Thursday Mail Bag
As of Tuesday, we officially recorded the six millionth hit for The Spin. Now, I can't tell you exactly what that means, but that seems like a big number over the four years we've been churning out blogs and mail bags and all different kinds of e-conversation with you, the readers.
So thanks. Without the feedback - and yes, that includes the nasty notes and the criticisms and the low blows - well, it would just be me yakking away at myself. Well, and my wife. Well, when she listens.
We've expanded the Spin to Twitter, as well, and that stands at 3,500 followers and counting. That's a lot less than some, even some of the people I follow. But it's a lot more than others, and we'll keep trying to build it, right along with this blog.
Now, on to this week's mail bag:
Q: Hey Damien,
What's with Luke Schenn's resurgence? He has been going good for 4-6 weeks now. Will it continue?
Tanome Mchale, Toronto
A: Not sure I'd agree on the 4-6 weeks estimate, but certainly Schenn's play has progressed significantly over the last three weeks. It's like something just clicked, particularly in terms of carrying the puck. His puck patience has improved dramatically, allowing him to make more plays and fewer errors. He's even developing a slapshot and has scored a couple of goals with it. That improvement with the puck has translated into a simpler, yet more aggressive game without it. So while it's been a bumpy road this season, and I certainly was an advocate of sending Schenn to the Marlies to work on his game, it certainly seems that Ron Wilson's program of simply sticking with the kid and getting him to work on his game in practice has worked.
Q: When a bubble team (Boston) can lose 10 straight games and still be right in the middle of the playoff chase I think that proves there is a problem with the NHL point system. Don't you think parity should involve having to win games to be competitive?
Eric T., Toronto
A: I do, but the NHL doesn't. It loves this system because it keeps more teams involved. I really can't stand the three-point game, but I've heard absolute no conversation at either the GM level or at the board of governors to make me think change is in the air anytime soon.
Q: Hey Damien,
Now that Ilya Kovalchuk is a Devil, what do you think he's going to do next season: Sign with the Devils, sign with another NHL team, or sign with a team in the KHL?
Dave Chipotle, Gravenhurst
A: My best guess is he'll sign with another NHL team. For starters, I can't imagine him working out a deal with Jersey. He's going to want to be paid between $8-10 million, and right now Patrick Elias ($6 million) and Martin Brodeur ($5.2 million) are the unofficial ceiling. Brodeur, in particular, took less to help keep the Devs in a position to add players when needed, but not to pay Kovalchuk 40-50 per cent more than his own salary.
Then there's the KHL option. It may be there, and it may be difficult for Kovalchuk to resist. But my guess is the North American lifestyle for his wife and children would be difficult to give up at this point. We'll see on that one.
If he stays, somebody will thrown crazy money at him. Don't know which team, but probably one that has a disappointing spring. It will be fascinating to watch this play out.
Q: Hi Damien,
I've got a quick question. With the Leafs finally getting better goaltending and defense, what is the chance Burke will pick up some forwards? I know we have heard of Chicago and Versteeg being included in Leafs trade rumours but why not pick up Patrick Sharp?
Dan G., Toronto
A: Obviously, Burke is in the market for forwards, and both Versteeg and Sharp would probably interest him. Those rumours are tied to the reality that Chicago, sooner or later, will have to move some money to make their cap situation make sense. And that speculation has been around all season. None of this is new.
Q: Damien, I usually read the scripts of those online chats you have about once a week (good work, by the way). And I've noticed a couple of times recently that at least one person has suggested bringing Mats Sundin back. In all seriousness, before you post your response, what is your "off-line" reaction? Do you simple laugh and shake your head? Or is it more you yelling at the computer "Oh for cryin' out loud, Sundin is done! Get over it!!!"? I know I would probably do the latter.
Cory Schneider, Oakville
A: Well, maybe a little. But I also respect the fact that there are an awful lot of people who loved what Sundin brought to the table, and that not everybody reads every question in every mailbag. That said, Sundin is done. Over. Finito. Which is as it should be. Within a couple of years, they'll be honoring No. 13 at the ACC, and that will be a terrific night.
Q: Hi Damien,
Quick question about no trade/movement clauses: if a player waives his no-trade to move to another team, does the no-trade follow him? Hypothetically, if the Leafs decide they need to move Giguere, can they?
Patrick Gauthier, Ottawa
A: Giguere still has his no-trade. He would have to waive it again.
Q: Hey Damien,
What really became of Paul Kariya? I find even though he is less than 50 points shy of 1,000, his career, which started out so promising, has been a dud based on the promise. There was a time when the idea of getting Kariya as a free agent was captivating but since leaving the Ducks back in '03 at the very young age of 27, his street value tanked. Where is he now? California Golden Seals? I know St Louis, but really who cares.
Glen McMinn, Halifax
A: Well, people who once thought he was maybe the best player on the planet care. He still carries a $6 million tag, but while he actually played pretty well during parts of this season, he doesn't justify that salary any more. Injuries slowed him down, and he just didn't seem the same after he and Teemu Selanne concocted what was actually a smart scheme to play together in Colorado. Bouncing around from team to team can also injure a guy's enthusiasm. All this said, Kariya is a free agent this summer, and if he's willing to take a significant haircut on salary, I think somebody's going to want him. As a second or third line player at a logical salary on a one-year deal, he might still end up being a good bargain for somebody.