Like many of you, I followed the Islanders arena referendum ’till the late hours on Twitter Monday. Tough day to be an Islanders fan but apathy seems to have ruled the day. That coupled with a brutal economy and an embarrassingly-low voter turnout, it probably wasn’t the right time to ask for a quick cheque from the taxpayers.
So, do the Islanders move? Do they stay? Does Charles Wang sell the team? Nobody can really say for certain but the Islanders do have time, as the lease on the arena isn’t set to expire until 2015. From a team standpoint, unless the arena issue gets sorted out, expect the next three seasons to be a love affair with the salary-cap floor, which could be bad news as John Tavares’ contract is up at the end of the 2011-12 season. If the future is cloudy on the Island, it’ll be a tough sell getting him to re-up at the rate he’ll command.
Of all the trades and signings this off-season, the Burns move seems like the best fit. Not that he’ll be able to step in and replace Rob Blake (and didn’t it become obvious how much San Jose missed him in the Vancouver series?) but he’s the closest thing that was available in the market. Smart, skilled and responsible in his own zone and he makes a good first pass out. They gave up two key pieces in Devin Setoguchi and Charlie Coyle to get Burns but the emergence of Logan Couture, which forced Joe Pavelski to the wing made the deal possible.
At the Burns press conference Monday, the defenceman was asked about the “Burns Zoo,” his home in St. Paul that housed somewhere in the neighbourhood of 150 snakes and reptiles, and he responded: “I think this year we’re going to leave it here. We’re just going to go down there and play hockey and enjoy a little bit of a different life for a year without having to do all of the snake stuff.
“We’ve got a girl here who can take care of everything. When we do move, it’s going to be difficult for us, bringing all of those cages. So we’re going to take our time and make sure it goes as easy as possible.”
Chris Chelios: I still maintain that Chelios is the greatest American hockey player to ever suit up. His longevity and consistency is unrivaled by any player who holds a U.S. passport. On another note, after the 1998 Olympics in Nagano when a few U.S. hockey players tore up a hotel room or two, Chelios was the only one who owned up to being part of it and paid for the destruction. That’s character. He’s tops in my books.
Chelios also set the record for longest time between Stanley Cup wins, claiming hockey’s top prize in 1986 with the Canadiens and in 2002 with the Red Wings. Cliff Clavin moment: Chelios became the first defenceman with a right-handed shot to win the Norris Trophy in ’88-’89.
Gary Suter: Anybody else remember the slash to the face of Andrei Lomakin in the 1987 Canada Cup? Yikes. Suter hit Lomakin so hard he broke his stick in half. If no, let me jog your memory
Anyway, how about that pairing with Al MacInnis on the Calgary power-play that helped the Flames to the finals in ’86 and then a Cup win in ’89? Yeah, that was sweet. Calder Trophy in ’86? Solid. What’s that? Mr. Kariya has his hand up… oh and so does Mr. Gretzky. Kidding aside, Suter was a terrific defender, one that you’d MUCH rather play with than against.
Keith Tkachuk: Big Walt. Whenever I think of Tkachuk, I’m reminded of a great line from the 1975 movie, Jaws: “What you’ve got here is a perfect eating machine. It’s a miracle of evolution. It does nothing but swim, eat and make little sharks”. I always thought of Walt that way in a hockey-sense. He skates, scores and hits. That’s Walt. Loved watching this guy play.
Ed Snider: Anyone who makes me think of Gump Worsley is alright with me. It wasn’t until Snider saw the Worsley play goalie for the Rangers in Madison Square Garden that he wanted to buy a hockey team. Philadelphia, thank the Gumper already will you?
Mike Emrick: “Doc”. What a class guy. Every time I’ve dealt with Doc, I’ve come away feeling really good about the conversation. A couple of years ago, I was clearing out some boxes of old VHS tapes and came across one labeled “Best Hockey Fights of the AHL ’77-’79 (full disclosure: I used to be part of a hockey-fight-tape trading ring for a good part of my youth) and there he was. A very young Emrick was calling some of the great scraps of that era for the Maine Mariners. Doug Hoyda, Frank Bathe, John Paddock, Mike Busniuk, Jim Cunningham, Glen Cochrane — they were all in there with Emrick calling each punch. Congrats Doc.
A special thanks to my buddy Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy for the plug on one of everyone’s favourite hockey blogs. Sean, I split on you early last time you were in town, but next time we close the place. Deal?
Name: Tony Cescon
Earliest Hockey Memory: Going to my first Sabres game at the Aud with my Dad and him complaining about ref Wally Harris, and my believing that Harris really only had one good
Favourite YouTube clip: Has to be Rob Ray pummeling the fan in Quebec from the Sabres bench.
As you can probably tell, I’m a Buffalo native, currently residing in Charlotte, NC. I am a daily listener of Sportsnet Radio The Fan 590 while at work. Look forward to hearing you on the station from time to time!
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1932: Hall of Famer Leo Boivin was born in Prescott, Ontario. Even though Boivin was listed as 5’7″, he was one of the finest checkers through his 19 seasons in the NHL. This dude hit H-A-R-D.
But it was almost never to be. At his first training camp with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boivin quit to take a job driving a truck for a living. Conn Smythe convinced him to give hockey another chance and Boivin made the team the next season after spending ’51-’52 in the AHL playing with a 21-year-old Tim Horton, who once called Boivin the hardest defenseman to beat one-on-one. After his NHL career, Boivin coached the Ottawa 67′s junior team and helped mentor another punishing hitter and future Hall of Famer by the name of Denis Potvin.
1937: Dave Balon was born in Wakaw, Saskatchewan. I’ll always think of Balon for a couple of reasons (other than his Cups with Montreal in ’65, ’66). One, as a member of the famed “Bulldogs” line with Walt Tzachuk and Bill Fairbairn when he played with the Rangers and how he played with multiple sclerosis although he was never officially diagnosed with the disease until after his playing career wrapped up.
1993: The Flyers signed free agent Dave Tippett. Originally an undrafted player coming out of the North Dakota, it was in the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo that earned Tippett his first NHL job. As Team Canada captain, Tippett turned heads with his checking abilities specifically against Pat Lafontaine of the United States and it was that performance that earned him an offer from Paul Holmgren, then GM of the Hartford Whalers.
1999: The Hurricanes signed David Karpa. Karpa, who played with the legendary Notre Dame Hounds as a teenager, was the first Ferris State Bulldog to leave the program for the NHL when he turned pro with the Quebec Nordiques.
1999: The Chicago Blackhawks signed Wendel Clark as a Group 3 free agent. This wasn’t a marriage made in heaven. At one point, ‘Hawks coach Lorne Molleken benched Clark for poor performance and the club also placed him on IR against his wishes. Clark ended up playing only 13 games before getting bought out.