The volume of questions for the mailbag column continues to grow. As such, we'll be sending some of your queries over to THN's magazine side, and they'll get answered in the soon-to-be-unveiled new format that will hit newsstands next week.
So if you don't see your questions answered here, be sure to pick up a copy, or save yourself the searching and order a subscription.
Now that the NHLPA has a new boss Â– Goodenow disciple Paul Kelly Â– how long before the next work stoppage? Will the next stoppage be the end of the NHL? And do the owners and players really care?
I'm going to wait a few months, a year maybe, before I even consider labeling Kelly anyone's disciple. It's only fair to let the man's actions speak for themselves; luckily for him, the bar for executive directors has been set exceptionally low (Goodenow's stellar work in salary inflation notwithstanding), so even a modicum of progressiveness will set him off on the right foot.
In terms of a work stoppage, I honestly find it unfathomable that either the players or owners are hostile and/or thick enough to seriously consider shutting down the game in the near future. If they came away from the last showdown with the idea they could do so again and remain anywhere close to a high-profile professional sport, they truly are beneath hockey fans' contempt.
I am a subscriber. Where is former Penguins defenseman Jozef Melichar playing this season?
Thanks, Steve Coleman, Titusville, Pa.
Thanks for subscribing. According to the trusty Eurohockey.net site, the 28-year-old Melichar began this season with CeskÃ© Budejovice of the Czech League, but has since joined LinkÃ¶pings HC of the Swedish Elite League.
Who will be the new coach of the Thrashers? Who should be the new coach of the Thrashers?
Thanks, Carolyn, Athens, Ga.
Who should it be? That's easy Â– it should be Chicago Wolves coach John Anderson. The former Maple Leaf star knows a handful of the Thrashers he's helped promote to the NHL by working in Atlanta's farm system, he's a proven winner (three Calder Cup championships) Â– and, if you believe a team goes for the opposite of the coach they just fired, Anderson's player-friendliness is just the antidote for Bob Hartley's comparatively coarse approach.
Who will it be? The Pat Quinn rumors just won't go away and in a couple senses, I understand why. Quinn may not have won a Stanley Cup as a coach, but with a career 657-499-162 regular-season record behind the bench, he's a proven winner with historical ties to the region. For a team that still needs to work to sell tickets, Quinn's name recognition factor could only help.
Why is Paul Coffey held in such a high regard? Yes, he had some great seasons in Edmonton and Pittsburgh and has the Cups and trophies to prove it, but the guy ended up bouncing around from team to team in his later years until nobody wanted him.
By the time he retired, he was reduced to wearing the glorified No. 74, on his 10th NHL team, and with a whopping 24 goals over his final five seasons with five different teams. Sure, many players have a hard time admitting that the game has passed them by, but it became painful to watch Coffey near the end. I remember him more now for being a journeyman than I do for being a game-breaker, his image forever tarnished.
Coffey's career paralleled Ray Bourque for many years, now I think it's an insult to Bourque to even mention the two in the same breath.
Thanks, Steve Dicker, Paradise, Nfld.
I hear what you're saying and I'm also a subscriber to the theory that star athletes in any sport taint their image by sticking around too long.
However, I had the chance to interview Coffey for The Hockey News' Top 60 Since 1967 book Â– which you can now order at THN.com, by the way Â– and the Hall-of-Famer provided me with a different look at his later, well-traveled years.
Here's a passage from the chapter on him:
Â“As my dad had told me, I was a hired hand, that offensive defenseman teams were always looking for,Â” said CoffeyÂ…Â”I really thought, toward the end of my career when I was getting traded to all these teams, that I was just being testedÂ…(a)nd I knew someone was always watching, so I had to be a professional. I remember playing with the Flyers, and I was a healthy scratch. Keith Acton was the assistant coach and he comes up to me and says, Â‘We've got to skate you.' And I said, Â‘Keith, tell me where to go and I'll go. I'm fine with it. Do your job, skate the hell out of me. If I'm not playing, I'm no different than a guy who's been in the league 10 minutes.'
Â“You're constantly being tested, and in those last three or four years, if I would've been a dick, that's the reputation that would've stuck. At the end of the day, your reputation is what it's all about, and it's the only thing you've really got.Â”
Learning such a thing about Coffey and the pride he had to swallow at the end of his playing days, made me appreciate him more, not less.
It may not have the same effect on you, but here's hoping it provides a different perspective.
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