Peter Forsberg is anticipated to make his return to the Avalanche lineup Friday night. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
If NHL GMs keep making swaps of consequence far before Feb. 28, the poor schmucks who work the hours-long trade deadline TV shows are going to need more than a little Irish Cream in their coffees to make it through the day.
That’s not to say I need a similar infusion to get through the weekly THN.com mailbag. I may be implying it, but I’m not saying it. Now, your inquiries:
Adam, I have two questions: First, I feel the NHL should abolish the trapezoid behind the net and let the goalie touch the puck wherever he wants. What is your opinion on it? Second, hockey is one of my favorite sports and I’ve been a New Jersey Devils fan since their inception. Unfortunately, hockey will always be the No. 4 sport in the U.S. Don’t get me wrong, I realize it has its true fans, but I think in order to the game out there, the NHL should have a better TV contract. What do you think?
Robert Vallinino, Hackensack, N.J.
The grand majority of NHL people I’ve spoken with also would like to see the trapezoid removed. They say there simply aren’t enough goalies able to handle the puck with sufficient skill to stifle the attacking team’s puck-entry attempts. More often, goalies who wander out of the net either turn the puck over or put themselves out of position; to me, that could result in more offense.
The TV question is an age-old one, debated for decades in hockey circles. If the goal is finding a wider audience, that’s best accomplished by modernizing the game - i.e., by cutting down on cartoonish violence and promoting the personalities of the league - rather than focusing on ESPN, NBC or any other network as hockey’s salvation.
If the product is spectacular, suitors will come running to partner with it.
Hey Adam, with super Swede Peter Forsberg back in an Avalanche jersey once again, do you think he'll just play out his pro-rated contract this season and call it quits or will the fans get the privilege to watch him in the NHL for the coming years?
Matt MacIntyre, Ottawa
It’s impossible to say what Forsberg’s future is beyond next week, let alone beyond next season. Clearly, he still feels like he has something left to contribute - and clearly, he’s ignoring what his broken-down body has told him during multiple previous comeback attempts.
If he falters again this year, I can’t imagine him trying again next season. But I would have said the same after his last attempt in the 2007-08 campaign.
Adam, would it make sense for the NHL to - instead of talking about making a transparent crossbar - just incorporate a camera in the actual crossbar itself? If you add a fish-eye effect to it, you could easily see both posts and since the camera would be closer to the goal line, the quality will be better during the reviews and the guys judging the plays in Toronto would have a better view of it all. Would this make sense, or am I just wrong?
Nik Paquin, Orleans, Ont.
No, I think you’ve got an interesting proposition there.
I wonder if you could insert that technology without compromising the integrity of the net. But given that my technical expertise consists of locating the on/off buttons of any device and letting fate take over from there, I’ll have to leave it up to you and/or any prospective inventors out there to figure out the logistics.
Adam, how can the NHL look at someone like Sean Avery and say you get suspended indefinitely for saying very inappropriate things about his ex-girlfriend to the press and Matt ‘The Goon’ Cooke has in the past year deliberately tried to injure some of the game’s best players and nothing - two games here, four games there - for what amounts to head hunting plain and simple.
Though you have to love that instant karma (i.e. Sidney Crosby out with a concussion and Evgeni Malkin with a knee injury, just like what Cooke did to Savard and like what he tried to do to Alex Ovechkin) for the Pens, here's hoping the league does something about it.
Matt Barrett, Greensboro, N.C.
First of all, you do not have to love that instant karma. I don’t care how much you hate a team and its players - delighting in severe injuries is for small-timers and jealous wannabes. You want everyone on the opposition in the lineup so that, when you beat them, it really means something.
But I agree with your initial statement. Trying to make sense of the NHL’s logic on supplemental discipline boggles the mind, body and soul. It reminds me of people who speak in tongues: within the speaking-in-tongues community, the act makes perfect sense, but to the world at large, it is beyond bizarre.
Ultimately, the NHL wants Matt Cooke to keep decimating the talents of other players, because they choose to give him a soft slap on the wrist (if that) every time he crosses the line.
In debating the actions of Cooke on Twitter the other day, a young writer asked me who would be responsible if a journalist composed a libelous story. He was hoping “only the writer” would be my answer, but that’s simply not the reality of the writing world. The truth is the writer would be sued, but so would the person and/or company who published his article.
Cooke is the author of his own actions, but the NHL provides him continuing opportunities to publish them. The league has found a way to justify his atrocities, yet sticks its collective thumbs underneath its armpits and runs around flapping its elbows and squawking over a little untoward verbiage. Its priorities couldn’t be more backward if it tried.
Adam, what changes do you see the Oilers making? Will they add a defenseman? A top-six forward or goalie?
Kyle Thomas, Doaktown N.B.
A team that sits dead last in the NHL standings can’t be picky over what it needs to get better. Most people think Edmonton’s defense corps is in most dire need of improvement, but I think GM Steve Tambellini would jump out of his chair if he found a forward - or, yes, even another goalie - to turn around the Oilers’ fortunes.
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays and his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.