Chat with EJ Hradek
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN The Magazine's EJ Hradek will stop by to chat about the NHL season.
Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.
Keep up with what Hradek has been up to through his blog on ESPN.com.
Send your questions now and join EJ to chat Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (3:00 PM)
We're getting EJ!
Ray Grace (Long Beach, Ca)
Wondering if you saw that performance from Jonathan Quick last night, wow!
EJ Hradek (3:08 PM)
It was darn good! 51-save shutout against one of the best teams in the league. That was a damn good performance. That's one that he will look back on and remember.
Nabakov to the Bolts? He can't be any worse than what they already have right?
EJ Hradek (3:10 PM)
No, he can't be, really. It might be worth a try. It depends on what he's looking for financially. That's been a real issue for Tampa. Bad goaltending will really hurt you. I would think that Tampa will make a phone call about Nabakov. A lot will just depend on what the ownership wants to do.
EJ, If the Wings win the Cup this year do you think that Lidstrom will come back another year?
EJ Hradek (3:13 PM)
That's a really good question. I think that's a personal decision that he's going to have to make. A lot will have to do with his family. I don't see there being a big fall off, but you get to his age and it's very much a year-to-year thing. If they were to win this year, I think it would be more likely that he walks off as a champion. But that's something that's up to him and his family. He made a lot of money in his career, but he still has an annual salary of $6 million, and you're not going to make anything like that off the ice. If you haven't seen in, Pierre LeBrun on ESPN.com wrote a great story about Lidstrom and Chris Osgood interviewed him.
Biggest surprises thus far this season?
EJ Hradek (3:15 PM)
A little surprise to me in a negative way is what's been going on with Kovalchuk. There are role players that have more goals and more points. That's really a big, big surprise. I'm surprised, on a positive side, that the Ducks have done as well as they have. I was worried a little bit about their defense, but they've pieced things together. Dallas is a big surprise and their success. Good for them, despite the strange circumstances off the ice with them being in the process of being sold.
EJ, great talking to you again. We have exchanged a few tweets on twitter... Right now, and i can't help to think i'm the only one thinking this way. Everyone in the NHL world (assuming they have hbo) will be tuning into the 24/7 series starting tomorrow. What can we expect this to do for the league? Also, will we eventually see some sort of "training camp with [insert nhl team]" if all goes well?
EJ Hradek (3:17 PM)
I don't know if it will be big, but I think it will have an impact. HBO does a terrific job with these programs. It will be a way for the more mainstream sports fan to get a better look at these players. The players in the NHL are they're role models in a way. They're a group of good people, for the most part. When fans get exposed to them, they'll like them. Something like that is good for the league. The fact that they're on HBO, they'll definitely reach a bigger than NHL audience. I will be interested in how it will be received.
EJ Hradek (3:18 PM)
We have an interesting set up to it already with the Penguins on this amazing streak and Washington on this slide right now. I will be curious to see what happens in the first episode.
Why such a light punishment for Shelley? Repeat offender and a hit that looked VERY bad.
EJ Hradek (3:19 PM)
Yeah, it looked bad. I would imagine the only thing that worked in his favor is that the player wasn't seriously hurt. In talking to the NHL, the consequence of the play and the injury of the player involved does come into the thinking. I disagree and think that the act itself should be judged, but that went into their thinking and probably why he got the punishment he did.
Looks like the Avs got a steal in the Hannan Fleischmann deal. Who is the odd man/men out when Stewart, Hejduk, Galiardi, and maybe Mueller come back?
EJ Hradek (3:21 PM)
They were dealing from a strength for them. They had a strength on defense, so they could move Hannan. Conversely, Washington had a good number of offensive players, so they were dealing from a strength for them. As far as the odd man out, they will figure that out when it comes. Mueller may be out for a while. I haven't heard a lot of positives with him and his concussions. They'll worry about that when they can get everyone healthy. It seems in the NHL right now, when one guy comes back, another gets hurt.
EJ,Don't you think it's time the NHL takes an honest look at contraction? The league does well in certain pockets and to force it on markets that don't respond is silly. In the immortal words of Sam Kinison talking about the Ethiopian Famine: "you live in a ----- desert! Move to where the food is!!! The NHL should move to where the food is, shouldn't it?
EJ Hradek (3:24 PM)
If that's the case, then you'll have to have MLB and the NBA look at some markets as well, if you're going to use that as criteria. The NHL looks at these places in the long term view, having kids grow up with the teams. If markets aren't responding, then maybe you need to go somewhere else, but that's a short term look. You need to think long term. Ownership in some of those areas have done well and others have struggled. Maybe they haven't built the infrastructure with rinks in the area and all that. In talking with people in the league, it's not something that's on their plate right now, it's not something they're talking about. From a competitive standpoint, I wouldn't mind all the sports looking at contraction. I wouldn't mind seeing it, but I don't think it's on the agenda for the NHL.
Is there any possible way for the Bruins to trade Marc Savard? David Krejci is a better all around player and has proven his worth on that top line, Bergeron is a staple in Boston and rightfully so and all Savard is doing is taking away Seguin's ice time
EJ Hradek (3:26 PM)
It's always possible. You've got the concussion issue from last year. You have a fairly sizable contract for several seasons. That all makes it hard to move a guy like that. But point scoring centers are always valuable. There are teams that need someone like that, so we might see a deal down the road, but it would be difficult. I think we see Marc staying there for the near future.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What outdoor stadium do you think would be perfect for the Winter Classic?
EJ Hradek (3:28 PM)
Hmmmmm. Good question. Let's see ... we just saw the Big House used for a college game with Michigan-Michigan State that had over 113,000 people. In the U.S., we don't have a lot of those kinds of places standing. I think the league could certainly look at going back to Wrigley or Fenway. Soldier Field in Chicago could be a possibility. In terms of legendary places, I don't know if there are some that come right to mind. I think the league is still trying to figure out if a football stadium or baseball stadium is better. But off of the top of my head, I can't think of any historic venues where it would make sense to play.
Rob (San Antonio)
Pitt-Philly . . . who wins and why?
EJ Hradek (3:30 PM)
It's a great one for early in the season. The teams are separated by 1 point. First place in the division and conference are on the line. Crosby comes in with his point streak. The Penguins have the win streak. I make picks on Tuesday for my Insider blog and this was a tough one. It was a coin flip. You'll have to go to the blog to see who I picked.
Are the Rangers for real? Will the return of Drury help the team?
EJ Hradek (3:31 PM)
Drury is a big help to the team. He's a competitive guy. When you have him in the right role, he's a real helpful player. The Rangers are a workmen group this year, attack by committee. Chris' return will be a positive one.
EJ Hradek (3:31 PM)
Thanks for all of the questions. We'll see you again next week!