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The Leafs “top six” and NHL news and notes

            Though it’s only September, there is no shortage of hockey news— even beyond the over-hyped “rookie” camps, which, as I posted a while back, are a make-work project for NHL executives.  “Regular” training camp is more than enough, but the rookie stuff does build interest, I suppose.

            One way or another, the Leafs will break camp in a few weeks with six “top-six” forwards.  The question is:  Who will they be?  I wonder what some Leaf fans are projecting the first two lines will be come October?   Send your comments along.

            Elsewhere around the league:

o    Luongo has walked away from the Vancouver captaincy—a year too late.  The decision to accept that designation would have only made sense in the first place if the Canucks had won a Cup the season before, and he was “the guy”, the team leader.  As it is, Luongo has proven nothing, except that he is usually a good regular-season NHL goalie.  For him to be considered a great goalie, or a leader, he simply has to do something in the playoffs—which he has not done in Vancouver.  I’m surprised Canuck fans aren’t more vocal about that but maybe, like Leaf fans, they just keep hoping that “next year will be different”.
o    Gionta is a good choice to be the next captain of the Habs.  Koivu was a fine leader in many ways for Montreal and Gionta brings a passion for the game—that’s important in Hab land.  He was a real spitfire for years with the Devils, under-rated and perhaps under-appreciated by many, including myself.
o   The Eric Belanger versus Washington Capitals situation may get messy.  His agent is being quite outspoken, which is frowned upon in the tight world of NHL executives.  That said, there does seem to be an issue of a player being misled.  It’s a challenge to feel sympathy for a player complaining about having to settle for a $750,000 contract in the current global economic climate (after being offered more than twice that by the Capitals).  But if what the agent is saying is accurate, the Capitals should face penalties for manipulation, just like the Devils.
o   Chicago signing Quenneville to an extension makes sense.  He is a proven NHL coach and is coming off a Cup Championship.  What I have never understood is when teams “extend” a coach in the middle of a season, often in the midst of the euphoria of a winning streak.  Almost as often that very same coach gets canned the next season during a slump—and the team has to fork out big money for several seasons for a coach they just got rid of.
o   I’m sure I’m just one of many hockey fans who would love to see Quebec City back in the NHL.  The playoff battles between Montreal and Quebec in the 1980’s were beyond intense.  Both teams always had plenty of French-Canadian players and that only added to the drama.  Now, it's fair to ask what role, if any, should government play in helping to fund new buildings to help make that happen.  That’s a different question, of course.  Most taxpayers don’t want their money going to help billionaire sports owners and millionaire athletes.  I don’t understand, though (probably because I’m not an economist!) why, when a provincial government, or the federal government, help to fund a project, they can’t then become part-owners of the sports franchise? In essence, Canadians would become part-owners of an NHL franchise if tax money goes to help an NHL club. (Hey, various levels of government spend our money all the time on  things without asking us for approval first.)  If the government-as-part-owner approach is not allowed, they could at the very least be paid back their original contribution, by receiving some of the profit revenues that are created, right?  Then, it’s a government "investment"—not a give-away— and taxpayers would get something back, presumably.
o   It looks like Spezza has stemmed the public relations tide in time for the new season to start. After asking for a trade at the end of last season, and it being played out in public a-la-Heatley, he has shown up to Ottawa— by all accounts in great shape and with an “I want to play in Ottawa attitude”.  There will no doubt be a few “boo birds” during the exhibition season, but if he gets off to a good start, I’m betting all will be forgiven, if not forgotten  But that was his one allowable misstep.  Another and the club will have to move him—if anyone wants to afford his rather huge stipend.

1 comment:

  1. Kulemin-Bozak-Kessel

    No rookies will play, I'm pretty sure, at least early on.