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Old is new again

Brendan Shanahan has four points in six games since signing with the New Jersey Devils in January. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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Brendan Shanahan has four points in six games since signing with the New Jersey Devils in January. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

This week’s mailbag column is (not really) sponsored by the movie Taken, starring Liam Neeson and co-starring his awesomely glued-on, fire-truck red toupee.

If you have a hankering for dreadful writing and enough plot holes to make you long for a Dallas “It was all a dream, Bobby”-like ending – throw away 12 otherwise perfectly good dollars on Taken today!

Dear Adam, I've been an avid Flyers and hockey fan for a while now and there's just one thing that throws me for a spin. Our goalie situation has been erratic with Martin Biron and Antero Niittymaki; one night they're hot and the next they're not.

What's your take on Philly's goalie situation? Are you like me thinking we need a more consistent starter or not?
James DeMarshall, Mantua, N.J.


Dear James,

Depending on the extent of your hockey fandom, you’d know the Flyers have been searching for netminding consistency since Ron Hextall was scaring the bejeebers out of opposing forwards (and just about everybody else) in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

To tell you the truth, I don’t think the Flyers are bad off in net at all this season. Yeah, Biron hasn’t been quite as good as he was last year, but Niittymaki looks much more comfortable – and he’s still in the fetal stages of his career, if you’re measuring careers by the Tim Thomas standard.

Besides, Biron did lead Philly all the way to the Eastern Conference final last season, right? How soon they forget.

Hi Adam, I have a question that relates to your now well-established stance against fighting in the NHL. Before you hit the delete button, however, I should add that my question also involves the greatest hockey movie of all-time.

Last summer you produced a list of your favorite hockey films and No. 1 on the list (a choice I agree with hands down) was Slap Shot. My question, then, is how do you reconcile your choice of this pugilistic representation of the best sport in the world with your anti-fighting stance?

I have a couple of guesses: You aren't as concerned with fighting at lower levels of hockey as you are with it the NHL, you see the film as a parody of the goon culture that plagues hockey, you see the film as a product of a bygone era when fighting was an acceptable part of the game or the movie is just so damn funny that you don't really care about the negative stereotypes that it reinforces.

Are any of these the case? Or do you have another rationale for your seemingly paradoxical endorsement of Slap Shot? Cheers and keep up the good work!
Mark Norman, Vancouver


Hi Mark,

What would life be without paradoxes and inconsistency? It’s why I can say with great confidence I’m actually proud of owning Phil Collins’ early solo records, yet deeply ashamed I bought anything he did after No Jacket Required.

As for my devotion to Slap Shot – your last theory is the correct one. I think you can advocate for progressive ideals and common sense solutions to some of hockey’s great ailments, while also recognizing the thousands of subtle and overt comic deliveries that make George Roy Hill’s masterpiece – yes, I said masterpiece – so enjoyable.

(And don’t get me started on the rumored Slap Shot remake. I’m saving that rant until somebody dares follow through on this threat to mess with perfection.)

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Adam, who determines the three stars at the end of each game and what are the criteria for making the determination? Thanks for a great column.
Marc Stach, Walnut Creek, Calif.

Marc,

Thanks for a concise question. There is no standard manner by which teams pick the stars of the game; in most marketplaces, the franchise offers the task to a member of the local media, or the radio or TV broadcast crew.

Adam, with all the complaining about the NHL All-Star Game, why doesn't the league and players’ association look at moving it back to the start of the season?

It was held at that time in the early years and showcased the stars of the previous season. It would make a great kick-off to the season!
Rob McCoy, Orangeville, Ont.


Rob,

I’d be fine with that scenario, but here’s an idea I think ought to accompany it: the start-of-season game should pit the actual first and second all-star teams – as selected by the Professional Hockey Writers Association at the end of each season – against each other.

If you utilize that type of format, you might have some small semblance of competition during the game, as the second all-star team would (in theory) look to prove themselves better than the first all-star team.

Also, with so many true stars (apologies to Rory Fitzpatrick and any number of players “voted” to the 2009 all-star edition) of the game in tow, you could make a good case to stage the game in Europe to kick off the season.

That way, you’re not putting any particular franchise behind the eight-ball by making them start the year overseas.

Adam, in the past few months there have been a few mid-season veteran player signings such as Brendan Shanahan, Mats Sundin and Claude Lemieux.

Do you think it would be beneficial for the Penguins to sign Jaromir Jagr? If so, what do you think he would bring to the organization?
Andrew Shannon, Whitecourt, Alta.


Andrew,

While it might be beneficial for the Pens (or any other team) to look at acquiring Jagr, all signing him right now would bring to the organization is a massive lawsuit from a bunch of angry Russian gentlemen who operate the Kontinental League.

Jagr’s deal with Omsk of the KHL doesn’t expire until the end of next season, so either the Penguins show patience, or they employ a battery of lawyers to battle it out in the courtroom trenches for them.

I’m betting heavily on the former.

Ask Adam appears Fridays only on TheHockeyNews.com. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.

Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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