Around the League – January 20, 2003

Ever notice how in the dead of winter, the greatest sport on earth is played on ice indoors? My fiancee posed that little Seinfeldism to me last night as I tried (yet again) to explain the nuances of the sport. Trying to define “butterfly style” to an architechture student proved to be an interesting philosophical discussion. Her favorite question of the night was: “Who’s the cute hockey player in that Toyota commercial?” Nevertheless, here we are in the dead of winter, and there’s lots to discuss – trade winds blowing, great games being played, coaches on the hot seat, etc. No time for love, Dr. Jones.


Edmonton Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish might have gotten himself in a little bit of hot water on Sunday night, when he had a little altercation with Harvey the Hound, the mascot of the Calgary Flames. Harvey was directly behind the Oilers’ bench during a timeout and began to taunt the Edmonton players and coaches. Evidently MacTavish had enough of Harvey’s harassment, as he ripped the tongue out of the mascot’s mouth and threw it into the crowd. The razzing continued, and MacTavish was reaching for a stick when one of the trainers had to restrain him.

My take: This is not a good sign for the Oilers. When a coach or player is distracted by something off the ice during game action, no matter what it is, that tells you that the coach or player has lost their focus. Would Scotty Bowman have acted similarly?


With young winger Justin Williams out for the season with a destroyed knee, Philadelphia Flyers GM Bob Clarke has put out feelers to other teams in the league, seeing if any possible trades might help his team. Clarke said that the team “isn’t going to get a top-six forward,” and that the majority of teams wanting to make a deal are only interested in trimming salary. Clarke also said that he is “not interested in” Pittsburgh winger Alexei Kovalev, sources say that the GM doesn’t want to trade for a “one-way forward who doesn’t play defense.” Clarke admits to contacting the Buffalo Sabres about sniper Miroslav Satan, but didn’t get the sense from fellow GM Darcy Reiger that the winger was available. The Flyers have 18 selections in the upcoming NHL draft, and those, according to Clarke, will have to come into play in order to make a trade because he’s “not trading (defensive prospects) Jeff Woywitka and Joni Pitkanen, and we don’t want to take any player off of our team.”

My take: As I said before, the loss of Williams hurts, but not that much. The kid wasn’t on track for much of an improvement over last year. Besides, the need for a deal isn’t really there right now. John LeClair starts skating again today, and hopes to be back in two to three weeks. Pavel Brendl looks more and more comfortable with Mark Recchi and Keith Primeau. The line of Michal Handzus – Donald Brashear – Radovan Somik is one of the best in hockey right now. For those of you expecting another blockbuster from Clarke, don’t hold your breath.


This past Sunday night marked an unthinkable accomplishment for one of, if not, the greatest goaltender in NHL history. Colorado Avalanche netminder Patrick Roy played in his 1000th game, the first goalie ever to do so. Roy, who owns almost every goaltender record of significance, stopped 29 shots in a 1-1 tie with the Dallas Stars.

My take: Good for you, St. Patrick. Now get back to your superstar form, or else people will remember you as being washed up.


The Toronto Globe and Mail obtained financial documents for five of six Canadian teams as the proceedings for the sale of the Ottawa Senators continues. Financial figures for the Toronto Maple Leafs were not included. It was revealed that the Sens incurred operating losses of $83 million (all figures in USD) over the past six years. Also revealed in the documents were the losses of the other four Canadien teams, no single one year bigger than the $32 million lost by the Vancouver Canucks in 1997-98. Only two teams, Calgary and Montreal, showed any sort of profit margin, yet they were skewed by expansion fees paid to each team by the league.

My take: Wow. That’s a lot of money being pissed away. These are the kinds of numbers that Gary Bettman needs to take before the Players’ Association. Forget trying to pin the bankruptcies of Ottawa and Buffalo on rising salaries, that arguement holds about as much water as my future wife’s dime-sized bladder. No wonder the league keeps expanding – that’s the only way some teams can make any money!

By The Numbers:

The Philadelphia Flyers are 10-1 in January, and during this hot streak 17 different skaters have scored goals for the team. The team has also scored at least three goals in 21 straight games. (Comcast SportsNet)

The Atlanta Thrashers have scored 20 goals in their last five games, and have only lost once under new head man Bob Hartley. It should be noted that 15 of those goals came in two games, Seven against Philadelphia and eight against St. Louis. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Detroit Red Wings winger Luc Robitaille was a healthy scratch for the first time in his illustrious career last Thursday. He only has four goals this season, and just one point in his last 14 games. (Detroit Free Press)

Under new head coach Tony Granato, the Colorado Avalanche are 7-6-1-1, notching 16 points in 15 games. Under Bob Hartley, the ‘Lanche were 10-8-9-4, good for 33 points in 31 games. (Fox Sports)

Edmonton Oilers winger Anson Carter scored 14 goals in his first 30 games, but has just three in his last 18 games. Even worse, he has just one in his last nine. (Edmonton Journal)

79 Responses to Around the League – January 20, 2003

  1. Leaf_Expert says:

    Yo also spend much, much, MUCH longer time on here daily….more like weekly, actually, more like monthly!

  2. titans says:

    huh? was that supposed to be funny? witty? what? what was that? anybody care to explain?

  3. Leaf_Expert says:

    It means youR a sick person with no life who stays on the computer all day thinking of a way to finally beat Leaf Expert….

    well I got three words for you and your hockey team:


  4. cwhockey says:

    Personally, I don’t give a damn if I have my own little bubble or not. It’s what you write and the passion you have for it. Bubble or no bubble, I’m gonna write with the same passion and conviction as I always do about the Thrashers. And I’m sure pantherboy will do the same with the Florida.

    But he is right. If you see the Panthers or Thrashers bubble (and it’s not breaking news), regular viewers here know who is behind the article.

  5. guinsfan4life says:

    I just read a rumor on Spectors that Kovie was on his way to Toronto for two prospects.

    If Patrick trades Kovie for two unknown prospects he will ultimately loose what fan base he has left in this city (what is left after the Jagr trade and the Lemieux situation last year with the Olympics), kill the Penguins hopes to qualify for the playoffs–not only will he have a great view of all the empty seats in the arena, but he’ll have a hell of a time bringing fans back.

    If this would happen, it also makes me think about other possible senarios. Could it be that the Penguins are in more desperate financial straits than what we think? It has been reported the Penguins broke even last year and made money the year before while a majority of the league was loosing money.

  6. big_booty says:

    Hey, if there’s grass on the field, I’m playin’ ball!

  7. guinsfan4life says:

    Hey aaron…I found this article by one of the reporters here in pittsburgh and it puts a good spin on the economic issues in the NHL, not only in pgh, but around the league.

    I think with some of the stats in this article, we are due for a looooong work stoppage–strike. Maybe a whole season. If Bettman is going to the table with a 35mil. cap and revenue sharing, like it says, we will not have much to talk about.

    I think it is well summerized with what you said above–the wings need to make the conference finals just to break even. Also when you said the lack of a tv deal. Look at the disparity between what the NFL gets and the NHL. I mean, I realize hockey games take place every night, but that disparity is greater than it should be.

    With that said, I think the league can still have 30 teams that operate successfully if there is a hard cap at 35 mil., revenue sharing, and a new tv deal.

    Check this out, let me know what you think.

    By Joe Starkey


    Wednesday, January 22, 2003

    The Alexei Kovalev situation essentially boils down to a single question: Do you want an NHL team in Pittsburgh?

    If so, then you need to be patient with the Penguins while they navigate through stormy waters for the next year-and-a-half. After that, the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement expires. That’s when the Penguins might finally find some clear skies.

    Either that, or a certain death.

    In the meantime, their only move is to throw Kovalev overboard. Nothing against him, mind you. He’s a terrific player. He’s still young. He’s a solid citizen and a warrior on the ice.

    And the Penguins have to trade him. They must, because they can’t afford him after this season.

    The NHL has gone mad. Some of the owners in this league make the men who run Major League Baseball look sane. This is all you need to know: The NHL’s average salary last season ($1.64 million) was higher than the NFL’s ($1.1 million).

    Yes, the NFL, the league that generated enough TV revenue to pay every team $77.34 million this season, has a lower average salary than a league that pays out $5.7 million in TV money — plus free gumballs — to each of its teams. NFL clubs cover their player payrolls before they sell a single ticket. NHL teams rely on ticket sales as their major source of revenue — and ticket prices have skyrocketed. Attendance is down. Two teams filed for bankruptcy this month.

    But everything’s fine, and the Penguins should give Alexei Kovalev $45 million over five years?

    Kovalev, who makes $4.6 million this season, likely will be awarded around $8 million if he goes to arbitration next summer. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent the summer after that. The only way the Penguins can pay him — and still pay others and have a competitive team — is to break out a credit card and basically say, “We’ll give you X million dollars based on revenues we think a new arena will generate in, say, 2008.”

    As team president Tom Rooney likes to say, this franchise uses debit cards, not credit cards, these days.

    Surely, you know that the Penguins have no cash to burn. They have just enough to pay the bills. No splurging. Lemieux hasn’t been able to keep all his promises since he took control, but he has kept the most important one: “We’re going to run this franchise like a business.”

    It’s actually quite remarkable what the Penguins have accomplished on the business side since they filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy four years ago. In a league where more than half the teams lost money last season, the Penguins, of all people, broke even. They made money the year before that.

    Sure, they are struggling at the gate. So are most teams.

    And most teams, like the Penguins, have a short shelf-life under the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement. For those who need the reminder, here’s a remedial lesson in Penguins Economics 101:

    Signing several players to huge contracts, based on projected revenues that never materialized, is what sent the team into bankruptcy.

    Attendance and TV ratings are down — with Kovalev on the ice.

    The season-ticket base is down. With Kovalev on the ice.

    The Penguins recently traded the fifth most-productive point producer in NHL history — before his 30th birthday — because he soon would be unaffordable.

    Ron Francis, Bob Boughner, Ron Tugnutt, Robert Lang, Jagr and Darius Kasparaitis were jettisoned for financial reasons.

    Without a salary cap, revenue sharing and a new arena, the Penguins are as good as gone. The good news is that all of those things still are quite possible. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will fight for a salary cap, perhaps as low as $35 million per team. The players will vehemently oppose it.

    The best news for Penguins fans is that their team could be as well situated as any coming out of a possible work stoppage. They wouldn’t be saddled with any huge contracts. They’d have several promising prospects, including defenseman Ryan Whitney, the fifth pick in last year’s draft. They’d have talent on hand and perhaps room to maneuver under a cap.

    The key to the whole thing is to get some good, young NHL players in return for Kovalev. It is general manager Craig Patrick’s responsibility to take care of that side of the equation. Hopefully, he can create some competition in the bidding for Kovalev. That didn’t happen with Jaromir Jagr.

    Nobody wants to see a great player leave town. But it’s better than waving goodbye to the whole darn team.

  8. CaptainModano says:

    ….blow leafs blow??? yeah, i couldn’t agree more

  9. big_booty says:

    Patrick’s not stupid, he knows that it’s a seller’s market right now. He can sit around, wait for people to come to him, and listen to offers. I believe he’ll be very deliberate about this whole process.

    He got plenty of prospects for Jagr, they’re just not ready to play just yet. He needs to get quality young defenders who are NHL-quality right now. The Pens have one of, if not THE best farm systems in the entire league – ergo they aren’t going to want more prospects. They just don’t need them.

    I don’t see Kovalev going to Toronto, only because Pat Quinn won’t strap on the cojones to trade his most tradeable commodities. The Pens are going to want one of Kaberle and McCabe, and maybe an inexpensive forward (not older, costlier players like Corson, Tucker, or Reichel).

    Craig Patrick holds all the cards, Quinn just wants to get in on the game. “Stand” Pat won’t put the necessary chips on the table to get the dealer to fold.

  10. Freeze says:

    I may have been one of the first at HTR to suggest that Don Waddell call Bob Hartley about coaching the Thrashers. Now, Waddell doesn’t look like such a bad GM. Interesting how that works. Considering what Granato hasn’t accomplished in Colorado, was Hartley really the problem there? I think not. The problem is Lacroix and all his stupid trades.

    It’s amazing how a goal scorer like Robitaille can all of a sudden lose his touch. When does a scoring slump turn into an unplanned retirement? It could happen soon if things don’t change. It just makes you wonder what changed to turn a 30-goal scorer one year into a 4 goal scorer the next year when Robitaille is playing for the same team, same linemates, and he’s healthy. Strange.

    Anson Carter scored 2 goals against Detroit last night. Looks like his slump may be over.

    The correct way for Craig MacTavish to handle that situation is to complain to the Calgary team officials about the mascot. If the team officials don’t respond, take it up with the NHL after the game. What he did was wrong. That’s not how to go about solving problems. Adults got a good laugh out of it. How did the kids react to that?

    I’m not sure the Flyers need to make a trade. They seem to be doing fine right now. The real test starts in April.

  11. peanut_butter_shelf says:

    There is a good article on http://www.nyrangerssuck/CHTPAGE.htm that explains how the mascot rebellion started. Really funny shit.

    Check it out.

  12. NemiNA says:

    it bothers me how this asshole always has to put expert says before he reply’s to everything. this guy has a huge ego problem.

  13. titans says:

    I think he’s compensating for somthing that isn’t so huge.

  14. Aetherial says:

    The Flyers have done exactly what I said they would do when they went into a tailspin…

    Namely pull out of it. They look very good now. They are playing Hitch’s system and, as a Leaf fan I hate to admit it, I like their chances of taking the East this year.

    Clarke probably wont make a major move.

  15. Tradedude says:

    wow that was entertaining, and mature 😉

  16. Tradedude says:

    i thought it was realistic enough for you….

  17. NemiNA says:

    he does have a whole lot to be upset about. after all he is a jackass that just FEEDS off hi ego. you can tell by the way he writes and heads his comments. expert says. grow up man and get over yourself. do us all the favor

  18. Tradedude says:

    man u get offended waaay to easily.

  19. Tradedude says:

    mines punkin pie

  20. Tradedude says:

    mines pumkin pie

  21. aaron says:

    The reason the difference in television contracts is so big is because the NFL is insanely popular, and hockey isn’t. Remember the XFL? How it got canned b/c it got no ratings? I saw its ratings, and they were higher than the Stanley Cup Finals were a few seasons ago. Hockey is a national joke. And its always been that way, so don’t blame it on escalating salaries.

    I’m afraid what’ll happen if there’s a holdout. The NHL will go through a year that generates no revenue. That’s generally a bad thing. I’m afraid some franchises are going to fold no matter what happens.

    And I’m amazed the Penguins broke even last season. That’s an incredible feat.

  22. leafsrule31 says:

    hahaha.. ya thats why you sit in front of a computer all day on an internet site.. right?

  23. leafsrule31 says:

    leave it to you to think of the guys twig and dingle berrys.. fag

  24. leafsrule31 says:

    whos the guy with an ego that speaks on behalf of everybody?.. everytime he speaks?

    do the world a favour and shut the fuck up.

  25. aafiv says:

    Clarke’s not big on Russians and he’s not big on one-sided players. Kovalev doesn’t play D and would be a bad fit for Hitch’s system. Flyers are playing well so there’s no need to panic. This trade ain’t gonna happen.

  26. Tradedude says:

    hey quinn might have done some crappy deals, but i have a feeling he will pull this 1 of.

    I’m calling it, Tradedude!

  27. NemiNA says:

    ok first, lets keep the cursing down and discuss this as normal people, you understand that right? normal people. i understand your a leafs fan too and you have to support your fellow brother but this isnt the KKK. and you mean to tell me you dont think this expert guys is an egotistical jack ass? is doenst bother you how he heads everthing he puts on this sight expert says? i understand you backing up you fellow fan, as i was gonna do for titans when you called him a fag, but then i realized that leaf fans just arent worth that good ol’ philly attitude. have a pleasnt day and a good tommorow

  28. NemiNA says:

    thats just not right man

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