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Early and midseason predictions were that Claude Giroux was the runaway leader for the Hart trophy. The Sedins were in the race, as was Kessel. How things change so quickly in this game.
Kessel has come back to earth – albeit at a much higher place than previous seasons. He’s really coming into his own and proving he is an elite player in this league. He proved me wrong and Im eating some crow.
Giroux is in the same boat as Kessel. Coming out of the gate on fire, he has slowed a bit and is settling into a normal pace. A lingering injury may be at play but who really knows.
The Sedins are doing what they do … remaining at about a 1.2ppg pace, as they always do.
Things got a little testy at Maple Leafs practice on Sunday, with Carl Gunnarsson and Joey Crabb getting into a scuffle with each other.
Crabb got a couple of hard rights in on Gunnarsson before coaches Rob Zettler and Greg Cronin and teammate Nikolai Kulemin separated the two. Crabb and Gunnarsson jawed at each other while skating away.
The two later made up; coach Ron Wilson made them both lead the after-practice stretches for their chuckling teammates.
On the other hand there’s a significant percentage of the paying public who don’t believe Tambellini has achieved a status in the GM community much higher than his team sits in the standings.
And the current view of his team is that it has has no guts, still isn’t tough to play against, that his veterans haven’t performed, nor have the holdovers from Lowe’s veterans from his time in the GM chair. The group has shown no try in three of the last five games.
But apparently the decision is big picture, to stay the course with Tambellini, a first time general manager who is being developed, too.
Right when they brought up Nate Prosser yesterday with no injuries to defensemen, I figured Zidlicky was on his way out fo the lineup if we woke up this morning and found nobody traded.
The way Zidlicky played the past two games, something had to be done. It’s one thing not to score, and we’ve written on and on about his offensive woes. But it’s another to continue to play a guy that’s a defensive liability constantly.
Josh Harding isn’t oblivious to the fact his name is churning through the NHL rumor mill.
It has been almost 10 years since he was drafted, so he knows how it works. The Wild goalie is a potential free agent and it’s five weeks to the Feb. 27 trade deadline.
So since the Wild has yet to talk contract with him, could Harding help the Wild land that much-coveted top-six forward?
MacLean suggested Hemsky will pull in less than Dustin Penner did last season, though he failed to identify the main reason for that — Penner wasn’t just a rental, but still had another season left on his contract, while Hemsky is rental, a UFA on July 1. “I don’t see teams paying a big price,” MacLean said. He may well be right about that, though Kypreos was more positive. “There’s a lot of teams right now looking for a top six forward and he certainly fits the bill,” the real Kyper said.
The Maple Leafs need it, and Brian Burke has to go out and get it — sooner rather than later. The Leafs are on a fast train to Funkville and something has to be done to get them back on the rails.
They’ve lost three straight and have dropped out of a playoff spot, and have managed only six goals in their last four games.
If the Senators’ bubble was going to burst, you would have expected it to do so by now. It hasn’t, eh? Well, maybe under the hot California sun, where they start a four-game in six-day stretch Thursday against Western Conference teams, in their own time zone, who are at different levels of desperation.
GM Bryan Murray doesn’t think it’s going to happen, though. He looks at his team — the surprise of the NHL season with a 26-16-6 record and within a short saucer pass from the Eastern Conference lead — and he doesn’t see a crash and burn in its future.
There will come a time during the next few weeks when Kevin Cheveldayoff and the Winnipeg Jets hockey operations department decides whether they will be in the business of buying or selling leading up to the NHL trade deadline on Feb. 27.
The chances of it being the latter and not the former is where the smart money currently resides.
The Jets will be open for business, but let’s be perfectly clear — nobody is expecting a fire sale and Cheveldayoff isn’t going to be giving players away just for the sake of making changes.
So, I figured I’d join the Leafs trade talks, and discuss some possible names of interest to Burke and the organization. I know a previous article mentioned Ryan Malone, who may very well be a target. But who else:
Could John Ferguson Jr. be the next general manager in Columbus?
The former Toronto Maple Leafs GM is being mentioned as a possible successor for Scott Howson, according to a report from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun.
Howson, who is still under contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets, is expected to be let go at the end of the season. The Blue Jackets already fired head coach Scott Arniel last week.
Ferguson, who was the Maple Leafs’ general manager from 2003-2008, struggled during his tenure in Toronto. His teams did not make a playoff appearance after the lockout in 2005.
The Canadiens were prepared for more personnel changes following the decision to trade left winger Michael Cammalleri to Calgary for Rene Bourque.
“At a certain point, you can’t keep firing coaches,” veteran Mathieu Darche said, referring to the firing of head coach Jacques Martin and assistant coach Perry Pearn earlier this season. “It goes down to players. We felt things might happen if we didn’t get better. We have a new player and we move on.”