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December 17 News and Notes

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Sir, Saturday morning, although recurring at regular and well-foreseen intervals, always seems to take this railway by surprise.

W.S. Gilbert


That's kind of where I'm at today, because I knew I was doing this bit, and yet here I am going on midnight still pissing around, so let's get to it. This week, the Flames hit a pothole, there's off-ice news from the Monterey Peninsula, and Canada sets its WJHC roster.



They have some issues, no? Can't really count on the alleged top line, back-up goalie isn't that good, missing a couple of defencemen, it's been a rough week. I'm not going to rehash things any more except to say that Joker and Iggy have played, counting last season, almost 60 games together. It isn't working. It's long past time to move on. I have no expectation of that happening, of course, since the boss ascribes the problems to a general lack of effort. Having a first line worthy of the name might be a bigger issue, but the Flames will likely get around to acknowledging that fact next July when they don't resign Joker, and not before. It's a sad case.

Struggling is the way of the organization right now, as Jim Playfair has chosen to shake a few things up in Abby. The good news is that Matt Keetley has had some decent outings as of late, but he and Irving aren't getting much help from the offence. Mikael Backlund has hit a slump, with 1 point in the last 7, although he has the full endorsement of his old pal Patrik Berglund. Given that Berglund can't break an egg right now, his words might be construed as sympathy pains as much as anything.

Off-ice, the Flames might yet be in line for an outdoor extravaganza, and Peter Maher hinted this afternoon that it would be on Hockey Day in Canada rather than New Year's Day due to logistical reasons. Should have it had this past week, because, really, what's a bit of -30 weather between friends?  




Up the road, the Oil have actually done OK in the standings with Hemsky and Khabibulin on the shelf. The Russian 'keeper's bad back has the usual tongues wagging regarding the Oilers' approach to due diligence, and this week brings news of analgesic injections to ease the pain. You know, Mike Rathje has been on LTIR for three years now. Just sayin'.

Tuesday night's loss to L.A. left Pat Quinn in a foul mood after the game, but he really shouldn't worry about things too much, what with his next career already laid out. Good luck, coach. Watching Patrick O'Sullivan would drive anyone to a binge or two.


David Koci looks like he'll join the list of this season's villains after running Mike Green Tuesday night in Denver. I suspect you'll be unsurprised to note that this bit from Bruce Boudreau has my approval:


Let's be honest, if this was (a competitive) game, (Koci) gets on the ice in the first three minutes, he gets into his fight with a guy, and then he sits at the end of the bench, and that's it. So what good is he?


Good thing Brent Sutter doesn't take that sort of approach with the Flames' roster, isn't it? At least Green doesn't appear to be too badly damaged at this point.


The general topic of player safety did come up at the Board of Governors' meetings in Pebble Beach, with a move afoot to draft a proposal regarding head shots for the Competition Committee to review this spring. As always, a rule is only as good as the enforcement.

The BOG meetings also had the usual discussion regarding a few franchises' financial status. Charles Wang is still playing the waiting game with the Town of Hempstead while exploring options that might include teaming with the NBA's New Jersey Nets. Dominik from Lighthouse Hockey reviews some of this as he ponders the willingness of the Islanders to add salary next year if some teams are cap-squeezed enough to move good players. If the Islanders ever get their arena situation squared away, that 30 million-ish TV deal they have will enable them go from the salary floor to the cap a lot quicker than most bottom-dwellers. 

The other main topic of discussion on the shores of Monterey Bay was, of course, the Coyotes. Ice Edge's bid is proceeding through channels, and the principals are making noises with regard to potential profitability within our lifetimes. Let's see the colour of their money before penciling in those games in 'Toon Town for next season, shall we? Maybe they could invite this gent into their group? You never know when that sort of skill will come in handy.


The now-annual spectacle of sad, sleepy-eyed kids being herded toward a row of cameras played out Wednesday morning as Canada announced its final cuts to the roster for the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championship. Flame '08 first rounder Greg Nemisz of the powerhouse Windsor Spitfires joins his team mates Adam Henrique, Taylor Hall and Ryan Ellis on the squad. Good on him. Brandon Kozun and Martin Jones of the Hitmen also made the grade. 


Finally this week, the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh is hosting its last season of NHL hockey this winter, as the Penguins move to their new digs next fall. The good people of the Pensblog are always willing to be creative in the service of their hometown, and their innovative proposals to address the city's financial woes are suffused with the sort of earnest public spirit that all of us on the 'tubes should aspire to. That, or bicker with A2Y, I'm good either way.


Have a good one, and as always, the comments are open for things of interest that you've noticed.