Archive for October, 2009

Around the Boards: Fri. Oct. 30th

  • Chris McCosky of the Detroit News: The Detroit Red Wings offense took another hit last night with Valtteri Filppula broke his right wrist. He’ll be out for 6 to 8 weeks. Darren Helm may be given the first chance to replace Filppula on the 2nd line with Cleary and Bertuzzi.
  • Michael Russo of the Star Tribune: It looks like Marian Gaborik’s return to Minnesota will have to be postponed as it doesn’t look like he’ll be returning to the New York Rangers lineup.
  • Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer: Randy Jones was claimed off re-entry waivers by the Los Angeles Kings. Jones was in the final year of a 2 year, $5.5 million deal. Both the Flyers and Kings will have a $1.375 cap hit for Jones.
  • Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star: Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson said there is a good chance that Phil Kessel will make his Toronto debut on Tuesday versus Tampa Bay. Vesa Toskala was activated and may see action tomorrow. Joey MacDonald and rookie Viktor Stalberg were sent to the AHL’s Marlies. Jiri Tlusty was recalled to take Stalberg’s roster spot.
  • Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette: Carey Price will be making the start tonight, his first since October 17th. The Canadiens are also mixing up their top 2 lines: Andrei Kostitsyn, Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta; Mike Cammalleri, Tomas Plekanec and Maxim Lapierre.

There have been rumors floating around that the Canadiens and Blackhawks might be talking trade involving Carey Price and Cristobal Huet, but they don’t appear to be true.

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Evgeni Malkin out 2-3 weeks

“NHL scoring champion Evgeni Malkin will be lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins for two to three weeks because of a strained right shoulder.

Malkin had been attempting to play through the injury, but coach Dan Bylsma said the team decided to rest the centre. The Russian star would miss seven games if he is out two weeks and 10 games if he is out three.” (source-Slam!sports) 

Malkin has been very durable, having played 254 consecutive regular season games prior to this injury. I’d bet on him being back in 2 weeks rather then three based on his history. You get the impression Geno doesn’t like sit out, he said quote “It’s early in the season. It’s fine,” Malkin said. “I feel good. It’s not a big problem.” Poolies are hoping he’s right.


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Ilya Kovalchuk Getting A Huge Offer from the Atlanta Thrashers

So with the potential threat of all-star Ilya Kovalchuk heading back to Russia after this season, word from the RDS comes that Atlanta Thrashers have offered him a monster contract. They are saying the sides are close to agreeing to a 9 year deal averaging $11.3 million per season deal. That would be $101.7 total, the 2nd $100 million NHL contract, Alex Ovechkin the other. Elliotte Friedman stats the maximum contract that can be offered this year under the CBA is $11.36 million.

We all knew Kovalchuk would be getting a big offer from the Thrashers as they can not afford to lose him, especially to the KHL where they would lose him for nothing. But potentially at a $11.3 cap hit? Crazy. Now I agree with what Friedman says, in that other GM’s would do the same thing if they were in Don Waddell shoes, as they can’t lose him. He is the face of franchise, and fans would probably stay away (most are staying away as it is), but a cap number that big can handcuff a franchise (see Tampa Bay and Vinny’s $10+ million).

Basically 20% of your payroll on one player, that’s $11.3 of over $56 million. What if the cap drops to $54 million or down $50 million (then again, maybe that doesn’t matter as they may never be near the high end of the salary cap scale). With finishing near the bottom of the league for several seasons, and with having some players with talent, they are going to require larger salaries as well in the future. Will they be able to be re-signed because Kovalchuk is making so much money?

I was thinking that the Thrashers would be offering a long term contract in the $9-9.5 million range, which is still a ton a money, but would give the team a bit more flexibility to bring in some free agents. He wants to win, but the team needs the flexibility to bring more pieces, as they aren’t close to competing for a cup. I don’t see how the Thrashers can build a winner with Kovalchuk taking up 20-25% of the salary cap.

So what are the Thrashers suppose to do? I would try to convince Kovalchuk to sign at a lesser cap number ($8.5-9.5 million), extend the deal to 12 years with lesser salary in the last couple years. Maybe float out the rumor that you might be looking to deal him, the return could be huge, which the team would have to deny that they are until a trade could be close. They would be able to get several young, high end players, along with high picks. Trading him could cripple the organization, though some think the organization is already crippled. Either way, it’s going to be a challenge for the Thrashers.



Around the Boards: Thurs. Oct. 29th

  • From the RDS, through translation: Ilya Kovalchuk could be close to signing a 9 year deal with the Thrashers for more than $100 million, averaging $11.3 million per season. We’ll write a separate blog to comment on this.
  • James Murphy of NESN: If the Thrashers are unable to sign Kovalchuk, the Bruins might be a fit. The trading of Kobasew and the with Lucic and Savard on the IR, it has saved the club some much valued cap space. They also have lot of draft picks to dangle.
  • Elliotte Friedman of Has Jaroslav Halak taken over the goalie of the future for the Canadiens? Are the Canadiens playing Halak more lately in an attempt to motivate Price.
  • A quote mentioned in the Friedman’s blog (link above) … Ilya Bryzgalov on being named NHL first star of the week. “I don’t care,” according to the Arizona Republic. “I don’t like to run in front of the train because the train at some point can run over you.”
  • Jason Hendricks of From one the Hockey Insiders sources, the Canadiens and Oilers could be looking a trade. The Oilers like Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn, and Kyle Chipchura. The Canadiens like Tom Gilbert, Denis Grebeshkov, & J.F. Jacques.
  • Damien Cox of the Toronto Star: There is a chance the Maple Leafs may look to trade Tomas Kaberle again. Dallas and Boston will be mentioned again as possible destinations.
  • Wayne Fish of the Bucks County Courier Times (via Phillyburbs): Surgery was recommended for Simon Gagne’s 2 sports hernias, so he’s seeking a second opinion, though it sounds like surgery is the only option to fix the problem.
  • Tampa Bay Tribune: A potential buyer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Jeff Greene, is no longer interested in buying the club. So this leaves 2 Florida franchises that are having trouble finding an owner.

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Around the Boards: Wed. Oct. 28th

  • Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun: Fernando Pisani, who’s had some tough luck with injuries the past couple seasons is close to returning to the Edmonton Oilers. It may not be the best time to return to the Oilers dressing room as players, staff and members of the media that follow the Oilers have been getting sick. Ladislav Smid was confirmed as having the Swine Flu (H1N1).
  • Terry Frei of the Denver Post: Coach Sacco confirmed that backup goalie, Peter Budaj, has been diagnosed with the Swine Flu. John-Michael Liles (shoulder) and Tom Preissing (knee) are both back skating with the club, but remain out.
  • Mark Emmons of the San Jose Mercury News: Joe Pavelski and Torrey Mitchell took part in their first practice yesterday. Setoguchi is doubtful for tonight’s game.
  • Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun: Yesterday Brennan wrote that Erik Karlsson would most likely be sent back to Sweden, today Karlsson finds himself on his way to Binghamton, the Sens AHL club. They won’t lose a year on his contract by sending him to the AHL.
  • Steve Gorten of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: 2009 1st round pick Dmitry Kulikov’s solid play to start the season will keep him with the Panthers. Kulikov has been averaging over 17 minutes a game so far this season.
  • Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News: Philadelphia is going to miss Simon Gagne for an extended period of time as it was revealed that he has 2 small sports hernia’s. He’s been placed on IR and could be moved to LTIR. The course of action to fixed the injury has yet to be determined.
  • Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer: Eric Stall has been moved to the point in an attempt to kick start the Hurricanes powerplay. Rod Brind’Amour, Ray Whitney and Sergei Samsonov, are the 1st line powerplay forwards with Stall and Joni Pitkanen on the point.
  • David Satriano of the New York Post: It appears that Marian Gaborik will miss tonight’s game against the Islanders.
  • Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal: Answers a readers question about a Tom Gilbert to Buffalo for Drew Stafford trade rumor. Matheson says this rumor has been out there for a year.

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Around the Boards: Tues. Oct. 27th

  • Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Looks like Kovalchuk will be out for at least 4 weeks.
  • Bryan Mullen of The Tennessean: The Nashville Predators got some good news as it looks like Dan Hamhuis will be returning from an upper body injury on Wednesday.
  • Steve Zipay of Newsday: Rangers fans received a scare last night when Marion Gaborik left last nights game with what looked like an injured right leg.
  • TSN Staff: Steve Ott was suspended for 2 games for low bridging Carlo Colaiacovo on Saturday.
  • Don Brennan of The Ottawa Sun: The Ottawa Senators are close to deciding what to do with rookie Erik Karlsson, either to keep for the year or send him back to Sweden to develop. If he plays one more game for the Sens, it will count as a season on his contract. The Sens are leaning to sending him back to Sweden

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Ilya Kovalchuk Out 2-4 Weeks

“The Atlanta Thrashers will be without star forward Ilya Kovalchuk for two-to-four weeks.

The 26-year-old has a small fracture of a non-weight bearing bone.

Kovalchuk had a CT scan on Monday afternoon to determine the extent of a foot injury he suffered on Saturday against the San Jose Sharks.” (source: Staff)

After earning a bad reputation early in his career (we all remember him doing the show-boating in the world juniors) Kovalchuk, at 26, has matured into a fine player and a good captain for the Atlanta Thrashers. With 306 goals and 261 assists over 553 NHL games, they obviously won’t be able top replace him but it does offer a good chance for other players, like young star Evander Kane, to step up.

There will be much gnashing of teeth for fantasy pool general managers as well, like my fellow writer Mark, who has been taking Christobal Huet shots at me since the season started. I wonder what a keeper player is worth when he’s in the KHL?

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Around the Boards: Mon. Oct. 26th

  • Damien Cox of the Toronto Star: It will be a battle of the Jonas’s tonight in Anaheim. The J.S. Giguere out with a groin injury, Jonas Hillier will be starting, and Jonas Gustavsson will be returning from his groin injury. Can the Monster help bring the Leafs their first victory of the season.
  • Mark Everson of the NY Post: Patrick Elias could return to practice sometime this week. Paul Martin might have a broken left arm. Jay Pandolfo dislocated his shoulder on Saturday.
  • John Vogl of the Buffalo News: Wednesday will be decision day for the Buffalo Sabres on if Tyler Myers will stay with the club or return him to junior. Odds are he’ll be staying.
  • Chric Kuc of the Chicago Tribune: Jonathan Toews and Brett Seabrook continue to miss practices/games but, “There’s a possibility they could play (Monday),” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’re seeing some progress.”
  • David Pollack of the San Jose Mercury News: Devin Setoguchi and Ryan Vesce both missed last night’s game, and are both day-to-day.
  • George Richards of the Miami Herald: David Booth of the Panthers is out at least a week with a concussion after being hammered by Mike Richards, who won’t be suspended. Booth was caught admiring his pass, and did not see the shoulder check by Richards.

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Tuomo Ruutu Suspended for 3 Games

“Carolina Hurricanes forward Tuomo Ruutu has been handed a three-game suspension by the National Hockey League for his hit on Avalanche forward Darcy Tucker in Friday’s 5-4 Colorado victory.

Tucker was slammed into the boards by Ruutu as he tried to play the puck in the Hurricanes’ end in the second period of friday’s action. Tucker’s face hit the glass hard and he fell backwards to the ice. He was unconscious as Avalanche doctors and trainers attended to him.” (Source:TSN Staff)

If you haven’t seen the hit in question here’s a link to view it courtesy of You Tube.

As with all hits and infractions there will be endless debate as to whether the punishment fits the crime, there’s lots of possible comparisons to other situations that might or might not have deserved more or less than the 3 games Ruutu recieved.

I’d like to take a look at the root problem here, and in my mind it’s a respect issue. I’m not going to try to paint Darcy Tucker, of all people, as a saint (we all remember the cheap hit on Micheal Peca delivered by Tucker when he was with the Toronto Maple Leafs) but the culture in the NHL needs to change. The “win at all costs” attitude is what drives the players to do whatever it takes to get the job done, regardless of the example they are setting to the younger audience, the same audience who grows up to become NHL players and push the bar of respect even lower. The responsibility needs to be on the players to make the right decision when a player has his back turned, and no amount of subsequent discipline will change the play after the fact.

In comparision, if you watch some mixed martial arts fights you’ll actually see a fighter help an opponent to his feet at the end of a match, sometimes even holding the opponents hand in the air in a show of respect. In the NFL, you routinely see opponents help each other to their feet at the end of a play. I realize this isn’t always the case but when have you ever seen this kind of sportsmanship displayed in the NHL?

In sports that are so steeped in violence, a small show of humanity goes a long way when developing future players impressions of, what is in fact, the most important thing.

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Around the Boards: Sat. Oct. 24th

  • Damien Cox of the Toronto Sun: Leaf fans are marking Nov. 3rd down on their calenders. Ron Wilson said that is the day they expect Phil Kessel to receive clearance for game action. That would be a little earlier than expected, mid-November was what they were hoping for initially.
  • The Denver Post: Darcy Tucker was hammered from behind by Tuomo Ruutu last night, and was carted off on a stretcher. He looked like he was knocked unconscious before he hit the ice. Tucker was alert while being examined at the hospital.
  • Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Atlanta Thrashers goalie, Kari Lehtonen, continues to experience pain in his legs following his July back surgery. There is no time table for his return.
  • Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune: Good news for Cristobal Huet fantasy owners, he’s still with the big club, and expected to start tonight.
  • Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer: 3 new lines for the Philadelphia Flyers: Claude Giroux centering Gagne and Ian Laperriere, Mike Richards centering Scott Hartnell and Aaron Asham, Danny Briere centering Jeff Carter and James van Riemsdyk. Ray Emery starts tonight, Brian Boucher starts tomorrow.

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Around the Boards: Fri. Oct. 23rd

  • If The Globe and Mail isn`t on your daily list of sites to read, you should add it. Aside from excellent hockey coverage, they also have a weekly podcast, done every Thursday I think. Here is yesterday`s podcast.
  • James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail: Ron Wilson has his fingers crossed that Jonas Gustavsson can go Saturday against the Canucks, but Monday against Anaheim is more likely. Struggling blueliner, Luke Schenn, found himself without a defensive partner at practice. Could he be the odd man out on Saturday?
  • Kevin Dupont of the Boston Globe: It doesn`t look like Brendan Shanahan is on the Boston Bruins radar to fill the roster spot, though 1 team is apparently considering him. But Shanahan agent, Rick Curran said “You know, roster limits, salary-cap restrictions. It’s just a matter of remaining patient and ready.’’
  • Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The Thrashers have juggled their top 2 lines with Bryan Little joining Todd White and Slava Kozlov. Their 1st line now consists of Ilya Kovalchuk, Nik Antropov and Max Afinogenov.
  • Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province: Ryan Kesler is in the final year of his contract, earning $1.75 million this year, and is looking for a contract extension, and potentially a lot more money. Kesler`s agent has already met with Canucks management on several occassions.
  • Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register: Anaheim Ducks forward, Evgeny Artyukhin, was suspended for 3 games for slew footing Dallas Stars defenceman, Matt Niskanen in Wednesday nights game. This is Artyukhin`s 3rd time being suspended. Nishanen left the game, and did not play last night.
  • Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune: Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook, both injured on Wednesday, did not practice yesterday. Coach Joel Quenneville said both are progressing and could play Saturday.

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Around the Boards: Thurs. Oct. 22nd

  • Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun: Hockey Night in Canada is considering removing the Toronto Maple Leafs from it’s national coverage on Saturday nights. It wouldn’t happen for at least a couple weeks since the Leafs play Canadian teams. Those in the Ontario region would still be subject to the pain.
  • Bruce Dowbiggin of the Globe and Mail: In other HNIC news, Al Strachan will no longer appear in the 2nd intermission show, “The Hotstove”. CBC is also not happy with the cover of Strachan’s best seller book about the Maple Leafs, as he used the HNIC logo without their permission.
  • Elliotte Friedman on With cap issues in Boston, Savard could end up in Toronto next season. Friedman also mentions, “enough with the Kovalchuk-to-Boston rumours, for now.” Not sure what that one was.
  • Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette: It appears Sergei Kostitsyn is back with the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs after being suspended for the 2nd time by the Canadiens. Kostitsyn packed up after Tuesday’s game and reportedly gave the ultimatum that he’d leave for the KHL if he wasn’t traded. Gainey has said a trade is possible, but so is a return to Montreal.
  • Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Sergei Gonchar could miss up to 6 weeks with a broken left wrist. The Pens are off to a great start and will miss Gonchar, but they will be okay without him, as they were for most of last season.
  • Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun: Jason Spezza has an undisclosed nagging injury that might cost him a couple games. He left yesterday’s practice early and is listed as ‘probable’ for tonight’s game.
  • Steve Gorten of the Sun Sentinel: Dmitry Kulikov could be the next 2009 draft pick to stick with the big club. The Panthers have 2 more games to decide if they are going to send him back to the QMJHL or keep him in the NHL. Kulikov was drafted #14 by the Panthers last year.
  • Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune: Jonathan Toews was hammered with an open-ice hit from Willie Mitchell, and left the game. First thought is that it’s most likely a concussion, though for the NHL’s sake, we’ll call it an ‘upper body injury’. Toews will be re-evaluated today.

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