- Pierre LeBrun, NHL
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The holidays have not dimmed your anger. Love your rants again this week. Let’s take a look:
cbj_fan13k: Bluejackets fan, enough said! I have endured 10 frustrating seasons, but this one takes the cake. Not only is the team playing the worst/laziest hockey I've ever seen (Thursday's collapse vs. Nashville was icing on the cake), the management has pretty much given the finger to all the fans. I understand the season is lost but to at least a gesture of a coaching/player/GM move to just show a little bit of emotion that they cared. But, no, just pretty much, ehh, it is what it is, and you're going to deal with it because we already have your season ticket money, who cares about winning? I will always support the jackets but this year has really tested my love for the team. Usually I have Miami University Redhawks hockey to fall back on but even they are not having the best of seasons.
My take: It certainly has been an existence of mediocrity for this franchise since day one -- 10 seasons, one playoff berth in which it was swept out in the first round. Interestingly, the Blue Jackets have had two GMs during that span, despite that record. There was so much anticipation this season with the acquisitions of Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski, but I don’t have to rehash what happened. Another dud of a season. Believe me when I say the GM and coach care. I’ve had lots of chats with Scott Howson this season, and this is absolutely killing him. It’s not like anyone in that front office is sitting on his hands and enjoying this. The hiring of former Penguins GM Craig Patrick as an adviser to Howson should help, especially closer to the Feb. 27 trade deadline. Important decisions loom for this moribund franchise. Hang in there, my friend, it’s going to take more patience, if you have any left.
Dintino1420: My rant is regarding the cost to attend NHL games. I am a Philadelphia-area resident who attends approx. 4-6 Flyers games a year. It is disgusting to me that the Flyers raised ticket prices almost $60 per seat from last season. Last season, it was $96 for a lower-level seat. This season, it is $155-$165 for a lower-level seat. This is outrageous! The only saving grace here is that I have a website where I can buy tickets from 3rd-party vendors, where the cost is usually lower than the face value.
My take: Count yourself lucky you don’t live in Toronto! Tickets are insanely expensive where I live. I just spent $220 on a pair of upper-bowl seats as a Christmas gift for my sister and nephew. But the Leafs sell out every single game and have forever. Supply and demand. One thing’s for sure -- the league talked about cheaper ticket prices during the 2004-05 lockout as one of the selling points for a salary cap. Needless to say, cheaper tickets have not materialized in the NHL’s bigger markets.
mcbs92: Please tell me what is wrong with the Washington Capitals, I just do not understand. They have such talented individuals in Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, and Green (when healthy), to name a few home-grown stars. While the usual production of these players is below par, save Backstrom, that cannot solely explain why the team is doing so poorly. Could it be that Alex Ovechkin and the team is better off without him with the C? I know there have been flashes of the old Caps, who usually dominate the regular season, in periods of the Dale Hunter era, but seriously, what has to be done for the Capitals to turn it around?
My take: To me they just rarely look like a "team." The elite clubs in this league -- think Detroit over the past 20-odd years -- play as five-man units up and down the ice. They limit gaps for opposing teams to exploit. They control/manage the puck smartly as units. They avoid taking lazy/selfish penalties. That’s what the elite teams in this league do. The Caps have not been that team this year. Alex Ovechkin has but 12 goals. He’s not the same dominant force. The goaltending has been inconsistent. And the Caps are 20th out of 30 teams in 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio -- that’s an important statistic in my mind in rating elite teams. Right now, Boston is tops in that statistic, followed by Detroit, San Jose, St. Louis, N.Y. Rangers, Vancouver, Philadelphia and Chicago. I think you see the picture that paints.
brossin2 Having no games this weekend is why hockey will always be my favorite sport. The players have families too, and should be given the privilege to spend time with them. But that is also possible because hockey fans understand that, and don't demand Christmas Day games. In return, any single hockey player gives back more to the fans than entire NFL and NBA teams on any given day. Sure, this isn't a rant per se, but Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing Day to everyone nonetheless!
My take: Agree -- whole-heartedly.
Daveyg8484: Hey, Pierre, Tons of Vezina Trophy talk and most of it has to do with goalies who get goal support. It's pretty amazing how Jonathan Quick gets very little talk, especially since he's the main reason LA isn't where Anaheim and Columbus are. If you put Quick on a team that actually score goals, like Vancouver, Detroit or Boston, he'd probably be the runaway winner.
My take: Well, let’s not carried away with "runaway winner." I still think Tim Thomas is the best goalie the world right now. However, your point is well taken about Quick’s lack of national attention. I made sure to include him in my Vezina candidate list on my quarter-pole NHL awards for ESPN.com. But overall, he still doesn’t get that same kind of attention. As you know, the NHL’s 30 GMs vote for the actual Vezina Trophy, one of the few trophies the Professional Writers’ Hockey Association doesn’t handle. I asked one GM last spring if he had Quick on his ballot and he said no, adding that Quick was one notch below who he believed were the elite netminders in this league. So you see, it’s not the media you have to convince, it’s the GMs!
Steve McKown: What would you do if you were Stevie Y in Tampa? There is zero doubt that the two Lightning goaltenders are not going to win us the Cup -- much less even allow us to make the playoffs this year. Granted the defensemen in front are not much better, however, a move in goal could certainly generate a chance like it did last year. Marty and Vinnnie are not getting any younger so what would you do?
My take: I’m pretty sure my shopping list would be similar to Steve Yzerman’s: a starting goalie and a top-four blueliner -- neither of which are very easy to pick up at all. Yzerman has been monitoring the market for a top-four blueliner since October. Like pitching in baseball, NHL clubs don’t give up top-four blueliners very easily. No question Yzerman will take a hard look between now and Feb. 27, but if he can’t find the right fit before then, he has the offseason as well to shore up these holes. If I was Yzerman, I would inquire about Cory Schneider in Vancouver and Jonathan Bernier in Los Angeles; those types of deals might be easier to pull off in the offseason.
1dScott Burnside and Craig Custance