“Thoughts on Thoughts” is a feature that looks at Elliotte Friedman’s terrific weekly post “30 Thoughts.” Justin Bourne selects his 10 favourite tidbits, and elaborates.
Last edition: (Who cares it was about the lockout and you’re free from that now!)
Friedman’s column, January 14th: Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf take priority on Ducks
Opening: Friedman’s opening was on Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, both of whom are going to need new contracts and quick if the Ducks want to keep them from hitting the free market, where they would undoubtedly be offered wheelbarrows full of money.
The one thing I don’t really follow about the Ducks current situation is how often I hear that Bobby Ryan is available, yet Perry and Getzlaf are these immovable pieces, true Anaheim Ducks through and through. Why is he the odd man out there? Hell, why is anyone? Ryan has scored more than 30 goals in each of the last four years, and is two years younger than the other two stars. If I’m, say, anyone, I’d be falling all over myself to steal Ryan from the Ducks. I’m convinced this guy deserves more love (and if I were him and the name constantly in trade rumours, I’d want them to pull the trigger ASAP).
3. Interesting development on the first day of Washington Capitals practice as Alexander Ovechkin lined up on right wing. Rookie head coach Adam Oates told reporters that the captain suggested the idea in a head-to-head meeting and believes the responsibilities of his defensive system will make it easier on Ovechkin to play there. I’m intrigued to see this. It’s certainly time for a diversification of his game.
I’ve never heard of one wing being more or less difficult than another outside of the left wing lock, but okay…this should be interesting.
I’m going to be writing more about switching wings later, so for now I’ll just comment on the last note, the diversification of Ovy’s game. I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve had to suddenly start trying new things offensively, but I have been in situations where I’ve been asked to play a different style. I’ve had coaches make me hit where I normally wouldn’t, I’ve been a fourth liner in the AHL where I had to make low-risk plays like dump-ins (out of my character), and I tell ya, it takes you out of your element.
To ask Ovy to not just go-go-go, to incorporate things like delays, to use his linemates more…I have no idea what to expect. No idea what to expect, but I agree that something has to be done, so the wing switch seems like an obvious fix. It’ll change his angles, give him (and defenders) a different look, and hopefully be the catalyst for something positive. It’s been frustrating watching him bang his offensive head against the wall and not get much accomplished for awhile now.
7. Very tough for Wade Redden and Scott Gomez. During negotiations, the players considered whether to push for a buyout period now or wait until after the season. They decided to wait, worried that there wouldn’t be enough jobs for those immediately cut loose. I didn’t research Gomez, but did talk to a few teams about Redden. He easily would have found a job.
My biggest question about having Gomez and Redden sit home is…why didn’t the NHL go the NBA route and allow teams to buyout injured players? Now you’re in a situation where two guys have to sit home and miss and entire NHL season when all they (likely) want is to get on with their damn lives. I can’t see a plus for anyone in the whole ”you can’t buy out an injured player” game.
9. Adding Cam Barker gives Vancouver eight NHL blue-liners. The New Jersey Devils also have eight and the Buffalo Sabres nine. Pittsburgh has seven, but the Penguins are loaded with prospects at this position. The question here is, do these teams believe you can’t have enough defencemen during this shortened season or will they talk trade with others (Detroit, Edmonton) looking for help? Now that Anton Volchenkov is healthy, opponents believe the Devils, in particular, are searching for a partner with a forward to trade.
Edmonton picked up Marc Fistric from the Dallas Stars for a third-round pick today, but that’s hardly the player they need back there to patch up the back-end. Yes, he’s an NHL body, but they need someone reliable who’s both tough to play and can be counted on to make the first pass out of the zone. In a nutshell, where I’m headed here is “they could really use Volchenkov.” And hell, the Red Wings #2 d-man is Carlo Coliacovo. I bet the Devils are able to get a pretty decent return on Volchenkov if they decide to move him, given the waiting trade partners out there.
10. Denial I: Oilers GM Steve Tambellini said “nothing there” to several rumours indicating he is willing to part with forward Ales Hemsky to add a defenceman. Anyone acquiring Hemsky needs to pay a pro-rated $3.5 million this year because Edmonton has already taken care of his $1.5-million signing bonus. He is owed $5 million in 2013-14, including a $500,000 bonus.
It’s pretty clear that somewhere down the road, the Oilers will have to move a guy like Hemsky (and hopefully they can buy out Horcoff) to pay for all the great young talent they currently have. I’m sure there are plenty of teams who’d happily pay five shmill for a year of Hemsky.
12. Wonder if Phoenix is sniffing around Toronto’s Matthew Lombardi. He skated there during the lockout and apparently has good chemistry with some of the Coyotes. Maybe there’s a fit. Probably wouldn’t cost a ton and might be a good change for everyone.
Lombardi strikes me as a guy who just needs the right situation to thrive, and Phoenix could be exactly it. The Coyotes don’t have a ton of offensive talent, so when they get somebody like Lombardi who has some, they’ll give him plenty of opportunities. Last time he was in Phoenix he put up 20 goals, and if he’s spending his free time there voluntarily, he obviously digs the area. Gotta believe the Leafs wouldn’t exactly cry themselves to sleep losing a guy who potted a big eight snipes for ‘em last season – could be a win-win situation.
14. St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong said that, at the end of last season, he and coach Ken Hitchcock asked their players: “Was this the start of a foundation … or a cute one-year story?” I love that stuff.
I do too. I was wrong about Hitchcock, I gotta say. For years now I’ve been preaching that it’s time for the “old school coaches” to go the way of Old Yeller, so to speak, but man: Hitchcock softened up and had success, Darryl Sutter led the Kings to the Cup…maybe old dogs can learn new tricks.
I love that as soon as the season ended last year he switched his focus right to 2013, and made sure his players did too. From where I’m sitting it seems like the Blues have a great opportunity with a similar roster in a soft division this year, and a hot start could go a long way towards home ice in the playoffs.
16. Subban/Montreal looks like the 2013 version of Drew Doughty/Los Angeles. Kings started somewhere around three years and $9 million, Doughty held fast and ended up at eight years, $56 million. I’m not saying Subban will get that. I’m saying there is serious standoff potential here. Same agency, too (Newport). Montreal is thinking short-term, Subban not so much. Subban doesn’t strike me as a guy who’d be afraid and Canadiens rookie GM Marc Bergevin must look strong in his first real challenge.
Oh man, Habs fans, how nervous does that paragraph make you? The part that strikes me the most is that it’s Bergevin’s first big signing, and Friedman is right – he can’t get rolled over by the first guy who plays hardball against him. Still, I have to believe everyone involved has a pretty good idea of Subban’s worth – somewhere in the $4.5-$5.5M per season, maybe? – and will find a way to get something done. The only question is, for what length of term? If I’m Bergevin, I don’t want to go too long until I get to see another year of Subban, and make sure he’s actually going to be one of the League’s best d-men, and not just a guy with the potential to be one.
25. One coach was asking about travel and days off. In the new CBA, players are to be given four days off per month — two at home and two on the road — to be set in advance and not “altered absent compelling circumstances.” Here was his question: “Let’s say we play Saturday in Vancouver and Tuesday in Dallas. If we fly out after beating Vancouver, but land early Sunday morning, does it count as a day off if I don’t schedule anything until Monday?” The answer is yes, as long as you fly out right after that game. If you wait until the next day to travel, it does not count as a day off.
I gotta say, I do not envy the players’ schedule this upcoming season. I think the most wearing thing on your body might be the lack of sleep (which is why I love that the Canucks hired a sleep specialist), and with a mere four days off per month, the schedule is going to take its toll on a lot of players. You could play 48 games in four months no problem if they were day games and you got back into your own bed on time every night – having to get on a plane immediately after, and sleeping in hotel rooms all those nights is going to be just. awful.
26. You know who this is bad for? Owners of The Roxy.
27. The new agreement also includes a rule that players will have a minimum of nine hours off “overnight between the time they arrive at the team hotel on a road trip and the time the players are obligated to report the next day for practice or another work-related activity or meeting.” That one’s right out of the Canucks playbook and is part of the NHL and NHL Players’ Association’s fight against the sleep drug Ambien.
Ahhhhh Ambien is the worst.
I remember one night after a home game I thought “Y’know, I don’t want to have anything to drink, we play a day game tomorrow (this was after a Saturday night game), I’ll give one of those Ambien things a go and see how that goes.” (Acquiring prescription drugs on a hockey team is about as tough as finding candy at a gas station.) I remember roughly zero things after that, and felt worse the next day than if I’d just chugged a bottle of booze. It was the worst. I have no idea how athletes can take those things and function the next day.
30. Katie Moore’s funeral will be held today in Cambridge, Mass. Condolences, best wishes and full support to Dominic and to both families. There’s a saying I remember in moments like this: “No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see the possibilities — always see them for they’re always there.”
This story has made me infinitely sad for Dominic Moore and the families. I’m just so, so sorry.