It's The Mikster Talking Hockey

I could not come up with a title. Of course I talk hockey on here, duh. Anyway, the Olympic break is approaching and so is the deadline. Anything more to expect?

Penguins are once again tanking a season.

Oilers, this year’s Calgary Flames? Maybe…

Canucks in bad shape?

Will Leafs hockey end its playoffs era?

Canadiens…big time trouble.Before I begin my article, I want to say how pathetic it was for the Sabres, specifically Lindy Ruff, to come out and just bash Kasparaitis. That was a clean hip check. An unfortunate one since I’ve always been a supporter of Connolly, but how could Lindy Ruff speak now after he has looked away for every cheap shot, dirty, disgusting plays performed by Vaclav Varada when he was a Sabre?

Moving on…

Torino 2006 will soon start, and so will HTR’s Italian coverage of hockey. So…. all of you better start working out, exercise…. start a 3 week diet, because once the Olympics start, it’s all hockey, wine, beer, and food.

NHL trades are soon to come as there won’t be much time when the season resumes after the Olympic break. So what is there to expect?

With about 31 to 35 games left into the season, teams have a good idea where they stand and what their chances are, while others know that their season is pretty much done. The ones that know their season is quite done are already preparing to make trades, especially to dump salary. The ones that know are a lock for the playoffs are also preparing to make trades to “perfect” their teams. Annnnd….the ones who are on the border of the 8th seed, both in and out, will shortly start to explore.

That pretty much says that three types of teams are getting busy with phones and scouting other teams. I would expect a couple of more trades to be made prior to the Olympic break. Those trades, however, should involve players that are not on Olympic teams. That would allow a player to be acquired and spend time, during the break, to fit in with the new team and practice a bit with the coach.

I know I keep bringing this up, but the Penguins are tanking this season. I’m sorry Pens fans, I know you hate what I am saying, but this team has no sense of direction other than investing it with a bright future and selling it for big money. Billionares who want to be owners know that the Penguins could be a very good long-term investment, especially if they once again get a top draft choice with all-star potential.

Sure, Palffy’s retirement was a huge surprise, but this Penguins team was poorly managed with carelessness. What kind of GM signs Crosby, signs palffy, Recchi, LeClair, and Gonchar…, tries to bring in veteran leadership with Odelein, yet does not address the team with a goalie? It’s bad enough that the defense was already bad and adding Odelein and Gonchar was no improvement defensively. What about goaltending though? They got none. They could have had Curtis Joseph for cheap, but they ignored that. Firing Olczyk was pointless, and Therrien has not changed much about the team either.

The only direction the Penguins have taken for the past few years has been to stack up with prospects. Once again, with a meaningless trade on Dick Tarnstrom, the Penguins are headed in the same direction, and they’ll gladly trade Recchi and LeClair, probably crossing their fingers that someone would take Gonchar off their hands, all so they save up on money, get a top overall draft choice and then sell a low cost team for big bucks.

Now, as a hockey fan…. I think it’s an embarrassment to the franchise and to the NHL. As someone who studies business, economics, and politics…. it’s a genius move. Mario Lemieux and his partners could come out so clean and perfect with the sale of this club. And, they should sell it at a high price. Think about it… this is a team that in a few years has a roster of Crosby, Malkin, Whitney, Fleury, Kessel/Johnson/Frolik…. other prospects and enough low budget to sign GOOD free agents. It’s a heck of an investment for a billionare.

The first move for the billionare, though, should be to release Craig Patrick from his duties. The Penguins are such a key club for the future of the NHL.

So, while I am upset that once again I get to see the Penguins steal a top prospect in a draft, and saying they should not be allowed to draft in the top 5, I am also saying that they are a key franchise for the future of the NHL. Of course, let’s hope it does not go to Las Vegas.

Honestly, I bet that only two people, probably the few Flames fans we have on HTR, guessed that in 2004, the Flames would be a Cup Finalist. How about I make that statement for the Edmonton Oilers? I am betting two parts of this though because it depends what GM Lowe decides to do. My original bet is that it will be a Flames vs. Senators Stanley Cup Final, and I’ll gladly enjoy watching two great Canadian teams win the original Canadian Trophy. However, my second bet depends on Lowe addressing his goaltending needs.

Ever since they acquired Mike Peca and Chris Pronger, I put the Oilers as a tough playoff team to beat. And yes, they will be a tough playoff team to beat with those two guys. Two thumbs up for GM Lowe on acquiring Dick Tarnstrom for a utility defenseman in Cory Cross and an expandable forward, Jani Rita, who I like as a player and should develop well with the Pens. Still, Tarnstrom is an offensive weapon on the blueline and now the Oilers have a PP that scares the opposition.

Also, Jaroslav Spacek was a great pick up by the Oilers as the Blackhawks are starting to make roster changes after a poorly managed season.

The Oilers sacrificed a bit defensively by acquiring two defensemen that are not so steady on the D, but they can do the job. Yet, they add more offense. So the Oilers may decide to acquire an extra forward, but their playoff success starts from the net and crease. Jussi Markkanen and Morrison have been solid goalies, but can’t have them playing in the playoffs.

Forget the idea that the Oilers could trade for Eddie Belfour, that guy is not going anywhere with his salary. I think Edmonton has two targets for goaltending. One, Dwayne Roloson, and two, Curtis Joseph. Both are proven goalies that are financially affordable, and both have succeeded well in the playoffs. I think Jospeh would be the best deal since he is actually cheaper, but I can see him become a Trade Deadline Day acquisition. Roloson would also be a key deal. While both of them do not ensure a Cup Finals spot, they absolutely make the Oilers a scary team to play against in the playoffs.

This is a playoff team. It does not matter where they finish between 1st and 8th, they’ll show up in the playoffs. So, depending on the goalie that Lowe acquires, Biron could still be a possibility, the Oilers could become the Flames of 2004.

I watched the Maple Leafs get hammered once again and it is ugly. GM Ferguson Jr. has hit a dead end with the one road, which now splits into two roads. Left or right? The left is… start thinking about a total firesale and clean up and rebuild the franchise. The right is…. screw it, no guts no glory, make some trades to get in the playoffs. It’s pretty much a coin toss and pressure from the fans and media certainly do not help the young general manager.

What I’d want Ferguson Jr. to do before the break starts, is acquire Brendan Witt, at all costs. Yeah, he said he is more of a “Western boy” but he is a much needed player on the Leafs. Low salaried, tough, physical, and should make a big difference on the defense. Ferguson also needs to get a winger. And seriously…. would the Leafs fans and media stop the Sundin trade rumors?

By the way, let me say something about that. I think that kind of talk is complete trash. Actually, trash is cleaner…. that talk is disgusting and sick. Has it ever occcured to the incompetent Canadian sports journalists that just maybe…. MAYBE the team seriously sucks and Mats Sundin can’t do a thing about it? Yes, the guy is aging and of course he is not the same as he used to be, but he’s also got a team that has abysmal wingers. To even think about the Leafs trading Sundin is almost criminal, and for journalists to say that Sundin is unhappy and wants to get traded, even after he denied so, is even more disgusting.

This isn’t politics where some journalists get to be radical and screw up the news with their own ideologies. This is hockey, it’s a game, it’s a sport. How dare ANY journalist fabricate such crap on a player. Someone must be such a sleezeball to make up that kind of crap. It is cheap, dirty crap and these journalists GET PAID to write such things. This is outrageous.

Guess what, Leafs fans, I got to watch my great Rangers players go on a decline. Brian Leetch, Mark Messier, Adam Graves, Mike Richter…. all great Rangers players who I got to see when they were dominant, and when they were…. old.

Accept reality, Mats Sundin is becoming an older player and he won’t be the same, especially when he’s got abysmal wingers and a bad team. But this guy brought the Leafs to playoff contention for so many years. To think about that the Leafs should trade him…. it’s just sick. Lack of respect towards a great Leaf player that will go down as one of the best ever in Toronto.

Accept the reality, but I urge you not to accept the total crap that the sports media feeds you up in Canada. I won’t mention the names of the journalists, but you know who they are….and they deserve to get kicked out. You guys need to do something about it. The hockey media in Canada, specifically Ontario, has turned into complete garbage.

I would not even spend a dime on the newspaper or even bother reading their blog-style articles on the Web sites.

I mean it folks…. do something about this. It got out of hand during the off-season with the MOJO and the Fan590 stations where they kept reporting stuff that wasn’t happening. Hey, how’s that Jamie Rivers trade coming along by the way?

At this point, why doesn’t the Toronto Star, or Ottawa Star, or whoever, hire us, to write articles. Hell I’d do it for free. It’s the same stuff we write. A bunch of you members are good writers and awesome hockey fans. We could do the job, for even less than half of what those logically challenged journalists get paid.

Be proud of Mats Sundin who honors the great Maple Leaf logo. You lose him, the franchise loses an identity.

Anyway, enough with that message. Toronto media should just stay shut, Leafs fans should stay patient…. let the team get healthy, give time for Ferguson to make a trade. The less pressure, the better the trade will be. If you guys increase the hype on a trade, and it turns out the trade is “okay”, and not so interesting…… then it’s a big disappointment and you react negatively to the trade. Let him do his job.

You know…. it’s amazing because once again I am bothered by people pointing fingers. And this other victim is…… GM Nonis. The Vancouver Canucks are in bad shape. They are inconsistent, not 100% healthy and not at the same level where they should be. Now, how could Nonis get blame, I don’t know. To me, this looks like a good man and a hard working general manager who is trying his best to get the best deal for his team. It’s not easy to inherit a well built money making team from Brian Burke, and try to do a better job. It’s already hard to do the same kind of job. And, it’s not Nonis’s fault that there was a $39M salary cap in place. It’s not his fault that Todd Bertuzzi has been a different player ever since the Moore incident. There are things that a general manager cannot control.

This guy is really pressured and good God, I’d be going through insomniac if I were in his position. Do I fire the coach? Should I trade a top rounder, maybe a couple of prospects? Do I give up on Bert? How do I address my goaltending needs?

It’s not easy being in his position. He has little cap space and there are high expectations on him. He will make a trade, but it is not going to be easy. There are certain needs that are more important than others. Is goaltending more important than a real #1 center? Maybe strenghten the defense? It’s not like the Canucks have that much to trade either. I think Nonis should hunt for Curtis Joseph. He is cheap salaried, and I don’t think he will give much of a return for the Coyotes. I think with a solid goaltender, the defense will be less of an issue, but the offense still needs to be addressed. With the Hawks dumping players, I would not be surprised to see Tyler Arnason as a possibility for the Canucks to acquire. If Toronto keeps slipping, maybe Jason Allison could be a good idea with Naslund and Bertuzzi.

The team is in trouble, and the Oilers and Sharks are the two teams that will break in to the already high competition Western Conference. Nonis should make a move to stir things up for his team. Firing Crawford is not worth it, but making some sort of change soon is worth a shot before it’s too late.

There was a moment of relief for Habs fans
when Bob Gainey took over the bench, but the Canadiens are in big time trouble. Jose` Theodore won’t be going anywhere. He is having a horrible season and is earning a pathetic salary which puts him on the same level as Martin Brodeur; Jose is not even close to that level.

Bob Gainey is in no tough position though. He has good tradeable assets and the kind that teams would be interested in. The problem is, will the Canadiens make the playoffs? The Boston Bruins have been gaining ground, and even the Florida Panthers are starting to get closer, especially after a total domination against the Devils last night (I was there and it was a wonderful game). So… Montreal may miss the playoffs and if so… Gainey could be looking to dump salary and clean up his roster. I think right now, within the next three weeks or so, he could pull the trigger on a player that would help them make the playoffs. But if that does not work out, the Canadiens should be looking to set up a firesale post. Teams will be interested in Mike Komisarek, maybe even Alex Kovalev…. Richard Zednik…, Jan Bulis, Souray. He’s got the players to trade, and if I were him… I would start cleaning up the house and start building his own team.

I really think that the trade market will be very active. People who say that it won’t be active are the same people who never even expected the Oilers could afford both Peca and Pronger. Probably laughed at the idea back then. It’s all a guessing game and I am doing that too, but I am me… I don’t get paid to tell you what my guesses are. And besides, I am the mikster…. and the mikster has two rules…

#1- Mikster is always right.

#2- If mikster is wrong, then go back to rule #1!

Thanks for reading folks, have a great weekend!

Micki Peroni


72 Responses to It's The Mikster Talking Hockey

  1. Kraftster says:

    Come on now.

    Jocelyn Thibault?!?

    Career gaa below 3, career Svpct above .910. Even if he’s been awful this year, hell even if his career numbers were worse, don’t say that they didn’t address goaltending. What would you call picking up Thibault?!? Just seems like it would have to be too big of an oversight that you forgot about it, so you must have chosen not to mention it.

    For me, to say someone is tanking a season is an awfully bold statement. I think thats serious stuff when people talk like that. There is truly nothing to substantiate a statement like that. You point to no roster moves other than the recent Tarnstrom deal (which was not in anyway a lopsided deal) and lack of going out and getting a goalie (which is incorrect) as your evidence?!?! Wouldn’t they have kept the inexperienced coach. Have you watched Penguin games? This time underacheives terribly, and when they play good games, they just flat out find ways to lose. If you’ve watched games, you’ve seen how poorly some of the vets and young guys have played at times, so what would have been evidence to the contrary, that they were trying to save the season? There really weren’t any obvious roster moves out there that they flatly ignored. I just think that stating that they are “tanking the sesaon” was not only poorly argued, but entirely fabricated and puzzling.

  2. Kraftster says:

    Alos, lack of sense and direction does not equal tanking a season, do you really think?

  3. Kraftster says:

    The only direction they’ve taken is stacking up on prospects?? Its called rebuilding! Granted, one of the most overused cliches in all of sports right now, but an accurate description nonetheless, and it certainly refers to a “direction”. Rebuilding close to as far from direction-less as you can get.

  4. habs79 says:

    What the Habs need to do is add more grit and aggression to the forward lines. A couple of teams I would like them to call up and try to work something out are LA and Nashville

    To Montreal

    Dustin Brown

    Eric Belanger

    To LA

    Alexander Perezhogin

    Richard Zednik

    Niklas Sundstrom

    Dustin Brown and Alexander Perezhogin are both great young player with lots of potential. The reason I bring these two up, and yes I am being biased that Montreal really could use Brown’s grit. Howeve LA does have alot of grit and agression, and Montreal has alot of fast skilled forwards. So the flip would give both teams the kind of player they don’t have alot of.

    LA is also a team with great depth at center and lacking depth on the wings. Zednik and Sundstrom will give them depth, and Belanger will give Montreal a decent number 2 center.

    Which brings me to my next trade suggestion.

    To Montreal

    Jordin Tootoo

    Danny Markov

    Jeremy Stevenson

    To Nashville

    Mike Ribiero

    Sheldon Souray

    Nashville gets a boost at center where is the only place they have been weak all season. Ribiero would be better in the western conference.

    The key to the deal for Montreal is of course Markov, he will make the defense more stable. Tootoo is in limbo with the Preds being up and down between the NHL and AHL. Him and Steveson have been spare parts for the Preds, but will bring the Habs the grit and agression they need.

    If they were able to make trades along those lines here is What Montreal’s lines should look like.

    Kovalev – Koivu – Ryder

    Bulis – Belanger – Brown

    Plekanec – Higgins – Tootoo

    Stevenson – Begin – Ferland

    A. Markov – Rivet

    D. Markov – Komisarek

    Boullion – Dandenault



  5. mmatras says:

    More importantly than the Oilers trading for another goalie is them deciding which of the current three is deffinately on the bottom of the totem pole. It looks like that person is Conklin. Once they can allow Markannen and Morrison to get some more regular starts without giving Conklin any more chances, they will be able to better evaluate their needs. Moreover, it allows other teams to get a real idea of what they might be getting in return in any kind of trade.

    Predictions: Edmonton will ride Markannen and Morrison until the trade deadline and the goalie they trade for will come from whichever team is in greater need of Defencemen.

  6. 92-93 says:

    hmmm. well if you read the post it just says that i like the way the teams ahead of the oilers ‘look’ like right now. of course a lot of things can change.

    and, if you read the standings you will see the amount of games in hand teams like the Ducks and Sharks have on the oilers.

    so no, i am not kidding.

  7. 92-93 says:

    yeah – well i dont think the leafs should be so desperate for a d-guy that they should go out and get a Rivers or Ulanov, etc.

    i’ve seen JFJ do these deals before (berehowsky, Johannsen) and i’d rather see the leafs young guys play – Jay Harrison for example.

  8. PensinWpg says:

    Agreed, Connelly wasn’t necessarily blind sided either, he saw the hit coming. Saying that Darius meant to hurt him is absurd. Did he mean to check him and take him out of the play, definitely. I say if you call for Darius’ head on a pike for this, why was there not the same reaction when Scott Stevens knocked Lindros out with a clean open ice hit? Sure Lindros should have kept his head up, but it was just as much unnecessary of a wallop and could also be seen as intent to injure.

    These hits happen, players are aware of who the effective hitters are, or at least should be. It’s been said plenty of times before and is one of the 1st things a coach teaches you, “Keep your head up, stick on the ice and be aware of what is happening”

  9. Habfanforever says:

    not bad at all, sounds reasonable, and cost effective for both teams

  10. nyrhockey094 says:

    Lv your looking through Sabre Coloured glasses. It was NOT a dirty hit, and there was NO intent to injure. Yeah its unfortunate that connolly was hurt but there are very few saying that kaspers hit was dirty and i bet 99% of those few are sabres fans.

  11. RangerSteve says:

    Kaspar’s resume is the reason why everyone looks at his hits for being dirty. If I’m a Buffalo fan, I’d just be glad that it was Connolly’s knee instead of another concussion.

    Also, as far as the Leafs go, I don’t think it could be said any better than these lyrics from Jay-Z:

    “No lie, just know I chose my own fate

    I drove by the fork in the road and went straight”

    That being said, the Leafs might be kicking themselves for all these moves, but you know they will find a way to get out of it somehow. Not saying that the result will be that big here either.

  12. Realistic says:

    Cox is intelligent, but he plays the devil’s advocate in a regular basis – sometimes when it is needed, sometimes simply to anger Leaf fans (and I assume sell papers). I can’t stand him myself, he drives me bonkers, but I still respect him (a bit) as he know his hockey. If I were to see him and Alfredson walking down the street together, I’d be torn as to which one I’d hit first….that’s how much I dislike Cox!

    PS: There aren’t many good journalists in the papers or on TSN/Sportsnet….I find myself watching the Score a lot. Thery aren’t the best, but I like their style more than the glossy crap you see elsewhere. One guy I like a lot is Pierre Lebrun. He and Strachan come to watch games at the pub near my place and he is a good guy with a level hockey head. That’s myu 2 cents, why can’t there be football on today? (or hockey…not on NBC!)

  13. Gretz99NYR says:

    Well the biggest deal is the huge issues with the Pens, the Leafs and the Habs. Toss all these clubs in the same pot, none is any better than the other and they will all be swinging 9 irons come May. The problem is depression. They are living in fear and have loads of worrisome internal anxioty. I’d be suprised of more than half the guys on the teams wern’t on Prozak. Take it fom a seasoned professional sports anaylist as myself, and go enjoys some REAL hockey, some fresh, exciting, exuberant and lifegiving hockey, like the RANGERS. OMG, the Rangers are what is DRIVING the NHL these days, its probably half of whats wrong with so many other loser clubs…just plain green envy coupled with stark fear.

  14. Gretz99NYR says:

    Kasper is not a fighter b/c he is a bum. he wont fight, he knows Grier would kick his buttocks in. I forgot that fighting was illegal for European players.

  15. Gretz99NYR says:

    BTW, “hippocrate” is pretty cute. Nice touch.

  16. lovas84 says:

    Now that Giguere has falling from grace in Anahiem how about the oilers attempting to get him? Dangling Prospect Robbie Schremp and maybe one of there 8 Dman along with a goalie

  17. Dynamo710 says:

    damn you speak and spell!!!

  18. Dynamo710 says:

    Kasparaitis knows how to play hockey, Grier is just a big goon. Kill yourself and stop trying to be someone else with a similar name.

  19. Deke says:

    Ruutu is currently on the 1st line (while Naslund rests his injury) but when naslund returns he goes back to 3rd line. He’s been on 3rd line all year.

  20. Flyaz says:

    1124 games played 1123 points. He’s been either a point a game preformer or better for the leafs 5 times and the times that he wasn’t he was no more then 8 points off that being the case. Looks like the meaning of NEVER means something different to you than most people. I find it funny that I’m once again defending a leaf, but I guess in actuallity I’m correcting ignorance, so I guess I can still sleep at night. I guess I should have expected this considering your htr name states that you cheer for a guy that is almost 33 years old and still hasn’t learned to play with his head up. What is the french expression for a guy that has to get his parents (Bonnie and Carl) to feed him jello when he’s 40?

  21. Flyaz says:

    PLEASE. Put down the small cigarettes before making your next post. The Rangers are improved for sure and there have been a lot of players stepping up but if it wasn’t for Lundqvist this team would miss the playoffs for ANOTHER season. That guy is money. I shouldn’t be so hard on you though, it must be nice to harrass other people who you think cheer for teams that will be done in April, since you and your team have been the brunt of most jokes for the better part of a decade. Driving the NHL, spare me.

  22. Maximus says:

    Too much time on your hands….If anyone thinks a professional athlete will tank a season is a complete as dumb as dirt. No professional team tanks a season. There is no point for the players. They want a job on the team or some team. Winning is the only way to keep a spot on the team. Fleury is ready for a job in the NHL. The Penguins mistake was to start him in the AHL. But who knew that Thibault would struggle. He had excellent numbers with Chicago before he got hurt. The penguins biggest problem is that the players that they had this year are either 5 years too young or 5 years too old. It would be 100 times more better for the penguins to make the playoffs than to get some high pick.

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