Norris, Canes, Balsillie and Bettman
Mike Green had a solid regular season notching 31 goals and 73 points in 68 games, but faltered in the playoffs with lacklustre play and only a single goal. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Norris, Canes, Balsillie and Bettman
Well, wasn’t that a fine pair of Game 7s Thursday night? It’s small consolation if you’re a Bruins or Ducks fan, but those two contests were as thrilling as any in the NHL’s 2009 playoffs – and when a true competitor like Boston’s Tim Thomas is smiling and congratulating Hurricanes players in the post-game on-ice handshake, he shows fans of all vanquished teams how to accept defeat with class.
Onto the mailbag:
Who would you give the most credit to in the Canes’ upset of the Bruins? Is it Paul Maurice for stepping in and lighting the fire for the Canes; is it Cam Ward for shutting down some of the best offenses in the league; or is it Scott Walker for getting underneath the Bruins skin, while also stepping up to the first line with Eric Staal?
Is it all of the above? The majority of people I have listened to say it’s Ward and while he did have some big saves, I think these people are failing to realize that Boston wasn't out-shooting the Canes that often, or putting as much pressure as the Canes put on them. Thanks.
Marc Paquet, Portland, ME
You’re going to have to lump me in with the majority, because I think Ward is the main reason why Carolina is in the Eastern Conference final.
You can’t whittle down his influence on the Bruins series by pointing to a lack of shots, mainly because a great goalie – in addition to stopping pucks – also allows his teammates the confidence to push the puck into the opposition’s zone without fear they’re going to get burned on a turnover.
That’s precisely what Ward’s stupendous play throughout this post-season has given to Staal, Walker and Maurice, as well as the rest of the Canes. They’d have put far less offensive pressure on Tim Thomas and the Bruins if they were concerned about Ward’s ability to cover up for their mistakes.
What has Jim Balsillie done "the wrong way" according to Gary Bettman and Bill Daly?
Thomas Vidal-Lessard, Sherbrooke, Que.
In the eyes of the NHL commissioner and deputy commissioner, Balsillie has committed the cardinal sin of not acquiescing to the league’s dogmatic stance on a second team in southern Ontario.
They would have no qualms about welcoming him and his money into the fold if he followed their every directive – but because he has revealed himself to be an independent-minded soul with the financial wherewithal to back up his passion, he’s instead viewed as an amalgam of Dracula, Al Davis and that awful Octo-mom lunatic.
But what most irks the league is that Balsillie is now intent on challenging the NHL’s bylaws in court. Do you really think Bettman and Daly would be resorting to such aggressive rhetoric in their public statements – and have been, according to multiple reports, so angry behind the scenes – if they were completely confident they would win a legal showdown?
I think Mike Green should win the Norris Trophy because he's probably the best defenseman in the NHL. Plus he made the top-30 in scoring in the NHL. Do you think people will vote for Lidstrom just so he could win his seventh Norris?
Bradley Boivin, Val Caron, Ont.
I’m assuming you wrote this question without paying too much mind to Green’s showings in Washington’s second-round loss to Pittsburgh. Let’s just say Green should be happy the Norris is awarded for regular season play, because he wouldn’t have received any votes if his playoff performances were factored in.
I voted for Zdeno Chara first, Lidstrom second and Green third on my Norris ballot. My choice had nothing to do with reputation or previous honors; rather, it centered around which defenseman made the biggest impact in all aspects of his game. And to me, Chara showed he could affect the outcome of games in more manners than any other blueliner. Simple as that.
Just a comment on your open letter to Gary Bettman. I think it was brilliant, but I believe he will do what he probably does with all the other letters about bringing a team to Canada – unfortunately he will disregard it.
In addition, if Bettman is not careful, he is going to alienate Canadian hockey fans.
Jeffrey Hanson, Mississauga, Ont.
Trust me, that letter was not written with the expectation Bettman would listen and learn from it.
If there’s one thing the league has proven to excel at over the years, it’s the ability to ignore and/or eschew logical suggestions and the natural evolvement in the name of “tradition” and my personal favorite, “our game” (a term that aims to exclude outsider interest in the sport more than it serves as a family-themed comment), so I’m never surprised to see them stick stubbornly to their guns.
But wait – did you really mean to say Bettman is going to alienate Canadian fans? I think you’ve made an error in tenses, my friend. Just check out the sentiment of the gentleman who wrote the question below this one. (I got about 30 emails last week that were very similar in tone.)
Just wanted to hear your thoughts on an issue that has been bothering me for some time. Why is it that the NHL Brass (Bettman and Daly) continues to under-appreciate and neglect the Canadian hockey fan?
They are the lifeblood of the NHL, yet they are treated like second-class citizens. Under this regime, we have seen the swift exit of two teams from supportive communities, Quebec and Winnipeg. Yet, they continue to attempt to ram their product down the throats of the majority who do not want it.
I am sick of hearing Bettman say he is dedicated to making things work in the markets he's in. Newsflash Gary, they don't want hockey so give it up. Now don't get me wrong, there are thousands of outstanding fans in the southern U.S., however, not nearly enough to sustain a healthy fanbase.
It is about time that Gary and Bill give up the ghost and admit, GULP, they may have erred in their over-expansion. Let's relocate these struggling franchises back to where they belong and are appreciated.
Thanks for your time and keep up the great articles.
Joe Plante, Windsor, Ont.
Certainly, the optics of the Bettman era can be interpreted as anti-Canadian. I don’t believe that to be the case. I think Bettman and Daly serve at the pleasure of league owners who are perfectly content to let the two men take the public relations hit for them.
It’s easy to imagine relocating franchises back to Canada will be a cure for everything that ails them, but I don’t believe that either. If you want to rip the league for something, rip them for making us miss an entire season of hockey in order to push through a labor agreement that still has more holes in it than a year-long golf marathon.
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