Chat with Craig Custance
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com NHL Insider Craig Custance stops by to chat about the latest news from the ice.
Custance joined ESPN in September 2011 as an NHL reporter for ESPN the Magazine, ESPN Insider and ESPN.com. He joined ESPN following a stint with the Sporting News. A graduate of Michigan State University, he lived for nearly a decade in Georgia working for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution where he spent time covering the late Atlanta Thrashers.
Send your questions now and join Custance Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Craig Custance (2:00 PM)
Back from Philly after a fantastic Winter Classic and ready to take some questions. Fire away!
Craig-would you blow up the sinking USS Anaheim and move everyone you can or keep the core and try again in '12-'13?
Craig Custance (2:03 PM)
Hey Cappy - While I love the message coming from Bob Murray and the fodder it gives all of us chasing trade rumors, I still wouldn't move the core guys like Ryan, Getzlaf and Perry. If I could get something of value for a pending UFA, I'd do it in a heartbeat. If Winnipeg called and wanted to add Selanne for a playoff drive, I'd talk. This is a team headed for a top three pick in an awfully good draft so unless the offer is huge, I'd give Bruce Boudreau a full season with the core plus what could be a franchise player coming in the draft.
Greg Sherman (Denver, CO)
Craig, how much trouble am I in if the Avalanche finish out of the playoffs? How much money do I give Ryan O'Reilly?
Craig Custance (2:05 PM)
Hey Greg - Nice of you to stop by. It seems like every time we speculate on how safe somebody in Colorado's job is, they go on a run. Sacco was on the hot seat before Colorado went on a tear at home and has this team at No. 9 in the West. But yeah, if they collapse again in the second half, nobody's job is safe. Especially if there's a race to hire Patrick Roy.
Do you think Bourque deserved more than the 5 games? Who knows when Backy will be able to play again. I think an in person hearing was warranted.
Craig Custance (2:07 PM)
Mike - Yes. Absolutely. I think the league missed a huge opportunity here to send a message that this type of play that won't be tolerated, especially by a repeat offender. I would have laid the hammer. Ten minimum.
Why is the media making a big deal out of Rick Nash saying he would waive his no-trade? There is no way in hell the jackets move him...if anyone, Carter would be sent packing...sick of him whining about being in Columbus and Nash has been nothing but class
Craig Custance (2:10 PM)
That's what we do Jack, blow everything out of proportion. But I agree. A Columbus source re-iterated again that despite Nash's statement, nothing has changed on that front. Rick Nash isn't going anywhere. As for Jeff Carter, I think Scott Howson would be wise to entertain moving him if the right offer comes along.
Craig, what do you think would stop players from taking cheap shots at each other? Removing the shoulder/elbow pads altogether? It's getting ridiculous.
Craig Custance (2:13 PM)
A small group of players are testing smaller shoulder pads and I think equipment is going to start to shrink in the near future. But the best way is to hold them accountable and perhaps the teams and coaches too. If we're going to phase fighting out of the game, which is exactly what is happening, players need to get the message through supplementary discipline. I think Brendan Shanahan was headed down the right path in the preseason and we've seen some regression there. I'd start fining teams and coaches for cheap shots to spread the accountability.
Ben (San Jose)
Hey Craig: Do you know if other organizations promote the game among the youth in their areas like the Flyers are? I enjoyed the coverage that the NHL Network/NBC had on what looked like something very healthy/positive for the game, the city, and the kids and would hope it's the same elsewhere.
Craig Custance (2:16 PM)
Ben - I think Ed Snider has worked very hard and invested very heavily in providing opportunities for the inner-city kids in Philadelphia to play hockey and learn to love the sport. We're talking millions of dollars going into these rinks. When I saw him in Chicago for the US Hockey Hall of Fame inductions, he said that he wants that to be the legacy he leaves in the city of Philadelphia. It's very admirable and he deserves a ton of credit for it.
Daniel Drummond (Indinana)
Why hasn"t there been a lot of talk about about Rex Ryan getting the boot instead of all these other side issues. He has to go.
Craig Custance (2:16 PM)
I think Daniel is in the wrong chat. I just want to say that I wish hockey had more coaches as vocal as Rex Ryan.
Do you think the Ducks will part with Getzlaf? I believe the Blackhawks have the cap space and the prospects to make a deal like that. He would be the best option for a team that is so shallow at Center. What is your opinion?
Craig Custance (2:19 PM)
The Ducks are willing to listen if Stan Bowman calls on Getzlaf. I know Chicago needs a center and I have no sense if they can fit him in under the cap right now. I haven't explored that yet. I asked Mike Babcock today if he has put any requests in to his GM for the available Ducks since he knows them so well and he joked that he'll be talking to Ken Holland on the plane ride to Toronto. Getzlaf is having a down year, but there's no shortage of GMs who would line up to trade for him.
Time to move Schneider....Bobby Lu is on FIRE!!
Craig Custance (2:21 PM)
Luongo appears to have regained his game but I've seen enough of Cory Schneider that I'd be inclined to keep him around in case we see a Roberto Luongo meltdown at some point this season or during the playoffs. He's as good an insurance policy as there is in the league.
Sergei (Madison, WI)
On a different topic, what is it with the voting for the all star game? Just about every player that plays for a Canadian team is leading in the polls? Four players from the Sens in the starting line-up? They barely belong in the NHL, let alone in the all-star game. In my opinion, the league should throw out the all star game and move forward with the Winter Classic.
Craig Custance (2:23 PM)
Four Senators earned a spot in the starting lineup for the All-Star game and I honestly don't have a problem with it. The game is there, those fans rallied and I think the fans deserve a voice in All-Star voting. Anyone who doesn't like the results should have voted more. Maybe I'm in the minority, but I enjoy the All-Star game. I see how much it can do to promote hockey, especially in cities like Raleigh where it was last year. As long as they keep coming up with ideas to keep it fresh, like the fantasy draft, I think it should stick around.
Jason (Long Island, NY)
Hey Craig! Loving my Rangers play. Do you think they need to pursue a trade long term (Getzlaf, Ryan, etc) or stay the course?
Craig Custance (2:25 PM)
Jason - You should love the Rangers. That's a great team and what makes them great is that there is a complete buy-in of what John Tortorella is doing there. That team is a sum greater than its parts so I'd be really hesitant to upset that by adding a big name through trade like Getzlaf or Bobby Ryan. I think it's an unnecessary risk to take. We've seen the result when the Rangers build around stars, I like the way the team is constructed now instead much better.
Rick (New Jersey)
That may be the shortest post in Sergei's history.
Craig Custance (2:26 PM)
Sergei is bringing his A game today.
alex hemsky (edmonton)
ok i keep hearing i am being traded at the trade dead line.. is it true detroit is where and i headin and am i really that lucky??
Craig Custance (2:27 PM)
Detroit will be aggressive at the trade deadline but if had to handicap where you're headed Ales, I'd start with Los Angeles.
Pens are down their best player and their best D Man, and neither man seems likely to return soon... Could Shero decide to make a deal to shore things up for a Cup run?
Craig Custance (2:30 PM)
That's such a tough call. If Sidney Crosby is healthy, this team doesn't need anything else. They're good enough to win it. And if he isn't, do you really want to give up assets to try and make a short-term run without him? I still like this group and would let it ride without making a major deal.
Keith (Hamilton, MA)
If say Ryan Suter is indeed still unsigned come the trade deadline, and a team like Philadelphia feels it could boost their defensive corps... what kind of package could you see going to Nashville in order to obtain him?
Craig Custance (2:33 PM)
Keith - It's going to be a huge return, something along the lines of what we've seen in the past for Kovalchuk, Hossa, etc. at the deadline. So that means you can pencil in a NHL player (and the Flyers have attractive young options up front), a high-end prospect and a first-round pick. The one difference here is that the Predators will still be fighting for a playoff spot which typically isn't the case for a team dealing somebody of Suter's caliber. So David Poile might try to get more NHL-ready talent than some GMs have in the past at the deadline. That is, if he does decide to trade.
So honestly "Red" Kelly and Sergei Fedorov should have their jerseys retired in Detroit. Am I crazy for this? Will it ever happen in your opinion?
Craig Custance (2:36 PM)
Josh - I tend to associate Red Kelly with the Maple Leafs for some reason even though he won a bunch of Cups with the Red Wings. I would retire Fedorov's number and say he's the guy who represents the Russian 5 in the rafters. But I know a lot of people don't feel that way in Detroit because he left.
could getzlaf and ryan be a package deal? leafs? or wings?? do either have the prospects to make that deal?
Craig Custance (2:37 PM)
Holy smokes, what in the world do you send back in a deal that lands both Getzlaf and Ryan?
Hey Craig, with Crosby's return looking unlikely, where does Shero look to use that extra cap space (if/when Sid is placed on LTIR)?
Craig Custance (2:38 PM)
Toby - Here's the problem with putting Sid on LTIR and then using that cap space. What do you do when he knocks on your door in late February and says he's ready to go? You can't just cut all the money you just traded for. Another challenge for Ray Shero, who has handled this whole ordeal pretty darn well.
Cody (Mankato, MN)
Hello Craig, I find it laughable that Torts gets 30k fine for commenting on poor officiating, however the maximum for a player 2.5k for injuring someone.
Craig Custance (2:39 PM)
The player fine is pointless. Absolutely agree with you there Cody.
Jay (Battle Creek )
Craig, Winter Classic questions: Big House or Commerica Field? Leafs or Hawks? I am expecting Wings-Hawks at Comerica but hoping for Wings-Leafs at the Big House.
Craig Custance (2:44 PM)
I have to assume the league wants it at the Big House and there's going to some pushback from the Ilitch family to have the game downtown Detroit at their park. We'll see who wins that battle if that's the case. I'd prefer to see it downtown Detroit because it's bigger than just one game, you can make a series of events out of it maybe even have the GLI there. It'd be great for the city and great for the Red Wings. As for the opponent, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Leafs get this game either way but the Blackhawks are certainly interested.
Hi Craig,Being that Lombardi has already file grievance papers with the league about the Ryan Smyth trade debacle with the Oilers, why do you think he would trade with Edmonton again? Thanks.
Craig Custance (2:46 PM)
That's a very fair point Bill and one I hadn't considered. I will make a point of asking him whether he has any reservations trading with the Oilers moving forward next time we talk.
I am as vocal as Rex and look where it got me, $30k lighter in the pocketbook.
Why is all of the complaining centered around phasing out fighting when it appears that its cheap hits and not knock out punches that have been causing all of the serious concussions?
Craig Custance (2:49 PM)
Kevin - That's the argument the fighters make. A very small percentage of the concussions come from actual fights and fighting proponents will tell you that there'd be less cheap shots if players were more free to police the games themselves like previous eras. My problem with fighting was highlighted in the Asham/Beagle fight earlier this year. I'm worried there's going to be a mismatch and a player won't get up. That's why I've soured on fighting.
Marc (Malden, MA)
Getzlaf/Ryan...Krecji, Lucic, Boychuck, Hamil, Caron, two #1s...probably not enough, but that's all I got.
How about Montreal vs. Toronto for a WC?
Craig Custance (2:50 PM)
I think we're a long ways away from an All-Canada WC. This is a game made for an American television audience.
Stuart (Brooklyn, NY)
Hey Craig. Which of these teams do you think was the best? The Guy LaFleur and Ken Dryden led Canadiens, the Bobby Clarke and Bernie Parent led Flyers or the Phil Esposito and Johnny Bucyk led Bruins. Thanks!
Craig Custance (2:52 PM)
Last year I worked on a big package for SN where we polled a ton of former players and execs from all eras and they voted that group of Montreal Canadiens as the best ever. They'd know better than I would and it's certainly hard to argue it.
Dean Lombardi (Los Angeles)
No way I'm dealing with the Oilers again after my last two debacles there.
Craig settle a difference...do the Bruins have the best #2 line (Marchand, Seguin and Bergie) in the NHL?
Craig Custance (2:53 PM)
Replace 'You're' with 'Your'
Craig Custance (2:53 PM)
You're current Hart Trophy winner so far?
Craig Custance (2:55 PM)
I'm firmly aboard the Claude Giroux bandwagon right now but am watching Jonathan Toews very closely. This is shaping up for a great Hart Trophy race because the Sedins and Malkin will have a say in it too. But if I had to vote today, it'd be Giroux.
Can the Caps overcome the loss of Backstrom?
Craig Custance (2:57 PM)
They can in the short term but they need him if they're going to make a run in the playoffs. That's a huge loss for Washington, especially since the Caps are starting to click.
Jaroslav Halak (St. Louis)
Have I finally won back my starting job? Haven't lost in regulation since Nov. 22nd
Craig Custance (3:00 PM)
Halak seemed to struggle with the expectations and workload that came when became the NO. 1 goalie in St. Louis. Brian Elliott's emergence is a good thing for him. Halak has responded well to the competition and I think both goalies have benefited from a much tighter team in front of them. Based on his playoff history, I'd pencil him in as the starting goalie in game one if the Blues make it and Halak continues his strong play.
Craig Custance (3:01 PM)
That's a wrap everyone! Thanks again for jumping in here - great questions as always.