Thursday, June 28, 2007

One Too Many Hall of Famers

Mark Messier, Al MacInnis, Scott Stevens and Ron Francis were all rightfully inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame today amid much fanfare. This was nothing less than a dream year for the Hall, the lockout helping so many great players make the decision to retire. However, as with every year (and this year in particular) a couple of true greats were left off the first ballot, and often times if you don't make that first ballot, you have to wait for a year where things slow down (ala the lockout year) for you chance. And that's just stupid.

The Hall is absolutely right to limit the amount of players admitted to their hockey shrine, however, limiting inductees based on an arbitrary number is just too damn...arbitrary - especially when the one true factor should be impact/skill in the game of hockey.

Take Cam Neely's late induction during the lockout. If Neely was good enough to make the Hall, shouldn't he have been good enough to make it the year he retired (or the first eligible year anyway). Why the lockout year, just because there was an opening? Inducting someone into the hall just because there's a lack of nominations is just as stupid as limiting the number of inductees arbitrarily. If a person isn't good enough to make it, don't put them in just because it's a slow year, if they are good enough to make it, don't limit them arbitrarily.

This year I think there was one player in particular who deserved a first ballot induction (and one day he may very well end up in the Hall); Claude Lemieux.

Flames (and Detroit) fans probably just cringed at that. Claude is notorious around these parts for his antics both in the '86 and '89 cup finals, and in Michigan for his playoff antics in general (1996, Kris Draper ring a bell?). My brother suggested this is why Claude won't get into the final; he's not just a good, he's a villain. In my opinion though, Claude's NHL performance is too compelling an argument to not induct him into the Hall.

In his 24 season in the NHL, Lemieux missed the post season only 3 times. He missed the post season in his first two cracks with the Montreal Canadiens when he played only 9 times in two seasons. The only other time he missed the post season was in the 2000-01 season, playing for the Phoenix Coyotes. The COYOTES. He actually made a postseason with that team in one other year. The rest of his career, Lemieux spent his springs killing himself to win games.

He scored 80 career playoff goals which (according to Wikipedia) is eighth all time in the NHL. The top 5, according to are Wayne Gretzky (122), Mark Messier (109), Jari Kurri (106), Brett Hull (100) and Glenn Anderson (93, and another Hall oversight).

Lemieux is 3rd all time in post season games played at 233. Patrick Roy is first with 247, and Mark Messier is 2nd with 236. Scott Stevens is tied with Lemieux.

Lemieux is 3rd all time in post season game winning goals (19). Wayne Gretzky and Brett Hull are first with 24 apiece. Behind Lemieux are Maurice Richard, Joe Sakic, Mike Bossy and Glenn Anderson.

Lemieux won the Conn Smythe trophy in 1995, playing on a team with Petr Forsberg, Joe Sakic, and Patrick Roy. He played better than all of them.

Claude Lemieux is one of only 4 players (I'm pretty sure 4, though I can name only 3) that has won the Stanley Cup with 3 different teams.

Claude Lemieux has won the Stanley Cup 4 times.

He played for Canada in the '87 Canada Cup, taking home first place in that famous 3 game series against the Soviets.

Hell, those statistics make some of the guys who got in look bad.

The Hall has made exceptions for other dirty players; Mark Messier for instance, was no saint.

Now, I know there are a lot of guys who deserve to get into the Hall, and haven't yet been inducted. Glenn Anderson, and from this year, Adam Oates (the man who was always 5th best, and that's a compliment. Poor guy always seemed to come up just short, but he was as talented as any of them, just never had the luck) and especially Igor 'the professor' Larionov.

But right now, there is no player I can think of that is more deserving to get into the Hall.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Calgary Flames Aquire Adrian Aucoin

TSN's Darren Dreger had reported earlier today that the Flames were looking to aquire Adrian Aucoin, and it appears exactly that has happened.


Chicago defenceman Adrian Aucoin has waived his no-trade clause and is on his way to the Calgary Flames, sources tell TSN.

The Flames were in the market for a defenceman and zeroed in on Aucoin, who has a history with new head coach Mike Keenan. In 1998-99, Aucoin scored 18 of his 23 goals on the powerplay for Keenan's Vancouver Canucks. (Source)

I remember when Aucoin had that great year on the Island, and at the time I coveted him for sure. Over the next two years he suffered catastrophic injuries and only managed to play about 1 full season (over two seasons) for the Blackhawks, who signed him to a multi-year $4 million/year deal.

As the article mentions, Aucoin played under Keenan in Vancouver, so we keep with the Sutter connection theme (as in, everyone aquired by the Flames has some sort of previous connection with the GM or coaching staff).

Aucoin played about 21 minutes of ice time/game last season which ranks him 77th for defenceman, he was a -22, although that statistic is inflated due to the fact he played on Chicago. On the plus side, Aucoin had 3 GWG, tied for 8th among defenceman and was the team captain.

All in all, the Flames got an aging, injury prone, expensive defenceman, who is probably a lateral move from Hamrlik (although he has more potential if he stays healthy in my opinion).


Update: TSN is now reporting the deal won't be completed until Friday due to paperwork.

Draft Triumphs

While 1997 was undoubtedly a disasterous draft year for the Calgary Flames, and at the very least a bad draft year for the Edmonton Oilers, each team has had pretty triumphant years as well.

In my estimation it was the Oilers' very first draft, way back in 1979, that was the most productive and most likely set the groundwork for the dynasty to come. With their first ever pick (21st overall) the Oilers selected their current GM, Kevin Lowe.

With their second (48th overall) pick, the Oilers selected some big gangly Edmonton kid named Mark Messier who turned out to be not a bad hockey player, ending his career with the second highest point total in the history of the NHL.

With their 3rd pick, (69th overall) the Oilers selected the man who often play wingman to Messier and would end his career 2nd in playoff OT goals and 5th all time in playoff winning goals.

Now THAT is a draft year.

Calgary's best draft year in 1984 is arguably better than the Oilers in 1979, as they not only identified the top end talent, but also garnered depth guys (and had more successful NHLers). Gary Roberts was selected 12th overall by the Flames, and to put his value in perspective, there is some speculation former Ottawa GM John Muckler got fired due to his inability to aquire Roberts for this post-season. Over 20 years after Roberts was drafted.

Calgary picked Paul Ranheim with the 38th overall pick, a guy who turned out to be a very servicable NHLer, playing in over 1000 games.

The Flames got their most talented player (from that draft) 117th overall. He was a chubby kid which is why he was drafted so late, and he really only played part of two seasons with the Flames before he was traded for a key part of the Flames '89 Cup run. Brett Hull ended up scoring 741 goals in the NHL (including a notorius cup winner) and is third all time on the goals scored list.

With the 159th overall pick, Calgary selected european league player Jiri Hrdina. Hrdina could never be described as a star, but he was one of the first few Czechoslovakia born players to cross into the NHL, drafting him was alone a big risk for Calgary. He was a defensive specialist that was a +19 the year the Flames won the cup, and ended up winning 3 Stanley Cups in playing only 250 games.

Finally, in round 9, 180th overall, the Flames picked someone who was destined to be one of the best American born defenceman ever, one of the dirtiest players ever, and Al MacInnis' long time defensive partner. Gary Suter won the Cup with Calgary in '89, played over 1000 games and scored almost 850 pts.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Draft Memories

In 1997 the Calgary Flames used their 6th overall pick to select a big centreman named Daniel Tzachuk (no relation to Keith). Then, as with now, the Flames were looking for a big number 1 centre, and with Thornton, Marleau and Jokinen already taken, I guess the Flames felt their best option was Tzachuk.

Now, at the time, there was a debate within the Flames scouting staff as to the playability of one Sergei Samsonov. A lot of the scouts felt he was the best player not taken yet, while some scouts felt Samsonov was simply too small to be effective in the NHL.

Rumour has it a lot of Flames scouts quit that day. That day in particular was a nail in the coffin for Al Coates.

To say that Tzachuk was a draft day failure is an understatement, but up the road in Edmonton, another disaster was taking place.

With their 14th overall pick, the Edmonton Oilers selected Michel Reisen, who played in slightly fewer NHL games than Daniel Tzachuk.

Between Calgary and Edmonton, there was really only one NHL calibre player. The Oilers drafted Jason Chimera at 121st overall, in the 5th round. Now, I like Chimera, I think his performance at the World Hockey Championships speaks for itself. But one single 3/4th liner between two teams at a draft? Unacceptable.

I haven't been there for every Flame and Oiler draft, but those have to be among the worst ever.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Oilers' Options Running Out

With the Flyers trading for and signing both Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell, the Oilers have missed out on two of the top leading candidates for reinforcement positions. Many Oilers fans around the blogosphere had speculated that Hartnell would replace Ryan Smyth on the top line. Back at LT's, many even drew up line combinations with Scott Hartnell as a 'best case' scenario. In that case, best case just went out the window.

Timonen was certainly a nice potential option on defence. AOTR had a nice post up about Timonen's game impact with a comparison to various other '#1' defenceman, and I think they proved pretty well that Timonen stacks up very nicely.

LT has also been predicting that Lowe would make some sort of a splash at the draft, and I have no reason to disagree with him. Lowe's job is very much on the line, and his options are running out.

Some possible predictions for draft day (and July 1st) and probability of event happning:

Brad Richards is traded to Edmonton (30%) I agree with LT and others that his albatross of a contract has made him a trade target. Plus it would be a huge splash on the level of Peca+Pronger.
Upside - Oilers get one of the best players in the league
Downside - The Oilers pick up an albatross contract and lose a very good players as well

Scott Gomez is signed by Edmonton (50%) - His speed and playmaking ability make him a typical Oiler prospect. The fact he played on a defensive team shows he's MacTable (whatever that means)
Upside - Edmonton picks up a very very good playmaker who I would also consider a playoff performer.
Downside - Gomez may take up more cap space then his ability justifies. Think $6 million or so.

Joni Pitkanen is traded to Edmonton (35%) - Aquiring Timonen makes a move of another Philly defenceman more likely
Upside - Young, relatively cheap puck moving defenceman
Downside - large potential to give up a lot of assets and get an over-rated guy in return, + an add on albatross (Hatcher)

Wade Redden is traded to Edmonton (50%) - One year left on his contract, Ottawa potentially wants roster shakeup
Upside - Oilers get a two-way defenceman who reignites the Oiler offence and steadies the defence
Downside - Oilers could also get a guy who tends to lose often and is best when the rest of the team picks up his slack, also, the price may be high

Ryan Smyth is signed by the Oilers (1%) - Ryan somehow forgives and forgets, comes home.
Upside - The Oilers get their heart and soul back, Lowe looks like genius (again?)
Downside - None, unless the Oilers sign the Mullet for 6+

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Reaction: Mike Keenan Hired as Calgary Flames Head Coach

Five Hole Fanatics

In the end, I am cautiously optimistic about the change. I didn't like Playfair as a coach and was dreading another season wasted under his guidance. With Keenan, there are a lot of question marks, but I think there's a greater probability of success. Playfair had clearly lost the dressing room by the end of the year and I'm not sure my fanship could have survived another season of Canaryshirt's chin-twiddling and lip chewing. In fact, part of me is looking forward to Keenan erupting in anger the first time the team plays like hung-over Frat boys on the road. It'll be a welcome change for me and, I think, a needed change for the players...(continue reading)

flames blog

Keenan is a name, and one of the most decorated coaches in NHL history, to be sure. But his glory days are long past. Old dogs can be taught new tricks — see Bryan Murray’s success in Ottawa, for instance — but Mike Keenan has a big mountain to climb before he proves anything to knowledgable hockey fans. And I imagine the mountain he’s going to have to climb to earn his players’ trust is a little more like Everest than Nose Hill...(continue reading)

hit the post

well, i'm not convinced it's the answer. but i really can't imagine it being worse...(continue reading)

Open Ice Hits

"Iron Mike" will be named head coach of the Calgary Flames at a 3:30pm ET news conference...(continue reading)

Battle of Alberta

Grabia: ...and it's Mike Keenan. Stephane Matteau, Brian Noonan and Peter Zezel signings to follow.

Matt: Put another way, Keenan was hired to coach this team and succeed, now. Will he? Recent history says no, but my opinion at first blush is that bringing him in is definitely a less worse option than sticking with Playfair. And, a lot of the options available to him in previous jobs that he is known to screw up (mainly poor and/or expensive player personnel decisions) are simply not available to him here; the job is to coach the team, and surely this is all crystal clear to him as he accepts it...(continue reading)

Double D(ion)

I am out of the loop completely at home in BC and I think I like it better. I'm going back to crawl under my rock. This can't be good. Or can it? (continue reading)


People are going to get yelled at, belittled, ripped and run out of town. It's a tremendous short term move, and providing they don't let him trade the kids fans in Calgary are going to love 07-08...(continue reading)

I think the consensus is: Keenan may be good, Keenan may be terrible, but thank god Jim Playfair is gone (at least from the head coach position).


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Let's Start the Insanity?

A friend of mine left a cryptic facebook message on my wall, stating only: KEENAN!!!!

My response was 'crazy coaches of the 1990s?'

I guess the correct response would have been 'Possible Jim Playfair replacements?'

A couple quick thoughts:

  • I'm pretty sure the nice, fair, relaxed, well articulated guy you see on Making the Cut is not the same guy that coaches NHLers.
  • Even if Keenan isn't confirmed, it shows how little faith the organization has in Playfair just to have this sort of rumour leaked.
  • The fact that Keenan is theoretically preferable to Playfair is even more indicting of the organization's lack of faith in Playfair.
  • Keenan is preferable to Playfair, but in my opinion that's not saying much of anything.
  • Probably better off getting Keenan than we are getting Habschied.
  • At last look it seemed like the game passed Keenan by.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Odds and Ends

When Yashin's contract got bought out last week, I couldn't help but think it was the Smytty Factor at play. When the season ended Ryan made a remark such that it was a real disappointment playing with guys who weren't willing to leave it all on the ice. It's obvious who he was referring to, the management, players and coaching staff all loved him (and would love to have him back). Was buying out Yashin's contract the first step in an Islander bid to resign Smyth?

I'll say one thing, after all the crap Yashin has gotten away with over the years, I will laugh if it was the words of one Ryan Smyth that finally got him canned.


Speaking of, who is Yashin's agent anyway? That man must be the most talented agent on the planet. Well...maybe some of the credit has to go to Milbury and Wang.


NHL Awards are on Thursday night, just a couple predictions:

Even though it should got to Luongo, I think the players will select Sidney Crosby for the Lester B. Pearson. Reason being? Players seem to tend to shy away from selecting goalies, and Lecavalier got to play with St. Louis. Crosby had Malkin, but I think St. Louis is still the preferred linemate. I think Crosby's got the best shot at the Hart too - the Eastern media has never even watched Luongo and Brodeur pulls this MVP thing every year.

After watching Pahlsson in the playoffs, he's my vote for the Selke (I know playoffs don't count, ok?). I think he'll take the Selke home. Brind'Amour is more of a sentimental pick and Pandolfo plays for team Selke.

Pronger and Niedermayer will split the voters for the Norris, and Lidstrom will win it. Again...

Vigneault should win the Jack Adams, but (again, the eastern media) I think it will go to Ruff. Of the three teams nominated, the Sabres were the most formidable, and the hockey journalists seem to not want to give Therrien any credit for the Penguins' success.

Award the Vezina to Luongo. He's earned it.

In the early goings of the season my vote for Calder would have been Malkin, but both Staal and Stastny were better overall players in my opinion. Should go to Stastny, will go to Malkin.


I've mentioned multiple times that the trend seemed to be leaning towards a more balanced group of 6 defenders, none of whom could be considered a true number 1, and none of whom could really be considered a true number 6.

Calgary almost suceeded with that strategy in 04, I would argue that Tampa Bay did succeed with that strategy (even though Dan Boyle has more recently matured into a very competent number 1). Carolina won with that strategy last year, and I wondered allowed if it was even possible to win when spending upwards of $6 million on one defenceman (given current cap constraints).

I guess Anaheim blew away that theory.

Obviously Anaheim has a few cap bargains (Perry, Getzlaf, Penner, Beauchemin), but I think that will be common to all future Stanley Cup winners under this bargaining agreement.

That statement however, depends on the cap not stratifying the league to pre-cap period levels.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Just Beauty

Some quick thoughts because I don't have time to make a proper post until later next week:

  • Pretty much everyone overestimated Ottawa and underestimated the Ducks.
  • No one fully recognized how sophisticated Carlyle's systems were. He made a very good team look like a throwaway.
  • The 'New' NHL is not all about speed and skill. Hockey is more the same today than it ever was; in other words, it's still about a combination of speed, skill, smarts, determination, depth, health and physicality. The best team will always have a combination of all of those attributes.
    • Buffalo lacked physicality.
    • Ottawa lacked smarts and physicality.
    • Detroit lacked health.
    • NYR lacked depth.
    • SJ lacked determination.
    • Vancouver lacked skill/depth.
    • Calgary lacked smarts/physicality.
  • Scott Niedermayer is the second greatest defenceman ever, the greatest if winning it the only determination.
  • Rob Niedermayer went from Special Needs to special teams. He's become a top quality forechecker/shutdown guy who turns it on when it counts most.
  • It's unfair to say that Giguere is good only because of his pads. Everyone else has the same opportunity to use those pads, and there isn't anybody else doing it successfully (or at least very few.) It's like saying Kovalchuk has a great shot because he's got a one-piece stick.