Roberto Not So Luongone, Are Teams Tanking? More on the Devs and… HTR Mid-Seas

It is the season to be jolly. How depressing was last year’s Christmas without NHL hockey. But, we got it this year and the Holiday and Christmas season have felt so good thus far.

Will Luongo’s 53 saves finally silence the media? I keep hearing and reading journalist say Luongo is gone and that the Panthers are trying to deal him. But, that ain’t true. Panthers hockey needs to be discussed so all of you HTR members and readers will know what exactly is going on here in Sunrise, Florida.

Are teams tanking the season? Frankly I am getting sick of it and I will revisit a point I made during the 2005 Draft Lottery.

The Devils are in a state of emergency. Is this the beginning of the end?

HTR.com will have Mid-Season Reviews.I do miss the white Christmas snow, but I’m enjoying the 68 degree (F) weather here in Florida.

By the way, one thing I’d like to say about Christmas….., be proud of it. Those of you who are Christians and celebrate, be proud of it. Whether or not you celebrate it religiously, do not let other people degrade the meaning of Christmas and allow them to make ridiculous changes to it. People find the Joyful day “offensive”, but it is their ignorance that is being offensive. Be proud of it and celebrate your Christmas tree, not to be confused with holiday tree. Everyone should respect all religions worldwide. And, God bless you!

Moving on! The previous article on HTR.com about Luongo was a great read. Many thanks to luongofan84.

I once stated, not too long ago, that there are two main reasons to explain Luongo’s inconsistency. 1) New rule changes. 2) New goalie coach.

I cannot believe the mass media fails to mention those two reasons, but rather go with “frustration” and that both Keenan and Luongo want to part ways. Why are the media outlets so negative? Really, journalists nowadays are just so negative. I feel bad for them and I wish I could send them all a Christmas card. They need to smile once in a while, no? Have some positivity!

The problem is Luongo adjusting to the new NHL. It took Martin Biron well over a month, almost two. And yet look at this guy now, he just kicked out Ryan Miller. And I am glad, since I am a huge Biron fan. So, it would take Luongo a while to get things going. He has a great glove, but with the new requirements, his glove is smaller and he’s missed the puck, he’s dropped it, and he’s given rebounds. It takes some getting used to.

The goalie coach could be teaching Luongo new techniques for him to adjust. And, that may be confusing him. Maybe Clint Malarchuk told him to make a save by doing A, B, C and now Phil Myre says do it like X, Y, Z. I am not sure why Jacques Martins decided to let go of Malarchuk, but it may take Myre some time to get connected with Luongo. Same situation when Luongo was new to Malarchuk.

Lack of confidence may be a definite issue, and the whole debacle over arbitration definitely was a distraction. But, GM Mike Keenan clearly stated that he wants to re-open negotiations in January for a new long-term contract. I also got in contact with an executive of the Panthers earlier this month and he too said that the organization wants to keep Luongo.

I believe that if Luongo and the Panthers reach a new deal, then Luongo will start dominating again. So in a way, the media has to stay off Keenan’s back in his “quest” to trade Luongo. If the media wants to push the rumors, then they should go after Luongo’s agent to see if Luongo wants to leave the Panthers. Obviously Keenan has to get himself ready for possible trades. He has to see what is out there because once the NHL allows contract renewals to occur, then Keenan has to know what he should get for Luongo. You will see him in more games, see more Panthers scouts, but that does not mean he is going to trade him.

Roberto Luongo put up the best performance of the season against the Washington Capitals last night, making 53 saves. If this guy is back on track and continues to play like this, then I am most certain that Luongo will stay a Panther, unless he wants to leave.

The Panthers are not such a horrible team. They’ve been injury plagued and I love how Al Strachan, another person with too much negativity, had one article up saying how emabarassing the Panthers were to the taxpayers and how owner Alan Cohen does not care about winning, he just wants the revenue sharing.

The Panthers are here to stay in Florida as the area around the stadium is having a major growth in real estate. Which means, more investors.

But, going back to Strachan, how does Cohen not want to win when he hired Mike Keenan (though disliked by many around the league, he is a competitive hockey man who wants to win), and he allowed Keenan to hire Martins? He probably is spending double for the management and coaching staff than he was with Rick Dudley and coach Torchetti. I know, you must be going… Torch….. who?

Panthers have been injury plagued, and Nathan Horton is back healthy carrying the team’s offense. Rostislav Olesz was also injured for a period of time and is now back. He is a rookie that gets zero attention, yet he gets a lot of ice time as he is used in all situations on even strength, PP, and PK.

The Panthers started the season with an above .500 winning percentage. They can compete and the healthier they are, the more troublesome they become for teams to beat, such as the Red Wings.

This is a new era for the Panthers in a new NHL. Keenan wants his team and he’ll get his team within three years. Give it time, and the Panthers can be a successful team with Keenan and Martins running it.

Are teams tanking the season?. Yes they are. I really do not have any complaints about how the lottery went. Though I disagreed with it, I’m happy with the Rangers picking a solid youngster in Marc Staal. However, the Penguins are once again in contention for the Phil Kessel sweepstakes.

Enough is enough. This team has not drafted any lower than 5th overall in the past four years. They do not deserve to get another top 5 pick. Sure, they tried to win it this season, but they cannot be complaining about money issues now to then set up a veteran firesale, trying to unload Sergei Gonchar and Ziggy Palffy. That was completely irresponsible on Mario Lemieux’s and Craig Patrick’s part. Completely irresponsible knowing that they are not a rich team. The Penguins do not deserve a chance to pick 5th overall after drafting Ryan Whitney, Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeny Malkin, and Sidney Crosby. The should not be able to draft top five in 2006.

The Caps got to draft Alex Ovechkin, but once again they are tanking the season. They showed no signs of improvement, but showed their unwillingness to compete at the NHL level. If George McPhee wants to run a team like he is doing so now, then do it in the AHL because his management is embarrassing to NHL hockey. No willingness to sign key players that could have formed a great line with Ovechkin. Why did he not want Bondra back? Why does he not try to improve his team by trading Brendan Witt (wants to be traded)? Because he, as well as Ted Leonis, wants to spend little and get another high draft pick.

These two teams are tanking seasons and they appear to tank a couple more.

How is this for a change? A team that has drafted in the top five overall picks for three straight years will not be able to pick in the top five of the next entry draft.

How will that work? Exclude the Penguins in the lottery. If the Penguins finish 28th in the league, then whatever team is 24th in the league gets included in the lottery, which means Penguins are excluded. So…. here is an example:

1)Blues

2)Penguins

3)Capitals

4)Blue Jacks

5)Bruins

6)Panthers

The Penguins are out as #2 and put in as #6. The Capitals move up one, as do the B’Jacks and Bruins, and the Panthers move to 5th.

I think that will prevent teams from tanking seasons consecutively. It would be a real shame to see the Penguins draft in the top once again. They just don’t deserve it. They got Crosby, they got Malkin, and Fleury… now they have to stop losing. I’d want to see Phil Kessel in a St. Louis Blues uniform. Not in a Caps uni, and not in a Pens uni.

The New Jersey Devils are living in chaos! I have nothing against GM Lou Lamoriello and he is one of the best general managers that the NHL has ever had. But, I have to state the truth that the current state of the Devils is due to Mr. Lamoriello. The blame’s on him.

He has completely ruined the minor league team, making the River Rats a joke to play against in the AHL for consecutive years. He has failed to draft any impact player in years. You look at the Red Wings, they’ve had Datsyuk and Zetterberg. The Avs got John-Michael Liles and Marek Svatos. The Flyers made a big move in getting Jani Pitkanen and drafted Gagne years ago when they were a playoff team.

Lamoriello just completely mishandled the organization from within. From prospects to coaching. When coach Burns had to resign, Lamoriello should have gone after a different coach. Hiring Larry Robinson was taking a step backwards. He failed before, he was bound to fail again. Lamoriello HAS to change team philosophy and needs an upgrade in it.

Now, he can allow John MacLean to coach and see how he does. But, if he wants to find a head coach then he’s got to take his time to interview and find the one that wants to put the Devils back on track with a new philosophy that fits in the new NHL. He’s got Brian Sutter available, Bobby Francis, Eddie Olczyk, Paul Maurice could still interview even though he is coaching in the AHL. One guy who may fit well with his ideology is former WolfPack head coach Ryan McGill.

The point is, Lamoriello has to redefine the Devils. I do believe this could be the beginning of the end for the Devils. No coach, poor farm system, lack of depth, lack of talent….. he can’t build a team via free agency next year. I think he can make miracles happen and have a great season next year, but all signs, so far, indicate the opposite way.

If the Devils are certain to not make the playoffs, should Lamoriello set up a firesale? I think that could happen and he should. It has done the Rangers good, why not do the same?

HockeyTradeRumors.com will have Mid-Season Reviews. I will try to use the same folks who did a great job with the Season Previews, and any available spots will be mentioned here for anyone who would be interested. No date is set yet, but we will have them for you.

Thanks for reading!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Micki Peroni

Vice-Admin