Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Too Long for Twitter- October 2nd

  1.  I really enjoyed this interview with Mike Keenan, but one quote really stuck out and it was after he was asked who was the most difficult player he had to coach: “There’s always an interesting thing with Brett Hull. We’re buddies, friends. But he was an interesting player to coach. There are others, and people will know who they are. There’s no reason talking about them, because, for example, Joe Murphy was difficult, but people here wouldn’t even know who Joe Murphy is. Brett Hull had a mind of his own. He was very stubborn. A superstar, an excellent player, but very stubborn. He knew how he wanted to play.” I don’t think people realize how hard it is to co-exist with some of these superstars as a mere hockey coach- getting these guys to backcheck, block shots, sacrifice to make plays, etc. John MacLean and Ilya Kovalchuk with the New Jersey Devils comes to mind. Cory Clouston and Alex Kovalev in Ottawa does as well.
  2. Dustin Penner is a healthy scratch to start the year in Anaheim after all he talked about in preseason was his bond with Getzlaf and Perry, hoping to prove himself, wanting to be marketable next year in free agency and all that. This is why so many people don’t put stock into quotes.
  3. Yes the Flames got a first round pick in the Bouwmeester trade but it looked even worse than it originally did after the Flames waived Mark Cundari and he wasn’t claimed, along with Reto Berra not making the team. There’s no doubt the Flames needed to trade Bouwmeester to help push along their rebuild, but that doesn’t mean you trade a good defenseman for below market value. Bouwmeester had another year left on his contract and the Flames easily could have justified holding him and moving him at the draft or until an acceptable deal came along.
  4. Conversely, the Blues traded Perron for Paajarvi in a bit of a cap move, but with the Morrow signing he might even struggle to get third line ice time. I count Roy, Backes, Steen, Stewart, Berglund, Oshie, and at least one of Schwartz/Tarasenko as top 9 forwards. Hitchcock also said Sobotka would be in the top nine but he said so before the Morrow signing, plus I’ll believe it when I see it due to their depth. The bottom line really is that the Blues traded a legit top six forward for a guy who will struggle to play in their top nine consistently. Imagine the backlash in Toronto or Montreal if the Leafs or Habs did that? Paajarvi was a healthy scratch to open the season.
  5. Another move looking ugly right now? Martin Erat for Filip Forsberg. Erat started the season on a line with young players Tom Wilson and Michael Latta, and played only 9:01. He’s already questioning his role and while I don’t want to make this bigger than it is, the Caps traded a pretty promising player that they drafted 11th overall for Erat so they better figure this out before it snowballs. The short-sightedness of the move is eerily similar to the Cody Eakin for Mike Ribeiro swap.
  6. I have to give John Scott a little credit, at least he has a sense of humour. The day after the brawl he took a moment to say "No one is talking about the sick assist I got last night, the baby sauce pass in the middle." That’s pretty funny.
  7. Varlamov stopped 59 of 62 shots in his two preseason games. This is not only a big year for him, but for new Avs goalie coach Francois Allaire who has been kicked to the curb a little bit the last few years with the fallout from Toronto. You can bet that if Varlamov has a good season it will be a bit of redemption for Allaire. In Colorado's season opener he stopped 36/37 shots.
  8. One of the more honest things I’ve ever seen from John Tortorella came in his TSN interview with James Duthie where he said: “nobody came up to me and said 'you need to relax, you’re kicking the crap out of us.'” I thought that was so interesting and revealing. One- coaches can’t talk at players all the time, there needs to be a give and take. Two- players (presumably) can’t be too scared to go talk to the coach and tell him to tone it down; it’s a long season and it’s a grind, if you aren’t able to have an honest chat with the coach then something very wrong is happening. Three- Torts lost that dressing room and he knows it, so how will he change? Four- this might be the most important point, but it sounds like he is willing to change; I don’t care what he does with the media, it’s his relationship with the team that will push things for better or worse.
  9. That said, I got a kick out of the media giving it Tortorella for being vocal about a phone going off during a press conference. Tortorella was right to do that. He, nor any coach, does not conduct these interviews for his livelihood. It’s not like coaches are looking forward to these things as it takes away time they could be using to make their teams better which is all any coach really cares about. In other words, Torts isn’t really doing those morning interviews for himself so the least you could do is show him some respect. Having your phone go off like that is just bush league, but all I heard other media members saying is “same old Torts.” How about “why does that goof not have his phone on silent?”
  10. In the NFL teams rake over the waiver wire and spend arguably as much time watching their own guys, as they do others in preseason. I’m shocked the NHL isn’t the same. Luke Adam, Cory Emmerton, Adam Hall, TJ Brennan, etc. all went unclaimed. You can’t convince me not one team couldn’t afford to pick those guys (among others) up and stash them on their roster be it in the NHL or AHL.
  11. I like hybrid icing and think it’s a great idea. One problem I can see happening is this: two players racing for a puck and the defensive guy begins to pull up around the faceoff dot because he’s expecting a whistle that never comes, and the offensive guy gets the puck making a play to score. Because it’s a judgement call you can see where the grey is in there. That said, utilitarianism rules apply here and it needed to be done.
  12. I would have had Edmonton in the playoffs if it weren’t for these Gagner and RNH injuries to start the year. Even if they can survive them (looks like they won’t), it’s not as if once they return everything is okay either. There will be an adjustment period and those players will need to work themselves back into game shape to be able to bring it night in and night out. It’s a tough bounce for Edmonton and I hope they overcome it because they were –on paper—ready to take the next step this season.
  13. If I’m picking an under the radar team that I think will make the playoffs, I would pick the New Jersey Devils. Last year they were good goaltending and a bit more scoring away from making it, and they addressed that this season with the Schneider acquisition plus forward additions. Their top six wingers –Jagr, Elias, Ryder, Clowe—have combined for the fourth most points as a group of top six wingers over the last two years, and then they added Damien Brunner just in case. I think their depth is underrated (Bernier, Zubrus, Carter, Josefson, etc. are all good players). Jersey led the league in shot differential last season, and while I think that’s a by-product of their system because they simply throw pucks on net from everywhere, I do think they are one of the best neutral zone teams in hockey and they bottle up the opposition with ease. Jersey is in a tough division, but I like them.
  14. Jim Rutherford saying "If you really like fighting you should probably go to a fighting or wrestling match,” is pretty off-base considering he employs Kevin Westgarth who is strictly an enforcer. Look, I don’t really care where you stand on the fighting debate for this point all I’m saying is don’t be a hypocrite because you lose all credibility when you do. At least when Detroit speaks out on this we can all look and say “hey, they don’t employ one-dimensional enforcers.”
  15. My award winning predictions for you all to rip on later:
  • Hart- John Tavares
  • Ross- Evgeni Malkin
  • Norris- Erik Karlsson
  • Vezina- Henrik Lundqvist
  • Calder- Ryan Murray
  • Selke- Patrice Bergeron
  • Adams- Jack Capuano

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