Chat with EJ Hradek
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN The Magazine's EJ Hradek will stop by to chat about the NHL season.
Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.
Keep up with what Hradek has been up to through his blog on ESPN.com.
Send your questions now and join EJ to chat Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (2:57 PM)
EJ Hradek will be here in a few minutes to take your questions!
Buzzmaster (3:09 PM)
Hang in there everyone. We're still waiting on EJ.
Buzzmaster (3:11 PM)
Hey gang, EJ's just finishing something up. He'll be here at 3:30 p.m. ET, about 20 minutes.
Buzzmaster (3:31 PM)
EJ is here!
E.J. will Rick DiePietro ever be a force in the NHL again or does that ridiculous contract look even more ridiculous?
EJ Hradek (3:34 PM)
First things first, I don't know if he's ever been a force in the NHL. He's a first overall pick. He was on the way to being one of the best goaltenders in the league, but he's been beset by injuries. I talked to Garth Snow today and they hope that the swelling has gone down. It's a huge concern because he's missed a lot of time the last couple of years. With the contract that he has, he's locked in there for many years. At this point, it's day to day for him. He's got to focus on getting healthy and then being able to play a run of games to find his way again. Until we see that you have to be concerned about the future of his career.
hi ej do think the coytes will make the playoffs and sold soon
EJ Hradek (3:36 PM)
I think they're going to make the playoffs. They seem to be well on their way to making the playoffs this year. That's good news. I think they'll be a real headache for anyone they play in the playoffs. That's the good news. The bad news, I'm at the GM meetings down in Florida and I was discussing it with some people, is that there's only one group that's come forward with interest to purchase the group, but they don't have a real strong financial base. You'd hope, if you're the league, for some other bidders coming forward and has more financial wherewithall. I think from that standpoint we still have a long way to go.
Chioke Hassan (Baltimore,Md)
Dear EJCould you see this being the last time the NHL sends there players to the Olympics?
EJ Hradek (3:38 PM)
I could see that. I think it will be a bone of contention over the next couple of years of whether the league goes back and participates in the Olympics. There are a lot of different elements to this that has to be thought through. Some of the players are interested. When you get a situation in Vancouver, it was a perfect storm for hockey. But you have some players that have lingering injuries from the Olympics. That's just one of a number of issues that come into play when you talk about the league participating. And there's a world of financial issues of what the league can get for sending their players to the games. I think it will be discussed over time. In the end, it's going to get worked out, but at this point, it's too early to be certain.
its a ______% chance the Blues make the playoffs
EJ Hradek (3:39 PM)
I give them more of a chance today than I might have 7-10 days ago following the Olympic break. But it's tough because it's very competitive in that group. They've been on the outside looking in, but they're getting closer. It will be a battle for them.
Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)
EJ, would the presence of injured Team USA players Martin, Komisarek and Booth have changed the outcome of the Olympics any? On one hand, the team did have great chemistry with the the guys they brought, but on the other hand Ryan Whitney (one of the replacements) did not play well a'tall and had a hideous turnover on the Perry goal in the gold medal game and did not play much after that.
EJ Hradek (3:41 PM)
There's always room to say if they had this player or that player they could have won. But they did play well and were in the gold medal game. However another good solid forward that can score goals like Booth, absolutely it would make a difference, but enough to win the gold medal game? Hard to say. They definitely would have been helpful to have.
Having just seen the Olympics and the international rules work to provide great hockey. Do you think it is time for the hits to the head rule and no touch icing? I have to say I thought the no touch icing worked great and more guys actually get hurt from that then hits to the head, it needs to be in the NHL.
EJ Hradek (3:44 PM)
About no-touch icing, the one thing I learned is that it does change the way teams defend. Slovakia wanted to play a real defensive game and clog up the neutral zone. If they can make the teams give up the puck before the red line, they can get the puck out of their zone. That was a real part of their game. I came away from that not being a fan of that. The no head shots rule is different. I think they are trying to come up with a way to deal with this. THey want to make their players as safe as possible. I think tomorrow, we'll get some formal announcement from managers of a recommendation about it, which will be sent to the competition committee and then on to the board of governors. I would suspect that we will see something that will come out about their plans for head shots in the NHL.
I think 96 points will get you into the playoffs in the west. You got the under or over?
EJ Hradek (3:45 PM)
That's a lot of math, but I will say that it will be a day to day process. It will be a tight race until the end. I would suggest that if you want to be in the playoffs, you better finish with more points than the team in ninth place. It's hard to say an exact number of points, but you need to focus on what's in front of you, to steal a cliche.
Bill (Washington, DC)
EJ, do you see the Red Wings making the playoffs? I worry about their goalie situation: Howard has looked pretty shaky recently and Osgood hasn't started in weeks.
EJ Hradek (3:47 PM)
I think so. There might be a circumstance where I've seen the Red Wings so successful over the years, you just take it for granted that they find a way to make the playoffs. They have a very big game tonight against Calgary. They're right in the battle with them for a playoff spot. My suggestion for them is if they want to be one of those teams in the playoffs they win tonight.
How long do you think Matt Cooke should be suspended for the hit on Marc Savard?
EJ Hradek (3:49 PM)
I think there should be a substantial suspension for Matt Cooke. This is a guy that's been a repeat offender. He's been involved in a hit like this before. I would like to see double digits. In talking to players, when they're candid about these things, they say maybe we need longer suspensions. The players really get the message, once you send it to them that this is a serious deal. They'll react differently. In this case, I thought it was a real dirty play where he targeted a player when he was vulnerable.
Did Turco win back the starting job last night?
EJ Hradek (3:50 PM)
I don't know if he really ever lost it. I think they've just been going whoever's playing well. Turco had some games before the break where he was terrific. That's why they didn't trade him by the deadline. They went to Turco and he came up with a great performance. Right now, the net is Marty Turco's. If he continues to play well, he'll stay in there, if not, they'll change it up again.
Lucas (White Plains, NY)
How bad is Gaborik's Injury and will the Rangers be able to make a run into the playoffs?
EJ Hradek (3:51 PM)
I was told that it's not a huge injury, but it was enough that he had to sit out a couple of games. But any team if you lose a star player, it will be a factor. The Rangers who struggle to score that will hurt when he's not in the lineup.
Do you think it will be a pens blackhawks final, with Marian Hossa losing in the finals for a third time in a row?
EJ Hradek (3:53 PM)
I think a Pens-Blackhawks final would be wildly exciting. It would be great fun for hockey fans. Two teams with skilled guys. As far as Hossa, I have to say I kind of hope that he wins a Cup some time. He plays a great two-way game. He leads the league in short handed goals. I hope he wins a Cup at some point. He signed with the Blackhawks to win. He wants to win.
Tony (Norfolk, VA.)
How good are the caps ever since trade deadline?
EJ Hradek (3:54 PM)
I think they've been OK. I think they can be a lot better and I think they will be better when the games are more important to them. In some ways it's been tricky for them because they've had such a big lead in their division. This is a really good hockey team and they made some changes at the deadline that I think will help them. I don't think there's any doubt that they'll be a factor in the playoffs.
Brian (Chicago, IL)
If the Red Wings make the playoffs as the last seed and play Chicago in the 1st round, do you see Chicago making it past the 1st round? Goaltending is going to be their major concern.
EJ Hradek (3:56 PM)
I think that would be a really entertaining series. It will be a real test for the Blackhawks, playing Detroit as the favorite. It would be a lot of fun for fans. If you want to win the Cup, sometimes it's nice to have a little bit of a pass, but I say if you're going to win it, you might as well take on the best teams. It would be a hard matchup for the San Jose Sharks as well if they're the 1 seed out West.
Eddie (Hoboken, NJ)
Worried about the Devils? I am...
EJ Hradek (3:57 PM)
I think there's reason for concern. They haven't been playing well for a while now. After a terrific start to the season, the Devils were right at the top of the league. But they have struggled. They're trying to figure out what they need to do. I would have concern.
EJ Hradek (3:57 PM)
Thanks for the great questions. We'll do it again next week!