As he hones his skills alongside one of the planet’s best defensemen, Roman Josi is thankful for a pioneer, countryman and current Philadelphia Flyers blueliner who helped pave the way for Swiss players like him in the NHL.
“At first there were only goalies coming over, but the first (skater) to really make it was Mark Streit,” Josi said. “He really opened the doors for all the young players in Switzerland. He had a tough first season, but fought through it.”
Josi’s path to North American hockey was different than Streit’s, who was 27 when he played his first NHL game. Josi, 23, was drafted by Nashville in the second round (38th overall) in 2008, played a season in the American League in 2010-11 to acclimate to the smaller ice surface, then made the jump to the NHL the following season.
He’s now fully settled in Nashville and is second on the Predators in ice time behind his defense partner, captain Shea Weber.
Saturday marks the 10th anniversary of one of the most infamous events in NHL history: the Todd Bertuzzi/Steve Moore incident. The pall of that night still hangs over the league to this day, primarily because Moore’s subsequent lawsuit against Bertuzzi and the Vancouver Canucks has yet to be resolved.
But we now know it won’t be much longer until the case is finally heard. Six months to the day, as a matter of fact – Sept. 8, in a Toronto courtroom. And unless Moore does something dramatically out-of-character between now and then – by which, I mean accept an out-of-court settlement – there’s no stopping hockey from being put on trial to a degree we’ve not seen before.
While there have been a number of attempts to get Moore to settle prior to a trial, they all have been unsuccessful. This won’t come as a surprise to those close to the Moore family. They’re an intelligent, driven, principled clan that didn’t wait this long simply to soak Bertuzzi and the Canucks for as much money as they can get. On a basic level, they believe the culture of hockey deserves to go under the microscope and be held accountable for what takes place within its rules. Read more
More mail? More mail. It’s Friday, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Thanks as always to those who sent in a question or two.
Hello there Adam!
In the early days of his WWE career, Randy Orton was doing the “Legend Killer” gimmick and cut a promo against a tired and haggard looking Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Orton said when you wake up in the morning and no longer have the drive to be the No. 1 guy in the company, the guy who wears the belt, well that’s the day you need to hang them up.
Well, I compare old Hacksaw to Roberto Luongo. Bobby Lou will never, and I mean ever, win a Stanley Cup in Florida. And he knows that. So my question is, why do so many players say it’s not about money when they talk to the media? Of course it is! If you’ve resigned yourself to the fact that you’re just playing a game and collecting a paycheck, why jerk around the fans? Nathan Horton will play out his career in relative obscurity in Columbus, but at least he has his Cup ring. Same can’t be said for Luongo or his teammate Ed Jovanovski.
So why not just state the obvious and say “I’m in it for the money”? You’re not insulting anybody. I’d take Captain Obvious over Captain Hypocrite any day. I mean, really, if you’ve been in the game as long as Luongo and you’re NOT in it to win the Stanley Cup, just what are you doing there anyways?
Steve Dicker, Paradise, Newfoundland
Hello there Steve!
While I’m sure there are NHLers who do what they do more for the love of the money than the pursuit of a championship, Luongo isn’t an example of one. When he signed his 12-year contract with the Canucks, they weren’t a sad-sack team with no chance of winning a Stanley Cup. To the contrary: they’d just won their division and a playoff round. It’s not his fault GM Mike Gillis horribly mismanaged Vancouver’s goaltending situation to the point he had no choice but to move him for a relative pittance.
But no matter which player you point to as signing somewhere for monetary reasons, you can’t expect them to be candid about that. People like you and I might appreciate the honesty, but imagine the team marketing campaign: “Come See Us Play! Not Everybody Wants To Be Here, But Everybody’s Getting Paid!” Not the best optics, I’m sure you’d agree. Read more
It was enough of a challenge for Steven Stamkos to make a fast return from a broken leg he suffered in early November. But when he steps on the ice in Tampa Bay Thursday night against the Buffalo Sabres, Stamkos will face a new one as he begins a new era for himself and the Lightning.
His Tampa Bay Lightning.
With former captain Martin St-Louis dealt to the New York Rangers prior to Wednesday’s trade deadline, the Bolts are now Stamkos’ team. For the first five years of his NHL career, Stamkos was the heir to the franchise’s throne who could apprentice in the shadow of St-Louis and Vincent Lecavalier. But with both gone, he is far and away Tampa’s best player and the man who will have to set the tone for the rest of the team. If that sounds like a tall order for someone who is only 24 years old, it is. But few elite young NHLers have been better groomed for this moment than Stamkos. His commitment to fitness under Gary Roberts and willingness to work on all elements of his game has earned him the respect and admiration of his peers and teammates.
Although he no longer has the reigning Art Ross Trophy winner as a teammate and mentor, Stamkos isn’t on an island, scanning the horizon in vain for players who can help him win. Read more
For the second straight season, the Washington Capitals are going full steam ahead with the vision of themselves as a Stanley Cup contender. Well, perhaps “full steam ahead” isn’t the most apt phrase. That suggests they’re a train on a rail line, headed in a linear direction to reach a particular end.
But the more I see the moves Caps GM George McPhee makes, the more I think this team is moving ahead like a speeding car in an action movie, careening over sidewalks and straight through fruit stands, keeping viewers in suspense as to where it will stop. And after trade deadline 2014 came to an end – and Washington loaded up with more veterans – I’m still not convinced they’re a playoff team, let alone a for-real menace to do any post-season damage.
The price McPhee paid to change his team was relatively small – a fourth-round pick to Anaheim for Dustin Penner; disgruntled backup goalie Michal Neuvirth to Buffalo for Jaroslav Halak; disgruntled winger Martin Erat to Phoenix for essentially a decent prospect – and they’re not taking on any long-term salary in any deal. Yet for all intents and purposes, the Capitals’ overall picture stays the same. They’ll be expected to push for a playoff spot and then some.
But let’s be honest. With due respect to Washington’s new players, does this team strike you as capable of scaring anybody? Read more
The NHL trade deadline is mere hours away. Here, in no particular order, are many of the players who could be dealt:
Thomas Vanek, Islanders. Vanek hasn’t burned bridges with the Isles, but the 30-year-old’s pre-Olympic break rejection of a contract extension and determination to go to the UFA market has him poised to leave Long Island. He has been linked to signing with Minnesota, but any potential trade partner will need to send some defensive and/or goaltending help back to the Isles in return. “He’s an elite winger, no question,” said a Western Conference GM. “Is he the guy that puts you over the top? I’m not sure at all that he is.”
Ryan Callahan, Rangers. Callahan’s name was shocking to hear in trade rumors, but given GM Glen Sather wasn’t willing to meet his captain’s contract demands and allowed other NHL GMs to negotiate with Callahan’s agent, the chasm between player and management is clear. Any team that acquires the 28-year-old will be gambling on a guy whose physical game makes him susceptible to injury. “He can be a big help immediately,” said an Eastern Conference executive, “but seven-to-eight years for him will scare teams away.”
Matt Moulson, Sabres. is one of the deadline’s most sought-after offensive talents. The 30-year-old has endeared himself to the Sabres since coming over in the Thomas Vanek trade at the end of October. While there’s talk of Buffalo GM Tim Murray signing Moulson to a contract extension, the reality is a number of teams – including the goal-challenged Kings and always all-in Penguins – will make strong pitches for him. “Good guy, great finisher,” one Eastern Conference executive said. “You know what you’re getting with him.” Read more
In a hockey world where the Flyers sign Steve Mason to a three-year, $12.3 million contract after just 40-odd games with the organization, Ben Scrivens’ brand new two-year, $4.6-million contract with the Oilers doesn’t seem like a terrible gamble.
For the most part, it isn’t: although he’s only been a member of the team since the Kings dealt him there in mid-January, Scrivens is a solid fit at a relatively low cost. The 27-year-old’s individual numbers as an Oiler (including a 2.15 goals-against average and .940 save percentage) have been phenomenal and he’s assimilated into a dressing room that includes fellow goalie and noted oddball Ilya Bryzgalov without any problems. His earned status as a solid citizen will carry into next season regardless of whom management brings in to challenge him for the starting role. Read more
There’s no soft-pedalling it: Kyle Okposo was hugely disappointed to be left off the U.S. Olympic team for the 2014 Sochi Games. And he has a good case.
In a year when little has gone right for his New York Islanders squad, Okposo, 25, is well on his way toward demolishing personal bests in goals, assists and points. The seventh overall pick in 2006 must have looked to Team Canada, saw Jamie Benn go from non-summer-orientation-camp-invitee to Olympic team member in a few short months and wondered why he was passed over for the likes of Blake Wheeler and T.J. Oshie.
When it settled in that he wouldn’t be in Sochi, Okposo did the best thing possible – he took his frustrations out on the ice. In the Islanders’ first game after the Olympic announcement, Okposo scored the overtime winner against Chicago. Team captain John Tavares recognized loud and clear the message Okposo sent.
“I don’t know if he thought (Team USA GM) David Poile’s head was in the net and he was aiming for it,” Tavares told the media.