Chat with Pierre LeBrun
Based in Toronto, LeBrun joined ESPN in September 2008 after spending 13 years with The Canadian Press as its national hockey columnist. LeBrun was also a contributor to Rogers Sportsnet and a regular guest on CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada."
Send your questions for now and join LeBrun in The Show on Thursday at 4 p.m. ET!
Brandon (Iowa City, IA)
It was announced today that Penguins coach Michel Therrien has once again shaken up his lines and split up Crosby and Malkin. Do you think the Pens are better off with them together, or centering their own lines?
Pierre LeBrun (4:00 PM)
OK puckheads, let's get this show on the road. I've got some diet colas to drink with some buddies after this so there's no time to waist!
Eric (Wash., DC)
Phil Kessel seems to get better and better everyday. What's the limit for this kid? Do you see 50+ goal seasons for him in the near future?
Pierre LeBrun (4:02 PM)
Let's start with Eric's question. Kessel is indeed on fire this season. I talked to Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli about him recently and it was clear that Kessel had showed up to camp this season cognizant of what he needed to deliver on and off the ice. There's a maturity that's showing here. I think 50 is pushing it for this season but I do see 35-plus. Great wheels and great vision.
Scott (Akron, OH)
In ref to your QOTW: I grew up watching Mario Lemieux, far and away my favorite player. If he stayed healthy and played as many games as Gretzky, would he have come close to his records?
Pierre LeBrun (4:04 PM)
Scott I think you saw your message on my blog as well. Good point by you on Super Mario. Had he only stayed healthy, I think he would have come the closest to threatening some of The Great One's records, no question. Mario at his peak was something to watch. I'll never forget when he split Ray Bourque and Adam Oates in the Prince of Wales final and roofed it on Andy Moog. Gorgeous. But that's the thing about greatness, in my mind it takes into account your health. That's why Wayne Gretzky is the greatest ever.
Garrett - Pittsburgh, PA
Is it possible for the Pens to trade Darryl Sydor before Ryan Whitney comes back and maybe send Jordan Staal with him and get a decent winger for Crosby in return?
Pierre LeBrun (4:06 PM)
There's not much of a market right now for Sydor. He's a great guy by the way. But Garrett the more relevant point you bring up is Staal. He's a restricted free agent at the end of the year. I think the Penguins will contemplate putting him on the market at some point. They can't have three centres all making big money.
Jason (Jackson, MI)
Pierre, my biased opinion says the Hossa-Datsyuk-Holmstrom line is the best in the NHL. Your thoughts?
Pierre LeBrun (4:08 PM)
Jason, no question. Not just because of their offensive magic, either. You're talking about a guy in Datsyuk who won the Selke Trophy last year and Hossa and Holmstrom are both two-way guys as well. Tough to beat that trio. One line that has done very well though his year is Saku Koivu between Alex Tanguay and Guillaume Latendrese. But they still don't compare.
Tom - Bayonne, NJ
Are the Rangers for real? They have the most points in the league, gotten 19 out of a possible 24 points, and are a win away from having the best 13-game start in franchise history, yet watching them, they seem to struggle for extended periods of time during games. The power play is ranked 25th in the league, and until Monday's game on Long Island, Chris Drury hasn't done much except lead the team in missed chances. Is it just a matter of time before they start coming back to reality or is just just a matter of time until the team actually starts to click?
Pierre LeBrun (4:10 PM)
Tough question Tom. The Rangers were a real enigma to a lot of the NHL people I spoke to in pre-season. So many roster changes, people didn't know what to expect. Usually a lot of roster changes requires a lot of time to find chemistry (Tampa, Columbus, for example). I can't answer your question for sure, I still want to see them play more before I make up my mind. But one thing must be said: I don't think Tom Renney, Mike Pelino and the rest of the staff get nearly enough credit for what they've done. This is a very responsible team that's really well coached.
Pierre, After having read the (heated) debate that began by your QOTW regarding rule changes, if you were to narrow down a list of potential rule changes and propose them to the NHL BOG, what would be your top 3?
Pierre LeBrun (4:14 PM)
Josh, believe it or not one of my propositions actually made it into an NHL GMs' meeting last February in Naples, Fla. My idea was to make the annual two-day GMs meeting part of the trade deadline. Maybe the first two days deal with rule changes, and the last two days with the actual wheeling and dealing. It's a total steal from baseball's winter meetings, where lots goes on and the media descends en masse to cover it. Some GMs, notably Jim Rutherford of the Carolina Hurricanes, told me he like the idea. But when commissioner Gary Bettman brought it up at the meeting last season, it didn't get much support. To make matters worse, the GMs meeting this year is AFTER the trade deadline so they'll be guaranteed to get ZERO covering. Sorry Josh, used your question to rant !
Charlie: (Boston, Mass)
What do you think of the way Tim Thomas is playing for the bruins... Do you think he'll last all year with this great success he's been having of recent and lead the bruins into the playoffs?
Pierre LeBrun (4:16 PM)
Tim Thomas just gets no respect. It's really amazing. Andrew Raycroft, Hannu Toivonen, Manny Fernandez _ they've all been annointed the starting goalie in Boston over the last few years only to have Thomas beat them out by the end of the year. I thnk the reason people don't think highly of him is because his technique, or lack thereof, is umpressive. Bottom line, he stops pucks. I love the guy and hope he makes the U.S. Olmpic team for 2010
Jake (STL, MO)
Pierre, Andy Murray's teams always seem to start hot and cool off. The Blues (and their PP especially) have looked sharp and they are proving a lot of pundits wrong in the early going. They have a good mix of kids and vets. Do you like the makeup of this team and can you see them staying in playoff contention til game 82?
Pierre LeBrun (4:17 PM)
Andy Murray is a great, great coach. The Blues won't lay too man eggs. But I still think they're a year away from making the playoffs. I hope they prove me wrong. One thing that could be interesting is whether they sign Brendan Shanahan. Blues president John Davidson told ESPN.com's Scott Burnside today that they are interested. Keep an eye on that.
Keith (Weston, Fl)
Hey pierre, die hard rangers fan here, fathers been a season ticket holder for 25 yrs, 10 of which we'v lived just outside of Ft lauderdale. What do you think are the rangers chances this year for making it out of the second round. Also, do you think this year is finally the year King Henrik wins the vezina?
Pierre LeBrun (4:19 PM)
Keith, I answered a Rangers question earlier but as for King Henrik, he'll definitely be in the mix again but unless Brodeur falls on his face, there's no way the GMs (who vote for the Vezina) won't give it him again in the year he breaks Patrick Roy's record for most all-time wins
Matt (Seattle, WA)
Rapid Fire Question- top 3 teams to relocate top 3 desinations (Please say Seattle!)
Pierre LeBrun (4:21 PM)
Matt: 1. Las Vegas 2. Las Vegas 3. Las Vegas. Hollywood mogul Jerry Bruckheimer wants a team there and he'll eventually get it. Although it might be through expansion as opposed to relocation. I, took, believe Seattle is a great hockey market, as proven by the long history with the WHL. But at this point Vegas is the hot ticket.
Scott (Manassas, Va)
How much will the iffy goal tending hold back the caps this year?
Pierre LeBrun (4:22 PM)
Scott, Jose Theodore is a streaky goalie. He'll drive you nuts when he's cold but when he's hot he's among the best in the NHL. The key is to get him hot come April and then you're laughing. But no question it's a concern.
cape cod dan
Good Afternoon, do you think the boston bruins have a chance to be a contender in the next couple years? or do you think jacobs(the worst owner ever!) going to dismantle all the young talent and sell them off?
Pierre LeBrun (4:24 PM)
Best thing the Bruins did over the last decade was hire Peter Chiarelli as GM. He knows his stuff. He's patiently building this team and they're headed in the right direction. They will challenge Montreal and Buffalo for the Northeast Division and defintely made the playoffs this season. They are on the right track Cape Cod Dan
Eric (Los Angeles)
My Kings don't look as bad as I thought (although there still is plenty of season left to disappoint me), what are your thought so far? Also, how much does playing in the Pacific (toughest division?) help us for the future?
Pierre LeBrun (4:26 PM)
Eric, I agree the Kings have also surprised me. The slow rebuild is painful but they've got some interesting young faces. Brown, Kopitar up front, Johnson and Doughty on defense, what's not to like? The key is to develop an elite starting goalie. If Jonathan Bernier is the real deal over the next few years, then you're talking. Otherwise it's the same old issue in LA
Matt (Grand Rapids)
Is there any chance that Hossa is in Detroit longer than just this season? Would he and Zetterburg take less money to make this happen?
Pierre LeBrun (4:27 PM)
Matt, Ken Holland is asking himself the same question. The Wings have three key UFAs _ Hossa, Zetterberg and Franzen. Zetterberg is priority No. 1. Then who knows. I know the Wings just love the way Hossa has quickly fit in and they will definitely talk to his agent come January. The only they can sign all three is if they trade someone else off their roster. And don't best against that.
Geoff (Albany, NY)
The Rangers have a lot of cap money already locked up in longterm expensive deals. How do you think they can keep their young guys when they become RFAs? Main concern would be Dubinsky next off season and Staal the yearafter that?
Pierre LeBrun (4:29 PM)
Lotsa Rangers love here today. Good question Geoff. Salary cap room can be attained through trades or buyouts but it's not easy if the rest of the league knows you're in a jam. Of concern is that the actual salary cap may not go up for the first time given the global economics. But as you saw with all the moves Glen Sather made last July, when there's a will there's a way. No one saw the Jackets deal coming.
Pierre LeBrun (4:33 PM)
Sorry Brandon, I messed up on your first question today and didn't click the right button. That's what happens when you let a French-Canadian moderate his own chat. You asked about the Penguins and whether or not I like Crosby and Malkin split up. YES. Just like I don't like when Ottawa puts Spezza, heatley and Alfredsson (rich man) all on the same line, I don't think it's effective _ long-term _ to leave 87 and 71 together. Makes it too easy for the other team to lineup its coverage. Spread the offense around. At times it's a nice short-term fix, and Therrien has used that well, but i know that he, too, prefers to spread his offense around.
Matt (Grand Rapids)
Player seem to constantly take less money to go/stay in Detroit. (Lidstrum, Stuart, Hossa, etc.) Why is that? I know they are always contenders but there are other good organizations out there. Are they that much better top to bottom than everyone else?
Pierre LeBrun (4:35 PM)
Matt, I think you answer your own question. Like the Patriots in the NFL. taking less is worth it for some players because of the allure of winning. Hossa left close to $90 million on the table from Edmonton in order to take a shot at the Cup in Detroit. But that's why it's going to be itneresting with Zetterberg, whom some people feel right now is the best player in the world. Sure he can $10 million on the open market in July, but he wont' get it in Detroit. Does he want to win and stay with the Red machine, or does he want the cash? We all saw what Nikolai Kkabibulin did after Tampa won the Cup. I don't think he would do that again if he had the chance.
NHL expansion is such a crazy idea. This is a league that has a half dozen teams that aren't on solid financial footing and you want to expand! Just because Gary Bettman is delusional and had forced hockey into Southern markets doesn't mean you should dring the kool-aid too.
Pierre LeBrun (4:36 PM)
Galen, put the gun down. It's ok. We're all family here. Never did I ever say I was pro-expansion. I was just explaining that the NHL loves Vegas as a potential market. That's all. If you asked me, we'd have 21 teams again.
Travis, Northern Ontario
Pierre, will the true story ever come out about Jim Basillie and how the NHL has bullied/kept him out of the legue thus far? I ask cause there has been hardly any mention of Jim's cash flow help to Nashville.
Pierre LeBrun (4:39 PM)
Travis, my fellow Northern Ontario native. God love ya. I can't share everything I've been told about the whole Balsillie thing but here's a bit. He's paying for the way he acted last year. Taking season-ticket deposits in Hamilton, Ont., when the NHL hasn't even approved you yet as an owner wasn't very smart. You have to play nice to get in with these boys. There's no question he's a passionate hockey fan with loads of cash. Him and have at least one thing in common then (not the second one). His chance may come again one day but next time he'll need to play nice.
Thanks for finally giving the Bruins some positive press Pierre! I'm not sure what to make of Bergeron's return yet. He looks healthy, he plays healthy, but he can't find the back of the net. What is your prediction for his end of the year point totals?
Pierre LeBrun (4:40 PM)
Great to see Bergeron back in unfiorm. I feared his career was over. It is interesting how Simon Gagne (also out last year with concusssion) has re-discovered his touch much more quickly. Just a question of timing with Patrice. He'll be ok. I predict 20 goals and 50 points.
I'm pretty concerned about the Lightning offense at the moment. It seems like we do not take enough shots on goal to create some scoring chances. SHOULD I be concerned? Or should I just be patient? Thanks Pierre.
Pierre LeBrun (4:42 PM)
Well, I would be concerened about your team's playoff chances Perry. I picked them to miss them and I think I will be proven right (Scott Burnside will owe me $50). Also of interest is that Vinny Lecavalier, one of my favorite players in the league, was in Toronto this week and didn't hesitate to tell us at the morning skate Tuesday that he thought he wasn't playing enough. He wants to play 20-21 minutes. he played 16 last Saturday and 17 in Toronto. Gulp. Hope coach Melrose realizes he's got to keep his captain happy!
Garrett - Pittsburgh, PA
Pierre, Matthew Barnaby didn't seem to think yesterday my Pens have a legit chance to make it deep into the playoffs this year, but I think the Rangers will drop off as well as the Flyers giving us another division title...Can they win the East again? My only fears are Boston and Montreal...
Pierre LeBrun (4:45 PM)
Garrett, the key to me is Sergei Gonchar. They miss him SO MUCH. He led the team in minutes played last seaosn and I don't think people realize just how much he factored into their play. Not just PP like many think but transition game, getting out of their zone safely, matching up against opponent's top line, etc... If he's back in Feburary or March and he gets his timing back and his legs under him, then that's huge for them. Otherwise, they may struggle to go far in the playoffs.
Jim (Detroit, MI)
Admit it, Milbury and Strachan don't like each other much do they? Watching the four of you on the Hot Stove is a bit uncomfortable sometimes. I know you can't post this question, but I just felt like writing. Great job on CBC!
Pierre LeBrun (4:45 PM)
Jim, no comment :)
Pierre, can you set Bucci straight and let him know there is no way that the Wings let Zetterberg hit free agency? I can see there being issues with keeping Hossa, but it's been stated that Franzen loves being in Detroit and wants to play there for a long time.
Pierre LeBrun (4:46 PM)
Tom, I'd be shocked if Zetterberg wasn't re-signed. But then again, I've been wrong before !
cape cod dan
Which division in your opinion looks the strongest this season? and which conference?
Pierre LeBrun (4:47 PM)
I have a tie for best division _ Atlantic and Pacific. Best conference remains the West. But the tide iss starting to finally shift. Kinda like the NFL!
Pierre, I find it amusing that the last few prominent free agents to leave Detroit for more money have struggled. Bertuzzi, Schneider and Martin LaPointe all went elsewhere looking for more money while Detroit continued winning Cups. Don't you think that's reason enough for players to stay in Detroit?
Pierre LeBrun (4:48 PM)
Tom, in general I agree. But sometimes there are personal reasons for players needing a change of scenery. Can't blame them if that's the case.
Pierre- Do you think the Devils will make a trade and help out Brodeur? Gionta is an UFA and Parise can't carry the offense all year. Maybe a puck moving D-man?
Pierre LeBrun (4:49 PM)
Mike, Lou Lamoriello keeps his card very close to his vest. Funny how you don't hear a lot of trade rumours with the Devils and then suddenly, poof, there's a deal. He's a throwback. But if you're asking me to guess, I believe Loui will take stock of his team in the New Year and if goals are again an issue, he'll try to make a deal.
Pierre, I get no Thrashers coverage (and I can't blame the media, b/c ATL is not a hot hockey town)...PLEASE HELP!!! I'm a HUGE Thrashers fan, is there a chance they relocate (tell me no)? Also, on a scale from 1-10, how bad are they?
Pierre LeBrun (4:51 PM)
Jim, at this point no team in the NHL is being threatened with relocation. At this point. They're not a great team this season Jim but I like the deal Don Waddell made for Hossa last February. He recouped a lot of assets and then will help this team turn it around again.
I hear too much bout him but, Could a 2nd line of Havlat and Sundin be possible soon?
Pierre LeBrun (4:52 PM)
Windy City _ I can tell you the Hawks have contacted the Sundin camp. Of course, they're not alone. Nearly a dozen teams showing interest. Chicago would ahve to move some salary to get it done. Right now I don't see them as a favorite to land him though.
Ron from San Diego
Hey Pierre. Love reading your stories. When is Mats going to sign? Good talk.
Pierre LeBrun (4:54 PM)
Nice to see Mr. Burgundy is a hockey fan. Right now Sundin is working out in LA. In fact his agent J.P. Barry just flew there today and he's going to see Mr. Sundin. Interesting that Vancouver plays the Kings tonight, eh? Vancovuer's $20-million, two-year offer remains ont he table... I suspect Sundin, if he finally decides to return which I think he will, will return with an NHL team in early December.
Travis, Northern Ontario
Pierre, did you go to college/university up here or down South, where?
Pierre LeBrun (4:55 PM)
Travis, I went to Carleton University's School of Journalism in Ottawa some 15 years ago. Not that I can really remember though.
SprungOnSports (Long Island)
Do you think anyone will realistically challange Washington in a weak southeast?
Pierre LeBrun (4:56 PM)
You know what I've watched Carolina's last few games and they've impressed me given all the injuries they have. If they can get some bodies back over the next few months and hang in there, they may be dangerous.
Pierre, when or who owner wise will push to go across the pond to have a NHL club in Europe? I see George Gillette or Tom Hicks since they own a Football/Soccer club over there already and could sell their Northern American club easier!
Pierre LeBrun (4:57 PM)
Travis, one day I believe it will happen. Maybe 10 years from now. People love the game in Europe.
Marie: (San Francisco)
What do you make of the sharks and their early success and of the job Todd McLellan is doing?
Pierre LeBrun (4:59 PM)
Marie, I picked the Sharks to win the Cup this year. McLellan was a fanstastic hire and Blake and Boyle were the missing pieces. The Wings remain the best team in the NHL but if anyone has a shot it's San Jose. A great start was important for San Jose, marie, because I think otherwise there would have been undue pressure on McLellan _ rookie NHL hea coach _ plus people would have started to talk about the Sharks not being for real again. I really like the way their team looks right now.
Pierre LeBrun (4:59 PM)
Ok guys, gotta run. Sorry I didn't get to all of your questions. You guys know your stuff. Until next week. Keep the questions coming !