Hockey Musings From Overseas
LONDON--Doesn't matter where you are. At this time of year, it's always hard to separate the real from the fictional in the hockey world.
I'd just be happy if they'd give this Winnipeg team a name. Like, today. This is getting to be like the old Baltimore CFLers, pre-Stallions. Don't think the Winnipeg NHLers is going to fly. Jets sounds right. NHL people say no chance it's going to be Moose. Again, tough to separate the real from the fictional.
Now on to other matters of interest/speculation:
--No surprises at the NHL awards, although it was gratifying that voters saw beyond the numbers and gave Corey Perry the Hart. That Daniel Sedin won the Ted Lindsay suggest players don't watch the games - or their opponents - nearly as closely as the media.
Lots of winners and honored folks from the Western Conference, not much from the east. In fact, while whiners in the west have bellyached forever about hockey writers not staying up to watch west coast games, the fact is while the media voting seemed to favour the west, the GMs voted for Tim Thomas as the Vezina winner and the broadcasters chose Dan Bylsma as coach-of-the-year.
So hopefully that's one silly theory put to rest forever.
--Gotta say that giving Ian Laperriere the Masterton after he failed to play a single game in the 2010-11 season is a joke. That the other finalists, Ray Emery and Daymond Langkow, didn't play much either is no excuse. This is an award that has struggled to stay relevant, and clearly, having Laperriere win it suggests that a minimum numbers of games to be eligible (40?) is necessary and that its probably time to re-define the award for the future.
--Jaromir Jagr with two, maybe three suitors? Really? Did nobody watch the Mike Modano scenario unfold rather badly in Detroit last year? Look, we haven't seen the 38-year-old Jagr in the NHL since the 2007-08 season when he was rather pedestrian at best for the New York Rangers. Since then, he's played three years in the KHL and popped up to generally positive reviews in the 2010 Winter Olympics, at least until he was flattened by Alexander Ovechkin.
Could he help somebody at the bargain basement price of $1 million or so? Well, maybe. But if you're a team serious about winning - which is the reason you'd chase Jagr - is it possible to envision him fighting for ice in the way that would have been necessary in the recent Vancouver-Boston Stanley Cup final? Not a chance.
Every year at this time there's a fanciful notion that some journeyman-type offensive player with flickering abilities is going to be a super-smart signing by somebody. Well, to that I say, Mike Comrie.
--The Ilya Bryzgalov saga is interesting to watch. It would appear the netminder, who has never won anything, has the Flyers right where he wants them and could extract a salary that would make him the league's highest-paid goalkeeper. This makes little or no sense, but it would appear that after missing out on the likes of Mike Richter, Curtis Joseph and Tim Thomas over the years, Ed Snider wants the best guy out there.
But isn't that Tomas Vokoun?
--There was something rather refreshing about the way in which the Leafs made changes to their coaching staff this week. Don't get me wrong - I take no joy in watching two good hockey men, Keith Acton and Tim Hunter, lose their jobs. But something needed to change.
What I liked was that neither Brian Burke nor Ron Wilson tried to spin this into anything it wasn't. Burke demanded change. Wilson resisted, didn't want to. Finally, with only a year left on his contract, Wilson relented. Neither man tried to paint the situation in any different way to make themselves look better. No dissembling. Refreshing.
--It's pretty clear that the last scenario Burke wants is to simply draft with the No. 25 and No. 30 picks tomorrow night in Minny. He either wants to move up or move out, either getting a much higher ranked draft-eligible player or players he can use in this up-coming season with the pressure on the Leafs now clearly on Burke and Wilson to produce a playoff-quality team.
As of now, the Leafs have 11 picks, five in the top 100.
--So what of J.S. Giguere? Other than being one of the new investors in the Montreal junior club along with Laperriere, Daniel Briere and Quebecor, Giguere is recovering from sports hernia surgery and waiting on his future.
Burke says he's going with James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson as his 1-2 combination next season. That would probably make Jussi Rynnas No. 3, which means a team planning to make the playoffs will attempt to do so with little or no experience in net.
The Leaf GM, however, says he may be interested in Giguere in "some other capacity." Sounds like unless Giguere gets a better offer, Burke wants to basically invite him to stay with the Leafs, maybe even come to training camp, while the club sees whether a veteran backup is required.
--Amazing all the mock drafts and pre-draft predictions out there. But lets agree on one thing. No crowing after the fact for getting two-thirds of the top 30 correct or such nonsense. Connect the exact teenager with the right team and slot - or even just the slot - or its not worth bragging about. Geez, Central Scouting can get two-thirds of the names in the first round right.
Anybody who can get nine of the first 10 picks right - and not on the draft floor when folks love to tips TV/radio/web reporters the moments before they actually select - is doing something very right. This is a very tough draft to call, even the top five selections.
--Edmonton, as has become an annual rite of June, has the first pick. The right play is to shop it to move down a bit and add something to help now. Like a defenceman with at least one full season in the NHL and upside. Zach Bogosian? Some love him, some don't. But that's the kind of deal GM Steve Tambellini could make. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins may have all kinds of upside but he can't really help the Oilers be better next year, and they need to be better next year.
--Do Sheldon Souray and Wade Redden ever get out of salary cap prison? Doesn't sound like it.