October 14 News and Notes

Robert Cleave
October 14 2011 07:03PM

               

 

After a summer of sloth, our review of some of the recent events of note from around the league returns Nationwide. In this iteration of the round-up, the Flames snap out of it, the Oilers sleep through another night in St. Paul, and the Jets get a reality check in the Windy City.

Flames:

They aren't the worst team ever, huh? Following two sad efforts to open the year, Calgary had a smooth ride last night against a very thin Habs outfit, with the newly assembled trio of Bourque, Hagman and Stajan leading the way. I'm OK with that group, or more accurately I'm OK with them at least until Backlund and Morrison are ready to roll. Matt Stajan has plenty of flaws as a player, but given acceptable wingers he's more or less capable against bottom sixers, and last night's effort fit the profile. 

Speaking of Calgary's best prospect, Elliotte Freidman mentioned Backlund as potential bait to obtain Kyle Turris. Thankfully, Kent's already been on the case this morning to debunk that silliness. Turris is like any number of other highly drafted players in that the perception of his potential often outruns the reality for several seasons simply based on how high he was picked. Benoit Pouliot, anyone? In any case, Feaster would be nuts to ever countenance that sort of swap, and in fairness, I can't imagine him doing so.

 

Oilers:

So, in an even game, the Oilers managed one whole shot on goal during last night's third period versus the Wild. A Wild team that got outshot about 2-1 in their previous game. By Ottawa. Yikes. Transitive property stuff and past history in Minnesota noted, if anyone was under the impression that the Oil are going anywhere but the last 3-4 spots in the conference this year, disabuse yourself of it forthwith.

Of course, matters won't be aided if Ales Hemsky has been lost to another shoulder injury, but that prospect should have been factored into any expectations starting the year. Hemsky's obviously a solid player, so it's unfortunate from a competitive standpoint that he might be broken, but with the likely outcome of this season being what it is, it's probably time for him to be moved. The bad news for the Oilers is that his value has to be diminished at the moment, so Edmonton's best case would be to let him heal so that he's mostly healthy at the deadline.

 

                  

 

Jets:

Better, but not good enough. I can't imagine anyone sensible not expecting last night's result in Chicago, and the one item that stood out for me was that Claude Noel finally saw Mark Scheifele exposed for what he is. That is, not remotely ready for the NHL's deep waters. Joel Quennville has made his bones using Dave Bolland against the toughs while setting guys like Toews, Kane and Hossa loose versus the weak, and he didn't waver from that approach last night.

Scheifele faced a line centered by Toews or Kane about 70% of the time last night. In other words, he's definitely amongst the weak. As a result, his line was under siege over the first two periods, and Scheifele finished with a -7 Corsi in about 9 minutes at EV before spectating in the third.

I don't doubt the young man has skill, but it's a quantum leap to go from the NHL to a road game facing one of the favourites for the Cup, and he's not equipped with the skills required to bridge that chasm, or at least not yet. The pickle for the Jets is that they're so thin up front that Scheifele might still seem like a better option than whatever they have in the system, but succumbing to that temptation for the entire season is just asking for trouble. 

 

Canucks:

Ryan Kesler's a pretty valuable guy, apparently. Who knew, right? As the Selke winner has been cooling his heels, not to mention his other parts, the Dys have looked pedestrian to open the year. Last night's affair in Detroit didn't exactly break the mold, as Vancouver were badly out-chanced in a 2-0 loss. The Canucks gave up 19 scoring chances at EV last night in the second period alone. That's a game's worth and then some, with the Sedins getting smacked about in particular. I don't doubt that Vancouver will finish the year in first, but I'm really just trying to savour the moment ;-)

 P.S. I'd have mentioned the Leafs in this space, but they've been on vacation all week. Their turn will come, believe me.

Elsewhere: 

As with their finals opponents, the champs seem off their feed to start the year. Other than their trouncing of Tampa, the Bruins have been outplayed at EV through the first week, including a limp performance in Carolina the other night. I'm not surprised that the Bruins don't appear to be playing that well, since I never thought they were any hell other than Tim Thomas, but what I will be interested in is if they can maintain last year's 102.4 PDO. I know it's early days, but absent that sort of performance repeating itself, I'd bet the Bruins have a small slide this season.

There are several teams that pundits have declared as likely contenders for last overall, but having watched the Senators a few times, my sense is that race might be unwinnable for any of the league's other teams. I think I've hit upon the reason, in fact:

 

 
M. MICHALEK
D. ALFREDSSON
P. REGIN
C. GREENING
Z. SMITH
B. BUTLER
J. SPEZZA
S. DA COSTA
C. NEIL
N. FOLIGNO
M. ZIBANEJAD

 

 

Those 11 gents were the forwards dressed by Ottawa last night, and barring a sudden injection of ability to about 7 or 8 of them, that might be as bad a group of forwards to start a season as we've seen post-lockout, give or take the pre-Tavares Islanders. I'll make my prediction right now that Craig Anderson will have to post a .925 SV% or better just to get them out of last overall. I like Anderson, by the way, but unless Ottawa can schedule another 70-odd games against the Wild, that forward group is virtually unsupportable. Almost makes you wonder when Spezza will get his release, doesn't it?

 

                 

 

Business:

Matt Hulsizer isn't quite there yet, but it appears that he might be an owner in the NHL after all. The Chicago businessman and former darling of the desert is closing in on taking control of the rudderless Blues. St. Louis has been on the hunt for an owner for over a year, so Hulsizer's assumption of the team might give them a chance for some stability. They have a decent roster as well, which makes me think that Hulsizer will likely consider himself lucky to be shot of the Coyotes when the dust settles. 

The Stars' bankruptcy proceedings are continuing at the pace one might expect when the courts are involved, but Tom Galiardi or whoever takes that team on might be having some concerns about the recent attendance. The presence of the Rangers in the ALCS is undoubtedly a factor in Dallas' meagre crowds, but the 6300 announced for Monday's affair against the Coyotes should give any team pause, irrespective of the competition in the local marketplace.

It's important to keep in mind that the numbers that NHL teams release as attendance figures are for tickets distributed, not turnstile counts. That suggests that Dallas might only have sold 6000 season tickets or thereabouts, presuming that the Coyotes' game would have had a very minimal walkup crowd. That's not good in a league where gate receipts play such a large part of team revenues, and even accepting that Dallas has been a model southern market, they certainly aren't immune from struggling in a shaky economy. No matter who might assume control of the club, job one will be getting patrons back in the building.

Finally:

Today's topic du jour seemed to be the aftermath of the Asham-Beagle scrap, as Asham acted the fool on his way to the box with Beagle leaking profusely at centre ice. Asham's offered the standard "I'm not that sort of guy" in the wake of events, which is nice and all, but the overwhelming majority of fights, one sided or not, don't seem to have that type of display after the punching is done, so the fact that others can restrain themselves as a matter of routine suggests how much malarkey the "he was just jacked up" crowd was spewing last night.

Beyond that BS, I'm not convinced that worrying about the WWE stuff is addressing the right issue. Tyler Dellow's article from earlier in the month that demonstrated how infrequently fighting occurred during meaningful parts of the game really should have received more attention. There's enough of a connection between blowouts and increased fighting that it should be obvious by now that fisticuffs aren't serving any worthwhile purpose at all.

Fighting at the NHL level is a sideshow, staged by professional fighters in the main, and its primary appeal is bloodlust, nothing more or less. I wouldn't miss fighting if disappeared, as it seems a useless anachronism, but for the advocates out there, it's pretty clearly past time to quit reaching for phony justifications about how fighting can turn a game and admit that the main purpose is just to see two guys whale on each other. If you're going to live in the past, at least be honest about why you choose to do so.

That's all for this week.

 

1a1030a8151ca7a0d81aea58f0fb1dbc
Robert Cleave is a perpetually grumpy Winnipegger.
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#1 Stocc
October 14 2011, 07:09PM
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FISH!

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#2 Wanyes bastard child
October 14 2011, 07:55PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

No, I'm not.

I deleted it after realizing I hadn't commented on anything Robert had written before. Didn't want my first to be something critical of his take on things.

Ahh, yeah, I was a bit confused there for a bit.

I'll give Wanye and Kent and whomever else involved credit, they really have done a good job in finding very well rounded and good writers for the nations... even those *shudders* at canucks army can be half decent sometimes... sometimes....

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#3 Stocc
October 14 2011, 07:41PM
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Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate wrote:

FAIL, try..... FAILURE IS STRONG TONIGHT

No fail! So far I've collected a "FAUST", "FAST", "FEAST", and now a "FISH".

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#4 Robin Brownlee
October 14 2011, 07:51PM
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Wanyes bastard child wrote:

Is Robin ghost commenting?

No, I'm not.

I deleted it after realizing I hadn't commented on anything Robert had written before. Didn't want my first to be something critical of his take on things.

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#5 Colin
October 15 2011, 09:36AM
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madjam wrote:

SPICING UP THE NHL WITH A BALANCE SCHEDULE . A 116 game schedule for each team , with each playing other teams 4 times a year . Simply use back to back games in two nights . Example Pitts plays in Edmonton for 2 nights here in a row , we do same in Pitts. on our visit there . More games and we get to see everyone each year more equally . We also get away from divisional overkill and travel imbalance between Eastern and Western clubs . Oct- Mar = 20 games each month , except Feb which would be 16 games each .

I would skip exactly 66 games of that season, I would care for the first 25, stop caring and then care for the last 25. That has to be the dumbest scheduling Idea I have ever read. That would be way to long and WAY to many games. If anything the NHL could use a few less games than more.

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#6 Wanyes bastard child
October 15 2011, 11:45AM
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@michael

For sure i'd send Gagne to the sens for some back end help for the Oilers in a heartbeat, not sure Philly would do that for us eh...

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#7 Tyler
October 14 2011, 07:09PM
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The pickle for the Jets is that they're so thin up front that Scheifele might still seem like a better option than whatever they have in the system, but succumbing to that temptation for the entire season is just asking for trouble.

The problem with this is that I suspect "If you sign, you're on the team" was a negotiating chip for the Jets. There were comments from Noel indicating as much when he was in camp. I suspect he might have given a little in order to be assured of a spot.

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#8 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
October 14 2011, 07:16PM
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Stocc wrote:

FISH!

FAIL, try..... FAILURE IS STRONG TONIGHT

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#11 Wanyes bastard child
October 14 2011, 07:44PM
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Is Robin ghost commenting?

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#13 Wanyes bastard child
October 14 2011, 07:57PM
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Wanyes bastard child wrote:

Ahh, yeah, I was a bit confused there for a bit.

I'll give Wanye and Kent and whomever else involved credit, they really have done a good job in finding very well rounded and good writers for the nations... even those *shudders* at canucks army can be half decent sometimes... sometimes....

Also excluding this one guy over at flamesnation, you know who you are ;)

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#15 Aron S
October 14 2011, 08:36PM
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Robert,

Nice article and round up. Does a nice job on the State of the Nations to complement Gregor's Week in the NHL articles.

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#16 book¡e
October 14 2011, 08:55PM
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Here is the arena deal.

http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/documents/City_Manager_presentation_of_October_14.pdf

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#17 Oilers4ever
October 14 2011, 09:10PM
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And we should base our beliefs on the boilers season based on two games. like hockey has been missing in Winnipeg for a long time, it appears wise comments have left the city as well. the oil will be fine. i would worry more about yer own team that still has no wins.

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#18 Oilers4ever
October 14 2011, 09:12PM
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And writing msgs off smart phones sucks. :)

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#20 Jerk Store
October 14 2011, 10:27PM
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By all accounts Asham is a great guy off the ice, and I have no contrary opinion. However, that and his explanation should not keep him from being accountable for his actions - be it in terms of suspension from the league or "the code" on the ice. The gesture was off base given he "nighty nighted" a newby who is not a fighter. Wonder if AA would have shown as much bravado had a Colton Orr or George Parros et al, been on the Washington bench to respond. I submit he knew his audience and that the Caps had no one to answer. Either way he was wrong and while his contrition is welcome it is not enough to make up for the bush move.

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#21 FastOil
October 14 2011, 10:48PM
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There is no half way between concussions, fighting and dangerous play, at least in today's league, because every player trains now and they are bigger, more fit and stronger because of it.

There is too much medico and profile (Crosby) behind this now to turn back. There will still be occasional fights, but pugilist and big hit artist's days are likely numbered.

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#22 bazmagoo
October 15 2011, 01:26AM
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It's not the first time a rookie has looked bad against the NHL's elite, and Scheifele certainly won't be the last.

"I don't doubt the young man has skill, but it's a quantum leap to go from the NHL to a road game facing one of the favourites for the Cup, and he's not equipped with the skills required to bridge that chasm, or at least not yet. "

I think writers on these hockey blogs are too quite to give up on players because of one bad game. Every one has bad games, especially rookies! Even the Great One ever looked to be out of his element on many nights back in the early 80's, and I'm sure many hockey writers were quick to write him off after a bad performance or two.

Give the kid a season or two before writing him off! Or at least a couple of games, geez.

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#23 Kent Wilson
October 15 2011, 08:42AM
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@bazmagoo

Well, fair enough, but there's enough evidence that teenagers inevitably struggle against NHL competition to expect Scheifele to continue to struggle. If he doesn't and the team keeps him, more powert o everyone involved. However, they only have another 7 games to figure things out before committing one way or the other.

So unless he turns it around - and quick - demoting him is the way to go.

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#24 michael
October 15 2011, 08:45AM
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Would a deal be forthcoming for the Senators? An Omark or Gagne deal would seem logical for the 2 teams considering Ottawa's organizational depth at defence. The Jets. Yakupov is thier destiny. The Oilers should not be judged by how they play in Minny. The Robin Brownlee curse is still intact. The Flames like the Oilers better hope that thier goaltending wins games for them. The Canadians need size. The Leafs need everything.The Nucks need a healthy Kesler.

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#25 Colin
October 15 2011, 09:05AM
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I have ZERO problem with what Asham did, if the NHL is going to allow fights/fighters/goons in the league you are gonna get what is coming with them and that is classless acts like what Asham did. If you are gonna employ players whose sole job it is to be UFC/WWE/Boxing on Ice you are gonna get what comes with it and thats what Ashams performance was. If the NHL wants to seriously remove that kind of bush league from the NHL it needs to seriously look at the culture of Hockey(Did Beagle really need to 'answer' the call?), theres no reason for that fight.

Most of these staged fights these days don't do anything for the action, in face most of the time it further slows the game down and makes a sometimes uninteresting game even worse. Like I want to watch a commercial, see a faceoff, two goons drop the mits, hug each other for another minute, then have replays of it like it was so great than have to go back to commercial again, waste of time.

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#26 madjam
October 15 2011, 09:30AM
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SPICING UP THE NHL WITH A BALANCE SCHEDULE . A 116 game schedule for each team , with each playing other teams 4 times a year . Simply use back to back games in two nights . Example Pitts plays in Edmonton for 2 nights here in a row , we do same in Pitts. on our visit there . More games and we get to see everyone each year more equally . We also get away from divisional overkill and travel imbalance between Eastern and Western clubs . Oct- Mar = 20 games each month , except Feb which would be 16 games each .

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#27 Beavis
October 15 2011, 11:20AM
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"Fighting at the NHL level is a sideshow, staged by professional fighters in the main, and its primary appeal is bloodlust, nothing more or less. I wouldn't miss fighting if disappeared, as it seems a useless anachronism, but for the advocates out there, it's pretty clearly past time to quit reaching for phony justifications about how fighting can turn a game and admit that the main purpose is just to see two guys whale on each other. If you're going to live in the past, at least be honest about why you choose to do so."

This is one of the best anti-fighting arguments I've seen to date. People do enjoy hockey fights, but they enjoy them for the same reason they enjoy UFC. I wonder if the NHL has figured this out yet?

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#28 Brodie
October 15 2011, 11:21AM
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I agree with Robert that fighting no longer has a place in hockey. The irony of the Asham-Beagle assault is that people are talking about the morality of what Asham did after the fight and not the morality of the fight itself. If that fight had happened 100 yards away in the parking lot, one person would have gone to jail and the other would have hired a lawyer the next day.

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#29 druds
October 15 2011, 11:38AM
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Brodie wrote:

I agree with Robert that fighting no longer has a place in hockey. The irony of the Asham-Beagle assault is that people are talking about the morality of what Asham did after the fight and not the morality of the fight itself. If that fight had happened 100 yards away in the parking lot, one person would have gone to jail and the other would have hired a lawyer the next day.

Oh No here we go again...Lets make Hockey into Ice Dancing...I would love the game more if they did triple axles and pirouettes. I honestly get real tired of the reading the moaners and non-fans who pretend that they worship the true nature of the game and yet they usually have never strapped on a pair of skates in their life, If , you have actually played the game and most of the fat bastards I notice commenting I doubt have ever laced a skate, then you would realize that it includes aggression and pushing and shoving and "gasp" occassionally a punch...Oh gosh Nooooooooo.... I liked that Asham showed some passion, maybe it was classless but it isnt something I have not seen before in sports of all kinds. Read Cam Cole and he is no supporter of fighting but he accepts its always going to be there. I unfortunately have real concern about what kind of product we will be watching if Brodie and Colin have them all in tutu's..

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#30 druds
October 15 2011, 11:41AM
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sorry for the poor writing, its wonky, but I hope you get the gist of it..

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#31 Brodie
October 15 2011, 12:00PM
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@druds

I resent the "fat bastards" remark. I'll have you know I weigh only 12 lbs more than when I graduated high school.:) I agree with you that aggression and pushing and shoving should always be part of the game, but not fighting. Football and Rugby have lots of agression too, but if you fight your out.

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#32 Colin
October 15 2011, 12:32PM
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druds wrote:

Oh No here we go again...Lets make Hockey into Ice Dancing...I would love the game more if they did triple axles and pirouettes. I honestly get real tired of the reading the moaners and non-fans who pretend that they worship the true nature of the game and yet they usually have never strapped on a pair of skates in their life, If , you have actually played the game and most of the fat bastards I notice commenting I doubt have ever laced a skate, then you would realize that it includes aggression and pushing and shoving and "gasp" occassionally a punch...Oh gosh Nooooooooo.... I liked that Asham showed some passion, maybe it was classless but it isnt something I have not seen before in sports of all kinds. Read Cam Cole and he is no supporter of fighting but he accepts its always going to be there. I unfortunately have real concern about what kind of product we will be watching if Brodie and Colin have them all in tutu's..

Did I say get rid of the toughness/hitting/agression? Nope I want to get rid of the sideshow that is goons who add NO/ZERO value to the product I'm watching. Was the Ashem fight entertaining, of course it was but for the wrong reason, what I was commentating on the fact that Beagle "HAD" to respond cause of the hockey "code". Beagle shouldn't have to answer to someone who barely amounts to more than a goon. If Letang had a problem with what Beagle did, Letang can challenge him to a fight, not Beagle being fed to the lions so to speak.

I like how you just say we have to accept it's always going to be there, like thats an excuse for anything. You may want to watch a team full of Goddards, Macintrye's, McGrattons and Stortinis, but thats not entertaining, I will purchase a UFC PPV if thats the case. I pay to watch hockey to watch goals, hits, saves and skilled play, you know actual HOCKEY! Fighting is/has/always will be a sideshow, it doesn't add to the entertainment, it'd doesn't help a team win a game and frankly staged fighting wastes time like I said previously.

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#33 Vintage Flame
October 15 2011, 07:57PM
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Wanyes bastard child wrote:

Also excluding this one guy over at flamesnation, you know who you are ;)

Dude.. And I thought we just start starting to connect???

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