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Showing posts from December, 2005

First no "D" in Pittsburgh, now no "O"

It's open season on NHL coaches, and Eddie Olczyk is our first victim , having been shown the door Thursday by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Everybody who looked at their roster at the start of the year saw a potential offensive juggernaut with huge holes on defense, and unfortunately for Eddie O, the "potential" offense didn't materialize. The Penguins languish near the bottom of the Eastern Conference in Goals For, and with Mario Lemieux's continuing medical issues , it's doubtful that things are going to change quickly on that end. The best they can hope for is that Michel Therrien can introduce some discipline and defensive intensity so the team can at least compete on a regular basis. The bottom line, however, is that the players bailed on Olczyk, and that's not a good sign. For a team with that much talent and experience to give up on a coach, either the coach was truly awful, or there are some malcontents in the locker room. Check back a month or t

No "Y" in this Olympics

Today it's been reported that Steve Yzerman has removed himself from the Canadian Olympic roster. Unsatisfied with his production this season, he felt obligated to free up his spot for a more deserving player. I'm sure this will only add to speculation that he'll retire soon, perhaps even during the season. It's too bad that he won't get the send-off that an Olympics or All-Star Game appearance could provide - although that is probably the last thing that the Captain would want anyway.

Avoid the 'Roids

A true tempest-in-a-teapot erupted over the weekend when Dick Pound ( stop that snickering ) of the World Anti-Doping Agency told the London (Ontario) Free Press that "you wouldn't be far wrong if you said a third" of NHL players were using performance-enhancing drugs. Given the recent steroid scandals surrounding Major League Baseball, this was an incendiary remark to toss out there without any proof or substantiation, and the NHL is trying to put dampen the flames. The problem, however, is that the message from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has sounded basically defensive so far - a demand that Pound document his claims . The venerable Don Cherry thinks it's time to call in the lawyers , which I'm sure will solve the whole mess, right? What would be more encouraging would be to hear Bettman get out in front of the issue and talk about what the NHL is doing to control the use of performance enhancers in hockey, instead of merely reacting and claiming innocen

Is this Baseball???

Correct me if I'm wrong, but when all the aspects of the "new NHL" were being discussed, the only schedule impact that I remember was the increased emphasis on divisional rivalries. Now, you hear about teams playing opponents from the other conference for the first time this year - take a look at the expanded standings over at ESPN and you'll see that we've entered the equivalent of Major League Baseball's Interleague Play. Not that this is entirely a bad thing, but it was surprising to find out. I wonder if Las Vegas offers a parlay on total combined win/loss between the conferences. The smart money would presumably be on the quicker Western Conference, but what do I know?

Round the first turn, heading for the back stretch...

As we've hit the quarter pole of the NHL regular season, it's time to reflect on how the "new NHL" is doing, as well as some of the major developments so far. In a nutshell, the game's great, the refs and players are still trying to find balance in terms of penalty calls, and the NHL made a huge mistake in going with OLN for their US television coverage. Alright, alright - there's more detail than that: The biggest news lately is the blockbuster deal that sent Joe Thornton on his way to San Jose for a trio of capable players. There's an interesting pair of articles over at summarizing the deal. In short, Phil Coffey plays the idiotic "he who gets the best player wins the trade" card, and John McGourty makes the more salient observation that Boston management clearly favors speed over size, given the possibility of trading Sergei Samsonov instead. The Ottawa Senators are off to an amazing start, but they'll still have plenty to

Settling down in Predators Country...

The family is moved, the boxes are unpacked and the pictures are hung on the walls, so things have finally settled down to the point where I can focus on real priorities, like writing about hockey again! Just when I started to get this blog rolling I had a great job opportunity come up that involved relocating to Nashville, Tennessee, home of the up-and-coming Predators. Seemingly tailor-made for the "new" NHL, the Preds have been a streaky team so far. Eight wins to start the year were followed by five losses, then five more consecutive victories. Hidden within those streaks were a number of overtime and shootout decisions, however, so the highs and lows are somewhat exaggerated here. Nashville should place a comfortable second in the Central Division behind the Red Wings and cause some serious noise come playoff time. This is a team that has made steady, incremental progress over the last few years, and is adding just enough star power (in Paul Kariya and Steve Sulliv