Thursday, January 31, 2008

What Is The MVP?

1) This is a perennial question that doesn't just derive controversy in hockey, but almost all organized/team sports. What does MVP mean? For some/many it simply goes to the player who has the best overall season regardless of how his team fared. To others its the player who had the biggest impact on a successful team. So which is it?

2) In our opinion the award SHOULD go to the player who has the most positive impact on a winning team! Therefore the Art Ross winner should NOT be automatically given a slot among the Hart Finalists. Simply being the league's leading scorer, although a tremendous feat, does NOT mean that player necessarily helped his team succeed. Much like a home run champ on a last place baseball team, its a great individual accomplishment, but unless it was accompanied by W's/team success it doesn't warrant Hart/MVP consideration.

3) Here is where it gets even more interesting/difficult. One of our frequent/regular contributors VLAD THE IMPALER. who almost always advocates/some say exaggerates the importance of goaltending, made a very interesting comment on a previous blog post. His assertion was: Since a team's goalie was the most important position (no argument from us there) the Hart/league MVP should almost always be a successful team's goalie. Show us a good team, probably with very few exceptions, that team has an outstanding goalie supporting them. How could anyone else be considered?

4) Its a compelling argument. We haven't seen too many goalies in recent years actually win the Hart Trophy. The last being Jose Theodore in 2002. Dominick Hasek won the award back to back in 97 and 98 backstopping his undermanned Sabres to the playoffs, and from there you have to go back to Jacques Plante in 1962! A couple of goalies won it before Plante, but in the 82 year history of the award, it has gone to a mere 6 goalies! Its difficult to imagine that so few of the players from the most important position weren't worthy.

5) For instance, Bobby Clarke, one of our least favourite folks in the league won 3 Harts in the early-mid 1970's. Not taking anything away from his ability. He was one of the better players of his day, BUT would the Flyers have won ANYTHING if not for Bernie Parent? We'd say not on your life. Yet Bernie, not once of those 3 instances was the one deemed 'most valuable'. Certainly in that instance/example we could see Vlad's point.

6) In today's game, with a premium on scoring, the difference between being a great/high seeded playoff team, and being a low seeded team/out of the playoffs is who you have in net. Ask the Coyotes. They have the same personnel/coaches as they did before they obtained Bryzgolov, but just the inclusion of a good/consistent goalie changed the Coyotes from a losing team to a playoff contender! Guess who their team MVP is? Therefore Vlad has convinced us that at the very least one, probably 2 goalies SHOULD be among the Hart finalists every year, and many MORE tenders should win the prestigious award!

7) With that in mind here is our current list of Hart Candidates:

  • Marty Brodeur- Where would the Devils be without him? Likely NOT in contention for a playoff spot, let alone the division title.

  • Roberto Luongo- Ditto the above!

  • Ilya Bryzgalov - As previously mentioned. Since his arrival Phoenix has risen from the ashes of another crappy season to a playoff contender!
    • Tuesday, January 29, 2008

      Finnish Flash is Back!

      1) As has been rumoured for the past 6 months or more, the Anaheim Ducks resigned unrestricted free agent forward Teemu Selanne. The Finn superstar has signed a one-year contract and will join the team for the rest of this season. The new deal is reportedly worth $600K for the rest of this season.

      2) After months of speculation, Teemu is back. Of course its far from surprising since it was expected he’d return to the Ducks when Scott Niedermayer made his decision to return in late November. There are some HUGE differences between the two that we need to remind our readers! Teemu was an UFA. He was under no obligation to say when/if he was going to come back. That in stark contrast to Niedermayer. Scott had another 2 years remaining on a contract he signed before last year. Who as team captain should have felt obliged to honor this contract and not leave the team hanging. We have written about this few times before. (see story link) Not withstanding the obvious positive difference he has made for the team since his return, we still hold considerable disdain for Scott's selfishness

      3) As for Selanne, what will be interesting to see over the next few weeks is how long will it take for him to get back into playing shape. He's no spring chicken at age 37. It remains to be seen if the renaissance his career enjoyed the past 2 seasons in Anaheim can continue. Teemu had consecutive 90+point seasons. The Ducks would welcome a return of that kind of offensive contribution. If the Finnish Flash starts to resemble last season, the Ducks would immediately be placed along side Detroit and possibly SJ as the favourites to win the Cup!

      4) As an aside, what we hope does NOT occur from these two mid season additions is that this kind of situation, of veteran players taking significant time off becomes a trend. Ala a Roger Clemens situation. We give much credit to Brian Burke for staying quiet about these two, especially Niedermayer. Our sources tell us Brian was privately quite miffed at Scott, but knew a public feud would make a return of the former Norris/Conn Smythe Trophy winner less likely.

      Monday, January 28, 2008

      Life's a Beech!

      1) Amazingly Super-stiff/bust Kris Beech has been again lost/acquired by another team via wavers. This makes 4 teams for Beech in the past 3 weeks. Perhaps a new NHL record? LOL

      2) For those not keeping score at home(and we know you are!)

      • Beech began the season as a Columbus Blue Jacket. He was signed during the off-season when the Washington Capitals(smartly) declined to re-sign him.

      • On January 9th, the Jackets placed him on waivers while attempting to demote him to the AHL(where he belongs).

      • The Vancouver Canucks claimed him on January 10th. Beech spent just under two weeks with Vancouver(before they saw how much he sucked) and was again placed on waivers.

      • On January 21st, the Capitals(in need of AHL depth) claimed him.

      • Before they could send him to Hershey (He was placed on waivers again on January 25th), where he was claimed by another former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, on January 26th.

      3) Don't unpack yet Kris! The Pens are in need of warm bodies themselves as they have had a rash of injuries recently. Its probably a good bet that Beech won't be a Penguin too long either. Why? Well, he doesn't possess enough talent for the NHL, and once the injured Pens return the team will try to send him to Wilkes-Barre and probably picked up yet again on waivers by another team in need of AHL-depth. Eventually Kris will run out of teams and will wash up where he belongs; Helping a team win the Calder Cup. Life's indeed a Beech, Kris!

      Sunday, January 27, 2008

      All-Star Break Power Rankings!

      1) Its The All-Star Break! Three days without any meaningful hockey to watch. A great time for us a FAUXRUMORS2 to publish our monthly Power Rankings

      1 Detroit Red Wing (1)- The Red Wing stay a top our poll for the second consecutive month continuing their steady excellence with the best record in the NHL. Winning regularly at The Joe as well as away from Detroit. Biggest surprise is that Osgood has been playing so well. who saw that coming before the start of this season?

      2 Philadelphia Flyers-(16) Surge back up our poll with only one regulation loss in their last 10 to take the top spot in the Atlantic. They appear to be the real deal and shouldn't fall apart and out of the playoff race. Earning(so far) his big contract, Mike Richards is deservedly headed to Atlanta.

      3 San Jose Shark-(2) Drop 1 slot. Not playing poorly, but Wings and Flyers have played lights out. Continue their amazingly good road record. Their Shark tank record is improving, but should be better than .500 to get to the #1 slot. We maintain that they have all talent to be THE team , and we fully expect they'll improve their home record and be one of the contenders throughout the season. Now imagine if Marleau and Cheechoo were having normal seasons?

      4 Montreal Canadians(13)- Another East team that has played markedly better since our last Rankings. Moving up 9 slots. May yet give the Senators a run for the division. Continue to have potent PP with All star Andrei Markov leading the way. Sheldon who? Now what does the team do with its goalies? Huet is the #1, but is a UFA after the year. Interesting decisions for BG to make in the next few weeks!

      5 Ottawa Senators (3)- Key injuries and inconsistent play have plagued the Sens the last few weeks. Their hot start has them still safely in first over in the East, but if they don't get things turned around soon, they may find themselves in a race for the division. We still maintain that unless/until they improve in net they won't be a legit Cup contender.

      6 Pittsburgh Penguins- (10) Until the unfortunate injury to reigning MVP Sid Crosby the Pens were the hottest team in the NHL. They briefly were atop the Atlantic. Can they survive his 2 month absence? Stay tuned. Also, once injured M-A Fleury returns, what do they do? Sit the hottest goalie in the league, Ty Conklin? Tough decisions for Mr. Therrian/Shero. This team has plenty of talent to survive the Kid injury, and could be a blessing in disguise as it will force others to step up their games.

      7 Anaheim Duck-(15) A nice improvement for the defending champs. The return of the selfish Scott Niedermayer( has finally turned the team to resemble what they did/accomplished last season. Might Selanne be far behind? The division is now quite up for grabs. If they attain a top seed we wouldn't bet against them in the spring!

      8 Calgary Flame-(14) They now seems ready to compete for the division. The Flames continue to score and win. Jerome Iginla seems to be having a Hart type season, and Dion Phaneuf is doing all he can to get that Ovechkin-like contract from Sutter. Can Keenan stop himself from causing a team implosion? Winning for the time being anyway, has painted over the issues from this past fall.

      9 NJ Devils-(5) Have cooled a bit after a red hot December. Marty deserved his All-star starting selection(Although he'll miss due to family affairs) Made THE biggest move upward of any team. Left for dead by many. We even called for Sutter's dismissal, the Devils have been one of the best teams in the east the past month. Propelled into 1st place in the competitive Atlantic. No team with Brodeur can ever be over looked!

      10 Dallas Star-(4) Like NJ they were catapulted into the top slot in their division with an incredible December only to cool off since. Still maintain a very solid record and challenging for the lead in the tough Pacific. Antti Miettinen and Mike Modano have paced the Dallas offense. Also can we dispense with the Turco trade rumors. He's not going anywhere this season!

      11 Minnesota Wild-(6) Drop down 5 spots. They have played just a tad over .500 the past few weeks and have come back to the pack, but holding on to the top spot at the break in the black and blue NW division. Marian Gaborik is having a fine season, and carrying the load offensively for the Wild

      12 Boston Bruins- (7) Drop a few slots but, are generally playing good hockey for coach Claude Julian. Although last week they dropped 2 of three. Still despite the goaltending injuries Thomas seems to be for real and up to the challenge to keep the B'S in it for the duration. Marc Savard and Big Z also continue to have All-star calibre seasons.

      13 Columbus Blue Jackets-(22) Rocket up our charts 9 slots. Despite a big All-star snub, Pascal Leclaire is having a great( some in Columbus say MVP) season. With a very solid month the Jackets are certainly one of the teams to be reckoned with for one of the final 2-3 playoff spots in the West! Nikolai Zherdev and Rick Nash have been 2 of the better Jackets on the offensive side of the ice. We'd love to see Hitch get this bunch in the post season. If nothing else for their loyal fans!

      14 Washington Capitals-(29) Since last month they have turned their season around and could find themselves a mere 1 point from their division(albeit a weak one) lead. They have not lost back to back games since Bruce Boudreau took over on Thanksgiving. The only negatives are that starting goalie Kolzig may be showing signs of his advanced age, and #1 center Michael Nylander is out for the season with a shoulder repair. Would be the first team to make the post season afetr being in the 15th position in a conference at the midway point of a season.

      15 Nashville Predator-(26) Like they did in November, the Preditors rose an amazing number of slots(11) in our poll. Like Columbus, their recent surge has put them right into the thick of things in the West. David Legwand and All star Jason Arnott are pacing the team offensively and the unlikely combo of Mason and Ellis have been very solid.

      16 Phoenix Coyote-(27) Wayne seems to have finally got his squadS to turn the corner. Initially when they obtained Ilya Bryzgalov they went on a nice spurt folowed by mediocre play. However in the last few of weeks they have been much more consistent. Looking very good/solid on most nights. We're also impressed with rookie Peter Mueller. Also nice job by management to secure Bryzgalov's services for 3 more seasons with a very reasonable extension. Steve Reinprecht also having a good month for the dessert Dogs!

      17 Colorado Avalanche(11)-Move down another 6 slots with their continued struggles on the road, but more than that they have suffered a series of very devastating injuries. To captain and team soul Joe Sakic, FA forward Ryan Smyth, and most recently to leading scorer Paul Stastny. They will need the remaining forwards to step up, like Marek Svatos did this past week, as well as apparent #1 goalie Jose Theodore to play consistently well if the team wants to maintain its tenuous hold on a playoff position.

      18 Vancouver Canuck-(9) Lost 9 positions in our rankings this month. Despiote recent heroics from defensemen Alexander Edler the team has played just under .500 the past month. The team is still by and large The Sedins and Luongo, so if Nonis has Cup aspirations he may need to go out and deal before the deadline for forward depth(or Sundin as was mentioned here last week)

      19 NY Islanders-(23) The boys from the Island move up a few spots(4). Have played well at times, and down right poor many times as well. Certainly below the level they showed the first 6 weeks. Their goal scoring seems a bit better, but without DiPietro the team MVP, the Isles would not be in the playoff hunt. Also the team defense, already suspect, lost a key component when rising defensemen Chris Campoli was lost for the season. Can/will Snow try to deal to help that weakness, and will the team finally promote former 1st rounder Kyle Okposo to help up front?

      20 NY Rangers (18)- While we believe that King Henrik was hosed in not getting an All-star nod he is not looking like himself lately. With the Ranger offense continuing to be anemic on most nights they need their team MVP to play at his best to have a chance to win. It was at this time last year that the BlueShirts started their surge. We've been anticipating them putting it together since October. Did we over rate them?

      21 Edmonton Oiler-(20) Amazingly perennial back up goaltender Mathieu Garon has looked quite good for the Oil. We still don't see them as a playoff team, but they are not nearly as awful as some including us thought they'd be. Perhaps if they'd had a better October hey might actually be in the hunt for a playoff spot. Either way, nice job by McTavish the past few months to get this team believing in themselves

      22 Carolina Hurricanes (8)- The boys from Tobacco Road have fallen on hard times. Their once lock for the division is now in peril. They have struggled with consistency in their defense and goaltending. Their only chance it seems is to win the division. Not out of the realm of possibility, but this team has too much talent to be in this position. Rutherford deserves responsibility for not improving their defense. Ward has looked like a back up goalie most of the season. If they fail, look for major overhauls in Carolina this summer!

      23 St. Louis Blue-(17) Have fallen back a few spots this month in our rankings, while still playing well above last years team. However a losing streak of any length(7 at the moment) can kill a playoff chance and its likely the Blues will miss the post season. Andy McDonald as expected is boosting offensive output, but it hasn't been enough lately.

      24 TB Lightning- (25) The Lighting have turned it around a bit the last week or so to salvage their placement in this poll. If done 10 days ago they may have 'dethroned' the Kings for last. That said on most night their goaltending still must have Tortorella pulling his hair out. Perennial over paid forward, Chris Gratton helped the recent improvement with some points from the 3rd line. If not for the pathetic SE division the Lightning would be toast, but with Vincent Lecavalier & co now back in the hunt they can't be written off.

      25 Chicago Black Hawk-(24) As we have written most of the time in our rankings for the Hawks, the future looks bright with rising stars Towes and Kane, etc. However despite a nice start to the season, the Blackhawks are back to losing. Perhaps they'll finally get a taker for over paid goalie, Nickolai Khabibulin. Another lottery pick for them will only enhance their future prospects. For now though, they are just going to be spoilers down the stretch

      26 Atlanta Thrashers-(28) Have looked down right awful on many nights the past month. The Honeymoon of Don Waddell is long over. How long can Don Waddell last if the team continues to fall into oblivion? As we've written, if this team were in a good sports city, we would hear tons of rumblings/rumors of his imminent dismissal. He has been a disaster for the franchise and needs to go! In the meantime the Hossa rumors will continue. At least Ilya Kovalchuk is fun to watch. Like the Lightning(and everyone else in the SE) still have shot at division.

      27 Florida Panthers-(21) Where do we start? Vokoun got an undeserved All-star pick. He hasn't looked like much of a star the past month. As we figured he wouldn't be the team saviour many anticipated. Now the silly Olli Jokinen have started and may be a distraction. Meanwhile perennial underachieving coach Jack Martin's job may be on the line if the Panthers don't somehow win the SE division. This team should be better! Ownership is getting inpatient and want to see some results soon.

      28 Buffalo Sabres-(19) They couldn't have gone much lower, right?. Especially with a roster full of young talent and a world class goalie in Miller. However, they have lost 12 out of their last 14, and with divisional games coming up against the likes of Ottawa and the Bruins things might get even worse. Maybe Lindy Ruff isn't such a great coach after all?

      29 Toronto Maple Leafs-(14) "Team-Turmoil." From top to bottom this team needs an overhaul. The problem is that the team makes oodles of money and is owned by a teachers retirement fund(No clear owner who can make big/sweeping changes) The firing of JFJ will do little to change their fortunes.(Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic) Only drama the next month will be 'will Sundin get traded'? Vesa Toskala is now clearly the #1 tender, however even his decent play hasn't/won't make a huge difference.

      30 Los Angeles King-(30) The Crawford watch continues as his team flounders through another dreadful season. Like Florida, this team SHOULD be better than they are. Maybe not yet a playoff team, but certainly not the dregs of the NHL either. We'd be shocked to see him still as coach if they continue to wallow near or at the bottom of their conference. The good news is that Robert Blake is soon to be gone and another lottery pick will be coming their way. The Kings need to improve in net. If handled correctly they could be a MUCH better team next fall!

      Thursday, January 24, 2008

      Fewer Russians: Good Or bad?

      1) Recently there have been a few stories about the decline in the number of Russian born players in the NHL. There have been several theories why as well as differing view points on how this has/will affect the game. Here we will attempt to analyze both questions and come to our own conclusions.

      2) The NHL’s salary cap and its current player transfer agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation resulted in the increased exodus this past summer of players signing with/staying in Europe. That’s led some observers to suggest this weakens the NHL talent base while bolstering the European leagues. To that assertion we say Bullshit!

      3) Would the NHL this season have been significantly better if Alexei Yashin, Danny Markov, Aleksey Morozov,Oleg Tverdovsky, Dmitri Afanasenkov, Darius Kasparaitis, Stanislav Chistov, etc had played? Some might even argue that its BETTER without them! Why aren't they playing in the NHL? The reason is quite clear: they were no longer good enough to be NHL players. Period!

      4) To start it helps to have perspective of time here. That is; to have witnessed first hand the NHL before the Russian/Eastern European invasion/ the NHL during the hay day of this mass emigration, and now the decline of the number of Russian born players. Having seen all those eras, we will say there is NO doubt that Russian/eastern Europeans have added an enormous amount to the high level/quality of NHL hockey. Its not even close to compare the pre-Red invasion to now. However along with these immensely talented players came some slugs who either were never good enough to play here, or didn't have the heart/desire to work to become the players they should/could have. We reject the notion that a lack of a transfer agreement is the cause of the current emigration.

      5) At first most Russians playing in the NHL were older/cast offs from Central Red Army(Fetisov/Kasatonov/Markarov/Krutov/Larionov, etc). While some like Fetisov helped their teams win, none were of the super star quality, and none lived up to the advanced billing/hype that many fans anticipated. Later, starting with Alexander Mogilny and especially after the collapse of the "Evil Empire" the influx of younger, top flight Russians started. No one can possibly say that the league did not benefit from the inclusion of so many supremely talented players.

      6) From the aforementioned Mogilny, to the Russian Rocket Pavel Bure, Sergei Federov, etc a new wave of young dynamic Russians invaded the league transforming its landscape. Suddenly every team was looking for the 'next Bure' or Molgilny. The drafting/signing of young untested Russian prospects mushroomed and the league became inundated and infused with not only some great and talented players, but also some who were quite over rated .

      7) So when would we be worried about a loss of Russian talent to Europe? We'd be concerned IF players like Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, Semin, Gonchar, Volchenkov, Malkin, Zubov, etc left to play back home while still in their primes. fact is the best Russians are playing in the NHL. They will continue to do so unless/until a league is set up over there that affords similar salaries/endorsement opportunities that eclipse the NHL. Not to mention the vast difference in the standard of living. Russia, for those who have never visited, is close to being a 3rd world country.

      8) All that said, there are reasons for concern. With the collapse of the Soviet Union/communism there has been a precipitous reduction of money for equipment, ice time, coaching etc for young players. As a result many fewer Russian can afford to play hockey, and in the long run we may lose(without knowing it) possible future superstars. Sadly little can be done about this trend. Even a new transfer agreement wouldn't change these economic realities. Much of the transferred money would end up in the hands of crooks and mafia anyway. We should continue to expect to see a decent group of Russians coming over in the future, but probably there will be fewer, and it appears the reality is there is nothing that can be done about this. Дурной новость для Русский

      Wednesday, January 23, 2008

      Versus Re-ups with NHL

      1) The NHL announced today that their national net work carrier, Versus(Previously known as OLN) has picked up an option to televise NHL games for three more years. The hard to find cable network, began televising NHL games during the 2005-06 season. It paid an amazing $65 million for the first year, $70 million for the second, and exercised its $72.5 million option for this season. At this point its unknown how much additional money (if any) the network will pay the league over the next 3 seasons.

      2) This should effectively end the rampant speculation that the NHL would return to ESPN. Apparently that boat has sailed and the league is fine with its very limited exposure on the once "Outdoor Life Network) By the way: If anyone knows what Versus stands for we'd LOVE to find out! LOL Apparently rating have 'soared'. Through 29 games, average viewership has increased 34 percent from 195,666 to 261,760. That 34% sounded great until we saw the figure of almost 262,000. That's a mere blip on the radar of TV viewership. Keep in mind these are almost all prime time telecasts.

      3) Just to compare: Currently, five American TV networks CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN and the NFLNetwork are paying a combined total of 3.1 billion per year to broadcast NFL games. Many fans complained that they either don't get this network, or have to pay a higher fee to their cable companies to get it. Either the NHL is happy with this arrangement OR more likely feels it couldn't do any better.

      Tuesday, January 22, 2008

      Things Starting To Heat Up!

      1) The serious chatter among teams/GM's has really started to intensify the last week or so. There are only a couple of teams that are truly 'out of it', but that hasn't stopped contending teams from inquiring from the organizations that are less likely to make the postseason. Compounding these discussions are that many of the players have a "No Trade Clause" (NTC). Therefore in addition to the two parties having discussions on who/what to exchange, the player(s)/their agents also have to be part of the mix.

      2) The ladder is why we have been privy to so many of the more recent trade discussions. Some GM's can be very tight lipped, or as in the case of former Flyer GM Bob Clarke, out-right lie to the media. However agents have no such issue in spreading rumors for the benefit of their clients. In addition to the said trade discussions we also will share some of the nonsense being thrown about. We will throw out what we estimate(from compiling all our various sources) what the chances are of a deadline deal for each. Keep in mind as with all trade discussions until a deal is approved its a very fluid environment. We will try to keep all our readers informed/updated as the February deadline approaches.

      • Mats Sundin- The Maple Leaf forward largely because he plays in Toronto, is an UFA after this season, and he's having a good year will be the most talked about FA this season. He does have a NTC and would he agree to waive it? Yes, and no. We're told its more likely now than last year, as it appears the Toronto management mess will only worsen the next few months so Mats may want to get away from a sinking ship. However that 'mess' might also make a trade less likely as the new GM for the fired John Ferguson may have limited power/not want to trade a popular player. Some recent rumours have Mats headed to Philly IF Forsberg doesn't make a comeback. WE are hearing that Mats would prefer to stay in Canada, so don't be surprised to see him land in Vancouver IF he is dealt! Chances of a deadline trade: 50%

      • Robert Blake- Like Sundin also has a NTC. Rob will have his pick of where he goes. Some have suggested he'd hold out for a sign and trade. This would make him even more unpalatable! Unlike Sundin(in our opinion) would NOT be a good acquisition. The 38 year old has looked his age at times this year for the Kings. His offensive numbers are respectable, but his +/- is not. The asking price from Lombardi is steep in our opinion; A 1st rounder AND top prospect/current roster player. A Blake rental would not push a team over the hump, but only mortgage the future for nothing! That said, several GM's WILL have interest. Would Rob want to go where the interest is high(East)? Chances of a deadline trade: 90%

      • Michael Ryder- The Canadian forward is all but assured of going elsewhere before the deadline. The forward is on pace for his worst offensive season ever. Even when he was a perennial 30 goal scorer there was tension between he and GM Bob Gainey. Now that he is off his game AND a UFA after this season its a 100% chance Ryder will be playing elsewhere after the deadline. Might he be the next Ribeiro who had a career renaissance once he got away from the limelight of the ever watchful/critical Montreal media/fan base? Chances of a deadline trade: 100%

      • Olli Jokinen- This is one where our sources could not come up with ANY evidence that he was being offered/mentioned in any recent trade discussion. One asst GM tells us that this "is a clear case of a media created story." This makes sense as the owner himself of the Panthers has been on record stating that Olli is NOT available. Until we hear a credible source tell us differently, we'll be astonished if we hear about such a deal. Chances of a deadline trade: 10%

      • Ladislav Nagy- The 28 year old Kings forward somehow convinced Kings GM Dean Lombardi to sign him to a 3.75 mil deal this summer. He's never developed into as formidable an offensive threat as his salary would suggest. His numbers are in line with his past production. 15-20 goals and 40-50 pts. He'd be a decent depth/2nd line forward rental IF the asking priceis modest. He will get interest. GM's have short memories! Chances of a deadline trade: 60%

      • Nikolai Khabibulin- The Hawk goalie was untradeable for a few years due to his enormous contract, but now with only a year remaining and the salary cap much higher than 2 years ago, he would be MUCH more palatable to teams looking to upgrade that position and the Hawks would be happy to deal the Russian. Its probably more possible it could happen at the draft in June. Chances of a deadline trade: 30%

      • Marion Hossa- This will be a tough call for GM/Coach Waddell to make. As long as the Thrashers are in contention can they afford to deal away their second leading scorer? He's an UFA at season's end, and if an extension isn't negotiated(its in the tense stages now) the Thrash may have no choice but to accept one of the numerous offers for the star Slovak. He could fetch a nice return, but our sources in Atlanta tell us he's 70-30 likely to be resigned. Chances of a deadline trade: 30%

      • Alex Tanguay- The Canadian media machine, has largely pushed this, if not created this rumor and many have subsequently picked up the mantra. The question; Is the saying: 'Where there is smoke there is fire' apt here? Well despite Sutter saying he isn't shopping the LW, make no mistake, he WILL be traded either at the deadline or in the off season. Why? The team needs to create some cap space to accommodate the impending extension of Dion Phaneuf. Several Eastern Conference teams have expressed interest. Among them the Rangers and Canadians. However, Tanguay also has a NTC and may not want to go to the circus that is Montreal for Francophone players. Chances of a deadline trade: 60%

      • Peter Forsberg- Do GM's/the media not learn? Peter is damaged goods. At least this time no team will have to part with anything other than cash to attain his services, but from what we've heard, he's still not 100% and hasn't played at the NHL level in 9 months. It would be a risky venture that could upset team chemistry. The media reports say the Flyers are/would be interested. It would seem this would seem to NOT be a Flyer weakness. They could use some defensive help, NOT another forward! Its a long shot he'll play again, so we wouldn't hold our breathe! Chances he plays in the NHL: 10%

      • J.P. Dumont- The Preditor's contract is up after this season. JP is on a 30 goal pace and would be a sought after commodity IF he were available. The team is hoping to resign him we're told, but if they don't seem close or if the asking price is too steep he would be available. Of course expect the Montreal rumors to start in earnest, but in actuality we'd expect JP to stay in the Western conference. Chances of a deadline trade: 40%

      • Patrick Marleau- Another of the far-fetched media created/generated rumors. Not only is the Shark having his worst season of his career, but his extension for 6.3 for another 2 years AFTER this season kicks in that includes a NTC. Who in their right mind would deal for that? Probably not even Mike Milbury! LOL Chances of a deadline trade: 5%

      • Wade Redden- An interesting situation. Since signing a big contract that pays him 6 mil/season his overall game has slipped to the point that the Senators may offer him slightly LESS than his current salary to retain him. Will Wade take less to stay where he has enjoyed success? We will know in a few weeks. The Sens would prefer to not lose him for nothing like Chara 2 years ago, but can't afford to pay him 'Chara money'. They may have to accept a package of picks and prospects if they shop him. Chances of a deadline trade: 30%

      • Jaromir Jagr- Yes, you read that correctly the Ranger super star might be available IF he doesn't start to produce significantly(He has recently done so). Its unclear IF he is a UFA after this season. We've read conflicting stories of whether the Rangers already declined an option for next year OR what the automatic triggers for that extension might be. However you can be sure IF he is available several teams would love to add his offense for a playoff run. If dealt, it would most likely be to a Western conference team. Chances of a deadline trade: 20%

      • Brad Stuart- The 28 year Kings old defensemen may very well join his team mate Blake on the trade bock in the upcoming weeks. His 3.5 mil salary made a move earlier difficult, but he will be an UFA after this season and a team in need of blue line depth(Philadelphia/Pittsburgh/NY(both), etc may have interest in the former 1999 3rd overall pick of the Sharks who's become somewhat of a journeymen recently( 5 teams in the last 4 years) Chances of a deadline trade: 70%

      Monday, January 21, 2008

      Cinderella man?

      1) The person we're alluding to is Pittsburgh goalie, Tyler Conklin. Many a hockey fan/analyst are asking themselves where did Ty Conklin come from? The 31 year old Alaskan native has almost single handedly carried the Pittsburgh Penguins the past month+. Putting up very gaudy numbers, even for an All-Star, let alone a journeymen goalie. Through 13 games he is 10-1-1 with a GAA of 1.83, and an incredible save % of .946! Not coincidentally his team, the Penguins have quickly moved up the standings to a literal tie for first in the Atlantic, and a second seed in the Eastern Conference.

      2) Before this season Conklin was a castoff from Edmonton where his last (and only) decent NHL season was 4 years ago when he started 38 games with respectable stats. Following Gary Bettman's second lockout he never quite caught back on with the Oil. Last season he was dealt to Columbus for a brief uninspiring stint, then to Buffalo as insurance for them down the stretch, never getting much playing time. This past off season he was signed by the Penguins as a possible candidate to back up #1 goalie M-A Fleury, but having lost out to Danny Sabourin in camp, Conklin was relegated to the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and played well for the pens farm team.

      3) Conklin got his big break when M-A Fleury went down in early December with a 'high ankle sprain'. An injury that coincidentally his team mate Sid Cosby recently suffered. Upon his recall Ty backed up Sabourin for a few games, but Dany didn't play consistently well, losing 4 of 5 and coach Michel Therrien then gave Conklin the nod to start, and he hasn't looked back since, starting nearly every game since.

      4) The next question has to be: How long until Cinderella comes back looking for her glass slippers? Certainly it can't be expected that Conklin will continue to play like the second coming of Jacques_Plante. He has to come back to earth at some point, right? Well, he will probably be tested in the upcoming weeks when, as alluded to earlier the Penguins are forced to play with out reigning league MVP, Crosby for the next month or more. They may need Ty's heroics to stay on top the very competitive Atlantic.

      Thursday, January 17, 2008

      The Dreaded C-Word!

      1) The C-word in hockey is of course 'Concussion! They seem to be both epidemic and mysterious. Many times they seem to go undetected, undiagnosed or linger beyond what most would assume. First we asked our resident medical expert Dr. Varga to enlighten us as to what this 'injury' actually is. The Dr. said they are now called, in medical parlance, "mild traumatic brain injury" or an (MTBI) He said its actually a "temporary loss of brain function" (Not to be confused with Chris Simon) This can be caused by either a direct blow to the head or by quick acceleration or deceleration forces that can't be absorbed by the brain's cerebral-spinal fluid cushion. Depending upon the severity the damage can be temporary or permanent.

      2) One of the worse case scenarios involves something called Post-concussion syndrome". "In this situation concussion symptoms do not resolve for weeks, months, or even years, and the patient may have headaches, light and sound sensitivity, memory and attention problems, dizziness, difficulty with directed movements". Some players have retired prematurely due to this. Keith Primeau, Eric Lindros and Pat Lafontaine come to mind. Here is the key phrase that the Dr. used: " The most serious potential complication of concussion is second-impact syndrome (SIS). "Patients who receive a second blow days or weeks after a concussion, before symptoms from the first concussion have gone away, are at risk of developing this condition".

      3) There in lies the crux of the issue. There has been a problem of denial by BOTH the league and its players, and as a result players have suffered probably needless additional injury. Why? The main problem is BOTH parties have incentive to NOT list these injuries as concussions For players, having a concussion seems to bring them a stigma. Especially if they have had more than one. Teams begin look at them as being damaged goods so the players may be reluctant to be classified as such. Some may even recall a few weeks back the jerk Colin Campbell stating that he thinks "many players are faking career-ending concussions to collect insurance". Perhaps Colin suffered a few concussions during his forgettable career and his statement is due to his own brain damage?

      4) Teams naturally want their players back in action ASAP, and an injury labeled a concussion would likely mean MRI's, neurological exams, etc that could place the player on an extended leave. So both parties would seem to have incentive to play down this potentially dangerous injury. This as a result can and will possibly result in even a higher amount of damage being done. Its a quandary that needs to be changed.

      5) The first positive movement in this seems to be coming from the NHL Players’ Association, which thankfully seems to be taking a new interest in the problem. Its probably not a coincidence that this came with the recent appointment of Lindros to the organization. Many might recall his battles with the Flyers and in particular Bob Clarke. Clarke, like Campbell thought his player was milking the injury and apparently was trying to influence the team's medical staff. This incensed the Lindros family and led to Eric's loss of his captaincy and eventual ouster from Philly. He was not the same player after those series of under/misdiagnosed/mis-treated concussions. If Lindros can manage to change the mindset of the players and thereby allow the Association to push for standardization of care of this ailment from ownership it will go a long way to solve this troubling issue. As with many things, the first step to solving a problem is admitting there is a problem!

      First Half Trophy Winners!

      1) FAUXRUMORS did their part in analyzing the first half for each team. However we figured we'd throw together our opinion of who should be the winners of the major individual NHL trophies if the season were to end today:

      • Hart: Nicklas Lidstrom- We at first were leaning toward Roberto Luongo, and certainly the Canuck goalie deserves mention, but took a second look over at Lidstrom's numbers and couldn't merely make him our Norris winner, but the league MVP. We will probably do a post soon on what we feel is an MVP, but suffice to say Nicklas deserves to be recognized for doing his part in making his team the leader of the NHL. Some may simply look at point and goal totals, but much more should go into naming a Hart winner!

      • Norris: Nicklas Lidstrom- (See above.) Even at age 37 excels at every aspect of his position. Last evening the Wings uncharacteristically lost 5-1, yet somehow Lidstrom managed to be a +1. Among league leaders in almost all categories for defensemen. Barring injury, almost a shoe-in for this award come June.

      • Calder: Patrick Kane- The Buffalo, NY native was last summer's first over pick and he has lived up to the advanced billing. Along with team mate Jonathan Toews, has given hope to Blackhawk fans for the first time in a decade. Leading the league in rookie scoring (now that Toews has been hurt) is our pick for first half Calder winner.

      • Vezina: Roberto Luongo- As we alluded to earlier Roberto was among the folks we considered for 1st half Hart winner. The 8 year NHL-er is among the leaders in wins, GAA, and save %. Where would Vancouver be without him? Probably down with Edmonton or worse! Honorable mention to Pascal Leclaire.

      • Selke: Henrik Zetterberg- Traditionally This award to goes to a defensive forward with some offensive ability. Henrik is among the league leaders in scoring, but also +/-. Usually going up against the opposition's top line, Zetterberg has not only stopped them but by far outscored them. Honorable mention to Henrik's team mate Pavel Datsyuk who's numbers are equally impressive

      • Adams: Ted Nolan- Anyone out there pick the Isles to make the playoffs? We sure didn't. Through a bit more than 1/2 the season and the boys from Long Island are in the 7th spot in the East, refusing to fade. We give full marks to Ted for getting the most of a lineup that on paper should not be in contention. Perhaps he won't be blackballed this time around?

      Tuesday, January 15, 2008

      Siamese Twins Separated?

      1) What we at FAUXRUMORS2 are whimsically referring to is the omission of one of the Sedin twins from the All star team. What we at The FR Group, LLC have been asking ourselves since the 2 were first drafted has finally happened; Separation!

      2) To review:

      • Both Twins were highly touted draft prospects in the 1999 NHL entry draft. Then GM (Now Anaheim GM) Brian Burke pulled off a draft day coop to get the additional draft pick so the 2 Sedins could stay together.

      • At the time we wondered what would happen IF only one of the players developed into an NHL talent. Would they demote one to the minors, and leave the other sibling 'alone'?

      • To date that has not happened as both have developed into their team's top forwards. Almost always playing together on the 'Twins Line'. Putting up similar overall numbers. Though Daniel is more the goal scorer to Henrik's 'play maker'. They make the same money, and negotiate their contracts mutually.

      3) So it came as a bit of a shock when the NHL announced the All Star game 'add-ons' the other day and listed only ONE (Daniel) of the brothers. What is most puzzling is the fact that statistically (like the brothers) they look so similar. How one could be chosen over the other is a bit of a head-scratcher. Its as if the NHL flipped a coin to choose.

      4) Additionally, you'd think having identical (and that applies here as even the Canuck coach after all this time can't tell them apart) twins in a game that's all about a show would want to add a nice feel good story line like this? Perhaps because they are not North American the NHL felt it wasn't worth it? If the league doesn't want to sell the Sedin act at the All-Star game, what do they want to sell? Only one Sedin? That's less than half the act. So, what's the point? If they don't have the roster spot for both, they shouldn't take either, right? Regardless, while we are certainly NOT Canuck fans it was a stupid over sight by the league to choose one and not the other. In essence they have been separated for the first time in their careers!

      Monday, January 14, 2008

      Cujo Alberta Bound!

      1) Media reports out of Calgary are saying that Curtis Joseph has signed to play with the Flames. No details have yet to be released, though our sources tell us the Joseph family was instrumental in picking Calgary as the family enjoyed its time in Edmonton and didn't want to go to the media circuses of Toronto or NY

      2) Kudos to FAUXRUMORS for being one of the only outlets who listed Calgary as one of the possible destinations for Curtis Joseph. Though it was mentioned this weekend by some outlets, FR had that scoop at least 5 days earlier on this blog! Great job guys!

      3) We at FR2 are working on a post about the Sedin twin all star situation. Look for it probably tomorrow!

      First Half Analysis- West

      1) Here is our second part of our 1/2 half analysis/predictions. This time the Western Conference is in our sites. So far the dominance that the West has shown by having MORE quality teams seems to have continued with it being possible that 1 or more decent/good teams may not make the playoffs

      DETROIT RED WINGS: As we had figured the Red Wings would dominate the regular season due to being in the weak Norris (sorry, Central) Division. They have not disappointed as they have been the class of the league. On paper, and fact, Detroit has depth at every position, with a nice mixture of veterans and youth; The possible weakness still is in goal. Chris Osgood is playing his best goal of his career, but Hasek looks like 40+ year old goalie. Can this be a repeat of 1998 when the Wings won with Osgood? If the playoffs started today, we'd say they would be our favourites!

      SAN JOSE SHARKS: On paper they were in our opinion the preseason favourites to win it all. However we didn't anticipate that they would have multiple struggling stars Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Cheechoo. Like in the previous 2 seasons the Sharks are being lead on the ice by Joe Thornton, but a difference may be the consistently high level of play from goalie Evgeni Nabokov, who's played in every game thus far this season. If Cheechoo and Marleau regain their form and Nabbie continues to play at this level they would be co-favourites with Detroit for the West title/Cup.

      CALGARY FLAMES: Evidently it took a bit for the Flames to adjust to their new head coach Mike Keenan, but in the past month or so the Flames are one of the league's hottest teams. They are led by captain Jarome Iginla, who's leading the team in almost every offensive category. Kiprusoff has started to regain his Vezina form as well in recent weeks. Of course as with any team coached by Iron Mike and described first (here by us ) there are constant rumblings that Keenan might not be getting along with a bunch of his players. However, as long as they continue to win, that won't be focused upon as much as it would if they were to falter.

      DALLAS STARS: It would almost seem that the firing former GM Doug Armstrong in November was the turning point of the season for the Stars. Going from mediocrity to well into the playoff hunt. They still are not a great team, but barring a big collapse Dallas possess the talent to remain in the top 8 out West. They would do well to improve their scoring depth if possible if they want to make a run in the playoffs.

      VANCOUVER CANUCKS: After conferring with FR2, we have decided that the first half league MVP (Hart winner) should come from the Canucks. As the main reason for the Vancouver resurgence is goalie Roberto Luongo, who is among the league leaders in all goaltending categories, carrying the team almost single handedly. The offense is suspect after the Sedin line, and the Canucks will have to bolster this if they want to have any chance of advancing in the post season

      ANAHEIM DUCKS: It seems that despite all the maneuvers that Brian Burke was forced to do to get back Scott Niedermayer it appears that he was what was needed for the Ducks to recover from an awful first 1/4 of the season to rebound back into the playoff picture. If only the rumours that Teemu Selanne, are correct and the Ducks may be ready to compete for the Conference title and even repeat as champs. However, we believe there has been too much change to believe they will be able to do it again this year

      MINNESOTA WILD: Although there were some reports that forward Marian Gaborik and coach Jacques Lemaire were feuding over ice time it hasn't seemed to have affected the teams ability to continue to play well. Despite this, some in the 'Land of Lakes' still think the team can play even better. We are not so sure of this. Certainly the Wild possess the talent to make the playoffs and maybe win a round, but the team 'as is' isn't going to upset multiple teams on route to a Cup.

      COLORADO AVALANCHE: The Avs are at a cross roads. They made what appeared to be huge off season improvements but now that they are without veteran forwards Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth they appear to be lost as a team. On paper at least they have a depth of young offensive talent led by Paul Statsny, however he and the other young guns have not led consistently. Their defensive game also, could use an upgrade. Its uncertain if the team will simply wait out the injuries and hope they stay near the 8th spot, or go out and deal/or even replace coach Quenneville. We anticipate the team will do the former and ride out the storm. Unfortunately for Av's fans we don't feel they have the goaltending to do much damage if they were to qualify for the playoffs

      ST. LOUIS BLUES: Initially the Blues were lost among the many Central division teams that seemed to be enjoying early success. However, as the others have fallen back to where most thought they'd be, the Blues have thus far stuck it out and are still in the hunt for the 8th spot in the West. As a young team they have struggled with consistency but they seem up to the challenge and should stay in the mix the rest of the way They tried to address their weakness of scoring depth with the nice McDonald for Weight pick up, but will it be enough? Although they have some defensive depth they could part with for additional help, we doubt John Davidson and Blues management will make any block busters as this team is being built for the future not just this season.

      COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS: Another of the Central division teams that dared to dream of a playoff berth (First in team history) As of today, amazingly the Jackets are very much in the playoff race. Coach Hitchcock, as he has done wherever he's been, gets all he can out of his team. Star Rick Nash and his 1st line will do all they can to lead the way, and surprisingly good goaltending has helped, but will new GM Scott Howson go find some additional depth to improve the Jackets chances of making the playoffs? It will be a great story if the make the post season, and God knows their loyal fans deserve it, but we believe they will fall short in the very competitive West

      PHOENIX COYOTES: Any team that was thinking of adding goalie Ilya Bryzgalov in late November and didn't should be kicking themselves today. Since picking him up for nothing he's given his team more confidence and they have parlayed that into a quick return to respectability. We have seen particularly from their young forwards a huge improvement, and that's made the Phoenix a much better team. Amazing how steady/quality goaltending can change the complexion of a team! Those GM's that over looked Ilya should be ashamed of themselves. Its a nice story in the desert, but we don't believe they will make the post season this year, but if the sign Bryzgalov they may make a run at the post season next year!

      NASHVILLE PREDATORS: We didn't believe that the Preds would be a dominant team this year. They still have decent depth in talent, but they lost some key pieces in the ownership change/purge last summer. As with almost all teams, injuries have also contributed to their struggles. As we also said, this year would show us if Barry Trotz is indeed as good a coach as some have said. If he gets this bunch into the post season we will be believers. We don't see it happening.

      EDMONTON OILERS: If not for quite a few shoot out/OT wins the Oil's record would look even worse. Bad play/inconsistency as well as key injuries have hurt the Oilers throughout the first half, yet because of the extra session wins the Oilers are still mathematically in the playoff picture. They'll have to play much better in the coming weeks to avoid slipping further out of it. We don't believe they are true contenders. Garon is a back up at best, not a true #1. Eventually their success in OT/SO's will even out. Another year of no playoffs looms in Edmonton!

      CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: As we expected, they'd be better, and a MUCH more exciting team to watch, but not quite ready to compete with the big boys for the playoffs. One could argue that if not for injuries the Blackhawks would be in or near a playoff berth. The multiple losses of Havlat, Jonathan Toews, Jason Williams and Brent Sopel helped grease the skids. The prudent move by Hawk management would be to let the season play out and make any changes in the off season. Certainly the future is MUCH brighter in the Windy City!

      LOS ANGELES KINGS: Are really the only team in the NHL at the half way point who are 'out of it'. Of course this has led to wild speculation that Lombardi would become a "seller" at the trade deadline of some of his impending UFAs by the trade deadline, most notably Rob Blake, Ladislav Nagy and Brad Stuart. Clearly, the rebuilding is ongoing in Los Angeles. We believe Lombardi would do well to deal Blake who is no longer a top defender AND replace Crawford whom we are told has lost the team. Most importantly they need to upgrade their goaltending(see Phoenix)

      Friday, January 11, 2008

      Wang: Visionary or Nut?

      1) When it was announced late yesterday that the Washington Capitals have extended the contract for their super star left wing Alex Ovechkin to an unprecedented 13 years we couldn't help but wonder if Mr. Wang was quietly chuckling to himself. After all, until this year such contracts were unheard of in non-Islander quarters.

      2) You may recall that earlier this season the Flyers extended the contract for forward Mike Richards for 12 additional seasons. Is there a trend developing here? Did the NY Islanders/Wang know something that others didn't last year when they signed Rick DiPietro to a 15 year deal? As we wrote after the Richards deal, many fewer folks derided the Flyers for that contract like the hockey media did when the Isles gave Ricky his. Now, only 16 months later Charles Wang is looking more like a visionary and less like a Kook (at least on this issue)

      3) As for this deal, like the other two alluded to it makes sense for those teams, and WILL work ONLY if those players continue to develop and stay at their current high levels. Already DiPietro, a season removed from the deal's inception, is now paid less than many of his colleagues with similar numbers. If he were to continue to play at this level he will be vastly UNDERPAID in a very short time. Its still too early to make judgement on the Richards deal. He is having a very nice season thus far, but the jury is still out on the contract's wisdom.

      4) Some said after the Richards deal that it's a dangerous trend to have so much salary locked up in so much unproven talent. However we believe that is NOT the case with Ovechkin. In a mere 2 1/2 seasons Alex has scored more goals than any other NHL player. He plays with a fire/intensity that few in the league can match on a game in and game out basis. This is probably why Caps owner Ted Leonsis felt that the risk of signing Ovechkin to such a long deal wasn't an issue. Unlike the deal he struck with Jaromir Jagr in 2001 this deal makes sense. Why? For one, at the time of the Jagr deal, a salary cap loomed and no one knew how that would affect the league. Now in the third season of the new CBA, most teams (with a few exceptions) have come to grasp what the new landscape means; Sign your star players to long term deals, and build out from there.

      5) Also can we please stop with the inevitable Crosby-Ovechkin comparisons? We understand its inevitable as they came into the league at the same time, and are both amazing players. However we disagree with what some writers are/were saying; That no player should make more than Sid. That's absurd. Each team individually determines what an asset(player) is worth to them. Evidently the Capitals believed that AO was worth 9.5 mil(average)/season. It will make him the highest paid player next season, BUT its likely that in 2 or 3 years another player will get an even larger/season deal, and its almost assured that when Sid's extension expires in 2013 (he will be an old 25 LOL) you can bet your boots he will make a healthy 8 figures in salary, while Ovechkin will be 'stuck' at the same average salary till 35, regardless of performance.

      6) Regardless of opinion for or against these kind of deals, no one will know their worth or foolhardiness for quite a while. Regardless it seems that Mr. Wang was well ahead of his time and will either be looked back upon as the father of the insane contract or a brilliant visionary. Only time will reveal which answer is accurate. Its also apparent that many GM/owners who were once deriding Mr. Wang are now imitating him.

      Thursday, January 10, 2008

      Clarke Puts Foot in Mouth?

      1) The link to this post is from our friend Shmee over at "Capital Addiction ", a Washington capitals blog who takes former Philadelphia Flyers GM Bob(don't call me Bobby) Clarke to task for his remarks yesterday.

      2) For those who may not have heard, Bobby(screw you Clarke we'll call ya what we want!) had a few words to say on the recent Downie sucker punch of Toronto winger, Jason Blake. Says Bobby," When he (Downie) went after Blake, I loved it!" The moron (Clarke) went on to say: "Blake was a guy who had no problem going out and saying [Downie] should be suspended for life or suspended for the year," When you say something that stupid, why shouldn't this kid go after him for it?" If a player wants to criticize a player, then he has to go on the ice with him and suffer the consequences."

      3) Keep in mind Clarke, though no longer the Flyers GM, is still the senior vice president of the team. Therefore he still represents them when he makes such remarks. As we wrote on Shmee's blog: The Flyers should be pissed as the Clarke comments only confirm what many thought; that the Flyers not only condone the goon behavior, but they promote it. Nice timing Bobby! He and the Flyers should be fined for his remarks that go well beyond dumb! Clarke has been a dick since he was a player then stayed a dick when he became GM. Though this is probably one of the first times that confirms that he may also be stupid. Have a nice time trying to extricate that foot from your pie hole Bobby! Jerk!

      Wednesday, January 9, 2008

      First Half Analysis- East

      1) Firstly again thanks to FAUXRUMORS2 for their projections and 'Desperation' posts. Now we will do an an analysis of each team's first half going in their approximate current order in the standings at the 1/2 way point.

      OTTAWA SENATORS: While they've been the best team in the East so far, led by the best forward line in hockey (Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, and captain Daniel Alfredsson) they have had their share of headaches as well. Also on the positive Mike Fisher has become a significant 2nd line offensive threat. However their goaltending remains a question as both Martin Gerber and Ray Emery don't look like legit starters and will fight it out (hopefully not literally) in the second half.

      NEW JERSEY DEVILS: After a dreadful start, which many attribute to both a long road trip and adjusting to new coach Brent Sutter, the Devils have returned to their previous winning ways. Perennial Vezina candidate Martin Brodeur has looked like the Brodeur of old. The team defense, maligned by many, has improved and Zach Parise has continued to become an offensive star. The oft overlooked change has been the return of Jamie Langenbrunner. We liked naming him captain in place of the struggling/over paid Elias

      CAROLINA HURRICANES: The 'Canes have had a very poor 4-6 weeks following a very hot start. This mostly due to very inconsistent goaltending, and some injuries. Rutherford showed how desperate the team is for goaltending with the acquisition of Mike Leighton (his 7th team in 5 years) One of the rumoured destinations for Cujo. With a very weak division the Canes should still win their division even with this glaring weakness, but won't go far in the playoffs . We also agree with FR2 that Samsonov hurts, not helps their cause

      MONTREAL CANADIANS: To many Habs fans this years team seems eerily similar to last seasons squad that got off to a hot start only to fizzle and miss the playoffs. Both teams thrived on a great PP. The possible differences? For one, young players like Komisarek, Higgins and both Kostitsyn brothers have stepped up their game. Also unlike last year the Habs have 2 capable goalies so an injury to one won't sink their playoff hopes. (One could be trade bait as well as could underachiever Mike Ryder) (The absence of Samsonov also can't be discounted!)

      PITTSBURGH PENGUINS: Like last season got off to an uneven start. Unlike last year, there are expectations this time around. Fleury has remained inconsistent when healthy. Amazingly 3rd string goalie Ty Conklin has played very well. Reining Hart winner Sidney Crosby seems to have picked up his performance of late, as have Malkin and Armstrong. If Staal can regain his confidence/scoring touch, and especially the goaltending becomes consistently good the Pens should make the post season.

      BOSTON BRUINS: Claude Julien has proven his worth with the turn around in Beantown. In our opinion he was one of the better head coaches last year despite his late season termination. His brilliant defensive system has made the goaltending of Tim Thomas and Alex Auld look like Marty Brodeur. Now imagine if Patrice Bergeron is able to return in the next few weeks? A playoff team perhaps, but unlikely a real contender

      NEW YORK RANGERS: Much like last season they have had an ordinary start. Unlike last year they can't blame this on inconsistent goaltending. So far Lundqvist has been amazing (in most games). UFA acquisition Scott Gomez has played well the past month, and emerging young defencemen like Marc Staal and Daniel Girardi have provided unexpected steadiness on the backline. Unfortunately the scoring from the Europeans led by Jaromir Jagr and high priced American UFA Chris Drury have struggled this season. Can they turn it around like last year? Sure, they have the horses, but it'll take a return to form of JJ and Drury to make it so.

      NEW YORK ISLANDERS: Habitually looked upon as being worse than they are. Overlooked and written off as non-contenders. We at FAUXRUMORS have been guilty of this as much as anyone. Yet the Isles remain in the playoff hunt due to Ted Nolan's coaching and their goalie forever, Rick DiPietro. This is one of the hardest working teams in the NHL and the Isles will have to keep working hard to make the playoffs. Ricky will also have to stay healthy and on top of his game to have a shot. Still their lack of scoring will make it tough down the stretch

      PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: Much like Carolina started off the season hot but have come back to the pack since. Playing .500 more or less the past month. As expected the Flyers have good offensive power, led by star Mike (don't call me Kramer) Richards, and Danielle Briere. However the overall defensive game has been been average at best. They've made substantial improvement over last season but will need to play better the second half to qualify for the post season and be a threat to win the East.

      BUFFALO SABRES: Seemed lost the first month. Most thought they'd struggle somewhat to overcome the loss of veterans Briere and Drury to free agency last summer, but few expected the team would suffer this much. As expected Thomas Vanek is struggling to play up to the expectations a big contract brings. Ryan Miller has been good but not looked sharp at times. The Sabres still have the talent and offensive depth to make a playoff push but they need a better effort in the second half. Perhaps Lindy Ruff isn't as good a coach as many(including himself) believed?

      FLORIDA PANTHERS: As we at FAUXRUMORS projected before the season, the Panthers will be about the same as last year. The anticipated improvement due to the acquisition of Vokoun hasn't happened(as we foresaw all last fall). On paper this team that has the talent to be doing much better, which means to us that they might benefit from a new head coach. Jacques Martin is not getting it done and management/ownership won't put up with mediocrity forever. If somehow they can put it together they could challenge the Canes for the division.

      ATLANTA THRASHERS: As we anticipated, the Thrashers had a playoff hangover and started the season as bad as they started, costing Bob Hartley his job. Their subsequent improvement then plateaued and incompetent GM, now coach Don Waddell is now responsible for all aspects of the teams failure. If they fail to make the post season he should be fired. The biggest news around Atlanta in the next month will be who will be traded. Look for the Hossa trade rumours to heat up big time!

      TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: The sky is falling! Well, not really, but that's what you'd think if you lived in the Toronto metro area where they take they hockey seriously. The Leafs have been struggling and are now in danger of falling out of the playoff race. Only Mats Sundin has been scoring consistently. The defence remains shoddy and despite Vesa Toskala's decent play before he got hurt, their goaltending has been terrible. We're certain many trade rumors will commence surrounding almost every Toronto player!

      WASHINGTON CAPITALS: Seem/look like a different team since Bruce Boudreau took over as head coach on Thanksgiving. Many Caps fans wonder why it took so long? The wait may have cost a chance at the post season. Alexander (the great) Ovechkin continues to be one of the most exciting players in the game aided by Michael Nylander, and the emergence of youngsters Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green. The ladder reminding us of a young Paul Coffey. Still, the Caps defense and goaltending needs work if they're to make a serious run for the playoffs. Its unlikely as they are too far back this late, but it won't be boring in DC this winter!

      TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: Where do we begin with this mess. Many picked them to win the weak SE division. yet VERY bad goaltending an ill timed injury to Dan Boyle as well as a lack of second line scoring from over paid BradRichards have sunk the Bolts to the bottom. As we've mentioned oft before, the firing head coach John Tortorella might be the only real move left. With ownership in flux that is in doubt as are any big trades

      Tuesday, January 8, 2008

      Canes' Desperation?

      1) Today the Carolina Hurricanes made the second move that we would call' desperate.

      • Of course the first move was signing goalie Michael Leighton. He is now on his 7th team in 5 years! If he were any good a team wouldn't give up on him so quickly! Certainly the guy they waived John Grahame wasn't a great back stop either, but replacing Grahame with Leighton is exactly like shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic. The Hurricanes are NO better!Which would explain their interest in Cujo.

      • The next move just occurred a few minutes ago. When we were told of this possibility late last night we laughed our ass off thinking this was a joke, but evidently it wasn't. Of course we're referring to the recent signing of Sergei Samsonov. Sergei was an unmitigated disaster for Chicago who were looking for a renaissance from the Russian born forward. Unfortunately apparently both the Blackhawks and now Hurricane management have not been watching Sergei the past few years. He has been a habitual underachiever his whole career, but the past 2 years he has lost almost all his offensive talent/ability.

      2) Bottom line to both these moves is that Jim Rutherford must be feeling the heat from both the fans and his owner to do something BUT they didn't want to give up anything in return. the result after the two moves? The Hurricanes may be WORSE than before the two moves! Despite looking OK in his first game Leighton is a step backwards for their goaltending. Adding Samsonov is subtraction by addition. Not only are they adding a has-been, but a possible locker room cancer to boot. He tends to pout/complain when things don't go his way and unless he suddenly becomes the player that many thought he'd become when drafted 5th overall in 1997 this move will backfire. At the very least it will NOT help. Desperate times call for desperate measures? In this case no moves would have been the better move!

      At The Half Way Mark

      1) With the NHL season at its 1/2 way point we decided to put out the projections/predictions for the remainder of the season. First we will simply project point totals based upon what each team has done thus far. Not rocket science. In another post we will give our mid season Trophies/awards/predictions

      2) First the East:

      • Ottawa- 116

      • New Jersey- 98

      • Carolina- 85 (Division winner)

      • Pittsburgh- 96

      • Montreal 96

      • Philadelphia 93

      • Boston 92

      • Islanders 90

      • Rangers 88

      • Buffalo 84

      • Atlanta 82

      • Florida 80

      • Toronto 78

      • Washington 76

      • Tampa Bay 68

      3) Next the West:

      • Detroit- 128

      • San Jose- 104

      • Vancouver- 100

      • Calgary- 97

      • Minnesota 96

      • Dallas- 95

      • Colorado 94

      • St. Louis 94

      • Anaheim 89

      • Phoenix 88

      • Nashville 86

      • Columbus 86

      • Chicago 82

      • Edmonton 76

      • Los Angeles 61

      4) Remember these are prorated totals based upon current point totals extended out an 82 game season. Some interesting possibilities. One, the Cup champ Ducks may miss the post season. Also post season teams from last year like the sabres, rangers may miss the playoffs this season , and Colorado and St.Louis are possibly going back after missing the post season last year. In the West it looks like 94 points will again be needed, while in the East only 90 points may be required. Of course there is still 1/2 a season left and only 2-3 teams are out of the playoff race, but trends are taking shape. Should make for a great finish!

      Monday, January 7, 2008

      Return of CuJo Imminent?

      1) It will probably come as little surprise to most who follow the NHL closely, but it appears that Curtis Joseph's epitaph may have been written a bit prematurely. Written off as too old to make a come back, the 40 year old Ontario native after getting rebuffed by all 30 NHL teams this past fall, including his most recent team the Coyotes, went home to stay in shape and hope for a call.

      2) The future Hall of Famer, who needs only 2 more NHL victory to surpass legendary Terry Sawchuk for 4th all-time, recently got significant attention by back stopping Canada to a Spengler Cup win in December. As most south of the border ask: What is the Spengler Cup? We were surprised to find out with our research that the Spengler Cup, held annually since 1923, is the oldest professional international hockey tournament in the world. Canada's Spengler Cup roster consisted mainly of Canadian-born players currently playing in Europe and some NHL prospects. Joseph was instrumental in bringing his country the honor of a Spenglar Cup championship

      3) Unfortunately CUJO, in his long career has been unable to acquire hockey's ultimate Cup. The one donated by Lord Stanley. Despite some playoff heroics for St.Louis and later Edmonton, 'The Cup' remained elusive for Joesph. However, he has probably been one of the better/more durable tenders to put on the pads the past 20 years, playing 60+ games 10 times over his 17 year career. Which is why there are now several teams very interested in his services.

      4) There have already been several published reports of an impending return to Toronto. Not only do almost all NHL rumors start in that area, but it also makes sense. The Leafs haven't received overly good goaltending this season, and Cujo lives close by, so the fit seems to make sense. However, we at FAUXRUMORS have heard that although the Maple Leafs have expressed interest there are another 6 or more teams that have also contacted Joseph's agent, Don Meehan.

      5) So who's interested and what are the odds? We inquired from some of our sources throughout the league and this is what we can gleam/handicap from those contacts.

      • Toronto: Their interest isn't as intense as media reports suggest. They would have to trade Raycroft before signing Joseph, and Raycrofts value has plummeted in the last year or so.

      • Ottawa: From what we're told they were inquiring in September about CuJo, but like Toronto couldn't sign Joseph unless they first unloaded a goalie under contract. Gerber was that guy in training camp, now the Sens would LOVE to unload the moody, inconsistent Ray Emory. Of course his 3+ mil cap hit for this and the next 2 seasons make him less tradeable.

      • Pittsburgh: They were inquiring a few times about another former NHL-er, Ed Belfour. They thought they had struck an accord with the former Panther, but details snagged/derailed negotiations. The Pens would love to add CuJo and add stability to the goaltending and possibly a mentor to M-A Fleury.

      • Phoenix: Now that the Coyotes have filled the starters role, they'd love to have a reliable back up for Bryzgalov. Joseph enjoyed his playing days in the desert and he and Gretzky have stayed in contact since his departure.

      • LA: A dark horse now that they have fallen out of the playoff race. They probably should have looked into this option 3 months ago when it appeared that Clouteir wasn't the guy and Bernier wasn't ready.

      • Buffalo: The Sabres haven't been pleased with the back up capabilities of Thibault, and don't want to over work Miller, so they are quietly asking how much Joseph would cost. As Jocelyn is on a one year deal, discarding him via waivers would not be a problem.

      • Carolina: Another team in search of anyone who can stop a puck. Recently showed their desperation by signing Mike Leighton. The addition of CuJo might finally give some stability to this weak position. At least reduce the pressure from starter Cam Ward.

      • Rangers: Though publicly they say they are pleased with Valiquette, quietly have been discussing 'other options'. CuJo coming to Broadway though "is a long shot", our source indicated.

      • Calgary: Would Cujo want to return to Alberta to play for the rival Flames AND for Keenan? Our sources say its a possibility if things can get worked out. CuJo wouldn't be expected to start too many games and would be more insurance for a Kippper injury than anything, but the idea intrigued the Joseph camp.

      6) What appears certain is that Curtis Jospeh's NHL career is NOT over. With so many teams trying to persuade him to play, it seems only a matter of time before he's back between the pipes. We're told that a decision is likely sooner rather than later, and certainly well before the All Star game

      Friday, January 4, 2008

      Is it In The Cards?

      1) We again place our chips up for grabs by picking today's contests

      Washington vs-Montreal : Canadians

      Florida vs-Pittsburgh : Penguins

      Tampa Bay vs-Ottawa : Senators (Tonights Lock)

      NY Islanders vs-Colorado : Avalanche

      NY Rangers vs-Edmonton : Rangers

      Columbus vs-San Jose : Sharks

      Detroit vs-Dallas : Stars

      New Jersey vs-Boston : Bruins

      Anaheim vs-Phoenix: Coyotes

      Calgary vs-Los Angeles : Flames

      New York Cheaters?

      1) We were struck on two fronts last evening with two potential issues for NY professional athletes perhaps bending/breaking the rules for their benefit. One is an ongoing story and the other a more recent and potentially breaking news story.

      • Roger Clemens claims he was only injecting "vitamins and pain killers".

      • N.Y Islanders goalie was forced to remove /relinquish his new goalie pads last night

      2) First the Clemens issue. Some of his impending 60 minutes interview with 98 year old Mike Wallace became public/published yesterday. In it Clemens made claims that he did not use any Human growth hormone or steroids, but instead received a combination of a vitamin supplement and a pain killer.

      3) Since we're not physicians we decided last night to shoot off an e-mail to our resident medical expert, Dr. Varga. The good Dr. was kind enough to respond this morning. He of course wanted us to give his usual disclaimer that none of what he says is based upon any inside information/direct knowledge, etc.

      4) He said that he knows of no Dr./medical rational where they would inject BOTH vitamin B-12(which he called 'Cyclobalamine') a red liquid, and Lidocaine, a local anesthetic, together. He wrote that he frequently injects B-12 into patients. Its a minimally painful procedure. He went on to say that Lidocaine is used to anaesthetise an area prior to a minor surgical or dental procedure, OR is sometimes mixed with injectable steroids into joints or areas of inflammation such as into a knee/shoulder, etc. "Never into a patient's buttocks alone unless the patient were having a mole or something removed from his hind quarters".

      5) If that's Clemens defense then either he's lying about his steroid usage OR he was given the drugs without his knowledge. Its hard to fathom that a health/fitness fanatic like Roger wouldn't know exactly what was being put into his body. If either those are true, the only way we at FAUXRUMORS will believe Roger is if he sues those involved for 'poisoning him, and/or goes under oath to affirm his innocence. Else its all PR BS.

      6) Next, is the Rick DiPietro pads issue. Still very early in the process, and we will withhold final judgement until we hear all the facts, but this is what we have heard at this juncture. Ricky received new pads recently. He states he has been 'breaking them in in practice' the past few days and then attempted to use them in last night's contest against the Florida Panthers. Apparently its league policy that any new equipment needs to be first inspected/approved by the NHL prior to its usage in a game else the player faces disciplinary action.

      7) In interviews after the game last night he and the team's equipment manager claimed that they thought they had league approval to use the new equipment. Said DiPietro: " I was under the impression that they'd been approved." Rick admitted that he knew going into the game that they had not yet been inspected by the league but felt that after a pre game call to the league that they had tacit approval to use them. Apparently that was not the case. After the 1st period a call came down from Toronto that the pads needed to be removed and not used until they could be inspected.

      8) We asked around to folks who were watching the game and some did say that they felt the new pads seemed a bit bigger, and also during the first period, television broadcasters actually mentioned that "the pads looked bigger". However its unclear/unknown at this time IF that is the case. It would be a case of immense stupidity if true. Its equally a case of stupidity to have even tried to play with them knowing that they weren't officially sanctioned by the league. As a result of these actions DiPietro faces a possible 2 game ban. If the pads are shown to be illegal its possible an even longer suspension could be handed down by the league.

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