Chat with Pierre LeBrun
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com NHL writer Pierre LeBrun will stop by to chat about the latest news from around the NHL.
Based in Toronto, LeBrun joined ESPN in September 2008 after spending 13 years with The Canadian Press as its national hockey columnist. LeBrun was also a contributor to Rogers Sportsnet and a regular contributor to TSN in Canada.
Send your questions now and join LeBrun Friday at noon ET!
Pierre LeBrun (11:55 AM)
OK cool cats, let's go !
At the start of the year, it looked like only a few Sharks would be going to Sochi: Niemi, Pavelski, probably Couture, maybe Boyle, and Havlat if healthy. Now, Marleau, Thornton, Hertl, Vlasic, and even Braun and (before he got hurt, Burns) have entered the conversations. How many do you think end up making the cut?
Pierre LeBrun (11:58 AM)
Yeah good point, Mike. Marleau and Thornton have certainly have their stock rise. Tough thing for Jumbo is that he doesn't really play wing and Canada is so stacked at center (Crosby, Toews, Tavares, Getzlaf, Bergeron) with other centers who may play wing (E. Staal. L. Couture, etc.) that I don't know if Joe can make it unless he unseats a guy like Getzlaf, for example, which is not to say he couldn't. Also the big ice enters the conversation.But no question Joe's opening month, plus his strong playoff last spring, has helped his case once again. Not to mention he's a two-time Olympian.
WOW! What other words are there to describe how Chris Kreider is playing right now? Is this guy really that good and how good could he become for the Rangers?
Pierre LeBrun (11:58 AM)
Great hands, sweet skates, high ceiling for sure
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who do you think is the Worst Goalie in the NHL in the 2013-2014 Season so far?
Pierre LeBrun (11:59 AM)
Among the starters, would be hard not to single out Dubnyk at this point. But I'm confident he'll turn things around once he's healthy
Not seeing how these 5-8 game suspensions are getting the message across to players who are continually making dirty hits. Obviously with most of these guys being repeat offenders, they're not getting the point. Shouldn't the suspensions be a lot more serious if the league is trying to change the way players play the game? I realize it's a hard job, but most of these suspensions don't really cost anybody anything substantial. Let's see how guys react when they get nailed for 15-20 games.
Pierre LeBrun (12:00 PM)
Well John Scott wasn't a repeat offender to going 7 on him is about as much as the league could do without inviting an appeal from NHLPA. But generally speaking, especially when it comes to repeat offenders, I agree, the tougher the better for suspensions on head shots. Matt Cooke finally changed his ways after a very long suspension
If you were in charge of the Sabres what would be the first 2 things you would do?
Pierre LeBrun (12:01 PM)
Move Ryan Miller and understand you can't generate the same kind of market that you did for Vanek. Harder to move goalies in mid-season, historically anyway. But this team needs to turn the page and he's the last significant holdover veteran from the previous era, and to be fair to him _ and he's played his heart out for your team _ no question he wants this over with as soon as possible in order to adjust to his new surroundings once it happens.
Mark (Denver, CO)
Bon jour Pierre. In your opinion, was the Downie trade an attempt by the Avs to bring in a Mike Keane type leader, or was it an attempt to get rid of a player who may be too volatile for his own good? Maybe a little of both reasons?
Pierre LeBrun (12:02 PM)
Tough to say, you saw what Patrick Roy told me yesterday and the reasons I give. I still can't fully get my head around this trade. But Roy wanted a veteran, character guy who has won a Cup. Obviously a young team in his room.
Michael Fagin (Seattle, WA)
As part of the Hawk Nation (West). Hawks should do what on backup goalie. I say give the Wall another month.
Pierre LeBrun (12:03 PM)
yeah I'd give him more rope, agreed
Jerry (Moncton, NB)
what's your take on all the head shots this year?
Pierre LeBrun (12:05 PM)
Opening month is like when you let the horses out of the gates, everyone is pumped up trying to prove a point early, etc... I think things will settle down a bit more. Not to say we wont' have more suspensions, but I don't think we'll have as many as opening month
Are the Wings looking for any trades?
Pierre LeBrun (12:05 PM)
I think they're trying to move a body to make room for Nyquist as a regular
Ron digesaros (Long Island)
Islanders need to make a splash at goaltender, any talks or rumors of a goalie on the move?
Pierre LeBrun (12:06 PM)
Ryan Miller and Jonas Hiller the two most prominent goalies that are available via trade but I haven't heard any peeps out of Long Island to suggest they're interested at this point
Eric C (Dallas Tx)
What are your impressions from the Stars the first month of the season?
Pierre LeBrun (12:06 PM)
Take the long-term view, Jim Nill knows what he's doing. Nichuskin is going to be awesome but it's a steep learning cuve. The blue-line needs an overhaul and it will come over time
Hi Pierre, I'm a huge habs fan, with all this talk about PK, I was wondering if you wouldn't have him either playing on the penalty kill? Also how much of a factor is all the talk about him and his play gonna hurt his chance of making the Canadian olympic team, and would he be on yours? Thanx!
Pierre LeBrun (12:07 PM)
Subban is a good debate within Team Canada's management/coaching staff. Going to be interesting what they decide in the end. But he's no sure bet at this point even though personally I would have him on the team if for no reasons just the PP in Sochi
Do you think the league punishes Varlomov for his off ice transgression?
Pierre LeBrun (12:08 PM)
League is waiting to see what happens with the police investigation first before reacting. Due process has to happen first before league steps in
John S (Boston)
What do you think is leading to the imbalance in the Eastern and Western Conference? I have never noticed how bad it was until this year. I mean the entire Western Conference only had two teams with 11 points or less while the entire Metro Division besides the Penguins has 11 or less
Pierre LeBrun (12:13 PM)
Well John if you've been reading my blogs at all over the past 5 years you'd know I've been on the ''West is Best" bandwagon for a long time. It's why I cover most Western Conference playoffs every spring. I just feel it's been at least a half decade where most legitimate Cup contenders have resided in the West.
eat_pray_hockey (LA, CA)
Should Sens fans be reaching for the panic button? If struggles continue into their much easier November schedule, how long until Murray shakes things up?
Pierre LeBrun (12:14 PM)
A little early for panic but this is a team I felt was going to do great things this year so count me as very surprised. Seems like they've forgotten what made them so successful last season when they had all the injuries. It starts in their own end. They seem to force things offensively early in games and get in trouble with turnovers, etc. Need to button things down, keep it simple, don't force the issue.
Who do you like tonight in the Stars vs Avs game?
Pierre LeBrun (12:16 PM)
Upset time, Stars 3, Avs 2 (OT)
Montreal have a a few UFAs at season's end, With the abundance of defenseman in Montreal, do you see Markov getting traded at deadline? (value can't get much higher, neep capspace) and Do you think Gionta will be shopped as well? (I can't see MB offering extension)
Pierre LeBrun (12:16 PM)
If Habs remain in playoff contention, there's zero chance they would ever move him.
Paul Holmgren (Philadelphia, PA)
Pierre, our offense cannot score, our defense is slow and immobile, our alleged superstar captain has two goals.....so I did what I needed to do....made a trade to add more TOUGHNESS! What? That is they Flyers way baby!
Pierre LeBrun (12:17 PM)
Actually, people need to realize Downie has some good offensive instincts. I don't think this was a bad deal for Philly at all
Pierre, In the most recent Hockey Today the podcast, you mentioned that Vlasic is on the radar for Team Canada as a left-handed D-man. What do you think are the chances of his partner (Justin Braun) making Team USA as a D-man?
Pierre LeBrun (12:19 PM)
Braun has certainly raised his stock I'd say, but there's just so much competition in front of him. I guess I'd ask you this question, whom among these d-men would you rank behind Braun for Team USA (and I may forget a few)McDonagh, J. Johnson, Suter, P. Martin, K. Yandle, J. Faulk, D. Byfuglien, S. Jones, M. Niskanen, K. Shattenkirk, E. Johnson, C. Fowler.Those are just 12 I came up with off top of my head and certainly I'm not saying Braun wouldn't be ahead of some of those, but you see however how tough it will be to crack that blue-line
Ray Shero (Pittsburgh, PA)
Pierre, last week you said good move keeping Maatta even with Letang coming back because you can never have enough defencemen (like pitching in baseball). Then the next game Scuderi broke his ankle. Thanks for jinxing it, buddy.
Pierre LeBrun (12:20 PM)
and my point exactly was made :)
Penguins Fans (Pittsburgh, PA)
Pierre, THANK GOD we can now all route for Max Talbot to succeed again. The last few years were really conflicting. Hopefully Denver has good car dealerships that know how to give him the superstar treatment.
Pierre LeBrun (12:20 PM)
And I bet you given Talbot's friendship with Sid, he'll be happy to in a difference conference as well now, haha
Big Dog (Toronto)
What's the likelihood one of Toronto's goalies gets traded by the end of the year?
Pierre LeBrun (12:21 PM)
I just don't see the merit in doing it before the summer. Right now Bernier and Reimer are pushing each other hard and it's producing great results, why change the mix at this point? Wait until the off-season
BTW (Buffalo, NY)
aside from getting phenomenal returns for his players in trades how do you feel darcy regier is as a GM? has he made good calls since the new management took over? or should he have been shown the door when terry bought the team? (personaly he needs to go soon just as soon as he finishes liquidating the last asset)and rolston should probably take the teens and go to rochester for a while so they can develop properly a plan that worked well before but they seem to have dropped it in panic
Pierre LeBrun (12:22 PM)
He gets high marks for those trades in which he moves pendings UFAs. He gets low marks for judging contractual value (Myers, Leino, Stafford, etc).Regier did some very good things over his many years there, especially when the team competed with a small budget. But he wouldn't rank among my top 15
Why are the NHL worried about concussion litigation from former NHLers? The NFLers who sued their league on alleged deception in the way concussion information was divulged - what do NHLers have to go on? Three issues (pointed out by Eric Macramalla) - they give consent, they cant prove causation because they would have been hit in junior hockey as well, and the CBA specifies that injury compensation goes to arbitration not court. So really, what angle to the NHLers have to go from?
Pierre LeBrun (12:24 PM)
Certainly the fact that the NHL and NHLPA have dually participated in the concussion program since its inception in 1997 probably sets hockey part from that perspective. But you could still argue more could have been done sooner in terms of education, prevention and rule changes before it happened.
Okay, end Buffalo Homer-ism on this: Explain to us why Sabres get suspended (Scott, Kaleta) but people who hit Sabres don't (Lucic)?
Pierre LeBrun (12:25 PM)
I think that's pretty oversimplistic but yes, I do believe Lucic should have got a 1 or 2 for bowling over Miller like he did
Jordan K (Guelph)
What do you think of Valeri Nichushkin's play so far this season for Dallas? How big of an impact could he have in years to come?
Pierre LeBrun (12:25 PM)
Going to be a good one, right now looks a little lost at times in terms of where he should be on the ice at times, especially in his own end. But the way he cuts to the net with the puck reminds me so much of Malkin. Don't think he'll be as good a player, but maybe Malkin light, which ain't so bad
Devils - what to make of this team? I think they are extremely underrated - no real #1 line, either on offense or defense, but pretty good depth. And each line is starting to get some cohesion. You think they are a playoff team?
Pierre LeBrun (12:27 PM)
It's also a good thing they play in the Metropolitan Division, haha. Pete DeBeor is a good coach, they have good structure in their game, losing Kovalchuk/Clarkson and replacing them with Clowe/Jagr/Brunner doesn't quite balance the books but they'll be competitive this year
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Is this the year the Sharks finally get over the hump?
Pierre LeBrun (12:33 PM)
I feel like I'm no longer allowed to answer that ! They look dynamic for sure, faster than I've ever seen them play, more committed to a 200-foot game, the buy-in from all the big dogs is as good as it's been.But who knows
How do you think Edmonton will handle the cap situation in a couple years? Guys like Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Yakupov, Schultz... all potential 7mill AAV players, no?
Pierre LeBrun (12:34 PM)
well, don't forget the cap will just continue to go up every year now most likely...
I know Canada's team will be primarily centers, but who will actually play center? Crosby,Toews, Bergeron, ???
Pierre LeBrun (12:38 PM)
My guess right now: 1. Crosby; 2. Toews. 3. Tavares. 4. Getlzaf or Bergeron. Bergeron was the 13th F in Vancouver and took a lot of important faceoffs. Could be the same deal again unless they elevate him to a more prominent role.But still early in the process, a lot can change.
Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)
Pierre, it seems like in the 1990s a lot more "iconic" players got traded in the prime of their careers with not nearly the hub-bub that surrounds even the smallest trades now. The Leafs traded Wendel Clark when he was arguably their most popular player in 20 years. The Canucks traded Trevor Linden. The Oilers traded Mark Messier. Just like that. Boom. Done. Nowadays it seems highly respected and popular players of that ilk (e.g., Iginla and Sundin) require three years of speculation, they say they don't want to get traded, then they do want to, then they finally do get traded well past their prime. Why is that? Does it have to do with the players having much more control of their own destiny now because of no-trade clauses...which I don't think existed back then?
Pierre LeBrun (12:40 PM)
I mean the Flyers traded Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, the Stars traded Loui Eriksson, I think it still happens to some degree. But generally speaking, a lot of these franchise/core players sign the kind of long-term deals that even if you wanted to trade them (Luongo last year) it's very very difficult in a cap system
Daniel (Deep River, ON)
Isn't it a little strange Varlamov joins his team as if nothing happened. His team mates sure downplayed the event
Pierre LeBrun (12:41 PM)
I mean, I had the same thought, but then again, we don't know all the facts yet in this case. Let's try and wait for due process here, as hard as it is in this world we live in where we want everything now.I asked NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly about Varlamov's situation and if the league should intervene at some point and here was his response to me this a short while ago:"At this point, we are monitoring the developing legal situation and do not intend to intervene in that process. There may come a point in time where we feel it is either necessary or appropriate to take a different approach, but that's not where we are right now. We are and will remain in close contact with the Club, and will see how the underlying facts unfold."
should the sabers send rolston and the teens back to the AHL and if so who should they consider as a new head coach?
Pierre LeBrun (12:43 PM)
I have to admit I was puzzled that Rolston was kept on as a full-time coach. Seems like he could have used more seasoning in the AHL. Regier told me this week in an interview that he's solidly behind his coach so doesn't appear in the short term like anything will happen.However, should anything ever happen later this season. Peter Laviolette is obviously hanging out there. I also think highly of Paul Maurice who also available.
Thom (Trenton, Ontario)
What do you think the Leafs will do with Phaneuf ? Can they afford to let him go ? They seem to have a glut of defence prospects on the horizon ...
Pierre LeBrun (12:46 PM)
Preliminary talks have begun, very preliminary. My sense is those talks will intensity over the next 3-4 weeks. I don't think Leafs are willing to go north of $7 M per year nor past six years in term although maybe go to 7 years if they're really really pushed.... Newport is good at this stuff, my guess is they start at wanting $7.5 M per over 8 years and both sides work down the middle from there (guessing Leafs start talks at $6.5 M a year)
David (San Jose)
Hey Pierre, any word on Martin Havlat's return to the lineup? If he can even contribute a little, imagine how dangerous the shark could be.
Pierre LeBrun (12:47 PM)
He played a few nights ago, he was on a line with Joe Pav.yes big addition if he can stay healthy. Imagine having Pavelski and Havlat on a third line? Thing is, Havlat can't seem to stay healthy.
Ryan (Arlington, TX)
The Stars have been a up and down team so far this season, but getting Kari back in net has helped...but the glaring weakness on this team is the defense, what can they do about that in the near future...or is waiting on the youth to develop the only option?
Pierre LeBrun (12:48 PM)
Yeah Ryan I think waiting for the AHL guys to come up and be ready is the best/most realistic option. So hard to trade for high-end d-men in this league. other clubs protect them like gold
HI Pierre,When do you expect the Hawks to turn up the heat? They have been playing pretty well, but when can we expect great?
Pierre LeBrun (12:49 PM)
Sarah, you Hawks fan have become hard to please !!!!Haha, I guess two Cups in four seasons allows you to have high standards.But keep this in mind, most defending Cup champs have horrible Octobers, Cup hangover in full vogue. Hawks have avoided that. Be happy !
Erick (Los Angeles)
Seth Jones on team USA....thoughts?
Pierre LeBrun (12:50 PM)
I had him on my Team USA roster published this week on ESPN.com. So yeah, I'm in : )I just feel like his development is years beyond his actual age, he looks ready to me to be in that kind of tournament
What are some options for Penguins backup goalie? Current situation isn't cutting it. I also don't thing waiting for a possible return of Vokoun is an option.
Pierre LeBrun (12:51 PM)
Theodore and Bryz are still out there as UFAs. Blues might be willing to move Brian Elliott. Not sure, but just guessing.
With the new playoff format, could there be a few unintended consequences that the league didn't think about? For example, it seems like the Penguins would have a more difficult first round matchup as the Metro champ playing the 5th place Atlantic team than whoever finishes 2nd in the Metro getting to play the 3rd place team. Thoughts?
Pierre LeBrun (12:52 PM)
That's life, man. Remember the Norris division in the 1980s? Some horrid teams made the playoffs. All things in sports are cyclical. There's no merit in complaining about the playoff format, some years it's going to be tough matchups, other years it won't
Kevin (Reno, NV)
Who is your favorite to win the Western Conference at this point in the season? Which team has impressed you the most?
Pierre LeBrun (12:52 PM)
Before the season, I picked San Jose to win the Pacific, St. Louis to win the Central but Chicago to win the Cup. Pick any of those 3 :)
Ben (San Jose)
I saw Poutine on Diners Drive-Ins and Dives and WOW does it look awesome. I have got to try it at some point. On to hockey: I know this is a great luxury to have and the Sharks are doing great, but with Boyle, Burns, and Torres all out they have looked real thin...especially on D. I am a bit perplexed that they haven't brought up Matt Tennyson to at least change the flavor as they've looked real sloppy on D (minus Pickles/Braun who have been nasty) but would they make a run at 2nd/3rd pair D-man later to shore it up?
Pierre LeBrun (12:54 PM)
I think Doug Wilson will want to see how the team fully looks once healthy (I guess minus Torres who is out longer) before making those types of decisions. No real weakness on this team right now. But if you pressed me, yeah I'd say picking up another depth d-man before March 5 likely scenario
Marc (Malden, MA)
John Scott, a guy who plays 3 mins a night, is going to miss fewer games than Loui Erikson, a top 6 forward who plays 16 mins a night, how is that equitable? Scott probably had an NHLPA rep at his hearing defending him, but where is the NHLPA representation for Loui Erickson? Why doesn't Erickson get a rep arguing Scott should be suspended longer? Why is it always NHLPA defending the 5% who dish out dirty hits, but never defending the remaining 95% receiving them?
Pierre LeBrun (12:55 PM)
All good questions, Marc, and welcome back to the chat. First, important to point out NHLPA has a legal _ a legal _ duty to represent players facing grivances or hearings. That's why players pay union dues. But like you, I always feel like the victim is forgotten in these cases. No question about it
Does it feel like the Rangers are finally turning things around?
Pierre LeBrun (12:56 PM)
Anyone who question AV as a coach should check themselves. He's among the best in the business. But when you've got Nash/Hagelin/Callahan all out at the same time for a stretch plus begin the season on a nine-game road trek? bad things will happen
Always enjoy your chats! If the Metropolitan division continues to be this terrible all year, could the lack of competition within the division hurt the Penguins come playoff time?
Pierre LeBrun (12:58 PM)
Nah, first _ Pens play plenty of games against team outside the division, that's the new wrinkle in new format I like the most. 2nd, the Metro will get better as year goes on, Rangers especailly I think will work their way back up
Tom (Long Branch, NJ)
Which of these young players do you think has the brightest future? Alex Chiasson, Chris Kreider or Alex Galchenyuk?
Pierre LeBrun (12:58 PM)
I don't think it's close in my opinion, what I've seen form Galchenyuk is unreal.
Seth (Arlington, TX)
The Super Bowl is in a "Cold" climate this year...WHEN do we get a Winter Classic at Jerry's Death Star?
Pierre LeBrun (12:59 PM)
As a Cowboys fan, I'd make sure to cover that one ! Haha. Well given that there's an outdoor NHL game at Dodgers Stadium, I'd guess it's only a matter of time before Dallas gets one over the next 4-5 years
Jason (New Yor)
Why are the leafs giving up so many shots? They are making other teams offensive units look good when they aren't necessarily.
Pierre LeBrun (1:00 PM)
Leafs play a real up-tempo, breakout game, wingers busting the zones sometimes before they have real control of the puck, etc... Hey, it's working for them right now. And I do think a lot of the shots they give up are from the perimeter, not all of them are point blank.Still, to your point, it's a trend that needs rectifying at some level in order to have long-term success
Pierre LeBrun (1:01 PM)
OK everyone, that was fun again this week. Thanks for all the question and sorry for those I didn't get to, lots of questions in the queue as usual ! cheers and have a safe weekend, all