Chat with Katie Strang
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, hockey writer Katie Strang stops by to chat about the latest news from around ice.
In addition to covering the NHL as a whole, Strang, who previously covered the Islanders for Newsday, also covers the Rangers, Isles and Devils for ESPNNewYork.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
Send your questions now and join Strang Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Katie Strang (1:01 PM)
Hey NHL fans! No hockey hangover here. After yesterday's epic Winter Classic game and controversial Olympic announcement we have LOTS to discuss.Let's ring in the New Year with some puck talk. shall we?
Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)
Katie, amazing article by Burnside on the Team USA selection process. I have tons of questions for him, but he doesn't have a chat today. But from a media standpoint, how surprised are you that the GMs allowed him such access and to make that information public? Especially considering those same GMs may someday want to trade for or sign some of the players they were openly putting down (sometimes mockingly). I mean if you are Keith Yandle, I don't think you are signing that offer sheet with Calgary (or wherever else Burke works next). And how do you think Jack Johnson is going to feel reading that, thinking he was a lock all along and then finding out he actually fell out of favor months ago. Kind of like not knowing your GF is cheating on you while all your close friends do, right?
Katie Strang (1:05 PM)
I agree, Jesse. Fantastic piece by our own Scotty Burnside. Have been itching to re-read it, in fact. First, let's be clear. These comments were not made in response to questions from the reporter. Rather, Burnside was embedded as a "fly on the wall" during the process, so to speak. That's why we saw such candor from the USA management team. Hard to criticize Burke and others for speaking honestly when you consider that scenario. That said, I can't even imagine how tough that is for a player to read. Whether they were never in the conversation at all -- Okposo -- or that they were on the cusp and fell out of favor -- Ryan. We are already seeing some blowback with the latter player. And I suspect we will continue to see some reverberations in the future. Could get really awkward if there is an injury situation with the US team...
Kyle O. (Long Island)
In scoring I am second to only Patrick Kane amongst US skaters, does Byslma and the rest of the USA hockey selection committee have it out for me b/c I am on the Islanders?
Katie Strang (1:07 PM)
I honestly don't think Okposo's stead with the team was adversely affected by him playing for the Islanders, but the article revealed that there clearly is the perception that his game is not suited for the bigger ice surface. That's unfortunate for Okposo, who I felt really deserved a spot. Strong two-way player, hard-worker that could have played a key third or fourth-line role. Passed over in two straight
John Michael Liles (Raleigh, NC)
Katie, warmups at the Winter Classic warmups sure were exhilerating!
Katie Strang (1:09 PM)
That was a bummer :( Reminded me of Jeff Woywitka, who was a late scratch before WC two years ago to make room for Marc Staal returning from concussion
Ed (Queens Village)
Is it possible NHL plays a future ASG outdoors?
Katie Strang (1:10 PM)
I think there is already concern about diluting the product. The NHL tried to capitalize on the hype heading into the Olympics with the series of outdoor games this year. Doubt they will over-extend with an ASG, too. Remember they are costly events to put on as well
Josh S. (Philly)
Do you think the Flyers recent surge has been due to Giroux returning back to form?
Katie Strang (1:12 PM)
Yes, definitely. The captain's struggles coincided neatly with the team's to start the season. Now things are starting to turn for Philly. They have talent up front and strong goaltending. Given the mediocrity in the East, they're definitely in the hunt
So what are your new year's resolutions for 2014??
Katie Strang (1:13 PM)
Eat more vegetables. I had a Kale juice this morning, so I'm off to a strong start.My two resolutions last year:1) To do a pull-up (I can now do three! )2) To become a scotch drinker (still working on this)
Do you think Orpiks decision (over Yandle) in making the team has to do with favoritism by Bylsma?
Katie Strang (1:15 PM)
It sounded like more than just Bylsma had trust issues with Yandle, who many on the selection team felt was a high-risk/high-reward player. All but Dean Lombardi, of course, who was vehement in defense of Yandle. Think he deserves a fruit basket or something for that.
Morning Katie:GO SPARTY!!!Two-part Islanders question.1. Has Garth Snow truly begun long-term negotations with Thomas Vanek, and if not, when will he be dealt. The Isles cant hold him through the deadline without having him locked up.2. In your opinion, could Calvin De Haan live up to that #12 selection and become a full blown top-4 dman going forward.2b. Why havent we heard anything from Charles Wang?Thanks for your continuing coverage.Alan
Katie Strang (1:17 PM)
Hey Alan! Thanks very much. Was a proud night for this Spartan and MSU grads everywhere :)There have been no negotiations yet between the Islanders and Vanek's camp, though GM Garth Snow has expressed an interest in doing so.You can imagine that if those do not happen sometime soon, Snow will have to look to move him at the deadline.Not sure yet on DeHaan, who is still very young. Has had some really unfortunate luck with injuries. Have to see how he holds up from here on out
Now that we are half way through the season which team is going to have the biggest turnaround after a disappointing first half.
Katie Strang (1:18 PM)
Depending on what happens with Josh Harding's health, I still think the Minnesota Wild has the elements to be a dangerous team. They are in a tough spot right now with Mike Yeo surely feeling the heat, but I can see them rebounding in the second half. Surprised they waived Konopka, though. I bet he gets claimed
Dan (New York City)
Glaring omission on Andy Greene. Thoughts on the US back end?
Katie Strang (1:20 PM)
I've always though Andy Greene was a vastly underrated player. He lacks size but makes up for it in smarts. That said, I'm not surprised he wasn't in the conversation. Yandle, Johnson and Byfuglien were left off too, after all
Nick Villano (Morgantown, WV)
Do you think one of the bottom teams of the Metropolitan Division (ie Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York, Columbus) could get hot in the second half and really make a run for the East? They were predicted to be a much better division preseason and they seem to be playing better.
Katie Strang (1:22 PM)
I really though Columbus was gonna be the sleeper team in the East but they've had some really costly injuries. They get Nathan Horton back tonight, but he won't be the team's savior. Losing Marian Gaborik hurts. Biggest question mark is how Sergei Bobrovsky plays in the second half. If he can return to Vezina form, they still may have a chance to make a run
Seems like the US squad was built not to lose instead of to win. Quick better stand on his head or else this thing in Sochi will be over quickly.
Katie Strang (1:24 PM)
That's a really interesting take, Scott, and you're not the first to say that. It did seem like USA's management group was almost crippled by doubt. I mean, Brian Burke referenced a nightmare, Dean Lombardi asked about the reaction if Yandle played in New York, etc. I walked away from that wondering if they made things too complicated. You need goals? Take a goal-scorer.
I've never seen home dominance like this from the Ducks, and I was around during the Stanley Cup year. Will Anaheim win the Pacific?
Katie Strang (1:26 PM)
I think they will though I see the fight for the Pacific as the toughest with both San Jose and LA in the mix. Really like this Anaheim team, though their PP remains a concern.
Happy New Year, Katie! I know he's not going anywhere, but do you feel Vigneault is the wrong guy for this group of players? It seems that the system and the personnel don't mesh. Is the only way forward changing the roster?
Katie Strang (1:28 PM)
I've asked myself that question a lot lately, Andrew. There's no arguing that Vigneault is a good coach, but sometimes I wonder if this Rangers team was over-achieving under Tortorella. Say what you want about Torts, but he got a lot out of his guys. His act wore thin, but maybe they need the fire and brimstone to have success.
brandon (long island)
are you always at the ranger/islander games when they are at home or do you watch them at home?
Katie Strang (1:29 PM)
I don't miss 'em ;)
Michael (South Windsor, CT)
Should the Rangers give a look at Zenon Konopka seeing that they freed up some space with Pittsburghs claim of Taylor Pyatt?
Katie Strang (1:29 PM)
I doubt it, but someone will. Would be very surprised if he does not get claimed
Does Bylsma really think Martin and Orpik are going to be his shutdown pairing in Sochi? The Boston Bruins, team Canada, Claude Julien etc. are having a laugh at that thought process
Katie Strang (1:31 PM)
That's not who I'd count on to be my shutdown pair, that's for sure. USA will want McDonagh to utilize his skating ability on the big ice and contribute offensively, but he has to be one of best shutdown d-men they have
1/ In all fairness to the GMs and their discussion about Ryan, they did say he was a good player but since he wasnt on first two lines they felt they had better options for the 3rd and 4th line. and for the kind of player they were looking for there.Now for my question, is the King back? Being from Sweden Ive been kind of worried.
Katie Strang (1:33 PM)
Hey Kent. Nice to get an international presence here. Lundqvist has been strong in spurts over the last two games, particularly in the third period of Sunday's win, but I'm not sold that he's shaken the slump just yet. He's yet to get on a roll and make the sort of jaw-dropping saves Rangers fans are used to seeing. He needs to steal some games for New York and he really hasn't yet.
Happy New Year Katie. If you were the Rangers GM (we would be better off), would you sign Girardi and Callahan to retirement contracts or try to move them? No way they are taking home town discounts.
Katie Strang (1:35 PM)
I have the utmost respect for both players but I'd move at least one. Hard to replace Girardi's minutes and right-handed shot. Meanwhile, Callahan's relentless, physical style of play makes him susceptible to injury. He deserves a big contract and a hefty raise, but if I were the Rangers I'd think about making a deal
Glad to see John Carlson in the US team. Think he deserves it or no?
Katie Strang (1:35 PM)
I was surprised by it.
Casey (Salt Lake City)
Penguins claimed Taylor Pyatt off waivers today, but that hardly addresses the top-6 concerns for Pittsburgh. Do you see the Pens making a rental move or a hockey move (such as the Neal for Goligoski trade)? Or does Shero simply sit back and wait for some injured players to get healthy?
Katie Strang (1:37 PM)
Spoke to Ray Shero about this a few weeks ago when they were without five of their top six defensemen. Got the sense that he felt the need to be patient, largely because it's really difficult to assess where the team is at when they are so hampered by injuries. But Shero is always active at the deadline and I expect this year to be no different.
Katie, thanks for your always great coverage. How great has Mats Zuccarello been for the Rangers this year? He's stepped up to fill in while Nash, Cally and Stepan have been struggling. Big steal for the Blueshirts in terms of $$.
Katie Strang (1:38 PM)
Thanks ANdrew. Agreed. He's really shown dramatic improvement over the past couple of years. Even this season he responded to being a healthy scratch with his best stretch of hockey to date. Small, but highly skilled and I like that he is showing some feistiness as well
Keith Yandle (Phoenix, AR)
Katie, great point in your response to Jesse above. If one of the top offensive defencemen for Team USA go down in the next month and they need me as an injury call up....would it be wrong of me to say the only way I accept is if Brian Burke stays home...lest he "get to go home early" with me out there. But then again, if Dean Lombardi writes a 200-page invitation asking me to play....maybe I will say yes.
Katie Strang (1:40 PM)
Will be incredibly fascinating to see how this all unfolds. Was thinking the very same thing when Ryan made those strong comments today, though the sense is that he wouldn't even be the first guy in line as a replacement if an injury should occur. Also, how stunning was that to hear them discuss potentially asking a guy to stay home. Wow.
I know we're at the halfway point,but do the Rangers start trading guys?Do you think Vigneault gets canned during or after the season?How much of the blame falls on Sather?
Katie Strang (1:41 PM)
No. He got a five-year deal.
Hi Katie, are there any leading candidates for trade deadline rental players? I can imagine Vanek again, and Cammaleri, but I'm sure there are others.
Katie Strang (1:42 PM)
Add Matt Moulson and Ryan Miller to that mix as well. Possibly Callahan, as absurd as that may seem.
Lonny (Blaine, Mn)
Do you think Mike Yeo is let go if the Wild lose tonight?
Who is Team USA's captain? Has to be Brown because he is the only one to have lifted the Cup, right?
Katie Strang (1:43 PM)
Sorry didn't hit send on this. Response to MINNY/MIKE YEO question:This is definitely a pivotal game for him, and unfortunately, he won't have Harding in net to help him out.
Katie Strang (1:44 PM)
I think Dustin Brown is the probable captain, though i could see Callahan in the mix as well. Callahan not a very vocal guy but sets the tone with his play
There is no American playing better than Chris Kreider right now. Do you consider him a snub?
Katie Strang (1:46 PM)
No, not really. I talked to Kreider about this before the X-mas break and I don't think there was really any expectation on his end, either. He's been strong in stretches but there are still some inconsistencies to his game. Great skater, but still needs work defensively.
brandon (long island)
what do you say to a date to the islander/ranger outdoor game ? :D
Katie Strang (1:46 PM)
I don't think my fiance would be thrilled about the idea, but I am indeed flattered :)
Do you think the Devils will look to deal Jagr or any other veterans come the trade deadline for draft picks (which they desperately need)?
Katie Strang (1:47 PM)
If he keeps playing like he has been, definitely. As reported by Rich Chere earlier this season, Martin Brodeur may even be willing to accept a trade should New Jersey fall out of a playoff spot.
Given that the Sabres are having their worst season ever do you think LaFontaine will a) name a new GM. b) have a fire sale. or c) wait for the draft?
Katie Strang (1:49 PM)
Really depends on who he fires as GM, I think. Have to assume that person will want a certain level of autonomy in the position. Goalies are the toughest commodity to move, but I can't see Ryan Miller staying past March 5.
Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)
Katie, for all the players that thought they had a shot for Team USA and were either never considered (Okposo, Dubinsky) or got dropped last minute (Johnson, Ryan, Yandle)....how would you expect them to respond in the second half? Especially after some disparaging opinions about their play have come to light. Would you expect an "i'll show them" surge or a "boo hoo, well screw it, I'm still getting paid" decline.
Katie Strang (1:50 PM)
I hope so. Would love to see Bobby Ryan get a hat trick against Winnipeg tonight. He'd have to follow that up with a very INTENSE celebration, mind you
Jacob Green (Los Angeles)
Hi Katie, as a Red Wings fan, I'm wondering what you would attribute their inconsistent play to. I hate to blame the goaltending, but Howard has been seriously under-performing this year. Also concerned about depth scoring and, well, there's Quincey.
Katie Strang (1:51 PM)
Hoo boy, I do not blame you for your concern. I think the Wings will be a better team in the second half, but that will be a tall order if Jimmy Howard doesn't clean up his game.
I've heard in other sports the phrase "give me talent over experience" but why does experience always win out in hockey. Gotta think the more talented team will win in most scenarios.
Katie Strang (1:53 PM)
That's a great question, Julie. I thought the very same thing when reading the Olympic piece. I think part of it has to do with hockey culture. Hockey guys are typically an old-school, loyal bunch. That's good in some ways, but prohibitive in others. I believe the game could really benefit from some outside-the-box type thinking and creativity, but often you see execs uncomfortable with taking those type of risks.
Ben (Usually SJ but currently Germany)
Tough hit for the Sharks if Hertl is out long-term. I watched that hit live and - it might be biased being a Sharks fan but - I think that play was intentional by Brown. With a history of knee on knee hits, I think that the play deserved more attention that it got. That's regardless of the extent of his injury; if it was just day to day I'd say the same thing.
Katie Strang (1:55 PM)
Looks like it will be significant time missed for Hertl, who recently underwent knee surgery to repair both the PCL and MCL. Sounds to me like his season is done, which is a shame for the young Czech, who led all rookies with 15 goals and 25 points, and for the Sharks, who were reaping the benefits of his unexpected production
brandon (long island)
this fiance better be a hockey fan!
Katie Strang (1:55 PM)
I'm working on him ;)
Katie Strang (1:56 PM)
Ok all, we will end there today. Hope you had a fantastic holidays and wishing you the best to come in the New Year. Can't wait until CAN unveils their Olympic squad. Should make for a great chat next week!Until then....