Rant answers: Support for Ilya Bryzgalov

Another week full of terrific rants. Let’s take a look:

strummerdood: LeBrun, can Ilya Bryzgalov finally get some respect? Everyone from fans to the media have been relentless with their attacks against the eccentric goaltender, going so far as prophesying that Holmgren would actually try to trade away Ilya's contract before the deadline. Yes, he's been inconsistent this season, but half a season shouldn't erase a Vezina nomination, along with a handful of statistically-great seasons. Since January, he's been more on point, and during Philly's recent road trip, he's kept the team alive despite a bad break here and there. He's showing why Holmgren signed him long-term, but with everyone scrutinizing every single goal he lets up, I don't think he's getting the respect he deserves.

My take: I take it you mean his Vezina nomination from a few years ago in Phoenix, not that you believe he should be nominated this year. If that was the case, I’d be very concerned for you. I do think Bryz has settled down in the second half and I think he’ll be fine in the long run. The adjustment period was always going to be tricky for him. He’d never played in a big NHL market.

hawkzfan19: My rant begins and ends with the current point system in the NHL. All of these three-point games that bunch up the standings are hurting the league when it comes toward the end of the season. Look at the trade deadline. There were what, four maybe five teams that were "sellers" and the rest all were holding on to players because there was just no way to definitely say that they were out of the race. When is it that the NHL will wise up and change the point system to allow the better teams to rise to the top and create some separation from the weaker teams in the league and make the trade deadline not only fun again but also the vital time of year to allow contenders to fill out their rosters?

And ...

vipeviper: I would rather the trade deadline be the most boring day of the season than get rid of the parity that exists now. It is better for the league to have more teams with a chance to make the playoffs than not. I don't understand why everyone thinks a slow deadline day hurts the league. It doesn't!! It is better when everyone IS a contender.

My take: Well, those are the two viewpoints on this issue. Some GMs I talk to would like to re-visit the idea of three points for a 60-minute win (the GMs discussed it at the 2004 meetings in Henderson, Nev.). But other GMs and the league head office points to the tight and dramatic playoff races in March/April. I suspect the league won’t change its mind on this. Parity is healthy in its mind.

stunard2000: Another year, another non-trade by the Wings. Are you kidding me? Don't they know the spark it provides to sign a big name to the roster? Don't they know it gives the guys a feeling that 'Hey, our management is doing all it can to get us deep into the playoffs?' Don't they know that it's just in time for the playoff push? And don't they know that, historically, the Wings have exited the playoffs early because they didn't make a move to shore up some part of the team? Where's the Shanny deals? The Brett Hull, Larionov, Dino C trades? Give the team a spark. Give them something they're missing (um, how about an enforcer, which has been missing since the middle ages?).

My take: Boy, some of you Wings fans are hard to please. You’ve got the best GM in the NHL and you’ve been the model franchise for 20-plus years and it’s not good enough? Yes, the Wings were quiet on deadline day, but they acquired Kyle Quincey prior to it, a solid addition on the blue line. Yes, I would have like to see them add some size/grit to their bottom six forward group. But the price for Paul Gaustad was a first-round pick, which the Wings didn’t have. Pittsburgh, Washington, Toronto and Philadelphia also didn’t do much on deadline day. It was that kind of year. Not many sellers. I wouldn’t sweat it if I were you. The Wings are still big-time contenders.

maxjunge: Dear San Jose, Who are you? That's all I really want to know. Every year you raise my hopes with aspirations that maybe, just maybe this is the year. You send your coach to the All-Star Game, had the best point percentage in the NHL and at one point were at the top of the power rankings. You had everyone wide-eyed because this was going to be the year. Veterans in place, prime-aged players peaking, young guns improving, it all lined up until ... well, until a nine-game road trip that sent you skidding almost out of the playoff race, that let Phoenix take the Pacific Division lead, and that once again has all of us here in the Bay wondering, will this be another overhyped year? Will we again be the punchline of the hockey world? To that, I don't know, but all I can say, is San Jose, please figure yourselves out, for all of us. Love, A teal-bleeding fan

My take: Well, at least you were treated to back-to-back trips to the Western Conference finals, including back-to-back playoff eliminations of the Detroit Red Wings. I can think of a lot of fans of other teams that would take that. But I do share your concern with the team right now. Before Tuesday night’s 1-0 win over Philadelphia, I felt the Sharks had really loosened up defensively over the past month. Some of that was because Antti Niemi had struggled in net, but the overall team defensive play was also not up to par. I’ll be curious to see how the team looks once Martin Havlat and Douglas Murray return. They really haven’t had their full team all season. I still think they can make it fun, but I feel less confident of that now than I did in October.

clownbaby006: Why are the Coyotes only No. 11 in the power rankings? 11-0-1 in February (10-0-1 at the time the latest rankings posted) and they aren't even in the top 10? Every win during this streak, except for the Oilers, has been against contending teams, including taking the top team in the league to a shootout twice. They might not be the most talented or have the best overall record, but right now they are playing just as well as anybody, and that's what the power ranking should show. It's not another version of the standings, it's how teams are playing recently, and you can't convince me the Yotes aren't one of the best teams going into March.

My take: I totally agree with you, sir. Can’t believe the Yotes were only 11th in the rankings. Oh wait, I did the rankings. Can I get a mulligan? No question I should have had them higher. Takes a man to admit he’s wrong! Honestly, though, once again you have to tip your hat at GM Don Maloney and head coach Dave Tippett. The ongoing ownership saga hasn’t dulled their focus and effort. It’s truly a remarkable story.

winpro: Oh, my Leafs. It's so hard being a Leafs fan. Knowing that the owners don't care about winning because they make money no matter what, but on the other hand still wanting just to make the playoffs so badly and watching it slip away every year. Burke and Wilson need to go. Nobody wants to do deals with Burke. Wilson is a failure as a coach. He had so much talent in San Jose and did nothing. The media, Burke and the coaching staff put so much pressure on the goalies that they have no confidence playing in Toronto. Go with Reimer or The Monster and get them some veteran backup help and put some confidence into the starter instead of this teeter toter of starters. They have the speed and good young players but they lack the toughness and leadership of a true No. 1 star. Or else it will be another 50 years before they win a Cup.

My take: All my pals are Leafs fans, which makes sense since I live in Toronto. It’s just unreal to see what’s happening yet again. The season had looked pretty promising. I like a lot of the moves Burke has made in rebuilding this team, particularly getting Jake Gardiner out of Anaheim, but his mistake last offseason was trusting the James Reimer-Jonas Gustavsson combination in goal as good enough to make the playoffs. The Leafs should have added a veteran netminder in order to help Reimer shoulder the load, or as insurance in case he didn’t live up to the standard he set last season as a rookie. If the Leafs do indeed miss the playoffs, that’s where the downfall was.

the1manparty: What was with the lack of action at the trade deadline? I find it hilarious that the NHL was promoting the day with #bebold, and teams were anything but. There are so many teams that needed help going into the playoff push, and no one took initiative. The teams that needed to sell or at least mix up the locker room seemed to be the worst. Do the Capitals really think they are in any position to succeed over the coming months? Why not move someone to wake the locker room up? Their leadership obviously isn't doing it. The only team that could be said to have done anything is Nashville, and for that reason I hope they are rewarded.

My take: The No. 1 reason for it is parity. The standings are so close that not enough teams would all-out declare themselves sellers. That created a market where the rentals cost too much (see first-round pick for Paul Gaustad). Leafs GM Brian Burke for a years now has pushed the idea of bringing back the ability to retain salary in trades. Right now, that’s against the rules in the CBA. But Burke believes if teams could eat some of the salary of a player it is trading (as was the case pre-2004 in the NHL), that it would loosen up the trade market. More and more GMs are agreeing with Burke on this and I can tell you the NHL will give it some thought in the next round of CBA talks. Not only would you get more trades on deadline day, but you’d get more trades year-round.

NyMets5721575: I'm tired of people bashing the Rangers because they did not acquire Rick Nash or another scorer out there during the deadline. The prices for these players like Gaustad and Nash were outrageous. First off, Gaustad isn't even that great of a scorer and no way is he worth a first-round pick and as for Nash, if you look at who they were giving up, Scott Howson is a moron for not taking it. The Rangers were giving him the core of their farm system plus Dubinsky and a first-round pick. C'mon, how do you not move him? He's going to be miserable in Columbus for the rest of his tenure there. The Rangers were smart in not giving up the house for him as well and not breaking up their chemistry; that's why they will have a deep run in the playoffs.

My take: Agreed. The Rangers were wise to keep their wits on this. They were willing to pay a certain price but not lose their minds. They’ve got a tight team, tremendous chemistry, and it wasn’t worth blowing it up for Nash. For Brandon Dubinsky and top prospects? Yes, you do it. But not more than that.