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Showing posts from July, 2005

Leafs Sign Owen Nolan

Well, the Owen Nolan of a few years ago, really. The Leafs acquired Jeff O'Neill from the Carolina Hurricanes today for a conditional draft pick in 2006. The Canes clear $2.8 million off their payroll in the deal, which not only helps their bottom line, but gives them a little spending cash in this supersized free agent market. For O'Neill, it's an opportunity to play for his hometown team, and a welcome piece of news for him and his family, especially since his older brother was recently killed in a car crash.

Escape From New York

The poster boy of over-generous contracts, Bobby Holik, has been bought out by the Rangers today. Don't shed a tear, though - there are worse things in life then getting paid a few million dollars not to play for the New York Rangers!

Sound off!

The NHL has a survey available that anybody can use to express their opinion regarding the new CBA, rule changes, the effect of the work stoppage on their enthusiasm for the league, etc. Head on over and give 'em your $0.02 - and thanks to the message boarders over at the NHL Fans Association for posting the link. For those who don't know, the NHLFA is a fans association that has been around for several years, gathering membership (over 27,000 strong) and trying to make the voice of the fan heard by the NHL and its players. My skinny: allowing the 2-line pass, tag-up offsides, and reduced goalie equipment are great, overtime shootouts and division-heavy regular season schedules stink. But hey, I'll give 'em credit for trying, certainly more than Bill Wirtz of the Chicago Blackhawks gets for retaining his TV blackout for home games . They may give out a bunch of free tickets and offer price cuts for fans, but as long as Wirtz maintains this foolish policy, he'

Who didn't see this coming?

Not to mix my metaphors here, but Bob Goodenow has pulled off an admirable double-play: as captain, he went down with the NHLPA's ship, and now is walking the plank as well. Will he go down in history as the labor exec who oversaw the most disastrous negotiation in sports history? Let's tick off the recent accomplishments: Despite several years of available time, failed to reach an agreement with the owners, leading to a lockout, stubbornly persisted in a losing battle, scratching the 2004-5 NHL season, finally agreed to a deal with a 24% pay cut, a salary cap, and few, if any, significant gains for the players, and made Gary Bettman look like a smooth operator. That's an amazing list, but apparently that's all for now. Goodenow is out, Ted Saskin is in, and hopefully, this is the last we'll hear about NHLPA executives for a very, very long time.

And Now for Something Completely Different athlete with true class. Darren McCarty, recently bought out of his contract with the Detroit Red Wings, published an open letter to the Red Wings organization and fans today in the Detroit Free Press, thanking them for his time with the team. While it wasn't surprising to see McCarty bought out given his contract and the new competitive reality in the NHL, he is the epitome of hard-working "effort" players that appeal to fans. Do you think Jaromir Jagr would write such a letter to Rangers fans if he heads over to Russia? Now there's a study in contrast... It will be interesting to see where McCarty ends up, however. Personally, I think he would make a great fit in Ottawa, which could use the grit and playoff experience that he brings.

Game On!

The 2005-6 NHL Schedule is now available on , and here are a few of the highlights: Sid Crosby's first home game with the Penguins: October 8th, vs. Boston Dominik Hasek leads the Senators into Buffalo: November 2nd Brett Hull returns to Detroit as a Phoenix Coyote: November 5th The Hockey Day in Canada tripleheader (Ottawa @ Montreal, Toronto @ Edmonton, Calgary @ Vancouver) will be January 7, 2006. There will be also break for the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy, covering February 13-27, with no All-Star Game as a result. The bad part here is that the NHL wants to beef up divisional rivalries by scheduling more regular season intra-division games, so you'll see less of cross-confernence matchups like having Original Six teams face each other (Boston/NY Rangers/Montreal/Toronto vs. Detroit/Chicago). Heck, the most recent Cup Finalists (Calgary and Tampa Bay) don't even play each other this year! If they really wanted to stoke division rivalries, they could go b

Even the Islanders could be good...

The more I look at the way this 2005-6 NHL season is shaping up, it really could be the best year for hockey in a long, long, time. Not just with the rules changes and goalie equipment restrictions that should open up play and increase scoring, but the overall talent level in the league is likely to be much higher than normal - here's why: You've got basically two years' worth of draft picks getting ready to enter the league, as 2004's picks continued their development outside the NHL, and this year's draft is considered very deep in talent, led of course by Sid Crosby . Current NHL players have had a year off to recover from various injuries, which they normally don't get the chance to do given the short offseason (especially for playoff teams). Then toss in the veteran stars who are going to hang on just a little longer, in part because they've had time to recuperate (like Steve Yzerman from his eye injury, and Dominik Hasek from groin surgery), and

Hockey's Taliban Defeated

In what is sure to be marked as a victory for free speech in North America, CBC has announced that Don Cherry won't be subject to tape delay during his Coach's Corner segments on Hockey Night in Canada . For unfortunate Americans who haven't seen HNIC , it's only the greatest sports show on television. Strike that, it's just the best damn thing on TV, period. When I got married and moved to Indiana, my sole condition was getting a satellite dish so I could still get my Saturday night hockey fix. Cherry's ability to command real-time television stands in stark contrast to many American TV shows which are going to tape-delay in light of pressure from the FCC and advocacy groups. His trademark off-the-cuff commentary and interaction with Ron McLean make for great theater during hockey's biggest weekly showcase, and the fact that it will be truly live is a benefit to the CBC and audiences alike. Unless, of course, Cherry's nipple pops out , in which

The World Is Not Enough (for some)

Shocking news out of Prague - Jaromir Jagr is unhappy ! To paraphrase Churchill, never has one guy complained so much, for so long, and made so much money. Perhaps Jagr belongs in the NBA, where this type of thing is commonplace .

Search "power forward" on eBay...

The NHL free agent market this year is already abnormally large, due to the extra year's worth of contracts that expired during the lockout. But with the new CBA, and its one-time opportunity for teams to cut players loose by buying them out, the bazaar is wide open for NHL general managers this summer. First, the Philadelphia Flyers cut John LeClair and Tony Amonte loose, and now the Detroit Red Wings have followed suit with Derian Hatcher , Ray Whitney , and Darren McCarty , who had seemingly earned a lifetime job in Detroit after his incredible run in 1997 . In the days to come, more and more impact-level players will be seeking new employment. For GM's, this may be a hair -pulling nightmare, but for fans, it's the closest thing to a fantasy draft that we'll ever see in professional sports. The easy part during these contract buyouts is for the high-payroll teams that need to get under the cap to jettison players with outsized contracts (wait until the Ranger

Back in the saddle again...

It's been a long time since I've written regularly about hockey, but with the dawn of a new era on our hands, it's high time that I start this blog. First, some background. Back in the mid- to late-1990's, I dove into the newsgroup phenomenon as the popularity of the World Wide Web was getting off the ground. People would write back and forth regarding issues of the day, longstanding "barstool" sports arguments, and of course, good (and bad) natured smack over rivalries between different teams. Responding to a message looking for online correspondents, I signed up to write columns for a hockey magazine called "In the Crease", which covered minor and major pro hockey through local columnists in various cities. It was a great opportunity to interact with readers from all over the world, and while it didn't pay a dime, was rewarding strictly from the hobbyist sense. Of course, it didn't hurt when we actually scored some press passes throug