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Tag:Joe Nieuwendyk
Posted on: December 5, 2011 11:07 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 11:27 am
 

Realignment winners and losers

By Brian Stubits

In one hour of the Board of Governors convening in Pebble Beach, Calif., the NHL changed radically. It actually reverted back to the way it used to be, just with a lot more teams (you can thank expansion).

So with all that said, here's our Winners and Losers of realignment. Let's get right to it.

Winners

Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets

They wanted more games within their time zone and fewer trips to the West. Mission accomplished. Now those two will be with teams in Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Nashville, Minnesota and Winnipeg. With only one visit to every non-conference arena, that means each team will only play four games in the Pacific time zone as opposed to the eight they currently play.

Dallas Stars

In that same vein, the Stars have to be thrilled with this plan. Considering they have been playing 11 games in the Pacific time zone, they now also cut that down to four games. These things will greatly help the fan bases watch more games and, in theory, more fan support.

"Everyone knew our position on this," GM Joe Nieuwendyk said. "We wanted out of the Pacific Division. This makes total sense for us."

The mid-Atlantic

Particularly the Washington Capitals. Under the original four-conference format, the Keystone State rivalry was broken up and the Capitals and Penguins were in separate divisions. Not under this. Now the Atlantic Division is staying completely intact and it's adding the Capitals (Carolina Hurricanes, too). Who doesn't want to continue to see six games a season between the Flyers and Penguins? Now we'll also get six between the Penguins and Capitals. The Caps will now get to rekindle all those old Patrick Division rivalries.

"We understood, particularly in the mid-Atlantic region, which rivalries were very heavily embedded," Gary Bettman said.

Displaced fans

Now if you're a Devils fan living in Los Angeles, you are guaranteed you will get a chance to see New Jersey play in person every season without having to hop on a flight. The same can be said for all of those ...

Northeastern snowbirds

All those people from the Northeast and Canada that have their parents living in Florida? This will be nice for them. There are obviously a lot of people who migrate south for the winter and they will get an extra visit to the teams in Florida. The local scribes will appreciate this, too. Many have already dubbed this the snowbird conference.

Losers

The Florida duo

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Of the four votes that were against this realignment plan, it's a good bet that two of them came from the Panthers and Lightning. The two teams still have each other, but that's it. Now their closest division foes are in Buffalo and Boston. There will be a lot of long flights to Canada and New England.

But there are two bits of good news for the Florida teams. They will sell a few more tickets, albeit to opposing fans. The Maple Leafs, Canadiens and Bruins will be much bigger hits for them than the Hurricanes and Jets.

The other bit is more games in Canada for the players. At least it's good news to Panthers center Stephen Weiss. “We do a lot of travel anyway. I think that would probably make it even more,” Panthers center Stephen Weiss said. “But that's the nature of the beast. It's where we live, and you've got to do what you've got to do.”

The players

The only potential speed bump in all of this? The NHLPA. It won't be fond of all the increased travelling, which there will be or pretty much everybody. With guaranteed trips to every arena, that's a few additional trips cross country. It will hit players at some point, travelling is already one of the worst parts of the job.

Expansion foes

Yes, this format seems perfect for either two more or two fewer teams. And contrary to popular belief, contraction isn't likely to happen. So more expansion is possible. The same cities will be the candidates; Kansas City, Quebec City (if they don't get the Coyotes to move to them), Seattle, Las Vegas and Houston. Arenas are needed in most of those places -- K.C. has that part covered -- first, so it wouldn't be for a few years at least. But it could happen eventually. Andy Strickland of True Hockey says that is already being discussed.

Islanders, Devils and Hurricanes

OK, all isn't completely perfect for that Atlantic Division. These three teams are at a pretty big deficit when it comes to resources vs. the other teams in their division. It's going to be tough sledding for these teams to get into the playoffs with the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers and Capitals around. This is probably akin to the Group of Death that you always hear about in the soccer World Cup.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: November 14, 2011 10:36 pm
 

Mark Howe steals HOF show with tribute to dad

By Brian Stubits

The Hockey Hall of Fame inducted its four newest members (from the players department) -- Mark Howe, Ed Belfour, Doug Gilmour and Joe Nieuwendyk -- on Monday in Toronto. It was an emotional night for all of them, with each coming near -- or in the case of Gilmour succumbing to -- tears.

Of the four speeches, the one by Howe will be remembered the most. His speech began with him honoring the victims of the KHL crash that took the lives of everybody but one person aboard the flight in September. Of course, he played with the coach of the Lokomotiv team, Brad McCrimmon, who was on the plane when it crashed. That was an emotional start.

Here is the entirety of Howe's speech, from philly.com.

But it is how he finished his speech that was so memorable. After thanking all the members of his family, he saved his dad, none other than Gordie Howe, for last. To honor his father, he pulled out a Red Wings No. 9 jersey with Howe on the back and sported it to a large ovation. He then had some fond words for his dad and the two had a great moment.

I felt a little for Belfour, who had to follow up that show with his induction speech.

Also in regards to Howe, Flyers chairman Ed Snider was asked if Howe's number should be retired by Philly, the city where he played most.

“We think very carefully about the numbers we retire,” Snider said. “I don’t want to say one thing one way or another, but I feel that anybody who was in the Hall of Fame that was a Philadelphia Flyer, their number should be retired.”

Personally, I love how Howe embraces the fact that he's the son of Mr. Hockey. It can be a tough spot to be the child of a legend, they are burdened by expectations just because of their name. Sometimes they try to forge their own path and don't want to be compared to their lineage. But Howe never really shied away from that, never more evident than his own enshrinement ceremony.

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

Posted on: November 12, 2011 11:25 pm
 

Ed Belfour's wardrobe steals the show

Belfour1

By: Adam Gretz

The Hall of Fame class of 2011 was gathered in Toronto on Saturday as Ed Belfour, Joe Nieuwendyk, Doug Gilmour and Mark Howe were all honored in anticipation of Monday's induction ceremony. They were all on the ice at the Air Canada Centre before the Maple Leafs-Senators game, and the biggest talking point to come out of the evening seems to be Belfour's wardrobe, which certainly made him stand out from the rest of the group.

Belfour, of course, is the second one from the right in the above picture, rocking the leather bomber jacket and blue jeans looking like he's ready to head on out to Bob's Country Bunker after the game.

Jokes have been made regarding his selection, mainly on Twitter, but hey, you are who you are. We're curious to see if he upgrades for the actual ceremony on Monday.

You can click here for the footage of Saturday's pregame festivities.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: November 9, 2011 1:06 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2011 2:50 pm
 

Stars shining bright behind light of top lines

By Brian Stubits

WASHINGTON -- It's pretty hard to look at the Dallas Stars right now and not be star-struck. After all, they lead the league with 11 wins. No other team has even 10 yet.

You can't help but be impressed with the team's top line.

"I don't know which exact top line," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "I think there are some arguments about who is the No. 1 line at times."

OK, so I guess it's possible you aren't impressed with the top line, but that's only when you can't tell which it is.

"The [Jamie] Benn line there with Ryder on it has just played I think two or three games together after the injury to Steve Ott. Benn and Loui [Eriksson] have had some good chemistry from the get go," Gulutzan said. "Then you've got Ribs [Mike Ribeiro] and [Brendan] Morrow who have had great chemistry as well for years.

"It's good to have some internal competition and that's kind of the battle in that room right there. The young guys vs. the old guard. They're having fun with it. But every night we're getting one of those lines to step up."

Let me be more specific then: I admit openly here to professing my love for the newly formed line of Benn, Eriksson and Michael Ryder. They are each fast. Heck, the whole team is fast. They are very skilled. And they look like they have been playing together for three seasons, not three games.

Just look at the numbers -- they never lie, just sometimes deceive. Since this line came together, Ryder has three goals and four assists. Eriksson has two goals, five assists and a star of the week honor. Not to be outdone, Benn has three goals and five assists. Again, those numbers have been compiled in three games! These three have averaged more than seven points per game combined since they were put together.

They go together like peanut butter, jelly and bread. (Seriously, why is bread never mentioned in this cliché? Do people actually just scoop PB&J in their mouth at the same time?)

"Those two guys have been playing together for a little bit and this is my third game with them and they've been flying," Ryder said after Dallas' impressive 5-2 win over the Capitals on Tuesday, in which he scored twice. "I just jump in there and I'm feeding off them. Guess we’re just going good right now."

Maybe the biggest breakout has been Benn. The 22-year-old is opening eyes everywhere with his play. Combined with Eriksson specifically, they are capable of some beautiful hockey. What has impressed me so much is the unselfishness of the two players. Somehow, they keep finding themselves in 2-on-1 situations and each time they are looking to pass. More often than not it leads to a goal, it seems.

Add Ryder to the mix, and, well let the fun times roll.

"Things are going pretty good right now," Benn said. "Ryder got put on our line right before this road trip and it seems like we're just clicking and we're having fun out there."

Five consecutive wins will help in that department too.

And what of this No. 44 on the blue line? My roster sheet told me that's Sheldon Souray. I could hardly believe it. This is the same guy they were so desperate to get rid of in Edmonton? It is, and he's playing as well as ever. He is averaging nearly a point per game. He seems to have found a home and the Stars are happy to have him.

His four goals are the third most for a defenseman in hockey, trailing only the great Nicklas Lidstrom of Detroit and Florida's Jason Garrison. With his production, the Stars defensemen have picked up the scoring slack they had been leaving behind. Last season it took them until Dec. 29 to score nine goals, a total they have already reached.

For the most part, it's a somewhat no-name group. But it has been solid. As is the case with most every goalie, the defensemen deserve some of the credit for Kari Lehtonen's start.

Lehtonen remains probably the biggest reason why people are still hesitating to jump on the bandwagon. He is coming off a career year and has battled injuries throughout his still young career. He is just 27.

"He keeps us in every game and gives us confidence," Benn said.

Really, GM Joe Nieuwendyk has pieced together a quality team. And the good news? Once the ownership situation gets straightened out and Tom Gagliardi starts paying the bills, there could definitely be a green light to add some salary onto the league's lowest payroll in the form of trades or just finding some quality fits for his team the way he did with Souray and Eric Nystrom.

Nystrom was waived by the Minnesota Wild before the season and eventually made his way to Dallas. In 82 games last season he had four goals. In 14 games this season, he has four goals. Including one spectacularly awesome one on Tuesday night.

Heck, he's even a humanitarian by day. Nystrom took the time to try and make the day for a pair of presumably homeless gentlemen before the game.

"We always have so much food," Nystrom said. "I asked for a to-go box and I took it across the street to the park and gave it to two homeless guys. Gave them the best meal they've had in a long time."

And wouldn't you know it, this might be the best team they've had in Dallas in a long time. Well OK, it hasn't been that long, but you get the point.

"We're trying to gauge ourselves against the league," Gulutzan said. "Coming into Washington and then heading to Pittsburgh and Detroit, we thought this would be a real good measuring stick."

So far, so good. Especially if the Stars keep that, err, those top lines together.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: June 28, 2011 4:41 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2011 5:00 pm
 

HOF names deserving, but where are Bure, Burns?

I am not here to besmirch any of the players honored with nominations into the Hockey Hall of Fame. They all earned their places and are deserving. Ed Belfour, Mark Howe, Joe Nieuwendyk and Doug Gilmour constitute a fine class.

So perhaps I'm objecting to the rules of the Hockey Hall of Fame here. Why cap each class at just four players, two builders and two females? It should be based on if the player belongs in the Hall, not if he's one of the four most deserving of being in the Hall.

I'm having a hard time accepting Pavel Bure not having his name called. I understand fully that he didn't have a long career, but the career that he did have was jaw-dropping. He was as dynamic and electric a scorer as the NHL had. Five times Bure scored more than 50 goals in a season; two of those occasions he hit the 60-goal threshold.

In 11 seasons spent with the Canucks, Panthers and Rangers, Bure ended with 437 goals and 342 assists. A six-time All-Star, Bure won the Calder Trophy once and the Maurice Richard twice (would have been three if the award were given in 1993-94).

Valeri Bure, brother of Pavel, clearly doesn't agree with the lack of inclusion, either, tweeting this afternoon the following: "Congrats to the guys that got into Hockey Hall of Fame today. But I think it's a big joke that my brother did not make it again"

From a personality standpoint, Bure might not have been the easiest guy in the NHL to get along with. He had his shortcomings and rough edges. But we're talking hockey skill here, and there haven't been many as good as Bure. He is third all time in goals-per-game average, proof of his ability as a scoring machine.

And if Bure couldn't get in with this year's class, I wouldn't hold my breath for next year, either. Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin, Brendan Shanahan, Jeremy Roenick, Curtis Joseph among others.

I haven't even touched on the builders category, where nobody was elected this year -- the first class with no builder since 1981. Pat Burns is especially mystifying. Most everybody felt he was snubbed last year. The coach whose career was cut short due to illness died last November.

Not that that should have factored in the decision this year, and not that it needed to. Burns’ merits were enough, winning the Jack Adams Trophy as the league's best coach three times (each coming in his first year with the Habs, Leafs and B's) with three different teams and then winning a Stanley Cup with a fourth team (the Devils in 2002-03).

Nieuwendyk thinks Burns isn't exactly getting his due. "For me, he's a Hall of Famer in my mind," he said.

Again, this is in no way meant to diminish this year's inductees. I'm just struck by the guys still waiting at the altar.

-- Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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


Posted on: March 1, 2011 5:01 pm
Edited on: March 13, 2012 10:10 am
 

Game of the night 3-1-11: Dallas at Phoenix

Under the RadarDark Horses
Dallas Stars forward Brad Richards won’t play a role in tonight’s game as he’s expected to miss his seventh consecutive contest with concussion-like symptoms. But the fact that the Stars will be able to lean on the veteran center -- possibly as early as Friday -- should be reassuring for Dallas fans and maybe even the players who will skate against the Phoenix Coyotes tonight at Jobing.com Arena. This 9 p.m. ET tilt is yet another game that will sway the bottom half of the Western Conference standings. (The Blackhawks did just that by moving from ninth to fifth with a victory over the Minnesota Wild on Monday.) Both teams enter with 33 wins. Dallas is in eighth place with a game in hand on the Wild and the Nashville Predators, who all have 72 points. Phoenix, who has been atop of the Pacific Division a good portion of the season, is in fourth in the conference with 76 points and two points behind the division-leading San Jose Sharks.At the end of the day, Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk apparently wasn’t offered enough in return for Richards, who is set to become a free agent this offseason. Richards told reporters he was willing to waive his no-trade clause, but added that he’s curious to see how the Stars' ownership situation shakes out this summer. That took a little bit of a twist on Tuesday when The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell reported Dallas oil tycoon Douglas Miller offered about $110 million to purchase the franchise. Campbell reported that the purchase price would be announced closer to $225 million since debt and losses written into the deal for the first four seasons would be included in the larger figure. (Forbes ranked the Starsas the 10th most valuable NHL franchise at $227 million in December.) Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, however, is seen by many as the frontrunner to acquire Stars, who also play at American Airlines Center. Defenseman Rostislav Klesla will make his Coyotes debut tonight  -- in the team's alternate black jerseys no less. He was acquired before the deadline along with minor league winger Dane Byers from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for forward Scottie Upshall and defenseman Sami Lepisto. Defenseman Alex Goligoski, who the Stars acquired Feb. 21 from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for winger James Neal defenseman Matt Niskanen, has a goal and two assists and is plus-2 in his first three games on the Stars. The Coyotes have won the last three meetings and are 3-1 overall against the Stars this season.
 
 
 
 
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