The Philadelphia Flyers are dead last but recently they are showing a little life on the ice. The competitive juices are flowing and their battling out there but right now they are not scoring enough to win hockey games. When they started out, the writing was on the wall for a change. Well, change did happen but it still hasnt fixed the problem. Although I agree with the changes, I expected some sort of trade by now because one of the biggest problems is the lack of leadership the team has. This all started with the retirements of Desjardin and Primeau and they have yet to recover from that. As much as I enjoy the youth movement, I dont see any established veterans who have been with the team for a number of years that need to be vocal. On any team you need a nice mix of players who will hold other players (Primeau) accountable along with other players that let their actions speak instead of their words most of the time (Desjardin). This team has the quiet leader but they still need the outspoken leader to hold players accountable. Gagne is a laid back type of player and quite honestly I dont believe hes leadership material. Hes a good player but not captain material; I would not even give him an A.
Another concern that Ive had with this team for a number of years is their ability to scout other teams. I dont know but when I played any type of organized sports we scouted the other teams and practiced on how to stop them. My coaches set up a games plan on how they played and what to do to counter there way of playing. I dont see it with this team. Its the same thing over and over again. We have to work harder. Well, how about if you use technology and study film. Not just the coach but the whole team. You will know that Crybaby Sid cherry picks and Malkin are learning to do the same. Learn what the other teams are doing. For some players, go back to the basics and learn to stickhandle all over again.
Especially on the power play!!! Most of the time if you continue to move the puck or swing the puck you will find someone that is open, compared to just having the play set up on the side boards all the time. Other teams know what is coming so why not change the power play a little bit?
Then you have the shootout. I believe the Flyers were one of the worse shoot out teams in all of hockey last year. Why? Did they practice this? If not, why not? If its part of the game, the incorporate it in your team practices.
Most of these issues start from the top, so when one thing goes one all you have to do is look at the GM and the Coach. This is what the Flyers did but sooner or later you have look at the players as well. But, like the old cliché you cant fire 20 indians, you can only fire the coach.
According to my sources Leetch mustve been a figment of Clarkes imagination.
I wanted to watch a few games first before I wrote my first Season Column and I feel like Im starting off in the same place as last year. Am I watching touch hockey or ice hockey? As many of you already know Im not a true fan of the new N.H.L. Ive gone as far to rename the league to N.P.H.L. (National Pond Hockey League) due to the lack of hitting in todays game compared to a couple of years ago. I was really hoping that the referees would allow the same type of play that went on during the playoffs but when I watched the Flyers-Penguins game, my hope was quickly dashed. As soon as Kyle Calder made a very nice poke check away from Crybaby Sid and bodied him out of the way (Crybaby Sid fell down), the referees arm went up and called a penalty on Calder for holding. Then with the next couple of games I watched the parade to the penalty box continued. The rule of thumb of if the player has there stick parallel to another player is a penalty is a joke. If the stick impedes the player and takes him off his stride and out of the play, THEN its a penalty. There have been way too many touchy penalties. I thought hockey players were the toughest athletes on earth. If thats true then why do they fall down if someone barely touches them? I know, I know to draw a penalty. Its very sad for the game.
Side note: I really believe Crybaby Sid wouldve had a better chance to win the rookie of the year if he didnt complain so much every time he was knocked down. Plus, each time he got a chance he would hook, slash and spear another star player. This is not going to win you any brownie points especially when you wont drop the gloves.
Question: If you were getting ready to shoot and saw a player drop down to block your shot, what would you do? I would intentionally shoot to where he doesnt have padding so the next time he would think twice on trying to block my shot. I know, I need to get the puck on net.
I really didnt get a lot of feedback when it came to what was your season ticket increase. But, I did read an article recently stating the days of taking care of your season ticket holders are already gone. WOW, it only lasted a year. I really didnt expect too much this year. Revenues increased, the fans came back and low and behold lets stick to them and see what the market can bear. In some markets you can really see the theory of supply and demand at work.
Finally, once again people are harping on why the N.H.L will never have success in the United States. Well, one name is the answer and that is Bettman. You have to advertise outside your direct market. You have to advertise on billboards, products other then hockey, with the names of the players and the teams. The N.H.L.P.A. needs to make there players more marketable. Businesses like to spend money, get the players out in the public eye, not just in their respectable markets. They need to branch out a little bit. Until then our sport will only be a niche sport in the States.
Its that time again!!! In the next couple of weeks all N.H.L Teams will be starting training camp. At this time all teams will have an equal shot of reaching the playoffs. All the teams will be relatively healthy and ready to go.
With training camp looming Im going to touch on some of recent current events that are happening around the league.
First off, Malkin finally arrives in Pittsburgh!!! Im looking forward to seeing this kid on the ice to see if he lives up to his billing. Putting him on the same line as Crybaby Sid would give the Pens a solid first line. But, remember talent does not equal maturity. We all found that out last year, didnt we?
Peter the Great skates for the first time since his surgery. This is solid news in Flyer land when most of us thought he would have surgery on both feet/ankles and be out until the New Year. As the league saw last year, when Peter the Great is semi - healthy hes still one of the top players in the league, even on a bum ankle. So, we can only imagine the type of player he can be when hes 100% healthy considering how this injury has been bothering him for several years.
Another news story that has struck a nerve with me is the Zherdev story out of Columbus as their trying to re-sign him and hes threatening to sit out or play in Russia if his contract demands are not met. Story has it that MacLean went above and beyond with Zherdev when he wanted to first come over here from Russia. So, how grateful is he to be over here, he wants more money or he will go back to his country. I thought the purpose of coming over to play in N.P.H.L. is to win the Stanley Cup, along with making a few dollars. The interesting thing is that the fans are smarter these days and sees the greediness of the players in all sports. We all see how in one year a decent player can make more money then a blue collar person can make in a lifetime, so when a dispute comes out over money (millions) most fans do not have any sympathy.
Speaking of sympathy, what is going on with Simon Gagne? Is he worth over 4 million dollars a year? My personal opinion is that he should be thanking Peter the Great for the majority of his goals last year. Before that he didnt even come close to the big 40 and now hes asking to be paid like his counter part, fellow draft graduate Alex Tanguay. There is one key missing component between Alex and Simon and thats the Stanley Cup. Alexs has won one compared to Simon. Remember, if you want to be one of the highest players paid on the team then you need to step up and become a leader. If I remember correctly when Peter the Great wasnt in the lineup, Gagne disappeared and became just one of the guys. Plus, he has faded in the last couple of playoffs. Oh, and lets not forget he has turned down the captaincy a couple of times, deferring to the older guys on the team. Sorry, Simon if you want to be paid then overall step up and deliver. You cant have it both ways. You dont see Sid the Kid turning his back on taking on a more vocal part of his team. One year scoring 47 goals does not make you a 5 million dollar player. Bob Clarke is more then generous with his offer. I would not like to see the Philly faithful turn against this guy. No million dollar player will ever get my sympathy when it comes to haggling over money, unless he gives me a cut of his paycheck. Ha Ha!!!
Lastly, for the fun of it this year I joined a Fantasy Hockey League on Yahoo. I was blessed when my league did the automated draft and was able to get Gagne and Peter the Great, who when they are playing together make a wonderful duo. Just recently, a gentleman from league proposed two trades. The first one was Reechi for Gagne. Now, although Reechi is one of my all time favorite players, I firmly believe hes on the down slope of his career so I straight up rejected the trade. The second one was J. Stoll for Peter the Great. I almost fell out of my chair in disbelief over this proposal. Well, as you would suspect I rejected this trade as well. I would keep Peter the Great even if he played on one healthy leg. Truly amazing!!! I cant wait to see his next offer.
As always any feedback is greatly appreciated.
The season is over, a Stanley Cup winner has been named and now we are all heading into the off-season with a little less uncertainty then last year. This year all the teams are heading into next year with a little more then 5 million dollars to spend, which should help some of the free spending teams and may hurt the lower end teams who try to stick to a fixed budget.
Congratulations to Wesley, Weight and BrindAmour to name a few aging veterans who just won the Stanley Cup!!! I would hope Wesley would do the Bourque and retire since there is really nothing else he needs to accomplish in his career.
Can anyone tell me whats going on with McCabe in Toronto? You either want to sign or you dont want to sign. Please consult with your wife before you sign since it sounds like shes the one making the decision on your next contract.
So, finally Luongo finally got traded. All I have to say is Thank Goodness. If I was Mike Keenan I wouldve traded him too because he was insisting on a one year deal and then becoming an unrestricted free agent. Keenan on the other hand wanted to make sure he got some value in return because he wasnt sure if Luongo was going to re-sign with them after this coming year.
All reports out of Philly is nice guy but oft-injured defenseman Desjardins is heading into retirement. Good luck Rico!!! I think he would make an excellent coach. Doesnt the Phantoms needs another assistant after their whole coaching staff turn over?
Speaking of the Philadelphia Phantoms, congratulations to Craig Berube on being named head coach of the Flyers A.H.L. team.
Did anyone hear Lindy Ruff of the Sabres complaining about the amount of injuries his team had to deal with during the playoffs? Sorry, coach but there were other teams that were more beat up then your team starting in the first round. Remember injuries are just part of the game.
Now is the time of year when you will find out if players are more worried about earning top dollar compared to playing for a winner.
With the new CBA, I believe you will find out if the European, Russian; Swedish etc are going to continue to come over to play for a chance to win the Cup or simply stay over in their homeland and earn a good living. I believe most of them will stay put in their homeland compared to come over and compete for the Cup. The salaries of the 90s are gone.
Im in search of some season ticket information from my fellow readers. I know for a fact that the Flyers have initiated a 5% increase across the board for all tickets. Does anyone else know what the rest of teams are doing?
Has anyone seen Patrick Stefan? I didnt know he was still playing in the N.H.L. until I saw his name on the transaction wire. Could he be the next Falloon or Daigle?
Has anyone noticed how the West is being won compared to the East? The West is being won with hard work, checking and a lot of grit and determination. The East is being won with the New Pond N.H.L. Style of play. Dont touch anyone on the ice or there will be a penalty called. Why is that? One theory is because the main office for the N.P.H.L. (National Pond Hockey League) is on the east coast and all the referees want to dress to impress their bosses by calling penalty after penalty. If a game had a chance to have some type of flow, it would be instantly taken away due to another penalty being called. Did the Eastern Conference draw the short straw with the referees that are calling their games?
I have a suggestion for Gary Bettman, Steve Walkom, along with any two referees from a playoff game. Better yet from any game during the year. I would love for them to publicly review tapes with a fan or with OLN. During this process I would love to ask them questions about why certain calls were not made along with why certain calls were made. I would also like to see Bettman and Walkom criticize and suspend referees if they have a bad game. The fans should be privy to this information for one basic reason. We are already hearing about each time a player, a coach, or a general manager is fined. Why not step it up to the next level? Its only fair. I think there are a lot of referees who think they are untouchable.
Speaking of missing calls, Im still waiting to hear from the League about the high stick from Justin Williams on Saku Koivu. As soon as their leader got injured, the Canadians folded up their tents and pulled out their golf clubs. I thought there was an upset in the making. This is where I say the two-referee system lacks respect because now you have 4 eyes out there and they still missed the call. Will the one referee system work? No, but at least for the sake of the referees they can use the excuse that they didnt see the play, when in fact one of them shouldve seen the high stick. Remember they are on the ice to enforce the rules not to interpret the rules. Ive seen too many times one of the referees skate over to a coach and explain why a call wasnt made, which to me is pathetic. Once again, they are there to enforce the rules not interpret. You either let the teams play or call everything that happens on the ice and we all know how I feel when it comes to the New N.H.L.
At this time I would like to give some congratulations for OLN. Over the last couple of months, they have been slowly working out the kinks when it comes to their broadcasts. They revamped the studio and they seemed to pull the right people for announcing their games. One thing I do like (my suggestion) is listening to some local game announcers. The two that stick out in my mind right now is the gentleman who does Washington Capitals games and the Philadelphia Flyers announcer. Bill Clement is doing a better job as a studio host but I still like him behind the mike as a color commentator. Sorry, my personal preference. I believe the best in house analyst is Keith Jones, hands down. I just hope OLN continues to work hard because this could be a good thing for the N.P.H.L. As Ive stated several times, the media needs to promote the game regionally and locally. This will promote the sport. Nationally wont work!!!
Thank you for all the feedback. Please keep it coming. If you have a moment please take a look at End to End. Matthew Ryder keeps you up to date weekly with the current news around the League.
Bring back the hitting!!!
The playoffs are in full swing and instead of writing an article about them Im going to give you my own opinion of the New N.H.L.
I know we still have two more rounds to go before The Stanley Cup winner is crowned. So, I have plenty of time to add my two cents.
After watching the first round of the playoffs I can truly say I dont, let me say it again, I DONT like the new N.H.L. I believe some of the changes were necessary for the sport to gain more fans and popularity. But if Gary Bettman hasnt caught on yet, hockey is not going to make it on the national stage. Its a niche sport, which has a dedicated fan base, and as long as the teams respect and take care of these fans the sport will continue to thrive in the teams respective markets.
Some of the rules I think needed to be changed to speed up the game but it has cost the North American game a price.
Bringing in the two-line pass really has helped speed up the games. Thats a plus.
Tag up off sides (although an old rule and now a new one again) has kept the game moving as well.
Other changes with the rules have taken out the physical nature of the game.
Two-minute instigator needs to be taken out because there are still too many stick fouls in todays game. The referees, even with two of them out there, still miss too many of these things. I would rather have the players police themselves; this will bring back some integrity in the game.
The 100% obstruction calls. What amazes me is how a player can pick for another player when they cycle in the offensive zone. But a player is not allowed to slow another player when they, the opposing team, dump the puck into the zone. This has created too many HARD hits to the defenseman and whats sad is that if a defenseman tries to be physical these days, hes the first one to get a penalty called on him.
Im all for an increase in goals but you cant take the physicality or the checking out of the game. But, sadly, thats what they have done. I have a clear issue with small pint size players standing in the crease and the defensemen are not able to clear the crease for the sake of their goaltender.
I still believe they need to change the overtime to a 10-minute period and then a shootout. I would also change the point scale as well. Once you hit overtime, its 2 points for the winner and 0 for the loser. This will create more desperate times for teams that need points to make the playoffs.
Plus, has anyone realized that the two-referee system still stinks? Oh wait, theyre trying their best, its a fast game. YEAH, YEAH, YEAH.
Overall, the game has now become more of an Olympic Game or a European Game. I grew up watching a tough sport with a lot of hitting, checking and fighting and in one year all this has been taken out due to wanting to add more viewing to the game on a national level. This will never happen!
Is playoff hockey right around the corner? I think it is according to the schedule since teams have basically a month to go to make their final push to make the playoffs. Just like the old cliché, each game is a must win. I will focus on the Eastern Conference because I live on the East Coast. The final two spots for the playoffs are teaming up to be a 7-team race. Its going to be a race between Tampa, Montreal, Atlanta, Toronto, Islanders, Florida, and Boston. Currently, the final two spots are held by Tampa and Montreal, which I think Montreal will hold onto a spot to make the playoffs. Tampa Bay is fighting for their lives and, with the injury to Burke they dont have a solid one two punch in goal. Lets not forget, Grahame really hasnt taken the reigns of being a number one goalie and run with it. I would give my star to Toronto due to the experience on that team. They have been playing well as of late; with their latest win due to a penalty shot against Pittsburgh.
Other then that, the other intriguing race going on is in the Atlantic division between the Flyers and the Rangers. What I wrote in early December might be coming true. I asked if the Rangers have what it takes to hold onto the division lead for the rest of the year. Cleary, they are relying on Jagr as they enter the stretch run. But is that healthy? You need more the one guy to win games and in the playoffs you know teams are going to focus on him, just like they do with Forsberg in Philly. On the other hand, Philly is getting healthy and slowly theyre coming together as a team like they should have three months ago if it werent for all the injuries. Remind me to not drink any water in Philly since I dont want to come down with an injury. Each team has experienced their slides recently but who will come out on top? I think Philly just has more depth up front, along with more balanced scoring. So, my star goes to them. If you shut Jagr down, the Rangers are in trouble compared to Philly with all the injuries they are still scoring with a plethora of depth and youth. Either way, whoever wins will have the third seed, with no chance of moving up to the first or second seed.
With the second coming of the N.H.L, it will be very interesting to see if they are going to advertise hockey on the other major networks to promote the game. The league needs to expand. We all know that and one way is to advertise on TV. I dont think Bettman and company does enough when it comes to showcasing the sport. They need to exploit the game, the highlights, the rivalries and the players. Plaster their faces all over the place to get the public to know and learn about them.
Finally, the pink sticks over the weekend were an awesome way of giving back to our communities when it comes to cancer research. Star on the nose of whoever came up with that idea!
I want to express my thanks to everyone who takes the time to read my articles. The articles that I do write can be viewed as a whiny rant on the game of hockey. Thats fine, I can handle that. I dont make myself out to a scholar of any kind. Spector gives people an opportunity to write their opinion on the game of hockey. He allows you to pick your topic and write about it in whatever form you choose and thats what I have done and will continue to do. When I do write my main goal is to create a response from the reader, good or bad, to make you think about the sport you follow. There was one gentleman who stated we need to look inside the box. Thats a very good point but Im stepping outside the box and when it came to Martin Brodeur I wanted to play the what if game. What if he was put on another team? That was my argument and it seems as though a lot of people didnt understand that. He will be a Hall of Famer and hes a very good goalie. Let me say it again, he will be a Hall of Famer and hes a very good goalie. I never said he wasnt a good goalie. Ive always enjoyed getting honest constructive feedback from whoever reads my articles but the personal attacks and name calling are simply petty and juvenile. As always and I try to respond to all the feedback I receive, thank you for reading my articles.
As the trading deadline has passed I wanted to add my opinion to what went down with a few teams.
Are the Phoenix Coyotes still a N.H.L. team? I think they had the most turnover of any team.
Washington traded Friesen and Witt, showing once again their rebuilding for the future. Thank goodness for Ovechkin, sooner or later the Capitals will be among the elite teams.
NYR picked up Sandis Ozolinsh to help them out in the offensive department. I think this will a good pickup for them if the team rallies around him to help out on the defensive part of his game. The Rangers are the surprise team of the League and if JJ can stay healthy, they will be a force in the playoffs. Hats off to Tom Renney and his coaching staff.
Boston a once solid franchise is rebuilding yet again. Can anyone tell me what there trying to do with this team? Earlier they traded away their best player and now they just traded away one of their best scoring forwards.
New Jersey made a defensive splash, bringing in a couple of solid big defensemen at the same time getting rid of one defenseman.
The Big trade of the day went to the Canes in bringing in Mark Recchi, from the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Philadelphia Flyers should thank Orpik for this trade since the Canes needed to do something with the injury on Eric Cole. They brought in a solid two way player that should help them going into the playoffs. As Clarke stated, the Flyers got outbid!!!
With the injury bug always buzzing around the Flyers, they did make a small splash by picking up Denis Gauthier who might fit in really well with this team due to his style of play. The main thing I do question about this pick up is the lack of speed the defenseman currently has, so why bring in another slow footed d-man? The Flyers also picked up Dimitrakos from San Jose, courtesy on the Dean Lombardi connection. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Overall the theme of the day was defense. It seems as though each team is looking for the next Bobby Orr or Brian Leetch. They want the fast footed defenseman which there are only few out their now. Wait a couple of years and you will see quite a few of them out their tailoring their game to suit the open ice play that we are seeing now.
My wish list:
Finally, I would love to see a 10 minute overtime period and then a shootout. I would like to see the League to put more emphasis on winning the game in Overtime and not in the shootout.
The games are back and Im not talking about the Olympics
Let the stretch run begin .
I know Im going to get a lot heat about this topic but thats okay because all Im doing is giving you my opinion
Is Martin Brodeur overrated? I believe he is. Oh, I think hes a very good goalie but this talented goalie is a by-product of the trap. If you take away the trap throughout the 90s and the early part of this decade I think Brodeur would still be successful but he would not have his name on the Stanley Cup. He will still be very successful but winning the ultimate prize would have eluded him. Remember he didnt win the Vezina Trophy with any of his Stanley Cup Teams. Why not? My guess is that the voters saw him for what he really is a good solid goalie holding the fort down of a boring trapping team. With all the clutching and grabbing the Devils did during there Stanley Cup runs Les Kuntar wouldve won the cup with them. Once you get traffic in front of him and without the clutching and grabbing hes been extremely beatable. Case in point, look at the playoffs two years ago when they didnt have Scott Stevens on the blue line to HOLD and GRAB the players. The Devils lost to the Flyers and as much as a few games were close there was a total mismatch most of the time during the series. Have you ever seen Brodeur as flustered and upset as hes been the playoffs and in the first part of this year? He doesnt have the clutching and grabbing or the cross checking defensemen like he did in the past. Fast forward to this year and you will see the same thing in the beginning of the year. The Devils have been floundering right out of the gate. No, Stevens and now Elias but also NO TRAP!!! Now, just recently they have started a nice little win streak, but lets be honest the TRAP has crept its way back into the game and the Devils are winning again. Things that make you go Hmmmmmmm!!! Remember, Walkom said the clutching and grabbing will be called throughout the whole year, so on and so on. YEAH RIGHT!!!
All Im saying is have an open mind and look outside the box. You will still see a very good goalie but he should be thankful for playing in the era of THE TRAP!!!
During the last couple of weeks we have all read about two hockey players, Jokinen and Luongo of the Florida Panthers turning down contract extensions. Both saying they want to play for a winner instead of losing all the time with their respective club. Jokinen even came up out said he wants to wait for a deal, so basically hes going to become a UFA and see if he can hit pay dirt. Another team that could be looking to dump salary is Tampa Bay. They may be looking to unload Richards since he will be UFA this summer. So, Tamp would rather get something for him now instead of risking losing him for nothing when he becomes a free agent.
My question is this Would you rather get 100% pay out and get the most money you can or would you sacrifice some of your earnings to make sure you stay on a winning team? Overall, its appearing to me that the players would rather get maximum pay out and just play the game instead of playing for a winning team while sacrificing some of their earnings. Look at Khabibulin, he signed for the money although he has stated this was the best fit for him. YEAH RIGHT!!! He just won the Stanley Cup and wanted maximum pay out and he found it for the Blackhawks. The problem is the Blackhawks have been in a consistent rebuilding decade. I know this is the players job and they want to GET PAID but isnt the true objective of playing in the NHL is to win the Stanley Cup? If so, why strapped a team with your salary, knowing they wont be able to sign other players if they sign you to the highest contract available? Just look at the N.B.A.
Basically, with the introduction of the cap and some flexibility from the players we wont be seeing and dynastys in the near future. If a player does sign for the money I would rather have them come out and say so instead of trying to lie to their fan base. Dont blame your signing on the guy above (he didnt make you do it) or saying this is right for my family and how I will be closer to my home. Just come out and tell the world THE TEAM MADE ME AN OFFER OF MONEY I CANT REFUSE. Runyon did it when he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, he basically said his old team made him an offer but the Eagles made him an offer with a lot more money. I love honesty!!! It creates respect for a player even if you dont like him. Im still waiting for Billy Wagner to come to his senses and just admit the Mets offered him the bank and he took it. Dont lie to us when you can see right through you. Remember Billy, Connecticut is farther away from Virginia then Philadelphia.
This years trading deadline will be very interesting to watch due to the cap.
Some quick two line passes
On a previous column I write how the Flyers might be considered underrated and they decide to take a nose dive in the standings winning only 3 times out of the last 12 games. To be an elite team they need to get their act together. I think the Olympic break will come in handy for them.
POP!!! Goes the groin. I dont think the players stayed in tip top shape during the lockout. Enough said.
Whats going on with Eric Lindros? Now, its his wrist, before it was his head, then his shoulder, then his knee and dont forget his lung. I wish the guy the best but I think he played better when he had certain incentives in his contract about the number of games he plays equals to a certain amount of money.
Alright, thats it for now, keep the comments coming and dont forget who you think will be the next group of players retiring. I will post them in an upcoming column.
Last Tuesday was a sad day for the N.H.L due to the FINAL retirement of Mario Lemieux. I wish him all the best in his future endeavors and hoping his health will only continue to improve. The city of Pittsburgh owes Mario a debt of gratitude for what he has done for their hockey team. Other then breaking records I dont believe there was anything else he needed to prove to himself or to other people. I read once the main reason he came back the last time was to make sure he children could witness him playing the game he has loved to play his entire life and to me thats awesome because he didnt play for the money in the end. He played for the game, for his family and for his fans with the chance of bringing his team back into the spotlight.
With the retirement of Lemieux and the recent shove out the door to Dave Andreychuk it begs the question whos next to sign their retirement papers? Who will retire on their own terms instead of being pushed out the door by their respective team?
Feel free to e-mail your picks.
I believe the next crop of people will be:
Please dont think Im asking or wanting these guys to retire, its just apparent in the grand scheme of things that these players can not keep up with the pace of the game. For Chelios his light bulb will be turned on when he has to skate a lot more during the Olympics and I believe hes not going to be able to keep up with the younger and faster skaters the other countries have skating at him. The other two, will come to grips with the fact that they are not as fast as they once was and in hockey you have to have 4 skilled lines to compete every night. Hockey is not like football where you have special teamers waiting to play only a few minutes on the bench of each game. If that was the case, LeClair and Nieuwendyk can last a few more years as power play specialists.
Did anyone notice the Philadelphia Flyers finally naming a team captain? This past weekend they announced Derian Hatcher will be the interim captain till Primeau is able to play again. He has missed the majority of the season with a concussion. I believe its move that shouldve been made a long time ago. Hockey is one of those sports that need a captain, someone to look up too, someone to lead the team and someone to be the voice of the team. This person leads by example and is the go between for players with the coach. In the four major sports Hockey is the number sport that uses the Captaincy the way it should be used. The only other sport where I have seen the Captaincy used the way it should be is football. The captain on offense and the captain on defense can easily set the tone of the game and lead by example. When things go bad they step up and accept responsibility instead of finding fault through out the team. Ive rarely seen that happen in basketball and baseball.
Until next time .thank you for reading .Go Team Go!!!
Each day as I scour through newspapers and web sites about hockey I still keep on hearing the term NEW N.H.L and quite frankly the term is overused. To go even farther I think the term shouldnt be used at all. Basically, the game is being played the way it should be and so far up to this point the calls are being made to allow the team to skate compared to the hooking and grabbing we have been used to seeing the 15 Devilish years. So, lets put the term NEW away and just use The N.H.L.
Now that we are past the halfway mark is everyone still a fan of the shootout? My answer is NO; it totally takes away from the team concept of the game. I would hope they will never bring them in the playoffs like the Olympics, Hockey is the ultimate team game and this takes that element out of TEAM. One change I would like to see is 10 minutes overtime, then a shootout. Just a thought!
Has the 2 line pass rule been working? I think it has but I hate to see teams always trying for the homerun pass for the ultimate breakaway. The term of Cherry Picking is making its way back into the sport, more then ever.
With the 2 line pass has anyone been confused as much as I have when it comes to icing? There has been times when its been waved off where I dont understand how and their have been other times when there has been icing when I thought there was a play made in the neutral zone.
Does anyone know why a person gets called for a hook and the other player gets called for a dive? If he dove why should the other player get penalized for the so-called hook? I think Im not the only one who feels this interpretation is a little out of whack.
Is it just me or is it clearly apparent that some teams actually practice the shootout and other teams try to get by the seat of their pants. Practice makes perfect sense to me. How about watching some film too?
Are you seeing the new version of the trap these days? I think its called the 1-2-2. Furthermore are we seeing obstruction creeping back in during the later stages of the game? I think we are. But, not according to Walcom.
Wouldnt you love to sit down with an official and ask him what he was seeing or thinking during a certain game? I would like to pick his brain and see why he chose to interpret a non hook or non dive on play by letting them play. That would be a great column to write maybe something like The Officials Review.
Are the critics and other teams finally getting the best of Sid Cry Baby Crosby? The last time I saw is that his penalty minutes are and his points are down. Thats not a good thing for the prized rookie.
Does anyone look at www.nhl.com and the three stars of the game? My question is how can you have a season tally when you dont have the stars listed every day after every game?
Hats off to Dave Andreychuck in regards to his great career, its a shame how the Lightning has now sent him packing after all these years. My only question is why you would sign him to a two year contract when you knew two years ago; he didnt have the speed to keep up then, so why would you think he would keep up now.
Does anyone read Bluelines by Stan Fischler? I enjoy reading his column because he has several sources to hang his hat on but dont you think most of the time hes stating the obvious when he writes. Come on Mr. Fischler give us some news no one else has heard.
When people talk about their favorite team why do they state WE won the game last night? Or, we tried hard but we game up short? Is it the attachment the person needs to have with their team of choice? I dont get it. We ROOT our team on, we CHEER our team on but we are not players on the team. I will always root hard for my team and respect the team as they should be respected knowing Im a fan. I know I may get flack for this one but its funny to hear them speak as if they had something to do with the game physically when they didnt.
Has anyone seen or heard of the Philadelphia Flyers these days?
We are basically at the half way mark of the season and I truly believe this team is flying under the radar. Yes, they have one of the best records this year and their doing it with a group of savvy veterans and bunch of untested rookies. This should tell the league to never count out this team and this organization. Looking around the league I think the coaching staff is underrated. In this organization you dont have a General Manager who insists on being in the limelight all the time (Yes, Bob Clarke has relaxed over the years). You dont have a coach who needs to give verbal assaults to his players on a consistent basis (Can you say Tampa Bay?). With this organization its a total team atmosphere, better yet this attitude filters down to the minor leagues as well. What really impresses me about the Flyers is how the same theories and styles of play that are being used at the N.H.L. level are also being used at the A.H.L level too. This makes the transition a lot easier for a player who is called up from the Phantoms to the Flyers. Which makes you wonder why dont the other teams who dont share affiliations with another N.H.L team when it comes to their own farm team, promote the same system as their top team? Throughout this year what makes their record even more impressive is how their doing it since several players has been injured. As Im typing this they are still without 5 starters due to injury and at one point they had up to 9 starters being injured. This shows how a team can compete once you incorporate the TEAM philosophy. No one player is above the team.
Can the media or the league recognize a good team when they see one?
Im having a hard time answering this one but my gut answer is no the media does not see good team. I actually think its the opposite in many media circles, I believe they see an overachieving team waiting to level off. Each year its the same old stuff when it comes to this team. No number one goalie. Too big, too slow, not enough team speed. Etc Blah blah blah. Most of the media have already given the Cup to the Senators anyway. Yes, they have the total package but so far they have lost to the Flyers twice and not once has the Flyers dressed their complete team.
Another issue from the media that gets repeated over and over again is no number one goalie theory? I dont understand this one because there are several other teams there are just looking for A SOLID GOALIE not just a number one. The Flyers have two solid goalies, one of them won a Calder Cup last year and right now is filling in for the injured number one. Although hes just FILLING IN, I predict Niittymaki will take over the number one position if not by the end of this year but next year for certain. Defense is too slow, too big? Well, I think Rathje and Hatcher are proving all the doubters wrong on this one too. I think team speed is overrated because if you continue to march up and down the ice without your teammates you going set up a turnover they will cost your team on the score sheet. They may not have total team speed but they have enough to make them a deadly team in transition.
Hopefully as the year skates along the Flyers will get their credit as being a good team. But, on the flip side I wouldnt mind seeing them stay under the radar and have all the pressure fall on the shoulders of the other teams.
NY Rangers Wishing them stamina for the rest of the year. Will their great star turn into a great ending? I dont think it will. Too many unknowns for this team.
Philadelphia Wishing them to be injury free in the coming year. What is in the water that is causing all these injuries? Once they get healthy, look out!!!
NY Islanders Hoping Mike Milbury understands the concept of team. Since hes been there hes put together and dismantled at least 4 of them. Psst, you need to stay together to get better. Jason Blake has become a force and I wish him well on his recovery from his recent injury.
NJ Devils Hoping Elias recovers from his illness. The team needs his scoring punch, and wish Marty good luck when it comes to being on the Competition Committee.
Pittsburgh Hello and Goodbye! Wishing them Good Luck in staying in Pittsburgh, a wonderful sports city through out the years. Hoping CBS gets a muzzle for Christmas, too young and too talented to be yapping as much as he is.
Ottawa Hoping they can put together a complete year. Can Hasek carry the load? I dont think so.
Buffalo The youth movement is in full swing and it looks bright for them. Wishing them togetherness since thats the only way they will continue to get better.
Montreal Ditto. The speed this team has is scary but only cohesiveness will bring total success for this group.
Toronto Hoping they dont get strapped by the cap and hoping Pat Quinn can find the right mix to bring the edge back into the lineup.
Boston Wishing Management can find a way to run a great organization, what has gone on the last couple of years reminds me of the recent fire sale of the Florida Marlins.
Carolina Holiday Wishes go out to one of the surprise teams. Nice mix of speed and youth.
Tampa Bay Wishing for solid goaltending, but I dont see them repeating.
Atlanta Hoping for togetherness for this team that is filled with a nice mix of veterans and youngins. They should be playing better then they are.
Florida Dont know what they could wish for other then a total revamping for their lineup. They have the same concerns as Atlanta.
Washington Wishing the Washington fans keep the faith since they have a stud up front and with experience from their other young players they will be a solid team in the coming years.
Detroit Wish Stevie Y gets healthy for he can go out on top instead of feeling the game has pasted him by.
Nashville Hoping they can win a game without going to a shootout. Thats not why the shootout was brought in.
Chicago Holiday wishes to all the Hawks. Its appearing their finally spending money to put a good team on the ice.
Columbus Wishing them some additional proven scoring veteran presence. Nice young team to be reckoned with in the next couple of years.
St. Louis Holiday wishes go out to the whole team, goodness gracious they all need it. Enough said.
Calgary Wishing happy returns to Miikka and Jarome, with their leadership this team will stay on the up and up.
Vancouver Holiday wishes to Bertuzzi, technically he should have been suspended for some of this year. Good player but has showed no sense of remorse.
Colorado Although he is not on the roster, wishes goes out to Steve Moore to a have smooth recovery to return to the N.H.L.
Edmonton Wishing they can bring some consistency to their play. With the talent they have there should be more playing more consistent.
Minnesota Holiday wishes to all the fans. For coming back and supporting their team, this shows the heart of hockey is truly in Minnesota.
Dallas Holiday wishes go out to Mike Modano, he could make a case for comeback player of the year.
Los Angeles Wishing J.R. stays healthy for a couple more years. The league needs players like J.R.
Phoenix Holiday wishes going out to the Great One as he seems to know a little thing about coaching, along with surrounded himself with some good people.
Anaheim Wishing them a name change, they need something meaner. I would think that would be ducky.
San Jose Wishing a solid resurgence from Joe Thornton, a good player that should get better with a change of scenery.
Can anyone tell me whats going on with all the injuries to the players this year, mostly groin pulls? I recently saw a list of all the injuries from all the teams in the NHL and counted over 23 guys out of action due to groin pulls. This is not including abductor strains or hip flexors.
I know my team the Philadelphia Flyers have been hit very hard with this type of injury with their top two forwards going out for the same injury. Gagne and Forsberg basically took each others place in the lineup and on the IR. What I dont understand is why this is happening to so many players but I can speculate.
One theory that I have is that its mostly veteran players that are going through this, many of who did not play at all or only played a little due to the lockout last year. For this reason the players bodies were not in game shape when the season started. So, over the course of this year the muscles that were not being used are now being used at such a high rate that they cant deal with the pressures of the game. The game is now more skating then ever before. All this is causing the pulls, the tears and the trip to the IR that we are seeing right now.
The other theory that I have is the poor quality of the ice in the multi-dimensional arenas throughout the N.H.L. This is due to the arenas being used every night and the ice quality is not the greatest causing the skates to stick in certain grooves causing extra torque on the body. But, in my mind this theory does not hold too much weight since throughout most players careers they have played in these conditions all the time so they should know what their in for when they visit each arena. Plus, dont they have a pre-skate on that ice surface to prepare for the game?
But, heres my question(s) to the players
Everyone knew that sooner or later there would be a season again during which hockey would be back full swing, leaving only the weak behind. Why didnt you guys work out on a consistent basis to stay in game shape or just in skating shape? Remember you guys are the same group that are complaining about excepting the salary cap and accepting the salary reduction, so why wouldnt you make sure you were in tip top shape to prove you deserve the money youre getting? I think many of you thought you could jump right back into the game and BOOM you would be ready to go, like it was yesterday. Even the most casual fan knows the game is built on skating so why wouldnt you keep your legs in shape? It doesnt make sense to me. You want the money you feel you deserve, your upset for the cut in salary you had to take, you want to make sure you play well to earn more money in your next contract but you dont practice during the lock out. Im confused with this logic. Is anyone else confused?
Trust me when I say this, I love this game and I love the players who play it. I believe its the best game on earth. Where else can you see pure speed with a crashing stop (Body check)? The moves these players make are amazing, especially the talent we are seeing when it comes to the shootouts. Speaking of shootouts, E-mail me what you believe was the best shootout goal your have seen so far this year. The two that stick out in my mind was the shot by Belak, (through the legs) and the shot by Richards (five hole).
My goal each time I write, I try to write what the casual fan is thinking. I want to make people question the sport they know and enjoy watching. I want to bring a much needed voice into the arena of professional hockey. Thats why there may be times my articles may seem to be a total rant or a total whine about whats going on with the game. Im writing this from a fan perspective, not from a reporting angle. I hope you enjoy.
Question to all the season ticket holders out there
What perks or discounts did you receive this year from your team? I would like to compile a list and compare.
What is going on with the National Hockey Leagues Player Association (NHLPA) these days? I just dont get it, since they all should be working together to work with the NHL for the future of the game instead of bickering like a bunch of 5th graders about whos going to lead them. I understand some of them still havent healed from the whooping they took from the owners when the UNION management agreed to a salary cap. One player went even as far as setting up a web site to try to get his way. Now, the last time I looked didnt he retire from the game recently and over the course of his career he made a few million dollars at least. The former player that Im speaking of is Trent Klatt. Can anyone tell me when did Trent Klatt make his money? Anyone, anyone! It was during the 1990s when salaries went crazy with all the players. This is what led up to why the owners pushed for a salary cap. Come to think of it, didnt Klatt win arbitration when he was with the Philadelphia Flyers? What did the Flyers do, instead of paying him; they shipped him off to another team because they didnt think he warranted the type of money that was awarded to him. So, why not accept the players fate and work with the game to make it better. By making it better it will bring more income into the league, this way the cap will increase and players will make more money then what there making now. Isnt that the name of the game these days, to make money instead of winning a cup? Oh thats another article
Do any of the players realize that if the league doesnt make the projected income that he cap will be lower next year? Whats going to happen then? Even the big name stars that are producing right now will be looking for a new team because their existing teams would not be able to afford them.
Now, Im not here to beat up on Trent Klatt, what Im simply talking about it is learning how to move on and work as a team or a union once again. Simply put, the League needed a salary cap if they wanted to stay healthy. The League had too many players, 3rd and 4th line players making too much money for simply being role players. Im not going to quote any players because it wouldnt be fair to them because every team needs those players to compete and be successful but it needs to be at a fair price. What I think is pretty funny is during the last couple of years leading up to MISSING A YEAR DUE TO ALL OF THIS, that were a few star players stepped up and stated they made a lot of money. Even going as far as saying they make too much money, so either way it seemed like the players cause of not accepting a salary cap was doomed.
At this point in time accept Saskin as your man and give him time to see if he IS THE MAN. Dont we (in the United States), elect a president for 4 years? (I know poor comparison but go with it) Well, give the guy a chance and see what happens. Goodenow got the players a ton of money during his tenure and at the end he wasnt able to get the job done when it came to dealing with the League. Saskin was able to do that, good or bad, he struck a deal with the owners to bring hockey back. Quite frankly, I dont think the players stood a chance since for once the Owners didnt have their heads stuck in the sand. I applaud the owners for that but I only wished they wouldve done this the first time around so maybe ticket prices would not be so expensive these days. Even with the roll back, I still believe the ticket prices are still too high. Even with hockey back I believe the N.H.L and the owners can do a lot more to for the fans. They could set up more promotions then what there doing now.
Through out all of this the Players Union has lost a lot of respect from other unions, from other businesses and first and foremost from the FANS. If it wasnt for the fans would they be able to make the money they make? NOPE!
Someone on Trent Klatts supporting cast and someone on Saskins supporting cast need to come together to iron out all the issues.
They should look at each other and ask themselves
Has anyone seen OLN hockey coverage recently? I only have one word to describe it and thats Horrible. They need help from the on air staff to the studio itself. Maybe the Fab Five can be hired to give the studio a make over. Give it something to spice it up. Yes, I know its supposed to be a hockey set but the temperature shouldnt be the same as what the players skate on. Lets start dissecting what needs to be done to improve the telecasts.
The Studio itself needs a complete make over; it looks like a bunch of painted chalkboards up there along with too much space is between the camera and the announcers. We dont need to see the whole table for where their sitting. Zoom in and show them talking, show them interacting with the viewers and the other people on the panel. They need to tighten everything up to make it more pleasing to the eye, then again maybe their creating distance due to all the scars all the former hockey players turned analysts have on their face. My guess is as good as yours. What I would do is look around to the other sports and their shows and see how their studios are set up. Im not saying copy their look but maybe use some of their ideas. Throw some sticks on the floor, or paint some helmets, or even goalie masks to show the game of the week. Add some statistics on the back walls, or even add the standings on a side panel to show whats going on throughout the league. Create some sort of interactive panel.
On air studio staff, lets be realistic here, doesnt it seem like Bill Clement is talking to a 4 year old most of the time? Instead of talking down to the audience, talk too them. OLN needs to realize the folks that are turning in are the ones that enjoy the sport, that are passionate for the sport, and the ones that are truly FANS for the sport. Cater to these fans and you will see more fans become interested because you will have already established a solid fan base from the die-hards. Make your reliable fan base happy first, and then concentrate on recruiting a broader fan base. This way the established fan base can help recruit more people to watch the telecasts and invite other people over who hasnt seen a game on OLN. You know the word of mouth advertising, it can work wonders. On the other hand maybe Bill realizes hes not a studio person and is trying to stink it up and get himself back on the road. Believe or not I think he should be part of an announcing duo instead of the studio host because he doesnt seem to look comfortable showing the clips, talking to the fans like he did when he was doing color commentary for ESPN or even Prism (Philadelphia old sports station).
Now let take a moment and look at some of the other announcers OLN has hired:
Keith Jones, ever since he retired hes been great for Comcast Philadelphia and for ESPN, he brings his player experiences and true feelings out in every broadcast. Thats what you want to see. People want to see the passion and pride someone has for the sport instead of just sitting there quoting facts and statistics.
Neil Smith, I dont know what OLN was thinking, the guy may know hockey but he comes off very dry and robot like. Loosen up Neil; you not trying to buy a championship anymore, all your doing is talking about the sport you should know about.
Kenny Albert, may have the pedigree to be an announcer and he did start announcing games at the age of 21 but he doesnt have the true flow of any game that Ive listened to when he was the announcer. You have to have some type of experience with the game at ANY level to truly understand what youre announcing. It just doesnt come across in his broadcasts.
Jack Edwards, now this guy has been around for a while and his experience shows through. Yes, in the first couple of broadcasts he sounded a little rusty but I believe he would be a better fit for the IN studio cast and move Bill Clement back on the road where he was prior to this position. Edwards has been an anchor for ESPN and his experience working in the studio will come through easier then Clements.
Mike Emrick, a class act. Enough said.
There are few others but at this time these are the people who truly stick out in my mind that may or may not need work.
I truly understand the hardship OLN mightve faced when they tried to employ the best talent that was available to them. Many of the staples of ESPN already took jobs with other teams before the contract was approved with OLN. Another idea that OLN should look outside the box and hire an unknown and groom them to be a color analyst or studio hosts, in some instances create a three person staff (2 color analysts and 1 play by play). This will add additional spice to the broadcasts. I do like the fact they have assemble a variety of people, some from Toronto, some from New Jersey, some from Philadelphia. They should add additional people from across the country (Los Angeles, Minnesota, Calgary) even if its only to do their own game that night. This way you will hear the passion in their voice then they call the game. Only a few announcers have been able to provide that in my opinion. The late Gene Hart (Flyers), Emrick (Flyers/Devils), Kelly (St. Louis) to name a few.
I would even suggest to add a fan in the studio each week to speak about what they see compared to what the experts see. This way they will have an unbiased opinion; it may even bring some type of team favoritism to the broadcast. Too many times Ive seen broadcasts be too politically correct. The game is about being passionate and being a fan Im passionate for my favorite team. Let that be shown through out a broadcast!!!
I know OLN is new to the game, and I have faith they can turn things around. I do enjoy seeing the games on TV when my team isnt playing and I want it to continue. I almost would think they would play more games on TV to create additional exposure. How is something going to make money if theres not a lot of games (exposure) being shown? Only time will tell, lets all hope that it works out.
There has been a lot of talk and debate on The New N.H.L and I would like to add my two pucks. Overall, I dont like it; yes Ive enjoyed the comebacks in the third period because this allows for more exciting hockey. It allows any team to come back, and mainly it keeps the The New Jersey Devil Trap to comeback full force. What I dont like is the Diving and the lack of Hitting The New N.H.L has brought on. Too many players are taking advantage of the new rules and are flopping at an alarming rate, where I thought hockey players were the toughest athletes out there. I guess with the new younger players coming into the game, they have also turned out to be the softest players in all of sports instead of the toughest.
Another problem with The New N.H.L is the inconsistency of the officials. Im sorry wasnt that the same problem in The Old N.H.L? During the first month of the year I noticed how the referees were calling everything, when in fact a month later I witnessed Kerry Fraser doing his best in trying to be a judge for all the infractions that he watched. Instead of raising his hand he just shook his head, I could only assume that he was telling the player to keep playing and not to bother him. Let it be known his hair did not move. I thought with the new rules, which most of them are old rules the referees job is too call the infraction not interpret what is and what isnt. Judgment has been removed and all they have to do is just call the penalty. YEAH RIGHT, Ive already started to see the referees starting to let the players play in the last month. Give it another month and you will see the game right back to where it was two years ago.
Ive already seen how the players are getting around the hooking rule and it doesnt surprise that the referees havent caught on. Theyve started to do two things on the ice The first thing Ive noticed is instead of hooking them across their waste with their stick going parallel to the ice they instead hook the lower part of the body (thigh, shin) tugging at them just enough to pull them off stride. It doesnt look like a hook since the stick is not parallel to the ice so its not called. The second thing Ive noticed is the amount of picks that are now being thrown around the ice. If you dont have the puck then you should impede the player. Does the ref call either one of these? NOPE. So, as you can see the OLD and the NEW N.H.L are one in the same.
Diving jump on the board and give it your best because if you sell it right, you will get either the initial call or most likely the next call. Just ask CBS (Cry Baby Sid), or JJ (Jagr) or Sean (I cant believe I got busted) Avery. I understand you need to protect the stars of the game but part of this game is contact. It seems as though the media has fallen in love with this Sid Guy. I dont see it, yes before I get a ton of e-mails I do see hes very talented but hes going to rot in Pittsburgh, along with the fact that hes learning the wrong things to complain about. Go out and play the game, dont cry if you dont receive a call. Until he stops acting like a baby, I wont even notice him. Stop listening to the diving experts of Reechi and Mario.
Finally, the whole thing of The New N.H.L, lets all get over it. Its the same game but its now being played how we all played it when we were younger. The newness maybe from the fact we went a year without it, but its been around forever. So, lets all stop calling it the NEW N.H.L. Its gotten to be a little stale.
· Another hot topic these days is asking to bring in visors to be permanent. Although, I can understand the logic in this I dont want to see this happen. It has to remain a choice for the player. There already wearing a helmet, leave it at that and move on.
· Is it just me, or is Sid the Kid the media darling for the league. This is a shame since they should look at the other players as well. Nash, Ovechkin, Gagne to name a few.
· I though OLN was going to show 2 or 3 games a week? The league might be seeing better attendance numbers but until they get more games on the air they not going to see it in National Advertising Money. Yes, hockey is a local medium but they need to generate some sort of advertising money.
· Is it just me but ESPN has knocked hockey lower then, lets say bowling? Plus, when do you even see highlights on ESPN anymore. What a shame, can we all say conspiracy theory?
· More players need to be accessible in local commercials and around the area. Not just in there direct city but in their neighboring cities as well. This will create more exposure for the league.
Thank you for reading my column, any comments or questions you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|The opinions expressed on this page are of the author, and in no way reflect the views of the NHL, it teams or players. All material in Icing by Lug copyright 2005 Spector's Hockey. Reproduction of this material in whole, or in part, without consent by the author or Spector's Hockey is prohibited.|