Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

December 22, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Pierre LeBrun

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:56 PM)

Greetings puck fans. Let's get it on.

solutionchris (Montreal)

Hi Pierre.Do you think the referees are still looking at goalies equipments before games??? Some small goalie look so big between pipes...Halak is a good exemple, was playing for the Habs last year ans saw him a fiew time whitout hockey suit and was looking so small at 180 pds, but whit hockey suit he look bigger then Byfuglien...lol

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:59 PM)

It's not the refs that check the equipment. Spot checks are done by Kay Whitmore of the NHL's Toronto office. I just got off phone with Kay to double-check this. Kay says it's been same for last several years, goalies get surprise spot checks a couple of times a year. Whitmore has done a great job at this. All goalie equipment goes through his office before goalies can wear it.

Jared (D'Orazio)

What do you think of the Thrashers chances of making the playoffs? Percentage wise...

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:01 PM)

I'd say 87 percent chance of them making the playoffs. OK. full disclosure, stole that stat from: http://www.sportsclubstats.com/NHL.html

Travis (Canada)

Pierre, with as many as 10 NHL clubs up for sale as of this past weekend, does the league's plan to bring clubs back to previously failed markets (K.C,Winnipeg,Quebec) make as much sense as expanding or transferring clubs to Europe/Russia? I ask because the world economy had never been on such an even playing field as it is right now and it seems like the time to explore those uptapped sporting markets is now. Heck, even new NHLPA President Donald Fehr says the European/Russian markets make more sense then reshuffling the deck again in North America.

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:03 PM)

Much to Scott Burnside's annoyance, I've been pushing European expansion my entire career. No one has written more about it than me, I'm sure of that. I'd love to see six teams re-located to Europe. But realistically it's not something that's on the league's radar right now

Chandler (Telluride CO)

are the avalanche a stanley cup contender??

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:05 PM)

This is going to sound stupid I'm sure but to be honest in this league now, with the parity, all 16 teams that make the playoffs are a contenders. Wings GM Ken Holland was telling me the other day he feels the same way. Look at eighth-seeded Montreal last year? Get in and you've got a shot. It's never been truer in the history of the NHL than right now thanks to cap and spreaking of talent around the 30 teams

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Where Will the Winter Classic be Held at in 2012?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:05 PM)

Don't know my friend. New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, Denver, Minnesota always in the mix...

Michael C. (Westport, CT)

What could have possessed Lou Lamoriello to go against his instincts and sign that ridiculous contract with Kovalchuk? Now they're stuck with him and paying a big chunk of the cap for years. Your thoughts?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:06 PM)

Lou will deny this to the day he dies because he's a good company man and he's a very classy person. But I've had more than a few of his GM colleagues around the league tell me they believe the Devils owner made him do it...

Tito (thetford mines (QC))

Bonjour Pierre, will my beloved Habs survive their usual Christmas trip, even though they lost the first two? Will they be atop of the Northeast division when they'll be back in Montreal? Merry Christmas from La Belle Province!

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:07 PM)

Well, neither Montreal nor Boston apparanent want to be in first place of that division the way they're both playing. The Canadiens are playing their worst hockey of the season right now. But I predict a bounceback effort tomorrow night in Carolina

Phil (Ontario)

Dear Brownie! At the beginning of the year, I thought I would score 40 goals at least with my new linemate, Bozak, giving me the puck like he did at the end of last year... What the heck is happening to him? Wasn't he supposed to be the real deal?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:08 PM)

Bozak is not number one center material. I've said that from the beginning.

Rick Dudley (Atlanta)

Dear Mr. Lebrun, as a bluechip hockey writer, I would like to have your opinion on what should I do with Zack Bogosian. Should I be worried by how he is playing right now? I know the rest of the team is overachieving, but I thought this year would be his. So, what should be the future for him in Atlanta?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:08 PM)

Duds, you know more than me with all your experience that most defensemen not named Drew Dougthy take a long time to develop. Patience my friend.

Edward (Maryland)

Which is more likely: Semin being delt before the trade deadline or Semin being re-signed in the offseason? Or the Caps getting nothing for him? As much as I like Semin I would be very willing to get some more D or at least something with his contract set to expire. It'd also be awesome to see him locked up 6+ years to keep my favorite top line, of Bruce's many combinations, together (Sasha, Back, Ovi). Your take?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:09 PM)

Neither. I think Semin plays out his contract and then sees what's out there July 1. He may return to the Caps if he doesn't like what he sees on the open market. Just a guess, though

luke (pittsburgh)

Should the Penguins consider trading Jordan Staal? They are winning with out him, and the Penguins penalty kill, Staal's strongpoint, has been phenomenal this season without him. Do you think Staal might be a trade deadline move if he ever gets back on the ice?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:10 PM)

Ray Shero laughs every time I tell him about these types of questions... he's not trading Staal. Love his depth at center

Senator Charlie (Hickory, NC)

Hey Pierre...any news on my Sens? What is going to have to happen in O-town for them to be successful again?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:12 PM)

Haven't checked in on them since I attended the Heatley return game earlier this month.... I know Bryan Murray has tried hard to make a trade, really hard. But so far to no avail

Richard (Florida)

Have you heard any rumors on Vokoun? If not, which team(s) do you think will come calling since it doesn't make sense for the rebuilding Panthers to keep him?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:12 PM)

Nothing is happening there yet but I suspect as January turns into February and the Panthers are solidly out of a playoff spot, Dale Tallon will see what's out there for him

Gerry (San Francisco, CA)

Pierre, what is your take on a defenseman being the leading scorer for his respective team? A good example is Ryan Whitney (who of all people) is the Oilers leading scorer, despite having no goals.

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:13 PM)

Gerry, seemed to work for Boston in the 1970s :)

Brian (New Jersey)

There's that saying that things will always get worse before they get better, and that's what is happening with the Devils. It's frustrating to watch how helpless they look on the ice, especially when they get scored on. So do you think Lou will wait for the trade deadline to make some moves, since their values might be a little higher at that point (Langenbrunner, Arnott, Clarkson, etc.)?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:14 PM)

It's clear from my conversation with Lamoriello alst weekend that he's as frustrated as I've ever heard him and that yes, there will be player transactions when he finds a fit... No question

Latrappe (Montreal)

What's wrong with Boston? Aside the goaltending, nothing is working. Do you think Julien will lose his job? Do you think Chiarelli will try to shake up his team with a major trade ( involving a core player )?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:14 PM)

Spoke with Chiarelli yesterday and he stood firmly behind his coach. Which is good because I like Claude a lot. My read on B's is that blue-line needs upgrade. Poor transition game from back end to the forwards and it's hurting their offense

Patrick Aucoin (Mission City BC Canada)

Enjoy your insights Pierre! Merry Christmas!Do you see the current standings trending in any direction? EG The West up in the air and the East being a yawner?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:15 PM)

Patrick, my Friday blog (Dec. 24) will answer that very question as I attempt to predict teams currently not in a playoff spot I think have a chance to make it by season's end. Make sure to read it !

Dexter (NC)

Hey Pierre, I think you may have answered this somewhere else but who you got tonight in the big western clash in motown and who shines with the big goals/big plays?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:16 PM)

Canucks look awesome right now but I think the Red Wings are angry at their recent play and will have their A game tonight. I say Wings in OT

Vinnie (San Jose, CA)

Thanks for the article today on Couture. He's been the most consistent Shark this year. Any other rookies on the ice the last min. of a close games and killing off 5 on 3's? He's a smart, two-way player.

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:17 PM)

You're welcome. He's a nice kid, too. He's my pick right now for Calder, we'll see if he can keep it up. He's a very complete player. Shattenkirk, Skinner, Bob the goalie, Hall/Eberle, Carlson and Stepan also deserve consideration at this point

James (NJ)

I'll keep it short and sweet. Will Parise be wearing a Devils jersey come next season?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:18 PM)

I know that everyone says no but I think Lou finds a way...

Scott Bennett (Bishopville)

Can we please finally call time on Rick DiPietro and move this team forward? Enough of trying to prove Wang was right with that horrendous deal.

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:18 PM)

Feel bad for DP, the guy had a terrific work ethic... but his body won't cooperate

Mario (Milwaukee, Wi)

If the Kings were to aquire J.I or B.R, who would the Kings likely give in return?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:19 PM)

I suspect Brayden Schenn is a top propsect other teams will want... but the truth is, the Kings are loaded in their system and have many different prospects they can shed

tskierka (calgary)

are u hearing anything on the flames?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:19 PM)

nope

Pete (Norwalk, CT)

is it safe to say that if the Devils don't win their next 4 games (all at home - NYI,TOR,NYR,ATL), MacLean will finally get fired? They're 18pts out of the playoffs, so any window of opportunity is closing...

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:20 PM)

Just not sure what the point is now of firing him? They're out of the playoffs now. They can't make up that ground. I guess the only point is that you find a coach to get Kovalchuk going?

Mike (DC)

Pierre, The Caps have had some success with bringing up a few young players from the AHL, in particular Perreault. Do you see any of them staying in the NHL for the rest of the year?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:20 PM)

I think Perreault will stay up for a good while

Brian (Pennsylvania)

Bobrovsky has kind of struggled lately. Is that anything to worry about?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:21 PM)

learning curve of young rookie goalie, very natural

Chad (Missouri)

Pierre, before this season started I asked one of my fellow Avalanche fans, "If Shattenkirk makes the big club and plays well, you think they'll finally ship JM Liles somewhere?" I mean after the way he's played the past couple years and the way he was in Sacco's doghouse all last season, it was a reasonable question. Right now I'm feeling pretty good about the fact that I'm not GM, because that would have been a terrible move. Also, how long do you think the Avs can keep up this crazy scoring without Stewart? Impressive, eh?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:21 PM)

Hugely impressive. Few teams I enjoy watching more than Colorado right now. Go, go go !

Tyler (Toronto)

Pierre, can we expect a flurry of activity at the end of the roster freeze or are teams content to wait until the deadline?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:22 PM)

I don't think we'll get a ''flurry" until Feb. 25-28

Tim (AZ) [via mobile]

Pierre, any word when Matthew Hulsizer will complete his purchase of the Coyotes?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:22 PM)

I checked with the league on that last weekend and they didn't have a timetable yet... but I suspect within the next 2 months

Marc (Malden, MA)

Do you think the NHL will look into making the goalie equipment smaller for next season?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:23 PM)

Marc, they already did. Goalies this season for the first time are wearing ''form-fitting" equipment cleared by NHL head office.... Competition Committee approved the new equipement late last season and it was put into effect for this season

Lou (Boston)

What do you make of Cam Neely's less than reassuring comments regarding Claude Julien results to date. Chiarelli said today that Claude is safe - do you think he finishes the year as head coach of the Bruins?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:24 PM)

To me it sounded like Neely was totally second-guessing his coach. An eyebrow-raiser for sure

joe (york)

Any word on nabokov? washington? tampa? san jose?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:24 PM)

Checked in with his agent last weekend and it was status quo. Several teams have called but nothing appears immiment...

tom (boston)

heard savvy being moved to top line...will he get back to point per game talent that he is?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:25 PM)

He will eventually... talent is still there. Just had to get his legs under him. Tough when you miss camp.

Brian (Pennsylvania)

I want to see a Pittsburgh Philadelphia winter classic in Beaver Stadium. Make it happen.

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:25 PM)

ok will do my best :)

Erik (Chicago)

Do the Hawks miss Kane or Hossa more? How do you like their defense with Pisani back and Johnson signed? Finally, what are you doing for the holidays?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:26 PM)

Tough to choose between Kane and Hossa, I can't decide... Hawks GM Stan Bowman told me last Friday that topping his wishlist is a d-man so that should tell you what he thinks of his blue-line right now... Holidays? What holidays ! I'm in Pittsburgh Dec. 29-Jan. 2 for Winter Classic

jack (philly)

what are your thoughts on that big kid Max P. in Montreal?(dont know spelling of last name). playing alongside gomez and gionta...looks like a keeper to me...

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:27 PM)

It's his second go around with the Habs. was tearing it up int he AHL before his call-up. Has yet to show consistent offense in NHL but all the tools are there

patrick (coteau du lac quebec)

salut est que tu t attend a des trade 1e 27 dec.

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:28 PM)

Il va probablement en avoir un ou deux... Toronto, Calgary et Ottawa sont trois equipes qui essaye fort de faire une echange...

jessie (pitt)

150 points possible for sid?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:30 PM)

Possible, but tough. ESPN.com has Sid projected for 137 points...

joe (philly)

I watched washington-nj last night. Is Alex Semin lazy? or does it just look that way? he kind of just coasts and doesnt really do much unless his team has the puck....

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:30 PM)

I think you answered your own question

Marc (Malden, MA)

How about a Tim Thomas for Semin trade?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:31 PM)

Bruins aren't moving Tim Thomas, not this season anyway. Thomas told me in October that he's not waiving his no-trade this season either

Tim (New Jersey)

Daniel Girardi and Marc Staal have both improved a ton this year as two way defenseman. Do you think they are pushing themselves into that class with the top back line pairs in the league.

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:32 PM)

They've been really good. I credit Torts with a lot of that in terms of their development. But before we put them int he Lidstrom/Stuart class, let's see it play out a bit more :)

Matt (Philadelphia)

Could the Pronger injury actually be a blessing for the Flyers? He'll have 15 less games on his aging body come playoff time.

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:32 PM)

Interesting point. As it was, his minutes were down from last season, Laviolette wanting to preserve Pronger a bit more this season until playoff time

Jacob (NJ)

What needs to be done for the devils to get going? or is it a lost cause? Kovy cant do everything by himself, and i feel like his effort is declining each game tha the relizes they stink...

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:33 PM)

Lost cause for this season. Key now is to get things in place so that this doesn't happen again next season

Don (Orlando, FL)

Who do you see the panthers moving at the deadline? McCabe possibly?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:35 PM)

You look at July 1 UFAs on their team to see who might be in play: McCabe (no-trade clause), Vokoun (no-trade clause), Higgins, Stillman, Reasoner, Dvorak

Josh (Ark)

If you had to guess who will be the starting goalies for washington and Tampa Bay come playoff time?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:35 PM)

Wash: NeuvirthTB: Smith

Dan (Tenn)

If Quebec City or Winnepeg get their franchise back ever, do you think they would use their old names and uni's? Nordiques rule! what does nordique mean btw?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:36 PM)

Nordiques is just french word for Nordic... people from north, etc..

Calvin (Kansas)

Preds seem to start to be picking up offensively, Shea Weber included...do you see this continuing?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:39 PM)

I'd feel a lot better about their offense if their number one center came back. Mathew Lombardi signed a $10.5-million, three-year deal last summer to be the team's top center. He's been gone since second game of season with a serious concussion. They need him back !

Lou (Boston)

Merry Xmas Pierre! Will you get to see much of the World Junior Championships, or will the Winter Classic coverage be all consuming?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:39 PM)

Will be in Pittsburgh for WC.... might show up for gold medal game of WJC, we'll see ...not sure yet

Craig G. (Fairfield, California)

Hey Pierre, I always enjoy your work. Who are some of your current favorite goaltenders to watch?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:41 PM)

Thanks Craig.I'd say Tim Thomas, Carey Price, Jonathan Quick, Roberto Luongo, Marty Turco are some of my favorites to watch. Turco's an old bud

Bob (Pittsburg)

Pierre, whats your take on the suspension culture that seems to be taking place. I feel like any time a guy gets hit, hes in the papers the next day calling for a suspension of the offending party. When did these guys become such whiners.

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:41 PM)

Interesting point Bob. And I agree, I don't like that stuff either.

Mike (PA)

I like Flyers-Pens at Happy Valley... or Detroit-Chicago at the Big House...

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:42 PM)

Denver would be cool, too

Shawn (Toronto)

Pierre, instead of moving six clubs to Europe and creating a travel nightmare, how about contraction of six clubs? Would that make the league better? We could lose Phoenix, Atlanta, the Islanders, Nashville, Florida, Tampa and still have room to contract.

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:43 PM)

Shawn, good luck selling Donald Fehr on massive job losses for his players :)

Chris (Nova Scotia)

Pierre, do you see the Oilers trading either Hemsky or Penner to get some D help, or maybe a solid C? Also, why havent the Oilers tried to send Horcoff down to the minors to shed some of his salary? Hes obviously over paid for what they get in return. thanks.

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:45 PM)

Chris, Horcoff in injured (knee).Second of all, Horcoff actually was playing well this year with the kids before he got hurt (15 pionts in 24 games)

Marc (Malden, MA)

Have you heard from one Bruins fan who doesn't want Julien fired?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:45 PM)

Yes it's been mixed reaction so far

Jake (Los Angeles)

How far do you see the Kings going this season? A few statement games on that road trip, outscoring DET, NSH, COL by a combined 16-1. With improved consistency they are as good as anyone, no?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:46 PM)

Jake, I spoke with Terry Murray for a Kings story we're posting tomorrow on our site... check it out !

Imre (Missoula, MT)

Thoughts on Corey Crawford long-term for the Hawks? I really like what I see...and know more time will aid in evaluating. But, it'd been nice to have a viable solution for a few years while we have the great core intact. Can I get a few thoughts please?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:46 PM)

Love the way the kid has played but I truly feel that if the Hawks have any chance this season, it's with the veteran Turco leading the way

Matthew (Alexandria, VA)

Was at the Caps/Devils Game last night. Huge Caps fan, loved the win. But I was also very impressed by the Hundred Million Dollar Man. Maybe the plan was not to win now... perhaps Lou has a more devious plan to situate NJ at the top of the east for years (approximately 15) to come?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:47 PM)

Well, I think Ilya loves to play when he's facing Ovie...

Daniel (Reno)

Do you think the salary cap is bad for the NHL? Do you see anything happening about it now that Fehr is in?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:48 PM)

the cap has helped spread out the talent which is a good thing although the system is far from perfect. Many teams are angry that one-way deals can be kept in the minors, etc., or gusy like Redden or Huet being off the books etc... those will be issues in next CBA for some owners...

Daniel (California)

What do you think has caused the Red Wing's slight drop off over the past couple weeks? Do you think the favorable schedule in October and November had a big effect on their success?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:48 PM)

Honestly I think they got worn down by heavy schedule of games this month.

steve (princeton)

is there any chance we will see brad richards in a ranger uniform before the trade deadline?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:49 PM)

If the Dallas Stars keep this up, I don't see how they can justify moving him

Josh (Atlanta)

Who will be the best forward, blueliner, goalie to miss the all-star game due to fan voting antics?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:49 PM)

Josh, the fans only vote for starters, The NHL's hockey ops department will fill out most of the all-star rosters and they'll do a good job like they always do

M F (Edmonton)

Mr. Lebrun, I enjoyed your article on the state of the Flames this morning, but couldn't help but notice you called Brent Sutter a 'great coach.'Now I fully recognize you probably don't watch many Flames games, but the guy is probably one of the worst coaches in ther NHL. He likes to throw the 4th line out after icings (instead of players like Iginla) to reduce 'GA', and deploys the likes of Robyn Regher and Steve Staios on the PP in favour of guys like Kotalik and Jokinen (who are proven PP producers when playing POINT on the PP, despite being EV liabilities).

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:50 PM)

I disagree with you but respect that you took the time to properly back up your argument. Well done MF

Bernie (DC)

Pierre do you think this down period for the Caps will make them strong by the end of the season? Are do you see this as a symptom of bad things to come? (For Bruce B or GMGM)

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:50 PM)

Bernie, in chatting with GM GM during the worst streth of the skid, that's what he truly believed. That this adversity would really help them down the road

Tyler (Toronto)

With the rise of Couture and the struggles of Marleau / Pavelski, do you see the Sharks moving either to shore up the blue line or free up cap space?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:51 PM)

Tyler, I think the guy that might move is Setoguchi. He's RFA July 1 and I'm not sure the Sharks are comfortable re-investing in him... but if he has a great second half they could change their minds...

Paul (Atlanta)

Heard any offers for Bergfors, or teams that are interested?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:52 PM)

Paul, I haven't. Obviously now there's a roster/trade freeze on. I just know the Thrashers would really like to move him

tito (thetford mines Qc)

Est-ce que Tyler Seguin va etre un vrai centre no1 avec Boston, compte tenu de tout le talent qu'ils ont a cette position? J'aimerais bien le voir jouer a l'aile un peu, question de voir son potentiel.

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:53 PM)

Eventuelment il va etre un vrai center no1. Mais cetter saison plus facile de l'integrer a l'aile

chris (mt. laurel, nj)

do my eyes deceive me that the Flyers are employing a more up-tempo style with a few european players on their roster??? Speed & skill > 1975-75 roster philosophy. Is someone distracting Bobby Clarke from watching? Seems to be working

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:54 PM)

haha, great point... I mean, there's not much about this team that intimidates you like the Broad Street Bullies. On the other hand, could this be the deeped offensive team the Flyers have ever had? Maybe...

Mike (DC)

Pierre, so far what team has impressed you the most.

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:54 PM)

Flyers overall, Stars and Avalanche for surprising me, Penguins for doing their thing while Malkin and Staal were out..

Jim Clark (Long Island, NY)

Are there any other teams that have banned hockey writers like the Islanders have with Chris Botta?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:55 PM)

Not that I've heard of.

Paul (Atlanta)

Prediction... Do WSH, TB and ATL all make the playoffs this year? If not, who's out?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:56 PM)

yes

taylor (ca)

what's ur fav football team?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:56 PM)

les Cowboys de Dallas

Bob (Pittsburgh)

What do you like with your waffles?

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:57 PM)

LOL, strange times here in Toronto for sure...

Don (denver)

re: winter classic I agree Denver would be a great place for it. Invesco is less than a mile from Pepsi Center and there is currently nothing worthwhile going on there atm.

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:58 PM)

Wings-Avs?

Jason (Long Island, NY)

What player do you think is the most important for the Rangers to have a good run to make the playoffs? Obvious choices would be Gaborik or Lundqvist, but anyone else you have in mind? Happy Holidays!

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:59 PM)

King Henrik _ easy

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:59 PM)

OK folks, Happy Holidays to all of you. And thanks for dropping in like you do every week. Much appreciated.Cheers