Tag:Blair Betts
Posted on: October 9, 2011 2:42 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2011 3:02 pm

Betts claim by Habs reversed, sent back to Flyers

By Brian Stubits

Blair Betts is back as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers after his waiver claim by the Montreal Canadiens was reversed.

Because of an injury to his shoulder that he sustained in the 2009-10 playoffs and continued to bother him throughout last season, the Habs are sending him back to Philly by the NHL. He had to sit the Canadiens' first game in Toronto as a result of the bum shoulder.

In doing so, the NHL cited a bylaw that states "a player acquired by waiver claim is not physically fit at the time the claim is made. The Member Club making the claim may refuse to take an assignment of such player's contract and the request for waivers shall be cancelled."

"While it is clear that both clubs have acted in good faith in this unique situation [waiver claim], I am not prepared to dispute the conclusion of the Montreal club doctors that Mr. Betts was physically unfit to play at the time of the claim," commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "Therefore, it is my decision that, per league bylaws, the appropriate resolution to this matter is to restore the parties to the position they were in prior to the waiver claim on Oct. 5."

“After the waiver claim, Montreal exercised their right to a physical examination of Blair,” Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren said in a statement. “Apparently, they found something that concerned them and had asked the league to void the waiver claim. Blair is back on our roster as of today.”

With Betts going back to Philly, it causes a little consternation for Holmgren and his contract limit and salary cap. Betts is making $700,000 while the Flyers only have about $65,000 in available room, according to Cap Geek. So Holmgren will have to do something, likely leading to a little shuffling on the roster to get back under. It shouldn't be an issue before the Flyers play another game, but it's some necessary house cleaning for Holmgren.

Also, it brings the Flyers to the maximum 50 contracts once again. While that isn't a problem quite yet, it could be once/if rookie Sean Couturier plays in his 11th game. That will make him contract No. 51, so something will have to give.

In the end it could be a nice break for Philly, who might like to have a tough defensive forward at the ready for a call-up if a seemingly thin PK unit needs some killers. That's assuming, of course, Betts is ready enough to go. Moreover, they would probably welcome him in the faceoff circle.

“I happen to think a lot of Blair as a penalty killer, good faceoff guy,” Holmgren said after waiving Betts. “He’s really an ideal fourth-line guy and the fact that some of those young guys were utilized killing penalties in the preseason, I think some of the guys that we acquired in the summer or through free agency or trade can fill that role too. We’ll see.

“Blair’s obviously been a big part of things over the last couple years. It was a difficult conversation with him today.”

At the same time, it's a tough decision for the Canadiens. The addition of Betts was a very quiet, but solid addition for them and he figured to add to their usually always solid special teams.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: September 23, 2011 2:14 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2011 2:43 pm

Mike Yeo knows what it takes to win the Selke


By: Adam Gretz

Mike Yeo is entering his first year as the head coach of the Minnesota Wild and he's already starting the PR push for his best player, Mikko Koivu, to take home one of the NHL's top individual awards -- the Selke Trophy, which is awarded to the NHL's best defensive forward.

Koivu, Minnesota's captain, is entering his seventh season in the league and has become one of the NHL's best two-way centers -- and probably an underrated one, too -- and will be playing the first year of a seven-year contract extension that pays him $6.7 million per season. He plays in all situations for the Wild and has finished as the clubs leading scorer in each of the past three seasons.

In an article that appears in Wednesday's Star Tribue, via PHT, Michael Russo spoke to Yeo about his expectations for Koivu this season as the Wild attempt end a frustrating three-year playoff drought. Yeo admitted he has high expectations for the 28-year-old forward, and said he's going to make a push for him to win his first Selke Trophy. He didn't crack the top-20 in voting this past season, but did finish 11th back in 2009-10.

Said Yeo, via Russo:
"One thing I already started talking to Mikko about is I'm going to push for that guy to win the Selke Trophy [NHL's best defensive forward]. I don't know if he's going to win the Hart [MVP] next year, but I believe he can win the Selke. In order to do that, you have to get a lot of points, but you also have to be great defensively."
Emphasis mine. Yeo, of course, is not wrong with that comment.

Even though the Selke is awarded to the NHL's best defensive forward, there is no way to avoid the fact it generally goes to a player that also scores. A lot. Winners of the award have averaged over 60 points per season the year they've won it, and since 1990 there's only been one winner -- John Madden in 2000-01 -- that finished with fewer than 40 points. The finalists for the award over the past four years alone have finished with the following point totals, lowest to highest: 43, 49, 59, 59, 70, 73, 75, 76, 80, 92, 97, 97.

That's not to say that any of the recent finalists -- and winners -- haven't been deserving, as the list usually includes Pavel Datsyuk and Ryan Kesler (as it has in each of the past three years), two exceptional defensive players. But scoring does help get you noticed, which can only hurt players like Blair Betts, Samuel Pahlsson or Martin Hanzal, players that are excellent defensively, but don't score a ton of points. Koivu can certainly score, having reached the 60-point mark in each of the past three seasons. The problem will be finding a way to crack the top-three, when two of the spots have gone to the aforementioned Datsyuk and Kesler in each of the past three seasons (Datsyuk has been there the past four seasons, and deservedly so).

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: August 26, 2011 7:07 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2011 7:42 pm

Blair Betts: The NHL's penalty killing specialist

By: Adam Gretz

There's a good chance Blair Betts won't be selected in many fantasy drafts this season.

He's spent parts of nine years in the NHL with the Calgary Flames, New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, scoring just 41 goals in 477 career games. Nothing that really stands out as an extraordinarly productive hockey player, at least from an offensive point of view. But his role -- and his value -- can't be appreciated by simply looking at how many goals he scores, because he's rarely in a positition to score them.

Or asked to score them.

There are certain players in the NHL that have a specific skillset that allows them to fill one primary role which occupies the majority of their time on the ice. It could be as a power play specialist (a player like Marc-Andre Bergeron), a fighter (a player like George Parros), or in the case of Betts, a penalty killer.

In a typical game Betts will play no more than 10 minutes. During this past season, for example, Betts averaged just under 10-and-a-half minutes per game, with a large portion of that time coming in shorthanded situations. While averaging less ice-time than every regular forward on the Flyers not named Jody Shelley and Dan Carcillo, Betts not only led all Flyers forwards in shorthanded ice-time per game, he led every forward in the NHL.

Even more than that, the 30-year-old Betts spent a larger percentage of his ice-time killing penalties than any other forward in the NHL. By a wide margin.

During the 2010-11 season Betts spent over 34 percent of his total ice-time playing in situations with his team was down a man. To put that in perspective, if you were to look at the top-25 forwards that averaged the most shorthanded ice-time per game last season, the next closest forward was Anaheim's Todd Marchant at just over 27 percent. Betts' teammate, Darroll Powe, Edmonton's Colin Fraser and Pittsburgh's Craig Adams all came in at just over 25 percent.

Here's how the top-10 looked:

Penalty Killing Specialists
Player Shorthanded Ice Time Total Ice Time Shorthanded Percentage
Blair Betts 271:46 783.50 34%
Todd Marchant 285:08 1,049:59 27%
Darroll Powe 257:16 995:12 25%
Coiln Fraser 177:35 688:29 25%
Craig Adams 247:11 974:56 25%
Darren Helm 251:11 1,091:08 23%
Patrick Eaves 169:36 799:55 21%
Liam Reddox 130:38 659:50 19%
Lauri Korpikoski 239:21 1,226:44 19%
Max Talbot 239:50 1,235:34 19%

Since becoming a regular NHL player with the Flames during the 2003-04 season, he's consistently been one of the top penalty killing options on every team he's played on, with those units typically finishing near the top-10 in the league (the average finish of the team's he's played on in penalty killing percentage has been 9th).

It can be an extremely valuable, but thankless, role that doesn't bring much attention, and few players do it as often -- or as well -- as Betts.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz 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