According to a source in Washington, Chris Clark is likely to be in the Caps lineup on opening day. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)
Hope everybody had a laborious Labor Day holiday weekend. I’ve labored to bring you this latest round of your questions and my responses.
Big fan of your great column. I’m a Capitals fan, but am often frustrated with the lack of communication between team management and fans. Case in point: I have seen nothing about the status of team captain Chris Clark and defenseman Brian Pothier – do you have any word about their status for the upcoming season? What will it take for teams to change their policies on injury disclosure?
Big fan of your great taste in columns. I have it on good authority from a Capitals source that Clark is in fact ready to go and will be in Washington’s lineup on opening night.
Pothier, on the other hand, is still dealing with serious concussion symptoms. He has been able to ride a stationary bike for short periods, but is nowhere close to being game-ready and soon will be placed on long-term injury reserve, a move that also will get the Caps under the salary cap.
As for your final question, I should start off by noting that your Capitals happen to have one of the very best public/media relations teams in the entire league, so it’s tough for me to criticize them when there are so many other teams who richly deserve to be ripped in that regard.
On a grand scale, I feel the same way about full-on injury disclosure in the NHL as I do about the lack of accurate salary information; if the league really wished to make either one of those things happen, they would’ve already happened. (The NHLPA, by the way, would prefer player salaries be revealed by the league so as to avoid erroneous speculation).
Remember Gary Bettman’s iron-fisted lockout edicts that basically limited all team owner comments to: “We support the league fully and completely in every regard until death do us part”? That is a perfect example of the will power exerted by the commissioner; the fact he is unwilling to use that leadership in areas where someone other than owners truly could benefit from it speaks volumes about his job focus.
Why the virtual universal panning of Wade Redden? Granted, his play has fallen off in the past couple of seasons, but certainly not anywhere near the amount of criticism New York has received for the signing. People and analysts aren’t even giving him the benefit of new surroundings. Hopefully, a lot of people will have some egg on their faces following the season.
On another front, I’m baffled by THN’s Yearbook predicting Ottawa to finish ahead of the Rangers. I’ve read enough to know THN is taking a “wait and see” posture with respect to the Rangers’ moves up front, but they seem to have superior depth. Am I missing something?
Thanks, David Gruber
As one of those universal panners of Redden’s deal with the Rangers, I am compelled to defend my fellow skeptics.
I believe Redden can contribute. Like Bryan McCabe in Toronto, he simply had worn out his welcome in Ottawa, thanks mainly to a salary that was not in line with what he was contributing on the ice.
Now, if Redden were heading off to a place like Miami, where the spotlight wouldn’t be on him, I’d be inclined to believe he could help the team make the next step in their evolution, the same way I think McCabe will help the Panthers this season.
Problem is, Redden will be working in Manhattan, which means the pressure to perform – and justify basically the same salary he occasionally earned with the Sens – will be almost as bad as it ever was in Ottawa.
As for our Yearbook/Poolbook predictions – all I can tell you is we employ a process of consensus to arrive at our picks. And that results in slight-to-serious disagreements among the individual predictions we’ll make.
Of course, I’m not too high on either the Rangers’ or Sens’ chances this season, so I’m probably the wrong guy to ask which team looks to be better.
Will Detroit win the Stanley Cup again this year?
Ryan Tretick, Prince George, B.C.
Yes. I mean, no. I mean, possibly. Ask me again in July.
I have to disagree with your statement (from your Aug. 19 mailbag column), “there is no significance to anything that goes on before the real season begins.”
If an untried player comes on like gangbusters and makes the team, that’s significant to the team and the player. For example, Marc-Edouard Vlasic with the Sharks a year or two ago.
So my question is, will you withdraw or modify that statement?
Dick Estel, Fresno, Calif.
Maybe it’s because it’s the day after a holiday, but I’m in neither a withdrawing nor modifying mood.
That’s because the statement that preceded the one you quoted read, “…under no circumstances will I answer any reader question that inquires as to the importance of anything that happens in a pre-season game.”
Thus, I was speaking specifically to the importance of what goes on in pre-season games when I wrote the passage you’ve quoted.
And I stick by that; sure, a player can play well in pre-season games and give himself a better chance to make the team, but in no way, shape or form will any coach or GM give a player a spot based solely on his performance in pre-season games.
Simply put, those games are not barometers of what really goes on during the regular season. If a prospective NHLer impresses management in camp, it will be in large part either because of their performance the previous season, because a roster spot has opened up due to injury or salary cap reasons, or because someone in a position of importance is willing to take a chance on him.
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