Scott will be here soon!
Let's sail right into it.
Hi Scott. I was at last night's game vs. the Leafs. Renney's right, they didn't quit. Do you think they'll show more fight under the new coach and make the playoffs?
Tough one. It looks like it will be John Tortorella if all the bugs can get worked out and they can secure a release from Tampa. If anyone can light a fire, it is him. But there is a lot of work to be done, especially on offense. The good thing if you are Rangers fan is that you are in sixth place, so you do not need to crawl over anyone to make the playoffs...you just have to stop the bleeding. But it will be an uphill struggle with Flroida dna dbUfaalo only a point back anbd Carolina only two points back. It will take a dramatic turn around for the Rangers to not suffer the huge embarrassment of falling out of the playoff picture.
A lot has been made of Ovechkin/Crosby yesterday....what do you make of all this? Is this bein overblown by the media?
Us in the media overblow an incident?! No, I think it is fascinating. Having been in Pittsburgh for the previous game and game in which Ovechkin was dominant and Corsby got hurt, there was a lot of talk about bad blood between Ovechkin and Malkin, it does not surprise me that these two have something going on. I think it is healthy and understadable, giving the situation the Pens are in and Ovechkin is so dynamic at the best of times. He is very emotive and passionate and I do not doubt that showing up Crosby gives him a little added jolt. Whether you like it or not, I think it is healthy and I do not think Ovechkin's emotions are put on. I think they are real. This is what you get with Ovechkin and I think the game is better.
When is Sather going to get fired? What have I done in a past life to get Sather AND Isiah as the GMs of my teams?
Fair question and I would take a look at where the blame really lies in NY. And while the coach needs to put in a scheme that works for his players, a coach can only use the tools that are at his disposal. This is a poorly constructed team and stands to be in a period of decline because of the moves Sather has made. And until he goes the future looks bleak. But I cannot speak to Isiah.
If Tortorella is brought in do you think Avery will sill be sought after? Do the Rangers have a legitimate chance at landing a high scoring winger before the deadline?
I think their cap issues will make adding a significant winger very hard. I think the big question is does Tortorella want Avery to return. And I assume that is part of the discussion today. Sather has taken steps down this path and Avery had a comfort level with Renney. But does Tortorella want Avery here when he tries to turn the ship around? I do not know. I think if Sather wants it to happen Tortorella will do his best. But the Rangers lack an indentity. The personalities that used to dominate the locker room like Avery, Jagr and Shanahan are all gone. What is left is something far less. I think a decision on Avery will happen sooner, rather than later. As for another player, I think that is less likely to happen.
Scott, who do you have as the western conference favorite...i just cant see the sharks making a run this year...i think i see another slip up by them in april.
That is what the hockey world is waiting to see. They have a history of spitting the bit in round two. SJ has a lot to prove. They are a team many believed could win the Cup the last three years and expectations are high as ever. I think the addition of Blake and Boyle make them too good a team to not make it to the Western Conference final. I also think their experience will play a factor in them making a run. Once you get to the Conference final I think it becomes a crap shoot; but as for an early meltdown, I just do not see it.
Tortorella has a history for calling out his underachieving players...do you think he is the effective solution for the Rangers' bench, especially with guys like Gomez, Zherdev and Redden?
I do not know whether the strategy will be effective. But one thing is clear, if he is behind the bench, he will be the anti-Tom Renney. Renney is measured, reserved, thoughtful and not a yeller. He is not bombastic. Clearly that personality did not produce the results this season that people expected from the Rangers. Tortorella brings a new personality. And yes, he will provide frank and if need be ruthless assesements of his players. So player like Redden and Gomes and Rozsival can all expect harsh criticism is they keep playing as they have been playing for the last few months.
How long will it take for the Rangers, NHL and Tampa to work out the deal?
If our information is correct, it is being worked on as we speak. And anticipation is it will get done by this afternoon.
What are you hearing about the Jay Bouwmeester situation in Florida? If you're Jacques Martin can you afford to lose him this summer to free agency and get nothing in return?
Jaques Martin was on a conference call earlier today and I asked him that very question. It is complicated. Bottom line, Bouwmeester is likely to go to FA on July 1. He is a top notch young defeseman and will be the most soughtfater FA this summer. So if Martin can swing a deal that will bring a position player, like a scoring forward, to his lineup plus a package of top prospects and top picks, then he will be moved. But if he does not get that than making the playoffs will be very important for a team that has not been there since 2000. If the package is not there, Martin will live with making the playoffs and losing him, and use the money he would use on Bouwmeester somewhere else. I do not fault that logic at all.
Do you see the Devils making a push for a defenseman like Boumeester?
It is not really their style. I think they are more likely to try and swing a deal to bring Niedermayer back to NJ or even teammate Chris Pronger. Given the potential for the Panthers and Devils to meet in the playoffs, I think it makes Bouwmeester's less likely to happen. Now in the offseason before the entry draft, maybe it could happen. But it is unlikely before the trade deadline.
Today on 660 WFAN in NY, Pierre McGuire said the Rangers have been shopping Gomez for a while... have you heard anything about this? Do you see the Rangers doing anything else to turn the team around for now and the future?
It is one thing to shop a player like Scott Gomez and quite another to find a team willing to take on the salary. Like most of his teammates he has struggles this year. And you are talking about a player who is making 8 million dollars this year and still has 5 years left, for a total of 33.5 million dollars. That's a mouthful. Shopping is one thing, but finding a team is another. I do not think there are many NHL teams that would be interested in that big a ticket.
Scott, do you think this time off for Brodeur could actually be a blessing in that he'll be better rested in the playoffs unlike the past few years where he's played 70+ games?
I think it will be fascinating to see how Martin Brodeur performs when he returns, which could be by the end of the week. But more importantly, what will his level of play be when the postseason starts. He will have about six weeks to get into game shape and I think it is a double edged sword. In the past I do think he has been worn down and the last few postseasons he has not been at his best. This year he'll have to shake off the rust. But can you imagine the storylines if the Devils and Rangers meet in the first round again and if Sean Avery is back in the Rangers lineup, after last year's meetings with Brodeur? Talk about a great way to kick off the postseason.
Lots of talk about bringing Nick Antripov here to Carolina, mainly b/c of his ability to score and his connection with Maurice in Toronto. Do you see this or any other deals being made to bring a scorer to Carolina?
I think Jim Rutherford will be looking to add scoring depth, especially given the recent injury to Justin Williams. But I think he will be very cautious about giving much away in terms of prospects or picks just to sneak into the playoffs. Getting back to the postseason is important, but Rutherford sees the big picture and will not overpay for a rental player. And Antropov brings some things to the part but is not a long term solution. I say there is less than a 50-50 chance he ends up in Carolina.
Scott, do you think the Sabres will be active at the deadline? If so, what areas do you think they will focus on?
The Sabres are in a dilemma with Ryan Miller out with an ankle injury. I think it is too early to tell how long he will be out. But it looks like it will be week to week. That put a lot of pressure on Lalime. He has not played much, and not well when he has played. So they may look for a veteran golatender to keep them in a playoff position. With Vanek out for anothe rmonth, the obvious hole is offensive depth. But the Sabres are pretty conservative at the deadline and I doubt this year will be different unless Miller's injury looks like it will carry into the playoffs.
Realistically, will anyone outside of Bruins/Sharks/Wings/Devils/Caps win the Cup?
Well you covered yourself well with those teams. I would say it is a safe bet. If I had to pick though one or two teams that could cause some ripples, either upseting one of the top teams and maybe even advance to a Finals there are a two. I think the Flames are dangerous. I think the Blackhawks can win two or three rounds. Outside of that, I would go with your teams.
Any news on Mark Messier returning to the Rangers in some capacity?
Other than general thought that he will eventually return to the franchise in some form or another, no. But I expect it will happen eventually, but I am not sure in what capacity. It is important because he has to be more than a figure head. But does he have the same mindset as an Yzerman or a MacInnis or a Ron Francis who have started careers as NHL execs and coaches...and I am not sure anyone knows the answer to that yet.
What do the Flyers have to do to get in that Bruins/Sharks/Wings/Devils/Caps group , besides goaltending? Any movement at the deadline for them?
Funny I was wishing I had mentioned them, so I am glad you ask. They have a lot of posititve elements. They have great leadership, skill and they are big. Yes the goaltending is iffy at times, but I have to believe Biron will once again be the guy in the playoffs. He showed last year he can deliver the goods. He took a team to a conference final and he can do the same again this year. As far as moves, help along the blueline is something they will look for, but they do not have a lot of cap room. So barring movement of a big piece like Lupl, do not expect much before March 4th.
True or False. GM Shero loses his job if the Pens do not make the playoffs
False. It will be disappointing if they do not make the playoffs, but Shero has locked up the most important pieces of the puzzle, long term, and he will get another shot to bring in a talented winger and to plug some of the holes that were created by an offseason of great transition. So I think his job is secure, as it should be.
Plain & Simple, will the Rangers make the playoffs?
If I knew it for sure, I would buy a powerball ticket. I say no. How is that for plain and simple?
Recent play aside, where do the Wild go from here? Gabby's a lost cause and I fear a Rolston-esque conclusion to the Backstrom contract issue. Is there a future with this squad, or is it time for the first, true "blow it up" moment for this franchise?
This team has been so stable when it comes to management and coaching since coming into the NHL in 2000. But they really have little to show for all the stability when it comes to the postseason. And that is the measuring stick. Once again the Wild are neither in nor out. they are not a contender, but not really bad. They just are there. And just being there, at some point, will not be enough and ownership will eventually demand more. Is this the year? Hard to tell. But I would be hugely surprised if they are not able to re-sign Backstrom. But if they cannot, the natives will become even more restless in the state of hockey.
What do you think of the Bruins slump the last few games? Do you think they have enough or what will they need to go deep in the playoffs?
I think hitting a bit of a ripple now is certainly much more palitable than having this kind of wobble in the first round of the playoffs. Joe Throton in SJ talked about this kind of thing when the Sharks went sideways. He said it was healthy. And maybe this is healthy for the Bruins to. No cause for alarm. The Bruins are still an elite team and the best team in the East. I think this is just a wake up call, to use a cliche. No cause for panic yet.
Will the Ducks be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline?
Good question. I think as surprising as it may seem, they will be selling, selling, selling.
Thank you again. Next time we chat I will be in Bristol getting ready for the deadline. See you in a week!