Tag:Winnipeg Jets
Posted on: August 22, 2011 10:12 am

Daily Skate: Anybody like Alex Semin? Market talk

By Brian Stubits

EVERYBODY HATES SEMIN? With such vilified D.C. sports Stars like Albert Haynesworth and Gilbert Arenas no longer in town, it's time to wonder who, exactly, is Washington's most hated athlete? That's the question being presented by Capitals Outsider with the conclusion being that it might very well be recently maligned Caps forward Alex Semin. While he's still in the minor leagues, I have a feeling that Nationals prospect Bryce Harper might be on that list some day, unless Gregg Doyel can change minds.

MARKET VIABILITY: Since the Thrashers moved, the Islanders lost their vote on a new arena and the Coyotes have been on the block for seemingly a decade, the idea of relocation is constantly floating around the NHL. One go-to destination is always former NHL home Quebec City. But according to a Business Journal study (h/t to Puck Daddy) Quebec is way down the list of markets capable of hosting. Granted, this is a study that folks solely on the monetary aspects, that's why Honolulu and Atlanta are "more viable" destinations, but it's interesting to see nonetheless, even if it's not very practical.

U.S. LADIES LOSE: In the rubber match of their Women's Under-18 Series showdown, the American women lost a 3-1 first-period lead to the Canadians and dropped the final game by a score of 6-4. Women's hockey doesn't get much attention, but USA-Canada is good in any hockey match and provides for a very equal matchup in the women's side.

FANS SEEING RED: The Florida Panthers have had a massive renovation this offseason, much of publicly on the ice. But they have done a lot off the ice for to reach the fan base as well and among the ideas was to create a couple sections of super seats. The Panthers' home arena, the BankAtlantic Center, is a year-round facility that hosts numerous concerts and shows in addition to hockey. SO the idea seemed smart enough: sell some seats that are yours for whatever event is happening at the arena. The only problem? Long-time season-ticket holders sitting in those seats are going to be forced to pay a substantially higher price or forced to relocate, or even give up their tickets. Litter Box Cats has more.

JERSEY JUGGLE: Having a hard time keeping up with the different sweater changes this summer? Me too. Thankfully icethetics has the rundown of all the new sweaters and the tweaks we will see this season, such as this one.

Photo: Icethetics

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: August 20, 2011 12:13 pm
Edited on: August 20, 2011 12:21 pm

Daily Skate: A call to ban all body contact

By: Adam Gretz

JUST ELIMINATE EVERYTHING: An editorial penned by Ken Gray of the Ottawa Citizen talks about what NHL commissioner Gary Bettman should do if he were really brave to cut down on the number of head injuries, and brings up the possibility of banning all hits to the head, fighting and, yes, even body contact. I'm pretty sure that's never going to happen. I will, however, admit that there may come a point where fighting and/or hits to the head get banned completely, but all body contact just doesn't seem possible -- or likely -- for the NHL game.

CHICAGO'S BACKUP GOALTENDER COMPETITION: Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune looked at the Blackhawks backup goaltender competition last week that will involve youngster Alexander Salak and veteran Ray Emery, who will be appearing in camp on a tryout contract. Corey Crawford, a rookie last season, is penciled in as the starter after a promising debut season and strong performance in his first playoff appearance.

NEW YORK STILL ON THE HOOK FOR DRURY BUYOUT: Chris Drury announced his retirement on Friday, and as Brian Stubits mentioned in his post on the subject, Drury's buyout from earlier this summer still counts against the Rangers' salary cap over the next two seasons. Joe Fortunato at Blueshirt Banter has some thoughts on that, and figures it was unavoidable since Drury probably wasn't planning on retiring when the Rangers bought him out.

AEBISCHER GETS A TRYOUT WITH WINNIPEG Former NHL goaltender David Aebischer will be getting a tryout contract with the Winnipeg Jets in training camp this season, but as Ed Tait of the Winnipeg Free Press writes, he's an extreme long shot to make the team with Ondrej Pavelec and Chris Mason already on the roster. He last appeared in the NHL during the 2007-08 season with the Phoenix Coyotes, and has spent the last four seasons in Switzerland.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: August 18, 2011 10:45 am
Edited on: August 18, 2011 12:31 pm

Evander Kane sticks with No. 9

Kane9By: Adam Gretz

Finally, the debate as to which number Evander Kane will wear this season in Winnipeg is over.

Kane, the Jets 20-year-old forward, will continue to wear the No. 9 he's been wearing for his entire career after former Winnipeg great Bobby Hull -- who had previously worn the number with the original Jets franchise -- gave him the permission he was looking for. It's been a hot topic of discussion for much of the offseason and was made complicated because the current Jets franchise (which has its roots in Atlanta as the Thrashers) has no connection to the previous Jets franchise (the one that currently plays in Phoenix) that retired Hull's No. 9.

Still, Kane wanted to get permission from the Hockey Hall of Famer before he continued to wear the number, and according to the Winnipeg Free Press, that persmission finally came.

Here's what Kane had to say during an interview with Ed Tait of the Free Press:
"It's very cool to be able to wear No. 9," Kane said Wednesday night in a phone interview from Vancouver. "Bobby was an outstanding player who represented the city and it's definitely a real honour to be able to wear that number. You know, I was just checking about what the organization's plans were for No. 9 and then this story seemed to become a lot bigger than I thought it would."

"And I did get the feeling from a lot of people on Twitter and others that many were encouraging me to wear it.

"I'm pretty excited just to see a jersey let alone to pull one on," Kane added with a chuckle. "It's going to be fun for all the guys that first day in the dressing room pulling on that jersey for the first time. That opening night against the Montreal Canadiens (Oct. 9)... it's a little bit away still, but it's hard not to think about it. It's going to be a real special moment in which history will be made. I can't wait."
Tait also adds that Kane had originally offered to switch to No. 91, but that the Jets encouraged him to continue wearing the No. 9.

One of Kane's teammates, forward Bryan Little, had a similar situation regarding his No. 10, which had also been retired by the original Jets franchise after it was worn by Dale Hawerchuk for much of the 1980s during what was a Hall of Fame career. Little ended up switching numbers and will wear No. 18 this season.

I understand why it was such a big deal, but at the end of the day neither one of these guys should have felt any obligation to switch numbers. Or to even get permission, which makes Kane's desire to get Hull's blessing seem like an extremely nice gesture on his part. Because he didn't have to do it. Even though the team has the same name, the franchise history that was created by players like Hull, Hawerchuk and Thomas Steen (his No. 25 was retired by the Jets in 1995) belongs to the Coyotes. There's no connection to this current team or its history.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: August 16, 2011 5:43 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2011 8:27 pm

A look at Zach Bogosian's power play usage

BogosianBy: Adam Gretz

On Monday we looked at the possibility of players potentially wanting out of (and avoiding) Winnipeg, and how captain Andrew Ladd would prefer to not have anybody on his team that doesn't want to be there. Of course, there a lot of reasons as to why a player would want to avoid a particular team or situation, including playing time.

Sportsnet's Mike Brophy put together an article this week that examines three teams (Toronto, Los Angeles and Winnipeg) that are playing hardball with their young restricted free agent defenseman (Luke Schenn, Drew Doughty and Zach Bogosian, all of whom were selected at the top of the 2008 NHL draft). Regarding Bogosian, Brophy cites a source in Atlanta (where Bogosian played the first three years of his career) that suggests the 21-year-old puck-moving defenseman struggled offensively in 2010-11 because he was replaced on the power play by Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom. With those two likely to man the top unit going forward, Brophy suggests that lack of power play time (which could also cut into his point production) may impact Bogosian's desire to sign a long-term deal with the Jets.

That is certainly understandable and believable, but there is one problem with it: Bogosian's power play usage didn't really change much in 2010-11. In fact, he saw more power play time per game in 2010-11 than he did in his first two seasons in the NHL.

His production dropped, but his ice-time didn't.

Zach Bogosian Power Play Usage
Year Games Total Power Play Time Power Play Time/Game Power Play Points
2008-09 47 52:30 1:07 5
2009-10 81 134:23 1:39 6
2010-11 71 140:43 1:58 4

Was he playing as part of the top power play unit? Not always, as some of that was time on the Thrashers' second power play unit (his most common power play partner on the blue line was Johnny Oduya, but he also saw plenty of time with both Enstrom and Byfuglien). Still, it's not like he was playing top power play minutes (or putting up huge power play numbers) in 2008 and 2009. Even before the addition of Byfuglien his power play time was third on the team among defenseman in 2009-10, trailing Enstrom and veteran Pavel Kubina.

Bogosian is a gifted player and is still extremely young at a position that can take some time to develop, but his decline in offense in 2010-11 seems to have had more to do with a down year than losing out on power play time to Byfuglien and Enstrom.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: August 16, 2011 2:08 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2011 4:33 pm

Remembering Rypien: The view of NHL enforcers

By Brian Stubits

For the second time since the regular season ended, the hockey world received the worst news it can hear: one of its players was found dead. Rick Rypien, one of the league's pound-for-pound best enforcers out there, was found dead at the age of 27 in his Alberta home.

Rypien was a player who certainly had his demons. It was widely speculated that he was having a battle with depression issues when the Canucks game Rypien a personal leave of absence in late 2010. Unfortunately, his lasting memory for many of Rypien will be the altercation he was in with a fan in Minnesota.

But this is where that part of the story ends. Just yesterday I wrote a story about the role of fighting in hockey, saying that with every passing day I drift away from seeing it as a necessity in the sport. Don't be confused, this isn't an attempt to rehash that discussion the day after Rypien's death. Some might. Is it a coincidence that the two players (the other being Derek Boogaard) who were found lying dead in their homes in the past few months had a primary job of dropping the gloves? Probably.

Instead the question I have is if the NHL is doing enough to take care of its players. In no way am I condeming the league at this point of having had any ability to prevent either tragedy. Especially without knowing the specifics behind the Rypien tragedy it's impossible to make any such condemnations.

Surely the league can't be asked to babysit every player all the time. That is unreasonable and impossible. But is there more that can be done to help players in need of treatment? Perhaps make it more accessible and explained in great detail to player? The NHL must at least look at the question, explore if more can be done with its treatment program. However that's a discussion for a later day.

In the meantime, this is still the grieving process, the point where people remember the man. And Rypien isn't being remembered by those in the game for moments like that outburst on a Wild fan. No, he is being remembered for his prominent skills as a fighter. He was about as tough as anybody in hockey, willing to do what he needed for his team and teammates. That's the player that was Rick Rypien.

Here is the statement NHLPA head Donald Fehr released today.

“All Players and NHLPA staff are saddened to learn of Rick’s passing. He was a respected member of our Association and will be greatly missed throughout the hockey community. Our sincere condolences go out to Rick’s family, friends and many fans.”

The comments came flying in across the Twitterverse as well.

Mike Commodore: "RIP Rick Rypien. He was a warrior. Hit me so hard my eyes couldn't focus for 30 secs. Not sure if it was a left or right. #hitmewithboth"

Paul Bissonnette: "Just heard the terrible news about Rick Rypien. One of the toughest pound for pound guys in the league. He had no fear. Sad day."

Michael Grabner: "I will always have the memories from Vancouver with Rick..also pound for pound was one of the toughest guys out there.. #RIP"

There were plenty more. Hockey players were flying out of the woodworks to give their lasting memories of Rypien. Most all of them recognized the guy they knew on the ice, the tough combatant that very few wanted to square off against. But then there were the guys who knew him better. For guys like George Parros, Rypien's fighting ability was secondary.

"Damn... Rick Rypien will be missed. He was the nicest guy, hung with him a few times in VAN...tough as all hell too. Thoughts to his fam"

See, here is the funny thing about enforcers. They are seen as the biggest tough guys in the game, the ultimate alpha males. And in a lot of cases, it's a situation where it couldn't be further from the truth. Sure, on the ice they fit that bill, but off? Not necessarily the case.

In reality, they are the greatest teammates anybody could have. They prove time and time again that they are willing to do whatever it takes, whatever the team needs. For a lot of them, it's their only way to stay in the league, to continue to play the game they love.

Derek Boogaard, the other player who tragically died since the end of last season, was recognized as one of the nicest guys in the league while having the heaviest fists around. The lasting memories of him were just as much about his charity work as it was his breaking of Todd Fedoruk's jaw.

How about Georges Laraque's visit to Haiti with P.K. Subban earlier this offseason? The two spent time visiting children's hospitals and doing their best to make an impact in the war- and earthquake-ravaged nation.

That's the paradox that is the image of enforcers. While people outside the game, watching it from the sidelines and the press box, will remember Rypien for his fights and his black eye of an incident in Minnesota. But his co-workers, his colleagues remember him the way most enforcers are: a great teammate.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: August 16, 2011 10:25 am

Daily Skate: Ovie endorsement; Isles under review

By Brian Stubits

I'M KIND OF A BIG DEAL: Alexander Ovechkin is always endorsing something. He and Sidney Crosby are undoubtedly the NHL's endorsement Kings. The latest for Ovie? His face being plastered (alexovetjkin.blogspot.com) on the Canadian candy bar Mr. Big Deal. Underneath a smiling Alex is the slogan "Be a big deal like me."

REPLAY REVIEW: The Islanders' plan to have a viewing party to re-watch the game against the Penguins that erupted into the Royal Rumble has drawn a lot of attention across the hockey world. Apparently it caught the NHL's eyes, too. Kevin Allen at USA Today writes that the NHL is "looking into" the promotion, with deputy commissioner Bill Daly saying "We do not approve of the use, based on what we know."

R.I.P. RIPPER: The tragic news came down late Monday that Winnipeg Jets enforcer Rick Rypien was found dead in his home. There is still a lot more to come out on that story. In the meantime, remembrances are pouring in all over Twitter of the player affectionately called the Ripper. Here's an example from Mike Commodore: "RIP Rick Rypien. He was a warrior. Hit me so hard my eyes couldn't focus for 30 secs. Not sure if it was a left or right. #hitmewithboth" USA Today offered up a photo gallery of Rypien's career.

PENS IN DEMAND: The Penguins continue to sell tickets like hot cakes. The team announced this morning that they are again capping the season-ticket sales at 15,000 for the season. That just continues the run in Pittsburgh where the Pens have sold out the last 210 games, which includes every game for the last four seasons.

SMAHSVILLE CELEB SHOW: The game isn't the only attraction in Nashville when you talk Predators hockey. The games are a hotspot for celebrities, too, mostly from the country music world. Nashville is, after all, the home of country. So in further embracing the city's country music roots and promoting the team, the Preds put together (Section 303) a bit of a montage of the scene at games in Nashville.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: August 15, 2011 6:40 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 9:32 pm

Ladd wants players that want to be in Winnipeg

LaddBy: Adam Gretz

Even before the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg this summer, there were rumblings that some players around the NHL might avoid joining the Jets -- or be unhappy about doing so -- because they wouldn't want to call Southern Manitoba their home. Former Coyotes and current Flyers goalie Iyla Bryzgalov infamously stated his desire to avoid Winnipeg -- and this was when the Coyotes were the top target for relocation -- because it didn't have enough parks (of all things!), among other concerns.

Recently, Bob McCown, a radio host in Toronto, said that he had first-hand knowledge that as many as three current Jets -- and as of now they are unnamed Jets, of course -- would like to get out of Winnipeg before even playing a game.

Andrew Ladd, who was named captain of the Thrashers last season, shared his thoughts on the anonymous Jets -- assuming they exist -- with Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press. Here's Ladd's comments, via Lawless:
"I haven't heard that, but if there are guys that don't want to be in Winnipeg then we don't want them anyway," said Ladd. "We want people that want to be part of a good hockey organization that's going to create a winning culture. From everyone I've talked to -- I haven't heard any of that."
The message from Ladd is pretty clear: If you don't want to be here, get the hell out. Ladd signed a contract earlier this summer that will keep him in Winnipeg for the next five years and pay him a total of $22 million.

Now, whether or not there are players that want out -- or will actively avoid signing with Winnipeg, or veto trades to Winnipeg if they have that power in their contract -- is certainly up for some level of debate, and, hell, is probably very likely to happen at some point. One of the reasons players try to get no-trade or no-movement clauses in their contracts is so they not only have control -- and the comfort level of knowing -- where they're going to be living and playing for a certain among of time, but also so they have ability to avoid going to a place they don't want to be for whatever reason.

And that reason could be competitive, financial or simply because they don't like the area. And while this could be true of any player with any market, it could be a bigger issue for a smaller city like Winnipeg with a team that hasn't had a recent track record of playing winning hockey.

Keep in mind, the Jets organization (which was previously the Thrashers) has appeared in one playoff series in its existence and never won a postseason game. That, combined with Winnipeg's brutal climate (and if you're Ilya Bryzgalov, it's lack of parks) could be an ugly combination. The Edmonton Oilers, for example, have had some issues in recent seasons, getting turned down by players -- Dany Heatley comes to mind after using his no-trade clause to reject a trade there a couple of years ago, after demanding a trade out of Ottawa -- and has found itself near the top of the polls for least desirable places to play.

(H/T Houses of the Hockey)

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: August 3, 2011 10:24 am

Daily Skate: Latvia picks Nolan; Zherdev to KHL

By Brian Stubits

NOT KEEN ON KEENAN: Last week we told you that former NHL coach Mike Keenan was one of two finalists for head coach of Team Latvia. Turns out he was No. 2. Latvia announced Wednesday that it is hiring another Canadian and former NHL coach, tabbing ex-Sabres and Islanders boss Ted Nolan to lead the team.

NIKKI SKIPS: Earlier this week, colleague Adam Gretz addressed the issue of where would Nikolay Zherdev play next season, speculating it could be Winnipeg or possibly a jump to the KHL. Turns out it's the latter. The former Flyers forward will play next season with Atlant Mytishchi of the KHL, joining Alexei Kovalev on the team.

TOUGH WEEK: It hasn't been a kind few days to the Islanders. The future of the franchise was made cloudy with the resounding no vote on a new arena for the team. So when the team announced very early Wednesday morning they had re-signed forward Jon Sim, it shouldn't be bad, right? Not until the Isles tweet this a short while later: "Jon Sim has not been resigned. A glitch in Bridgeport's email sent a press release from last summer. We apologize for any confusion." Oops.

PERRON STILL OUT: From the department of news you never want to see, Blues forward David Perron isn't going to start training camp with his teammates as he is still dealing with concussion symptoms. He is expected to play at some point next season, Andy Strickland says the two sides just agreed Perron needs more time.

NUMBERS GAME: It's a very awkward situation with the Jets as far as the history of the franchise ... is the team playing under Thrashers history or Jets, who are now the Coyotes? Evander Kane already asked Bobby Hull about wearing his retired No. 9 Jets jersey and Bryan Little has run into the same issue with Dale Hawerchuk's No. 10. But instead of asking to wear it (Hawerchuk said it was no big deal) Little is just going to change numbers himself. (Via Puck Daddy)

BUFFALO ADDS TO STAFF: The Sabres added a coach to Lindy Ruff's bench, announcing the hire of Kevyn Adams as an assistant coach. He joined the staff in 2009 in a player development role.

PITTSBURGH SIGNS TOP PICK: The Penguins took care of some house cleaning by getting their top pick in this year's draft in the fold, signing defenseman Joseph Morrow to a three-year entry-level contract.

Avalanche OF CONFIDENCE: Erik Johnson is expecting a big season in Colorado (Via Denver Post). The defenseman is changing up his workout, trying to prepare for a great year. And he's talking the talk about it too, sending a message to Capitals fans. "It's not going to be a [high] pick [to the Caps in exchange for Semyon Varlamov]. It's going to end up being a great trade for us. People are saying we got the short end of the trade and they're happy because they think we're going to finish at the bottom of the league -- and we're not going to do that this year."

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com