Mike Richards had 28 goals and 75 points in 73 games with the Flyers last season. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
If it’s Tuesday, it must be mailbag time. As always, thanks for continuing to submit your questions. Next week we're back to two-a-weeks (Tuesdays and Fridays), so keep 'em coming.
Just saw the unveiling of the Carolina Hurricanes' new third jersey. Wow. Another all black uniform. Terrific. I have to ask – is this a sign that the league is officially in mourning?
Eric, New York
Nice one. Here’s my (attempt at an) NHL uniform joke: I think the trend in color choice is a league directive issued in order to have as many NHL teams as possible claim they’re financially sound (a.k.a. “in the black”) without lying.
Okay, I said it was an attempt.
In truth, I don’t mind the Canes’ new look. A few guys in the THN editorial department see it as an improvement on their “flushing toilet” main logo. And, depending on who’s asking, I might be one of them.
Anyway, it could be worse, Eric. I’ve been told neon is making a comeback in the fashion world; just imagine the massive, collective shudder that would ripple through Manhattan if somebody decided the Blueshirts should become the Neon Blueshirts.
I think rioting Rangers fans would make the destruction seen in Cloverfield look like a minor display of civil disobedience.
Great column! Being a transplanted Philly boy in the south, I don't get a lot of news on the Flyers. Who will wear the ‘C’ this year, Mike Richards, Simon Gagne, or someone else?
Sean Lyons, Kingsland, Ga.
Though there are a few good captaincy candidates on the roster from which to choose, the general consensus is the Flyers are Richards’ team whether or not he’s the official ‘C’-bearer.
It’s easy to forget he’s just 22 years old, so you’d imagine Philadelphia management wouldn’t leave it to him to serve as the team’s sole leader. To that end, I’d expect veterans such as Kimmo Timonen, Gagne, Daniel Briere and Martin Biron to help Richards set the pace for the rest of the team.
I just wanted to start by saying I enjoy the magazine and congratulate you on becoming the best columnist (by default) for The Hockey News. Mike Brophy has left some big shoes to fill and I'm confident you are the one to fill them.
My question is: With the teams in the Northwest that have had significant losses to their top scoring lines – and in the case of Colorado, not getting the starting goaltender and the depth on the defense they needed – what are the chances of Edmonton winning their division?
Matthew McCrae, Edmonton
Yes! I’m the best! By…um…‘default!’ I feel so honored (by default)! A defaultful thanks from me to you!
As for the Oilers – I definitely believe they’re going to rise up the Northwest ranks this season, but until I see them sustain the pace they demonstrated late last year, I can’t assume they’ll vault over four other teams and replace the Minnesota Wild as division champs.
Speaking of vaulting, has anyone seen this gentleman? I think he got to compete by default.
Ahoy hoy, Adam,
I was wondering if you could weigh in on the whole NHL-in-Europe concept. Theoretically, I'm all for Europe having some teams; no doubt they'd get a huge following, expose the game to even more impressionable European youngsters and overall make our game even better IF Europe happened to be closer to North America.
But I can't see how it can happen within 10 years. First of all, continental drift doesn't work that fast, and the Concord never really took off (pun intended). So there's still the big issue of travel time. How could we expect players to sit six hours on a plane (at least) for a road trip and then come back to North America?
And with rising fuel costs, how would teams afford it? Even if they didn't play until the Stanley Cup final, how could a final between the Anaheim Ducks and Stockholm Sundins work out? There'd have to be a week between Games 2 and 3 just to travel and get over jet lag.
So what do you think? How would it work out? Thanks.
Josh Price, Toronto
Chips ahoy, Josh,
First of all, the Stockholm Sundins aren’t sure if they will ice a team in a European-inclusive NHL. They have discussed Aug. 31, 2029 as a “soft deadline” on when they may have an answer, but can’t guarantee anything.
You’re right, it is difficult to imagine how the league could operate if it included teams outside North America. A few industry watchers presume the NHL might create a European team division – with the end-of-season winner going on to face the North American “champ” for the Stanley Cup – but nobody has come up with a detailed, practical plan on how things would work.
Still, considering the potential these days for great socio-economic change throughout the world, there’s no assurance the NHL will be able to maintain a 30-team league on this continent. A decade from now, they may have little choice but to find a way to make Euro teams fit in.
Just wondering your thoughts on the Robert Lang trade to Montreal. Is he the type of player who can "put them over the top," or will he be a bust like the Bryan Smolinski experiment? Any chance of him being reunited with Alex Kovalev?
Shaun MacNeil, Sydney, N.S.
As Canadiens GM Bob Gainey admitted, Lang is the Plan B the Habs had to go to after Mats Sundin’s dithering made them ditch Plan A. As such, few people would say Lang is the final piece of anybody’s championship puzzle.
I understand Lang suffers severe allergic reactions when he dares to skate into his defensive zone, but the guy has put up at least 50 points for eight straight NHL seasons. To that end, he may set up two or three goals that win you as many regular season games this season; and those games may eventually be the difference between a home playoff seed and a fifth-or-sixth slot in the post-season.
I’m sure coach Guy Carbonneau will at some point during the season give Lang a look on a line with Kovalev. My comrades in the Montreal media will see to it he hears about such a scenario at least once a week until it happens.
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