Kris Letang's Pens and Chris Chelios' Red Wings are in line to do battle in the Stanley Cup final. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
So much going on in the hockey world these days, it’s hard to settle on one topic for a column. So why bother? Here are a few things catching my eye:
• It has been said time and time again the style the Stanley Cup-winning team plays dictates the way other teams will build the following season – there is no doubt Anaheim’s rough and tumble approach influenced many teams in the Western Conference to get bigger and stronger this season. That said, it will be a team with a greater emphasis on skill – either Detroit or Pittsburgh – that wins the Cup this season.
• The top goal-scorer in the playoffs, Detroit’s Johan Franzen, goes down and hardly a word is spoken. That is because the Red Wings boast so much depth. Meanwhile, Philadelphia loses skilled defenseman Kimmo Timonen and then Braydon Coburn and the Flyers chances go right down the tube. I wonder why coach John Stevens didn’t put Sami Kapanen back on defense, given the fact he has played the position plenty in his career and would raise the skill level of the blueline with Timonen and Coburn out?
• When will the Toronto Maple Leafs learn that telling people what they want to hear instead of what they really mean may come back to bite them in the butt?
At the start of the year, coach Paul Maurice declared this group of Leafs the most talented bunch of players he’d ever coached, or something like that. Well, we all know how that ended up. Then, when team president Richard Peddie dismissed GM John Ferguson, he promised Leafs fans he’d replace him with a high-profile GM who possessed a winning pedigree.
Never mind the fact the people Peddie described were all under contract. Now, just like Ferguson did when he handed out no-trade and no-movement clauses like they were Halloween candy, Peddie has painted the organization into a corner. The fact is, Peddie is petrified to hire another inexperienced GM like Ferguson when the reality is, an inexperienced GM, say, Joe Nieuwendyk or Steve Yzerman, may be just the answer for the Leafs. Both of those guys played the game and were winners.
• What the heck are the Nashville Predators thinking? First they lock up underachieving center David Legwand to a six-year contract worth $4.5 million a season and now they have signed winger Martin Erat to a seven-year, $31.5 million deal.
Erat is a good player, but that is all. Just good. He had 23 goals and 57 points in 76 games for heaven sakes. Now he’ll earn $4.5 million a year?
• Just a rumor, but I have heard the Tampa Bay Lightning are going to fire coach John Tortorella and replace him with Barry Melrose.
• Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero should be applauded for taking a chance on Marian Hossa at the trade deadline. Not only has Hossa been a solid contributor on offense, as most expected he would, he has also played a stellar defensive game. He is often the first forward back on the back check.
All of that said, I’m not certain I’d cough up $7 million a year to a guy I see as more of a complimentary player than one who can lead a team.
Mike Brophy, the co-author of the book Walking with Legends, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor on THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and his column, Double OT, appears Wednesday.
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