The last weekend of the regular season is here and that means it's time to gather with the scofflaws and delinquents I meet with every year (for the last 15 years) to conduct a playoff fantasy draft. The first question is dedicated to them:
How do I win my playoff draft? What are your secrets?
The Big Paslawski
First thing's first: If your nickname is in any way a tribute to former NHL journeyman Craig Paslawski, bravo.
Now, unless you count an alcohol-laden visit to Las Vegas that involved a bearded lady from the circus (at least, that's where she told me she worked), I have no secrets. And though THN's two-headed fantasy guru monster (Murray Townsend and Darryl Dobbs) has some helpful hints, it still comes down to picking as many players from the eventual winning team as possible.
If you knew which team that would be ahead of time, you ought to put your money behind them (with some kind of for-entertainment-only bookkeeper, of course) instead of some measly fantasy draft.
However, if you insist on going the pool route, my bosses would love you to try your luck with our Playoff Pool Challenge. Twenty-five bucks gets you in, and most of the prizes are cold, hard legal tender.
I've been hearing rumors that the Maple Leafs are going to go after Ryan Smyth in the off-season to be the winger for Mats Sundin.
Is there any truth to this?
Todd Hooper, Moose Jaw, Sask.
Take to heart every report of a player rumored to land in Toronto this summer and you'll end up believing the Leafs intend to improve their odds of a Cup win by sending three teams into competition next year.
At the right price, I'm sure GM John Ferguson would love to have Smyth on his first line. Trouble is, the contract Oilers GM Kevin Lowe offered Â– and Smyth rejected Â– is too rich for the Leafs' taste.
Unless Paul Maurice believes it's fine to go another season armed with too many pluggers of the Bates Battaglia/Chad Kilger variety, Toronto is better served by improving their overall forward depth. Therefore, two $3-million-a-year players would be better for them than one guy making six large.
Which Smyth will likely get, by the way.
As a fan of the Red Wings, I have seen them go from boom at the beginning of the season to complete bust in the playoffs, how do you foresee them doing this year? Is it going to be another early round knock out?
In my opinion, it comes down to goaltending and experience and from what I can see, with Hasek in net and still some guys from previous Cup wins, they could do it. I am still skeptical, especially after seeing Edmonton take them down so easily last year (and then seeing how poorly Edmonton is doing this year!).
Eric MacNeill, Edmonton
Year after year, I learn the hard way never to count Detroit out. But year after year, I talk to people around the league who are ready to do just that, and they wind up convincing me.
It's the same case this season. Hasek has surpassed all expectations of him, but he's always only a kick save away from explodinggroinitis (I believe that's the proper medical term for it). As well, the playoff capabilities of Pavel Datsyuk and, to a lesser extent, Henrik Zetterberg will be questioned until they help the Wings to a series victory or two.
Add to that the awful injury that could keep Niklas Kronwall sidelined two months and it's no wonder many (including me) are thinking it could indeed be another quick exit for Mike Babcock's boys.
I want to tell you how to answer fans who question your love for hockey.
In French, we say: Â“Qui aime bien, chÃ¢tie bien!Â” That translates as: Â“Who love well, punish that well!Â”
Knowing that you a great fan of Don Cherry, what are you thinking of the no touch icing call?
A very supportive reader,
Me, a fan of Cherry? And they say sarcasm doesn't translate outside the English language.
The no-touch icing issue is one of the few things I agree with Cherry on. Anything that better protects NHLers (such as mandatory visors or a league that takes it upon itself to punish dirty play so players don't have to) is fine by me.
And thanks for that great phrase. If it's true those who love something are tough on it, Lightning coach John Tortorella must have fallen head-over-heels for John Grahame last year.
Ask Adam appears Fridays only on The Hockey News.com. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.