Questions and More Questions
Seems like we got off track a bit.
For the first few weeks of the Stanley Cup playoffs, we had a rollicking mail bag going pretty much every day with questions on post-season play and just about everything else.
So, with the final starting tomorrow in Detroit, here’s a chance to get things rolling again, with the Wings-Pens series, Phoenix, the entry draft, steroids and more than a few other tasty topics to debate.
So send ‘em along and we’ll try to finish the playoffs strong. Here’s a few to get us started again:
Q: Hi Damien,
I have two questions. First is does the NHL have concrete boundaries to which a team can claim as their marketing area, in the case of the Maple leafs and Sabres, can they actually claim that a team on Hamilton infringes on their market?
Secondly, wouldn’t a highly profitable team such as the Leafs benefit from the moving a non-profitable team such as the Coyotes to a more profitable area, in terms of the revenue sharing agreement?
Peter K., Toronto
A: The answer to your first question is, I believe, 50 miles. That’s why Hamilton would theoretically infringe, but not Kitchener-Waterloo. On the second question, the Leafs would likely end up contributing the same amount, upwards of $15 million per season, most among NHL teams. It would just go to different teams, so they wouldn’t get any relief, per se.
Watching the Memorial Cup, and Kelowna being a part of it just reinforces what a shame it was to have Luke Schenn miss out on the development opportunities he should have had this season.
Instead of only 7 games of WHL playoff experience he got last season, he could have been learning what it takes to win and be a leader on a winner with both Canada (WJC) and Kelowna. While Ronnie Wilson was sure that no one could teach him as well as he and his staff could, it neglected the pressure situations he would face to prepare him to be a winner with the Maple Leafs.
Now the first time he wears the C, and wins a playoff round it might be in the pressure cooker of Toronto, with no experience under his belt.
Everything he learned this year he could have learned next year in the NHL - but the opportunity to expose him to these experiences was wasted.
John Bastedo, Oakville
A: Well, as you probably know, I agree. That was my argument at the start of the season, but the Leafs and Cliff Fletcher and Ron Wilson had a different plan. We’ll never know whether it would have made a difference, but it’s fair to say that Schenn did well in his first exposure to the NHL and, for the most part, didn’t look overmatched or out of place.
Your point that everything he learned this year in the NHL he could have learned next year was well-made. What was the rush? He’ll just get to the end of his entry level contract and to free agency more quickly. Brian Burke has never said this, but my guess is that if he’d been in charge Schenn would have spent the season with Kelowna.
Q: Hi Damien,
In all of this hooplah over Jim Balsillie and a Hamilton team, there's one thing that I haven't seen talked about that I think might actually be an important issue here - conference balance. Is it possible that one of the main reasons Balsillie could have trouble getting a move through the Board of Governors is that moving from Phoenix to Hamilton would presumably require re-organising the Eastern and Western Conferences?
It doesn't seem too likely that a Hamilton team would make sense in the Western Conference, although Detroit is also in the Western Conference but the Eastern time zone. Such a move would likely require rebalancing the conferences yet again (always a contentious issue), and require some serious reworking of the NHL schedule.
Adam B., Kitchener
A: Well, if Hamilton were to get the team – a very big if – they would probably have to stay in the west for at least a season or two for the very reasons you describe. The Leafs used to be in the west and Detroit still is, so while a challenge in terms of travel, having a Hamilton franchise play in the Western Conference isn’t out of the question.
Down the road, I’m guessing the NHL would like to get to 32 teams. That might allow for re-working of the conferences, or some new alignment entirely.
Q: Hi Damien: what affect, or how much, would the Ti-cats be affected by a NHL team in Hamilton?
Brent Achtymichuk, Toronto
A: Well, Ron Joyce has suggested that there isn’t enough corporate support in Hamilton to support an NHL team, so that team would likely suck existing corporate dollars away from the Tiger-Cats. That said, while the Cats do their business mostly in Hamilton, an NHL club might be able to draw corporate and fan support from a larger area, the Golden Horseshoe and beyond. But certainly an NHL team wouldn’t make it any easier to do CFL business in Hamilton.
Q: I see that Mattias Ohlund is a free agent this summer. I remember that many years ago, the Leafs signed him to an offer sheet, which the Canucks were quick to match. Do you think he might be a good stabilizing influence for the young Leaf defense, especially if Kaberle and/or Kubina get traded this summer?
Kevin D., Toronto
A: I like Ohlund. He competes, has good size and is still pretty mobile. He made $3.5 million this season. He’ll be 33 in September and should have some mileage on him, so, yeah, as long as you didn’t overpay – nothing north of $4 million – he’d be a solid short-term addition.
Q: Brian Campbell and Zedno Chara went to the Blackhawks and Bruins, respectively, when those teams were still in the process of rebuilding. Do you see the Leafs in a similar position and do you think Jay Bouwmeester would find the Leafs an attractive destination, especially if neither Calgary nor Edmonton have the cap space or willingness to make a serious offer?
John Hunt, Harvard, Massachusetts
A: Well, the Leafs would love to think Bouwmeester, still only 25, would consider them. If he’s still available in July they’ll take a run at him, although suggestions are he’s inclined to head west, probably Edmonton, if he can. He played for Pat Quinn before on Olympic and World Cup teams.
Just to refer to an earlier question, this is, of course, the same situation in which the Leafs have placed themselves by keeping Luke Schenn in the NHL this season. By 25, he could be unrestricted.
Yes, I'm a Bruins' fan. But am I the only one out there willing to ask if Milan Lucic is even on the 2010 radar for Team Canada? Sure, he's not fleet of foot, but he competes, he loves to bang, he's from B.C. for even more motivation. We all know we're not going to have four lines of Ferraris out there. I suppose his biggest weakness is on the PK. However, is there an inkling of support?
Brad Janes, Fredericton
A: Unlikely. While sometimes dominating, he’s still raw. In general, I love his game and I like his chances much more for 2014. That said, its not impossible he could be invited to Team Canada’s orientation camp in August.
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