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January 4, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Pierre LeBrun

Pierre LeBrun
  (1:57 PM)

Happy New Year, hockey fans. Let's dig in

brian (ny)

The Rangers have (so far) exceeded my wildest expectations and the winter classic was an amazing game. I dont really think there was a "conspiracy" to get the game into OT, but the 3rd period officiating was really beyond ridiculous. Neither you or Coach Melrose have really commented. Four awful calls in a row in the final 7-8 mins?? Gaborik was speared (no call), Callahan called for diving (he was horse collared), Ranger pushed into the net called for "delay" and the penalty shot was beyond not-warranted. What were your thoughts? Should instant replay be used for some calls (especially for goalie calls where clear views cannot always be held against the refs)? Thanks and go King H.

Pierre LeBrun
  (1:58 PM)

There was NO conspiracy, that's just silly to believe. Torts apologized today his comments (although I believe the league will still fine him).

Chioke Hassan (Baltimore,Md)

Dear PierreIs there a coaches union in the NHL?

Pierre LeBrun
  (1:59 PM)

Yup, it's called the NHL Officials Association. Here's their website:http://www.nhlofficials.com

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Why Can't the NHL Schedule the Winter Classic at Night & Broadcast that Game on NBC Sports Network?

Pierre LeBrun
  (1:59 PM)

They prefer having it during the afternoon so that there's less competition from prime time broadcasting

Rob (NY)

How do you like the Rangers now?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:01 PM)

If you read the final line in my Brad Richards Winter Classic column on Monday evening, you would know :)

Fred (Chicago)

I tuned into the winter classic to watch some Eastern Conference hockey. I have to say, seen the Rangers play a few time this season and they look like the real deal. What's your take?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:02 PM)

Yes they are, in large part because of their stingy defensive play. That takes the kind of team-wide commitment that elite teams display.

Adam (Toronto)

Just wanted clarification on something. Isn't it accurate that Parise can earn more money signing a long term deal now with Jersey as the new CBA will limit length/amount of new contracts?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:03 PM)

No one knows yet what the CBA will bring. It's all speculation at this point.

Matthew (Columbia, NJ)

Pierre: What do you make of the Flyers goaltending situation?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:04 PM)

Groundhog day ?I was stunned Bryz didn't start WC. To me, now you've lost him even more mentally. ... They need to get his head screwed back on straight. He has the talent and pedigree to be the answer but right now he's lost all his confidence.

Peter Chiarelli (The HUB of Hockey)

We all know I have enough cap space to make a move this season, if needed. Two questions:1. Do I need to make a move?2. With five (5) UFA's and four (4) RFA's at the end of this season, are the Bruins doomed to follow in Chicago's footsteps and wholesale our role players (Kelly, Paille, Pouliiot, Thornton, etc.) in order to retain our core (Krejci, Rask)?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:05 PM)

You don't need to re-sign ALL of those free agents just the ones you consider key. Among the UFAs, I would sign Kelly next. And my belief is, you will :)

Tom (Denver)

Ryan O'Reilly seems to be playing the best hockey on the Avs team...his future looks bright with his offensive skills now showing...do you think in the future he'll be considered for the Selke and a defensive forward for team Canada?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:05 PM)

If it were me, I would name him captain next season. To me he's Colorado's version of Ryan Callahan

Air Supply (Pierre's Ipod)

Why won't you admit that you're really listening to us during these chat sessions?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:06 PM)

hahaha, never ! Right now I've got some Used To Love Her by GNR

Scott Hartnell (Philadelphia, PA)

Pierre, since you were at the Winter Classic you probably did not see the NBC telecast where Darren Pang reported rinkside that I told Rupp to "show some respect, he [Jagr] is a Hall of Famer." How come it is okay when Jags does his stupid salute to mock the Pens fans who were giving it to him all night, but then when someone turns it around on him it becomes "classless" and I have to step in and fight his battles? Does that logic make any sense?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:07 PM)

I had no problem with what Rupp did. Thought it was terrific.

Mike Rupp (New York City)

What are the chances I will have to fight Scott Hartnell the next time we play the Flyers in some twisted attempt to defend Jagr's honor? Is there a percentage higher than 100%? Vegas will not take odds on this.....

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:07 PM)

Believe me when I tell you Scott Hartnell wants to part of you, big man

Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)

Pierre, bonne annee et bonne sante. We certainly understand that hockey is "religion" in Montreal, etc., etc., but what are your honest feelings about the hullaballoo being made over the fact that Randy Cunneyworth does not speak French...even prompting the GM to "promise" that the next head coach will speak French or Cunney will have to learn it if he is going to be hired full time? Was this topic a big deal when Ivan Hlinka coached the Pens and did not speak a word of English? Or when Brad McCrimmon (RIP) and Dave King coached in Russia and I doubt spoke Russian?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:11 PM)

Hard for me to explain 300 years of history in Quebec in a chat box my friend. But you have to understand that the Habs are not a hockey team in Quebec _ they're an institution which portrays the cultural values, etc., of its people, etc... 80 percent of their fans are French-speaking... so they want to be able to hear from the coach in French... if the coach in Toronto could only speak French and not English, Leaf fans would likely not be happy

jimh (miami, fl)

John Madden (the three time NHL champion, not the Tinactin salesman) just signed a one year contract with the Panthers. Critical piece / useful spare / mistake?(If it was the NFL's John Madden, I'd say we put him in goalie pads and push him into the crease.)

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:12 PM)

Great dressing room guy, good on faceoffs, PK

Jeff (St. Louis) [via mobile]

My friends and I were having a fun little "play the gm" discussion. Is there any chance that the Blues could acquire a frontline scorer such as Jerome Iginla?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:13 PM)

Until the Blues' ownership situation is resolved, not sure they would be add any big-money player

Scott (NYC)

LeBBBrahhh! That Canada/Russia game last night was wild! The speed was amazing....that's how the NHL lookd coming out of the lockout. Too bad it only last just shy of 2 seasons!

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:14 PM)

Worst part it because I'm sick as a dog (picked up a bad cold in Philly), I felt asleep after the first period and woke up this morning to find what out happened.

Perry (Chicago)

Any word on any potential moves the Blackhawks might be looking to make? Do you think Stan goes for a forward or a d-man first? Or is it just whichever he can get a good deal for?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:14 PM)

Haven't heard must on the Hawks yet

Matt (Orlando, FL)

What is your thoughts on the officals during the 3rd period of the Winter CLassic?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:14 PM)

I didn't like the penalty on Callahan at all. Otherwise, I think the rest is overblown

Daniel Carcillo (Chicago)

So how many games am I suspended for this time?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:15 PM)

At least five...

Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pierre, are you watch world juniors last night? Geno win big bet against Sid and Flower...two years in a row. Now they must wear Russian sweater and eat nothing but borsht for three weeks. Kuznetsov good player, too bad he play for Capitals next year.

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:16 PM)

Geno, just hope you didn't bet vs. Sid and FLower at 2010 Olympic quarter-finals :)

Mike (DC)

It looks like Rene Bourque will have an in person hearing with Shanahan today and possibly a long suspension after elbowing Backstrom in the head last night. Any thoughts on how long you think his suspension will be or how long you think it should be? Thanks.

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:16 PM)

No it was a phone hearing, not in person

Ice Ace (Alabama)

With the Sharks win at the Canucks on Monday, do you believe they will meet expectations? Some experts have the Sharks winning the West.

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:16 PM)

well I picked the Sharks to win the Cup as I always do every year, haha.

Andrew (Chicago)

Do you think the NHL could ever do something like HBO's 24/7 for an entire season? Maybe even come up with a way they could follow each team for 1-2 episodes each? There's no denying how good the show is for hockey.

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:18 PM)

Great idea.... but a costly proposition.Still, agree with you fans would love it

BillSak (Madison, WI)

What would you think of scrapping the All-Star game for a full slate of outdoor games on January 1st?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:19 PM)

Well you can't have more than one outdoor game at a time because the NHL only has the one special outdoor machine for the ice, etc...But yes, cancel the all-star game? all for that, have been for years

Phil Kessel (Toronto, ON)

Pierre, do you think I should pick Ovechkin last in the All Star draft this year?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:19 PM)

Um, I'm pretty sure you're doing the picking, Phil :)

sarah (detroit area)

Hi Pierre, as much as I appreciate the fact that the hockey media recognize how good Pavel Datsyuk is, I still don't think the NHL fan base as a whole, recognize his greatness. Do you think that Dats will ever get his due?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:20 PM)

I know I've been writing it for years, but you're right, fan base at large still generally doesn't give him his due... In September at NHL star media pre-season interviews, every single star we interviewed for ESPN _ about 20 of them _ answered Datsyuk and/or Crosby when asked which player they would pay to watch

JB (Edmonton)

Do the Oil move Hemsky or Gagner before/at the deadline? Would there be a market for Sutton or Khabibulin? Will the Oilers ever hire a real GM? Tambellini makes Garth Snow look like Ken Holland.

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:21 PM)

yes I believe Hemsky (UFA July 1) will be moved before Feb. 27

Ben (San Jose)

Pierre,What are your thoughts on San Jose at Detroit in the next Classic? Yes, The Sharks are not an original six nor a large market team, but Scott Burnside said in his article the teams should be chosen based on merit and they've made the playoffs the last 7 seasons and made it to the Conference Finals the last 2! Plus, they have a nice rivalry going after their last stints in the playoffs. Granted, it doesn't have the heat of a NY/Philly type rivalry but the quality of the hockey between them in the last 4 years has consistently been the best in the NHL (imo). Is there fear it wouldn't draw enough interest because it's the Sharks?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:23 PM)

Ben, not a bad option at all. Especially since Sharks and Wings have played in last two playoffs. Toronto seems to be getting the most traction at this point as Detroit's opposition but lots of talks still to be had at NHL head office. Still far from a done deal

Bruce (Detroit)

Happy New Year Pierre - there's been a buzz around here the past week that the Winter Classic will be Detroit's for next year. Would the league really think about putting it at the Big House in Ann Arbor as opposed to Comerica Park? I can't see Ilitch going for that.

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:24 PM)

Yes as we reported last week on ESPN.com, Detroit is favorite to host it next year. And yes, my feeling is that league prefers Big House but Illitch _ understandably _ wants Comerica. To be continued...

Frankie (LA)

Hi Pierre, if N Backstrom doesn't travel with the Caps tomorrow he might possibly be the 33rd NHL player to suffer a concussion this season. My question is WHAT THE HECK IS GOINGS ON?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:25 PM)

Long and complicated answer abbreviated for chat's sake:1 _ teams/players being more honest/transparent about concussions to number has gone up2 _ players bigger/faster than ever before so same collision that didn't generate a concussion 10 years ago, now is in some cases

Mike (SJ)

Do you think realignment next season could have an impact on the trade deadline this season? As major players are rarely (never) traded within the conference, could you see a scenario where Nashville trades Weber or Suter to Vancouver, Calgary trades Iginla to Detroit, or Columbus trades Nash or Carter to the Kings?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:26 PM)

Great question. Haven't heard any GMs talk about it, though

Bernie Parent (Philadelphia, PA)

Pierre, if given one shot on the Winter Classic ice, do you think you could score on me on a breakaway? Keep in mind you are late 30s/early 40s (i'm guessing) and I am 67 and would likely be wearing my jason-style mask, my catching glove that is smaller than a girls little league softball mitt, and my brown pads that look like they are stuffed with goose feathers and weigh 65 pounds each. No wonder guys scored more in the 70s and 80s....

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:27 PM)

Bernie, I will be 40 in April, so good guess :)Well I took a shotout attempt before the media game at Citizens Bank Park last Friday and while I deked out the goalie, I missed the open net. Bad hands.So no, I don't think I could core on you

Eddie Van Halen (Pasadena, CA)

Pierre, did you hear that we have a new album coming out in 2012 with Roth back on vocals...how long do you think that will last? Anyway, if you could pick your all-time five-person "starting lineup" for a fantasy band....one singer, two guitarists, one bass player, one drummer.....who would they be? You can also pull the goalie and go with a keyboard player too if you want.

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:29 PM)

Give me John Mellencamp and Gord Downie at vocalsEddie Van Halen and Slash on guitarNeil Peart on drums

Nik Kronwall (Hockeytown, USA)

Hey Pierre,What's gonna happen to my D partner, Brad Stuart, next year. I know his family is still back in Socal but I don't see any top 4 openings in SJ or LA next year so Anaheim would be his only option out there. What are the odds that he sticks around Detroit?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:35 PM)

Nik, I know Ken Holland was planning on reaching out to Pat Brisson, Stuart's agent soon... or it may have already happened...

nucks (kelowna)

why does everyone hate the canucks? they are not a dirty team and play an interesting brand of hockey.

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:37 PM)

Just passing on what other players from other teams have told me, not saying I agree: Canucks have some players that do a lot of yapping, etc., ...

Frank (DC)

Caps have strung together four in a row and Ovechkin is looking once again like the Great 8, Pierre. Can I expect more of the same?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:38 PM)

I will hesitantly announced that I think the Caps have finally turned the corner. But with great hesitance...

Amanda (NYC)

Do you think Bryzgalov will get back on track...and stay there?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:38 PM)

yes. The Universe believes in him

Frank (DC)

Yevgeni Kuznetsov looked amazing last night - what an amazing game, by the way. Can I expect him in a Caps sweater next year? And if so, what kind of production might I see?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:38 PM)

yes I like his chances of making the team next year... especially with Semin UFA

Bill H (New Jersey)

Pierre. Hits like Dan Carcille delivered are about as devastating as any play can be. Given his previous history and his reputation around the league as a dirty player, would a remainder of the regular season suspension send the right message or would that specific punishment seem overly excessive?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:39 PM)

It'll be between 5 to 10 games is my prediction... we'll see

Adam (Georgetown)

What stats do you look at most when evaluating a team's long term outlook? Is it goal differential, PP(Bruins were horrible en route to cup), PK(what if it doesn't effect overall defense like Det this year), 5on5FA, Shot differential or something else?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:40 PM)

By far my favorite stat is five on five goals for/against ratio.Boston leads at 1.83, followed by Detroit at 1.72

GBK (Lincoln Park)

Pierre, another writer has suggested that Colorado-Detroit play in the next Winter Classic. Given the number of fights likely to occur in the alumni game, I just can't see this happening. You?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:41 PM)

haha, well if Claude Lemieux and Darren McCarty are out there.... Patrick Roy and Ozzie or Vernon? Oh boy...

Mike (San Diego)

Pierre, not sure if you know a lot about baseball, but do you see the Blues as the NHL's version of the Tampa Bay Rays? It seems like no matter how much progress they make, they will always be looking up at Chicago and Detroit in the standings, much like the Rays often do with the Red Sox and Yankees.

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:43 PM)

No I don't see the same exact parallel. For starters, there's a salary cap in the NHL so the payroll gaps aren't nearly as outrageous as in baseball

Keith (NYC)

I believe the prime time winter classic (last year?) received the highest ratings of all of the games. Should move it to prime time. As for future games, any thought to a Montreal vs. Toronto game? Would also love to see NYR host a game in NY maybe vs. one of the other original 6, and either in Yankee Stadium or in the new MetLife Stadium (home of the football Giants & Jets).

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:44 PM)

League prefers afternoon slot.There will eventually be a game at Yankee Stadium in the next several years once there aren't Bowl games played there anymore...

alexandre (Quebec)

quel est le probleme du canadiens cette annee dapres toi ? le manque de gros joueur le manque de talent ?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:45 PM)

Manque de joueurs qui sont plus physique. Mike Rupp, par example, aurait ete une tres belle signature l'ete passee

Nikki (College Station, TX)

I've generally been supportive of the job "Sharif Shanny" has done so far, but I don't understand why he didn't feel that Bourque was deserving of an in-person hearing. That hit was about as obvious of an intent to injure the head as you can get. What gives?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:46 PM)

Yes I wondered myself about that... I thought it also deserved an in-person hearing

brett (philly)

if you are homer, how do you fix our D? no pronger, no shot at the cup ... are you reloading for the future or do you try to fill in prongers spot and bring some stability to the back end?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:47 PM)

I wait and see how things play out in Nash with Suter. The Preds must trade him Feb. 27 unless he's signed an extensionPlan B _ Tim Gleason in Carolina

Tony (Washington)

How badly do the Lightning need a new goaltender and defenseman?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:47 PM)

As badly as bad gets

Corey (New York)

Pierre! Happy New Year. We all know that shrewd GMs playing for the current year target depth, particularly on D, at the deadline. Who are the likely, if not sexy, names to be on the move?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:49 PM)

Always look at UFA-to-be guys... so Suter (if he doesn't sign by Feb. 27), Gleason, Spacek, Allen... maybe Sergei Gonchar (who has another year on his deal past this season) if Ottawa drops out of the race...

brian (seattle)

Hey Pierre, remember a couple weeks ago everyone was calling for Sacco's head? winning really does solve everything! but really what is the cause of their turn around? they are beating good teams to LA was on a tear.

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:49 PM)

One thing I've noticed from afar is their better commitment team-wide defensively...

Paul (DC)

So i had my first poutine while visiting montreal last month, and all i have to say is that it is incredible; great stuff. Anyway, do you think this offensive spurt the Caps are producing is just a blip, or something here to stay?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:50 PM)

Paul, nothing like it my friend. Quebec's gift to the world.I answered the Caps part earlier.Cheers

Matty-Ice (Detroit)

If Detroit were to make a big trade (Parise, Iginla, etc.), which player(s) would teams be inquiring about?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:51 PM)

The Wings I know have looked at Ales Hemsky...

Bill H (New Jersey)

Pierre..... Just a reminder... You can always pick up alot of bad things in Philly.... be thankful this time it was just a cold... just sayin'

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:51 PM)

hahaha, good point

Neal (Menlo Park)

Caps, Coyotes, Leafs and Senators. Who is in and out of the playoffs?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:52 PM)

Caps INLeafs/Coyotes/Sens OUT

Thomas (Hockey Bay )

Do you think it is more Goaltending or Defense that are holding the Bolts back this season? something else?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:52 PM)

Both

Sergei (Madison, WI)

Happy New Year, Pierre! I was watching the Winter Classic in a great mood; I love the event, it's great for hockey and the fans, it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling from my boyhood days, when we used to play hockey with friends outside. Then, during the second intermission, they brought on Bobby Clarke. I didn't like him from the Lindros days, but what he said really upset me. He talked about the 1972 Summit series between the USSR and Canada. It happened before I was born, but I heard a lot about it. The one thing I never knew about was "the tap" as he put it. In disgust I sat and listened to him talk about it with a smile on his face, the fact that he had no regrets about it and in his opinion it was the right thing to do. It got me so angry that I hope the next time Russia plays Canada, Ovi gives Crosby the same "tap" on the ankle or better yet, rips his foot off altogether. I, on the other hand, would like to say 'hello' to Clarke on behave of Kharlamov. You wouldn't know where he lives, Pierre, would ya?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:54 PM)

Sergei, not sure you'd want any part of Clarke. He's still tough.

Marc (Malden, MA)

Is there anything worse than Habs fans? Who cares what language the coach speaks.

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:54 PM)

Ca c'est ton opinion

Milosh (Seinfeld)

Pierre, quick no thinking. Stanley cup finals prediction based on first half of season? Go. I am Milosh!

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:55 PM)

Bruins-Canucks, rematch. Why not ! Ask me same question next week I'll give you a different answer, haha

Todd McLellan (San Jose)

Is my job on the line if we fail to make it to the finals this year?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:56 PM)

I sure hope not, because I consider you one of the very top coaches in the NHL

Neal (Menlo Park)

How likely will rule changes about goalies playing pucks outside of the trapezoid be for next season?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:57 PM)

It was brought up at a GM meetings last season and got ZERO traction from GMs

Frankie DiBaker (june2976)

Pierre, what is the biggest obstacle for the Kings to progress deep into the playoffs this year? Do you see them making a move for a big time forward?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:57 PM)

yes I believe if Kings are in a playoff spot in February that Lombardi will try to upgrade his wings

Marc (Malden, MA)

I'm all for cancelling the All-Star game, but I love the Skills Competition.

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:57 PM)

good point on the skills competition, I also don't mind it

Matt (NY)

Okay, here's my radical proposal. Everybody likes the Winter Classic. Nobody likes the All Star Game. Why not just merge the two? Vote in/select an all star "team" that participates in skill competitions before the WC. Have the WC be the only game all weekend. No acutal all star game will be held. This way there is no risk of injury or boring, unspirited play, and we can vote deserving all stars. All of the attention will be put on the WC. Thoughts?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:58 PM)

Sold. Love it

Denden (Québec City)

Hi Pierre, Who do you see running the Canadiens (GM & head coach) next season?

Pierre LeBrun
  (2:59 PM)

If I were the Canadiens, I would hire Julien Brisebois as the next GM

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:00 PM)

That was fun, folks. Sorry for all those I didn't get to. Lots of questions as always ! Until next Wednesday, my friends.