Saturday, October 31, 2009

Weekly Picks: Week 5 and Halloween Edition! BOO!!!

1) Happy Halloween to all our readers. Scarily its week 5 in the NHL 2009-2010 season. There are 11 games up for grabs today. We take our not so scary good record of 34-22 or a .607 winning % into Week 5's slate

Edmonton at Boston: Bruins

Carolina at Philadelphia: Flyers

Atlanta at Ottawa : Senators

New Jersey at Tampa Bay : Devils-Who else could we pick today? ; )

Toronto at Montreal : Habitants

Buffalo at NY Islanders : Sabres

Minnesota at Pittsburgh : Penguins ( Lock Of The Week)

Florida at St. Louis: Blues

Dallas at Nashville: Stars

Anaheim at Phoenix Coyote

Detroit at Calgary: Flame

Thursday, October 29, 2009

South-Least Division?

1) With all due respect to our readers who are fans of teams in this division, the lofty pre season expectations for the elevation of the division as the annual door mats of the league has not transpired. Despite having two of the NHL's best/most exciting players(above) the division continues to falter. In fact it can be argued that it is as bad as ever. We expected so much more. Perhaps we were expecting more than what was possible? Only the Capitals are where most would expect-3rd overall in the East. The rest of the division after about 10 games is a mess. Of course we caution our readers as was mentioned in FR's early-surprises post, its still early enough that this and other early trends might change, but so far its not pretty.

2) With 4 of the bottom 6 teams coming from this one, oft (deservedly) maligned conference. Some use this as ammo to attack Gary Bettman's/NHL's southern exposure policy. We'll leave that for another day/other blogs, but lets take a look at the teams that make up the so-called South LEAST Division:

  • Carolina Hurricanes: We expected so much more from one of last year's Final 4 teams. As was written before, this blog expected them to compete with the Caps for the division. That may still be possible, but only 2 wins after 11 games, (having lost 7 in a row!) and already 9 points off the pace is no way to start a season. Maurice has been in vainly jumbling his lines in an attempt to get their offense to awaken. Too early, but might Paul's job already be in jeopardy if the Canes continue to stumble?

  • Tampa Bay Lightning: Few had much in the way of expectations for TB. We expected an improvement, but not a playoff calibre team just yet. So far those expectations are on target. On one hand a 3-3-3 record isn't bad, but 3 wins in 9 isn't all that great either. Alex Tanguay is still looking for goal #1, and captain for life Lecavalier, has one! So we suppose they are poised to improve once that Quebecer-duet get going? Right now the biggest issue surrounding the team is their continued ownership problems (sound familiar?)

  • Florida Panthers: Like Carolina, we expected much more from the big Kittys. Not a surprise that they are off to a slow start, but come on this is ridiculous! After 10 games only the Toronto Maple Leafs have fewer points than the Panthers. As was written by FR concerning Coach DeBoer who-gets-axe-first-2009-edition, "the jury is still out" on this guy. If this trend continues however the jury will be returning a negative verdict very soon!

  • Atlanta Thrashers: Like Tampa, low expectations coming into the season. Tough break-literally, that they have lost super star sniper Ilya Kovolchuk for a month. Before that the Thrash were a respectable (for them) 4-3-1. Its anyone's guess how they'll do without their best player in the lineup for a protracted amount of time. Will/can Afinoganov/Antropov fill the void? Our guess, based upon past performances, is no. Will they put teen ager Evander Kane on the top line? The kid has shown us a lot early on, but this might be asking a lot so soon.

  • Washington Capitals: Only team in the SE that currently appears to be playing as expected/a playoff team. Probably one of about 3 teams in the East that is a Cup contender. Not without their problems, but one can't argue with success, only 2 regulation losses in 11 games thus far. Will be interesting to see if they can unload salary cap anchor, Nylander and bolster an already potent line up.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss?

1) Many were proclaiming relief/excitement that the Coyotes were finally sold. If you missed it, the Coyotes former owner Jerry Moyes officially sold his bankrupt Coyotes (pending judge approval) to the NHL. Under the agreement, apparently Moyes gets no more than what the judge had said was not enough and rejected last month. Not sure how/why he would now approve the sale now? However, from what we have been told, its likely the judge WILL approve it as it now appears that with each passing day the red ink gets deeper so "the sooner this deed is done the better" is the way one source put it.

2) However, before the fans in Phoenix pop their champagne corks they should first wait for the next series of moves, because in essence the NHL has been running the team since last season anyway. This move merely makes official what has been a defacto situation since last November, we've been told. The real move is what the NHL now does with the troubled franchise. There are two very significant reasons why this news is not anything too important to us. The biggest is that the problems that caused the team to be drowning in red has not changed. Yes, a better more fiscally responsible owner might do better than Moyes, but even the best case scenario would still result in the losing of additional millions unless the City of Glendale makes significant concessions. As we, and many others have written, its VERY unlikely the city can/will give the team much. The city (like most of the US) is already trying to stay afloat and can't give away tax breaks/money, and as important its citizens (voters) are hugely against such a move. " It ain't gonna happen" a person close to the situation told us when we called over the weekend. '

3) Another problem therefore is who in their right mind would pay money for the privilege of losing millions annually? If there is no light at the end of the tunnel who would buy the team? Unless that group/individual had intentions of pulling a Balsillie and moving the team we can't see an ownership group emerging that would be willing to do that. Right now there is only one group that has expressed continued interest, The Ice Edge Holdings group. Press reports seem to indicate that they are going to be awarded the team from the NHL as soon as Judge Baum approves the Moyes-NHL sale- as soon as later this week. However (and fans of the 'Yotes need to know this) the Ice Edge Holdings group is on record in wanting to play five games in 'Credit Union Centre' in the town of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan(Yes Canada and a thousand miles from Arizona) There is also the possibility the group would award the games to another Canadian city(Halifax), but that would be even more ridiculous geographically!

4) Its obvious to anyone with a functioning brain what Ice Edge is doing here. Putting their foots in the door of relocation without publicly saying so. There is no doubt that the Saskatoon games would be hugely successful and show the stark difference between the two markets, making a decision to ultimately move the team (inevitable in our opinion) less a PR nightmare for the NHL. What is unclear is how the NHL feels about that possibility. We have in the past been told that Bettman would prefer another southern US market (KC) get the team, but if there aren't any takers would he modify that position?

5) Another issue that no one has addressed how Wayne Gretzky feels about this move. He stands to lose a few milion in this deal. If he rejects the deal can he stop it? Ultimately, as we wrote way back last summer this team WILL be moved. The question simply remains to whom and to where. From that angle/from a Coyote fan's perspective nothing has changed at all with this latest move and nothing it appears short of a miricle will. The Coyotes are still a Dead team walking, and The New Boss, Will be the Same as The Old Boss.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Results Week 4

1) Week 4 is done and gone. For the evening we went a very ordinary 8-7. It seemed every game went into extra time (Actually 5 or 1/3 of all games last night). The results brought our 4 week total to 34-22 or a .607 winning %. we did win our Weekly 'Lock' to keep an unblemished 4-0 record in that department.

2) of course we will be back here next Saturday when 11 games will be played on Halloween. We intend to be scary good then. ; ) Between now and then look for some interesting posts concerning Quebec and expansion and also general rumours, etc. As always keep it here for all the latest!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Week 4 Picks!

1) Yes its Week Four of our weekly jaunt into picking all NHL games. This week there is another rarity, a full NHL schedule. Yes, 15 games, all 30 teams are in action today. Which means we can either bolster our already solid (26-15 for a .634 winning %) record or have it come crumbling down.

NY Rangers at Montreal: Rangers

Boston at Ottawa: Senators

Toronto at Vancouver: Canucks (Lock Of The Week)

San Jose at Atlanta : Sharks

New Jersey at Pittsburgh: Penguins

Buffalo at Tampa Bay: Lightning

Dallas at St. Louis: Blues

Nashville at Chicago: BlackHawks

Detroit at Colorado: Red Wings

Edmonton at Calgary: Flame

Columbus at Anaheim: Duck

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Early Surprises? Its the Goaltending, Stupid!

1) We're nearly 4 weeks into the new NHL season and as always this time of year there are some surprises. Some on the positive side and some on the negative side of the ledger. Before getting into them we of course need to remind our readers that this is a long season. Most teams have played only 7-8 games thus far. Also we have to say that in almost every instance, be it positive or negative the key underlying factor seems to be Goatending. To paraphrase James Carville: Its the goaltending, Stupid!

2) Positive Surprises:

  • NY Rangers- Many didn't even see the Blue Shirts as a playoff contender, let alone a Cup challenging team. It may be premature to say they are ready to challenge the Pens for the Cup, but as we wrote in our preseason assessment (where we DID see the Rangers making the playoffs) the key is Lundqvist. With an impressive 6-1 record with an anemic GAA of 2.30 and save % of .927, The King is a big reason the boys from Broadway are where they are. Have to also mention Gaborik and the kid defense. We have never been big Gabby fans, but when he is healthy is one of the more dangerous snipers in the game. Can he stay that way, and can the likes of Del Zotto play this well all season?

  • Colorado Avalanche- Did we say is goaltending stupid? It certainly applies in spades(sorry Rev. Sharpton) in Denver where Craig Anderson is playing lights out to say the least. With a GAA of 2.06 and save % .934 its no wonder the Avalanche are 6-1-2 after 9 games. No slap at Peter Budaj, but when a team has a goalie playing as well as Anderson is currently, it has a carry over confidence that makes a team all that more tough to play. Few (including us) thought the Avs would be anything more than West doormats this season. We are thus far happy to be proven wrong. Can Anderson, who has yet to be a true #1 play that way for 60+ games?

  • Phoenix Coyotes- Another very pleasant surprise. While we (unlike many) saw the team as being better than a bottom feeder, we didn't see them as being a playoff calibre team just yet. Never underestimate having a real coach. Tippett is a HUGE upgrade over Gretzky who, when the rubber hit the road, showed himself to be all about the money. (best-news-in-phoenix-so-far-this-year) Also to go along with our theme, Ilya Bryzgalov is having a great start in net. His stats 5-1, a GAA an incredible 1.14 and save % of .953 would make him an early Vezina candidate. A bit early for that kind of talk, but so far so good in what we believe will be the last season of hockey in the desert.

  • Buffalo Sabres- Like the Rangers, many prognosticators didn't see the Sabres as a playoff club. We thought differently, with Ryan Miller being the reason. Last season the team took a big hit when Ryan was lost for a significant chunk of the season and the Sabres missed the post season by a hair. So far Buffalo is playing well, but Miller has been unconsciously good. His stats? Only 5-0 with a GAA of 1.66 and a save % of .942. Along with Bryzgalov an early Vezina candidate. Like the other above listed teams, their success will continue as long as Miller continues to play this well. Ladies and gentlemen, your USA Olympic starter!

3) Enough of the good, now for the negative. teams that thus far have been playing significantly below expectations.

  • Boston- With expectations of a President's Trophy anything less than a hot start would be considered a problem. Hardly out of it at 4-4 after 8, but even when they have won it has been brutal at times. Almost losing at home to the lowly Islanders for instance. Thus far their Vezina winner Tim Thomas hasn't exactly played that way with a very ordinary/poor GAA of 3.00 and save % a shade over .900. With injuries to Savard and Lucic the B's will have to tighten up its defense considerably to win consistently.

  • Detroit- Surprised? We aren't. With a few goals lost to free agency the Wings are having to rely more heavily on its defense and goaltending. When your top net minder is Chris Osgood and his GAA of 3.21 and save % of .886 you may have to reconsider your thoughts on making the Red Wings a favourite to repeat as Western Conference champs this season. Its only been 7 games but if they think they will make hay with a PK of 75% Mike Babcock will be for a long season. They probably have enough talent to make up for the listed deficiency, but not enough in our opinion to be considered an elite team

  • Vancouver- Many had the Canucks as their regular season West winners. So it was a surprise to see them floundering a bit after their first 9 games with a 4-5 record. More surprising is to see newly signed goalie for life/captain Roberto Luongo has yet to earn the big bucks. With very UN-Luongo stats of 3.07/.881 the Caunucks have looked like a middle tier team and not a supposed elite West team. It is still early with plenty of time to turn things around, but the early trends have to be disturbing to folks in BC

  • Carolina: A Final Four team last spring, many (including us) saw the Canes as possibly able to compete with the Capitals for the SE division. So far its been anything but a solid early season in Raleigh. Unlike the other teams above, it hasn't been the goaltending that has been the problem. Playoff hero Cam Ward and his new big contract has played well enough to win on most nights, but with a mere 18 goals in 8 games and a PP operating at 11% its been the offense that has let down the Hurricanes. WE think its too early to panic, but Staal and co. better get their act together soon.

4) As we mention (and a frequent poster here Vlad the Impaler) used to say its all about goaltending. The early trends for the above listed 8 teams seems to show (with the exception of Carolina) that this axiom holds true. Its also, as we mentioned, very early. Certainly too early to expect these trends will hold for the full season. Time will tell. We for that reason hold off on publishing a Power Rankings post until teams have played at least 15-20 games. Look for that post (to be done by FR2) to be out sometime in mid November.

As always, keep it here for all the latest

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NHL Anti Francophone?

1) That is the accusation leveled in a round about way by author of a new book called 'Le Québec mis en échec'. For those of you who aren't bi/multi-lingual that means 'Quebec Bodychecked'. A book published by former National Hockey League player Bob Sirois. In the book he examined four decades of professional drafts, comes to the conclusion that francophone Quebecers are systematically thwarted by an "anti-francophone virus" plaguing the NHL

2) Before we get into the merits of the book we felt we should share a little back ground with our readers of the history there. If you are a hockey fan but have never traveled to Canada, specifically Quebec province, you are probably not fully aware of the intense animosity there is between francophones (French Speakers) and Anglophones (Everyone else). The closest analogy we can come up with is the racial divide here in the US that still exists despite slavery having ended over 140 years ago, as welll as anti discrimination laws past 40+ yrs ago. In Quebec (A former French colony) in many quarters its as if the war that the French lost to England was waged in the past decade. In fact you might have come across a car from Quebec and read the little saying at the base of their license tag: "Je me Souviens", which literally means " I Remember". No gray area there as this refers to their French ancestry, even though that war took place even BEFORE the revolutionary war here.

3) Fast forward to modern day Canada and you still have a big divide over language. Even though French is one the two official languages of Canada, many English speakers feel put off at having to pay extra to make their areas accessible to Francophones, and vise versa in Quebec. Try going to a smaller Quebec city and find someone willing to speak English and go to BC and try to find someone who can understand French, etc. So its understandable that some might find this same animosity within the hockey culture.

4) While we don't doubt that there is a small degree of discrimination by one group against the other, we feel its unlikely that there is a systemic anti Franco-phone bias within the NHL. Sure, there are undoubtedly occurrences of racial epithets delivered from time to time, but we can't see there being a well thought out, or even reflexive avoidance of employing players just because of where they are from. NHL teams, like any organization's first goal is to win. It matters not who can deliver that. If a GM/team thinks they can better win with a particular player they will draft/play him regardless of what his native language is.

5) From what we've heard Sirois attempts to demonstrate with stats and numbers that the hockey league's managers don't hold French-Canadian players in as high esteem as their anglophone peers. We are sure that he could find numbers to correlate his hypothesis, but as Sam Clemens (Mark Twain) correctly said: "There are lies, dam lies and statistics". Meaning anyone can form and twist numbers to make their point. Sirois states: "If you're francophone and your son is talented in minor hockey, anglicize his name and you will double his chances of being drafted".

6) He then goes on to get at the crux (in our opinion of his selling point), Quebec's own Montreal Canadiens run by a Anglophone ( Bob Gainey). Quebec hockey players are headed for extinction with the Montreal Canadiens," he writes. He points out that the team's general manager, previously held the same position at Dallas for eight years. Since Mr. Gainey's arrival in Montreal, the number of francophones drafted by the Canadiens has dropped sharply. One of his remedies he prescribes is a return of professional hockey to Quebec City. (See our post on this upcoming soon). Not sure how that would change a perceived injustice other than to guarantee a few Quebecers an NHL job, but would it alter the way the other teams do business? Probably not. All in all we have to say that it just belies modern hockey logic to intentionally, or passively avoid attaining the best players available. We are saddened that Siois is evidently attempting to play into the intense dislike the two groups in Canada have for eachother, and sell a few books in the process. Thumbs down Bob!

Monday, October 19, 2009

If a Hockey Game Takes Place And No One Is There: Does It Count?

1) We paraphrased the old "If a Tree falls... phrase to illustrate what has now been going on in Phoenix since their first home game. Namely no one is going. Can anyone really blame them? The team is up for sale. Even the NHL (who now controls the team) has almost out right said that short of a BIG concession from the City of Glendale, its all but assured that the team will be allowed to relocate at the start of next season. The whole fiasco that ended a couple of weeks back was more about preventing an unwanted outsider (Jim Balsillie) from getting control of the team as it was from trying to keep it in place in Arizona.

2) Anyone who has seen some of the Ungodly financial numbers can see that even under the best of circumstances the team just can't survive in the desert without significant assistance. Since Glendale isn't in the financial position (who is these days?) to given the team a subsidy (and tax payers aren't happy about it either) its unlikely the team will get that assistance. So we are left with what we dubbed the franchise back in the summer dead-team-walking.

3) Which brings us to the team now. A team that despite a decent start to the season (as we actually foresaw) playing in front of an empty building. After an NHL engineered opening night sell out there have been estimates that fewer than 5000 have been attending their recent home games. The sell out was actually a 'farce' one source told us. In truth they 'sold' less than 10,000 of those seats. The remaining 8 or so thousands were comps distributed(not all used either) to business and groups throughout the Phoenix metro area to give the impression of fan support (not embarrass the league further).

4) Going forward, although October typically is when NHL attendance is at its lowest due to competing options, we can not foresee a significant change in the Phoenix situation. Unless the team suddenly gets a new local owner commited to staying put (about as likely as a conservative Republican winning an election in San Fransico) even the best fans of the Coyotes would/should feel like a spurned lover and stay away. As that source correctly told us: "They are a lame duck team, and everyone knows it!" Exactly, so who spend big bucks to see that? Nice job Mr. Bettman!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Results: Week 3

1) Week 3 in the books and we matched last week's impressive record going 9-4 on the night. For the young season we are already a very solid 26-15 for a .634 winning %. We also got out Lock correct to bring that stat to an unblemished 3-0.

2) Look for week 4 next Saturday when the NHL again has all 30 teams, or 15 games on the docket. Also this up coming week we and FR2 are working on a couple of posts concerning our observations so far this young season as well as our take on a possible return of hockey to Quebec City. As always, keep it here for all the latest!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Week 3 Picks!

1) Its already week number three. We wanted to first thank FR2 for taking over the pick duty last week. We were impressed with their 9-4 week. So much so that we asked if they wanted to take this job over on an a more permanent basis. As FR2 usually does, they laughed it off and headed for points unknown. (Geez we wish we had their $!!) LOL Anyway, off we go with our picks for the 13 games on tap tonight!

Atlanta at Buffalo: Thrashers

Colorado at Detroit: Red Wings

Ottawa at Montreal: Canadiens

Carolina at New Jersey: Devils

San Jose at NY Islanders: Sharks (Lock Of The Week)

NY Rangers at Toronto: Rangers

Nashville at Washington: Capitals

Los Angeles at Columbus: Blue Jackets

Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh: Penguins

Dallas at Chicago: Black Hawks

Boston at Phoenix: Coyote

Minnesota at Vancouver: Canucks

St. Louis at Anaheim: Ducks

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

West Still Best?

1) Despite the East (Pittsburgh) winning the Stanley up the consensus among NHL observers is that the Western Conference still is the stronger of the two National Hockey League Conferences. This also despite the East having the three top individual players in Pittsburgh's Evgeny Malkin, and Sidney Crosby and Washington's Alex Ovechkin. As one scout told us, "The East has the names, while the West has the teams".

2) Might this still be the case? Last season the West had a decided edge over the East in head to head competition, despite the moaning of Western Conference based folks that their teams are at a disadvantage due to travel imbalance. We won't get into the travel debate since its all mute. The fact that 3/4 of the NHL lies to the East of the Mississippi can't/won't be changed so there will always as a result be an imbalance there. This didn't seem to bother Edmonton in the mid-late 80's, but we digress.

3) Thus far this season, in an admittedly minuscule sample size, the West is already out to an clear advantage over the East. Through games on Monday October 12th the West is an amazing 10-4-1 record versus the East. Will this trend continue and if so why? We'd have to say that we'd expect this trend will continue throughout the season, albeit at a slightly less than the current 71% winning clip the West currently enjoys. It seems that even the lower regarded teams out West are solidly built enough to give every team (even the powers in the East) trouble, as the Bruins found out when they played the Avalanche IN Boston the other day. Of course this really means diddly since only one West team can make it to the Finals anyway.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Results: Week 2

1) We at FR2 completed our first, but the blogs 2nd week of predictions. On the night we went a very solid 9-4 to bring our 2 week combined total to 17-11 or a .607 winning %. We also snuck by our Lock of the week in Boston to go 2-0 on the young season. FR will be back at this next Saturday when another 13 game will be decided.
As always, stay here for all the latest!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Week 2 Picks!

1) Yes, its week 2 of the weekly Faux picks. We at FR2 are not the ones who usually post this, but FR and co. are currently a tad under the weather(hopefully its not the pig Flu!) and asked us to make the weekly post for them. To remind folks we will list each game on Saturday and pick the winner-without point spread-(Sorry Mr. Rose) Along with that we will select a Faux 'Lock of The Week. the game we feel most strongly about. Last week FR was 8-7, but correctly picked their Lock. Today's slate includes 13 games. So here we go....

NY Islanders at Boston: Bruins (Lock Of The Week)

Washington at Detroit: Red Wings

Atlanta at Ottawa: Senators

Pittsburgh at Toronto: Penguins

New Jersey at Florida: Devils

Carolina at Tampa Bay: Lightning

Buffalo at Nashville: Preditors

Colorado at Chicago: Black hawks

Columbus at Phoenix: Coyotes

Montreal at Edmonton: Oilers

Minnesota at San Jose: Sharks

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Who gets The Axe First-2009 Edition

1) A popular annual post we do here at Fauxrumors is our annual 'Who will Get the Axe First. With the season underway the inevitable discussions will commence as to what coaches are on the proverbial 'hot seat'. With that in mind we'll go through the 30 current coaches and discuss who is pretty secure (as NHL coaches go), who is teetering on the brink, and the rest in between.

2) If this season is anything typical, about 25-30% of the current head coaches will no longer have their jobs by this time next season. The coaches that should worry most are the guys returning from Europe as last year ALL FOUR of the teams that went on the European Vacations to commence the 2008-2009 season replaced their coaches before the season ended! Like in previous seasons, we'll simply go alphabetically in the East then in the West: To simplify/quantify this we will use a scale 0-10. Zero-being very safe, and 10-being close to out the door. At this stage there are no 10's (yet), but as Dennis Savard found out in Chicago last year its never too early to get fired!


John Anderson (Atlanta Thrashers)- (5) We will probably be repeating ourselves here, but we feel that Don Wadell is the one who needs immediate replacement here! However, unlike last season when Anderson was a fresh face with few expectations if the Thrash have another abysmal season John might find himself back in the AHL. That said, with continued ownership problems there appears that there is no/little pressure from above.

Claude Julien (Boston Bruins)- (2) After winning the regular season East last season BUT losing early in the playoffs expectations are high in Bean Town, so anything LESS than a top 4 finish AND a Final 4 appearance would be a downer. That said, we don't think Claude would lose his job if one of those aren't met this year. Only an implosion, which would be unlikely. As our Cup favourite obviously we're not expecting it, but as we stated last year, when your owner is Jeremy Jacobs, nothing is set in stone!

Lindy Ruff (Buffalo Sabres)- (4) Much like last season he may be one of the longer tenured coaches in the NHL, but if the Sabres get off to a poor start Regier may have to make a tough decision. That said, we don't believe that Darcy will have an itchy trigger finger. That Lindy has enough good will to stay on for the entire season barring a complete collapse. Another playoff miss, regardless of injuries, might cause Regier to finally act.

Paul Maurice (Carolina Hurricanes)- (1) Paul, coming off a successful playoff drive and good post season (Final 4 appearance) earning him a 3 year contract extension probably is safe to complete the entire season in Raleigh. The team is good enough to make the playoffs if not compete for the division, and even a near miss for the playoffs wouldn't necessarily mean Maurice would be fired (again) as he and Rutherford have a very solid relationship.

Peter DeBoer (Florida Panthers)- (3) The team hasn’t won a National Hockey League playoff series since 1996 and a playoff game since 1997. They haven’t qualified for the playoffs since 2000 so its apparent why fans are restless for an improvement. Unloading Jack martin was a good first step. The jury is still out on DeBoer, but we like what we've seen so far. Barring a lottery finish we can't see a scenario where Peter is fired, at least during the season.

Jacques Martin (Montreal Canadians) (6) The main apparent reason for being hired? He can speak French? The folks in Montreal, much like Toronto are not the most patient. Amazingly its been a long drought, 19 years (for Montreal standards). We believe the folks in Montreal are going to find out, regardless of his fluency in 2 languages, that Martin is NOT the answer. The question will be will GM Bob Gainey admit his mistake before or after the season?

Jacques Lemaire (NJ Devils)- (5) Normally a new coach who once won a Cup with his team would be an automatic 1-3, but with Lou, no one is safe, even if they seem to be doing well. 'The Gum chewer' might have fond memories in Jersey, but this second stint might end abruptly if things don't go well. As is the key (perennially) with the Devils, the key will be Marty. If he starts to show his age(37+) the team will falter, and from past experience Lou doesn't wait for a turn around before firing a coach. Will he try to re-install a 'trap'? Will this make his offensive stars disgruntled?

Scott Gordon (NY Islanders)- (2) There is no denying that injuries played a role in their bottom finish, but there are also holes/lack of offensive depth that will make success difficult, even with Tavares. That said, with the continued understanding that this is a rebuilding season in NY, and this season is all about seeing how far these kids will take the team and how well they progress, we doubt Gordon's job will be in jeopardy at any point this season unless it appears that 'the kids aren't alright', and seems to not getting through to them.

John Tortorella (NY Rangers)- (4) Like Atlanta, the burden of success/failure of this team should be more shouldered by the team's GM than its coach. Its Sather that has saddled Torts with Redden/Rozival as his top defensive pair. Has given him a fragile elite forward in Gaborik, and placed the volatile Avery into the mix. If Lundqvist's heroics are not enough to get the Blueshirts into the post season, Johns might find himself looking for work. In the mean time it will be a fun exercise watching the dynamic between Tortorella, the NY media with Sean Avery thrown in for good measure!

Cory Clouston (Ottawa Senators)- (5) The mid season replacement for Craig Hartsburg that led to the Heatley issues. What about Cory's coaching caused the rift? Will it be a problem with other Senator vets? Or was/is Heatley just a dick? If it was Clouston, his time will be a short one. Few expect the Sens to be an elite team anymore, but things might get dicey if they flounder early and are among the bottom tier of teams (as we predict). At that point Mr Lisp, Bryan Murray and/or owner Melnyk will have to decide if a new management team is needed in Kanata.

John Stevens (Philadelphia Flyers)(2) Stevens has done an excellent job with the Flyers since becoming head coach. No coincidence that the teams change in personality (Old Broad Street bullies) came with their success. We give Stevens and Holmgren full credit for this transformation. Can they continue/improve further? We feel even a small step back wouldn't be a death knell for Stevens tenure in Philly, but we (and their fans) expect this team to be a Cup contender. Only a collapse (missing the playoffs) would cause John to lose his job.

Dan Bylsma (Pittsburgh Penguins) (0) Probably the most secure coaching job in the NHL now that Wayne Gretzky has stepped side. We hadn't been big fans of Therrian, and believe the team succeeded despite him, but the move to replace him with Dan in our opinion, was a huge reason the pens won the silver trophy. With Stanley Cup in hand there is job security (for this season anyway )if they falter significantly he may be replaced, especially if he loses the respect of his resident superstar, Sidney Crosby. Although we have to say those chances are minimal.

Rick Tocchet (TB Lightning)- (4) Following the fiery John Tortorella, and then the mullet, Barry Melrose, The Gambler, Rick Tocchet seems tame. You'd have to think that unless the team absolutely sucks on toast and finishes in the basement of the NHL, Tocchet's job is secure for this season anyway. With the ownership situation not quite yet resolved, like in Atlanta its unlikely we'll see much more turnover in the front office this season.

Ron Wilson (Toronto Maple Leafs) (2) Yes, folks expect the team to be better after picking up a few big name free agents, but few expect them to be contenders. this should keep Wilson safe for this season. Also the fact that GM Brian Burke is also new there and friends with Wilson (working together ironically on the United States Olympic team) add to the stability behind the bench. Still with it going on 43 years since their last Cup, the Leaf nation won't take kindly to sucking too badly this season

Bruce Boudreau (Washington Capitals)- (3) Last season was one of the safest coaches. This time, not so much. Although he won't be on a tight leash, if his team underachieves (not win the SE division/win 2 playoff rounds minimum) he could lose his job. Gabby is well liked by his players and media so it would take quite a bit to see him discharged prior to the season ending.


Randy Carlyle (Anaheim Duck)- (5) Two seasons ago after the Ducks won their Cup the former Norris Trophy winner had as safe a job as any coach. Now two seasons removed and a big roster turn over its no longer a sure bet. Of course the Ducks would have to have a seriously underachieving season to get Carlyle canned, but if they fall out of the top 8 his job could for the first time be in jeopardy

Brent Sutter (Calgary Flame)-(0) Doesn't hurt when your brother holds your fate in his hands, right? Of course Brent showed the past two seasons, despite falling short in Jersey, that he's no slouch. Now that he's back home with family in Alberta we believe he'll do an even better job guiding the Flame. Nothing short of a total collapse and a Cain and Abel type fight might we see the younger Sutter dismissed

Joel Quenneville (Chicago Blackhawk)- (3) Joel better look out. Last season Dennis Savard got exactly 4 games before he was fired. Of course it helps that Quenville is the new regime's guy. He by no means is untouchable, but unless the Hawks fall flat and miss the playoffs completely would Joel lose his job. Even then its entirely possible he'd survive into next season

Joe Sacco (Colorado Avalanche) (2) Very few expectations this season in Denver, unlike the previous 14 seasons in Colorado. That should play into job security. Much like his counterpart on LI, the thing that management may look to is how the younger payers are developing. Its not to say they'd be happy with a 30th overall finish, but that wouldn't guarantee a dismissal like it would for about 28 other coaches around the NHL

Ken Hitchcock (Columbus Blue Jackets)- (4) Fans of Columbus finally got a taste of playoff hockey. As such they, and management are probably eager for more. To keep his job Hitchcock at a minimum will have to have his team continue to show improvement and make the post season. He could probably survive a near miss in the tough/competitive West, but anything less than 85-90 points and he's probably on thin ice. If you've ever seen Hitch, he wouldn't survive long on thin ice! ; )

Marc Crawford (Dallas Star) (6) Geez this guy just seems to get job after job! His Cup with the Av's is now going on 14 years ago. What has he done lately? Despite having coached every year in Colorado, Vancouver then LA since 1998 he has coached a team to ONE payoff series win, ONE! If the Stars believe he's the answer we believe they will quickly find out they are mistaken. We don't believe the Crawford reign in Big D will last too long.

Mike Babcock (Detroit Red Wing) (2) A year ago we felt Mike was totally secure. This season his security is still up there, but a rung or two lower than last year. We could see a scenario that the Wings falter (mainly from poor goaltending) and management thinking a shakeup at the top necessary. Although with his recent success that's a long shot right now. Odds are he'll ride out whatever this season throws at he and the Wings

John Brian Patrick "Pat" Quinn (Edmonton Oiler) (2) The big guy has returned. After successful stints in Philly, (Final appearance and Adams award, and Vancouver- Finals appearance in 94 and another Adams award, along with not so successful coaching jobs in LA, and a mediocre stint in Toronto, the Hamilton, Ontario native is back behind the bench after a 3 year absence. As he is highly regarded and few expect the Oil to win much this season Pat's job is likely safe through the year. (Apologies for the earlier inclusion of the fired Craig McTavish)

Terry Murray (Los Angeles King)- (5) Last year we were incredulous at Murray as the team's choice. The Kings haven't qualified for the playoffs since 2002, but with a roster full of young talented players, a goalie that appears ready to carry the team (Quick) there are now real expectations again in La-La land. So another bottom type finish and Murray would likely be a goner and its also possible that GM Lombardi might be in need of updating his resume.

Todd Richards (Minnesota Wild)- (4) Represents the current NHL coaching trend: Inexperience is insignificant we suppose. Started probably by the Capitals 2 years ago with the ascension of Bruce Boudreau, almost every new coach has come from the minors. Since he won the Adams its in vogue. Since we know little about Richards, and we don't think the Wild will do well we are hedging our bets and making him a 4 despite being 'the new guy'.

Barry Trotz (Nashville Predator) (5) The only coach the franchise has ever had. We were not fans of his until the last couple of seasons when he took a team that few, including us at FAUXRUMORS believed could succeed, but somehow he got them to overachieve, the sign of a good coach. With lowered expectations and ownership STILL in flux he'll probably survive at least another season in The Music City, even if they fail to attain a top 8 finish, but he's not nearly as secure as years past

Dave Tippett (Phoenix Coyote) (1) One of the few positives that came from the ownership fiasco was it flushed out Wayne Gretzky from coaching. In Tippett the 'Yotes have a coach that won't feel secure even if they fail to achieve. In the regular season anyway, Tippett's record in Dallas was impressive. With the continued silliness that is the Phoenix ownership fiasco, we see his job as being quite safe even with a less than strong season

Andy Murray (St. Louis Blues) (4) A season ago we felt Andy was on the hot seat. The team had taken a step backwards in their development timetable. Then last year the team, against all odds, turned things around and made the post season when almost no one predicted them to. This probably reduced the heat on Murray's butt, but if the Blues falter out of contention before the Olympic break, JD might pull the trigger and get a new man behind the bench

Todd McClellan (San Jose Shark) (5) After last season perhaps the team's playoff underachieving wasn't all Ron Wilson's doing. After a President's Trophy season the Sharks resumed their playoff sucking. Now with the addition of Heatley expectations are at a minimum to finish in the top 4 in the West and at the very least get to the Final 4. If Todd fails to do the ladder especially, his days might be numbered in The Silicon Valley

Alain Vigneault (Vancouver Canuck)- (5) As we opined last year at this time, The former coach of the Year winner's job is probably not nearly as secure as it was a couple of years ago. A miserable regular season and or player (Luongo/Sedin) discontent would be a problem for the affable Quebecer. The team will only go as far as those guys can take him. Expectations as FR2 wrote earlier this week are high in Vancouver, so a playoff miss or even first round exit would almost certainly cost Alain's job

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Time To Panic, Or Too Early?

1) We recently read an interesting stat from a fellow blogger; Apparently no team that has started the season 0-3 has EVER won a Stanley Cup. At least not in the modern era (After 1925). That stat/factoid has to be of interest to several NHL cities that are used to their teams, at the very least, competing for the Cup, if not having actually won it in the recent past. These teams are accustomed to winning, so any streak, especially this early/noticeable gets our attention

2) The team that first jumps out at us are the Vancouver Canucks. Picked by many to win the NW division, and compete with the other West powers for the Conference title and possible the Cup itself. After all they just re-signed the Sedins to long contract extensions, and then a lifetime deal to (captain-?) goalie, Roberto Luongo. All looked good. Then the reality of the season set in. Thus far the team is that dreaded 0-3. Worse yet the goalie for Life has been anything but stellar. His goals-against average this season is 4.55, his save percentage .820 and his record 0-3, after getting yanked in the 2nd period against Columbus at home last evening. Counting the last playoff game a 7-4, season-ending loss, Luongo has now given up 18 goals in his past four NHL starts. No way to start a 12 year contract! Time to panic?

3) While no other team is 0-3 (yet) there are several other teams that could be in that predicament. Leading us to opine that their next games are literally Must wins! Those teams are the Hurricanes, New Jersey, and Detroit (5 other teams have only played once and are 0-1) Those teams have won 8 of the past 15 Stanley Cups!!

  • Carolina coming off a Final 4 finish are picked by most (including Faux) to make the playoffs, and possibly compete for the SE division with the Caps. Of course it should be pointed out that the Canes have played/lost to 2 of the teams to also compete for the Eastern Conference Title/win their division in Philly and Boston. Still you'd have to think Pal Maurice is looking toward their next game, tonight in Raleigh against the Lightning as vital (Yes, even for a early October contest)

  • Meanwhile in 'Hockey Town things aren't looking rosy either. They too have a ready made excuse in that they lost 2 close games to divisional rival St. Louis while playing in Sweden. If last season is any indicator Mike Babcock better worry about his job (all 4 coaches that went to Europe last season failed to finish the season)- but we'll let Faux write about coaches getting fired in their post later this week. As FR prognosticated in their predictions, goaltendings might be an issue in Detroit. Jimmy Howard has looked like the career AHL goalie he probably is which might cause Ken Holland to have to sign or make a deal if this continues, as they can't expect 38 Osgood to play 70+!

  • Meanwhile there isn't a goalie controversy in Jersey, but they might need one if Marty doesn't start to play Marty-like soon. So far his stats in the Devils 2 losses are not Vezina worthy. A GAA of 4.04, and save % of .849 won't cut it! With Yan Denis as his backup can/would Lemaire even think of curtailing Brodeur's work load? It could get interesting fast in Newark if this early poor start becomes a trend.

4) We want to make clear we would NOT begin to panic if we were any of these 4 winless teams. History might say that a Cup is impossible if you lose your first 3, but records, as they say, are meant to be broken, right? All of these teams are talented enough to turn things around, and in 2 weeks time we might look back at this post and laugh. However it is also entirely possible in at least one of these teams we might already be seeing a season long trend. That's why we play the games folks. No one knows for sure, and another reason why we never wager on sports. Are you listening Mr Tochett/Mrs Gretzky??

Monday, October 5, 2009

One Down.... One to Go: Sundin Retires

1) As announced last Thursday, Matts Sundin officially announced his retirement from hockey. By doing so he mercifully must have read our post of 2 weeks ago when we pleaded with Sundin and Forsberg:"for-love-of-god-go-away" Now, don't get us wrong here we are not detracting from Sundin's accomplishments. In fact we would tell our readers to not let the lack of a Stanley Cup on his resume fool you. Instead we'd add Sundin to the list (headed by Ernie Banks) of the best professional athletes to not win their league's championship. Undoubtedly the former Maple Leaf will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

2) However we were sick and tired of his (and several others) antics recently of 'agonizing' over their futures only to have them linger weeks and months. Allowing the rumor whores such as Eklund to speculate on the 30 or so teams rumored to be interested, etc. WE are thankful Sundin eliminated his name from what would have been countless fictitious rumors of where/when he would return.

3) Which brings us to his countrymen, Peter Forsberg. If printed/electronic reports are to be believed, he is ready to resume his NHL career. He can't play for MoDo anymore now that the NHL season has commenced without disqualifying himself from play in the NHL this season so right now Forsberg's future is unknown. IF, and that's a HUGE IF, he is healthy, he is only 36, and potentially could add significantly to a team. The problem is the old bugaboo, the salary cap. We'd have to assume Peter would only return to a contender, so what contending team has cap space to fit FOPPA? What would his asking price be?

4) If recent history is to be followed we couldn't see him playing for LESS than a prorated figure of about 4-5 milion. AS best we can tell(The NHL doesn't publish cap liabilities), none of the anticipated top tier teams(Boston, Carolina, Calgary, Chicago, Detroit, Montreal, Rangers, Pittsburgh, Philly, Vancouver, or Washington) have more than 3.5 mil in space-assuming they'd want to use al their available space on him without making another roster move to fit him in. So IF Peter is interested in returning its likely to be a protracted, drawn out situation that we'll probably be duscussing during the holidays. We can hope/pray that its resolved like the Sundin issue has been, but unlikely. Somewhere Dwayne Klessel (Eklund's real name) is praying it doesn't!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Results:Week 1

1) Well the first week is in the books. Not the best start out of the gate with an 8-7 evening, but it could have gone much worse we suppose. We did manage to secure our First lock Of the week in Washington.

2) Look for the next/second installment of out weekly picks next Saturday 10/10, when 13 games will be on the docket. Also a side note that FR2 tells us they are working on a fol,ow up to their Sundin/Forsberg post. Probably top be dropped some time tomorrow. We are also working on our annual "Who gets Axed First' post(coaches) due out later this week as well As always, keep it here for all the latest

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Week 1 Picks!

1) As promised we are back with our weekly picks for the new 2009-2010 NHL season. Like last season we will simply pick a winner for each scheduled game. With a "Lock Of The Week also listed. The NHL cooperated with our endeavour by having all of the 30 teams in action today/night, including 2 in Scandinavia.

2) Chicago at Florida: Blackhawks (In Finland)

Vancouver at Colorado: Canucks

Detroit at St. Louis: Red Wings ( In Sweden)

Carolina at Boston: Bruins

Montreal at Buffalo: Sabres

Philadelphia at New Jersey: Flyers

Pittsburgh at NY Islanders: Penguins

Ottawa at NY Rangers: Rangers

Toronto at Washington: Capitals ( Lock Of The Week)

Tampa Bay at Atlanta: Lightning

Minnesota at Columbus: Blue Jackets

Nashville at Dallas: Stars

Calgary at Edmonton: Flame

San Jose at Anaheim: Ducks

Phoenix at Los Angeles: Kings

Friday, October 2, 2009

Faux Nails Phoenix Outcome

1) We wanted to congratulate FR2 for their nailing the outcome of the Phoenix Coyote mess. For those not following the case the judge late Wednesday afternoon finally made his ruling known. That BOTH bids were going to be rejected but 'without prejudice', meaning either side can readjust its bid and come back.

2) Of course the Balsille bid relys on moving the team so the ruling, although not a NHL victory directly IS in essence a death knell on Jim Balsillie's bid to move the team to Hamilton Ontario. As FR2 wrote back on September 11:

  • We believe that the judge will essentially quash/kill Balsillie's bid saying that he doesn't want to set precedent for allowing an outside entity to decide league policy. This will delight Bettman. Who seemed poised to do anything possible short of assassination to prevent the Canadian billionaire from obtaining the franchise.

  • The judge will also NOT approve the NHL bid as it doesn't come close to satisfying creditors (its 100 million less than the PSE bid) this will not make the NHL happy!

  • We can foresee the judge 'staying' (we're not lawyers, so forgive us if we don't use correct legalese) the decision until either the NHL amends its bid, or other bids can be found that do satisfy creditors sufficiently.

3) This is EXACTLY what happened! So where do we go from here? Since FR2 nailed the ruling weeks prior, we will go with their prediction of what will happen next. They stated that it is entirely possible we will ultimately end up with a "Public Option". The least dangerous path is for the city of Glendale to assume control of the team in a Green Bay-esque type arrangement. As FR2 wrote then:" The city has already 'invested' a great deal of revenue to this and was going to be asked for compensation anyway, so why not get the equity if you're subsidizing the product anyway? This way the city can limit its losses and control the destiny....... We believe that if/after the judge rejects both bids, the city will begin to scramble to get its act together and try to convince their tax payers that a Green Bay like situation would be in their benefit.

4) Will be interesting to see how that goes down as well as how the NHL treats Wayne Gretzky. After all he is owed millions. (and why we believe he quit) Also as other teams develop ownership issues like in Florida, Atlanta, and perhaps Nashville will Jim Balsillie jump in again or is he done poking the NHL/Gary Bettman in the eye? As a result its all but assured that Hamilton will be given an expansion franchise within the next 2-3 years. Probably after the next CBA is ironed out (After the next Lockout)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

NHL 2K10: Game on!

1) The day we NHL die-hard fans have been waiting for since we saw Sid Crosby accept the Cup from Gary Bettman 3 1/2 months ago. The seemingly never ending off season is now over and real hockey is back. Their is a relatively small slate of games starting tonight with a couple of marquis match ups that easily could end up being previews of The Conference Finals.

2) In the East power houses Boston and Washington will face off in TD Garden while out west we will see The Flames play their divisional rival Canucks at the Saddledome. We will also see an original 6, and one of the NHL's longest/biggest rivalries in the Leafs-vs the Habs at the ACC.

3) Unfortunately many NHL fans won't be able to see some of those marquis games. Even if they have the NHL package or 'Center Ice, AND The NHL Network, many viewers who have the biggest satellite service in the states, Direct TV will not be able to tune in to see the games. The continued feud between Comcast (owners of Versus) and Direct TV will prevent millions from getting the game. Nice job Bettman in keeping the number of possible viewers to a minimum. He needs to get involved to end this dispute. Problem is one of the most influential owners, Ed Snyder(Flyers) also controls Comcast/versus.

4) Also due to popular demand we will again do our weekly Saturday picks. For new readers, last season each Saturday (usually the NHL's busiest day) we would pick the winners of every game and do One Lock of The week. Some might think its easy to simply pick a winner of a game. We challenge anyone out there to do what we did and do it better. Our goal is to stay above .500. Last season we finished the year with a 176-127 record for a solid .580 winning %, or 49 games above .500! On those 'Locks' each week we had an impressive 20-6, record or winning 78% of those weekly picks. We'll be hard pressed to match those figures in both categories, but we'll give it a shot. Look for it this Saturday when ALL 30 teams will be in action. Yes, 15 games in all including games in Helsinki Finland(Chicago-Florida) and Stockholm(Detroit-St. Louis). Game On Baby!
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