There was an eyebrow-raising tweet from XM radio producer Josh Rimer (@joshrimerhockey) over the weekend citing he’s heard from three different sources that Sidney Crosby will not be ready for the start of the season.
Not to doubt the validity of Rimmer’s claim, I’m sure he’s heard that from different sources however, when it comes to the Crosby concussion story, I’m skeptical about anyone who claims to have a definite word about his future — considering the nature of the injury and concussions in general.
Put it this way, would I be surprised if Crosby didn’t start the season? No. Would I be surprised if he did? No. Ask anyone who’s ever suffered through a concussion and they’ll tell you the injury doesn’t fit any kind of predictable timeline.
The New York Islanders are causing a fair bit of controversy over the team’s decision to host a viewing party on Friday for MSG Plus’ airing of last years February 11th brawl-fest with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
This, for those with short memories, is the game that left Eric Tangradi with a concussion after an elbow from Trevor Gillies, three players suspended a total of 23 games, the Islanders fined $100,000 for their actions and Pens owner Mario Lemieux openly questioning what direction the league is heading in and if he still wants to be part of it.
What does the NHL think of the Islanders “Meet up/viewing party” that celebrates the most violent NHL game from last season?
Well, you can imagine they are not thrilled but like it or not, this game was a coming together moment for this beleaguered team and their fans that have had very little, if anything to cheer about for years. Let’s face it, this is the identity the Islanders want to embrace and cultivate. Plainly, this is one for the fans — a moment (dark as it may be) that the Islanders and their fans pushed back.
Look, the Islanders have problems. They can’t get a new rink built, the future of the franchise is very much in question, there are no guarantees that John Tavares will sign a long-term deal given all the uncertainly and the team has been a doormat for years in the league.
If the mill’s closing, give the fans something to cheer about, something to brighten their day.
Yes, it’s Slap Shot and if the Islanders want to celebrate the moment they essentially sent out Gilmore Tuttle, Andre (Poodle) Lucier and Clarence (Screaming Buffalo) Swamptown disguised as Trevor Gillies, Matt Martin and Michael Haley against the Penguins then let ‘em.
Say it set the game back and was a black eye on the league all you want this was a moment the Islander franchise kind of needed last season. Right or wrong, at least they are being honest about it.
This is who we are.
You don’t like it?
Well, too bad. We’re not going to be something we’re not.
As Frank Zappa once said, “cows don’t make ham.”
There was of talk this weekend in the New York area about who should captain the Rangers and Devils with Chris Drury being bought out and Jamie Langenbrunner now with St Louis. Both situations have their complications as well.
With the Rangers, there is some wisdom that incoming free agent Brad Richards (whose close relationship with coach John Tortorella is well documented) is the right choice. His veteran status, Stanley Cup success in 2004 and first-line position make him the perfect candidate however, others feel the better choice would be Ryan Callahan who embodies many of the qualities any team would desire in a captain. I don’t see a wrong choice with either of these two but if it were my call, Callahan would get the ‘C’.
In New Jersey the decision is simple as long as one thing happens: Zach Parise signs a long-term deal with the Devils. He’s on a one-year contract and there’s speculation that unless general manager Lou Lamoriello offers a photocopy of the llya Kovalchuk deal to Parise he’ll walk. Parise should be the captain of this team but if he’s punting, there’s no point stitching the ‘C’ to his sweater, not even if you think it’ll go a distance to encourage him to re-sign with the team. And if not Parise, then who should be captain? Names bandied around include Ilya Kovalchuk (like it or not this is his team), Patrick Elias (been there) and David Clarkson (long shot, but I like it).
Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster made a smart move over the weekend in picking up free agent Scott Hannan. At a $1 million price tag, the Flames have a steady, stay-at-homer in Hannan — who we should point out is not there to replace Robyn Reghr and his minutes contrary to some speculation. And while he’s no longer the defenseman who’s consistently in consideration for international competition for Team Canada, Hannan does bring smart veteran experience to Calgary’s back end at a very affordable price.
Speaking of the Flames blueline, is there a more underrated top defenseman than Mark Giordano?
Team Canada captured their fourth consecutive gold medal at the Ivan Hlinka Under 18 tournament in Czech Republic and Slovakia with a 4-1 win over Sweden on Saturday and in the process, a number of players helped improve their draft stock for 2012. On top of that list is Sweden’s Filip Forsberg who we wrote about last week here on The Sheet. Dynamic and offensively gifted, Forsberg was the tournaments best player and although many scouts rate Mikhail Grigorenko and Nail Yakupov 1-2 in early rankings for next year, Forsberg is knocking on that door. If he continues to develop at this rate will be in the conversation for first pick overall.
Notes: Bruce Garrioch of Sun media reported over the weekend that the Senators, who have a backlog of one-way contracts on the blueline, have tried to shop veteran blueliners Sergei Gonchar and Philip Kuba. And Andrei Zyuzin’s agent told a Russian paper his client has had two offers from NHL team.
Today in Hockey History
1931: Norm Corcoran born in Toronto. “Corky” as he was known was one of the best fighters in his day (he played for Boston, Detroit and Chicago from ’49-’56) and wasn’t shy to go with anyone despite weighing only 165 pounds. He was part of the deal that sent Terry Sawchuk to the Bruins. His uncle, Jack, was a boxing promoter in Toronto who later got into running pro wrestling starting in 1930 through to ’39. Jack founded Maple Leaf Wrestling (then known as Queensbury Athletic Club under Corcorcan) before selling the promotion to the Tunney family who ran the territory for 47 years.
1958: Craig MacTavish born in London, Ontario. The newly-minted head coach of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, Mac T, was the last player to suit up without a helmet after the NHL grandfathered the bucket rule in 1979. MacTavish did, however, play with a helmet for a time early in his career with the Boston Bruins.
1963: Greg Adams born in Nelson, B.C. Never drafted, Adams was a skinny forward playing for Northern Arizona University when New Jersey Devils GM Tom McVie took a chance and signed the 44-goal scorer from the obscure U.S. college (based primarily on knowing Greg’s father, Gus). The move paid off and after a mediocre first season with the Devils, Adams exploded for 35 goals and went on to enjoy seventeen seasons in the NHL.
1967: Stephane Brochu born in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Brochu is part of the “Moonlight Graham” club as a player who played one game in the big leagues when he suited up for the New York Rangers on November 15th, 1988 against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Spectrum. Wearing number 32, Brochu put up bagels during his only appearance with the Blueshirts. Of all players in the “one-game wonder” club I suspect Brochu may have played the most pro games outside the NHL with 914.
1984: Chicago signs Darren Pang as a free agent. After winning the Memorial Cup (and picking up the tournaments top goalie award in the process) in ’84 with the Ottawa ’67′s, Pang signed with Chicago in the summer and played exactly one game with the Blackhawks the following season. After four seasons in the minors he got the call again from Chicago and played 80 games in the next two seasons with the big club. A knee injury cut his playing career short in 1990.
1989: Roger Neilson takes over behind the New York Rangers bench from Phil Esposito. New GM Neil Smith was looking for a coach to instruct and teach the young talent that would, one day, form the nucleus of the Rangers Stanley Cup winning team in 1994. Even though Mike Keenan was the Ranger coach that held the Cup, it was Neilson’s work with Brian Leetch, Mike Richter and others that laid the foundation.