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It's back. You know how it works: We present an NHL photo, and Bucci provides a caption. E-mail him your suggestions (include your name and hometown/state), and we will use the best ones and provide a new photo the following week.
"If you have a breakaway again, we prefer you dump it in the corner and not risk a turnover." (Courtesy: Getty Images)Your captions:
So, I have you down for the No. 7 General Tso's and an eggroll.
-- Dave Bentley (Arlington, Va.)
"I said I can switch your water bottle with the Molson behind my back." (Courtesy: Getty Images)
I'm one of those folks who was surprised by your selection of Rick Tocchet for the fourth Flyers spot. I didn't come along as a Flyers fan until the mid-90s, so Tocchet's glory days here aren't something that I experienced firsthand.
I agree no current Flyer should make the list, and that [Bobby] Clarke and [Bernie] Parent are locks. However, No. 4 has GOT to be Eric Lindros. Love him or hate him, he turned the franchise on its head and dominated throughout the '90s. His stats through those first five or six seasons were spectacular.
On pure numbers, Lindros is the most talented Flyer of all time, save maybe Bernie Parent. His 1.36 points per game is far and away the most prolific. I just thought there was too much off-ice stuff for Lindros to be immortalized in stone. But as Sean Maguire told Will Hunting, maybe "it wasn't his fault." This was not the only e-mail in support of Lindros.
You hit the nail on the head with Hextall. As soon as I reached Rick Tocchet's name, I said, "Whoa, where's Hexy?" I agree Rick is a great choice, but his name doesn't carry as much weight as Hextall's. Tocchet, to me, is in the same group as Rod Brind'Amour and Mark Recchi. They were great players and, more importantly, "great Flyers" (there's a difference), but it's hard to put them up there with the legends of Clarke, Bill Barber and Parent.
Love reading your column every week. I am a huge Flyers fan in my mid-20s. Even though he didn't win a Cup, Eric Lindros is my Bobby Clarke. I know things could have ended a whole lot better, but he single-handedly saw the team through one of its darkest periods in the early '90s and brought them back to the successful franchise we know and love. Some may disagree, but he's in my Mt. Rushmore.
More than any other team, Flyers fans had more reaction and opinion in my inbox than any other team. As I've said before, no NHL fans have more passion and make a more personal connection with the players they root for than Flyers fans.
As a lifelong Caps fan (36 years old, about as old as the franchise), I would have put Rod Langway up there instead of [Peter] Bondra, especially if you are less concerned with numbers.
Langway was a two-time Norris Trophy winner with the Caps.
You can't have a Mt. Rushmore in Washington without Mike Gartner. Olie the goalie is the odd man out.
Mike Gartner had just more than nine good years in Washington. That is a fair point. I'm sticking with Bondra. He played at least 200 more games with the Caps and scored 472 goals in Washington, 75 more than Gartner. I could see putting Gartner over Kolzig.
Here's a better choice for the Sabres' Mt. Rushmore than Pat LaFontaine: Dave Andreychuk. Andreychuk played more seasons in a Sabres uniform than LaFontaine, and Andreychuk also had great numbers (804 points in 837 games). Your assessment of LaFontaine was a good one, but I think Andreychuk deserves credit for his time and service in Buffalo.
That's a fair point.
|Pat Verbeek ... The Whale ... Brass Bonanza!|
Is there any way we can get Pat Verbeek up there for the Whale? I'm not sure whom to bump, Brind'Amour or [Eric] Staal, but it's also entirely possible that Verbeek was fierce enough to get himself added as the fifth player on the mountain, even if he had to check the other carvings aside to make the room.
I definitely thought about Verbeek after Ron Francis in recognition of the Whalers years. He was an amazing competitor, so fierce and fearless. He played only a little more than five years with Hartford, and that's what dissuaded me.
I fully realize that the Original Six franchises had to be ridiculously hard to choose players for. Too much history and all that. It's impossible for me to argue against any of the old-school Leafs, because I'm not old enough have seen any of them play. I loved Mats, and I was one of his greatest defenders over the years, but he's off my Rushmore now for his unforgivable and hypocritical turncoat move to Vancouver. I think a lot of Leafs fans would be devastated if Wendel Clark weren't on that Mt. Rushmore, though. I know I would.
Wendel Clark was one of those kinds of players for whom Mt. Rushmores were built.
Toronto in particular. I can't believe you left off Frank Mahovlich (nine All-Star selections, a Calder pick over Bobby Hull and six Cups), Syl Apps (five All-Stars in 10 years, a Calder, a Lady Byng and three Cups) and Max Bentley (Hart, two Art Ross, a Byng, three Cups and a couple of All-Stars).
Philadelphia: Tocchet over Lindros? I can't think of a single thing (other than staying healthy, maybe) Tocchet brought to the table that ever held a candle to what Lindros did for Philly.
N.Y. Rangers: Am I mistaken, or wasn't Brad Park the best defenseman in the NHL (not named Orr) every season he was in New York?
Interesting points from San Diego.
While I think [Andrew] Brunette and [Brent] Burns are inarguable, you CANNOT have a Wild Mt. Rushmore without Mikko Koivu. You cannot understate how much this guy is loved and admired by Wild fans for his work ethic, hockey IQ and two-way game. His grit, leadership and defensive game often have him being held up as the anti-Gaborik. He does all the little things that hockey die-hards appreciate and is scoring at almost a point-per-game clip this season.
See, this is one reason I did this. To learn. Now we understand Mikko Koivu's standing in Minnesota.
In light if your recent Mt. Rushmore column, let me try to shed some light on why Devils fans still have trouble saying the name Niedermayer.
Coming out of the lockout, our defense was a huge question mark. Scott Stevens had retired, and Scott Niedermayer and Brian Rafalski were free agents. Knowing that Nieds was one of the greatest defensemen of this era, Lou [Lamoriello, the Devils' GM] patiently waited for him to make his decision. Despite the fact that Lou offered him the maximum salary allowed under the new CBA, Nieds still left New Jersey to play with his brother in Anaheim.
Now, the fact that he left to play with his brother isn't what offends Devils fans. It's that he took so long to make the decision. By the time Lou knew Nieds wasn't coming back, he reallocated the Niedermayer money into Rafalski (money well spent) and the two next-best defensemen available on the market: Dan McGillis and Vladimir Malakhov. Everyone knows now how horribly those last two worked for Jersey. It took a full season (arguably two full seasons) to overcome those signings, which never would have happened if Nieds had been slightly more decisive.
No Lanny MacDonald on Calgary's Mt. Rushmore? 66 goals in 1982-83, and he's synonymous with the Flames' Cup-winning season of 1989. His mustache alone could be its own monument.
There was a lot of Lanny MacDonald sentiment, and he did have 100 goals in his first 135 games as a Flame. (WOW!) But his play tailed off after that, and he wasn't a major factor in the Flames' Stanley Cup win, but I can't measure how deep he sits inside the heart of your average Flames fan, so I can't get behind him.
Although my opinion of Markus Naslund may soften over the years (absence makes the heart grow fonder), I would definitely put Kirk McLean on the Canucks' Mt. Rushmore over him. McLean was a two-time Vezina finalist and one of the most consistent goalies in the league for seven to eight years, and he would have been the Conn Smythe Trophy winner in 1994.
Vancouver, British Columbia
I was surprised at the lack of support for Naslund from multiple Canucks fans. I thought those were some magical years. McLean did have 211 wins in net for Vancouver.
Thomas Steen has to be on the Winnipeg/Phoenix Mt. Rushmore. Someone who liked Winnipeg so much, he still lives there.
With all due respect, I must disagree with your New York Rangers choices. [Ed] Giacomin and Mess are locks, but then it comes down to Rod Gilbert, Andy Bathgate, Harry Howell and Brian Leetch. (Bathgate and Howell are finally having their numbers retired Feb. 22 against Toronto.) Gilbert is the franchise's all-time leader in games played and scoring, so I would think he is a lock, as well. Plus, he's been working in PR for the Rangers at every home game since he retired.
Ask any over-50 Rangers fan, and they'll tell you Bathgate was the best Ranger ever. I'm not 40 yet, so I can cast my vote for Leetchie. Howell also won a Norris, but that was a six-team league, and neither Bathgate nor Howell ever won a Conn Smythe (and thus a Cup).
[Mike] Richter is a great guy, but many feel the Rangers shouldn't have even retired his number (especially before Bathgate!). A "second Mt. Rushmore" would have Bathgate, Howell, Richter and Graves. So, I'd go with Gilbert, Mess, Giacomin and Leetch (in that order).
Mike Richter got no love from Rangers fans.
I'm a huge fan of your work, your passion, desire and promotion of our great sport. However, I am very surprised that you had Pavel Bure on the Florida Panthers' Rushmore list and not John Vanbiesbrouck! Beezer carried the Panthers to the Cup finals in 1996 and made them a viable team during the franchise's first five years.
Upon further review, I probably should have included Beezer. He trails only Roberto Luongo by two wins in the franchise's history, and Luongo never appeared in a playoff game during his Panthers career.
Though not worthy of being carved in Mt. Rushmore stone, nonetheless important in the history of hockey: Petr Klima's tape job on his stick, the shin pads of Craig Ramsay, Mike Foligno's helmet and Per Djoos' name alone.
"Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and however early a man's training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly." -- Thomas H. Huxley
The following e-mail is from Doc Kelly, who spoke at Jack Falla's funeral Mass. Kelly recently skated in the backyard that helped inspire Falla to write passages like the one above. This is Doc's e-mail on his backyard skate at the Falla home.
The day that we spent on Jack's rink, courtesy of son Brian's hard work and long hours getting it ready, was a great, great day. Barb, Brian, Tracey, her two children, Demetre and Ella, and Jane Falla, wife of Jack's brother Patrick, and their younger son Aidan and I all got in about two hours of good skating before the warm weather softened the ice. Kim, Brian's wife, took pictures and movies as the "documentation expert." It was the kind of day Jack loved -- everyone skating together, playing a makeshift game, passing and shooting at will and pausing to have chats with one another before moving on to the next person. As Jack said, he built the rink to be with the people he loved. Brian has now assumed that role.
Jack was always kind of on the periphery of what was happening during this kind of day. He certainly skated and participated, but he was often in the background, making meals, scraping ice, getting pucks and changing music. He was not one to linger and have heart-to-heart talks with anyone in that kind of environment. The rest of us, however, are comfortable doing that.
So, although it didn't seem as if he was there, it didn't seem as if he wasn't there, either, if that makes sense. I did not feel the void this time as I did when Brian and I were putting up the boards in the fall. I think the rest of us, in coming together since his passing, have filled that void in strengthening our connections with one another, but we have left room for Jack, too.
In the past, Jack was the facilitator for keeping the rest of us connected. Much of what we knew about each other funneled through Jack. Now, we are interacting directly. It feels good that way. So, although it is certainly not preferred, something good is happening within the family. I am just thankful to be part of it.
I miss him a ton, but the connections I have made with the rest of the family have thrown me the life ring I needed to accept his passing and move on. And, in moving on, I don't mean leaving him behind; I mean taking him with me.
As I told Brian, this past Saturday is already the front-runner for "Best Day" in the Christmas Book.
All the best,
Thanks to your recent column on outdoor rinks, I found myself thinking more about the days I spent growing up in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, than I have at any time since I left Speedy Creek 30 years ago. Every snowfall brought the hope that I would be excused from hearing about prepositional adjective phrases so I could help shovel our school's outdoor rink in order to keep our intramural hockey league on schedule.
Or, when it didn't snow, the hope was that I would be the lucky one who would get to flood the ice with a garden hose. Hard to believe I had so much fun standing outside for an hour when it was 10 degrees below zero. It was a sad moment when I saw the next lucky guy coming out to replace me. Thanks for stirring the memories, and here's hoping for a late cold snap to keep the ice hard for an extra week or two.
Things look bleak for any more outdoor skating. The sun is getting higher and the days longer, and the lack of a cold snap has us on standby. The one positive from the recent warm weather is the snow has melted and 26 pucks were retrieved from the neighbor's yard.
Longtime reader, first-time e-mailer. What do you think the chances are of the Habs' getting Bill Guerin from the Islanders?
Bill Guerin is 38 years old. He should finish with 20 goals this season, so he still has some hockey tape left on the roll. His contract is up after this season, so that makes it easy to trade him. Montreal could use a pure right winger such as Guerin, so there is a need. A downside to Guerin is that he has had just three goals in his past 23 playoff games.
Is it me, or does Sidney Crosby seem as if he's always trying to make that perfect play lately?
I've either written that in this space this season or thought about that while driving to work, Matt. It seems Crosby has turned the puck over more this season, especially on the power play. And it seems as though his desperation play has been in-and-out. I wonder whether he is injured or frustrated. But he ranks second in the league in scoring with very little offensive help. You wonder whether the coaching change will help.
John Tortorella seems qualified to deal with a team that is a bit top-heavy, but for now, it's Dan Bylsma. But then you wonder how much this change would really help. Losing Ryan Malone and Marian Hossa has proven too much to overcome, although they already were good before they got Hossa, and he played only 12 regular-season games for the Pens.
Perhaps as Sergei Gonchar eases back into an NHL pace, he can raise the Penguins a notch by simply returning them to elite power-play status. His presence helped Evgeni Malkin score 17 power-play goals last season. This season, Malkin has eight. The Penguins' power play was 20 percent successful last season; it is 16 percent successful this season.
Malone had 11 power-play goals last season for the Penguins. They miss his Pittsburgh Steelers personality around the net. They need that kind of player in front of the net; that's why I think Keith Tkachuk might be a good fit in Pittsburgh.
What do you think of the Kings' chances of making the playoffs? They seem to be in a nice groove right now. Finding a consistent goalie in Jonathan Quick certainly has helped.
I would put the Kings' chances at about 20 percent. That could change with a big trade, which is possible because they have so much cap space and assets to trade. If they don't make a trade, I think they will come up a little short.
"Wisdom doesn't automatically come with old age. Nothing does -- except wrinkles. It's true, some wines improve with age. But only if the grapes were good in the first place." -- Abigail Van Buren
You said last week the Senators are going to have some musical chairs, possibly this offseason with the big three, and need defense and goaltending. The Wild need a playmaking forward to replace soon-departed Marian Gaborik, and we have defense and goaltending. You see where I'm going with this.
I really like Niklas Backstrom, but I've already heard that Detroit and others will pursue him this offseason if he doesn't get a deal. I think based on the Wild's drafting a goalie last year and Josh Harding's being a good backup/possible starter, the Wild are already planning on losing Backstrom this offseason. What do you think are the chances of the Wild's dishing Backie for one of the big three? Let's not forget that since Backie came into the league, he is in the top three in every important goaltending statistic.
St. Paul, Minn.
I don't see Niklas Backstrom going anywhere. He is making $3.1 million this season and will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer. Unless he has the urge to play somewhere else, as Marian Hossa did this past summer, I don't see why he won't return to Minnesota. A five-year deal that averages around $4.5 million seems about right for him. One would think that would be a comfortable number for the Wild.
When will the NHL get it right and stop making teams wear their road jerseys at home? Am I the only one who finds this distracting? I can't stand to see the Red Wings at Joe Louis in red jerseys. Has there been any talk that you know of to switch back?
Terry F. Madden
I'm with you, Terry. It is something I will never get used to and just does not look right. Hockey teams were meant to wear white at home, and that's the end of the story. The NHL will be a better place the instant this long continental nightmare ends.
I have a couple of questions, mainly related to the San Jose Sharks. As a proud Sharks fan, it really pains me to see that Joe Pavelski is not being listed as a possible candidate for the USA's 2010 Olympic team. Pavs is a great player and puts up great numbers every season. He has a great set of hands and is an excellent passer and shooter. Am I going crazy thinking he has a shot, or does anyone else agree with me? Finally, do you see the Sharks making any deals at the trade deadline?
Los Altos, Calif.
I don't see the Sharks doing much at the deadline outside the obligatory "puck-moving depth defenseman." They look built and primed for a deep playoff run. The question remains as to whether they can beat the Red Wings. Evgeni Nabokov will determine that.
As far as Joe Pavelski, he has some Chris Drury in him. Both are about the same size, both are American and both shoot right-handed. Pavelski won a Wisconsin state high school hockey championship, was a member of the 2004 Clark Cup-champion Waterloo Blackhawks of the U.S. Hockey League and won an NCAA title with the Wisconsin Badgers. Pavelski is the kind of player who would receive a lot more attention as a valuable role-type player or Drury-type winner if he were to play on a higher-profile NHL team, especially in the East. Players such as Pavelski are why the Sharks are where they are.
So, you probably heard the news that Blink-182 is reuniting. I know that you're a big Angels and Airwaves fan, so what do you think the new Blink album will be like, and could you compare their reunion with a hockey moment? I'm a huge Blink and Penguins fan, so I sort of feel it's like Mario Lemieux's announcing he was going to come out of retirement. Thoughts?
There is currently a debate on the Stars blog on www.dallasnews.com regarding the Tippett mustache. We need your sage advice: Should he bring it back? Should he let it be? If he brought it back, would it stand a chance against the Q-Stache? Please help!
I look at Dave Tippett's face as a foster home for 'staches. It was meant to house a homeless 'stache. Some faces are built for a 'stache, and some are not. In its prime, Tippett had a formidable 'stache, but I would put his 40-yard dash time at 4.8. The powerful Q-Stache comes in at 4.6.
My roommates and I are currently enjoying our first year as Bruins season-ticket holders (Section 306, Row 15, baby!), now that all of us have "real" post-college jobs. Seems as though we got in at a good time, as I'm sure bandwagon fans will buy them up for next season.
Last night at a season-ticket holders event, I had the grand pleasure of meeting and shaking hands with the great Mr. Neely. ("Please, call me Cam.") The guy is a class act all the way. He might not play anymore, but we Bruins fans are thrilled to still have him in the organization. We talked briefly about the current team. Asked him how it felt to finally have a team again that plays with some of his toughness and fire. He chuckled and said it was about time. One thing I admire about Neely is his honesty.
Smile for the Cam.