA is the way to keep players and owners honest with a lower cap and higher floor. That $ saved on players salaries can then be taken for the league to use to develop a larger fan base, programs to get new youths into the sport and subsidize programs. Hockey is soooooo expensive to play. That is one of the problems. If the leagues pay for at least some of the costs for youth leagues to play on the surface and find ways to lower equipment costs you might get more kids interested. Soccer is the world's cheapest sport to play and the world's most POPULAR. Maybe I am being naive but someone should look into it.

I miss REAL hockey. Something has to be done. Anyone feel free to write me back.

Lightning Trade.

Richard Ilfeld.

Trading one of the big three, or four if you count Boyle, happens only for Luongo or equal, ie a proven top five Goalie. Our ‘three amigos’ are signed for five years, and are all top 30 players (two being statistically top five).

Lightning claim to be two playoff rounds (10MM) short of breakeven;But the team with stars and trying to go deep into the playoffs is a better business risk than shedding the stars and then trying to fill the building with hard-working me-toos in a non-traditional market.


Part of the transitory problem is the ‘cost of the cup’ where the post cup payroll demands distort your club the next contract period (Hello, Carolina). The combined contractsprobably are 4-5MM a year less if your not resigning cup winners. Not the worst problem for a GM to face, though, is it?

Re: GM Grades.

"Rob in the O.C."

Los Angeles (22-32-10-54pts) Dean Lombardi A

Apart from the peculiar trade for Dan Cloutier last summer and the non-trade of free agent-to-be Aaron Miller, it's hard to find fault with Lombardi's rebuilding job in Southern California. The Kings now have 21 picks in the next two drafts to rebuild around Kopitar, Frolov and Jack Johnson.


You realize that you are talking about rebuilding around 1 potentially(emphasis on this word) great player (kopitar), 1 player who is finally having his breakout year but maintains his streakiness in frolov and one who has no nhl experience. And you are saying that more draft picks warrants an A? im sorry but Lombardi should get an INC. all his moves so far have been gambles. Cloutier was coming of a bad injury, Burke is 40, Garon has proven nothing, picks inherently are a gamble. Demitra, a player who could have been helping this team now, was traded for, surprise, more prospects. Until he uses or trades those picks for good players he can hardly be judged and if you do judge him on what he has done he clearly gets an F because the team is right now worse than it was a year ago.

I know everyone says “patience, give him a chance” and I will but on that same token don’t assume that translates into he can do no wrong. He hasn’t fixed the kings special teams woes, he hasn’t fixed the need for a veteran leader on the ice, he hasn’t fixed the goaltending situation and so far he’s tried to turn us into the resting place for Vancouver and San Jose castoffs. Sure its been less than a year but so far all you can give him credit for is stripping down the team to the bare bones(news flash the worst GM in the league could have done what he has done), once he actually starts rebuilding the team then ill pass final judgment on him. Until then he’s getting a progress report which will say “needs improvement”.