Will Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe make a move to help push his team into the playoffs?
I’ve got a mini-vacation scheduled this weekend in Montreal, so I’ve got a question for area residents: Where’s the ideal place for me to get my festivities on (post any suggestions in the comments box below)? While you consider your answers, here’s the latest mailbag:
Do you think the Edmonton Oilers will make any moves to get out of the bottom of the standings? Do you think they will move one of their defensemen or one of their forwards? Also, are they close in making any deals?
Matthew Krivoshein, Beauval, Sask.
No, Kevin Lowe and the Oilers aren’t close to any significant trades – and not just because Lowe is persona non grata with Anaheim’s Brian Burke, who apparently is the only GM willing to make in-season alterations to his NHL roster.
Even if Burke and Lowe were best friends, I doubt Edmonton would be too active on the trade front. Nobody is lining up right now to deal for one of his blueliners and unless he’s contracted a bad case of TorontoMapleLeafsitis, he isn’t moving any of his best young forwards (Shawn Horcoff, Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky, Andrew Cogliano). That leaves Dwayne Roloson and Mathieu Garon and as we’ve seen with Ilya Bryzgalov, the goalie market isn’t exactly a seller’s dream these days.
But, I think the Oilers are on the right path, even if it means a season or two of relative misery. Of the thousands of quick-fix attempts in NHL history, far more have failed than worked. Slow and steady has a better success rate; I think Lowe understands that’s the way his organization needs to go.
How come the Montreal Canadiens, whose best goal scorer's top potential is probably 30 goals, are doing better than the Flames, who have a player capable of 50 goals?
Scott Franchuk, Barrhead, Alta.
For starters, the Canadiens have enjoyed spectacular goaltending from Carey Price and Cristobal Huet, while Miikka Kiprusoff has put up the third-worst save percentage (.885) in the entire league. It doesn’t matter how good your offense is if your defense is almost always worse.
However, it goes beyond that for the Flames, who haven’t demonstrated a shred of the consistency that was their hallmark at home (and that eluded them on the road) last season.
To me, that’s a sign that they’re still adapting to – or perhaps, still rebelling against – Mike Keenan’s stewardship. I continue to see them as a playoff team, but their road may be bumpier than many imagined.
In your last mailbag column, you quoted Darcy Regier as saying hockey is “the most fun game of any game available to play,” not “it could be” the most fun game, or “it has the potential to be” the most fun. So I say, don't tinker with it, just enjoy it.
Hockey doesn't need more goals. With fewer goals, each one means a lot more and is more exciting. Look how boring baseball has gotten with its frequent 12-10 games, not to mention basketball.
Ed Rush, Boise, Idaho
I appreciate your devotion to the NHL product, but ask any producer of an entertainment product – and when it comes down to it, that’s just what pro sports are – and they’ll tell you a static product is an unwatched product.
For too long, the game’s caretakers – and indeed, a great deal of its fans – have been too self-satisfied with the status quo. On and off the ice, the sport has suffered from that unwillingness to experiment and change and a turnabout in philosophy is perhaps the only move the league has left to save itself from a slow slide into irrelevance.
Besides, progressive types such as yours truly have never exclusively focused on the amount of goals scored as an accurate barometer of the game’s excitement level. Instead, I look at scoring chances as a better measurement; I think most people would admit even those aren’t what they used to be.
During a recent edition of CBC's Hot Stove segment, Al Strachan suggested there was gossip at the GM level that John Ferguson might lose his job with the Toronto Maple Leafs by the end of the year and be replaced by TSN analyst Glenn Healy.
Is there any truth to this rumor?
Jack King, Toronto, Ont.
For the past two years, there have been all kinds of rumors about Ferguson’s job, and, until the Leafs lose eight or nine of 10 or 12 games in a row, that’s all they’re going to be.
The NHL is developing a fairly good history of mid-tier goalies-turned-savvy-management-minds (e.g. Jim Rutherford, John Davidson, Garth Snow), so I wouldn’t want to presume Healy would suffer as badly in Toronto’s top off-ice role as he did in trying to defend the NHLPA on TV during the lockout.
Still, this is a market where political tightrope walking is as important to a GM’s future as his team’s on-ice results. I’m not saying Healy wouldn’t be able to navigate his way through the wolves – and word has it he has the ear of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment chairman Larry Tanenbaum – but on a day-to-day basis, he’d quickly discover working for the Leafs would make his TSN gig seem like a paid vacation.
First off, I'd like to say that I wish your mailbags were longer!
I have a few questions about Internet viewing of live NHL games. Which network provides the best coverage at a reasonable cost? I am a Bruins fan and would prefer to watch as many Bruins games as possible, are there any networks that provide selected regional coverage?
Also, I live overseas and need to find a network that can provide service in countries outside of North America and Europe (I'm in China). I am not only interested in live games but other hockey programming. Any ideas on which network I should subscribe to? Thanks.
Raymond M., Boston, Mass.
I am from Winnipeg, but live in Savannah, Ga. Do you know of any place I can watch live hockey for free online; like on CBC or something?
Craig Cameron, Savannah, Ga.
See, that’s the nice thing about being an NHL fan outside of Canada: Whether you’re in Georgia or China, odds are it’s nearly impossible to locate the league’s games on TV.
Unfortunately, Craig, nothing in life is free. Not even love – well, at least, not certain kinds of love. And unfortunately, Raymond, the best Internet option for you – NHL Center Ice Online – isn’t currently available in China. (It is, however, located somewhere called the Northern Mariana Islands, which answers the question, “Where is Gary Bettman’s winter vacation home?”)
If either of you happen to have a chunk of change burning a hole in your wallet in the near future, the next-best alternative is a satellite dish package (If this is banned by Chinese authorities, forgive my ignorance).
But both of you can watch highlights of games on the best highlight recap Internet destination I know: thehockeynews.tv.
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