Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Rant Answers: Time for Ilya to say adios and one big All-Star snub
By Pierre LeBrun
Angry bunch this week, aren’t we? More than 800 posts. Wowzers! Let’s take a look at a few select:
Kaleta3600: Was the fire of Terry Murray really necessary? He's one of the better coaches in the NHL, and it's unfair how the blame for the Kings' recent futility falls squarely on him!
prashanthiyer: Actually, a significant amount of blame should fall on Murray. It was his style of play that did him in. When Murray had guys like Ryan Smyth, Wayne Simmonds and Michael Handzus, he could afford to play his system of dump and chase because that’s what those guys were best suited for. However, when you drop those 2 and add significantly skilled players such as Mike Richards and Simon Gagne to go with a couple of excellent puck movers on the back end and Anze Kopitar, your style of play HAS to adopt a more puck possession style because those skilled players are best when they have the puck on their stick, not trying to chase and retrieve it. Murray refused to adopt his style and it got him the can.
My take: Well, I think you’re both right. Murray is indeed a terrific coach, especially a great teacher. But as a player inside the Kings room revealed to me Monday night via text message, he felt they needed a coaching change. “We were dead,’’ the player said. It’s the oldest fact in hockey that coaches have a shelf life. After 3-4 years, generally, your message gets stale. Barry Trotz and Lindy Ruff have bucked that trend, but generally that’s the case.
pfanzler: Why on earth is Kris Versteeg not on the All-Star ballot? All he has done is carry the Panthers to the division lead. His 13 goals are good for the team best and top 10 in the league. He's also in the NHL's top 10 in +/- and points and is one of a handful of players averaging better than a point per game. He's been a monster. The only Panthers forward on the ballot is Tomas Fleischmann, who's having a nearly identical statistical season. There is not a single forward having a season like Steeger's among the obscene and ridiculous 15 combined ballot entries from the Ducks, Sharks, Bruins and Penguins. I'm sick and tired of the NHL brass pretending like there are only 6 or 8 teams and only 2 players -- and then wondering why their league lags behind the more popular, less dynamic NBA. Promoting players like Versteeg in markets like Florida would go a long way toward growing the sport, and the refusal of the league to support certain expansion franchises with greater exposure is asinine considering the resources they've blown keeping a team in Glendale. But I'll leave that for another rant.
My take: First of all, who cares about the All-Star Game. But yes, Versteeg should be on it, just like Jimmy Howard and Tyler Seguin and other snubs. It’s hard to get everyone on there, though, otherwise the ballot is too long. The league’s hockey operations staff comes up with the ballot, in case that’s what you were wondering.
CBR Bob: Ilya Koval$uck will be the death of the NJ Devlis. He may score 50 a year (doubtful in N.J., since they aren't a “superstar” centered team), but he will make bad plays and turn the puck over so much he will be responsible for 80 opposition goals. Is it possible that if the Devils file bankruptcy, they can break his 100 million $ contract and trade him to, let’s say the rangers or islanders so he can do some damage to them? Then they can afford to KEEP the person who busts his butt every game for them, their captain Parise.
My take: From day one, I’ve been on record saying I didn’t like this fit. And you know who is breathing a sigh of relief right now? The Los Angeles Kings. Despite L.A.’s struggles, I can assure you the belief in the Kings front office is: Thank god we didn’t sign him. Here’s what could save New Jersey if GM Lou Lamoriello does determine that it was a mistake to sign him. He may not agree with you and me, Bob. But if Lamoriello comes to that conclusion next summer, there’s a possibly the next CBA could help him. In August 2005, after the last lockout ended, there was a one-time provision for teams to buy out one player without it counting against the salary cap. Should this provision somehow appear again (and the players will have a big say in that), then the Devils have a big decision to make: get him off the books or not.
fabianhemmings: The newly proposed conference realignment for 2012 shows the type of progressive and out-of-the-box thinking by the NHL brass that has benefited everyone since the lockout -- my biggest gripe rewarding bad teams. They should award 4 playoff spots for the conferences that have 8 teams. Then award 3 playoff spots for the ones with 7 playoff teams. Lastly, the final 2 spots should go to the teams with best record regardless of the conference they're in. This is truly the best way to ensure the playoffs contain the best teams and doesn't penalize teams simply for their geographical location.
My take: Your concerns about lesser teams making the playoffs are valid. It was the same in the 1980s with divisional playoffs. The fourth-place team in the Norris Division was often way inferior in points than the last-place teams in the other three divisions. But the NHL is sticking to this. The top four teams in each conference will make the playoffs and that’s it. The league, from Gary Bettman on down, won’t tinker with that part. All that GMs have been asked to figure out at the March GMs meeting is what to do with the third round (final four) -- ensure East/West or reseed based on points.
jtconline:: Pierre, you will have to forgive us Wild fans. It seems that we (or our parents, and it became hereditary) watched too many “Hee Haw” episodes, and "gloom, despair, and agony" got in our blood. It makes us not notice that virtually every leaguewide media outlet on the net has had at least one feature article on the Wild over the past two weeks. After all, the 11th Commandment of many Minnesotans is "Thou shalt not let facts interfere with a good 'woe is me' moment." Therapy helps for some of us, but then a bit of success comes along, and Wham! a relapse. Time may help, but, as they say in Wadena, "You know, you never know."
My take: This wasn’t a rant, but I loved it. Two weeks ago, Wild fans were filling my Twitter feed with complaints that the Wild weren’t garnering national attention. Well, now they can’t get enough, right? If you keep winning in this league, people will notice. Now Mr. Wild fan, let’s focus on the glass half full, please!
artmabrey: Pierre, wrote in a couple of weeks ago asking you to sell me on the Columbus Blue Jackets for next year's season tickets. You sold me that a new goaltender would improve the team. The play of Sanford has helped of late, but it looks like this team needs to learn how to win. Lost on Thursday with two goals in 1:36 at the end of the third. Gave up two goals in the last 1:34 of the first period on Saturday. Does this franchise need to sign Charlie Sheen to learn about "winning"?
My take:Hey, they’re sort of playing better of late, right? OK, 4-4-2 in their past 10 isn’t much to write home about, but it’s a step up from their dismal October. What I find encouraging for the Jackets is that I see hustle and desire despite what is obviously already a lost season. That tells me there are still enough players on that team who want to stick around and who care.
127 Taringa: : How much longer until Canadians have body contact eradicated from the game?
Canadians seem far too interested in having their national game match Canadian values -- if you wouldn't do it on the street why would you do it on the ice.
With the new politically correct headshot ban, players will learn to ensure they keep themselves in a vulnerable position so they can't be hit or at least a chance to draw a penalty by diving/faking an injury. Worse yet is players are increasing the chances they will sustain an injury. Other players and coaches are soon going to adapt and not bother with contact at all. Watching this morph into a no-hitter is painful.
My take: Well, there’s always one head-scratcher every week, and we found him here. A rant that makes absolutely zero sense. Oh by the way, Penguins GM Ray Shero was the leading proponent at the GMs meeting the last few years in the lobbying to eradicate head shots. Oh yeah, he’s American.
harold442: : Pierre, I'm officially calling for both Joe Sacco and Greg Sherman's heads in Colorado. The team is pathetic right now and they haven't changed a thing. The price paid for Varlamov was extremely high and now it’s about to burn the Avs in the worst way if they don't change course soon. The team has been at the cap floor for the past few seasons and the ownership shows no sign of caring. Can someone make Stan Kroenke sell the team to someone who cares?
My take: I don’t blame Avs fans for feeling this way. The Erik Johnson deal in particular is really haunting them. That Washington has Colorado’s first-round pick next June for Semyon Varlamov? Ouch. What’s dangerous is that if most Denver fans think like you, the marketplace could be lost. This was once an automatic sellout. Now they can’t give tickets away. That’s what is really scary.