Erik Cole had 22 goals and 51 points in 73 games with the Hurricanes this season. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Starting Monday, I’m off for a week on a Vision Quest, a find-myself-even-though-I-hadn’t-reported-myself-missing type holiday adventure, so my THN colleagues who aren’t vacationing will step in next Friday to deal with your inquiries.
But since you’re throwing so many great questions at me, I’m including the most questions of any mailbag column yet. I’m also including possibly the shortest answers of any mailbag yet, but that’s only so you don’t wind up with a 10,000-word document that requires extensive wrist therapy (insert inappropriate self-love themed joke here) to completely scroll through.
I have been a Los Angeles Kings fan ever since I was introduced to hockey. This past season we did horrible; the closest we got to the post-season was the smell of popcorn wafting from the Honda Center (although, I was happy to see the Ducks get bounced in the first round), we paid Michal Handzus $4-million dollars for 21 points and our five-goalie rotation did not exactly work out for the better (I know, I'm being critical).
Moreover, instead of staying to mentor youngsters like Jack Johnson, Peter Harrold and Drew Doughty, Rob Blake jumped ship and swam north to greener pastures in San Jose.
I realize there are a lot of bright spots for the coming years, but waiting to see how low down in the standings your team will finish is trash. Dean Lombardi said he would not throw big money into the free agent pond this summer. After the Handzus, Kyle Calder and Dan Cloutier mishaps, who could blame him?
However, do you see him going after anyone this off-season besides just bringing in Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene and Denis Gauthier?
Thanks for an awesome column,
Hank, Apple Valley, Calif.
As you noted, it’s hard to fault Lombardi for being somewhat reticent to hand over massive free agent contracts given his more recent experiences.
I think he and the Kings are going to stand pat – at least in the short term – and focus instead on re-signing restricted free agents Stoll and Patrick O’Sullivan to long-term contracts, while augmenting their young lineup with some short-term deals with veterans.
That doesn’t mean Lombardi will be content to stay quiet; many believe he and his abundance of cap space will swoop in and pick the bones of franchises that badly stumble early in the regular season.
But even if he can’t find a willing partner, there’s no doubt the talent he’s already amassed on the Kings bodes well for their future. As the poet laureate Axel Rose once said: just a little patience.
The NHL’s salary cap is going up. Revenue is up. But the economy is down. When are ticket prices going down?
What a fraud that is being perpetrated on the fan base.
Georg Simon, Glenside, Penn.
“When are ticket prices going down?” You made a funny.
Fraud? On the fan base? You don’t say. At least the fraud isn’t limited only to the NHL’s customers; it’s popular in the league’s boardrooms, too.
Love your column! What happens when a player’s contract is bought out in the off-season, then he signs with a new team?
If the buyout team still owes him, say $200,000 per year for the next two years, but he signs with a different team for, say $1 million per year, does he get paid by both teams, or does the new contract take his old team off the hook? How does that work?
Thanks man! Keep up the great work.
Peter Glanville, Calgary
Yes, the player would be paid by both teams. He would get an immediate salary from his new team and receive the remainder of his contract with his former team over the next couple years.
As a huge Carolina fan, I look at the Eric Cole trade and I can't decide what to think about it. Joni Pitkanen may be a good, puck-moving defenseman, but Cole was speedy, aggressive, and he could score.
What do you think about the deal? Also, who do you think will win the Southeast and why?
Matt Rodell, Toronto
For me, that trade falls into the category of “works for both sides”. Most GMs aren’t going to give up an asset for nothing, unless there are other factors at work (for example, a trade demand or salary cap limitations), so giving up a player of Cole’s caliber was the going rate for a 24-year-old blueliner whose best days are ahead of him.
Who do I like to win the Southeast? Washington. Although Jose Theodore gives me pause to reconsider.
I just want to start off by saying I love your column and look forward to it every week.
That being said, I have a question regarding Todd Bertuzzi. I have no doubt you know he is a new member of the Flames and I'm wondering, from an expert’s point of view, what do you expect from him next year?
Will he play on the first line with Jarome Iginla and Daymond Langkow or second line minutes? Overall was it a good move, in your opinion?
Brent Gee, Calgary
Honestly, I don’t know what you can expect from Bertuzzi anymore. He missed time because of a concussion – and isn’t that a delicious little slice of irony – last year in Anaheim and there are no guarantees he’ll return to the form that once made him one of the best scorers in the game.
I’d bet Mike Keenan gives him a look on the first line at some point next season, but only Bertuzzi’s efficiency will decide whether he stays there.
Was it a good move? I think you could make a good case either way. At least the money ($1.95 million for one year) they’re giving him won’t be an issue.
Will there be a World Cup of Hockey this year?
Collin Farren, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Nope. (Apologies for the brevity; I’m already at 1,000-plus words, and I’ve still got a couple questions to go.)
I won't spend too much time congratulating you for the quality of your posts (others do it dozens of times everyday), but I have to say it's always fun to see you bash the various teams in this league while answering these usually interesting questions.
I actually have two questions. First, when does the NHL usually release its schedule for the following season? I may want to cross the Atlantic Ocean this winter for 7-10 days of traveling somewhere between NYC, Boston, and more likely Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, etc., and I'd like to book my tickets as early as possible. If I remember well it's at some point in August, right?
The other question is about the Tampa Bay Lightning. You just keep hearing of them nearly everyday in the headlines with another free agent signing or another trade. Do you think that bringing old guys like Olaf Kolzig and Mark Recchi, or unproven ones like Ryan Malone can help turn this team around? Still, seeing Steve Stamkos and John Tavares on the same power play as Vincent Lecavalier could be pretty interesting in 2009-10.
Clément Le Flem, Paris, France
First of all, that’s a mighty cool name you’ve got there. Sounds like a James Bond character.
On to your questions: the NHL usually releases its schedule in mid-July. Some teams already have sent out pre-season schedules, so it won’t be long before you get to map out an agenda.
As for the Lightning, let’s just say they’re going to be one of the most intriguing teams to watch next year – and not just because Gary Roberts and Evgeny Artyukhin are their third-and-fourth-best defensemen right now.
The way the Bolts’ new ownership has brashly stormed into the league, there will be no shortage of observers interested in seeing how their blueprint for success pans out. I think they’ve got some hurdles still to clear before being considered a genuine Stanley Cup contender, but stranger things have happened than a group of underdogs finding a way to exceed expectations.
There have been so many articles about Detroit and their fantastic director of European scouting. Why does not any other team recruit (Director of European Scouting) Hakan Andersson? He would seem to be a logical signing, or is there some kind of gentleman’s agreement that you don't steal that kind of staff?
Leif Boman, Stockholm, Sweden
Gentleman’s agreement? Have you heard the names Brian Burke and Kevin Lowe lately?
I’m sure Andersson’s continuing tenure in Detroit has a lot to do with the fact the Ilitch family treats Red Wings management as well as any NHL team ownership treats theirs. For example, assistant GM Jim Nill is paid like a full-time GM and handles duties (e.g., the draft) that many GMs less secure than Ken Holland wouldn’t feel comfortable delegating.
In other words, the Wings’ personal touch is one of the things that makes that organization the class of the league.
Adam will return to answer your questions July 25. Check back next week as THN staffers tackle the mailbag.
Ask Adam appears Fridays in the summer only on The Hockey News.com. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.