Lightning in a bottle
Martin St-Louis and Vinny Lecavalier will be leading a completely different team than the one that finished last in the NHL in 2007-08. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
Lightning in a bottle
We’re about a month away from the kickoff of NHL training camp season – and I’m totally stoked, because in less than two months, we’ll be as far away from watching and commenting on wretched, pointless pre-season hockey than at any other point in the year.
Along those same lines: I’m warning you here and now – under no circumstances will I answer any reader question that inquires as to the importance of anything that happens in a pre-season game. Unless it involves a major injury, not-unattractive female streaker, or Adam Proteau Tribute Night (celebrating paleness and cynicism throughout the world), there is no significance to anything that goes on before the real season begins.
I need your advice to help me sleep at night now. I’m quitting smoking and the patch makes you have seriously vivid dreams.
Last night I had this nightmare that Glen Sather traded Henrik Lundqvist for an 18-year-old, going-nowhere European goalie and told me it was because he’s been addicted to some Arabian alcohol of some kind and it would be best for the team.
And I had this huge argument with him about everything I could throw at him from Eric Lindros, to Bobby Holik, to Mike Richter’s 5-hole, to letting Jaromir Jagr walk (though it was needed to be done, considering his cost compared to season numbers).
So I was wondering, when do you see Sather’s time on the Rangers coming to an end? Any ideas when we’ll be free?
Bill Carroll, Shelton, Conn.
First of all, you’ve got to be a bit more specific – was it Sather who was hooked on the Arabian sauce, or Lundqvist? I know who I’d prefer it to be, but journalism demands confirmation from the source.
Sather turns 65 on Sept. 2, but has the cockiness of a man one-third his age, so there’s no reason to expect him to leave of his own volition in the near future.
Cablevision (the massive corporate conglomerate that owns the franchise) has been rumored to be interested in selling off part or all of its sports holdings, but even then, the end result may be a new owner (James Dolan) who looks a lot like the old owner (James Dolan, representing Cablevision).
That old/potentially new owner has been a big Sather fan, despite the fact the Blueshirts have won just 11 playoff games – and four of those came against Atlanta! – since he became the team’s president and GM in 2000.
In sum…um, good luck with the whole “quitting smoking” thing.
After seeing all the Tampa Bay Lightning’s action during the off-season, do you think they are setting themselves up for a Philly-like campaign, or do you think they are building up their team the wrong way and may not improve that much?
To me it looks like a strange mix of too much and not enough experience, making it hard for guys to find their place on the team.
Marc Paquet, Portland, Maine
I share your suspicions about the Bolts – I don’t know anyone who doesn’t work for the Lightning who sees that defense corps as anything but a huge question mark – however, I’m willing to give the team’s new direction a chance before whipping out my carving knives.
Undoubtedly, Tampa Bay will be a better team than it was last year and at the very least should challenge for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
They don’t have the organizational depth that allowed the Flyers to make such a complete, competitive about-face, but if management continues to make moves through the season, they very well could challenge the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes for top spot in the Southeast Division.
Dear Adam (big fan by the way),
What do you think of the Detroit Red Wings’ chances of being the first team to repeat in 11 years? Also, what do you think the chances are of Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith or Derek Meech actually challenging Andreas Lilja for the sixth defenseman spot, or that Ville Leino challenges for a spot?
And finally, do you think Jimmy Howard has a legitimate chance of beating Ty Conklin for the backup goaltender spot?
Prashanth Iyer, Matthews, N.C.
Considering Lilja just re-signed with Detroit for the next two seasons, I doubt any one of the four young blueliners you mentioned will unseat him right away. More likely, they’ll get their chance to make an impact in the usual manner – i.e., when an injury to an established NHLer opens up a roster spot.
Same goes for Leino, a highly-touted player who nonetheless will have to prove he can adapt to the North American game, quite possibly by starting out in the American League.
Howard’s stock has fallen since the Wings drafted him in 2003; Conklin’s signing is strong evidence of that. He’s still just 24, though, which gives him a couple more years to either regain the confidence of Detroit’s management, or try and gain some other management team’s confidence.
Thanks for a great feature in the mailbag. My question is, what’s the current status of unrestricted free agent Yanic Perreault? He's a great, solid player, one who, while dropping significantly in the offensive department last year, still played in the All-Star Game two years ago.
Is there any news about teams that are interested in him?
Jake Murad, Chicago
Like a lot of veteran NHLers past the age of 35, Perreault (now 37 years old) hasn’t been overwhelmed with offers from teams.
My guess is he finds gainful employment somewhere, although likely not until much closer to training camp, or early in the regular season, when an injury or a team’s obvious strategic deficiency in the faceoff department makes him a hot commodity.
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