Leaf fans, even those not satisfied with Dion Phaneuf so far this season, will be waiting anxiously to hear on Wednesday about his status after Tuesday night’s loss against
. A sub-par Phaneuf still brings a lot of qualities to the team most nights. Surely even his critics must believe it would be even worse to contemplate an extended period of time without the Leaf captain. Ottawa
I do wonder, however, if Phaneuf’s possible absence will give other Leaf veterans an opportunity to re-establish themselves and their role on the blueline. I’m thinking in particular of Komisarek. We all remember that he never really got untracked last year and then an injury ended his season prematurely. By the time he returned this season, Komisarek (who might have been captain material in Burke’s eyes when he was signed in the summer of ’09) was playing a 5/6 role, with limited minutes. Phaneuf had become the de facto leader in the dressing and the lead ‘hit man’ on the blue line.
Now, the Leafs, more than ever, will need Mike to step up if Dion is gone for any length of time. And I think he is capably of producing what the team needs, both on the ice and in terms of leadership.
I also think Kaberle, since he is still here, may be relied upon even more for a bigger role and bigger minutes. Beauchemin, the other veteran on the back end, has already been logging important minutes.
No injury is good, but the Leafs, struggling in recent games after that early kick-start to the season, will need to find a hidden gem somewhere.
It’s a bit stunning to suggest this, but I wonder if Lou Lamoriello is in his final days with the New Jersey Devils.
Will he be fired? I have no idea. But the team he has now is not a Lamoriello team anymore. The Kovalchuk trade and eventual free-agent signing may prove to be genius, but we are barely ten games into the season, and we’re already talking about the coach being fired.
Former Devil Bobby Holik, a respected guy, told interviewers (CBC and then TSN) that the Kovalchuk signing was a huge mistake, something I’ve stated in this space dating back to when the trade with
was announced. Atlanta
While he is a difficult guy to coach for, as his track record of firing coaches demonstrates, there is no question he has built a strong franchise over the past 20+ seasons. It’s one that has been a contender every year and has won a number of Stanley Cups along the way.
But it was, until recently, built on the backs of an outstanding goalie in Brodeur, and a superior defense led in the old days by Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko and Scott Niedermayer, et al. Once Niedermayer left in free agency, it struck me then as the beginning of the end, in the sense that Lou had often been able to rely on the loyalty of guys like Brodeur and Scott Stevens to stay and play— sometimes for less money— in
. New Jersey
He had been re-building again with some nice pieces, but he gave away a lot of those assets in acquiring and then signing Kovalchuk to an absurdly lucrative—and lengthy—contract.
Clearly, the team is in early-season disarray. Yes, it’s early and they may well turn things around, but a look at their roster suggests this is not the old Devils. In fairness, no one is the same in the salary-cap NHL. But given Kovalchuk’s penchant for one-way play, well, that, along with cap issues and injuries, makes me wonder how this team can ever be close to what it was. I also wonder how long Lamoriello will stay around.
He could retire. He doesn’t need the money, I’m sure. I’d be surprised if he was actually fired, but hey, more peculiar things have happened. Even legends get fired, or leave an organization unhappily sometimes.
You keep hearing that he is not on the same page as ownership, which was never an issue, it seemed, with the previous owner of the Devils.
Regardless, the guy would have a job, if he wanted another one, in short order, I’m sure. Not many GM’s have his credentials, and he is a well-respected hockey guy.
I may be very wrong, but it just feels like his days are coming to a close in
. New Jersey