Playoffs Hockey, Non Playoffers Part Deux, Bettman
Hello fellow hockey fans and happy new week to the year. It’s playoffs hockey, but before I get to that, I think the non-playoff teams from the West deserve some very general coverage. Besides, I’d like to hear what those fans think of their teams as well.
Playoffs hockey is the real talk, though, and now that a couple of games have been played there is no need for me to act like an “expert” in analyzing the obvious as others do on TV before the playoffs started.
Annnnnnd……….. Gary Bettman. Yes, this is going to be quite controversial and I dare you to read!Let’s get right to it.
Colorado Avalanche: Just by ONE point they missed the playoffs, by ONE. If these guys made it, I doubt the Detroit Wings would have such an easy time beating them. I am not sure why it took so long for this team to really perform the way they should have, but once they did they flew. It’s hard to see what kind of changes may be made. Obviously the topic will be whether or not Jose Theodore remains with the team. I could actually see GM Giguere keeping Theodore for commodity and maybe giving him another chance. Buying him out would be inefficient for the club as part of his salary will count against the cap, and paying a player 2/3 of a contract when he is not playing is no joy ride for an owner either. Joe Sakic will be back for next season, which is excellent news. The Avs may need to make changes as far as letting older players go and trying to bring in younger veterans. Their defense is a definite issue, so I’d expect an Avs front office to be splashy splashy in July with a key defenseman.
St. Louis Blues: Has GM Larry Pleau lost control of the team? John Davidson has definitely made an impact and while Blues fans may have thought that this team will take a long time to get back on its feet, think again. From being the worst in the league to finishing with 81 points and 10th in the West. The Blues will be very busy this summer. I think they may even trade their 1st rounder to possibly land a key player to the line-up. It’s on the right track and I would not be surprised if they cleanly make the playoffs in 2008.
Columbus Blue Jackets: It must be in every Blue Jackets fans prayer that GM Doug MacLean gets fired. Please…..do fire him. I have never seen a smart hockey person be so incompetent like Doug as he has talent on that team. A total failure to the franchise. Has never come close to making the playoffs. Always has holes as far as depth. Invested so much money in popular players. It’s all wrong. Hiring Ken Hitchrooster was a great move, but it would be completely useless until the team gets a good GM.
Edmonton Oilers: I do not blame the Oilers for trading Ryan Smyth. The guy apparently felt so sure of winning the negotiations that when he heard he was traded, completely hurt his feelings. I like what Kevyn Lowe did. Hey, I wanted Smyth to remain an Oiler too, but I have had it with these players of his calibre thinking that they are in control. Lowe stood up, ownership stood up, and basically said that they won’t overpay anyone. This Oilers team cannot afford to overpay any player unless it’s a Chris Pronger in their hands. But, what happened in the past stays in the past. Time to move on. What should Lowe do? He’s got to find depth and definitely get a center. Go after Scott Hartnell, take a chance at Viktor Kozlov. Find skilled depth that can skate. Why not even take a chance at Alexei Morozov? Bring Oleg Kvasha for depth if necessary. Maybe Alex Hemsky will turn either of those two into good scorers, much needed scorers. Lowe has to re-invent the Oilers now that Ryan Smyth is gone; although I would always think it as a possibility that Smyth may want to come back.
Chicago Blackhawks: At least they are trying to set up a starting point in the right direction. Owner Bill Wirtz, the cheap-o that he’s been, has committed nearly $14M for just two players. GM Dave Tallon may have raised the expectations too high for this season. But, this team is young and man can it skate. Find second tier players that contribute and fit under Savard’s system. They have the goalie, the defense has to sharpen itself, the veteran forwards must commit, and the youngsters have to contribute in all aspects of the game. Can that happen next season? Absolutely. I am rooting for this team to make a playoff comeback. I’d love to see all Original Sixers be back in it at the same time.
Los Angeles Kings: Dean Lombardi has not really convinced me. The best move was acquiring Jack Jonhson. Worst move was trading Sean Avery for much less than what he is worth. This team appears to be in too much of a gray area and no sense of identity or direction. It’s a toss, no one knows what Lombardi will do this off-season and that’s all we can really look at. Any Kings fans out there have any idea?
Phoenix Coyotes: After years of not liking Michael Barnett, he is finally gone! What else is there to say about this team? I have no idea. It all depends who gets hired as GM and until that happens, no one knows what the plans are for this team.
Red Wings vs. Flames
-Flames only hope is to win all three home games and cross their fingers for game seven. I never had faith in this team, I think it was just so uncharacteristic of them to barely make the playoffs, only with luck. This is obviously Darryl Sutter’s fault though. Jim Playfair is not the right coach for this team. I think he is a good coach, but not fit for the Flames. The players evidently need Sutter behind the bench. I was actually pondering if Sutter was going to do the same thing that Devils GM Lou Lamoriello did when firing coach Claude Julien just before the playoffs. I have faith in the Flames when they play at home, which is why I thought of this being a seven game series in favor of the Red Wings. Yet, I think they are as good as done. The Red Wings on the other hand have an easy team to beat. The Flames just flat out stink on the road, but the Wings are a usual good team overall and this may be a year for them to win it again. They need to stay healthy, though, especially Hasek. The real test will be in the second round though.
Ducks vs. Wild
-I am surprised that it is already 3-0 for the Ducks. The Wild appeared to be the kind of team to have pulled an upset, or really make it difficult for the Ducks. Yet, they look to be done. So people say, or think. Oh really, says I. Can anyone remember how the Wild ended up playing in the Western Conference Finals a few years back? Please, do remind me as I recall some amazing comebacks.
Canucks vs. Stars
-I thought it was actually going to be easier for the Canucks to beat the Stars, but it’s not. Yet, they can win the series in five games, as I thought of first. Why? Despite the Stars playing well and just so tough, they are quite done. The Stars are done because the Canucks have showed so much better fitness and stamina than the Stars in this series. The Stars looked way too tired in the third period last night. The Canucks plan should be to keep a consistent level of tempo and wear the Stars down in the third periods. Stars appear to start too energized in the first period or two, and then their age shows. Marty Turco has played well, yet still is not proving to be the goalie to take this team in the Finals. So, Canucks have to keep themselves physically fit as that’s what will win them this series.
Predators vs. Sharks
-Talk about old time hockey in this series. If the Blues don’t give the Sharks that rivalry in the playoffs, the Predators will! Two too many nasty plays by the Preds though and seeing players injured in the playoffs is quite disturbing. I honestly have not watched much of the two games, only heard
them on the radio, but it sounds like a great series that could go either way. Both coaches should also keep their mouths shut as the bickering can only throw their players off their game and lose focus.
Islanders vs. Sabres
-Insane on Rick DiPietro’s part to risk another concussion. If he does, then it could get very problematic for him. Too big of a risk and I think the Islanders organization is responsible for it. If anything happens to DP, it will cause havoc. But so far, my very out of whack idea of the Sabres winning the series in six games does not seem that bad, does it? The Islanders are a pain in the butt to beat and it’s a team riding on goaltending and coaching tactics. Ted Nolan giving Buffalo a hard time? You know he is loving it. Buffalo is a strong team though, and I’d expect them to be back on track and start winning decisively, yet I cannot help myself from thinking an upset will be quite possible. Buffalo may be trying to work too hard down low and behind the net. Work too much around the net. That’s not how you beat the Islanders. The shots have to come through and the Islanders have one of the worse defenses in the league as far as shots allowed. Take shots from the point, many of them, and crash the net. Loose pucks and rebounds will be plenty. As for the Islanders, take advantage of Ryan Miller. The guy looks so beatable that as good as he is, I think DiPietro will outplay him every game.
Devils vs. Lightning
-I am already wrong in my prediction thinking that the Devils would sweep. But, they really asked for a loss the other night. I have no faith in Tampa Bay, as good as their forwards are, their goaltending is abysmal, defense mediocre, and coach Tortorella is nothing but a whiner who finds anything to complain about to the refs or to his players. The Devils should win this one quite easily. The Bolts almost missed the playoffs for a reason, and the Devils will easily prove that reason. There is just no way that the Devils will lose this series. No way.
Senators vs. Penguins
-The Senators beat themselves in Game 2. The Penguins didn’t beat them. The last two goals in that game were from pathetic defensive plays by the Sens. But, Sens regain lead and the Penguins look to be scrambling too much. I definitely think that defense and goaltending will lead the Penguins to a first round exit. Marc-Andre Fleury is very skilled, but I see he looks too unsure sometimes and that’s not going to win you any games. The Armstrong hit on Eaves was cleanly dirty, per se. Why clean? Ruled correctly. Why dirty? It seemed like Eaves was being directed by the Penguin behind him to lay him for Armstrong to hit him. It almost seemed set up. I know it wasn’t, but I think that hitting a player so hard when in a weak defensive position is just dirty. Of course Armstrong knew he was going to knock the guy out cold. Eaves should have kept his head up, but even if he did it seemed like he wasn’t going to avoid the hit. This is when Chris Neil just needs to hammer a Penguin. If not, then Gary Roberts will start causing trouble, throw the Senators off their game and voila`, Roberts would beat the Sens once again. Yet, I am confident that the Senators will win this round because of experience and better preparation.
Rangers vs. Atlanta
-So far so good for the Rangers as these past two games has been about goaltending and goaltending. Nothing else but goaltending. What a move by coach Hartley to play Johan Hedberg. I thought the guy was a total nut, but Hedberg was just amazing in Game 2. The Rangers are in a good situation, but nothing is guaranteed. I know Rangers fans are excited about the 2-0 series lead and heading on home ice. But, don’t think that this Rangers team is not capable of losing two in a row, at home. They are VERY capable to allow that. The key here for the Rangers is to definitely win Game 3. They win Game 3 and they put Atlanta in a situation where they HAVE to win four games in a row. Can it be done? Yes, but quite unlikely. You can say great things about Henrik Lundqvist and Sean Avery, even Jaromir Jagr, but what about the youngsters? Dan Girardi, Tomas Pock….these two get to play against the league’s top in Marian Hossa and Ilya Kovalchuk. Jed Ortmeyer playing well, Ryan Callahan skates non-stop. Thumbs up to the young players. As for the Thrashers, they HAVE to win Game 3. Winning that game means a 2-1 series lead, but it’s more than that. It’s stopping the Rangers for a moment and slowing down their roll. A 2-1 series means that Atlanta has found a way to beat the Rangers and can definitely win the next game, which is back-to-back by the way. Even if they would lose Game 4 and it becomes a 3-1 series, then it’s three games to win in a row. Sure as hell better than trying to win four in a row! I think it’s the kind of series that can end in five games, Rangers won’t sweep, or in seven games. We shall find out soon enough.
Let’s get something clear here folks. The Canucks vs. Stars game that ended in four overtimes and had infomercials running was not Versus’s fault, nor Bettman’s. Time-Warner was responsible for it as other cable providers did not pull that blooper, such as Cablevision. And this is what is really getting on my nerves. I don’t care how much you dislike a person, but to unfairly judge him for anything that happens is just pathetic and illogical. I mean, when this happened….who was first blamed? Gary Bettman. Are you guys kidding me? First find the reasons and the information to understand what happened instead of just stupidly pointing a finger without even knowing what really happened.
I remember watching a CSI: Miami episode and in the last five minutes of the episode, CBS cut, stopped the show with BREAKING NEWS. I remember that night and when I saw that, I got slightly scared as if the news is so urgent to stop a program, then maybe something really bad has just happened. And hey, we live in a nasty world nowadays. Well, it turned out that the breaking news was of Arafat’s death. Viewers were outraged and I was too. It was breaking news, but not so breaking enough to stop the last five minutes of a show. If anything, let a news ticker scroll at the bottom of the screen mentioning it. What happened in the end? The producer who made that decision was fired. It was his fault. Or, was it? Maybe I should have blamed Jerry Bruckheimer for signing with CBS. Maybe I should blame the heads in CBS headquarters. Nonsense, they didn’t make that mistake, the person who made the decision was at fault.
Yet, put that situation in the NHL world and people would be blaming either Bruckheimer and-or CBS top executives. See the logic in this? It’s just ludicrous that whatever happens, it’s Bettman’s fault. Enough already. I am getting sick of it as a hockey fan that fellow hockey fans are great at pointing fingers, whining, complaining, criticizing…..and what not? And, do I see any alternatives mentioned? People were outraged when the NHL joined with VERSUS. Please, someone mention another station that would have dedicated the same time and programming. ESPN? TNT? FX? What is it with people who criticize a decision made by Bettman, calling him an idiot, yet cannot come up with a solution, an alternative, a better idea? Who is the real idiot then?
US hockey fans who practice this kind of stupid nonsense really need to zip it because they are making hockey as the sport with the whiniest fans in sports. Cut the crap, folks. If you think you can do a better job than Gary Bettman, then apply for the job.
As for Canadian hockey fans, you are right that the guy has a preference to US NHL than Canada NHL. I agree that it’s unfortunate that he does not appreciate and value Canadian hockey fans as much as he should. But, this is a business and no one can really play Mr. Nice Guy when billions of dollars are involved. Bettman’s mission is t
o regain ground in the USA for the NHL. Not to be cold-hearted in any way, but when a Canadian complains about how Bettman is making biased decisions in favor of the US market over the Canadian market; my only answer to that is “DUH”. Eighty percent of the league is made up in the USA. The twenty percent up in Canada has already reached its peak, it’s a mature product in Canada and it won’t go beyond 20%. It’s fact, it’s reality, get over it.
Bettman got criticized if the Penguins were going to leave. Bettman got criticized for allowing the Penguins to stay. Bettman got criticized for showing interest in Kansas City. Bettman got criticized for the twisted story of US cities interested in expansion NHL teams; reality was that he clearly stated the NHL has no interest to expand as it’s not in the right stage in order to do so. He got criticized for not considering a Canadian city as far as the Penguins potential move. Bettman gets criticized if Mick McGough makes a bad call. Bettman gets criticized if the game is not physical enough. He gets criticized if a game is too violent, officials lose control, and injuries happen.
It’s becoming ridiculous, stupid, childish, and illogical. I am not a fan of Gary Bettman. I think the guy has done too many mistakes and I’d definitely welcome a change. But, this stupid criticism and bashing of Bettman with no basis is starting to get out of hand and it’s starting to really piss me off as a hockey fan. The guy can do one good thing and no one talks about it. The guy does a bad thing and everyone wants his head. No wonder why the NHL cannot be taken seriously by the sports world. The commissioner himself cannot take NHL fans seriously either if they keep doing this and you know what? He is right. I have lost patience and I am not taking any fan seriously who just bashes Gary Bettman for the heck of it and doesn’t even have all of the information to make a good point.
So, yeah it seems like I am defending Bettman and I’ll get grilled for it, I know so. But, I am a diehard hockey fan and I love the NHL. Criticize it all you want, good luck living without it then. Stop watching it then. No one is forcing anyone to watch the NHL; so if you see so many things wrong with it..go watch the AHL, go watch college hockey, the CHL junior leagues. And if there is a hockey fan who has the right qualifications to be a commissioner of such league, the NHL, then please….step up. Show me what should be done; and no, I don’t want ideas. I want real solutions. I want those real solutions, or alternatives, to have facts, numbers….. show me how this league can spend so much and make profit. Show me how you’d run the NHL on a daily basis like Gary Bettman does. Anyone? Please, if you are a hockey fan who knows how to run this league and has the qualifications to do so, speak up. I’ll be waiting.
I like to do off-topic once every now and then, and usually it’s on a good subject. Yet, tonight it’s a very sad subject. Over thirty people have been murdered in Virginia Tech. What a horrible……horrendous, day. Please, if you believe in religious faith, pray for the families who lost their children and loved ones. It’s just such horrible news and I cannot believe these things can happen. A few months ago it happened in Montreal too, I believe, correct? Or just outside of Montreal. What is wrong with people nowadays? Apparently this was a situation over a girlfriend/relationship type of thing. People, don’t go crazy over this stuff. If you got problems and just want to place so much rage and anger to the world, help yourselves. Don’t blame others by killing them. If you know of friends who have these troubles, help them. This is just horrible stuff. You are born evil a la Adolf Hitler, we can only fight with good and we’d understand why a person like that would be so evil. Yet for just a kid to loose his mind like that out of nowhere and just start killing people because of his own issues……….. yikes. We can only pray and hope for these things not to happen, and do so for those who have mental problems and pray-hope that they won’t do anything crazy. These events really become a reality check for us and we should feel happy to be alive and reward our life by appreciating it. I wish the best for the families of those victims………, this has been just horrible.
Thanks for reading as always,