Chat with Craig Custance
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com NHL Insider Craig Custance stops by to chat about the latest news from the ice.
Custance joined ESPN in September 2011 as an NHL reporter for ESPN the Magazine, ESPN Insider and ESPN.com. He joined ESPN following a stint with the Sporting News. A graduate of Michigan State University, he lived for nearly a decade in Georgia working for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution where he spent time covering the late Atlanta Thrashers.
Send your questions now and join Custance Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. ET!
Craig Custance (2:35 PM)
Hey guys - wrapping up a Hockey Today podcast. We'll dig in in a second here.
Bharath (NJ) [via mobile]
With the injuries to josefson and zajac the devils are extremely thin at center. What would it take to trade for kyle turris?
Craig Custance (2:42 PM)
That's an interesting thought in New Jersey. The latest I've heard on Turris is that Don Maloney won't budge on this one. It's an interesting debate because at some point you're letting an asset like Kyle Turris die on the vine and you're better of making a deal to at least get somebody who can play now. The challenge with Turris is getting the kind of return the former No. 3 overall pick deserves and right now his trade value isn't at its highest. He's underachieved at the NHL level and he's holding out. It'll be interesting to see who blinks first in this staredown but I wouldn't bet against Maloney.
Do you agree with TM decision to sit Quick?
Craig Custance (2:45 PM)
Kevin - It would be very hard to sit a goalie who hasn't allowed a goal in over 188 minutes but at the same time the Kings aren't trying to win the championship in October. I actually do agree with getting Jonathan Bernier some action. He's still one of the most talented young backups in the league and there's no reason to push Quick too hard in the first month of the season.
Do you think the Lightning need to ride Garon for the foreseeable future? What do you make of his success vs the struggles of Roloson early in the year?
Craig Custance (2:48 PM)
A lot of Roloson's struggles early on could be shared with the team's defensive play in front of him. Like Guy Boucher pointed out, Roloson was the only Lightning player who had a giant red light go off every time he made a mistake. But there were plenty of mistakes to go around early on in Tampa. I'd ride Garon in the short term while he's effective but the Lightning need Roloson if they're going to be competitive in the Southeast and I still think it's too early to panic. GM Steve Yzerman is making calls to shore up his defense and I think that should be his focus rather than goaltending.
No show. What a surprise. Must be soo busy
Craig Custance (2:49 PM)
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What was the Year that the NHL Lockout has Cancelled the whole entire NHL Season?
Craig Custance (2:50 PM)
Lorne ((los angeles))
Now, finally, can we put to rest the Boudreau on the hot seat storyline? can't wait for the playoffs to start!
Craig Custance (2:52 PM)
Lorne - The Capitals have looked great to start the season and Boudreau deserves a lot of credit for it. He established an early tone on what he expects - from Alex Ovechkin on down. Thanks to a strong off-season from George McPhee, the Capitals are much tougher to play against and Tomas Vokoun is providing veteran stability in goal they haven't always had under Boudreau. All that said, if they don't produce in the playoffs it's back to the hot seat for Boudreau. Nobody will remember what these Capitals did in October.
With the Blue Jackets playing the Red Wings tonight after their thrashing by Washington, should Columbus prepare for a 7-1 defeat themselves?
Craig Custance (2:54 PM)
Kirk - I had a good chat with James Wisniewski and Scott Howson yesterday about the state of the Blue Jackets and I'm very curious to see how they play with Wiz in the lineup. So many of their losses were close games and Wisniewski feels like he could have been the difference in a few of them. With so many injuries, it's tough to evaluate the Blue Jackets but the turnaround needs to start tonight against Detroit. A 7-1 blowout loss would be a disaster for Columbus.
Marc (Malden, MA)
Please tell me the NHL and NHLPA have learned from the NBA and will get a new CBA done in time. They should be working on it now.
Craig Custance (2:57 PM)
Marc - Don Fehr has spent most of the time during his tenure meeting in small groups with the players and learning exactly what is important to his membership. Last I heard, the two sides anticipated sitting down for negotiations in the spring. The current CBA expires on Sept. 15. That doesn't sound like a lot of time, but these kind of things tend do work best when there is a deadline looming. I'm still optimistic that a deal will get done, the game is in a pretty good place right now.
Josh (Schaumburg, IL)
I know we had quite a few great players in the mid-90's. But has Has United States hockey ever been better? The world juniors teams have consistently improved. Are we entering a golden age of hockey as Stars and Stripes fans in your opinion?
Craig Custance (3:00 PM)
Yes, I believe we are hitting a golden age Josh. In the past, success against Canada and some of the other international world powers was a big deal for USA Hockey. Now, it is expected. The pool of talent has grown from the usual states like Minnesota, Michigan and New York and has expanded across the entire United States. Just look at all the kids getting drafted from California - that talent pool didn't exist ten years ago. The wave of players coming up through the NTDP in Ann Arbor is talented and they're confident. We saw that energy in the Olympics when Brian Burke turned the page to a new generation of players. The next decade could be a really good one for USA Hockey.
Lightning Fans (Tampa Bay)
Can we give a shout out to Jeff Vinki, the best owner in NHL and all of sports?
Craig Custance (3:03 PM)
Jeff Vinik is proving that stable, devoted ownership can change the future of an entire franchise, even in a non-traditional market. Dallas fans really must be hoping Tom Gaglardi is their version of Jeff Vinik.
Josh (Schaumburg, IL)
I cannot remember a team with a more polarizing media difference of opinion than the Montreal Canadians entering the season. Is there a lot of told you so going on with your media counterparts out of those that did not believe in Montreal going into this year?
Craig Custance (3:06 PM)
Hey Josh - It's a little early for 'I told you so.' But to really believe in the Canadiens you needed to believe that Carey Price was going to have another unbelievable season. I know my colleague Scott Burnside wasn't crazy about their offseason moves, including the addition of Erik Cole. They weren't in my top eight to make the playoffs in our season preview but it's still early to start the back patting. More than anything this team needs to get healthy on defense or make a trade to add a defenseman to turn things around.
Does Ryan Nugent Hopkins stay with Edmonton or be sent back down to the juniors?
Craig Custance (3:10 PM)
I know that's a big debate in Edmonton but I'd keep Ryan Nugent Hopkins in the NHL. He leads all rookies with seven points and has five goals. I'd definitely be concerned with his 26 percent in the faceoff circle, but to me he's done enough to show he can play at this level. I'm saying he stays.
Marc (Malden, MA)
I noticed you didn't include Massachusetts in your "growth from the usual states." Is Mass not producing hockey talent like it used to? Why is that?
Craig Custance (3:13 PM)
Hey Marc - I could have easily included Mass. in the list of states known for developing talent. But I will say this - the talent being pumped out of your state declined in the last decade or so. I think it has a lot to do with lack of success for the Bruins before things improved the last few years. With the Stanley Cup win and the revival of hockey in Boston, I wouldn't be surprised if Massachusetts returns to producing talent like some of the other traditional hockey states.
Nik Lidstrom (Detroit)
What the heck happened?! That's not what I expected for my 1,500 game!
Craig Custance (3:15 PM)
Sorry Nick, that was no way to celebrate a milestone. Maybe the REd Wings were a bit gassed after playing on Friday. We'll see if there's a difference in the rematch in March.
Joshua (Philly, PA)
How about these Flyers! That was a great win last night with Jagr scoring 2 goals. Now we hear that the rookie Cotourier is going to be staying with the team. Do you think that the flyers have a shot at the cup this year in addition to their bright outlook for the future?
Craig Custance (3:18 PM)
Jagr sure looked good, didn't he? Watching Jagr play with Claude Giroux is an absolute pleasure. That was a scary moment for Chris Pronger though and to me that's where your Cup chances hinge. Sounds like he's going to return in a couple weeks and averted disaster but that's where the Flyers Cup chances hinge. If he's healthy in the spring, this is a Stanley Cup contender. If he's not, they're not.
Kind of a follow up to the Nugent Hopkins question, does Couterier stay up with the Flyers or does he get sent back down?
Craig Custance (3:19 PM)
He'll be up. I asked Paul Holmgren about him last week and he gave an answer that is a little different than most general managers. It wasn't necessarily all about Couterier's long-term development. The question Paul said he will ask is - are the Flyers are better team with him around? I think they are.
Clearly, Lightning fans are not familiar with Mr. Pegula, the savior of Buffalo hockey...
Craig Custance (3:20 PM)
Yeah, he's not too bad either. If Gary Bettman could just find a few more Viniks and Pegulas for Phoenix, St. Louis and some of the other teams struggling with ownership issues, we'd be all set.
Peter (new canaan, ct)
How about a florida panthers question!!! Does Markstrom stick as the #1? looked good last night! Thanks!
Craig Custance (3:22 PM)
He certainly looked good. I liked that one of his teammates described him as a Transformer. Florida has thrown its support behind Jose Theodore and said he's still the No. 1 but I see some similarities in this situation and the one a few years ago when Steve Mason came in with Columbus and was lights-out as a rookie in leading the Blue Jackets to the playoffs. If Markstrom can keep playing like he did last night, the Panthers would be foolish not to keep him as the No. 1 goalie.
Why is everybody hating on the Rangers? got 8 out of 14 pts in a 7 game trip that took them from europe to western canada, and the defense has held its own without staal and sauer, yet they still find themselves in the 20s in power rankings. Not saying they should be top 5, or even top 10, but come on, give the team a break
Craig Custance (3:23 PM)
I'm with you Bob. Let's put any Rangers panic on hold until they at least play a home game.
Keith (Hamilton, MA)
Did you happen to see the Flyers season flash before your eyes last night as I did? Thankfully it sounds like Pronger will be ok... but recall a similar 'he will be back in 3 weeks' with Bernie Parent back in 1979... He never played again... What's your take?
Craig Custance (3:24 PM)
Visors. Mandatory visors.
Josh (Schaumburg, IL)
Given the Chris Pronger incident and the ugly Malhotra incident of last season. How close are we to grandfathering in visors? I know Don Cherry would cringe, but I think the time has come. Yzerman went on record as wanting all the Lightening to put them on, Lidstrom transitioned after years without one. Why risk the permanent damage?
Craig Custance (3:25 PM)
The NHLPA has to sign off on it, Josh. The league is very much in favor of grandfathering in visors but the union wants to let players make their own choice.
Richard (Greensboro, NC)
Any reason for concern after Carolina's last couple games? Seems to me it was just a team on a long road trip that will bounce back most likely, but they sure dropped hard in the power rankings.
Craig Custance (3:27 PM)
Richard - I wouldn't be too concerned about the power rankings. Jim Rutherford will find a way to keep this team in the playoff hunt all season long. With all the teams looking for help on defense, he might be the one GM who can actually capitalize and trade some of his depth there.
Lorenzo Villalobos Jr. (Olympia, Washington)
Looks like Josh just helped me with my next question. In your own opinion, did Don Cherry have the right to call out Stu Grimson and others on the fighting issue?
Craig Custance (3:28 PM)
Nope. I completely disagreed with Don Cherry on that issue. Completely. I love watching Coach's Corner and find Mr. Cherry highly entertaining but in this case I believe he is dead wrong.
am i back and a serious contender for mvp this year? and what are our chances we go all the way this year if we dont get a bad draw in the playoffs and get the streaking team?
Craig Custance (3:31 PM)
I'd be much more impressed if Ovi won a Conn Smythe than a Hart. The draw shouldn't matter for the Capitals in the playoffs. Assuming they're healthy - they're as talented and playoff experienced as anybody. There's no excuse right now for another postseason disappointment in Washington.
Lorenzo Villalobos Jr. (Olympia, Washington)
Did the Kings make the right decision on signing Drew Doughty for the long-term? Almost a decades-worth commitment on a contract is unheard of in the NHL.
Craig Custance (3:33 PM)
I liked that contract for the Kings. They were the ones who really pushed for the length. When you have a rare franchise talent like Doughty you want him around long-term and I think eight years is a very reasonable number for somebody his age. There have been a lot of outrageous contracts signed in the NHL over the last few years but I wouldn't count his as one of them.
ive heard alot about rene bourque being on the block. what are the chances he gets moved soon?
Craig Custance (3:35 PM)
Bob - When I exchanged e-mails with Jay Feaster over the weekend it didn't sound like he was going to be overly patient with his roster. He's determined to make the playoffs and I don't think anyone is safe (outside of Iginla and Kipper) if Calgary continues to struggle. The likelihood of a deal increases with each Flames loss.
Long time Rangers fan. Originally, a Tortarella cynic, he won me over the past 2 seasons as he got the squad (esp last year) to buy into his system and their identity was undeniable. Granted this season is young, it seems as though his system and style of coaching may be overbearing. His rigidity seems to be suffocating creativity and potentially success. Perhaps the 2-0 loss to Edmonton was symbolic that the Rangers aren't in better hands than the Renny days. Do you think if the Rangers continue their sideways trend, Mr. Tortarella's tenure will be in jeopardy at all? Secondly, how about that post game interview? Can't wait for 24/7!
Craig Custance (3:38 PM)
I like John Tortorella and respect him as a coach. He's as hard-working and prepared a coach as there is in the NHL. I think intense coaches like John have a shorter shelf-life though than some other coaches. I don't think the Rangers are at a point where his shelf life has expired but I agree that it would be tough to play for him over a long period of time. Like you Mike, I can't wait to see Torts on 24/7. He's going to make Bruce Boudreau look tame.
Craig Custance (3:39 PM)
Alright everybody, time to go. Thanks as always for the great questions and participation. I'll grab a few of the extras I couldn't get to today in my Friday mailbag blog. Have a great week!