Ask Adam: Jerseys, jinxes, OT changes & more

Adam Proteau
Mike Green (Getty Images)

Hello again, and welcome to a special edition of the Ask Adam mailbag, last seen around these parts a few months ago after a long and spirited run. The process has remained the same – you question, I answer – but the questions were solicited exclusively via Twitter tonight. I’m rested, rejuvenated and happy to engage with those kind enough to submit something, so let’s have at it.

Adam, why can’t the home team choose what color jersey they wear? The NFL does it. Seems like good marketing to me.
Ethan Wittig

Ethan,

Time for this annual question, I suppose, so it’s good to get it out of the way early. The NHL switched to home dark jerseys and white jerseys on the road in the 2003-04 season, but they do permit teams to make requests to wear either white jerseys at home or special third jerseys on occasion. So there is some choice, but clearly, the league prefers it this way, and not enough teams feel differently to force a change.

Adam, the AHL test of overtime looks good so far. How does NHL/NHLPA feel about it?
Mike Flannery

Mike,

You’re right, the AHL adopting 3-on-3 overtime has been a success, at least in limiting the number of games that go to a shootout: through Monday, all six games that went beyond regulation ended before a shootout was necessary. And the tweak – extending overtime to seven minutes, playing the first three minutes 4-on-4, and switching to 3-on-3 following the first whistle after the four-minute mark – hardly is radical.
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Ask Adam: trading Jason Spezza and Mike Green; amnesty buyouts; and national pride

Mike Green (Getty Images)

After an unexpected absence, THN’s online mailbag is back, and better than ever. Well, maybe just back. Thanks to all who submitted a question.

Hi Adam,

Now that Jason Spezza has requested a trade from Ottawa, and that GM Bryan Murray said “I know I won’t get the value, in all likelihood, that I should get for him”, what will it take to acquire him?
Niclas Emanuelsson, Säffle, Sweden

Hi Niclas,

Although Spezza is still a valuable NHLer, you’re not looking at an Eric Lindros-to-the-Flyers-type trade package to land him. Spezza just turned 31 and is in the last year of his contract, so any team that acquires him won’t be ponying up draft picks, prospects and NHL-ready young players.

Murray surrendered one of each of those to acquire Bobby Ryan from Anaheim last summer, but if he can get two of those three components (depending, of course, on the prospects and/or players and/or picks involved) for his captain, he’ll be satisfied and pull the trigger on a trade. As you said, Murray already has acknowledged he’s not going to get equal value for Spezza – that’s always the case when a player’s trade request goes public – so the best he can hope for is to create a bidding war (preferably, among Western Conference teams) and drive up the price as best he can. Read more

Ask Adam: Leafs off-season moves, Flyers’ defense options, and a new home for Martin Brodeur?

Martin Brodeur (Getty Images)

Hello again. A selection of your questions follow. Thanks to all who took the time to submit one.

Adam,

Is there a reason the delay of game for puck over the glass rule hasn’t been changed yet? It’s asinine games are being decided because of this being a penalty. It should be a defensive zone faceoff with no change, just like icing. It was put in place because of the no change with icing, why is this exponentially worse?
Ben Mayo, Chicago

Ben,

I’m no fan of the rule either, but people at the NHL level I’ve spoken to swear if it were taken out, defending players would habitually, tactically flip the puck over the glass during high-pressure situations and kill the flow of the game.

I understand the spirit of where that’s coming from, but I don’t remember it being a problem when I was a kid (mumbles, coughs) years ago. More importantly, when there’s video replay capability the NHL could take advantage of – and remember, right now they only use video review to decide the legitimacy of goals – it seems foolish to let something that could be proven to be a genuine accident decide the result of a game.

Why doesn’t the league fix that? We should know by now the NHL isn’t into rapid changes or reactions to rules changes such as this one. They also fundamentally believe the officiating of the game is subjective and best left to the men at ice level, which is why there isn’t more video review. Again, I can see why that sentiment is appealing, and goodness knows video review wouldn’t end all controversy. But high-definition, slow motion TV broadcasts are almost taunting fans by showing them action that moves too fast to the naked eye trying to police the game at ice level. Read more

Ask Adam: Sharks blockbuster trades, advanced stats, and Alex Ovechkin in the KHL

Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

This is the latest THN mailbag. If you want to submit a question to be considered for the next one, send me one via this form. Thanks to those who’ve done so.

Adam,

What do you think the chances Sharks GM Doug Wilson moves either Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau before the start of next season?
Eric Semmelmayer, Pleasanton, Calif.

Eric,

I wouldn’t hold your breath on both players being dealt, but after San Jose’s stunning first round playoff collapse against L.A., I think the odds are very good that at least one of the two will be wearing a new uniform next season. I’ve spoken to Wilson often over the years and he’s made it clear his organization doesn’t react to one post-season series loss in a way that would hurt the organization over the long term. But his comments in the wake of the Sharks’ disastrous end to this season indicate he’s no longer interested in recommitting to the same core group.

It’s unlikely Wilson will deal a young star such as Logan Couture, but simply allowing Dan Boyle to leave as an unrestricted free agent and buying out or trading Martin Havlat isn’t enough of a change to that core. The cuts have to go deeper and it might be better for all involved if one of Marleau or Thornton moves on. Both players have no-trade clauses built into the three-year contract extensions that begin in 2014-15, but in his post-playoff news conference, Wilson spoke of “flexibilities and windows” he could take advantage of to make moves happen. So yes, I’d expect something major to take place with one of their veterans. Read more

Ask Adam: More California expansion, hate for broadcasters, and time-outs

Adam Proteau
California Golden Seals (Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

This is another mailbag for your reading pleasure. Thanks for your submissions.

Hey Adam,

With all of the talk about the NHL expanding to 32 teams in cities like Seattle and Quebec City, I wonder why they don’t consider Houston, San Antonio, or San Diego. Although these three cities are considered “non-traditional” hockey markets, they all have metropolitan area populations north of 1 million.

If the NHL can sustain a team in Tampa and Miami whose combined populations are below 1 million, then why not add another team in Texas or Southern California in addition to Seattle to balance out the conferences?
Alex Mingrone, San Jose, Calif. Read more

Ask Adam: Rampant rule-breaking, Kovalchuk’s NHL return, and salary-cap loopholes

Marc-Andre Fleury

This is THN’s online mailbag. Thanks for your questions, even if I wasn’t able to answer them here or in our magazine.

Adam,

Both the L.A. Kings and the Boston Bruins commit fouls non-stop throughout every game. Certainly, this must make refereeing those games a nightmare, since the stripes don’t have the stones to call everything. That said, is it a coincidence the Bruins and Kings have had continued playoff success playing in such a fashion? How much of a factor is this incessant rule-breaking in that success?
Craig Carruthers, Vancouver

Craig,

First thing’s first: the referees have “stones”, but they serve at the direction of the NHL. The league’s true power brokers – team owners, GMs, and, to a lesser degree, the NHL Players’ Association – decide what calls are going to be emphasized and relay that philosophy to the officials to implement.

Teams and players are always going to push the boundaries of the rules as far as possible until the officials/league pushes back. And so, when the NHL slowly and quietly backs away from much-heralded “crackdowns” on certain types of behavior, they understand there’s no reason for them to play a “clean” game. If other teams aren’t punished for it, why should they? If it’s successful under the rules of engagement, you don’t argue with success.

This is why more teams now talk about playing a “heavier” (the current buzzword for physical and edgy) game. If that’s the style the NHL is going to reward, they’d be doing their fans a disservice not to play it. Read more

Ask Adam: Playoff suspensions, referee hate, Caps management, and moving Rick Nash

Rick Nash

Mailbag time again. Thanks for your submissions.

Adam,

I know whistles are swallowed in the playoffs, but what does it take to get suspended? Matt Read put a clear shoulder into Daniel Carcillo’s head. Nothing happened. Milan Lucic spears Danny Dekeyser in the you-know-what. Nothing happens. Ryan Garbut spears Corey Perry in the stomach. Nothing happens. The league complains about player safety, yet is doing nothing to protect them. Matt Cooke and Brent Seabrook were suspended. Why not these guys?
Scott Brofman, Los Angeles, Calif.

Scott,

We’ve known for years now that the NHL sees every incident as being inherently different from all the others, which is the league’s justification for not installing a uniform set of punishments based on unacceptable actions. So it should come as no surprise that, for instance, the rash of vicious spearing we’ve seen in the first round of this year’s playoffs would lead to different punishments – Lucic gets a $5,000 fine for spearing Danny DeKeyser; Garbut received a $1,474.56 fine for doing the same thing to Perry; and Perry received no fine at all for spearing Jamie Benn – and mass confusion.

This disparity is a manifestation of the league’s overall attitude toward players: it’s a Wild West mentality that encourages a culture of retribution, because NHLers understand the league isn’t going to exact justice for anything but the most egregious acts – and even then, the suspensions usually aren’t tough enough (see Cooke, Matt vs. Barrie, Tyson). Read more

Ask Adam: Buyouts; Leafs woes; Oilers trades; and Devils’ draft

Brad Richards

Welcome once again to another THN mailbag. Here, a selection of your submissions is answered on a weekly basis. This concludes the latest introductory paragraph for the THN mailbag.

Adam,

I think most people were surprised when Mikhail Grabovski was among the players who received compliance buyouts during the last off-season. Do you think there are any NHL players who might receive a similarly surprising pink slip this summer? Are there any teams facing particularly acute salary pressures who might be tempted to go the buyout route?
Daniel Greyson, Montreal

Daniel,

I don’t think there are any darkhorse buyout candidates, but there are some frontrunners: Buffalo’s Ville Leino (who has three years remaining on his contract at an annual salary cap hit of $4.5 million), San Jose’s Martin Havlat (one year left at a $5 million hit) and the Rangers’ Brad Richards (six years left at $6.7 million per year) all fit the bill.

As for teams under the gun, Chicago has less than $4 million in available cap space; the Flyers have less than $7 million to spend; and the Bruins have less than $8 million. And all those totals are only if the cap rises to $71.1 million. If the Canadian dollar continues falling, the cap ceiling will as well – leaving those franchises in even worse cap shape.

However, seeing as Philly and the Hawks have used their two amnesty buyouts, only the Bruins (who haven’t used either) have the ability to do so this summer. Read more