Chat with Scott Burnside
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com's Scott Burnside will stop by to chat about the NHL's latest news and events.
Before joining ESPN in 2005, he was a reporter for the Windsor Star and Toronto Sun. Burnside has won numerous awards, including the 1990 National Newspaper Award, and also co-authored the best-selling true crime book "Deadly Innocence" in the mid-1990s. He is based in Atlanta.
Send your questions now and join Burnside on Thursday at noon ET!
Scott Burnside (12:00 PM)
Greetings all. As usual no shortage of puck topics to kick around today. Now, where were we?
With the rash of dirty hits leading to suspensions early this season, do you think that the NHL needs to do something different in it's enforcement of player safety. Looks like Jon Scott is going to get 5+ games for his dirty hit last night (given the in-person hearing), but will that really change the way that he plays? Will he be reformed by a 10 game suspension? Again, probably not. Obviously this is a CBA issue, and the NHL can't label players as goons, but maybe he would not put other players' livlihood at stake if his were as well.
Scott Burnside (12:03 PM)
John; Not surprising but quite a few questions/comments on John Scott's blind-side hit on Loui Eriksson in Wednesday's game. The one thing I will say is that the league has been a lot more vigorous in offering in-person hearings this season than last season which allows the league to levy longer suspensions. And we've seen a handful of them so far; Lapierre, McLeod, Garbutt and now Scott who I assume will go for at least five. But at some point I think the league has to start punishing teams who employs these players. Mario Lemieux mentioned it a few years ago acknowledging that they would have been subject to paying fines for Matt Cooke's actions. I think that's an idea that needs to be revisited and sooner than later.
Dom (Brooklyn, NY)
Hey Scott, Do you think Ray Shero and the Pens are actively looking for a backup goalie? If so, who would be the best fit?
Scott Burnside (12:05 PM)
Dom; I don't think so. I think cap issues and the fact Marc-Andre Fleury is playing well and they need to find out what kind of goalie Jeff Zatkoff is going to be takes most of the urgency out of the equation. Now, come the end of January when Tomas Vokoun's status will become more clear then I think you'll see Shero move to acquire a veteran netminder if Vokoun isn't going to be able to rejoin the team. Ryan Miller? Ilya Bryzgalov? Jonas Hiller depending on what happens in Anaheim? Stay tuned.
Kevin (Chicago, IL)
Scott - What do you make of the Red Wings? On paper and vs. some top teams like Boston, we look like a Cup contender. Then other nights like last night vs. Ottawa or Phoenix, we look lost. Whats you take?
Scott Burnside (12:07 PM)
Kevin; Yes, weird up and down start for the Wings. Injuries continue to dog them and for a team that relies on a kind of blue line by committee it doesn't take much to upset the rhythm there. Not sure Stephen Weiss is completely comfortable yet - I remain skeptical he'll be the kind of point-producer the Wings expect him to be - combined with a completely new conference of teams and different style of play from the west and I think it adds up to uneven results. Lots of time though for Mike Babcock to get this team into a groove.
Are the Avs a playoff team? Maybe better question, can they keep up the good playing?
Scott Burnside (12:09 PM)
Will; As big a story as the Avs are now it might even be a bigger one if they don't make the playoffs. Lots can happen, of course, but as long as the goaltending tandem of Giguere and Varlamov continues to consistently deliver quality starts they should be a playoff team. It will be interesting to see what happens when they hit the skids for the first time. In the past they (and lots of other bad or developing teams) can't put the brakes on. That's the question for this Avs team; can they stop a two or three game winless streak from becoming five or six? Right now I would say yes, they are that kind of team.
I turned on the Pathers-Blackhawks game the other night and expected to see the Hawks dominating, but what I caught was a gritty comeback in the third period. Do the Panthers have some real talent (fianlly) or was that a fluke?
Scott Burnside (12:11 PM)
Bob; Combination of things I think. 'Hawks aren't really in sync offensively yet. Joel Quenneville moving things around trying to get a handle on where Brandon Saad best fits, Brandon Pirri and the Panthers do have some talent. People forget given the team's poor play and injury issues last season that they actually won a Southeast Division two years ago. Now, given the issues with Tim Thomas's durability can they stay close enough to keep gathering points? That's the big unknown and a big test for Jakob Markstrom.
is this just another slow start by Iginla (as he has know to have often) or has father time officially caught him?
Scott Burnside (12:13 PM)
Eric; Fair question although the times I've caught the Bruins thus far Iginla is doing a ton; creating chances, making plays but just not scoring. I thought he was very good in Wednesday's win over Buffalo and he is traditionally a slow-starter when it comes to scoring. I don't think his play thus far suggests that this is a deeper issue with slowing down because of age etc.
Does Backes go on another tour of fists across Canada leading up to the Olympics again or was all of that coincidence?
Scott Burnside (12:15 PM)
Pat; Funny, I was talking to Darren Pang for a story a couple of weeks ago and he mentioned Backes' throw downs with about half the Canadian Olympic team leading up to the '10 Olympics. No. I wouldn't expect that to happen again. He reminds me a bit of a young Brendan Shanahan with Detroit who fought more than Scotty Bowman et al wanted him to fight. At this stage I'm sure the Blues would rather see Backes scoring and banging people around than fighting Canadian stars. (I am certain Ken Hitchcock, an assistant with the Canadian Olympic team is on board with this assessment.)
Paul (Phoenix, AZ)
Do you see the Coyotes exploring a trade for some offensive help using the defensive depth that they have as the trade bait? Any particular names come to mind? Would a Yandle for Yakupov deal make sense for both teams?
Scott Burnside (12:18 PM)
Paul; No question the 'Yotes' have depth on the blue line but is it depth to spare? Keith Yandle's name has come up as potential trade bait almost as often as Bobby Ryan's has the last three years. My sense is that the Coyotes aren't looking to move Yandle but certainly if an attractive deal comes along like a Yakupov/Yandle swap I'm sure GM Don Maloney would listen. But the team is better down the middle with Mike Ribeiro (and a center has always been linked to a Yandle deal) and not sure Edmonton or Phoenix would be interested in an in-division swap of top end players.
Martin (Berlin (Germany))
Do you agree with Milbury, thal Buffalos coach Ron Rolston should be fired for using Scott the way he did last night and in the Toronto game last month that causes the suspension of Clarkson because Scott goes after Kessel ?
Scott Burnside (12:21 PM)
Martin; Welcome from Germany. If Ron Rolston gets fired my guess is it will be because the 1-9-1 Sabres don't have a clue. I would love to see the NHL move more decisively to punish teams for the actions of their players and whether that means a significant fine for a coach who has a second player suspended as will be the case for Rolston (and that doesn't take into account the earlier fine for the Scott/Kessel incident although if memory serves I think Scott was already on the ice when Kessel lined up - not that it excuses Scott's trying to rough up the Leafs' top offensive player). Now, if owner Terry Pegula is significantly embarrassed by his team's overall performance including the hits by Patrick Kaleta and Scott to want to make a coaching change, well, that's another matter.
Jeff (Cary, NC)
Hi Scott. How do you the the Metro division is going to pan out this year. Going into the year, the division looked incredibly tough, but the division as a whole is off to a slow start. In particular, I am interested in your take on the Canes. Their defense seems to be much improved and the goaltending appears to have stabilized. Do you think they will be able to sustain a good regular season run that translates into playoff success?
Scott Burnside (12:24 PM)
Jeff; I think you hit the nail on the head with the goaltending. Cam Ward started the season a little up and down but has been terrific the last couple of weeks. Can he stay healthy? Can he maintain that level of play? I really liked the addition of backup Anton Khudobin as a nice one-two punch in goal but with Khudobin injured the pressure is on Ward. But assuming he does keep delivering the goods I think the offense will come around and I like the balance up front and on the blue line - Justin Faulk is really underappreciated - and with other teams struggling in the Metro could end up in the second or third spot come playoff time. If there's one thing 'Canes fans deserve it's a playoff game next April.
Mark (San Jose)
Hi Scott, Sorry to call you out, but didn't you torch Mario Lemieux back when he demanded accountability over the Isles-Pens mayhem? I understand the hypocrisy, but i have to say its refreshing to see organizations like the Pens step up and acknowledge the unacceptable behavior of their players. No shortage of GMs/owners turtling when their own pests/goons blatently cross the line.
Scott Burnside (12:26 PM)
Mark; You're right about my criticism of Lemieux but that was when he threatened to leave the game in an angry letter to the league. His subsequent suggestion that teams be held accountable including a sliding scale of fines based on issues with players I thought was inspired. You have a good memory though.
Jason Spezza (Ott)
Scott, what do I have to do to make team Canada? I feel my numbers speak for themselves.
Scott Burnside (12:28 PM)
Jason; You are playing well and you did make Daniel Alfredsson's reunion pretty unpleasant last night. Sorry, though, just don't see that there's room for you in Sochi. Not that you don't deserve it just too many bodies in the queue ahead of you. Rest up while the others are slogging through the Olympic tournament, get some sun and get ready for the playoffs.
Any surprises(good or bad) yet on who might make the olympic squads? Duchene, Couture for Canada, Galchenyuk for USA.
Scott Burnside (12:30 PM)
Chuck; I think in the end there will be lots of surprises and in the case of both Canada and the U.S. a lot of good players staying home (see; Spezza, Jason). I think Duchene will be on the Canadian squad, Couture, too. Not sure on Galchenyuk. He and that kid line in Montreal has been very good and his skills vis a vis shootouts and on the big ice are attractive but assuming relative health of more experiences U.S. players I don't think it's his time. The one youngster I'd keep my eye on is Seth Jones. He is making people sit up and take notice everywhere including among the U.S. Olympic selection committee.
Scott, What do you think of the Pens keeping Maata? They keeping him up with the recent injury history of Letang/Martin? Or has he just been THAT good.
Scott Burnside (12:32 PM)
Chris; I don't think it's a safeguard against injury to Letang or anyone else. He's been that good. Love to see young players get rewarded like that. Sean Monohan is another youngster that has earned his stripes and earned the right to stay with Calgary. Now, the big question is whether teams will keep those rookies past the 40-game mark meaning the season counts towards the start of free agency.
I know it's still early, but do you still think Colorado made the correct decision to draft MacKinnon over Jones?
Scott Burnside (12:37 PM)
Matt; Pretty early to be making any pronouncements. But hard to argue with MacKinnon's play and perhaps more importantly the defensive play of the Avs. I still think it was strange that they ignored a glaring need; help on the blue line; in taking MacKinnon but Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy were adamant they thought MacKinnon was the best player available and you have to give them credit for going with their convictions. So far so good. That said, Jones is going to be a very, very good player. It's going to be a great debate in the coming years.
Marc (Malden, MA)
Last year, my mission was to get Patrice Bergeron in the discussion for MVP (before he got hurt). This year, my mission is to get Torey Krug on Team USA.
Scott Burnside (12:39 PM)
Marc; You have an uphill challenge given guys like Shattenkirk, Yandle, Faulk and other top puck-moving defensemen but I do think Krug is an interesting guy (especially after last night's performance). My guess is too young right now.
Scott Burnside (12:48 PM)
Sorry about the delay. A brief chat with Nashville GM David Poile about the loss of Pekka Rinne for the next month. Time for the kids to get a look now.
Garrett (Long Island)
Am I the only person on earth that realizes the Rangers only played 7 games and haven't played once at home, including the preseason? I know they have some serious injusry issues right now, but its only been 7 GAMES!!!!!!
Scott Burnside (12:51 PM)
Garrett; You're absolutely right. The problem is that they've played so poorly it feels like 57. But to your point the wacky training camp followed by almost an entire month on the road while MSG is undergoing more construction adds up to inherent obstacles. But, I think the play and now health of Henrik Lundqvist and the injuries to key components like Ryan Callahan and Rick Nash aren't going to be solved by playing at home. Agreed, it's too early to throw in the towel but there's a lot right now conspiring against the Rangers in terms of getting back on track in a hurry.
Mike (On Capitol Hill)
President Burnside, who, of the worst teams this season, would you say has the best farm system comprised of the most talented prospects? In other words, who can we expect to jump up the standings in a couple of seasons.
Scott Burnside (12:53 PM)
Mike; Welcome back to work. I think the Florida Panthers are an interesting squad to watch in the next couple of years pending Markstrom's evolution.
Steve (Las Vegas)
Am I crazy for thinking Kopitar is the best 2 way centerman in the league? I would take him over Bergeron and Datysuk all day. If he swapped cities with either of the other two we wouldn't be hearing the end of how great he is!!!
Scott Burnside (12:56 PM)
Steve; Part 1; Yes I do think Kopitar is in the top handful of two-way pivots in the game and playing in L.A. may have held him back vis a vis Frank J. Selke Trophy consideration. Not sure I'd trade him straight up for either Patrice Bergeron or Pavel Datyuk but he's definitely an elite player who is a true 200-foot guy. He does have a tendency to be a bit streaky scoring-wise; he has yet to score this season and had only 10 goals last season. But is value to the Kings goes far beyond the goal production.
Stu (Newport Beach)
Ducks lost their first game since their opener last night, how do you see them ending up on this road trip? Teemu Time.
Scott Burnside (12:58 PM)
Stu; That's a monster of a trip, seven more on the road after a disappointing loss to the Leafs Monday. Need to get the goaltending squared away; Fasth nicked up and Jonas Hiller a little off the rails thus far. Still guessing they go 4-3. Really like the offensive balance and pace at which the Ducks play. Fun to watch.
Any chance Steve Yzerman wants me around for the Olympics? I guarantee my numbers will still be at the top of the league come February. Or will they go with an outlier like Giguere?
Scott Burnside (12:59 PM)
MAF; No doubt you're on Steve Yzerman's radar. Will be honest though I think your playoff performance the last couple of years will in the end keep you at home come February. Maybe you can call Jason Spezza and hang out?
Did Pierre really write an article questioning whether PK Subban would make team Canada's Olympic squad? I'm a Bruins fan that can't stand watching him play my team, but even my biased eyes tell me he's a no-brainer - easily one of the top 5-10 defensemen in the league.....which makes him top 3 or 4 for the Canadians. I don't see how his skill set (especially his skating ability on a big sheet of ice) would put into question whether Boyle, Green, Seabrook, or many others get selected ahead of him. Am I missing something?
Scott Burnside (1:00 PM)
Lou; No, true story. And I think the jury vis a vis the Olympics is still very much out even though I agree that as time passes it becomes (in my mind) more and more certain he'll be on the team. But it's all about balance among the eight (or nine) defensemen Canada will take. For instance if Subban goes hard to imagine room for Kris Letang. And so on.
Scott Burnside (1:01 PM)
Okay folks thanks as always for stopping by. Be well and we'll do this again next week.