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.

MAC-T – THE HUMAN “TONGUE DEPRESSOR” (TSN)

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?

CLARKE DOWNPLAYS TRADE TALK (Philadelphia Inquirer)

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.

ROY REACHES AMAZING MILESTONE (ESPN)

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.

NUMBERS REVEALED IN SENS SAGA, AND MORE (SLAM! Sports)

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)