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Fight or flight

The off-season moves by GM Paul Holmgren has many picking the Flyers to seriously compete for the Stanley Cup. (Getty Images)

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The off-season moves by GM Paul Holmgren has many picking the Flyers to seriously compete for the Stanley Cup. (Getty Images)

Welcome to another web edition of Inquire Of Adam. Below you will find questions and answers on many interesting hockey topics. Remember to keep reading this section next week and every week, if only to find out whether the author can come up with yet another different lead-in paragraph to the feature – or divest himself of what remains of his mental faculties.


Dear Adam, why is Gary Bettman so committed to the debacle of a franchise that is the Phoenix Coyotes? Is the motive for his actions lack of intelligence or pride?
Brennan Dixon, Moncton, N.B.


Dear Brennan,

Never, ever would I suggest the NHL commissioner is not intelligent. I do believe there is a pride factor at work with him when it comes to the Coyotes, but it isn’t the prime driver of his stance on keeping the team in Phoenix.

Rather, Bettman and league administrators look at the demographics of Phoenix, see a major U.S. market with many potential customers (at least theoretically) and redouble their efforts to find an owner who will continue with the experiment for as many years as possible.

Deep down, though – far, far in the recesses of his mind – Bettman has to know that, with reports such as this one illustrating the franchise’s money woes, it is unlikely the next Yotes owner throws good money after bad in that market for the next decade.

Hey Adam, with Joe Sakic retired, how should the Avs replace him? Should they keep Duchene or should they be looking to make a trade to let Duchene develop in Brampton?
Lyle Brewster, Innisfail, Alta
.

Hey Lyle,

I’d like to invoke my columnist’s right to dip into the cliché bag every so often and tell you haltingly: You. Don’t. Replace. A. Joe. Sakic.

Nobody knows whether Duchene will jump to the NHL right away; the Avs are going to let him determine the answer at training camp. However, regardless of how he performs, Colorado management understands they’re in for a fair-sized rebuild. It’d take a multi-player blockbuster of a deal (and a steal) to get this franchise back in the playoffs this year.

Whether he’s in the NHL or not this year, Duchene will be a massive part of that rebuild. Don’t know I could say the same for Milan Hejduk, Scott Hannan or Adam Foote, though.

Hey Adam, in the last 'Ask Adam' posting, you expressed your belief the Flyers will have a better chance of winning the Atlantic Division and/or the Eastern Conference than last season.

However, given that the Flyers have on their team such figures as Ray Emery, Chris Pronger, Scott Hartnell, Daniel Carcillo and Ian Laperriere, it seems like they will be hard pressed to stay out of the penalty box.

Do you consider this as big a problem as I do? How will they be able to maintain discipline?
Matthew Jansens, Calgary


Hey Matthew,

Discipline absolutely should be an area of concern for the Flyers, who finished second-worst among the 16 playoff teams in 2009 with an average of nearly 20 penalty minutes per game.

That isn’t a mere statistical anomaly, either: The Flyers were the NHL’s most penalized team in the 2008-09 regular season (averaging 17.5 PIMs per). Over the course of 82 games in 2007-08, Philly racked up almost the same amount (17.9) each night; they finished 28th overall in that department, being edged out for dead last only by percentage points.

In 2006-07, the Flyers were relative Gandhis, finishing 25th overall in penalties per game. You get where I’m going with this.

But there’s an added danger for this particular Flyers team – the damage a team that’s often shorthanded can do to the trod-upon reputation of a goalie attempting to re-establish himself as an NHL starter.

In other words, Ray Emery – either via his own technical struggles or the burden of playing in front of only four or three teammates more than any other netminder in the league – could be scapegoated for John Stevens’ inability to control his charges.

And maybe at the end of next year, when Emery’s contract expires and the media and fans are finished carving him, a team like the Detroit Red Wings steps in, swoops him up, and shows him what it’s like to play for a team with a temperament and focus he never experienced with his previous two NHL employers.

Adam, is Detroit's reign finally over? Their prospects coming up are not as good as the past ones and all of their old-timers are finally retiring.
Paul Mahalek, San Jose


Paul,

Officially, their reign was over in the evening-time of June 12th. But in terms of their year-to-year dominance, longtime Detroit executive Jim Devellano admits what is plainly true – the Wings are concerned with what the salary cap and rival organizations like the Kontinental League have done to the depth that’s carried the organization to such great heights.

(Speaking of, I know it isn’t going to happen, but if I had my way, I’d make everybody stop calling it a salary cap and start calling it a depth cap. It helps bring the focus off finance and back to the game if you look at it like that. And besides, ask Darcy Tucker – currently being paid by two teams, and perhaps three teams if the Avs buy him out and he stays in the NHL – if he feels like his salary is being capped.)

Still, when Pavel Datsyuk, the best all-around player in the world, is in your lineup and when Nicklas Lidstrom, one of the greatest defensemen in league history, is in your lineup and when beyond that you employ the talents of Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen and Niklas Kronwall, I’d say you’re going to have a good-to-great team for a good-to-great while.

Adam, what happens to free agents who aren't signed?
Sheila, Portland, Me.


Sheila,

Why, they’re free! Horribly Wonderfully, horribly wonderfully free!

(Sheila – if this answer did not quench your thirst for knowledge, here are the boring old facts: free agents who aren’t signed usually either sign with a team in another league or don’t play.

And Sheila – if you send me a follow-up email asking what those players do in another league or when they don’t play, I’m not answering.)

Adam, I find your articles, funny, profound and informative, even though I don't agree with what you say sometimes. Keep up the good work.

On to my question: Do you think that Tomas Kaberle will be dealt – and if so, what are the latest and greatest rumors regarding "Kabby"?
Ian James Byrne, Morell, P.E.I.


Ian,

Aw shucks. It’s always nice when somebody appreciates your work.

In spite of Brian Burke’s protestations to the contrary, I do believe Kaberle will be a former Leaf by the time team physicals begin in September.

The Leafs defense corps has too many capable members. Kaberle gets them the most return, either in draft picks or impact forwards.

To me, those facts, combined with Burke’s legendary ability to manipulate the media, represent reason for skepticism.

Follow The Hockey News on Twitter and Facebook.

Ask Adam appears Fridays on TheHockeyNews.com. Proteau also answers readers' question in every issue of The Hockey News magazine and on The Hockey News Radio Show every other Friday in the summer from 4-5 p.m. EST on XM Radio channel 204. 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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