Cam Charron

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2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six

“He’s grown up with our organization, and he’s been to the ultimate with our group,”
Chicago general manager Stan Bowman, on Corey Crawford

Back in the winter of 2003 or so, I can remember sports talk radio shows in Vancouver being almost exclusively about how the Vancouver Canucks needed not just a good goaltender to replace Dan Cloutier in net, but a “proven winner”. That last for most of the 2003-2004 season. Cloutier posted the worst even strength save percentage among starting goalies in 2001-2002 but is better known for allowing a half-court goal to Nik Lidstrom in Game 3 of the Canucks’ series against Detroit, and despite taking the first two games at the Joe, that goal seemed to turn the tide of the series, and Detroit wound up winning Games 3, 4, 5 and 6 to take the series.

Cloutier was slightly better in 2003, with a .917 EV SV%, 21st among starting goalies (although only 24 goalies qualified) but still he’s best known for his playoff performance—with a 3-1 series lead over the Minnesota Wild in the second round, the Canucks dropped the next two games 7-2 and 5-1, and then after taking a 2-1 lead into the third period of Game 7, eventually lost the game 4-2 and the series 4 games to 3.

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patrice Bergeron 2What is Steve Yzerman’s role as the general manager for Team Canada? Without getting too technical, his job is to take the players to Sochi that will have the best chance at medalling.

Somehow, this isn’t accomplished by Yzerman simply taking the best players. Stephen Whyno of The Canadian Press noted that “Yzerman has made it clear he’s not constructing an all-star team, but rather wants a mix of role players”. Before the 2010 Olympics, something called the Hockey Family Advisor suggested that “Yzerman’s job is not to pick the 20 best players in Canada. It is to pick the right 23 players. The 23 players who compliment each other, who are great team players and most importantly who are dedicated to doing whatever it takes to win.”

I think there’s a sentiment in Canada that you can’t construct a hockey pool team and expect them to compete, and that’s fair. Among the parts of the blogosphere I read, the mere idea that Chris Kunitz would make Team Canada above Taylor Hall is blasphemous. It’s a fun contrast to see the people that generally agree with Yzerman’s premise in the above paragraph turn around and suggest that Kunitz should be on the team. Nothing against Kunitz, but he wouldn’t have been considered for Orientation Camp if he hadn’t been 19th among Canadian players in point-scoring in the last three seasons. He wouldn’t have earned three MVP votes without 52 points in 48 games in 2013, but those were mostly acquired thanks to playing alongside Sidney Crosby, and Crosby has shown in his career that he doesn’t need Kunitz alongside him to score a bundle of points. Read the rest of this entry »

winnipeg jets ron hainsey

Much was made about Jay Bouwmeester getting his first crack at the NHL playoffs this year. Early in the 2013 season, Bouwmeester broke the record for most career NHL games played without having made an appearance in the playoffs. Of course, he had to go and spoil his shiny new record by playing six playoff games with the St. Louis Blues, conceding his new record back to its rightful owner, Guy Charron (no relation) whose record of 734 games without once playing a playoff game has to be one of the most untouchable records in sports.

Anyway, the guy who has the next best shot at catching Charron? Ron Hainsey. Hainsey came up with the Montreal Canadiens as a minor league call-up for two seasons. He began the 2003-2004 campaign with the Canadiens, but was sent down in November of that year after playing 11 games. That was the closest he’s ever been to the postseason, although he didn’t join the Habs in their two-round playoff run that season, instead playing 10 playoff games with the Hamilton Bulldogs.

It didn’t get easier from there. Hainsey was waived by the Habs early in the 2005 season and picked up by the Columbus Blue Jackets (say, this sounds familiar) and spent three seasons with the Blue Jackets, scoring 16 powerplay goals. He wasn’t a very prolific threat, but 16 powerplay goals over those three years was good for 24th in the league among defencemen, giving Hainsey somewhat of a reputation as an offensive blueliner, a label he hasn’t appeared able to shake in the years since.

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luongo TSN interview

In case you’re unaware of the Roberto Luongo saga, it breaks down as such: The star goaltender signed long-term, big money contract in the summer of 2009. In the spring of 2011, he lost the starting job to the younger Cory Schneider. Luongo asked for a trade, but general manager Mike Gillis had difficulty finding teams willing to take on a 33-year-old goalie with 10 years left on his deal and Luongo stuck around Vancouver for the shortened 2013 season as a backup. On draft day, Luongo went silent after Schneider was traded to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for the 9th overall pick.

That’s all we know for sure. When James Duthie interviewed Roberto Luongo in three brief segments shown on TSN’s Sportscentre this past weekend, there was nothing revealing. We’re about three weeks from the beginning of training camps coast to coast which comes as a blessing for those of us tired of the most over-covered story of the offseason.

I’m not sure why Luongo gets such a disproportionate share of coverage, but reporters at Team Canada’s Olympic orientation camp Sunday afternoon had a knack for making half their questions directed at Luongo or in reference to Luongo in some way. He’s an interesting character, whose humour on Twitter has won him a lot of fans over the last season, and one of the few NHLers who will answer questions honestly even when an honest answer gets him into trouble.

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via OHL Images

via OHL Images

Three Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds were selected to the National Hockey League on June 30. Darnell Nurse went 7th overall to the Edmonton Oilers. Tyler Ganly went to the Carolina Hurricanes in the sixth round, and with the penultimate pick of the draft, the Boston Bruins took Mitch Dempsey at No. 210.

A fourth Greyhound, Sergey Tolchinsky, went undrafted. Listed at 5’9″ and 160 lbs, the young Russian’s weaknesses lay in some of hockey’s most up-for-debate attributes: size, physical play, and grit. He had been ranked 67th on TSN analyst Craig Button’s rankings, and 56th on Hockey Prospectus’ Corey Pronman’s list.

Depending on who you asked, he’d been projected as going anywhere between the second and fifth rounds. All it takes is one team to take a risk on a talented young player like Tolchinsky. In his rookie season in the Ontario Hockey League, Tolchinsky scored 26 goals and was the third-leading point-getter among rookies behind Sarnia’s Nikolay Goldobin and Erie Otter phenom Connor McDavid.

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Jeff Gross/Getty

Jeff Gross/Getty

There was a trade that happened two seasons ago that looks like a sure win for the Toronto Maple Leafs in retrospect. The Leafs, headed towards their sixth consecutive season with no playoffs, traded away François Beauchemin, under contract for one more season, for Jake Gardiner and Joffrey Lupul.

Beauchemin has had an interesting career and despite being one of the steadiest and consistent top four defenders in the National Hockey League. He’s missed just 74 games due to injury over eight full seasons in the league. He’s played over 17 and a half minutes a game at even strength over each of the last four seasons save for last, when he only played 17:29. That was only good for 39th in the NHL, but his other years he’s been in the top 15 in the league in 5-on-5 ice time.

He’s the definition of a late bloomer and teams have been paying higher and higher prices for him throughout his career. Originally a third round pick by Montreal, he was waived by the team in 2004 and claimed by Columbus. Noted crazy person and terrible general manager Doug MacLean traded away the 25-year-old Beauchemin to Anaheim for a 36-year-old Sergei Fedorov.

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I wrote about the Ottawa Senators on Monday, and how Bryan Murray has assembled a pretty good squad on a budget that, well, doesn’t seem to exist. It raises the question of what Murray would be able to do in Toronto, or New York, or Philadelphia, or a market where money is less of an issue. I posited that question on Twitter yesterday.

Twitter dot com’s @garik16 and @DrivingPlay jumped in and suggested that it may not be an advantage if Murray had a wad of cash to spend. DrivingPlay pointed at Lou Lamoriello having more success when his team cost less, and Glen Sather is Exhibit A in all of this. I’ve heard about a million versions of the famous “if I had the Rangers’ payroll, I’d never lose a game” quote from Sather from when he was in Edmonton. A 2010 post on Blueshirt Banter expands on that a bit. Let’s just say it’s true:

“even if I had been in Atlanta and I had the budget that team may or may not have, I still would not have paid Curtis Joseph 24 million for four years. I think you’re a lot better off getting a group of young guys together, teach them about the game and about life and bring them along. You’re much better off than trying to hit a home run with a bunch of 30-year-old free agents.”

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