Strachan on Hockey Column


Top Stories in the NHL today include rumors on Kovalev to Leafs, that their fans are taking the Kovie situation too far, and the Pens need immediate help, players that can easily fit in with the Pens. Also, Don Cherry said it all last week as he was a solid boost to putting the STOP sticker on the their helmet that may prevent young hockey players from getting crippled. Bob Boughner from the Flames also had some words for Bryden. Sabres to cough up some cash and other rumors surrounding the NHL lately.KOVALEV TO LEAFS HAS SNAGS: PENS WANT IMMEDIATE HELP

In the media frenzy that is being generated by the potential availability of Alexei Kovalev, Maple Leafs fans are making a number of assumptions, not all of which are valid.

They assume that (a) Kovalev wants to come to Toronto (b) the Pittsburgh Penguins want to move him to Toronto and (c) a Kovalev move is imminent.

To put the situation in a better perspective, it might help to look at it from the Penguins’ point of view.

First of all, it’s important to note that Kovalev will become eligible for arbitration this summer. He will not become an unrestricted free agent. Therefore, if the Penguins want to keep him for another year, they can do so.

In arbitration, Kovalev is likely to be awarded something in the $7 million US range, so the dilemma the Penguins face is how to get the maximum return at the lowest cost.

If they dump Kovalev for a couple of distant draft picks, they’re telling their fans they’ve given up on a playoff spot, a move that would, in itself, be costly. Gate receipts would drop dramatically.

On the other hand, if they keep him through the playoffs, they risk getting a lot less than they could get now, because a $7-million player is hard to trade in the off-season. They have the right to walk away from the arbitration settlement to avoid the salary, but would get nothing in return.

If the Penguins were clearly out of the playoffs, their decision would be easier. Ditto if they were clearly in the playoffs.

But they continue to hang around that nether region where qualification is possible, but not assured. Therefore, the sensible move is to trade Kovalev and appease the fans at the same time.

To do that, they need a deal they can justify. They have to get at least two players who can step into their lineup and perhaps help the Penguins in a playoff run. Also, those players would have to have low salaries. That almost certainly requires them to be young.

That’s where any deal with the Leafs hits a snag. General manager Pat Quinn says he has no interest in moving players off his team — and they certainly can’t find two players in St. John’s who are ready to step into the Pittsburgh lineup.

But the Colorado Avalanche, coveting the kind of offensive punch that Kovalev can provide, would gladly offer Alex Tanguay and Martin Skoula.

The New York Islanders, looking for a partner for Alexei Yashin, another Russian, would give up roster players. After all, Mike Milbury would be involved, and the only untouchables Milbury knows are the ones who worked with Elliot Ness.

The Penguins also want cash, and in that regard, the Leafs can compete. But in other areas, unless Quinn changes his stance, Kovalev will be going elsewhere.

AROUND THE LEAGUE: The Phoenix Coyotes are getting a revamped look — three new sweaters for next season. Now if only someone would have a word with those people in Nashville … The league has issued a memo to officials telling them to enforce the rules regarding changes on the fly. Replacements were coming over the boards far too early.


Talk radio is not known for its impact on sports.

But an initiative by Bob McCown of CJCL, helped by a solid boost from Don Cherry, has resulted in a program that may prevent young hockey players from being crippled.

The idea is to apply STOP stickers to the back of players’ helmets because, as Cherry pointed out, that’s where a player is looking if he’s about to check a player into the boards.

The process of the campaign was rather convoluted, but the bottom line is that McCown’s crusade has resulted in Bauer Nike providing the stickers free of charge to every young hockey player in the country.

If it prevents just one kid spending his life in a wheelchair, it’s a job well done.

THEY SAID IT: The Calgary Flames’ Bob Boughner on the owners’ complaints about hockey’s economy: “If it’s such a bad investment, why does a guy like Rod Bryden turn around and suddenly make another pitch for the Senators?” … Tampa Bay Lightning coach John Tortorella on struggling goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin: “This guy is dying because he knows how important he is to the club. The one thing about Nik is that he’s accountable and he wants to get back to this level. But we can’t survive as a hockey team with just a decent goalie. We can’t live like that as the Tampa Bay Lightning” … Edmonton Oilers coach Craig MacTavish on the fuss over his run-in with Flames mascot Harvey the Hound: “Well, these are the dog days of the schedule.”


The three Buffalo Sabres who didn’t get their deferred payments when the team declared bankruptcy will not have to wait much longer.

Jay McKee and Curtis Brown are owed $133,000 US, and Brian Campbell is owed $25,000. If they do not get paid, they could become unrestricted free agents.

But Bill Daly, NHL executive vice president and chief legal officer, told the Buffalo News that the matter was simply one of the complications of bankruptcy and that the players will be paid.

“As far as we’re concerned, we plan to avoid any chance of a default and then letting them become free agents,” he said.

When asked about the time frame, Daly replied, “Not months. On the outside it could be weeks, but it might be days.”

THIS AND THAT: Speaking out against people who report trade rumours this week, Pat Quinn said, “As Brian Burke used to say, you’d like to get some of the stuff they’re smoking.” Really? Why? What would Quinn or Burke do with it? … One of the less-publicized bonuses in the Claude Julien promotion to Montreal was a concession the Canadiens had to make to get his rights from Edmonton. They have to play an exhibition game in Edmonton in the fall … Maybe Slava Kozlov should bump more referees. In the eight games after his three-game suspension, he had five goals and seven assists … Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said this week he expects John LeClair to be back Feb. 15. Asked about this, LeClair said, “I’m looking at the end of February.” … Wondering why the Boston Bruins finally moved Kyle McLaren? They were the best team in the NHL through the first 27 games. Through the next 20 games, they were the worst … Coming soon to pay-per-view? Nashville coach Barry Trotz, upset at the manhandling of Karlis Skrastins by the Vancouver Canucks’ Todd Bertuzzi, offered to settle matters man to man with Canucks coach Marc Crawford. Mark March 20 on your calendar. That’s when the two teams play again. How about a bout as part of the between-periods entertainment?


31 Responses to Strachan on Hockey Column

  1. TrojanMan says:

    It’s about time one of you Leafers finally read the correct article instead of making up the stuff you do. Nicely done TradeDUUUUUUUUDE, Cowabunga

  2. ooJUXEoo says:

    Leclair actually said specifically he was looking to come back Feb. 15th at home against Carolina.

  3. WeStSiDe says:

    You know all this hype about Kovie may back fire in the Pens face, Partick is asking an awful lot and I wouldnt be so sure that he is going to get it, do you really think a team is going to give up lets say Tanguay, Skoula, plus 4-5 million dollars for a player who is going to then be awarded 7 million at least?? Then face Un Restricted Free agency at years end, to me I wouldnt do it, even from a Leaf standpoint… I rather him go after Satan, Palfy, or even a defenceman, if not that, keep your prospects, keep your team, and let them develop and bring them in, and fill the gaps through free agents and what not…

  4. leafsrule31 says:

    this stop sticker thing is not new.. for about 5 years in nova scotia minor hockey players have not been allowed to step on the ice without one of those stop patches on their back between the shoulder blades.

    so this whole mccown/cherry get the job done thing is nothing they got done.

  5. WeStSiDe says:

    One more thing, on Hockey night in Canada they said some players from the West are being mentioned, that may fit Toronto a bit better… Let the Deadline aproach and see what it brings and see if it is really worth it… Thats my advice…

  6. WeStSiDe says:

    They have it in Ontario where I play too…

  7. titans says:

    How would you know? You haven’t been on the ice in over five years.

  8. WeStSiDe says:

    What the hell are you talkin about?? I would watch what you say bitch..

  9. WeStSiDe says:

    and if you werent talking to me than i suggest this board gets a quoting feature so it saves the confusion…

  10. Aetherial says:

    The Kovalev posts recently were referenced not “made up”

    Have you contributed anything beyond leaf-fan bashing? ever?

  11. mikster says:

    He might get almost as much value as he got with Jagr.

    Patrick isn’t that good, he chokes and loses patience. Chickens out…

  12. titans says:

    What the hell am I talking about?? What the hell are you talking about? I was talking to leafsdrool31 slappy. I suggest next time you think before putting your foot in your mouth!

  13. Aetherial says:

    This post DOES make sense because of PIttsburgh’s situation as described. They will be reluctant to take picks and young prospects. This DOES hurt the Leafs chances as the Leafs are not deep enough to give up a couple good, cheap starters.

    Then again what team is? New York Islanders?? Rangers? Colorado? (see below for more on that)

    For this reason, the Penguins may hold off and see where they are nearer to the deadline. If they fall out of it, they may be able to justify taking picks/prospects and more teams can reasonably go after Kovalev.

    Do the Leafs have a shot? Yes, of course.

    Will they get Kovalev? Maybe not.

    They will get someone though, as this article and a post I made recently mentions. A LOT of players will be available come the trade deadline. The rumblings and grumblings around the league are starting to happen.

    The Leafs are one of the relatively few teams can afford to buy this year. It makes sense that they will get something.

    I gotta figure though that Colorado now has a problem because they won’t likely offer Skoula with Derek Morris now out for the year.

    The Islanders or Rangers could still land Kovalev though!

  14. WeStSiDe says:

    You didnt say who you were talking to…

  15. WeStSiDe says:

    I agree somewhat, but who does NYR or NYI have to offer that Toronto doesnt? Im not so sold on the Kovie situation anyway, I think 2 quality players plus cash and a prospect is a bit too much for kovie, especially considering his lack of defense…

  16. titans says:

    I shouldn’t of had to! Replies to other people’s replies are indented while replies to the original comment posts are not. It’s pretty easy to figure out for…oh I dunno every other person on this site.

  17. WeStSiDe says:

    When me and him were talking about the same thing I think you do, on other circumstances probably not, here, YES!

  18. titans says:

    Just give it up and apologize! I’ll accept it. I’m a forgiving kinda guy.

  19. WeStSiDe says:

    So Sorry! Hows that?

  20. Tradedude says:

    Well even if we don’t get Kovalev, we have Gary Roberts coming back next month to get things settled here in T.O. Cause without scoring, we’re doomed, 1 goal last 3 games, horrible.

  21. Tradedude says:

    ya on their BACK of their jerseys where players dont look, the sticker is on the back of their helmets it’s new, but nothing special.

  22. Tradedude says:

    leafs should have some interested in the likes of Bryan Marchment of the Sharks. He is one player who you’d love to hate, and opponents will have a second thought of messing with the leafs if they appear to acquire them. Plus, he’s an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year, so you never know. Plus, the Sharks just acquired a physical, rugged defense in Kyle McLaren. McCabe has been struggling, maybe him.

    and Skoula might not be traded, I think Greg De Vries’ name will pop up alot in the Kovie sweepstakes, he is an UFA and he defineately has the potential for a #1,2 defenseman, especially in a city of Pittsburgh.

    Could be interesting…

  23. guinsfan4life says:

    I think the only way this back fires in the pens’ face is if they don’t deal Kovie and instead keep him for the stretch drive and into the playoffs. Who says he is asking for 4-5 mil. anyway?? I haven’t heard any of that around here in Pgh at all. What Patrick is doing is holding on to Kovie long enough to create a bidding war between teams so he can see who wants him badly ehough.

    The team that gets kovie, yeah, has to pay his short term salary, but when the CBA expires there is gonna be a long lockout/holdout and without a doubt his contract, if there is a settle ment would be tough to swallow.

    However the same problems will exist with Palfy, who you suggest to go out and sign. He makes in excess of 5 million dollars, which is why the Kings are wanting to get rid of him. Any free agent you sign, is going to cost you similar money if you want similar results, i.e. 40 goals per season.

    Bottom line-acquiring Kovie is a risk-financially, however if you have that “we want to win now” mentality, like the Avs have shown recently, then maybe it is worth the gamble.

  24. guinsfan4life says:

    I think he has too much patience at some points, Mik. I also think he lets his ego get in the way most of the time when dealing with free agents and with trade rumors. Last season he didn’t trade lang and I think that was more from a standpoint that “hey we ain’t gonna give you a good player”, but when realistically they lost him without nothing.

    Each and every GM in the league has his faults. THere is nobody perfect. They all have their flaws. With that said, I think Patrick is a fair GM, with what he has to work with.

    THe more and more I think about it, I believe the Jagr deal was out of necessity–I mean the pens couldn’t afford any NHL caliber players in return and were/are in more dire financial straits than what they’d have you believe.

  25. guinsfan4life says:

    Article in the Post gazette this morning ensuates that the Islanders are in the front running for Kovie’s services because of their deep blueline. THis according to Dejan Kovacevic, penguins writer. This is how he assesses the whole situation:

    Rangers: Have Tom Poti, but the penguins never made a serious run at him when he was with the Oilers, so why would they now.

    Stars: Not wanting to add more payroll to their roster.

    Red Wings: Only one young defenseman in Maxim Kuznetsov, to offer that is presently in the NHL that the penguins would be interested in. WIth an aging team, they’d not be able to deal from a position of strength.

    AVS: Derek morris , 2.5 mil. and Martin Skoula at 1.1 mil. “Morris is overpaid, given his subpar defensive work, and Colorado has been trying so hard to deal Skoula for more than a year that is has raised questions as to why.”

    Maple Leafs: “Tomas Kaberle 1.75mil., their best defenseman and is unavailable…Carlo Colaiacovo…Quinn said this week he is looking to add to his defense rather than subtract from it”

    Islanders: “THey have three commodities in the Penguins’ market: Roman Hamrlik 3.5 mil, Adrian Aucoin 3.1 mil. , and Kenny Jonsson 2.5 mil., All three make less than Kovalev’s current 4.6 mil. and are highly unlikely to make have of what he likely will get as soon as next season. All also are big, strong, offensively potent relatively durable and capable of logging 30 minutes a game. Moreover, one high-ranking team official this week confirmed that the Islanders would be interested in adding Kovalev.”

  26. WeStSiDe says:

    There are going to be a lot of nice UFA Defenceman comming up this year, Marchement, De Vries, Wesley, Hatcher, Leetch,Miller,Sweeney,Yuschevich,Dejardins,Klee,Johansonn,Ragnarson… Note, some of these players arnt high ticket Free Agents, but they all have stuff in common, STAY AT HOME DEFENCEMAN, it will be a buyers market for defenceman.. If I was Pat Quinn knowing how he has a lot of D prospects, I wouldnt hesitate to trade some of them and make them up in the free agent market if need be, this means maybe trading McCabe…

  27. titans says:

    Didn’t sound very sincere. Try it again with a little more heart.

  28. Aetherial says:

    Agreed that the Leafs may also go after a defenseman. It could be this year OR in the summer.

    As Kovalev is expensive I am thinking the Leafs may go after Satan perhaps (if he is available) or Amonte (again, if available) and then also go back after Yushkevic.

    These two add up to a little more than Kovalev but perhaps strengthen the team more and they could get by maybe with giving up prosepcts/picks and/or lesser players on the current roster than Pittsburgh wants.

  29. Aetherial says:

    ALL teams go through scoring slumps. This is the NHL Dog days!

    Unfortunately the Leafs cannot afford their usual winter swoon this year.

    Seriously, don’t look for Roberts’ game to really round out until the playoffs. Even then, he is still an older veteran. I don’t think you will see what you saw in last year’s playoffs from him… and I am a big Roberts fan.

  30. Aetherial says:

    Agreed on a few fronts here.

    The Leafs are NOT going to give up Kaberle. They might give up McCabe if they think they can replace him (Yushkevic?)

    Why would the Islanders want to give up a premier defenseman though? Are these guys likely to earn a low enough salary in the next year or two to interest Pittsburgh? I dunno enough about the situations to say.

  31. guinsfan4life says:

    I think Patrick will likely take the player(s) who will cost him the least amount over the next year or so until the CBA is up. He doesn’t want to get a player and then have to go through arbitration this summer and watch the salary of this guy increase by a million or so.

Leave a Reply