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
The NHL is back in full swing after the Olympic break, but THN’s online mailbag never stops swinging. Thanks for all the submissions.
After watching another round of Olympic hockey, once again I really enjoyed watching the game being played on a larger ice surface. Any chance of the NHL going to a larger surface anytime soon? I’m guessing it’s a million-to-one shot, but I can’t be alone here.
Ed Beckmann, Livermore, Col.
In this case, I’d say that’s a generous set of odds. I’d also say it was even less likely than that. For one thing, there are many NHL people who will tell you the style of game that’s played on the bigger ice isn’t their idea of entertaining hockey. And to be fair to them, there were certainly some excitement-challenged games in Sochi.
But beyond the change to the on-ice product, the financial costs associated with removing rows of seats would be another obstacle in the way of making the ice dimensions larger. Now, just because teams remove x number of rows, that doesn’t mean they can’t transfer the higher ticket prices to fans in what would be their new front row seats. But there would be fewer people in the arena, which means fewer people at the concession stands.
Former NHLer Bobby Holik has said a number of times that bigger ice would also give players more room to avoid collisions (and by extension, concussions), but I don’t think anybody, Holik included, is expecting the league to make that change. So don’t hold your breath. Read more
Time for another THN mailbag. Thanks to all who submitted a question.
Adam, what teams can we expect activity from before the trade deadline?
Skjalg Hougen, Baerum, Norway
Although I recently posted my picks for NHL teams that need to make a deal immediately after the Olympic break, it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact number of teams that will make one. Why? Because circumstances can change at any moment between now and March 5; injuries can force a GM’s hands, as can team slumps and other franchises breathing down their necks in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Certainly, the NHL’s bottom-feeders (Buffalo, Edmonton, Calgary, Florida and the suddenly John Tavares-less Islanders) are extremely likely to engage in a number of deals. But other than that, there’s nothing that suggests any Stanley Cup contender is guaranteed to make roster changes. There are simply too many variables that can impact their present and their future. Read more
This is THN’s online mailbag – and a special Valentine’s Day mailbag at that! Well, it’s not love-related. You know how it works. If not, I’m sure Wikipedia has a handy description. Thanks to all who submitted a question.
The Vancouver Canucks are just three years removed from a trip to the Stanley Cup Final, and two years removed from a President’s Trophy. Once a perennial Western Conference powerhouse, this team had suddenly fallen from being elite to out of the playoff picture heading into the Olympic Break. Who is to blame most? Owner Francesco Aquilini for allowing management to spend too much money? General Manager Mike Gillis for making many questionable, head-scratching moves? Or the players?
Is it also time for this team to start a fire sale in the offseason, moving as many veterans as possible? Or can they only hope the prospects will shine soon?
Alex Hoegler, Vancouver
As I mentioned yesterday in my column, I think it’s time for the Canucks to start making big moves prior to the March 5 trade deadline. They’re an old team (12 players will be at least 30 or older by the end of 2014) and there are no elite-caliber prospects on the horizon who can compete with the likes of the young talent you see in Western Conference powerhouses such as St. Louis, Chicago or even Colorado.
Who’s to blame? I can’t blame the players for agreeing to lucrative, long-term deals. However, I can blame Gillis for throwing them out there (and including no-trade clauses for most, if not all of the core) so willingly and I certainly can blame Aquilini for hiring John Tortorella – a poor fit for this team’s personality, and someone who’s showing he has no answers for what ails them – as head coach. Gillis has run this team like the player agent he once was; he should have been dismissed after royally bungling their goaltending situation last season. Read more
The Olympics have arrived and so has another of THN’s online mailbags. Thanks to all who submitted a question.
If the Leafs are buyers at the trade deadline, which type of player should they target without interrupting the chemistry of the team? Or should they go with David Clarkson on the third line with David Bolland and go with the depth they have presently?
Gordon Gallant, Cap-Pele, N.B.
Unless an injury opens up a large hole in the lineup or the Leafs go into a massive tailspin after the Olympic break, I don’t see Toronto doing much of consequence. They’re essentially salary-capped out, so any transaction made by GM Dave Nonis would need to send bodies/talent out of the organization in exchange for whomever he acquires – and for that reason, it’s far more likely they’ll add depth/role players on short-term contracts. And with the way they’ve played leading up to the break, there’s nothing wrong with that. Read more
We got lots of good questions in for THN’s mailbag this week. Thanks to everyone who submitted one or more. And feel free to continue sending them via this handy form.
Hi Adam, What is wrong with the Capitals’ goaltending? Their goalies, particularly Braden Holtby, have allowed an astounding number of goals within two minutes of a Caps goal (last time I checked a few weeks ago, it was over 22, but I am certain that number is higher). Is the issue coaching, defense, or the goalies themselves? How should they address this problem?
Ben Gorbaty, Baltimore, Md.
I don’t blame Holtby for all of the Caps’ woes. As I said Thursday after Columbus rolled over them, I think Oates is the last guy in line for serious criticism. Holtby isn’t at his best right now, but the bigger question is why GM George McPhee put all the chips of his veteran-laden team on a 24-year-old goalie who has yet to play 100 regular-season NHL games. It took Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop until he was 27 to blossom into the Vezina Trophy frontrunner he is this season.
Complicating matters is the fact Washington’s defense corps is not known as the NHL’s biggest shutdown unit. Read more
How many different ways can I write an introductory paragraph to THN’s online mailbag? The answer may surprise you, but probably not. Here are this week’s best submissions. Thanks to all who took the time to send in a question. (And remember, if you want to ask something for a future mailbag, direct your questions via our handy form.)
Was the two amnesty buyouts per team a one-time provision in the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement, or can teams continue to buy out players annually?
Paul Gridelli, Chicago, Ill.
This must be a trick question, because the answer is neither. The NHL’s amnesty buyouts were implemented in the wake of the 2013 CBA, but allowed the two buyouts per team to be used either last summer or in the summer of 2014.
The grand majority of franchises still have both buyouts to use if they so desire; only four teams (Chicago, Montreal, Philadelphia and Toronto) have used both, and only eight teams (the Islanders, Rangers, Detroit, Minnesota, New Jersey, Tampa Bay, Vancouver and Washington,) have used one. So it’s fair to expect that we’ll see more buyouts – and teams potentially making trades with organizations like the Flyers or Leafs to use their buyout on an acquired player in exchanged for a dumped contract or unwanted asset. Read more
After a month’s hibernation, the THN online mailbag is back. If you’re new to the routine, you submit questions here and I answer them either here or in THN magazine. Thanks to those who continued sending in questions in my absence. Here’s this week’s batch:
Adam, after watching the “60 Minutes” TV feature on the Alex Rodriguez/steroids scandal, I was curious. Could there be any kind of performance-enhancing drug use in the NHL?
Chris Small, North Vancouver, B.C.
The NHL doesn’t believe its players have a culture of PED-dependence, but as Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said in the summer, it would be naïve to think some players aren’t using some stimulant to give them an on-ice edge. Considering the NHL has stated publicly it won’t test for the presence of Human Growth Hormone until at least the 2014-15 season, any player is free to use it without penalty.
The NHL isn’t completely Wild West territory for PED use – the 2013 collective bargaining agreement with the NHLPA includes random tests for substances (other than HGH) banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency – but it also isn’t the pro sports industry leader on the issue. So yes, there’s a better-than average chance some kind of PED activity exists. Read more