Rick Nash, who had the game-winning shootout goal against the Maple Leafs Thursday night, could have a new center teammate after the March 4 trade deadline. (Photo by Dave Abel/Getty Images)
Some Friday afternoon musings to get you ready for the weekend:
It was declared by this scribbler and several others that Thursday night’s shootout between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets was the worst of all-time.
First, it appeared as though Jason Williams of the Blue Jackets fanned on his attempt before scoring the first goal of the shootout, then Lee Stempniak of the Maple Leafs ended the proceedings by dumping the puck into the corner…of the rink, not the net.
But after the game, Williams said his alleged fanned attempt was actually a set play that he has tried a number of times in practice. He might have been having everyone on, but he certainly looked sincere as he talked about it.
“He told the guys on the bench he was going to try it,” said Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock.
In fact, Williams said he learned the move when he was 14 years old at hockey school in London, Ont., from a guy by the name of Keli Corpse, a former Ontario League player who was a draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens.
“I watched him do it a few times and I thought it was kind of a neat move and I kept it in my back pocket,” Williams said. “It hasn’t come out very much and I don’t think it will come out much again. For me, as a right-hand shot coming down on an angle, when you get around the hash-mark area, you want to fake the shot and as you fake the shot, you go over top of the puck to your forehand and just let it go to the middle. I’m glad it worked out because I probably would have got a lot of bad press if it didn’t.”
LOOKING FOR HELP
Still with the Blue Jackets, they’ve made no secret they’re looking for help down the middle as the trade deadline approaches. With R.J. Umberger, Manny Malhotra, Michael Peca and Jiri Novotny playing center, Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson would like to upgrade that spot.
The Blue Jackets would ideally like to get a No. 2 center and have the cap room to do it, but there won’t be many available at the deadline. They will probably settle for a solid No. 3 center so don’t be surprised if they make a serious pitch for Jeff Halpern of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who has one year left on his contract with a very reasonable cap hit of $2 million.
The Montreal Canadiens are in some kind of death spiral as of late and it couldn’t have helped that Guy Lafleur recently lashed out at the team, GM Bob Gainey and coach Guy Carbonneau, largely over Gainey’s decision to leave Alex Kovalev home for a two-game road trip.
Now if Lafleur were simply a former Canadiens legend on the outside looking in, his comments would have been fair. But the fact of the matter is Lafleur draws a salary from the Canadiens as a goodwill ambassador, along with the likes of Jean Beliveau, Yvan Cournoyer, Henri Richard and Rejean Houle.
Lafleur should not get a free pass here just because he is arguably the greatest player in the history of the franchise. At a time like this, the Canadiens have enough controversy to deal with without having it generated by one of their own employees.
The optics might not look great at the moment, but what the Canadiens should do is fire Lafleur immediately. It doesn’t look as though Lafleur is capable of showing any restraint, anyway, so why pay him to badmouth you?
HOWLING FOR COYOTES?
If it’s actually true there are people willing to put their own money into the disaster that has become the Phoenix Coyotes, it really does prove there are those out there who have more money than brains.
My experience tells me that millionaires and billionaires got to be millionaires and billionaires because they don’t make a regular habit of throwing away their money. That is what makes one rather suspicious concerning reports there are investors lined up to put their money into the Coyotes, a team that is bleeding money, has come to rely on the NHL for its financial survival and has an untenable lease in a non-hockey market.
Every investment banker worth his money clip has publicly said investing in the Coyotes, particularly during an economic downturn, would be a very, very bad idea. No names have surfaced yet, which might lead one to believe there really actually isn’t anyone out there who loves hockey enough to get involved in this mess.
Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesday and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.
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