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 (3:01 PM)
We're getting EJ!
Buzzmaster (3:06 PM)
EJ is here!
Seems like a smart move by Philadelphia giving a three year extension to GM Holmgren. That is one crazy deep team.
EJ Hradek (3:08 PM)
Yes. I agree. I think he's done a terrific job. They had a down year 3, 4, 5 years ago now and he showed real patience and smarts in going out and doing the things that he's done. Philadelphia has a really deep team. They're lucky there that they have good ownership in a good market. That's a well deserved raise and extension.
Matt.K (Durham, NC)
Should Sabres fans still have hope for a playoff run? What have you heard about the Sabres ownership change?
EJ Hradek (3:10 PM)
I think it will be really hard for them to make the playoffs this year. They're already behind the 8 ball with the start they had this year. In terms of the ownership, I would expect the sale agreement would be something that's announced around the all-star game, about 10 days from now. I have no reason to think that this will not go forward. They'll have a new owner and in any situation where you have a new owner, he will evaluate the entire organization and decide if he wants to make any changes. If you're a Sabres fan, I would say you'll have a new owner in the a short period of time.
Mario (Milwaukee, Wi)
It feels like it's all over for the Kings season or am I overreacting?
EJ Hradek (3:11 PM)
You are overreacting. I guess this is what happens when a team struggles in the past and has expectations raised. They had a great start and are still in the mix for a playoff spot. They're going to have be better on the road. But I'm not ready to throw in the towel. They're in the mix and just have to get their act together. A good place to start is tonight in St. Louis.
The Washington Capitals have been pretty streaky the last couple months. Much of the media grumblings have focused on the youth and inexperience of the goaltending however, I do not see this as the main problem. This is a team that seems devoid of any chemistry or drive. The most glaring hole seems to be on D. Do you see this team making any significant moves before the trade deadling or can I look forward to seeing these guys on the golf course come April/May?
EJ Hradek (3:13 PM)
If you look at the numbers, the Capitals' problem is in scoring goals. They're way down in goal scoring. Their PP is down. I think they're down to 2.8 gpg right now. This was a team that was scoring 3-3.5 gpg in the last couple of years. Ovechkin's goals are down. Backstrom hasn't scored a goal in 20 games. They're not scoring enough goals. That's the biggest problem for me. The level of competition they're facing in the division is dramatically better than it has the last 2-3 years.
Red Wings vs Pens tonight? What do you think about this one witll the injuries
EJ Hradek (3:15 PM)
I think it will be wildly competitive and entertaining. These two teams look at each other as a measuring stick. They have a lot of respect for each other. It is disappointing that a couple of the headliners will be out, but there are still a lot of star players that will be playing. They both know there is a possibility to see each other again down the road as in two of the past three seasons when they've met in the Finals. It will be a fun game to watch, despite the injuries.
Chizzie (Denver, Co)
EJ I hate the rule thats says a team to loses, in OT or SO, gets a point. I think you shouldn't reward a team for losing. Is there any chance the NHL will take this way soon? Also I would love for the Shotout to go away too. Am I in the minority on thses issues?
EJ Hradek (3:16 PM)
You're in the minority....with me. I would love to see it change. There is no mood to change it. There is no appetite to change it. This is an artificial way to keep teams close in the standings, keep them alive longer. We'll just have to live with it. That's the only way to say it. I wish it was just wins and losses. That would be a better way for fans to grip on to the standings on a day to day basis.
Should Pittsburgh fans be concerned with the slow recovery by Crosby from his concussion? Originally it was thought he would only miss around a week.
EJ Hradek (3:18 PM)
I think any time you're dealing with a head injury and a concussion issue, there's always a reason for concern. We've seen in the past that these injuries are not predictable. Some guys have a couple of days and they're better. Some guys need a lot longer than that. We're just finding out what the lingering effects of this is. If I'm a Penguins fan, I hope that he gets better and gets on the ice soon. It's a staggering loss to have him out, both for the league and the Penguins. But with head injuries, the one thing we know is that we don't know.
Matt (Toronto, ON)
Who will be Leafs next "saviour?" Anything on the horizon? Does Giggy have much value as an expiring contract for a contender needing goalie insurance?Keep up the good work and thanks for the chat!
EJ Hradek (3:21 PM)
Any time you have an expiring contract in the salary cap era, a team that needs goaltending help, if he's playing well, you're more attractive. You just don't know if a guy's going to get hurt. As for the first part, I don't think there is any quick fixes. There are no saviors on the horizon. They have to be smart with their moves. I think they really injured their long term goals in the Phil Kessel trade because they gave up some really high draft picks to get a guy, I feel, is more of a complementary player than a core player. They just have to draft and develop.
Ken (Minn, Minn)
Todd Richards, good coach? Might someone else get more out of the Wild?
EJ Hradek (3:23 PM)
I think he's done OK. He's in his first job as an NHL head coach. I don't think he's been dealt any kind of championship hand in terms of his roster. It's not like the Wild are loaded with players and he's not getting anything out of them. He has a hodge-podge group. The Wild are what they are. I don't think Todd has done a poor job or a terrific job. I think he's done about what was expected with the players he has there. I've heard him mentioned as someone who is under fire. I feel bad for him, because I don't feel like this is a team that's underachieved.
Doug (San Jose)
Is Scotty Nichol suspended for 4 games?
EJ Hradek (3:24 PM)
I think those kinds of hits to the head that we saw in that instance, they do need to be dealt with in a firm way. I don't have a problem with that, but I wish the league would give out 4-5 game suspensions. They only way you're going to get the message out to the players is to have these kinds of suspensions. I was glad to see it, but I think I would like to see the league give out more serious and significant suspensions in these instances.
Kevin (Calgary, AB)
The 'rebuild' seems to be en vogue right now. Teams like the pens, hawks, caps and to a lesser extent the kings got very lucky when it came to draft picks panning out. Is it still possible in this day in age for teams to reuild via trades and ufa signings?
EJ Hradek (3:28 PM)
I think it's really hard to do it now through free agency and trading. The top free agent players get signed by their teams. Look at the last couple of years, as we're deeper in this collective bargaining agreement, it's been very rare that a high end player that has no warts -- character issues, injury problems -- get to ufa status. Because of that, you're not really getting a shot at top players to build your franchise with. I think you can make smart signings to complement what you do with your drafting and development. You could probably make a trade or two that complements that as well, but in a salary cap world, the core of your team has to be in the drafting and developing of players. If you're not doing that, then you won't have a shot at the high end players in free agency, where you're going to have to overpay a player to get him. In this system, drafting and developing is really the core way to build your team. The other moves are just complementary ways of making it work.
Does anyone else think Lindros is sitting at home right now, watching the NHL suddenly crack down on head shots and worrying about concussions, and thinking of what might have been had he been born in 91 instead of 71?
EJ Hradek (3:30 PM)
I think they're doing what they can, no question, but you still have injuries. Hockey is a high speed game, a contact sport, a physical sport. I don't know if he would have been any better off today than he was during his career. He had a tendency to get his head down at times. I think those blows are still a part of the game today. The league enacted Rule 48, with blindside and lateral blows to the head. But look around, we still have guys getting hits to the head. I don't know if Eric would have faired any better today than he did during his playing career.
Well the streak is over. What is next for my Coyotes? Huge game tonight vs Nashville. Do we win it? Also, are the Coyotes back in the postseason this year? Thanks.
EJ Hradek (3:31 PM)
It's funny, I've said this repeatedly this year. There are so many teams in the middle of the standings and are battling for playoff points. For both teams in that game tonight, they're both in the same boat -- they need the points. They have to put the last game behind you. It's tough to put things in the rearview mirror quickly and move forward, night in, night out. They have to be ready to go when the puck drops tonight, because these are two important points for both.
EJ Hradek (3:33 PM)
The league and the all-stars voted to elect Staal and Lidstrom as captains and as such will be electing the teams for the all-star game. I think they couldn't have done a better job. Eric has gained some stature in the game and I don't need to say anything about Lidstrom. Two excellent choices. Congrats to both. We'll see you next week.