AROUND THE NHL: WEEK ONE

Jason Gregor
October 12 2011 10:55AM

 

 

It was quite a first week in the NHL.

Winnipeg welcomed back the Jets and gave Gary Bettman a standing ovation, an agent went ballistic over a two-game suspension, Sidney Crosby didn't play, Jaromir Jagr returned, the Sabres, Leafs, Capitals, Flyers, Red Wings, Predators, Sharks and Oilers were undefeated, Don Cherry looked foolish, the Blue Jackets, Flames, and Jets went pointless, thankfully Lowetide didn't change his ways and a few players inched closer to some great achievements.

The best part about the Jets home opener is that it's over, and now we can concentrate on actual games. I'm very excited for Jets' fans, but the build up almost became too much. It was Jets, Jets, Jets everyday, and it seemed every person needed to marvel at the passion of Winnipeggers. Of course they were passionate, the fans were passionate before they left in 1996.

I did find it a bit strange how the guy they villified for years was given a hero's welcome upon his return to Winnipeg. Bettman finally made up for his mistake of letting the Jets leave without a fight fifteen years ago. He has learned from that mistake, which is why Phoenix still has a team for another six months, which is nice to see.

Welcome back Jets fans, but be prepared for a rough season. You might want to talk to some Oiler diehards on how to deal with losing, because unfortunately they've become too familiar with it for the past five seasons.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

  • I'm guessing most agree that Cherry was offside in his comments regarding Chris Nilan, Jim Thomson and Stu Grimson. The name calling was childish, and lumping Grimson in with the other two was completely inaccurate. I really wasn't surprised Cherry said what he said, because he's Cherry. That is his gig. He screwed up, and he felt the backlash for the next four of five days, but let's move on. I hope that Stu Grimson just moves on from it. Is he really going to contemplate suing the former Bruins' coach? Would anything come of it? What would it prove? That Don was out to lunch on this topic, I think most of us have already realized he was. There are much bigger issues to worry about.
     
  • I'm going to set October 30th as the line on when Crosby returns. Over or under, what do you think? I'll take over.
     
  • Eight teams have yet to lose a game, but which one will stay undefeated the longest? Will any of them match the record for most wins to start a season, 10, set by the Leafs in 1993/94? I don't see any of them going 10-0, but I'll pick the Flyers to go the longest. They have lots of home games coming up.
     
  • The Blue Jackets, Flames and Jets would really have to work hard to tie the 1943/44  Rangers' record of 11 consecutive losses to start a season. I think the Flames will go the longest, since Columbus hosts Colorado this week and the Jets' 3rd game of the year is in Phoenix. I can't see how the Karma Gods won't ensure they win in Phoenix on Saturday night.
     
  • Lowetide, the minute you conform for those who don't know you is the day your soul will die. Glad to see you are still writing great articles filled with the odd picture of a classy lady. Don't change.
     
  • Allan Walsh had quite the week. How many of you had heard of him until this week? He is an agent. He ripped the Capitals for having the gall to not start his client, Tomas Vokoun, for the season opener. Supposedly the Capitals gave Vokoun the impression when they signed him that he was going to be the starter. I guess Walsh forgot that training camp and preseason is a competition for playing time. Agents shouldn't moan publicly when their client doesn't get to play, because it makes both of them look like whiners. Then Walsh ranted and raved about another client, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, and his two-game suspension. How is highsticking a guy in the face, because he bumped you off the draw, not a suspension?

    Be better Mr. Walsh, be better. 

     
  • Like most years the early-season NHL leaderboard is filled with many names that won't be there at the end of the season. Of the current top-30 scorers in the league only five them were in the top-30 at the end of last season; Anze Kopitar, Daniel Sedin, Marty St.Louis, Eric Staal and Thomas Vanek. I saved the first week leaders and I'll see how many of them end the season in the top 30. I'll guess nine.
     
  • There will be a few personal milestones reached this season. Jarome Iginla is now 15 goals shy of 500. He is currently tied for 45 in career goals with Brian Bellows (485) and he'll pass Norm Ullman (490), Jean Ratelle (491) and Glenn Anderson (498) on his way to 500. He's also likely to pass Lanny MacDonald (500), Joe Mullen (502), Peter Bondra (503), Jean Beliveau (507), Gilbert Perrault (512) and Jeromy Roenick (513) this year. If Iginla can average 23 goals over the next five season he'll become the 18th player to score 600 goals. I think he gets there.
     
  • Iginla will be the last 500 goal man for a few seasons. Jason Arnott is next at 402, with Daniel Alfredsson at 391, Marian Hossa at 388 and Ilya Kovalchuk at 370. Arnott and Alfredsson won't play long enough to get to 500, so look for Kovalchuk to be the next player in the 500 club.
     
  • Jaromir Jagr picked up his 1,600th career point in the Flyers' season opener, and he needs 42 points to pass Joe Sakic (1,641) for 8th all-time. Jagr is currently 12th in goals with 646. He should pass Brendan Shanahan, 656, this year, and if he scores 23 goals he'll pass Luc Robitaille, 668, and sit 10th all-time.
     
  • Jagr can also become only the 12th player to register 1,000 career assists. He needs 46 helpers to join an elite group. Wayne Gretzky is first with 1,963, followed by Ron Francis (1,249), Mark Messier (1,193), Ray Bourque (1,169), Paul Coffey (1,135), Adam Oates (1,079), Steve Yzerman (1,063), Gordie Howe (1,049), Marcel Dionne (1,040), Mario Lemieux (1,033) and Joe Sakic (1,016).
     
  • Teemu Selanne, 637, trails Jagr by nine goals. Selanne will pass Dave Andreychuk, 640, and Shanahan this year. Who do you think finishes the season with more career goals, Jagr or Selanne? I'll take the Finnish Flash.
     
  • Selanne is tied for 5th in career PP goals with Mario Lemieux at 236. He trails Shanahan (237), Robitaille (247), Brett Hull (265) and Andreychuk (274). He'll be 3rd after this season.
     
  • Late last season Joe Thornton became the 78th player to reach 1,000 points. He finished the year with 1,001. No one will be getting there this year. Ray Whitney is the active leader at 927. If he scores 39 points he will pass "The Rocket", Maurice Richard (965) and move into 83rd place all-time. Not bad for a guy the Oilers put on waivers in 1997.
     
  • If Whitney plays another year after this he could reach 1,000. Arnott has 907 points, but based on his past few seasons, he'll need to play this year plus two more to get into quadruple digits.
     
  • If you care about PIMs. Matt Cooke is ten away from 1,000, Danile Carcillo needs 14 and Cory Sarich is 27 shy. Cooke will become the 356th player to spend 1,000 minutes in the sin bin/dressing room.  

Final note: For those wondering, the Ice Women of the Week runs on Fridays not Wednesday anymore. Just so you don't freak out.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#51 Tyler
October 12 2011, 05:50PM
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@Jason Gregor

You're right, I can't see Thomson and Nilan getting anywhere, given what they've said. There's a defence of "fair comment" that can apply and the test, IIRC, is whether a reasonable person could reasonably hold the opinion that Cherry expressed, given the known facts. I think it's easily fair comment.

Grimson's in a bit of a different position but I don't think it's much better. Again, I think a reasonable person could find it hypocritical to make a really good living from fighting and then turn around and say that there are a bunch of logical reasons to ban it.

So, in short, I don't think that they have much of a case. And I think Grimson looks sort of foolish (Nilan and Thomson moreso, although they aren't lawyers and shouldn't necessarily know better) walking around and talking about the full gamut of legal options being available.

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#52 Romulus' Apotheosis
October 12 2011, 06:03PM
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@Tyler

I think your right that the case is headed nowhere (if it goes forward at all).

but, I'm curious about your interpretation of what Grimson said. He said:

"All three of these incidents are individual. Call them random. It’s a coincidence all three were enforcers. There are many more logical reasons against fighting that people could bring up."

The key question seems to be whether he endorses banning fighting (I don't know if he does).

If he does, than he's saying: "I don't think fighting should be a part of hockey, but I don't think this is the reason why" Or the ends are right but the means are wrong.

If he doesn't, or is ambivalent about it, than he's saying: "Regardless of whether there should be fighting or not, it is stupid to discuss it on these terms; there are more logical arguments out there, than knee-jerk stuff. If we are going to have this conversation we should have it on those terms, not these ones"

Either way, all he is saying is this is not the issue to pull out your fighting-in-nhl-jump-suit for. I'm not so sure that makes him look foolish.

(does that make sense?)

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#53 Romulus' Apotheosis
October 12 2011, 06:07PM
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@Romulus' Apotheosis

On the other hand threatening legal action makes him look petulant, but i guess if you fight with an irritable old man it's hard to come out looking good

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#54 Drew - Team no more tanking
October 12 2011, 06:32PM
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@Jason Gregor

Because I feel like giving you a hard time I will put it out there:

Just because Joe Thornton ended the year with 1,001 pts dooesn't mean he retired. He is still the active leader.

Ba-zinga!

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#55 Bucknuck
October 12 2011, 07:42PM
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I remember being completely stunned when they put Whitney on Waivers that year. He was the oilers best players on a lot of nights. I couldn't believe they let him go down for nothing. Those days were hard ones to understand the Oilers management. I was consistently bewildered. LIke letting Miro Satan go for a couple of nobodies, and trading Guerin for Carter. Some of it was money related, I remember, but Whitney... on waivers? come on...

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#56 D
October 12 2011, 09:05PM
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The Oil waiving Ray Whitney is one of those moves that makes the blood boil. I sometimes wonder how many additional playoff rounds the Oil might have won in that era had they kept Whitney and Satan.

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#57 dawgbone
October 12 2011, 09:20PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

I remember being completely stunned when they put Whitney on Waivers that year. He was the oilers best players on a lot of nights. I couldn't believe they let him go down for nothing. Those days were hard ones to understand the Oilers management. I was consistently bewildered. LIke letting Miro Satan go for a couple of nobodies, and trading Guerin for Carter. Some of it was money related, I remember, but Whitney... on waivers? come on...

That was Guerin for Carter a 2nd and the option to swap 1st round draft picks, which ended up netting the Oilers Ales Hemsky (Oilers moved from 19th to 13th).

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#58 Mason Storm
October 12 2011, 09:21PM
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@Drew - Team no more tanking

Gregor means Whitney is the active leader of players without 1000 points.

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#59 book¡e
October 12 2011, 09:25PM
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@Bucknuck

Ron Low refused to play him. I think Sather liked him but was willing to give into his coach. Lowe did the same to a few other guys who were less notable.

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#60 Bucknuck
October 12 2011, 10:14PM
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dawgbone wrote:

That was Guerin for Carter a 2nd and the option to swap 1st round draft picks, which ended up netting the Oilers Ales Hemsky (Oilers moved from 19th to 13th).

well that makes me feel better about that trade then...

But I'm still pissed about Whitney!

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#61 Dog Train
October 12 2011, 10:44PM
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It's going to be a long season for the Jets. At least they will be supported this season though.

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#62 RKD
October 12 2011, 10:52PM
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Too bad Jagr will have a gap in his NHL points. In his three seasons in the KHL, he had point totals of 48, 50, and 62. Since I don't know if any statistician out there has calculated point translation from KHL to NHL (like that's even possible). Jagr should have been at 1759, 1760 points if you include this season.

Could he have tied or surpassed Mark Messier's 1887 points? Probably not, seeing as 1760 would still put him 127 points short at age 39. I guess we'll never know.

Way too early but Sidney Crosby already sits at 572 points at age 24.

Some projections 10 seasons of 100 points totals 1572 points at age 34. 6 seasons after at 50 points puts him at 1872. Very close to Messier, assuming Sidney can stay healthy and consistently productive until age 40. No one can catch Gretzky. Crosby would need like 10 seasons of 150 points, still puts him at 2072 points, still over 800 points short of Gretzky. Crosby would need 6 more seasons of 131 points to pass Wayne by 1 point.

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#63 Jerk Store
October 13 2011, 01:18AM
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RKD wrote:

Too bad Jagr will have a gap in his NHL points. In his three seasons in the KHL, he had point totals of 48, 50, and 62. Since I don't know if any statistician out there has calculated point translation from KHL to NHL (like that's even possible). Jagr should have been at 1759, 1760 points if you include this season.

Could he have tied or surpassed Mark Messier's 1887 points? Probably not, seeing as 1760 would still put him 127 points short at age 39. I guess we'll never know.

Way too early but Sidney Crosby already sits at 572 points at age 24.

Some projections 10 seasons of 100 points totals 1572 points at age 34. 6 seasons after at 50 points puts him at 1872. Very close to Messier, assuming Sidney can stay healthy and consistently productive until age 40. No one can catch Gretzky. Crosby would need like 10 seasons of 150 points, still puts him at 2072 points, still over 800 points short of Gretzky. Crosby would need 6 more seasons of 131 points to pass Wayne by 1 point.

The other factor you always have to look at is the "quality" of points now, compared to the early - mid 80's. The Oilers went 5 years in a row scoring 400 or more goals in a season when Gretz was putting up those crazy numbers. During Crosby's most prolific scoring seasons the Pens scored at the most 267 goals, typically around 240. Some of that can be attributed to the Oilers talent then, but overall scores were much higher in the league and points were easier to come by.

I am the biggest Gretzky / Oiler fan in the world and Gretzky dominated by such a huge margin in points that he was and will continue to be considered the best forward of all time (sorry, Orr was #1 player). However, if you look at some of the goals that were scored against brutal D-zone coverage and terrible goalies with little deer hair pads and trappers the size of a coffee cup, you have to give Sid props for what he did and hopefully will continue to do in today's game. A point today is worth a helluva lot more than a point 25 years ago.

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#64 stevezie
October 13 2011, 03:16AM
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"Way too early but Sidney Crosby already sits at 572 points at age 24." He's only on pace for 1144 points by the age of 48, which is pretty good, but after all this hype I was expecting a little more.

I can't believe Ray Whitney is about to score 1000 points. That's a lot of points, I've looked it up twice and I still don't believe it. That's more than Naslund, Nolan, Bondra...

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#65 ed in mada
October 13 2011, 03:58AM
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@Bucknuck

Another factor in the Guerin move was that he was in the last year of his contract and it was unlikely the Oil could re-sign him. Those were the days of 65cent C$ and no cap. They got some value for him by doing a deal before the inevitable contract dispute surfaced.

I always thought cutting Whitney loose was motivated by Sather's dislike of undersized players.

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#66 the-wolf
October 13 2011, 07:54AM
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dawgbone wrote:

It's hypocrtical to condemn something you used to believe in but no longer do?

And for the record, all of these guys are talking about the staged goon fights because they are the ones who do most of the fighting and therefore suffered more from the effects of it.

It's hypocritical to support it because you're making money from it and then condemn it when you're not.

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#67 Bleak Winter
October 13 2011, 10:17AM
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stevezie wrote:

"Way too early but Sidney Crosby already sits at 572 points at age 24." He's only on pace for 1144 points by the age of 48, which is pretty good, but after all this hype I was expecting a little more.

I can't believe Ray Whitney is about to score 1000 points. That's a lot of points, I've looked it up twice and I still don't believe it. That's more than Naslund, Nolan, Bondra...

Let's see... double the age since birth... double the point total, carry the one...

Hey, RNH is only on pace for 2 goals by the time he's 36... he's a little over-hyped too then. We should trade him for a pick before other teams catch on.

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