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The Toronto Maple Leafs entered December with a record of 14-9-2, having avoided a repeat of the early meltdown that doomed their playoffs hopes last season, and were ranked among the top eight clubs in the Eastern Conference.
December, however, proved a cruel month, with the Leafs winning only four of 13 games, sliding out of a playoff spot for the first time this season.
Not even a 7-3 drubbing of the Tampa Bay Lightning in their first game of the new year helped them gain ground in the standings.
Has Colton Orr’s Maple Leaf career been KO’ed by the club?
That was the intriguing question making the rounds on Wednesday after it was learned that the Leafs had placed Orr, one of the toughest hombres in the National Hockey League, on waivers.
Orr has been used sparingly thus far this season, notching a goal and five penalty minutes in just five appearances in 2011-12. Fellow pugilist Jay Rosehill has only played 15 games as well, an indication that the coaching staff has been reluctant to dress the traditional “tough guys” this season.
Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson said he intends to change the makeup of his last-place team. He has until the Feb. 27 trade deadline to do so.
In the interim, Blue Jackets players will walk softly, waiting to see who stays and who goes. It is a white-knuckle road traveled by every pro athlete without a no-trade clause in his contract.
“It’s nerve-racking coming to the rink and not knowing what is going on,” forward R.J. Umberger said. “It’s a lot of extra tension.”
Well, at least Tomas Plekanec and P.K. Subban are showing a little fight. Pity they’re taking their frustrations out on one another rather than the opposition.
You can’t blame these guys for being frustrated -but Plekanec and Subban did not create this mess. Neither did Jacques Martin, or Perry Pearn, or Guy Carbonneau, or Claude Julien, Doug Jarvis, Guy Boucher, Julien BriseBois or any of the other talented individuals who have been fired or allowed to get away during this interminable reign of error.
The Ducks finally completed a trade Tuesday, though the acquisition of someone from the Toronto Marlies is unlikely to save this season.
Perhaps Luca Caputi one day will have an impact here, but, until then, we’re still stuck with this.
So now, General Manager Bob Murray needs to make a real deal, a genuinely impactful one, a move that signals the start of reloading for next season because, let’s all admit it, this season is a goner.
He needs to trade … Ryan Getzlaf.
Teemu Selanne has dealt with the annual summertime decision of whether to lace up his skates for another NHL season and hasn’t surprised anyone by returning to the Ducks each time.
But with his team possessing a 10-21-6 record and being a near lock at missing the postseason, the franchise icon might have to consider another tough call — whether to ask for a trade to a Stanley Cup contender and leave.
In what could truly be his final season, Selanne skated around the topic of possibly leaving the Ducks on Monday as they returned to practice at Honda Center.
Wilson wants Brown and Komisarek to get a couple more practices in before they return; eyes weekend comeback for both.
Steve Tambellini looks at the standings and doesn’t like what he sees.
“Do I want to be a lottery pick again? No, I’ve said that from the beginning,” said the Edmonton Oilers general manager.
It isn’t his intention to be picking in the top three of the NHL entry draft in Pittsburgh this June. His game plan isn’t to be the fifth worst team in the NHL right now, with a club that looks an awful lot like last year’s version. The Oilers were 12-18-7 after 37 games in 2010-11, with 31 points. On Jan. 1, 2012, the Oilers are 15-19-3, with 33 points. That’s not a leap forward. Forget playing meaningful games in March. How about February? How about this month?
********************* Happy New Years from HTR ***************************
Firstly: Happy new year :D!!! Thanks for all the support and criticsm from the readers of my writing.
I thought, whgile on the topic of fresh starts…how about the Minnesota Wild? The most obscure thing, aside from a second line of Bouchard-Cullen-Powe, and a third line of Gillies-Brodziak-Johnson; is probably their defensive lines.
No, I don’t know why it works so well, nor do I know who Nate Prosser is. What i do know is an upgrade couldn’t hurt. If the Wild want to do damage in the playoffs, they will very likely need to acquire some experience and…well…more experience. SO who could be on the move?
The New York Rangers have placed Sean Avery on waivers for the second time this season.
If the veteran forward goes unclaimed by the other 29 NHL teams, he can be sent to the American Hockey League’s Connecticut Whale on Saturday.
Keith Yandle has been the glue that’s been holding together a struggling Phoenix Coyotes team. As it stands now, the Coyotes sit in ninth place in the Western Conference with 39 points, and the team is currently under .500.
It’s a tough thing to watch, especially since the Coyotes have plenty of talent on their roster. They just can’t seem to pull it all together.
Phoenix recently traded disgruntled forward Kyle Turris to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for David Rundblad and a second-round draft pick. They also traded their star goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to the Philadelphia Flyers in the offseason last year. Even with all these shake-ups, it still hasn’t seemed to change much.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are open for business.
GM Scott Howson has seen enough and signaled his intentions in a solid column by Bob Hunter in Wednesday’s Columbus Dispatch.
I reached out to Howson on Wednesday to follow up, and his feelings certainly had not changed. The GM was willing to forgive his lineup in the opening six weeks with so many faces missing because of injury or suspension, but since then it’s been mostly a healthy lineup and the Jackets have remained stuck in the basement.
“We haven’t played well in the last 2 to 3 weeks and it’s given us a little bit more clarity,” Howson told ESPN.com.