Leafs lose, Gretzky talks.
Both of them were kind of anticlimaxes.
Gretz, in the midst of an eastern Olympic scouting tour while the Coyotes have some days off, said this on Sportsnet's broadcast (not high-def, if you're scoring at home) on the subject of Bryan McCabe's inclusion in Canada's Olympic team, as long-winded and cheerful a no-comment as you'd ever hear:
“He’s been outstanding. And good for him, it’s a great story. I love when guys do well, and I love the controversy it creates, that people back there favour players and their favourite teams. That’s what it’s all about. I don’t have the right answers. Unless we win a gold medal it’s going to be a controversy.
PETER POWER/TORONTO STAR McCabe does all the things we like - like making Sean Avery eat glove.
“I said the last time we went in ’02 when we leave this room, these 23 guys, we have to really believe these are the guys that are going to help win a gold medal. We can’t waver. And we didn’t waver with the group we had. We were pleased with the 23 guys and fortunately we won the gold medal and stopped all the controversy. I’m kind of glad I’m in Phoenix two months after the team is picked. I won’t have to read or hear about it too much.
“Everybody brings an element to the hockey club. You just don’t want all skaters or all puckhandlers. You’ve gotta have forecheckers, physical guys, guys who can block shots, power play guys, and it becomes a tremendous group effort.”
He said "power-play guys", did you hear that? So there is a chance for McCabe after all.
More Gretzky, from a between-period scrum: "He is a good defenceman and we are watching him closely. Everybody wants to add guys, but who gets taken off?"
Well, Steve Yzerman, for one. He begs off, but McCabe can't beg in, writes Damien Cox, who calls it a double standard. I call it The Way It Is -- someone's always going to be left off. This ain't Italy playing hockey, or Canada playing soccer. We have a surplus of good players in this game -- including Mario Lemieux, whom Gretzky will talk to on Saturday, and Jason Spezza, who says, "I think what's I've done shows I can play there."
Oh, and about last night: Mathieu Garon was extraordinary in the Kings goal -- there was the difference in a tight 2-1 game. McCabe was ordinary, and so it followed that the Leafs' power-play was as well, going 1-for-9 and prompting Pat Quinn to talk about changing the setup when on the advantage.
Some linkage today, starting off with a great piece from yesterday's Detroit News on Jiri Fischer and the medical team that saved the Red Wings defenceman's life.
"As you're walking down there, there's the thought that, 'Well, maybe he was light-headed and passed out. Maybe it's his mouth guard.' You're just getting your thoughts together. When I got to his side, which was probably just shortly after Tony got there, maybe 10 seconds, 15 seconds after it happened, there was no mistake because he was unresponsive at that point."
Former Leaf Mike Johnson, skating in Phoenix for the Coyotes had two goals Monday night late in the game. With the goalie pulled, he found himself in position for an easy hat trick via open net.
"I gave him the puck, and he gave it back to me. And I'm thinking to myself, 'He should have taken that shot,' " says teammate Mike Comrie.
Heck of a team player, that Johnson. A bit weird too.
More ex-Leafs in the links today, Tampa's Fred Modin is among a dying breed of NHL lumberjacks. From the St. Petersberg Times:
According to manufacturer CCM, Modin is one of 42 players, not including goaltenders, using all-wood sticks. That means of 540 skaters eligible to play on a given night (18 on each of 30 teams), just 7.8 percent use wood.
Cue the Got Wood? jokes.
Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the Patrick Roy trade that saw the legendary goalie leave Montreal for Colorado. The Montreal Gazette remembers the day:
"It's so sad how it finished in Montreal," Roy tells the Gazette. "I've never been back there, not even for a game or anything."
Finally, now that they've seen Joe Thornon in San Jose, do you think they're happy about the trade? From San Jose Mercury News:
Dang, the guy can create hockey goals. And dang, a new era of rock-and-roll offense has arrived. And dang, Thornton is going to have a lot of other people saying "dang'' before his work is done here.
Thinking the Bruins and their fans will be near the top of the list of people saying a few "dangs". (SW)