Every once in a while, we like to open up the ESPN.com/NHL chat room to any member of the NHL family who wishes to log on and take part in our community chat.
With so much happening in the NHL this season and with what awaits down the stretch, we thought this would be a good time to log on for an inside look at what the key players in the hockey world are really thinking.
LOOBJOB12@Hakan.Swe: OK, boys, let's let 'er fly. Log on, fire back some Tennessee courage and say things you will regret later. It will make for a better read. Do it for the children. Every click goes to charity.
GetyourkicksonMario66@AARP.Sell: Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, I am free at last!
LOOBJOB12: Mario! Sorry about the dreadful year. I haven't witnessed a train wreck like this since Greg Norman's final round at the '96 Masters. This is "Gigli" bad. 18-day-old trout bad.
Mario66: OK!!! Let's face it; we were doomed from the start. No goaltending, young players, old players, two completely different coaches, just a mess. Who knew Sergei Gonchar and Zigmund Palffy weren't warriors? Mark Recchi is minus-27. That wins the Las Vegas Invitational most years! Didn't John LeClair once score 50 goals? Who didn't project Maxime Talbot as a young Guy Carbonneau? Craig Patrick is a genius.
LivingOffmyLastname@Job4life.GM: Hey, Mario, should I sign Craig Janney? I hear he is tearing up the Hyde Park beer league in Boston.
LOOBJOB: Craig Patrick! You know how to use a computer?!
LivingOffmyLastname: I'm using Bob Errey's Brown-thingamajig.
Mario66: You mean Bob Errey's Blackberry.
LivingoffmyLastname: Why don't we move to Toledo?
LOOBJOB: You're cut off, C.P.
RonnyFranchise@10.net: Hey, guys! Glad to be here.
LOOBJOB: Ron Francis! Great speech at your ceremony in Raleigh. You are so smart, it makes me sick. Commissioner? President of an NHL team? GM? Consort Hair Spray model with Dan Patrick? You have Dan Patrick hair! "Anchorman"? Gouuuuulet!
RonnyFranchise: I'm being groomed to take over for Jim Rutherford here in Carolina. My family likes the area. Good weather, great golf courses, huge bugs. Love the bugs!
LivingOffmyLastname: Why can't we get players like Ron Francis?
Mario66: I will now have Phil Bourque spear me in the Adam's apple with a broken Koho.
WheresGoodenownow@NHL.com: Cost Certainty! Cost Certainty! I'm Mr. Cost Certainty!
LOOBJOB: Commish! Still gloating I see.
WheresGoodenownow: Life is good, baby! Revenues are climbing, we have exciting rookies, five-star retirement ceremonies to show our heritage, and 244 people watched hockey in Los Angeles recently!
LOOBJOB: I get a lot of e-mails about your cable TV package. The score bug on the bottom of the screen covering the puck, the camera zoomed in too far, making some viewers nauseous, poor picture quality, 26 St. Louis Blues games and Bill Clement's Ron Burgundy moustache.
WheresGoodenownow: ONL is a fine network.
LOOBJOB: You mean, OLN.
WheresGoodenownow: Whatever. Ted Nugent is a fine American and I love to hunt! Tell me you don't look at me and say, "Now, there's an outdoorsman!"
LOOBJOB: OLN did not get the NFL package of games that many thought it would. This was the master plan to get into more homes. Now that they lost out to the NFL Network, do you still think they are the best home for NHL hockey, considering their growth without football will be much slower?
WheresGoodenownow: Listen, if the lockout taught us anything, it's that no matter what poor decisions we make as a league, our fans will still watch the games, go to the games and buy $200 jerseys of players who eventually will leave because of the salary cap. I'm confident that America wants to see Ted Nugent kill helpless animals. Our research with our fans proves this. Ted Nugent is a plus.
TheJokinenisonU@shootout.perfect: Any chance instead of three periods, we just show up and have a best of 18 shootout and then go home? I could be a max salary player.
LOOBJOB: Jussi Jokinen! Dude, I anchored "SportsCenter" last Saturday and convinced the producers to show all of your shootout goals this season in the middle of the Red Wing/Stars highlight. It was the longest hockey highlight in "SportsCenter" history.
TheJokinenisonU: What is the "SportsCenter"?
LOOBJOB: Never mind.
MannybeingManny@TheJoe.netminder: I was watching. Thank you very little.
LOOBJOB: Manny Legace! Jussi went "stamp move" on you! Why is Jussi 8-for-8 in shootouts this year?
MannybeingManny: He's from Finland. Those guys are great Finnishers. They can really Finnish. They can smell the Finnish line. Finns to the left. Finns to the right. Can I borrow a Finn? Finn God we trust. Finn the tail on the donkey.
Wyzerguy19@onemoreCup.captain: Ladies and Gentlemen, the goalie we are depending on to get us to the Cup.
LOOBJOB: Stevie Y in the cyber hizzy! You are the man. OK, I'm 2-for-2 with retirement predictions this year. Hull and Lemieux. I said this is it for you, too. Am I right?
LivingOffmyLastname: I'll give you Crosby for Lebda straight up.
LOOBJOB: Between Brett Hull's 741, your 685-690 goals, and Dave Andreychuk's 640, that will be quite a Hall of Fame goal-scoring class in a few years.
Wyzerguy19: I'm mainly looking forward to the Bobby Hull happy hour stories.
Crazytothe9s@Brett'sDad.Wirtz: Carl Everett was right. There were no dinosaurs!
LivingOffmyLastname: OK, Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury for Lebda and Franzen. That's my final offer! I mean, they play more than Yzerman! Imagine how good they are!
The Mother of All Mailbags
How strange is it to see an athlete with the star power of Martin Brodeur negotiating a contract without an agent, allowing his team to retain cap space, allowing them to remain competitive for the future? Also, his desire to play out his career where he started is all too rare in this day and age. He's a rare breed in the selfish world of professional athletes. As a lifelong Devils fan, I couldn't be happier.
NHL players, on average, play agents about 3 percent for their services. Assuming Brodeur was worth at least $6 million per year, that's $180,000 in agent fees for a five-year, $30-million deal. Brodeur signed for $5.2 million, so the savings in agent fees is not a factor. Brodeur cost himself money, but his rationale was probably simple: "I have enough money, I like where I play. Negotiations wear on me, and there is no price for simplicity. I will retire with the same team. I will probably work for that team as long as I wish, if I wish."
Hockey players tend to live well below their means, and thus are able to make decisions based on quality of life, not portfolio size. I've met Martin Brodeur and interviewed him, and while I'm sure he enjoys being a multimillionaire, I still picture him smiling even if he was playing pool at the Bear's Den in Tiffin, Ohio, with 20 bucks in his pocket.
Is it just me or does Henrik Zetterberg look like Bowling for Soup's lead singer Jaret Reddick?
A little bored there in South Dakota, eh Matt? Although, I think Roger Federer looks like Morrissey.
With no All-Star Game this year due to the Olympics, players are losing out on a great honor. The NHL should at least name an All-Star team even if there is no game to be played. That way, guys who are having fantastic seasons can get the recognition they deserve and will always have something to remember.
As this probably won't happen, how about a Buccigross All-Star column?
New York City
Here are my 2005-06 NHL All-Star teams.
C - Peter Forsberg: Makes all of his linemates better. The No. 1 priority of a center.
RW - Jaromir Jagr: No player in the game has a better combo of passing/shooting skills.
LW - Alexander Ovechkin: He is like a week-long vacation in Hawaii in the dead of winter.
D - Zdeno Chara: Enormous, versatile and mean. An ideal D-Man trifecta.
D - Bryan McCabe: A power-play force who logs big minutes.
G - Henrik Lundqvist: If he played on the Senators, he'd have 30 wins and seven shutouts.
C - Pavel Datsyuk: Pure hockey joy. Smart, sleek and slippery. The best in the West.
RW - Marek Svatos: He has energized the Avalanche with 19 equal-strength goals. Iginla? 13
LW - Henrik Zetterberg: Smart. Plays hard. Plays a lot. Creative.
D - Nicklas Lidstrom: Heavy shot always on net. Passer. Skater. One of the best ever.
D - Sergei Zubov: A shade over Lubomir Visnovsky. His talent makes players envious.
G - Tomas Vokoun: The man will make his 1,200th save of the year this week. Horse.
Can you tell me where that NHL network is that Bettman promised fans?
It is currently at the Canadian border getting strip-searched.
You heard it here last. USA Hockey will not take home silver or gold for one simple reason: Ryan Miller is not in net. Last I heard, DiPietro has been pulled six times this year and has a 3.44 GAA. That's 38th in the bleeping league! Miller may not have the international experience, but he's head and shoulders above DiPietro in the skill category.
Oh, and I totally agree with your assessment of Drury. Love the guy.
I understand why Ryan Miller was not initially named to Team USA: inexperience and his injury. But, there is NO question he should be on the team now. Something has to be done.
Could you please get your fellow "SportsCenter"/ESPNEWS anchors to stop referring to the Carolina Hurricanes as the "Former Hartford Whalers" or "Whalercanes" or such, it is getting tiring to hear this. I know they used to be in ESPN's backyard, however, we never hear the Avs being mentioned as the former Quebec franchise, the Coyotes as the former Winnipeg or the Stars as the former Minnesota franchise. If they refuse, in the essence of fairness, please ask them to refer to all the franchises that have moved be named there former home first in all sports, such as the Colts as the former Baltimore franchise, the Dodgers as the former Brooklyn franchise, and the Flames as the former Atlanta franchise. The Hurricanes have their own identity, and while we do not want to forget our past as the Whalers, it is time for ESPN to move past their bitterness. We are the Carolina Hurricanes.
Hurricanes season-ticket holder
I agree, David. I'm pretty confident I've never said it. I can also tell you that there is really no bitterness over the Whalers leaving among ESPN anchors. Chris Berman is the only one who probably even cares and his life is full enough for him to not be bitter. Few "SportsCenter" anchors were employed here when the Whalers were in town and none of them were Whaler fans.
Why is it that in this new "Don't breathe on anyone or you may get a penalty" NHL that when a guy throws two clean hits, he's marked as a dirty player? I understand that Darius Kasparaitis has a reputation, but the hit on Grant Marshall was with his shoulder, not his elbow, and he didn't deserve the penalty he received. The hip check on Tim Connolly was TEXTBOOK -- I wish I had thrown that check -- but because Connolly is as fragile as uncooked pasta, Lindy Ruff says that the hit was cheap. C'mon people, if you want the NHL to stand for No Hitting League, then go take up tennis and leave my sport alone. By the way, what David Draiman is to Disturbed, John Buccigross is to ESPN!
Train sang in "Drops of Jupiter":
"Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken
Your best friend always sticking up for you even when I know you're wrong."
I think the Sabres realized Darius Kasparaitis' hit was clean hip check. Connolly relaxed, and that's something that will get a novice skier, or an NHL player, injured. But the Sabres had to support their man publicly. It builds team unity and boosts your fallen teammate's spirit. Sometimes, it pays to lie.
I don't want to take anything away from Ovechkin's goal against the Coyotes, because it was amazing, but when I finally got to see it, it reminded me of Jaromir Jagr's goal against the Flyers' Ron Hextall in 1999. While with Pittsburgh against rival Philadelphia, Jagr managed to lift the puck in the air just before getting knocked flat on his stomach in the slot by Eric Desjardins. While sliding on his belly, and with Desjardins along for the ride, Jagr knocked the puck out of midair right before Hextall could grab it, and into the goal.
Everyone's entitled to have their own "greatest goal," and I won't argue against Ovechkin's goal, but no goal has yet to top Jagr's on my list.
Great call, Michael. That Jagr goal was right there, because it exhibited skill, speed, hand-eye coordination and superior mental vision under extreme conditions.
To John BooCheeseGrass.
I bet my mate a chicken parm I would get on ya page before him, so here's my question: Would these 10 players, if they retired now or played a couple more encores at their current level, make the Hockey Hall of Fame? It's some of the best of my generation, but how do they stack up to you and your wide plethora of hockey know-it-all-dom? Just chuck a yay or nay and maybe a sentence.
This was Sam's list:
1. Tony Amonte: No. International and playoff stats not strong.
2. John LeClair: No. Lindros-in-his-prime benefactor. 42 goals in 154 playoffs games.
3. Owen Nolan: No. Playoff stats are not good. Only five seasons of 30-plus goals.
4. Mathieu Schneider: No, but a real good player. Smart and skilled. Love his game.
5. Chris Pronger: One MVP and one Norris, but has not had a HOF career yet.
6. Alexei Yashin: Funny.
7. Sergei Fedorov: Yes. Two Selkes and an MVP. Durable, consistent and clutch.
8. Curtis Joseph: Yes. 400-plus wins on nonelite teams. He got a raw deal in Detroit.
9. Keith Tkachuk: If he fell in love with fitness and scored 150 more goals? Yes.
10. Marty Turco: He needs 10 more seasons of 30 wins, a Vezina and a Cup.
I have asked a number of people if they think the Rangers will ever retire Adam Graves' No. 9. I find that most Islanders fans say yes, while many Rangers fans surprisingly say no. I'm thinking that Islander fans are more accustomed to blue-collar, hard-working players rewarded for their efforts (Nystrom, Gillies), where Rangers fans hold higher standards for jerseys they retire. What's your take? I have a steak dinner on your response.
Adam Graves played 10 seasons with the Rangers. Played in 80-plus games in seven of them. 772 games as a Ranger. 280 goals. Playoff stats as a Ranger: 28 goals and 16 assists in 68 games. Messier played in 70 Rangers playoff games and had 29 goals and 41 assists. When you think of those Rangers teams, don't you think Messier, Leetch, Richter and Graves? Each played a different and vital role. They will all be up there.
How about printing a word of gratitude from all Boston Bruins fans for the hard working PJ Axelsson. This week, his assignments were to shut down Jagr and Ovechkin. After keeping them both off the score sheet, he and his linemates were asked to take care of Kovalchuk and his linemates. PJ is one of the smartest players in the NHL. In Boston, we value his smart, hard play and the size of his heart. Please print a good word for him and let him know how much Bruins fans appreciate him.
A nice role player. Speed and smarts and the ideal third-line guy. Probably doesn't score enough goals to win the Selke, as strange as that sounds.
I'm a big-time Canucks fan, and I strongly feel that they are a contender and have the best and most balanced team compared to the past four Canuck seasons, even with the goaltending situation with Alex Auld. What do you think their chances are of winning the Stanley Cup? And what do they need to do to get better?
Amman, Jordan (Yes, in the Middle East)
I have always been a big Canucks supporter. I love watching their games and I love Markus Naslund. Unless their young players take huge leaps in the playoffs, which is always possible, they probably lack depth in scoring, at the blue line and in net to go deep in the playoffs. I'm sure the Canucks are realizing this and may make a big move come the March 9 trade deadline.
1) What's the best way to develop a young player in hockey and make them a lifelong admirer of this fantastic game?
2) What are the best attributes of a head coach at this level of play and how can I prepare myself to be the best coach I can for the kids?
3) Are 6-8 year olds too young to learn simple offensive and defensive zone systems or should the focus just be on skating and puck handling skills at this level?
1) I'm a first-year USA hockey coach, so there are better men and women than me to have an informed opinion. But my answer here is to just get them on skates for one hockey season, and 90 percent will love the game forever. Let them do what is fun. Skate, shoot, score. In my 6-year-old's mind, he has about 80 goals this year. He counts practices and warm ups and so do I.
2) Structure, consistency, energy, organization and creativity.
3) The South Windsor Mite B's have our defensemen rotate, centermen support and wingers play the points on defense. Offensively, two-man support on the puck, one-man in the slot and defensemen aggressively try to keep the puck in. Practice time is a lot of skating, puck handling and passing.
Hockey is the best game of them all for fitness and fun. Tell kids that everyday. They will feel the joy and exhilaration the sport brings them, the friends they'll meet because of it and the life of love it will provide.
John Buccigross' e-mail address -- for questions, comments or cross-checks -- is firstname.lastname@example.org.