Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins - along with the New York Islanders - will compete in the Metropolitan Division next season. (Getty Images)
This is the latest in a continuing series of THN mailbags. You ask, I answer. If I ever have to explain this in more detail, I may choose a peaceful mountain life free of the electronic world instead. But since you’re doing so well right now, let’s get to the questions:
Hey Adam! I can't help but think of how the deal between Jaromir Jagr and the Devils is nothing but win-win. It seems that Jagr is chasing a championship, and it also seems doubtful the Devils will make the playoffs.
To me it looks like Lou Lamoriello's team will benefit by learning from an experienced great, then trade him for a decent return to a Stanley Cup contender near the trade deadline. Meanwhile, Jagr gets to help a team and get traded to a contender for his chance. Is this what happened last year with Jagr and the Stars? What are your thoughts on this? Thanks!
Mike Perri, Livonia, Mich.
I think you’re going to look mighty prescient at the end of this coming season. Although it’s never a wise idea to count out any team put together by Lamoriello, most people I speak with don’t believe the Devils have much of a shot at making the playoffs. So yes, he’ll likely finish the season with another franchise in hope of winning the third Stanley Cup of his first ballot Hockey Hall of Fame career.
Was this the plan the Stars had for Jagr last year? I doubt it. They needed (and still need) to make the post-season in the worst way, and Jagr was supposed to be a key to that happening. However, the situation in New Jersey is different; even after the arrival of fellow new Devil Cory Schneider, the 41-year-old Jagr can’t be considered the guy who can carry help them avoid missing the playoffs two straight seasons for the first time since 1985-87 (and also the first time since Lamoriello joined the organization).
Ummmmmm…Metropolitan Division? Really?
Scott Brofman, Los Angeles
Sadly, really. I don’t know of one person who thinks the NHL’s choice to name one of its newly rejigged divisions as if it were a bar in Ragtime was a good one, but here we are.
The only upside to this news is that the league has guaranteed this divisional breakdown for only three years. By the end of that period, there is likely to be expansion to Quebec City and Southern Ontario – and hopefully, enough jokes about the Metropolitan Division name to force the league to drop it into the dustbin of history. It’s not as bad a decision as Cooperalls, but it’s close.
Do you think that it was good of Ilya Kovalchuk to go back to Russia and do you think a lot more Russians will try to do this? If so, would that mean that more North American hockey players will get jobs?
Troy Bird, Winnipeg
In one sense, you can’t fault any player for choosing a situation that is beneficial to his family; Kovalchuk’s return to his native homeland certainly qualifies in that regard.
My problem with him was his decision to wait as long as he did before informing the Devils he was leaving. If he had announced he was leaving as soon as New Jersey’s regular season games had ended, perhaps Lou Lamoriello chooses to forfeit the Devils’ 2013 first round pick and hangs on to their 2014 first-rounder. As it stands now, New Jersey could finish last and have to surrender the top pick in next summer’s draft. That’s on Kovalchuk.
Also on him are the Devils’ moves in free agency. If Kovalchuk didn’t wait until six days into the unrestricted free agency period, could Lamoriello have gone a different route with the players he wanted to pursue? I’d say yes.
In the end, as it is with a lot of things in life, it’s not necessarily what you do that matters; it’s how you do it. Embracing his homeland is not a character flaw for Kovalchuk, but you can make the argument his awful timing absolutely is.
Adam, has the NHL ever considered occasionally playing other national anthems (Russian, Sweden, Finland, etc.) in addition to the American and Canadian anthems prior to games? Can you imagine how jacked up Zdeno Chara or Tuukka Rask would feel as they heard their own anthem before a game? Would also bring that whole world dynamic that the NHL and NFL are always talking about.
Joe Haley, Rowley, Mass.
No, to my knowledge there has been no movement in NHL circles to add non-North-American national anthems. And it’s perfectly understandable why: first of all, games are long enough as it is, so why would you add another four or five minutes to it – and that’s for every additional anthem played – to hear a song the grand majority of people in the arena can’t understand? And how many anthems would you want to play? One for each nationality represented on an NHL roster? It’s simply not practically possible.
Secondly, if you think an anthem would provide additional motivation for European players during the regular season, I don’t think you’re appreciating them enough as professionals paid handsomely to play their best each night. International play is a different animal, but these guys aren’t a bunch of nationalistic Pavlov’s Dogs.
Lastly, the NHL is a North American league. If the league ever expands into Europe, it would make sense to play other anthems. But as things currently stand, it’s not going to happen.
Ask Adam appears Fridays on THN.com. Ask your question on our submission page. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Adam on Twitter at @ProteauType.