All Around the League Comments
Hello hockey fans. It has been a while, but I have been busy. Things have calmed down and just now the season is starting to get the thrills of a long ride. I will be commenting on every, yes that’s right, EVERY, NHL team………in the East. Some of them will get a phrase, others a lot more depth. Nonetheless, read more and welcome to my world of thought, open for discussions.Let’s get right down to it.
Confusing team as they don’t seem to be as confident as they should be, but when Heatley and Alffy are missing, plus a not so 100% healthy Spezza, you expect things to go the wrong way. Another issue is Ray Emery being a loose cannon. Calm down, will ya? You are a nobody, still, and to show such poor character towards his own team will make him nearly untradeable. No one would want such a hot head on their team who revolts during practice. Ottawa should not make any changes. They have their injury woes right now, they can still win most of the games, and once the big three get back in shape they’ll be fine.
Getting hot again thanks to Mike Richards carrying this team as a great all-round player. Goaltending is still a bit questionable as now Nitty Gritty has been playing more than Martin Biron. The Flyers don’t seem to be much into trade rumors other than being possible front runners for the Forsberg comeback. Can’t really say that have a glarring need.
What a team with ups and major downs. Goaltending is not that good, and John Grahame has been put on re-entry waivers. Defense is questionable. Forward depth is fine, but there is not enough balance on this team. Obviously Andy Ladd is the best tradeable asset to buy, and I certainly would try to trade the guy because he seems nothing more than another Manny Malhotra type player. I still scratch my head for that Jack Johnson for Tim Gleason trade. This team needs to solidify its blueline depth. LA has some, ask them, but don’t trade all-star prospects to them……..again.
Trouble times without Sid the Kid, but I find this good news for Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal to step it up and see how they can take over the team and to see how valuable they are as players without Crosby. I think this team was just flat out lucky to find a hot Ty Conklin out of nowhere. Their defense is mediocre, goaltending is not that good either, but just hot. So far they reacted well with a 2-0 vic over the Montreal Canadiens. Time to start scouting team to get an effective player on the blueline, or a much better winger.
New Jersey Devils
They can sign some people from the streets of Newark, yet still having Martin Brodeur will get this team into the playoffs, with the same system….of course. I love the way Zach Parise plays. Patrik Elias is not having as good a season as I expected him to have. I don’t think the Devils will make any significant move other than possibly acquiring a defenseman for depth, and maybe a more experienced checking forward for the playoffs.
Why is everything a soap opera with this team? They are playing well. 6-2-2 in the last ten games, playoffs should be almost a sure thing. Yet, things are always a problem for the fans and the media. I could not stand the Montreal media insisting on Alex Ovechkin and saying that he would love to play for the Canadiens. Talk about being a bunch of kocky Montrealites. What’s the beef on Saku Koivu? Just because he is not producing as much then he is not good anymore. He is a captain, a good on eat that. Inspiring, hard working…. I mean, if you don’t want him then please, oh please, do trade him to the Florida Panthers! Montreal needs to trade Ryder, but won’t get such a good return either. They need a scoring winger and evidently Alex Tanguay is a possibility. It would not surprise me, however, if they go cheaper and nab a guy like Ladislav Nagy. Montreal has not done much in trades for playoff hockey. But hey, Saku Koivu? I’ll take him.
I have much respect for Claude Julien, I really do. But you if you have trouble sleeping, you know…..insomniac, just turn on a Bruins game. Lame lame lame hockey being played in Beantown. Yet, who cares right? They are winning, won two big games against the troubled Rangers. They have injuries, not a great defense either, but the system works. I’m glad Julien won’t get fired in the last three games of this season. Better yet, I’d love to see Devils vs. Bruins in the post-season and have Julien eliminating the classless Lamoriello. They definitely need depth in the scoring department, though, and while I do not think they will chase a big offensive guy, they should be able to find someone that will really help. By the way, Mike Milbury on NBC hinted that they should trade Phil Kessel. That means that they should keep the guy.
New York Islanders
More boring hockey to watch, but I actually like this team and the way it plays. Why? It’s not really a good team, which creates excitement. They still have character, they have one of my favorite goalies in Ricky DiPietro, who was somewhat criticized by Martin Brodeur (what a dork). Obviously I am a Ted Nolan fan and he has done wonders. I said this team will be a playoff contender, though I still do not think they will make the playoffs. They need to reorganize this franchise by pumping in younger players. I have good faith in GM Garth Snow, but this is not the year to pull a Ryan Smyth trade.
New York Rangers
Lack of passion, confidence…. what does it all mean? No, it’s not the players. I think the players have tried to do their best on their own, but the issue with this team is the coach, and I hate saying it. I like Tom Renney, I think he is a good coach but not for this kind of team. He constantly makes questionable decisions. He insists on using the fourth line of Hollweg-Betts-Orr as a shutdown unit, which is not so. He found a great kid line in Dawes-Dubinsky-Prucha, and does not use it as often. They get just about the same amount of ice time as the fourth line. I mean, he’s had these three the whole season, and he has forced Dubinsky to play with Jagr. He has called up, sent down, called up, scratched Dawes, and has scratched his non-favorite player in Prucha. He’s had them to his disposal all season long, yet just now he puts them together. And they have scored, but they are not worthy of much ice time either. He is way too defensive minded for a team that has speed and skill with players that think offense. He does not use accountability. Paul Mara made a horrible turnover in his end against Boston yesterday, and yet he still got regular shifts. He actually uses lame excuses of “things did not go our way” type. I hate to say it, but, he’s got to go. Will he? Too late now to fire him and find a replacement. The only way he is getting fired is if the Rangers miss the playoffs, which is likely.
I really don’t think it is the players that are being overpaid lazy bums. They just look lostout there. Jagr is also coming of age and does not seem to be as effective. I think he is done as a Ranger after this season, which would not be such a problem. Rangers have tradeable assets, so they can be good sellers, but first I think Slats will try to pull a trade or two to right the wrong and once again save Tom Renney’s ass. By the way, last year they were in the same situation. Renney had no idea how to solve the team and trading away locker room cancer Arron Ward and acquiring Sean Avery fixed the issues. Guess what? Renney still has no idea how to solve this team. The Rangers have a team that many coaches would love to coach. Something has to happen either way. And for Mike Milbury to call Jagr a coach killer, the guy should be the last person on earth to criticize people in the NHL. If I was Jagr I would have replied “Milbury is a team killer.” Indeed, and as if Yashin was full of passion to wear an Isle’s jersey too. What a goof.
Thumbs up to Don Waddell for turning the team around, and if it was not for Ilya Kovalchuk’s insane, and abnormal, play in recent weeks, this team would be as low as the Los Angeles Kings. I like this Tobias Enstrom youngster. I really like this team, but I don’t think they will keep Marian Hossa, so they should trade him and if not in February, then later in the off-season like the way the Flyers did with Nashville, in regards to Hartnell and Timonen. They could use a trade with Hossa anyway and bolster their line-up too.
This team can be so good if they only had a capable general manager. GM George McPhee has no idea how to build a strong team around Alex Ovechkin. It can be done, but not with this guy. As for Ovechkin’s big contract. It’s a great investment any way you look at it because of the no-trade-clause not included in the contract. The Capitals can keep Ovechkin for six years, and if they are nowhere, the team is in shambles again, and they don’t feel like paying all that money to him, guess what? Ovechkin is tradeable and they would get a great return. And no, not like they did with Jagr and the Rangers. This is a good team, great coach in Budreau, really turned them around. I think they should be minor buyers, try to get a cheap player to bolster the line-up.
I said at the start of the season that even if this team was not to make the playoffs, it would not be a big problem. They are still a great young team, and in a year or two, they will be back in the playoffs and be just as threatening as they were with Briere and Drury. I like the talent, and they need to find a good, shifty, playmaking center for their skilled wingers. First thing first, though, lock up management and coaching. I think they are on the last year of their contracts. They deserve to stay.
Rick Dudley and the media was right to say it would be too hard for Jacques Martin to do double duty as head coach and general manager. It’s too noticeable that the team is not coached enough and starting to lose a sense of direction. Personally, I’d love to make some roster changes for next season and it starts with Jozef Stumpel and then Jay Bowumeester. Yes, you read that right. Why? This guy is too frustrating to watch. I am not sure if he wants more stardom, a bigger spotlight, or if he just lacks fire and passion. Either way, he will ask for an underserving amount of money, and keep this guy in mind for the off-season. No, Olli Jokinen will not most likely get traded, and no, do not believe the lies of Al Strachan on CBC, Darren Dreger on TSN, and the infamous Eklund. They tried these stories last year and they were untrue, so what makes them true this year? Dreger is horny for a Jokinen:Tanguay swap. He said it last year, did not happen, and still runs this idea now. Strachan spilled some lies Saturday night on CBC saying that Jokinen wants to get traded and that he cannot stand Jacques Martin. Yet, Jokinen is not the kind of captain that demands to be traded because he quit on his team. That would only make him into a loser, a quitter, and not a character player, which he is. And then, he and Martin worked together during the off-season on which free agent to sign. Seems to me that’s a sign of a good relationship. As for Eklund……….oh dear Eklund. I went on your boards to warn you about Jokinen rumors. I told you to stay away from such as I have contacts within the Panthers organization. You were dead wrong last time about Jokinen and when I told you to back off, you did for many months. Yet, I guess you forgot about me. Olli Jokinen would have to go to the public and demand a trade before ever being traded. If they trade him without saying such, the Panthers will lose too much fan support, which was already crucial after losing “Bobby Lou” (what a pathetic nickname that is for the guy). Just now Tomas Vokoun is the loved one. No way that Olli is going. Expect Martin to leave the bench for next season.
Toronto Maple Leafs
It’s a soap opera every moment with this team. I am sick of it. I said JFJ should be fired, but with such manners? This organization, and the Toronto media, have been so disrespectful to JFJ that I find it embarrassing for a team that always carried class. Totally classless to allow JFJ to still sit in his GM office and let him read stories of how he is about to get fired. How Fletcher is coming to replace him soon. I mean, it’s just so…..low, and vert disrespectfull. First the Scotty Bowman thing where it was more like “we need grandpa to run the household here”. Get the hell out. Now it’s Fletcher being openly interviewed to take over as interim GM before JFJ trades anyone. I mean, what the hell is wrong with these people? If I were JFJ now, I’d start trading to screw ownership. Ownership thinks that they can run the team. Well, they can’t. They screwed up the team for the most part, not JFJ. JFJ’s worst mistake is the Raycroft trade, and the Vesa Toskala one isn’t so popular either, but Leafs ownership tried to run the show and they screwed up. So, Johnny boy, tell them to piss off, make a couple of trades without their opinion, and if they give you problems then expose them.
This reminds me of when Glen Sather first came to the Rangers. He openly said how ownership tried to run the show, and not allow him to do what he wanted to do. Dave Checkets was a dork, and James Dolan was thinking big name$ equal$ big buck$. But Slats screwed them anyway. He installed a much better farm system. When the Hartford Wolfpack, Rangers AHL team, won the Calder Trophy back in 2000, the average age of that team was 30….31. What a joke. That was Neil Smith’s farm system. Sather’s farm system now includes of good young players. They are not stellar, but certainly some are NHL worthy to build a core nucleus.
This is what JFJ has done with the Leafs as well. He has improved the farm system, better scouts and the franchise will benefit from it in five years or so. But not enough seem to understand that, and therefore he will never get credit. Greatly disappointed in this team’s handling of the situation. Just quite disturbing. Just fire the guy…..don’t embarrass him in front of the public like this. Ridiculous.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ownership issues are putting this team down in the standings. They can’t make any effective trades. It is obvious that they need to make trades, but it won’t happen any time soon. I disagree with the notion, obviously from the Canadian media that thinks all great players should go to Canadian teams, that Vinny Lecavalier will be traded because he does not have a no-trade-clause. Total BS. He is the best player in the league right now, and the all-star of the team. St. Louis may end up waiving his clause, but I don’t think so. I think it will be Brad Richards doing the favor. First of all, he has always been overrated ever since his outstanding season. He had plenty less points last year, and is on pace for less points again this year, 68, with a current -23 rating, on pace for -39. I am sure the guy is smart enough to admit that he got his accomplishments in Tampa, and should look for a new challenge. Wouldn’t you say? Lecavalier and St. Louis have too much chemistry together, let them be. Richards is a waste of money right now and this team is in desperate need of organizational depth. Last in the East, and not making the playoffs.
That’s it for now folks. It’s good to be back writing and hopefully I can have a mix of discussions about most teams, not just a few. Enjoy the week!
Thanks for reading,