Archive for the ‘Questions’ Category

(Tom Szczerbowski, Getty Images)

His is the kind of story that hockey writers love. The underdog story of a player who never had a shot at the big leagues, toiling away in the minors, then finally getting their chance.

It’s hard not to love that kind of story. There’s a player in the Canucks organization, Steve Pinizzotto, who is 28 and has yet to play a single NHL game despite several solid AHL seasons thanks to a remarkable string of bad luck. From a story-telling perspective, I desperately want him to play just one game in the NHL, even just to play 8 minutes on the fourth line.

Mike Kostka, however, isn’t playing limited minutes in a minor role. The 27-year-old AHL veteran has stepped directly onto the top pairing in the biggest hockey market in the world. It’s a great story and the Toronto media has been quick to tell it. The only issue is that it doesn’t make much sense.

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Image via Vetsmart

When the NFL had trouble coming to terms on a new CBA agreement, a lockout loomed. A costly, stupid lockout that would’ve been unnecessary since they’d eventually reach some kind of deal, so you might as well get there before games are missed. Knowing that, they got a federal mediator involved.

The NBA also faced a serious lockout last season, and in fact missed games trying to come to terms. But they did end up with a successful 66 game season…after they contacted a federal mediator, got him involved, and got to work. In fact, they got the same guy involved that the NFL used (if I’m not mistaken, from the Fifth Circuit Court). Depressing as the fact may be, the league’s merchandise revenues actually increased that season, despite playing less games. They figured it out before it got ugly.

Today, here’s the news hockey’s best reporters are sharing: Read the rest of this entry »

Pic by Aaron Lynett/National Post

What in high holy heaven is going on in Toronto?

Today brought word that the Leafs highly acclaimed goalie coach Francois Allaire is leaving the team, and not necessarily on great terms. It’s the Leafiest of Leafs things: team acquires proven talent who performs below expectations while a Leaf.

Though, calling Allaire’s performance “below expectations” isn’t fair, given that anything short of turning James Reimer into a Vezina winner would’ve qualified as that.

He left on his own terms, saying: Read the rest of this entry »

John Tortorella, feigning shock and incredulity. This is why reporters don't like him.

The New York Rangers are tired. They have to be. To get to where they are, the LA Kings have played 13 games and 2 OTs, neither of them long. The Rangers, in contrast, have played 17 games and 4 OTs, including one triple overtime marathon. They’ve played more hockey than any team in the postseason, and hockey, as we all know, is a tiring thing.

It would be the easiest thing in the world for John Tortorella to admit as much. He could just come out and say, “Yes, the playoffs are a war of attrition, and we’ve attrited more than most, and yeah, we’re weary, but we’re going to try to battle through it anyway, the best that we can.” To say such a thing would be no more than an acknowledgment of a plain truth and the simple humanity of his players. It would be honest.

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Andrei Kostitsyn, letting down his team.

It is not entirely clear what happened. The Predators described it as a violation of team rules. Radulov implied, slightly more specifically, that it was a violation of curfew- “Like I didn’t come back that late as we say” is the exact quote, and worth remembering for those of you who still believe the Russian-English language barrier isn’t significant. Reports suggested that the two players had been seen out at 4 am in Scottsdale on the night preceding game 2. Other rumors of nonspecific origin have referred to drinking. Whatever the exact cause, yesterday morning, the Nashville Predators announced that they were suspending forwards Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov for the third game of the Western Conference semifinals.

The responses across the hockey world to these suspensions have been mostly positive. The Preds organization has been applauded for their consistent application of rules and their commitment to team culture. Even those who acknowledge that there is troubling trade-off inherent in suspending two of your more effective offensive players for a playoff game, such as our glorious leader Bourne (and if you haven’t read that article yet, do so immediately), still ultimately feel that the suspension was necessary for the greater good of a peaceable locker room.

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As someone who played enough hockey to see the inner-workings of depth charts, I’ve come to feel like this is worth talking about:

Do GMs and coaches ever purposely tinker with their players’ numbers to sign them to lower contracts?

I’m not saying they ever actually change their stats, I’m saying that in my opinion (and that of @JCiocco14), sometimes coaches will “bury” players in the depth chart early in their NHL (or AHL) careers until they can lock them up on some longer term deal, when they can officially unleash them on the world.

Case in point: Claude Giroux.

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It’s no secret that the strength of the Nashville Predators lies in its defense. The defensive zone chemistry between their forwards and rearguards is excellent and their back end trio of Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne stacks up against any top pair/goaltending combo in hockey.

Yet, with the noted tight financial situation surrounding the franchise, I can’t help but wonder: Would the Predators be better off shopping Ryan Suter? Read the rest of this entry »