There are times when I have to scratch a bit to fill this feature. Today is not one of those days. After the jump, recriminations in the dressing room, the strange tale of Paul Ranger, a retirement of note and a Sharks' owner airs it out.
Well, that sucked. Richard's covered off most of the gory details, complete with this statement at the end:
The Avalanche are not a good team.
Likely so, but if you lose a second straight game to an allegedly crap team in analogous fashion, what does that make you? Lousy? Unlucky? Selfish? Arrogant? Stupid?
There might be a few team members who would choose option three, if one chooses to believe rumours. I don't really know where I come down on the whole second-hand news stuff. Gossip sells, and I'm not going to act like it doesn't amuse me when I read it. With that stated, if a trad-med type ever spouts off about integrity, keep this occurrence in mind, because they aren't above airing this stuff, and the source of their paycheque doesn't magically launder it.
On-ice, as Kent has noted in the preceding post, Brent Sutter acknowledges the utter lack of production from their putative number one center, and the problems the Flames face because of it. Jokinen and Iginla had a tough night, and as someone who believes that a defenceman's numbers often end up as collateral damage when a forward line struggles, it was hardly a surprise that Phaneuf and Regehr had these EV scoring chance numbers behind 12/21:
CGY - 0 COL - 5
Yuck. The Stastny line gave them quite a spanking, as Richard noted.
Enough of that. Down on the farm, the Heat returned from their mid-west trip to face a good Hamilton squad in Abbotsford, winning 4-1. Kris Chucko awoke from whatever slumber he was in, scoring a goal, but the interesting player to me is John Negrin. The game sheet would lead one to believe he was paired with Pelech last night, and had a goal and an assist, giving him 3G-8A-11PTS, +3 in 17 games. He's a right shot. So's Cory Sarich. Just something to think about later this year, or in the summer.
Tomorrow's opposition is, of course, the Flames' bête noire. The Hawks have been motoring along, although like most non-Calgary teams, they've had a major injury. David Bolland is out with a wonky back until the spring, and given that they're out of cap space, it isn't a hole that will be filled by trade.
Cap space, and how it affects the future of the Hawks, is a topic of some discussion. With reports swirling of an imminent clutch of signings, Toews, Kane and Keith are apparently letting it all unfold in it's due time. Those three, along with Bolland and Seabrook, are the young players at the core of the long-term plans for Chicago. Whether they have the cap space to accommodate them and have any depth is another matter, although the Flames have certainly managed in the last couple of years. It might mean mid-priced guys like Barker and Byfuglien are on the block, and you'll notice how few 1.5 to 3.5 million dollar salaries Calgary has. As in none.
Up north, there's the usual discontent with the play of the Oilers. Oh well, if the current edition is unpleasing to the eye, they can always look back to a happier time in order to soothe their feelings. In all seriousness, they've had terrible luck with injuries, the flu and the Pisani situation. I didn't think they were a play-off team at any rate, but it's still a bad run of fortune.
In other bad team items, Red Fisher unloads on the Habs-Canes match-up last night:
I mean, the good citizens at the Bell Centre weren't exactly watching Stanley Cup contenders. At times, both teams didn't even look like Calder Cup contenders
Ouch. Still wish the Flames had Cammalleri, of course, but even with him, Montreal is going nowhere, especially without Markov. As for the Canes, this is a situation where the fact that most teams are cap-squeezed is hurting them. In the old days, they'd unload the aged deadwood for picks and prospects. Now, they're stuck with a few geezer-types for the duration. I'm not sympathetic to that fan base, though, and not because I have an issue with them. They've seen a cup winner and a final four team in the four years since the lock-out, so I'm not interested in the "poor southern team, trying to make hockey relevant" stuff. They haven't been watching the Thrashers for the last number of seasons.
That worm might be turning, though. Atlanta has had a nice start, and it isn't just the usual suspects. Maxim Afinogenov looks a right bargain at 800K. Pavel Kubina was a nice add, and they've survived the standard Kari Lehtonen injury, with Pavelic and Hedberg filling the gap admirably.
In other SE news, this Paul Ranger thing is very odd. He's been on a leave of absence since late October for personal reasons, and there hasn't been much about the situation, possibly because he plays for the Lightning. This is a case where playing in a place where hockey isn't omnipresent in the public press benefits the person in question. I can't imagine the lack of coverage this matter has received ever occurring if he was a Canuck or Oiler or Senator. He was, or maybe still is, a pretty well-regarded young D-man in that organization.
There was much speculation around the time of Theo Fleury's book being released centering on what his future legal moves regarding Graham James might entail. Some answers came yesterday, with Fleury hiring Hersh Wolch to pursue the matter in the courts. Best wishes to Theo, as always.
Peter Forsberg has decided to stay in Sweden, at least for this year. He's signed with Modo of the SEL, and he's taking Markus Naslund along with him, as the two of them attempt to help out their home club. Maybe next year for Foppa, although he might really be at the end as far as his NHL time goes.
Eric Duhatschek has a nice piece about the retiring Brendan Shanahan, focusing on his off-ice work during the lock-out. More of the top players should make the effort to be involved in how the game is played, IMO. Shanahan put himself out there in order to move the process along, for better or worse. Hell of a player, too, btw.
In a story covering the Coyotes' situation, David Shoalts of the G and M, gets a money quote from Kevin Compton of the Sharks' ownership group:
"Jim loves hockey," Compton said. "Jim's got a lot of money. Jim's got a lot of passion." Compton also said he is certain Balsillie will become an NHL owner some day. When it was pointed out the league is keeping Balsillie out, Compton shot back that "owners aren't."
That's completely at odds with this:
Q: The legal files and the legal strategy that suggested that he was unsuitable as an owner. That wasn't personal?
A: Not by me. The owners decided they didn't want him as a partner.
That appears in this interview with the Commissioner of the league. Hmmm.
That Macleans interview has some other beauts:
Q: Are the Leafs on the same page as you on the issue today?
A: I believe they are. And even if they're not, it doesn't matter because they don't have a veto! Even if they think they do, they don't. Let's be precise: relocation requires a majority vote [of NHL governors]. An expansion team, because you're admitting a new owner, requires a three-quarter vote.
Sure, Gary. Anyhoo, good job by the Macleans' editorial board. Good job adding this guy, too.
That's all for this week. Comments are open as always, so add 'em if you got 'em.