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Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Rant answers: All-Star snubs, Isles' coaching change, Avery instigating

By Pierre LeBrun

The All-Star ballot snubs riled you puck heads up really good! Thanks for the great rants everyone. Here we go:

cwlare02: How in the world was Claude Giroux left off of the All-Star ballot!?! This guy dazzles night in and night out, even with opposing jerseys draped all over him (that is, when they can catch up to him). Imagine the show he'd put on in an offensively minded format like the All-Star Game...

My take: I had more than a dozen similar rants, insert different name, etc… Yes indeed, Giroux should have been on, same with Chris Stewart, Jimmy Howard, Carey Price, Loui Ericksson, and plenty more… Hey, the league needs to limit the ballot or else there would just be too many names. I understand that. But some of the snubs this year, especially, Stewart and Howard, are head-scratchers.

wmryan96: When can we substitute the mid-season NHL All-Star Game/Break with some other corporate boot-licking activity?

My take: There already is one -- the Jan. 1 Winter Classic. That’s why I would dump the All-Star Game if I were commissioner. Especially when there’s now a second outdoor game this season in Calgary, the Heritage Classic. There should be enough corporate shoes to shine at both outdoor games so that we don’t need the All-Star Game anymore. But maybe that’s just me.

musicnowsleeps07: I'd like to know why all of these people care about the All-Star Game?

My take: Good question!?!?

Whalers_in_2020: This isn't the NBA. Get Colin Campbell out now before officiating and discipline become a mockery. Never again can a controversial decision be made with any credibility. Casual fans will dismiss the legitimacy of the game. From now on, regardless of his past, Campbell's decisions will only serve to damage the sport.

My take: I got a few rants on this subject, as well, and no surprise there. First of all, I should underline that those e-mails are more than three years old and were already exposed last year in the Toronto Star during the Dean Warren hearing; not sure if most people understand that. So it’s interesting to see those same e-mails resurface in a blog this week. Second, the league released a statement Monday saying Campbell has the right to be candid in league e-mails about players because of the job he does as disciplinarian, and, on that point, I agree. But… you knew a but was coming, I think Campbell should know better than to involve his son Gregory in any form or capacity in any league business or communication. In my book, there’s no excuse for that. Zero. And believe me, Campbell knows that and will never, ever make that mistake again. He’s also been a lot more careful with e-mails since the Warren hearing. But as for Campbell’s character, I’ve known him for a long time and sometimes “Colie-speak” confuses those who don’t speak it. He’s a quirky man. While I don’t always agree with his reasoning or his decision-making on league discipline, I know him to be an objective person who cares about the game a great deal. Perhaps the most telling thing is that there are 30 GMs who vouch for him and those are the same guys who get angry at some of his discipline decisions. But I suspect no matter what the truth is, Monday’s buzz about those three-year-old e-mails will forever haunt Campbell.

LesHabs25: Everyone is focusing on the hot start by Jaroslav Halak and the Blues, but Carey Price has done as well if not better than last year's playoff hero Halak to start the season. Under tremendous pressure and scrutiny to start the year, they handed the job to a kid who had not taken the bull by the horns, per say, in the past given multiple chances to do so. He couldn't beat out Huet. He was badly outplayed by Halak. Now the kid is starting to shine. Have you seen some of the highlight reel saves he has made? People were writing him off, and what people don't realize is that the kid is only 23. Price is 10-5-1 with two shutouts and just finished a week beating the Canucks, Bruins and Hurricanes in succession. He didn't even make the All-Star ballot, Pierre? What gives? Can you or anyone outside la belle province give my man Carey some love? Sincerely, Robbie in New York

My take: Robbie, you’ll be happy to know I’m in Montreal as we speak to do a Carey Price story. It should be posted on Thursday. Because you’re right, he’s a heck of a story right now. There was a world of pressure on him in this hockey-mad city after the Canadiens traded the playoff hero, Halak. Price only had one single option to win back the fans here in Montreal -- win, baby, win. And he’s done that. Both Halak and Price are having terrific seasons, which is the best possible follow to the trade. Like I said, more on Thursday.

ArtfulMcDodger: How long is Washington going to wait to give Alexander Semin a contract extension? There is no doubt that he has been the best Alex on the team since the season started. And, unlike the Semin of past years, he's not needlessly playing from the penalty box! Are we going to see an extension for him, or are the Caps riding him out for trade fuel?

My take: Artful, as per terms of the CBA, players on one-year contracts cannot negotiate new extensions until the following Jan. 1. Hence the silence right now from the Caps and Semin’s camp. But I can tell you that Semin’s agent Mark Gandler told me last week he anticipated talks with the Caps once Jan. 1 rolls around, which doesn’t mean a deal will get done, but certainly there will be a conversation.

big_jim2211: As a lifelong Oiler fan, I am tired of the Oil fans that were screaming for a rebuild last year and now when we are full rebuild mode, infused with youth and a terrible D-core, they are throwing up their arms wondering where the effort is and constantly complaining that the team is playing poorly. It’s a rebuild people!! There are three rookies in the top nine and the average age in the top nine is 23 years old. When Ryan Whitney is your cornerstone D-man and your second pairing is guys who should be fourth or fifth D-men, we are gonna give up shots, chances and yes, GOALS, lots of them. Although this team is exciting to watch, don't expect them to come in and compete for the playoffs this year. If we can be fortunate enough this year to see some flashes of brilliance and be entertained and still have a shot at Adam Larsson in next years draft, the foundation will be better for it. Be patient and quit trying to have it both ways.

My take: Totally agree Big Jim. This is exactly what you should want if you’re a true Oilers fan -- another lottery pick. Imagine how stacked this team will look if they draft either center Sean Couturier, center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or defenseman Adam Larsson next June? What you’re cheering for if you’re an Oilers fan is one more stud, franchise player to go along with Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and the rest of the youthful core. So the team is losing right now. Big deal. Think of the big picture, Oilers fans!

lahockey_98: I'm actually concerned as a Kings fan that if they continue this great play, and maybe even make/win a Stanley Cup, that the Kings’ fan base will get overwhelmed by the Laker-esque bandwagon fans. Hockey in SoCal has always felt like a small club of enthusiasts, from the fans all the way to the team that has sort of adopted the underdog, small market personality, even though they operate in one of the biggest markets in the country. Right now, Kings games are a blast because everyone in the arena feels like we all know a secret that no one else in L.A. knows, that hockey is actually the best sport on the planet when seen live. I'd hate to lose that.

My take: So… you’d rather they go back to sucking? (Tough loss by the way Monday night in San Jose) Hey, you make a valid point about the bandwagon jumpers. They’re not fun to have around. I’m a diehard Dallas Cowboys fan. I know about bandwagon jumpers. They broke their ankle leaving us on the sinking Cowboys’ ship this season. The Kings are no longer a secret, live with it. Didn’t a certain ESPN.com hockey writer predict the Kings would win the Pacific Division back in his September preview? Just embrace the rise of the Kings. Ignore the rest.

crazedmathman17: The Islanders current 10-game losing streak pains me just as much as the next fan, but I have to say that the firing of Scott Gordon this morning truly angered me. Since the failed attempt to sign Ryan Smyth (which was not a bad move), GM Garth Snow has preached "patience" to Isles fans as they “build through the draft.” Undoubtedly, many fans had higher expectations than last in the East prior to training camp injuries to Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo. But given those injuries to two of their top three players (Tavares the other), Isles fans and their “Snow-preached-patience” were hanging in and NOT calling for Gordon's firing. His talent as a young coach in this league is evidenced by his role as an assistant to Team USA at this year's Olympics. It is simply devastating to watch Snow place this “blame” on Gordon prematurely as he tries to spark the team, as we fans must watch a team well under the salary cap, hindered by injuries to top players, knowing Alexei Yashin is still the highest paid person on the payroll. I have to say that I feel betrayed by the team's management, as we have endured two eight-game losing streaks during Gordon's tenure, but also watched the exciting development of young players like Tavares, Okposo, Josh Bailey, Andrew MacDonald, among others -- and now they cite “changing things up” and “making the playoffs” as reasons for dismissing Gordon. I must say, their lack of patience here reeks of hypocrisy. Smells a lot like Fish Sticks.

fladtheimpaler76: LOL. Pierre Pierre Pierre… I give UP. Just last week, I blew a gasket over DP. Now I come to see the Islanders brain trust has fired Scott Gordon. LOL. Gordon has hardly anything to work with. Didn't we learn from firing Stanley Cup Champion Peter Laviolette that the coach is NOT the problem!!! I like what Snow has done for the most part up until this morning. This firing reeks of desperation. I can only hope the root cause of this move wasn't over the handling of DP or my head will explode. Don't fault Gordon for wanting to roll the goalie that actually stops the puck.

My take: Two Islander rants to answer. Guys, don’t blame you for being frustrated. All Islanders fans must be. But I can tell you that I spoke with Isles GM Garth Snow on Monday, and he said the only reason for the firing was that the team truly needed a change after going winless in 10 games. Snow also told me it was a very difficult decision because he’s close with Gordon and says they remain close. But the GM felt this was needed to jolt the team. Snow also said the team was only six points out of a playoff spot and it wasn’t too late for a turnaround, so from that perspective, the change also made sense.

CDiercksen: How the heck does Sean Avery get away with that sucker punch? I woefully understand the brilliance it takes to be such an effective pest but at a certain point does it cross the line from “effective” to just plain dishonorable? The NHL needs to get over the revenue he brings into MSG with his sunglasses and suspend him for such reprehensible behavior.

My take: Sean Avery broke the unwritten rule regarding "rules of engagement" by waiting until Smid was looking away and punching him. But, I didn’t think it warranted a suspension.