This post-Cup edition of the mailbag features a nice variety of on-and-off-ice subjects.
Now that the Canadiens have signed Andrei Markov to a four-year extension, what do you think they'll do as far as Sheldon Souray is concerned? Will they go all out to keep him or will they just let him test the market to see what he can get?
Also, what are the chances of Montreal signing a big-name free agent such as Daniel Briere, Chris Drury or even Scott Gomez? I look forward to hearing what you have to say.
A Die Hard Habs fan from Philly,
By most people's account, Souray is, as L.L. Cool J. famously put it, goin' back to Cali. Whether that is with the Kings or Sharks remains to be seen, but it's almost a certainty he'll fetch a higher price on the open market than Canadiens GM Bob Gainey would (or should) pay to keep him.
Of the three prominent UFAs you mention, the one Montreal is most interested in signing is Briere. His stock dropped a little in the Eastern Conference final this year, but after Drury and Gomez set the market in the early days of free agency, Briere's windfall won't be far off those of the other two players.
And it's not like Gainey won't have competition for Briere's skills. It isn't out of the realm of possibility Briere will wind up as a Hab, but I'd say it's closer to a long shot than a sure thing.
As a hockey player, official but most of all fan here in the U.K., I've often wondered whether the NHL will ever expand into Europe. Gary Bettman is certainly not my most favorite person in the hockey universe, but I can understand his business decisions to move the game south of the Canada/U.S. border.
Canada will always love hockey as it is embedded in their culture, so the sport must stop preaching to the converted and look to the non-hockey markets in an attempt to heighten its profile. But, unfortunately, as the recent plight of the Nashville Predators has illustrated, many areas in America are not buying the NHL.
So, in your opinion, do you think Bettman, or any future commissioner, will ever try to expand the league into Europe or Asia? I am heading down to London in September for one of the Anaheim/Los Angeles games, and have been wondering whether this could be a trial run for these potential plans. I certainly hope it is.
By and large, I agree with your analysis of Bettman's moves. I don't necessarily think he was wrong to situate teams in the American sunbelt region, but the example the Kings have set in California suggests to most that the process of proper expansion takes decades, thus necessitating a long-term commitment from owners, corporate partners and fans.
Bettman clearly doesn't have that in Nashville, nor does he have that in a handful of other NHL cities. Would he find the right answers in Europe? Perhaps. However, thanks to a number of factors Â– logistics, currencies, TV contracts Â– I really don't see non-North American expansion happening any time in the next 10 years.
That doesn't mean the NHL won't keep coming back to Europe or Asia for short stretches and perhaps even mini-tournaments; league brass would be fools not to exploit the willing and rabid fan base that already exists overseas.
But let's face it Â– these owners can't even get their collective North American house in top order. Until they do, Europe and/or Asia will have to wait for their own franchises.
I'd like to know if the NHL plans to scrap all the new rules such as interference and clutching next year, or is it only for the post-season? It seems to me that these things should be addressed and consistently called, or they should just scrap the whole thing and go back to Â‘70s-style Philadelphia Flyers hockey.
Also, when is hit to the head a hit to the head? Why does the player have to be knocked out? I would think any kind of hit to the head should be punishable Â– or am I just Â‘crazy'?
Victoria A. Kelley
If you're crazy, I don't want to be sane. The NHL took a sizeable step backwards in its obstruction standard this regular-and-post-season, all under the guise of bringing back Â‘physicality' to the game.
That's a crock. Yes, fans like to see body contact on the ice. But 95 percent of hockey's best highlights are always goals. And this league still needs more of those things.
You're right, the NHL must come to terms on the difference between dangerous/dirty play (including headshots and hits from behind) and a good, clean, competitive approach. To this day, I don't think players or management have the slightest clue as to what is or isn't acceptable in the league.
Hi! I have two questions. Did anyone ever find Duncan MacPherson? And is there a list of team photographers to get photos of specific players, current and past?
First, let's inform readers who Duncan MacPherson was. The former Western Hockey League star defenseman and onetime draft pick of the New York Islanders went missing during an Austrian vacation in 1989 and for many years was presumed dead.
To answer your question Â– yes, MacPherson's body was discovered in 2003, still preserved in the snowy Austrian mountains. His parents never gave up looking for him, valiantly spending their life's savings on continuing their search.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's tremendous Fifth Estate documentary program ran a feature on MacPherson last year; you can still watch the very sad and moving story at the CBC's website.
Finally, I'm not quite sure what kind of photos you're interested in, but if it's shots of NHLers you want, try calling the individual teams first. Each franchise has their own official photographer, and some have been doing the job long enough that they have a deep archive from which to choose.
If they can't help you, contact the league. Or the Hockey Hall of Fame. Whatever you do, don't call THN Art Director/Rugby Fiend Jamie Hodgson. That guy's already got enough on his plate.
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