Oh, boy ... there are some angry Sabres and Devils fans this week, as you might expect. Plus, a Flyers fan who has had enough of 20-odd years of goalies woes. Let's take a look at this week's rants:
Bay_0_Wolf: I'm a huge Philly fan, and this has been eating me inside since Hextall. Why does it seem year after year the Flyers can't seem to lock on a good solid goaltender? To me it seems that the organization really doesn't give a hoot about the whole situation. We have and/or had plenty of opportunities but never capitalize. If you look at a lot of teams that won the Stanley Cup (similar to the NFL's defense wins championships), goaltending played a major role, and still does. Why is it that we just can't seem to find "Mr. Right"?
My take: It really is mind-boggling. Two seasons ago, I wrote a feature on this very subject. I thought the most telling quote came from former GM Bob Clarke and his general views on goalies.
"The hardest thing that I found as a GM was making goaltenders just part of the team," he then told ESPN.com. "Your job is to stop the puck when the coach asks you to go in there. You're not competing with the other goalie. We isolate goalies, we treat them special, we give them special treatment. Even when I was playing, Bernie [Parent] had his own room and all this kind of stuff. The coach will tell you who's playing, and in the meantime, pull for your team. Don't hope when the other guy goes in that he lets in six goals so you can play. That's B.S."
To the credit of current Flyers GM Paul Holmgren, he did try to sign both Marty Turco and Evgeni Nabokov after last season, but limited cap space limited his offers. So you can't say the Flyers are ignoring the issue. Time will tell whether KHL find Sergei Bobrovsky is the real deal, but I suspect the questioning will continue all season and into the playoffs. Some things don't change.
Kujo1545: Hey, Tim Connolly, enjoy this year. This will be your last contract with this amount of money. It will also be the last time you will have an easy paycheck. Way to go bro. One day you will look back and wish you played harder in Buffalo, because this is as good as it's gonna get for you buddy. Not even a contract year can motivate you. You must not care. The only reason you don't get scratched is because it would be too embarrassing for [your GM].
My take: Someone is angry! I take it three points in six games and a minus-2 rating have you a little rattled? Like a lot of his teammates, Connolly hasn't started out too well this season. But let's cut him a little slack. He was second on the team with 65 points last season and is perhaps the most creative player on the team. Given that it's a contract year for him, I think you'll see some much better hockey from Connolly. As for the Sabres, I'm as perplexed as anyone. I thought they were a playoff team, for sure. A lot of players are not paying the price right now.
EpeeBill: OK, so far both the Red Wings and the Devils have had to put a team on the ice at less than full strength due to salary cap restrictions and we're not even out of October yet! Will the NHLPA address this cap side-effect in the next CBA? I mean, it's keeping players off the ice and (ostensibly) out of work.
My take: Interestingly, a league official told me over the weekend this has actually happened six to seven times a season since the lockout, but it just didn't get as much attention. Not that it makes it any more right. Both the NHL and NHL Players' Association have told me they hope to add more language in the next CBA that would better define this area. It just doesn't work in its current form. In fact, I was told over the weekend that the players' union was planning to speak with the league about it this week in hopes of perhaps finding a solution for this current CBA (they amended the current CBA with the Ilya Kovalchuk rule last month, so it's not uncommon). We'll see what happens, but I suspect it'll wait until the next CBA in two years.
rjs162: i understand that the refs are to be on the lookout for blind-side headhunting-type hits, but how does the hit kris letang put on blake comeau in friday's game merit a game misconduct? shouldn't there be some sort of review process in place if these kinds of calls are going to be made on a regular basis?
My take: That was a bad call, and a senior NHL official agreed with me over the weekend. But what can you do? Put yourself in the refs' skates at ice level. The game is played at 100 miles per hour, and sometimes you just don't see it right. Fans and media are sometimes guilty of thinking that seeing a ton of slow-motion replays is obvious evidence of a play, so it's easy to be an NHL ref. It isn't. It's one of the hardest jobs in pro sports. It was not even close to the right call Friday -- Letang's hit was shoulder to shoulder. The ref missed it. The league did rescind the hit-to-the-head major Saturday morning, which was important to Letang because, once you have two of those under your belt, you face a suspension under the new rule. Now he has a clean slate again. For more on Rule 48, click here.
srkeegan: Now that New Jersey has completely destroyed their future with that ridiculous Kovy contract, don't you think this might be a good spot for Brodeur to retire? Things look like they are about to get really, really ugly in Jersey. 38 is getting up there for a goalie, and the Devils have no chance of winning another title this year or the next. Outstanding career, Marty. Your legacy is more important than hanging around for another year or two. EJECT! before you crash and burn.
My take: It's going to be interesting to see how things play out this season with Martin Brodeur. One thing I've always been told about older goalies is they take longer at the start of the season to find their rhythm, so before we all bury the NHL's all-time winningest goalie, let's give him a few more weeks. Having said that, my HNIC colleague Kelly Hrudey wondered during this past Saturday's telecast about the kind of goals Brodeur was giving up. I just can't help but think Brodeur will pull it together. Maybe I'm a sucker when it comes to future Hall of Famers. Brodeur, by the way, has one more year left on his deal next season at $5.2 million.
joedirt113: Mike Cammalleri gets one-game for tomahawk chopping in a PRESEASON GAME ... Sean Avery has a track record and tomahawk chops Komisarek in a REGULAR SEASON GAME. Nothing ... nadda ... zero ... zilch. Way to enable Avery's act. Oh, and Wisnewski got busted for his gesture against Avery. Avery is lovin' the NHL these days.
My take: In talking to a league source, it was explained to me that Mike Cammalleri had his stick in the head area during his incident, while Sean Avery kept his stick low. Still, I must admit that when I saw the play on Mike Komisarek on Friday night, I thought Avery might get at least a fine given his history.
polishiron: Who is in charge of NHL scheduling? Make the Bruins open the season in Europe with two games in two days, give them almost a whole week off, then reward them for being patient with a home-and-home with last year's best team [the Capitals]. How can a team gain any momentum with a schedule like that? With so many 3-point games in the league, every game could decide a playoff spot. Other teams are pulling out of the driveway and the Bruins are still warming up the car. Is my concern warranted or am I just going through withdrawals?
My take: Polishiron, after Anaheim and Los Angeles became the first teams to open the regular season overseas three years ago, part of the feedback they gave the NHL was that a week off upon returning to North America would have been beneficial to recover from the jet lag. If memory recalls, the Ducks had to play three days after arriving home from London. Now, the week off after Europe is something that is seen as helpful to teams.
justplayinj21: Living in Minn. is frustrating. We have one of the best states for hockey, yet hearing all these guys who come to the Wild say they want to play for the "state of hockey" is frustrating. You look at our salary cap and we pay almost everyone over a million dollars. I believe we have a chance to do good this year, but it just seems like we start so slow. We beat Edmonton, and we lose to the Jackets. I don't understand that. Do the Wild have a chance to make the playoffs and make our state proud, or do us Minnesotans get to be let down by yet another one of our professional teams?
My take: I don't see the Wild making the postseason in the tough Western Conference, my friend. Matt Cullen has proved to be a good addition, but overall, there still isn't enough there, in my humble opinion. Where will all the offense come from? I never wish any coach to be fired, but Todd Richards better not get in the hole too early here.
nintendogg516: So the Stars are 4-0-0 at the moment ... does that mean we are seriously better off without Turco and Modano? I don't want to believe it, but if we keep winning, I'm going to have to invest in a Trevor Daley jersey. It just doesn't feel right, you know?
My take: It's not as much about discarding Marty Turco and Mike Modano as much as that their exits, along with Jere Lehtinen, opened the door for the younger core to feel more comfortable in taking ownership of the team. It's their team now. It was the feeling in the front office that the young core would take a step forward with the older veterans gone.
zarofo: Joel Quenneville has to be the most overrated coach in the league. Last year's team won the Cup because of the ROSTER, not because of the coach. The things the coach is really responsible for: PP and PK scheming, line/roster moves, special teams personnel, and defensive philosophy are handled atrociously. It's not like you can simply attribute it to new personnel either; these were ALL problems last year! Case in point, can someone tell Quenneville Seabrook is NOT good on the PP? ... Someone also needs to tell him that the Hawk PP is more successful when letting the wings create around the circles.
As far as the roster is concerned, how can ANYONE justify playing John Scott, who is downright horrible, over Jack Skille? It's one thing to have an "enforcer" out there, but when he absolutely [expletive] at EVERYTHING you can't even begin to justify putting him in over one of our most effective forwards to start the season. Quenneville is lucky that move didn't cost the Hawks the game as Scott is nothing more than a pylon out there. Just watch a couple of Hawk games and you'll see what I mean.
My take: This is a heck of rant, but one I believe is totally off base. This fall, Coach Q was handed a roster devoid of 10 faces from this past spring's Cup-winning squad. Talk to any GM or coach of a team that's had major offseason renovations, and they will tell you that, historically, it takes time to develop chemistry and cohesion. Quenneville is a good coach. He's trying to make the new pieces fit. Be patient.