Come on back, Mark, we miss you

Mark Messier could make a comeback.
No, sorry Canucks, Rangers, and Oilers fans. He's not coming back as a player, but Messier is considering a job in management. I think it would be perfect for a guy like Messier to get into a management job with an NHL team, as he is a former NHL great and seems to understand the new salary cap well. Several teams might want to take a look, specifically the Phoenix Coyotes and Philadelphia Flyers.
Now there's an idea. Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, two of the NHL's best ever, working for one of the worst NHL teams this year. They could form a sort of multi-job combination, where neither of them are specifically coach or GM, but instead they are Co-managing coaches. Like Jacques Martin in Florida except the assistant/co-GM helps coach, too. Even if they just did it the normal way, one coach, one GM, they know each other well and could turn the Desert Dogs into Winning Wolfs.
Just had to write about that. This time, www.nhl.com gave me the whole story, so thanks to them.

Anyone on the move besides Forsberg?

Recently I posted on players that any team could trade. Well, as my welcome message says, I'm going to disagree with myself. Despite all of those players that I put, I don't think that many of them will be moving.
See, I chose guys from each roster who were down on production and/or whom I thought the team didn't need. Granted, I did get the Kings trading Conroy, but other than that I think I'll be wrong. Conroy, despite his low scoring this year, was a key cog in the L.A. mix, and they swapped him for some draft picks and Jamie Lundmark. Here are some key cogs that could see another team soon.
Peter Forsberg- Well, duh. If anyone doesn't know that Foppa will likely end up on a different team sooner than later, than you are a blind 'Flyers can't live without Peter' fan. He must go. Albeit his ankle is causing him some missed games, the Flyers are in revamp mode and he will leave. Soon.
Olli Jokinen- Again, this move won't come because of Jokinen's lack of skill, on the contrary, he has so much skill that if he's available, almost everyone will want him. The Panthers are another team who will probably shovel out players like snow for youth, youth and youth. Look for someone like the Atlanta Thrashers or the Columbus Blue Jackets to make a big offer if he goes up.
Ruslan Fedotenko- This guy will probably be the victim of the Lightning's desperate ways to clear cap space and keep their Big Three. Fedotenko is a good depth player, and is notorious for scoring goals at key times (try the only 2 Tampa Bay goals in the '04 cup finals). He could attract attention from Vancouver or the New York Rangers.
Martin Biron- Unless he gets more starting time in the playoffs, which is unlikely, than he will once again request a move. Biron has a great record compared to other backups in the league, and has also been a starter and performed well there. He could be the perfect insurance for Cam Ward, so the Hurricanes might look at him. The Phoenix Coyotes will almost certainly make an offer, and he will almost certainly reject them even it means a backup job in Buffalo.
Jassen Cullimore- This name may not sound like a key cog, but despite his low numbers he has been one of Chicago's best defensemen. He will reach double-digit points this year, and has been part of a Stanley Cup championship in Tampa Bay. He could be put up for grabs. The who-knows-where-they-will-be Penguins should try to get him, or the San Jose Sharks could use him to replace some of the consistency lost when Brad Stuart left.
Well, now we'll just see if I get any more trades right. Later.


Hot Start after All-Star break

Well, the NHL is back to it's unpredictability now that the All-Star break is over. Not a whole lot significant happened (not).
Tim Connolly is skating with the Sabres and should return in 3 months unless he falls down and gives himself another concussion, because he can't remember how to skate after staying out for so long. If he comes back, the Sabres will have so much scoring depth not only would they have to lose Daniel Briere and/or Chris Drury, they wouldn't be able to trade them. Or they just send Jiri Novotny to the minors, give Maxim Afineganov and Thomas Vanek a killer third line center, and still have the most scoring depth in the NHL. Now if only James Patrick could stand the new NHL...
The Los Angeles Kings have now officially rid themselves of any good veteran who can play center, except for Derek Armstrong. They traded Craig Conroy back to his old Calgary Flames for Jamie Lundmark. Oops. Watch out Los Angeles, because if Anze Kopitar and Derek Armstrong can't shoulder the load, you guys are headed for dead last behind the Phoenix Coyotes. As for the Flames, Conroy and Jarome Iginla have clicked well forever, and with Alex Tanguay essentially replacing Dean McAmmond for the former 100 goal line, they could receive that title once again, though this time Conroy will probably be the lowest scorer...
Name one person who has gone through severe highs and lows this season. Quick, who is it? Well, my answer would not be any of the following; Steven Reinprecht, Jeremy Roenick, Craig Conroy, or even Jarome Iginla. I say, Vincent Lecavalier. Why? No reason to ask that question. Lecavalier is on his way to another great season, already just 10 points below last seasons total in 51 games. But also, he realizes he is the only one of the Lightning's Big Three without a no-trade clause. That means Tampa can trade him any time if they have to. He also has seen his crowds go from overflowing, to quiet as a rock. He started the season as if he was a 36-year-old veteran coming from the lockout, and then exploded for a huge points increase. He was in the All-Star game, and even got a point, but only got there as a reserve. I hope he gets his deserved first line time, and takes the captaincy away from Tim Taylor instead of Brad Richards...
Mike Modano should return tonight, and the sound you're hearing is Patrik Stefan saying, "Darn, no more first line ice time."...
If the Canadiens win the cup this year, it will be at least the 7th decade in a row that Montreal has won the cup. Their last win came in 1993. As far as I know, it will also be the 9th decade overall, maybe the 10th. The first win came in 1916, they had a few in the 20's, I'm not sure about the 30's, they had 2 in the 40's, around 5 in the 50's, 3-5 in the 60's, 6 in the 70's, one in the 80's, and one in the 90's. Chronologically, the decade that started in the year 2000 is not yet over, so they still have a chance to make it the 9th or 10th decade.
That's all for now. Later!
P.S. I just remembered that one of my trade predictions came half-way true. I said that Craig Conroy would be traded, but I thought Minnesota, not Calgary. Oh well, I was sort of right.


THN's 7 to watch are good, but more are out there; Part 2

Alright, I finally got around to writing this. Here are some more guys to watch in the near, and not so near future.
Nicklas Backstrom- The Washington Capitals need to find a foreign right winger blossoming with talent. Why? Because when Nicklas Backstrom goes to the Caps, they will have their 3rd young player with a chance at success. Alexander Ovechkin clearly comes to mind, with 174 career points in only 131 games, he's clearly on a roll. Alexander Semin is a less known name, but still pops up at the sound of "good young Russian." He has 73 career points in 98 games, including 51 points in 46 games this year. Backstrom? Well, unless you're a draft hound, you proably don't recognize him. But Backstrom, only 19, has played in a Swedish men's league since 2005 and has been doing great. Last season, he scored 26 points in 46 games, which is impressive compared to his age. The Caps are going to have fun once he comes, especially if he's anywhere as good as Ovechkin.
Rob Schremp- First off, few players haven't heard of his lacrosse/gravity-defying shootout attempt during a charity shootout. Players Jarome Iginla, Joffrey Lupul, Jamie Maclennan, and Dwayne Roloson were quoted as being mostly impressed, but also mentioned that it wouldn't happen during a game, unless it were in a shootout. But moving past the shootout, Schremp's hockey skill is highly impressive. In 2005-06, he rated a goal-per-game average, and over two points per game, with 57 goals and 145 points in just 57 games with London of the OHL. This year, through 40 AHL games, he is still averaging over half a point-per-game, with 26 points and counting.
Robert Nilsson- The Islanders have a real gem here, despite his low goal totals in both the NHL and AHL. Nilsson managed 20 points in 53 NHL games as a rookie, and also totaled just under a point-per-game in the AHL, scoring 28 points 29 games. This year, with the AHL, he has scored just 9 goals in 35 games, but 34 points total. MY opinion is that he could be a Joe Thornton player, 20 goals but 100 points. He is a strong play maker, but has yet to be consistent on either grittiness or softness.
Nicklas Bergfors- I see him becoming a similar player to Anze Kopitar, with a bit more of a scoring touch. Last season with the Albany River Rats, he totaled 17 goals and 40 points in 65 games, adapting well to the American game. He has missed a few games this year, still managing 22 points in 29 games. He looks to be a finesse-driven player, and should make it to the NHL by next year.
That's all that I have now, please comment if you are reading this. Kudos to hockeysfuture.com for providing some names and information.


Late post

Okay, okay, sorry for missing a few posts. I could only think of small things to write, and I'm kind of weird about writing something long so, here are a few thoughts.

-The Phoenix Coyotes continue to lose, yet they continue to only use call-ups in case of injury. Well, there is one major injury and that is that the Coyotes are losing, big time. Don Maclean, who has excelled in the AHL, has only played 9 games for the Dogs, while Enver Lisin has played all of 17 games, and has scored the same points as Maclean, a goal and an assist. Bill Thomas and Yanick Lehoux have yet to be called up, but the Desert Dogs seem to be content with players such as Fredrik Sjostrom scoring 11 points, or Jeremy Roenick scoring 15.

-Malkin, Crosby, Ovechkin, Sakic, and all the other All-Star calibre players out there deserve attention, but not all of it. I find it hard to locate an article that gives credit to someone like Steven Reinprecht for being the Dogs top scorer if you pro-rate his totals. Or what about Ryane Clowe just 5 points short of a point per game for San-Jose, and Maxime Talbot and Jordan Staal giving the Penguins every chance of scoring short-handed.

-I am a huge NHL fan, but if anyone ever asks me what my favorite team is, my answer comes out as; "Well.....I like the Stars....but the Penguins are pretty cool....but my New York team is the Islanders.....gee, I like them all." The thing is that I appreciate just about any player. With the Flyers, I say, Jeff Carter just keeps getting better and better, and Ryan Potulny might get some Calder votes. With the Sabres, well, I like all of them except Andrew Peters, and if he gets any goals this year, it will be cool.

-The 8-10% of people that want fighting out of the NHL are winning. Watching the NBC broadcast of Detroit vs. Colorado, I saw a few interesting things. These 2 teams have a strong rivalry with many fights, including the famous goalie fights between Patrick Roy, Mike Vernon and Chris Osgood, and Claude Lemiuex basically was hated by the whole team, having run-ins with Kris Draper and Darren McCarty specifically. But there was never less physical play between the teams tonight. Kris Draper roughed it up a little, but other than him and a hard hit or two, like the one on Pavel Datsyuk, there wasn't the normal amount of fighting.

More to come later today, probably part 2 of Others to watch.


Is ESPN losing hockey?

Yesterday, I ended my connection of listening to ESPN radio for one reason.
Here are direct quotes from 2 ESPN hosts that I formerly respected;

Michael Kay, on the score of the All-Star game: "A 12-9 game? Disgraceful."

Max Kellerman, on whether or not hockey players should be voted athlete of the year: "Hockey players don't give much effort, because they are on skates."

Michael Kay, comparing the NHL's All-Star game to other pro All-Star games: "And the NHL, well that's just ridiculous."

Max Kellerman, on a night where there was a New Jersey Nets basketball game, and a New York Rangers game: "Nobody pays attention to hockey, so everyone was watching the Nets game."

Michael Kay, on hockey's position in viewing on TV: "Hockey is in the cellar of all sports."

OH MY GOSH. I'm hearing a description of water polo, not hockey, right? I think ESPN's radio hosts are holding a grudge because we chose Versus. Oh yeah, a quote from a caller;

"Hockey obviously is ignored because I had to go all the way to channel 122 just to find a channel that showed the All-Star game. If NBC shows Ice Skating, that clearly means hockey doesn't matter."

I completely disagree. Now, I'm not saying these guys are terrible hosts or anything like that, they are truly my only connection to sports other than hockey. But to hear stuff like that is, well, almost insulting. The All-Star game is to show respect for the best players in the game, and the reason it is so high-scoring is because these players are highly skilled. To top it off, have you ever heard any other pro-sport let a player wear a microphone during the game so that he has direct contact with the announcers, and you get the feel that you're actually in the game yourself? Come on! And hockey is definitely not in the cellar of all sports! Yes, the NHL has a serious attendance problem, but have either of the 3 people I quoted ever seen an NHL playoff game? The only thing that doesn't happen in celebration is the fans streaming to the ice, and most of the time they try!
I am seriously disgusted with ESPN, and I believe the Rangers better find another network to broadcast their games, or I'm sticking with the Windsor Spitfires OHL radio network.


Vets Dominate All Star game

This year, the All-Star game was supposed to make Dion Phaneuf, Alex Ovechkin, and Sidney Crosby dominate. And while Phaneuf and Ovechkin figured in the scoring, and Crosby made a few nice plays, veterans were the stars yesterday.
On the West, Teemu Selanne, Brian Rolston, Bill Guerin, and many other older players did well. Rolston had 2 goals in his All-Star debut, and Joe Sackic had 4 assists while playing with snipers Martin Havlat and Rick Nash.
In the East, Daniel Briere, Martin Broduer, Brendan Shanahan, Zdeno Chara, and Ryan Miller represented the veteran side of things. Wait, Miller isn't a veteran? Jeez, he sure as heck plays like one. Anyways, Briere was voted MVP, Chara had 2 goals, and Brodeur and Shanahan had great performances.
Every team had an All-Star this year. Yes, every team. Martin Havlat, the Hawks only good player besides Brent Seabrook and Peter Bondra, was there and scored a few points, while Bill Guerin represented the up-down St. Louis Blues in the West. Simon Gagne made the Philadelphia Flyers actually have a bright spot this year, and Jay Bouwmeester represented a talented but losing Florida Panthers team for the East.
Congrats to the Coaches, Randy Carlyle and Lindy Ruff, as both could be seen sporting smiles several times during the game. As goes with the All-Star ways, I saw no body-checks, but grit came in the form of speed and skill. Strangely enough, Brian Campbell did not show himself much. Also, the coaches managed to find several lines that clicked, like Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, and Brendan Shanahan, who made several near-goals. Or Brian Rolston, Bill Guerin, and Yanic Perrault, and Martin Havlat, Joe Sackic, and Rick Nash. As far as a pair of guys who clicked, regular season teammates Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavlier combined for a goal, Eric Staal and Justin Williams grabbed a few points, and surprisingly, the big-trade pair of Dany Heatley and Marian Hossa did well together. Wonder how good Ottawa would have been last year if they had managed to keep Hossa and trade someone like Martin Havlat or Peter Bondra. I mean, Havlat only played 19 games last year, and they could have gotten something back for Peter Bondra instead of letting him stroll on over to be with Hossa again with a different team.
See? I just used almost all of that talking about whether or not Dany Heatley and Marian Hossa could have been teammates. The All-Star game causes that. Like, what if Ovechkin and Crosby both become UFA's, and head out to some weakling team like the Chicago Blackhawks and turn them into contenders. I thought of that because they did well together in the All-Star game. Two topics combined, the Old-Stars and the reason an All-Star game matters. Whew, I'm done.


Comparing Sports

Hey all you people out there who don't know much about hockey, but know about other sports, consider this;
-In basketball, if you score 82 points in 82 games, you did horrible. If you throw 82 touchdowns in one football season (16 games) you set a record. If you hit 82 home runs in a baseball season, you're probably using steroids. But scoring 82 points in 82 hockey games, that's respectable. The record for points in a season in the NHL is 215. That's like a quarterback rushing for 33 touch downs, or a catcher hitting home 62 home runs, or Nate Robinson breaking Wilt Chamberlain's record of 100 points in a basketball game.
-Some of the worst injuries in pro sports have come from hockey, but so have the best recoveries.
-The NHL has some of the least payed players in sports, due to the fact that the players don't care as much about money.
-Despite what you may think, the Stanley Cup is the oldest and most recognized trophy in sports.
-Hockey normally has very little famous trash talk, causing less fines. Even so, rely on Jeremy Roenick or Sean Avery to provide some loudly-spoken opinions.
-People really focus on prospects, and don't just ship players around because of headbands.
-You aren't going to find something as stupid as Reggie Bush's alleged Improper Benefits or Barry Bonds' "I didn't use steroids. Wait, scratch that, I didn't use them knowingly." How many players used drugs last year to enhance their hockey performance? NONE. Not even any rumors.
There, understand why hockey's good now?

Hockey has it's Lance Armstrong moments

As an introduction, I have scanned over a few stories that appeared in Wikipedia, www.nhl.com, www.bostonbruins.com, www.habsworld.net, and a few other websites that I don't remember, but none of this is copied unless I have an interview or stats here.
Phil Kessel has a story like no other, is what some will say. But really, it's almost like Saku Koivu and Mario Leamiuex. All three players meant a lot to their respective teams at the time of the diagnosis. Kessel was the Bruins best rookie, Koivu was the Habs top center, and Mario Lemiuex was in his prime. They made awesome recoveries in relation to the disease.
Saku Koivu was diagnosed with abdominal cancer on September 5th, 2001, later specified as non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He remained optimistic until mid-December, and probably all the way until his amazing return. Requesting that the media not cover him, he made an astonishing announcement in early April, 2002, that he was returning to the lineup. He finished the '02 post season with 4 goals and 6 assists in only 12 games. Captain Koivu received so much coverage then, it was like he never left.
Mario Lemiuex perhaps had the most amazing recovery of all. Diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease in the midst of the 1992-1993 season, Lemiuex underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments in time to come back and win the scoring title once again, although his team did not win the Stanley Cup. He had to overcome poor team play and Pat LaFontaine, but managed it thoroughly.
Phil Kessel is our current cancer recover-er, and his story is also captivating. In the midst of his rookie season, he withdrew from hockey due to medical reasons. Diagnosed with testicular cancer, he recovered quickly to return to his struggling Bruins, and was in this past YoungStars game, scoring a hat trick.
Hockey is a sport that shouldn't only be looked upon as people skating around trying to crush each other. We have had 3 significant cancer recoveries, and many other inspiring comebacks, like Clint Malarchuk recovering from a sliced jugular vein to play again 11 days later. Borje Salming almost had his face cut open right down the middle, yet played again, and who doesn't remember Gordie Howe slamming his head into the boards, but recovering in time to win the Stanley Cup the next year. Respect hockey.

Love the YoungStars

Man oh man, am I glad that Versus exists. I didn't get to watch the entire YoungStars game, but even through just 12 minutes I was pumped up and excited. I saw Phil Kessel's first of three goals and it made me so glad for him to be in that game. Also, I saw a couple of nice plays between Jussi Jokinen and Anze Kopitar. Zach Parise also helped ensure that I saw the East grab a 4-2 lead before my family switched to American Idol.
Afterwards, I watched Andy McDonald (whom I will now call Andy Mac, even though his name is spelled different) win the speed competition over Patrick Marleau by 0.05 seconds, and that also showcased Eric Staal, Alexander Ovechkin, and Teemu Selanne. In the hardest shot competition, I was able to see Sheldon Souray and Mr. 6'9" Zdeno Chara blast 100 mph shots, with Souray shattering something. That showdown hosted surprisingly fast shots from Nicklas Lidstrom and Phillipe Boucher as the defensemen stole the show. I also saw Sidney Crosby not take a single shot in the 3-man pass and shoot competition, but then shoot 2 goals in 3 straight shots in the last shootout round.
Today, my hopes will be ruined by the fact that American Idol (grr) will take up the first hour of my first ever All-Star game to watch on TV. But hey, I'll get to watch some of it. I really wanted to see Ovie and Briere on the same line though, I'll have to see if it happens midway through the game again.
Phil Kessel will get his story here either tomorrow or later today. Please comment lightly if you are reading this but I don't know.


For Future Reference

For Future Reference, I will try to write specifically about each of the following:
- Phil Kessel's intriguing story
- Why the All-Star game really matters
- The Oldies but Goodies players
- And a lot more

Public Trade rumors are quiet, but are out there

OK, I guess later wasn't really that long. But just because the GM's won't talk doesn't mean that trades aren't likely. Here's a list of each team and a player they would trade.
Anaheim- No one really, but they could trade a guy like George Parros for a draft pick so they won't pick 35th overall.
Atlanta- Sure, Niko Kapanen just got here, but he's still a disappointment. Unless he has a monster 2nd half, expect to see his name on the trading block.
Boston- Again, there isn't really an individual to blame for Boston's mediocre season, and they've already tried to help the offense with Stanislav Chistov. The B's do have the option of putting one of their hot blueline prospects on the trading block for a UFA if they end up in the playoff push.
Buffalo- Darcy Regier will focus half of his mind on trade offers from other teams, and the other half on signing his UFA's. IF Buffalo makes a trade, the other team will initiate it.
Calgary- The Flames are in the hunt once again, and this time they might deal off one of Jeff Friesen or Andrei Zyuzin, or even Roman Hamrlik for some key playoff pieces.
Carolina- With all the success the Canes had last year when they picked up rentals Doug Weight and Mark Recchi, this time Carolina should focus on getting a solid backup for Cam Ward, so that the playoff pressure won't have to get to him a second straight year.
Chicago- Boy, oh boy, would the Hawks want to acquire some key players like they did with Martin Havlat. Maybe, they could return JR to his rookie team and see if it sparks him there. Hey, I know, let's give the Hawks a struggling JR and a modest Tony Amonte and pair 'em up in Chicago for more that just a season or so.
Colorado- The Avs would love to grab a couple of players, but the list of players to give back doesn't look to good. Hello, Pierre Turgeon and Patrice Brisebois, Brett Mclean and Tyler Arnason. Arnason and Turgeon have been good, but not now. Brisebois was never more than a bottom 4 D-man and Mclean, well, Mclean is as good as he will get.
Columbus- Nikolai Zherdev has received publicized criticism for not giving enough effort, and the team could ship him off for a UFA boost.
Dallas- Nobody on Stars management will come out and say it, but Matthew Barnaby needs to go. He's a constant healthy scratch and Steve Ott and Niklas Hagman provide enough grit.
Detroit- Hmm...not much here to deal away, but Kirk Maltby isn't so hot. Will he be dealt, or will the fact that Kris Draper is his best buddy keep the pair in Hockeytown.
Edmonton- Defense, defense, defense, defense. The Oilers need a good, solid, first pair defenseman or they won't be going to the playoffs soon.
Florida- Todd Bertuzzi, Rostislav Olesz, Branislav Mezei, and even Olli Jokinen have popped up in the same sentence as 'another team'. I doubt it for Jokinen and Olesz, but, you never know.
Los Angeles- Derek Armstrong deserves more ice time, and with Craig Conroy struggling, he might get it. Conroy misses Pavol Demitra, and the pair worked well together. What if Minnesota put another big name on its roster?
Minnesota- See above.
Montreal- Can you say any of the following- Alex Kovalev, Sergei Samsonov, Mark Streit. It's not as if they are terrible, but the team can afford to deal any of these three.
Nashville- Scott Nichol, Jerred Smithson, Alex Henry and maybe David Legwand could use a change of scenery if necessary, but the Preds seem satisfied.
New Jersey- This roster is tight, the only possible guys that I can think of would be Jim Dowd or David Hale.
NY Islanders- Who's the next guy to go to the Flyers? Could it be Arron Asham, or Robert Nilsson? Probably not.
NY Rangers- Sandis Ozolinsh, one of the cap-munching defensemen on the Rangers, is the only one who hasn't stepped up to make a contribution after being criticized, unlike Darius Kasparitis or Marek Malik.
Ottawa Senators- Everyone. Well, except Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, Chris Kelly, Chris Neil, Chris Phillips, Ray Emery and Patrick Eaves. Then, everyone else.
Philadelphia Flyers- Everyone except Simon Gagne and Antero Nittymaki. Well, maybe Antero too.
Phoenix- Jeremy Roenick, Curtis Joseph, Jeremy Roenick, Georges Laraque, Jeremy Roenick, JR and... you get my point.
Pittsburgh- Jocelyn Thibault hasn't done so well as a backup, and they could get a decent return for him.
San Jose- Everything is going smooth, only prospects have a chance of being traded.
St. Louis- How many teams could I say everyone for? Although Manny Legace and Curtis Sanford are doing okay in goal.
Tampa Bay- I hate to say it, but the Bolts might have to let go of Vinny Lecavlier to get some good depth.
Toronto- Again, nearly everyone.
Vancouver- Marc Chouinard and Dany Sabourin come to mind.
Washington- Whoever isn't named Alex Ovechkin, Olaf Kolzig, or Chris Clark.
There, now start the trade talks.

NHL could recognize more on ice talent

Recently, I went over all the awards that THN would give at the mid season mark. They made sense, but it got me thinking, how about some new awards. Some are good, and others clearly wouldn't happen. Here are my choices to award more talent.

The Ken Dryden Trophy- Awarded to the best rookie goaltender. The NHL could use an award like this to help Calder voting get to be more on the skaters. When Andrew Raycroft won the Calder in '04, people in Montreal and Long Island were wondering what happened to Michael Ryder and Trent Hunter. Last season, when Alex Ovechkin deservedly won the trophy, Buffalo and Carolina fans quietly whispered displeasure about why Ryan Miller and Cam Ward didn't get enough votes. With the Dryden Trophy, young goalies could finally be recognized. Heck, I like that idea so much I'll give out the award yearly.

The Bob Probert Award- Given to the player who best shows that fighting and skating go well together. Sorry Sean, you won't get my vote for this one. This award could recognize guys who are famous for grit, but their scoring is admired as well. Someone like Niklas Hagman or Chris Neil could easily get this award, or even someone like Mike Grier. Specifically, a guy who can score 15+ goals a season and account for the team lead in PIMs. Maybe once Keith Tkachuk starts scoring, he could make it his annually.

The Neil Smith Trophy- For the best GM that doesn't get to stick around. Smith would not only win it this year, but it should be named after him so that way people who won't always remember can. At some point I'll lower the qualifications and include coaches (I'm staring at Mike Kitchen).

The Alexei Yashin award- This one goes to the most underachieving player of a high stature. I know, I know, Yashin has really picked it up this year, but it's in honor of his past. Maybe I should name it the Alexander Daigle award. No, that's up next. Jeremy Roenick, you are the first two-time winner of this award. Last year in L.A. was totally wrong, and you aren't doing to well with the 'Yotes either. Pick it up or it'll go to you personally, just like Frank Boucher and the Lady Byng.

The Alex Daigle award- To the next draft pick bust who retires just as his career gets to be respectable. Daigle scored 51 and 37 points in his last two years, and now the Wild will likely never see him again. I can't wait to see when I actually get to give this to someone, because I can't remember any other bust that recently came on.

Well, that's my awards that the NHL needs. Later folks.


THN's 7 to watch are good, but others are out there

Well, I like how THN showed 2 prospects as part of the 7 to watch, but I think even more young guys should be getting notice. For instance, John Tavares, who was named CHL player of the week, should get more coverage with his young age and super talent. I'm not trying to compare him to The Great One, but he's got to be pretty good if the OHL changed it's rules to let him in. 2009 will be a year to compete for 30th in the NHL.
What about Kevyn Adams? Sure, he got his place in the top 100 PoP (see The Hockey News for details), but after all that noise about his campaign for NHLPA player president, the Canes trade him for Dennis Seidenberg. I respect Dennis, and I think he has a good future in the NHL, but getting him for a guy like Kevyn could pick up the Coyotes penalty-kill, fore-checking, heck the only thing Adams won't improve largely for the Coyotes is goal scoring, and even there he'll help a little bit. I don't care about Carolina having injuries on defense, that's why they should have kept Jack Johnson. I'll get more into Johnson's issue once he gets called up to the Kings for a late cup of coffee, but really, I hope it's not too much pressure on Rod Brind'Amour and Justin Williams to carry even more defensive pressure.
How about Kyle Calder? First, a huge goalless drought. Than an explosive 5 games. Which version do the Flyers want to keep? Almost everyone would point to the explosiveness, but if he goes cold again, Philadelphia could ship Peter Forsberg and Kyle Calder in a blockbuster and pick up a couple of strong role players and/or draft picks. Such as a guy like Derek Armstrong of the L.A. Kings. Armstrong is a 2nd line 2-way player getting 3rd line ice time, due to the well-deserving pair of Craig Conroy and Anze Kopitar. The Flyers just need to get rid of the troublesome two and find some youth and/or role players.
I have so much here now, I'll post a part 2 later.


Poor Luc for Robitaille

I have to feel sorry for Luc Robitaille. He was a classy veteran, and especially one who could score. Even in his last season, he managed 15 goals among 24 points. Then, on the day he gets a special honor, he gets to watch his Kings, already on the way out of the playoff race, fall to a team that has been criticized more than the Calgary Flames offense. The Kings gave a mostly poor effort in my opinion, with only Anze Kopitar and Alex Frolov scoring. I mean, Josh Gratton getting a goal, and Travis Roche scoring the game winner? What happened to supporting one of your greatest players ever? A long ceremony had nothing to do with it, the Kings just don’t deserve their title.