Your rants, LeBrun's answers: Stars' power, Shanny's videos, Coliseum's bad ice
The rant blog is back and you didn't disappoint with your level of rancor. A reminder that this forum is not a traditional mailbag where you ask me questions. It's for ear-piercing rants!
Let's take a look at the opening week rants, and thanks again for making this a fun forum.
SgtDoetsch: I feel like so much of a big deal is made about the Coyotes attendance, yet the national media in both Canada and the U.S. fail to see how teams like Dallas do just as poorly. Looking at Monday night's game between Dallas and Phoenix, there was an announced attendance of 6,306 (34-percent capacity). The game between the New York Islanders and Minnesota was at 11,278 (69.2 percent), and the game between Columbus and Vancouver was at 9,187 (50.7 percent). My question: Would you say the lackluster attendance in these cities demonstrates that they are not hockey markets, like so many have said Phoenix is not? If not, then why only Phoenix?
My take: SgtD, actually the Dallas attendance figure is something I brought up in several of my TSN radio hits over the past week, so it's not being ignored. But the reason the Phoenix attendance issue is receiving more attention is because the team remains a possible candidate for relocation unless new ownership is found by January.
The Stars aren't going anywhere; they've got a billionaire in Tom Gaglardi, who already has signed a letter of intent to buy the team but is waiting for the bankruptcy court proceeding to run its course (other suitors can also bid on the team). While the Stars will no doubt suffer at the gate this season because of the ownership situation that's affected the team the past two years, help is on the way, which is why it's not as much of a "story" as Phoenix.
dstars4400: How on earth can almost every single "expert" predict the Stars finishing near the bottom of the entire NHL? I mean sure, it's pretty easy to say from an outsiders point of view. "Oh they lost Brad Richards, they're done". That statement couldn't be any more wrong. The fact is, this team finished with 95 points in the best division in hockey and they WILL make the playoffs this year. This team is better and deeper than the year before. Souray is looking like the steal of the offseason while Ryder and Fiddler are playing out of their minds. Please justify why the Stars will finish in the basement without saying the name "Brad Richards".
My take: Well, I picked the Stars to finish ninth in the West, just outside the top eight, so I guess I'm not one of the experts you're referring to. I debated long and hard about picking them eighth because, after spending some time with them during training camp, I truly got the sense they're a team that was going to surprise people. Yes, they lost Brad Richards, but they used his salary void to add six more players and added great depth. Jamie Benn is a rising superstar, in my opinion. Sheldon Souray has a chip on his shoulder. I also believe the Stars will prove critics wrong this season.
dannyformo: The ice is absolutely TERRIBLE at the Coliseum. Over two games so far, both Islanders games amassed one of the lowest total shots and goals. The puck cannot settle and is bouncing on medium to long passes. I feel bad for the visiting team more than i do watching the Islanders not be able to work (and it's not just the ice that is melting their offense).
My take: Yet another reason to blow this building up and build a new one! Enough is enough; the building is porous and Islanders fans deserve better. The actual team on the ice is improving; I love the young pieces the Isles have in place. But as long as the rink issue is not resolved, there will be a black cloud hanging over this franchise.
justanoddball: I'm sorry, but I could care less about promoting the game in Europe. The games felt like glorified exhibition game with fans sitting on their hands. I understand why the Kings were over there, so that AEG could promote its buildings, but the Kings had no support whatsoever and they lost two home games. It's completely insulting to Kings fans that Kopitar and Richards scored goals against the Rangers and the arena was silent. Another reason Gary Bettman needs to be fired.
My take: I agree with your sentiment about Kings fans getting a raw deal on two home games, but I disagree on the Premiere Games being useless. I've been fortunate enough to have covered the first three years of the event in London, Stockholm and Helsinki, and I can tell you the games have an impact on those markets. It's not just about selling tickets; reaching out to fan bases in places where hockey is actually a popular sport (namely in Finland, Sweden and the Czech Republic, for example) is very important. There are more Premiere Games coming; the league is far from done with it.
Mark_SJShark: My beef is with the yearly drum-beating for the Washington Capitals. I've been reading all summer about their "fantastic" off-season, but to me this team is still full of question marks. Every team that has gone to the Cup Finals in the last few years has been deep at center, but no one knows what to expect for the Caps down the middle. Will Nick Backstrom bounce back? Will Marcus Johanssen take a step forward (they need a big one if he's to be a 2C)? Can Brooks Laich be as effective at center as at wing?
So much uncertainty up and down the lineup at such a key position seems alarming to me. Add to that the need for Semin, Green, and Ovechkin to get back to form of 2 years ago and the Caps seem like a team that will do well IF a lot of things go right this season where they went wrong last season. ...
GMGM claims injuries on the blueline are what cost the Capitals in the playoffs, but the Penguins suffered far more debilitating injuries and put up a much better fight against TB. I know I'm in the minority, but to me, the Capitals aren't worth the hype.
My take: Um, I picked your Sharks once again to win the Cup, not the Caps. I'm the one who should rant for picking your team every year and not having them win it all yet -- ha, ha! The Caps get a lot of hype because they have Alex Ovechkin on their roster and they win a lot of regular-season games. Having just spent a day in Washington last week, they are also a fascinating bunch to be around. This could either be a spectacular disaster this season, or they could finally get over the hump. In either case, it's well worth the coverage.
pelti: The Shanahan videos are proving to be just as inconsistent as suspensions ever were, just longer when they do suspend. It really seems like the only "standard" for boarding is whether the target protects himself or not. Seen plenty of driving hits to the nameplate go unpenalized already.
My take: Let's give Brendan Shanahan a few months before we declare anything either way. You need a larger body of evidence before protesting to knowing any trends in terms of consistency or length of suspensions, etc. For one, I applaud the videos because they show more transparency than the league has ever shown in terms of supplementary discipline. Now we'll see if Shanahan can maintain a tough stance, especially when it comes to Rules 48 and 41.
tking716: I'm a Bruins fan. I have nothing to rant about.
My take: Still feel the same way today after a 1-3-0 start? Then again, the team could go 1-81-0 and winning a Stanley Cup and ending a 39-year drought is still well worth it. Until next week, folks!