Thursday, April 24th, 2014

NHL Notes

11

NHL items that have caught my eye over the past few weeks:

1) I can’t take the most recent agreement to sell the Phoenix Coyotes very seriously. The sticky part doesn’t seem to have gotten any less sticky – the city of Glendale has to pony up significant cash. Even if they are willing – and surely they are tired of the circus and the money pit – the Goldwater Institute is still around waiting for a deal so they can toss in a monkeywrench and try to kibosh it.

If there is some positive news it is in the rumor that the NHL cut the price for the team from $170 MM to $140 MM. That’s a step forward. On the other hand, there was very little real news at the media conference so it can be interpreted as applying pressure on the city. The league is out of time. They need a decision now.

This can’t go on.

2) Speaking of Phoenix, how happy is Gary about the Phoenix playoff run? Or the New Jersey run? Two of the league basket cases enjoying a financial day in the sun? Add the fact that the Rangers and Kings are still alive… These playoffs are working out exactly the way Gary would have chosen. Conspiracy theorists, fill your boots.

3) And about these four teams… Is it a coincidence that they all play the same ugly style? Remember being a kid and wondering why a team didn’t stack three guys in the crease and cover every inch of the net? We were just ahead of our time.

4) I wonder how much the Raffi Torres decision to appeal his suspension was driven by the NHLPA and their basic dissatisfaction with the discipline system. Appealing to Gary Bettman would seem to be a lost cause simply because nobody believes that he wasn’t aware of the Shanahan suspension before it was announced. Lost cause or not, the appeal sticks Gary on the spot.

He may decide to do the right thing and reduce the length of the suspension if only to take the wind out of the NHLPA sails on the issue. “See, there is a real appeal process!” On the other hand, that leaves the wind blowing at Shanahan twisting.

5) Poor David Poile. In a perfect world, the Preds would be marching towards the SCF, accumulating cash to sign Weber, Suter and Radulov. Now? Suter still looks like he is bailing, Weber is worth even more money and Poile may not even want to sign Radulov. Radulov will get a fat contract offer from the KHL. Does Nashville want to try to top it for a guy who was out partying to the wee hours on the eve of the most important game of the year?

David Poile went all in and the river card delivered up a busted flush. What now?

6) I really like the choice of Marc Bergevin for the Montreal GM job even though he is inexperienced. He’s smart and personable and he can afford to surround himself with experience. Serge Savard is still around.

Besides, we can all use the laughs.

7) Kudos to Frances Aquilini for doing the obviously right thing. It looks like more of the same from the Canucks next year. Some fans won’t like that because they judge the year and the team based on a short series. I’m delighted because I think the way to win is to a) become a contender and stay in contention, b) wait until the hockey gods decide to let randomness favour the Canucks for a change.

It isn’t flashy, but it’s the right process. And it means about 50 wins again next year.

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Comments

11 Responses to “NHL Notes”
  1. ColinM says:

    Given that the City of Glendale has been happy to pony up $25 million to keep the Coyotes around the past 2 seasons I’m sure they’ll have no trouble coming up with the $17 million or so for each of the next 5 or 6 seasons. Afterall, what city needs silly things like police officers or firetrucks when when they have an NHL team. Personally I thought the real reason for the press conference was to help sell playoff tickets over the next 4 weeks. The only thing worse than having the coyotes relocate after winning the cup would have them win the cup in front of 5000 fans.

    As far as New Jersey goes, I’m sure things will work out fine. They have a great rink and a good fanbase. The bankruptcy will likely play out a lot like the 2003 Ottawa Senators bankruptcy where the owner gets the boot but the team stays.

    • Tom says:

      Maybe it was about playoff tickets, but so far they seem to be selling them all despite the uncertain state of the franchise.

      I think this is what they would have been saying a week after the season if the Coyotes had missed the playoffs. Or right after the team was eliminated. They don’t want the political debate to distract from the Coyote run. But they also don’t want to own the team in Phoenix next year and they are running out of time to relocate the franchise.

      Part of me agrees with you about the Devils, but the money man among the owners backed out. He paid something like $25 MM to get rid of his share of the team. The Sen’s problem was debt. Otherwise, they always had a positive cash flow. I’m not sure the same can be said for the Devils these days, although their local TV contract is supposed to be pretty good. They only pulled in $700,000 a game in 2010-11 in ticket revenue. That’s about 65% of what Ottawa brought in last year.

  2. Roberto says:

    The Vancouver media never ceases to amaze me at their unwillingness to just take Gillis at his word. He said he would meet with the owners in a week to discuss the season, and that the reason for the delay was to allow feelings to subside so that the discussions would not be made emotionally. He said not to read anything more into it than that.

    Of course, the writers and talking heads ignored this, almost to a man, and instead assumed that Vigneault’s not meeting with the media was a very telling sign, and that one week in May was far too much time to take off when so many decisions had to be made, and so Gillis’ and/or Vigneault’s jobs must be on the line, and it must be Aqulini demanding it/them, and, and, and… All this despite the fact that the NHL still has a month of playoffs ahead, and the draft is even farther off and free agency even farther off than that.

    There is so much more they could talk about than manufacturing back room intrigue. It’s just nonsensical.

    • Tom says:

      The Vancouver media never ceases to amaze me at their unwillingness to just take Gillis at his word.

      To be fair, hockey writers are frequently misled by NHL GMs. In fact, it could be that the entire circus was cooked up by Gillis and Vigneault. That’s a reasonable explanation for Vigneault’s absence at the post defeat presser. Had he been there, both Gillis and Vigneault would have to answer questions about AV’s status with every word being parsed in the days that followed.

      Instead they set off a debate in the media which, in a way, was fine for the organization. Even those who called for Vigneault’s head had to concede a terrific record and list the team accomplishments under Gillis and AV. Everyone who wrote about it – and who didn’t? – either praised the results, along with MG and AV, pooh-poohing the idea of firing the coach or they looked stupid listing the results and finding a silly reason to fire someone despite those results.

      Considering how the season ended, that hasn’t been bad press for the Canucks at all.

      • Roberto says:

        I’ll give you that most GM’s lie, but I’ve seen no evidence that Gillis has lied. He has refused to give information, but that is not the same thing at all.

        Anybody else been watching the playoffs? The Kings are on one serious roll. They kind of remind of the 94 Canucks, only with far more talent. The Canucks lost to a GOOD team that came together at the perfect time, playing just about as well as they possibly can at every position and in every situation. No shame in that, even if it sucks for us fans.

  3. Joe Alphonse says:

    Will we ever win in Vancouver? We have had good enough teams to win the Stanley Cup with the Naslund lead teams and now the Sedin squad however we are held hostage by stubberness it seems that prevent us from ever crossing that barrier of becoming champions. During the Naslund era Brian Burke would not acknowled the face we needed a goalie. Thank god he is in Toronto now or we might still be watching Canuck games with Cloutier still in our net, just to prove he made the right trade. Then his stubborness got in the way of us signing RJ Umberger, because Mr. Burke felt Kessler was going to be a better player. As a result RJ sat out a whole hockey season to get away from Burke. Now we have a GM that believes AV is his man just as Burke believed Cloutier was his man. As a regular season coach I believe AV is the right man, everyone just keep circling, lets all have harmony approach is not suitable for playoff hockey. We stand defeated at the conclusion of every playoff season only to realize we have been out muscled again from another playoff and the conclusion is the NHL front office is going to take care of goonery next year so our new world everybody get along harmonized approach to the game will finally get a championship. The only hope we have is if AV moves on, I hear the but he is the best we ever had! Even a fire extinguisher could have a winning record with this team, its not the coaching AV was just lucky to land on a team with so much talent. Any descent coach would of won at least one championship with this team. Its time to acknowledge this shake hands with AV and move on.

    • Tom says:

      Will we ever win in Vancouver? We have had good enough teams to win the Stanley Cup with the Naslund lead teams and now the Sedin squad however we are held hostage by stubberness it seems that prevent us from ever crossing that barrier of becoming champions.

      Stubborness has nothing to do with it in my opinion. The Canucks will probably eventually win – it depends on how long the league survives, I guess. But there are no guarantees and there is no way to change the odds.

      You are looking for a reason the Canucks have not won when really, there is no reason. Most years they have had zero chance because most years, they had incompetent management and lousy players. They did have a chance under Quinn, under Burke and now under Gillis. But even in their best year they never had better than a 20% or so chance.

      That has nothing to do with hockey – that’s math. The playoff structure means that the very best team will fail far more often than they will succeed. The probabilities for a contender are akin to getting one roll of the dice and making a seven. It might be more likely than rolling any other number, but you certainly would not be surprised if another number came up. You would expect to lose.

      Maybe the real problem is that your expectations are out of whack if you start any season or playoff thinking the team will win. I’ve been watching hockey for more than 50 years and neither the Wings (my original favourite team) or the Canucks ever won a Cup while I was a fan. Over the years, my chances to cheer for a winner went from one in six to one in 30. Many fans attaching themselves to a team today will never see a winner over their lifetimes.

      That’s the way it goes. If that idea is too frustrating for you, sports might not be the best hobby.

    • beingbobbyorr says:

      Tom is quite right. The Canucks have been in existence for 42 years, but it’s only been in the last ~22 that you’ve had good management. Unfortunately, that ~22 years of good management also coincided with the increase in free agency, a larger # of franchises in the league, and now a CBA that actively works to disperse talent. Sucks to be you.

      But, does it, really (suck to be you) with 3 finals appearances, two of which thrillingly went the distance? Take a look at some of your contemporaries:

      You could be Los Angeles or St. Louis with one 5-game final and zero finals*, respectively. Those two teams have

      – 3 extra years on VAN
      – failed to win just as much
      – gone through enormous swaths of time with poor management** (due to indifferent, or actively-ignorant, owners)
      – took decades to learn the value of the draft
      – have the same travel-fatigue problems as VAN
      – have had the extra difficulty of trying to ween their communities onto hockey (vs. VAN’s ready-made fan base)

      Wouldn’t it be nice to have been the Philadelphia Flyers? Sure, but even with the excellent management they’ve had for virtually their entire 45 year existence (due to one single owner, Ed Snider, who cares deeply about winning), they have only won a pair of Cups during a brief window where all the stars aligned:

      – they stumbled into Bernie Parent’s Nova-like nexus-of-perfection
      – they “got to market early” when the league was half the size it is now
      – they knew the value of the draft while most other expansion teams*** were trading 1st-round picks for minor leaguers
      – they lucked into the other elite teams’ misfortune:
      ——– Montreal lost Dryden while he finished law school & the Beliveau/H Richard era was transitioning into the Lafleaur/Gainey era
      ——– the Blackhawks got old & lost Hull to the WHA
      ——– the Bruins lost talent to the WHA & Orr’s knees got considerably worse

      Luck, timing and (the MoneyPuck crowd’s) ‘randomness’ matter more than we care to admit.

      * It’s absurd to count the Blues’ ’68, ’69, and ’70 SC finals appearances, given the divisional & playoff formats of that era.

      ** Lombardi is the FIRST grade-A GM in LAK history (dis-ir-regardless of near-future outcomes). Quote me.

      *** the Islanders were the only others to learn it from day 1

  4. Kirk says:

    Can you help me out?

    Tomorrow is draft day, a lot of people on the Internet and chatting it up, etc. I’m looking to get the most exposure possible for my hope…………………………like the Sabres that killed the Slug logo, to kill the Whale. Please sign my petition and post on your site. Please post my Logo concept and Jersey Concepts. My Logo is original, you can see my sketches scanned.

    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/canucksnotwhales/

    http://canucksnotwhales.blogspot.ca/

    Thanks,

    Kirk

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