Rant answers: DiPietro's future with Isles; head shot rules; Sabres financial woes
Got some angry folks this week! Good posts this week, puckheads, couldn't publish them all but a really good selection this week.
courv: PROTECT YOURSELF!!!!
We hear it almost everyday in NHL chatter when it comes to boarding calls and hitting from behind, and there was another prime case [Sunday] night at MSG. Watch the replay where Crombeen hits Stepan into the boards. Stepan looks over his shoulder to see what's coming, see's two or three players right there and instead of putting himself in a good position to take a hit, HE DECIDES TO BEND OVER AND KISS THE BOARDS INSTEAD!!!!
What a moronic play and what a moronic position to put yourself in KNOWING that there's someone right behind you. Crombeen gets five minutes in what could have been a game changing power play in the third period for Stepan's absolute stupidity. These players need to get smarter.
My take: This is indeed a concern from people around the hockey industry, even more so for younger players entering the league. Why? Because the zero tolerance to head shots (which is a good thing) is producing junior-age players that play with their head down way more than generations before (not a good thing). I don't like blaming the victim, but you can't discount what you just described above. Players have to aware of their surroundings on the ice. And I fear that's going to be a huge issue as the years go on and younger players arriving from junior/college ranks skate down the middle of the ice with their head down, not fearing a head hit. The crackdown on head hits is the only way to try and combat the litany of concussions in the game. But a byproduct, for better or worse, will be a generation of future players that put themselves in vulnerable positions on the ice that players of past decades would have never done.
fladtheimpaler76: OMG I have had it with Rick DiPietro! I no longer want to hear that he is "Rusty"! Drafting him No. 1 overall and trading Luongo has set this franchise back on so many levels. It is time to cut bait with this fragile piece of Swiss cheese and pay him to not play in the NHL along with Alexei Yashin. I would much rather ride Roloson for the remainder of the season and give Mikko Koskenen a chance to gain some experience behind him. This Islanders team needs Rock Solid goaltending on a consistent basis to have any chance at success this season and Rick simply cannot provide that. Enough is enough. ARGH!
My take: It's indeed a precarious time right now for DP. To be fair, you can't discount that the dude has barely played in two years. But now that the season is five weeks old, and he's got seven games under his belt, the trend so far is scary. His .854 save percentage and 4.21 goals-against average are ugly, ugly numbers. Sure, he's not playing for the 1976 Montreal Canadiens, but he just has not looked confident at all in net so far. Here's the thing: DiPietro after this season still has 10 more seasons on his NHL contract which pays $4.5 million a year. As a franchise, you've got to give this guy every single possible chance to figure it out because you're on the hook for a lot of cash and term. As a franchise you're already on the hook for Alexei Yashin's contract. You can't do this again, can you? Certainly from the conversation I had with Isles head coach Scott Gordon a few weeks ago when the team was in Toronto, it was clear his marching orders were keep the long-term picture in mind with DP and understand that this season is critical in salvaging his career.
Check Republic: It's time for Darcy Regier to go! He may not be the worst GM in the league, but his lack of results this postseason should be the last straw. Drury, Briere, Campbell, McKee, Lydman, Spacek, Tallinder, Paetsch and the list goes on. Being conservative year in and year out has done nothing but eroded the once excellent Sabres team. The 2006-07 Sabres were one of the best teams we've ever had. What happened Darcy? Need another year off like you had at the lockout, because I have a feeling a "vacation" is not too far away!!
My take: Let's be clear on one thing here: the Sabres can't compete financially with most of the teams in the league. That's reality. Losing Lydman and Tallinder in the offseason was a critical blow, one that I predicted in my preseason work that the Sabres would find very difficult to overcome on the back end. And that's exactly what has happened so far. Thing is, did you see what Lydman and Tallinder got on the open market? No way the Sabres can spend that kind of money. For the Sabres to succeed, and they have aplenty before this miserable start to the season, they need almost everything to go right with their top guys because there's very little room for error. The top guys have not produced well enough this season and it's killing them. I don't see how firing Regier would change the financial reality of the Sabres in the NHL marketplace. They will always, always be in a position where they won't have as much leeway in terms of roster mistakes as other teams in the league. That's reality.
cbj17BRULE: There's no love for the Jackets out there! I understand their reputation is not helping them at all, it has been a long nine seasons, but this team is not necessarily clicking yet and they have a record of 8-5-0. Mathieu Garon has posted two strong shutouts, we've beaten teams like Chicago, Montreal and Philadelphia. Hopefully our game with St. Louis will help us out, I'm not looking for much! Just a little love! Believe it or not Rick Nash is not the only player on the Columbus Blue Jackets! "I don't get no respect!"
My take: Dude, I wrote a Jackets story last week. Where were you!
rupprupp29: Hi Pierre, I've heard a lot of potential rule changes thrown around lately. Any chance that the NHL will let teams decline penalties so they don't have to torture their fans with a depressingly awful power play? Signed, A Penguins Fan
My take: Ha ha, love that. But no, no chance of that.
JasonLightnin: I'm absolutely sick and tired of a "defensively strong roster" in Atlanta that can't seem to play defense. Have you noticed the SA/G number 37.8? That's really really close to 40! It's no wonder we have the 29th ranked defense in hockey. The goalies can still play well (both have well over .900 save percentages) and still give up over 3.5 goals per game! On paper we have one of the best sets of six defensemen in the league, and they can do nothing to stop us from being a decidedly BAD defensive team. Only one time in 10 years have we not been in the bottom half of the league and we were 15th in THE playoff year. When and how can Atlanta end the defensive curse?!
My take: I'm sitting next to veteran hockey writer Kevin Allen of USA Today at the NHL's GM meetings in Toronto, and I swear half an hour ago we were just talking about this very thing. Allen wonders if it's not some kind of "cultural" thing in Atlanta because it's a team that's always given up a lot of shots over the years. Personally, I look at that blue line and I like what I see. But defense is a team thing and watching some of their games this year, I don't always see the defensive commitment from the forwards. That's where it has to start.
bdtepisig: The Avs' blue line has been laughably ineffective but with diaper pail guys like Shattenkirk, Holos, Elliot, Macias, Barrie, etc., can they move a couple in order to get legit stay at home d-men, are you listening Greg Sherman. We need another Adam Foote but preferably one who doesn't pop Geritol between periods. BTW, this is easily the fastest Avs squad since we pillaged the team from Quebec. Even Valerie Kamensky would look slow on this team.
My take: Some things have stayed true from preseason predictions and the Avs are one of them: great, fast forward group, as exciting as any group in the NHL. But a blue line that's Swiss cheese, easily the Achilles' Heel of the club and that continues to play itself out. If Greg Sherman doesn't upgrade on D, Avs fans should revolt.
prashanthiyer: Its time for Jaroslav Halak to get some credit in St. Louis. Everybody has spent so much time discussing Tim Thomas and his resurgence in Boston that people have forgotten to keep up with how hot Halak has been in St. Louis. St. Louis is 9-1-2 with 20 points to lead the NHL. They have given up just 18 goals in those 12 games. If you were to tell me that an offense were to go out and score only 2.4 goals per game to rank near the bottom of the league, I would tell you that that team is going to be near the bottom of the league in the standings. However, Halak (and Conklin) have managed to keep the Blues not just in the race, but first overall. Throw them a bone Pierre.
My take: Wrote a Blues story two weeks ago. Keep up!
Addison L47: Pierre, my rant is against the NHL. Can you please explain to me why on earth they haven't been working harder (or at all) to help facilitate the sale of the Dallas Stars? Here is a franchise with an extremely successful history, a high (albeit lower now than usual) market value, and is largely considered the "model franchise" of the sunbelt. Somehow, with a small budget they've had a strong start to the season -- but it's painfully obvious they need a new owner to keep their players (Richards obviously, but also Daley and eventually Benn extension). If the long reaching arms of the league can #### a hedge fund manager out of the North to own the Lightening, I think they can add a few more bidders to the Stars table. I understand the lenders want their money, and the potential owners want a good deal. However, this is far from the most complicated sale process (Tampa and Phoenix were far worse, for example) and the owner would take possession of half the AAC and control several of the surrounding properties, not to mention their admirable TV contract. To me, it's essential the league saves their shining star (too much?) in the South and finds them an owner(s) immediately. Why the NHL doesn't think the same way, I'm hoping you can explain to me. Huge fan of your work and thanks for the insight.
My take: Great post my friend. This is a good purchase in my mind and it is interesting that it's taken so long to find a buyer. For starters, the sale of the Texas Rangers delayed the process big time. The hockey team had to wait for Tom Hicks to figure out the baseball sale before getting going on the Stars end of things. The most interested buyer for a while and the guy with the deepest pockets was Calgary oil magnate Bill Gallacher but he has since pulled out and is no longer a bidder. That was a big setback for the Stars. The other issue, as per my colleague David Shoalts of the Toronto Globe and Mail who specializes in the NHL's business dealings, is that Hicks (who owns a ton of money to the banks) is asking for too much money for the Stars. But this team will sell. It's a good market and a good purchase in my mind.