Tag:Vincent Lecavalier
Posted on: October 22, 2011 10:49 am
Edited on: October 22, 2011 2:27 pm

Gillis defends Luongo, unhappy with editorial

MG1By: Adam Gretz

An editorial appeared in the Vancouver Province on Thursday with the off-the-wall suggestion that the Canucks trade their starting goaltender, Roberto Luongo, to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Vincent Lecavalier.

Luongo, of course, has been hearing a chorus of boos and jeers for most of the young season for his play, seemingly a carryover from last year's playoffs, and it's even to the point now where Luongo is talking about how it's no big deal because he's so used to it. No doubt, the Canucks faithful and their franchise goalie have a somewhat rocky relationship.

But the suggestion that appeared in the Province (which you can read right here) was laughable at best, and completely absurd at its worst for a number of reasons. Including the fact that Lecavalier actually has a larger contract and isn't quite as valuable of a player at this point in his career. To call it a "rumor" would be an insult to rumormongers everywhere. All it would do is simply swap the franchise goaltender (and in this particular case, the more valuable of the two players) with the huge contract that is under constant scrutiny for a forward with a larger contract that would likely be under just as much scrutiny for not performing up to expectations. And that's if the trade suggestion had a snow balls chance in hell of ever happening. 

Canucks general manager Mike Gillis, seemingly at the end of his rope when it comes to this nonsense regarding his starting goaltender, made a call into a Vancouver sports talk show on Friday night and went to the defense of Luongo, while also criticizing the paper for a lack of accountability. You can listen to the entire call at Team 1040's website, with the main commentary on the editorial starting around the 14-minute mark.

The biggest problem Gillis had with the article seemed to be that it actually appeared as an editorial, in the front section of the paper, and without any name attached to it. Basically, he wanted accountability, and he mentioned multiple times that he simply "did not like it."

"I've got a real issue with this," said Gillis. "There are bigger issues ... The editorial board of the Province makes a decision that they want a franchise goalie out of here and they already have him traded for another player on another team. Where does that come from?"

"I think that when you have the guys we work with from the Province all the time, if they write something, they're down here after the next day and they're accountable because they have to talk to the players, the coaches, myself or somebody. Where's the accountability in this?"

Following Gillis' appearance on the show, Province editor in chief Wayne Moriarty appeared to counter the general manager's statement and defend the editorial, stating that it was the combined view of the editorial board after debating the issue, and that most editorials in most papers don't have a name attached to them.

"The person who writes it, all that person is doing is putting into words the viewpoint of three or four people," said Moriarty. "The viewpoint of a concensus. So attaching one name to it is somewhat irrelevant because it's not the viewpoint of the person who writes it, it's the viewpoit of a board."

He then followed that statement up by suggesting that Gillis should be more concerned about 14,000 of his premium ticket holders booing his most valuable asset, as opposed to be concerned about what appears in an editorial in one of the local papers.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: August 8, 2011 9:46 am
Edited on: August 9, 2011 3:22 pm

Recent No. 1 picks going straight to NHL

By: Adam Gretz

Fans in Edmonton were able to get an up close look at their most recent No. 1 overall pick, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, at team Canada's prospect development camp this past week, and the early returns are very promising. He helped cap off a come-from-behind win for the White team during their Red-White scrimmage on Saturday, tying the game in the third period and then winning it with 20 seconds to play.

Donna Spencer of the Canadian Press wrote about the skills he displayed on Friday, while Oilers forward Ryan Smyth, and potentially a teammate of Nugent-Hopkins this upcoming season, called him a "nifty little player" after sitting behind the bench for the Red team during the scrimmage.

It's still not known whether or not he's going to play in the NHL this season, but if recent history is any indicator, it would seem to be a mild upset if he didn't. Going back to 1997 there have been 11 forwards taken with the top pick in the NHL draft, and 10 of them made their debut the same year they were drafted. The only player that didn't, technically speaking, was Washington's Alex Ovechkin, and that was due to circumstances beyond his and his team's control: the NHL lockout. Had it not been for the work stoppage he would have been a lock to make his debut.

What can be reasonably expected of Nugent-Hopkins should he play for the Oilers this upcoming season? Here's a look at what the recent straight-to-the-NHL top picks have done during their rookie seasons:

Top Picks NHL Draft Rookie Season
Player Games Goals Assists Points Avg. Mins. Per Game
Taylor Hall (2010) 65 22 20 42 18:12
John Tavares (2009) 82 24 30 54 18:00
Steven Stamkos (2008) 79 23 23 46 14:56
Patrick Kane (2007) 82 21 51 72 18:21
Sidney Crosby (2005) 81 39 63 102 20:07
Alex Ovechkin (2005)* 81 52 54 106 21:37
Rick Nash (2002) 74 17 22 39 13:06
Ilya Kovalchuk (2001) 65 29 22 61 18:34
Patrik Stefan (1999) 72 5 20 25 14:48
Vincent Lecavalier (1998) 82 13 15 28 13:39
Joe Thornton (1997) 55 3 4 7 8:05

*Ovechkin's first season came after the lockout, which was a year after his draft year.

With the exception of Patrik Stefan, every one of these players has gone on to be a productive player or a star player in the NHL (the jury is still out on Taylor Hall at this point after just one season, but we like his chances).

What's a reasonable expectation for Nugent-Hopkins should he play for the Oilers this season? Well, nobody should expect Crosby/Ovechkin levels because those guys are from a different planet. But 20 goals seems like it would be a solid goal based on recent performances by other top picks, assuming he's able to withstand the physical toll of the NHL. And that seems to be the chief concern for Nugent-Hopkins; it's not his skill or ability, but simply whether or not he has the strength to do it at this point. He currently weighs in at 175 pounds according to Spencer's Canadian Press report from over the weekend. That would make him one of the smallest players in the league

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

Posted on: April 9, 2011 10:45 pm
Edited on: April 10, 2011 1:31 am

Hurricanes lose control early, miss playoffs

Let's be literal when it comes to the phrase “destiny is in your own hands.”

By definition, that can't happen. Destiny is not controllable. Just look at the Carolina Hurricanes, who were a win away from a playoff berth entering Saturday night's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Hurricanes responded -- well, they took the ice at least at the RBC Center -- with a listless first period and never recovered en route to a 6-2 loss. Instead of the playoff returning to Raleigh, it will be the New York Rangers who get to face the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs.

“I didn't feel the tension (early), but it mounted when it got (to a) two (goals),” Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice told reporters after the game. “Simple things became difficult to do. . .  I think there was a chance (that Carolina) was in shock at 3-0. We felt alright going out and had come off the good night and then, boom. It happened so fast that you're shell-shocked a little bit.”

The 'Canes could not solve lanky Lightning goalie Mike Smith, who only had one victory in 10 games against Carolina. (That one victory did come March 26, the ‘Canes only regulation loss in their previous 10 games.) Smith made 42 saves, had one assist and came a couple feet away from scoring with 'Canes goalie Cam Ward pulled in the closing minutes of regulation.

Not bad for a goalie who will likely begin the playoffs on the bench in deference to the more veteran Dwayne Roloson

The Lightning built a 3-0 lead in the first period off goals by Dominic Moore, Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos. It became a 4-0 lead midway through the second period off a Brett Clark tally. 

By the time the ‘Canes got on the board with 7:29 left in the second via a Cory Stillman power play goal, the game was basically unsalvageable. 

What a difference 24 hours makes. The ‘Canes cruised to a 6-1 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers a night earlier, a game that put them into a position to earn the eighth and final seed in the Eastern Conference a couple different ways. A Rangers loss to New Jersey would have made the Lightning-Hurricane game moot. Instead the Rangers earned a 5-2 comeback victory over the Devils to set up a win-or-golf game for the Hurricanes. 

Still, Maurice said he’d take the disappointment of just missing the playoffs over being an also-ran. 

“It should make it harder (to take),” Maurice said. “It should make it more painful. The more you invest in something, the more painful it should be when it goes away from you. Still, we’d much rather be in a situation where we fought as hard as we could to get to this point and have to go through the pain of this result than if we would have let it slip away a month ago.”

With the end of the season, teams usually start to list the injuries they have hid the last several weeks. The first was captain Eric Staal, who Maurice said suffered a pulled groin three weeks ago. 

“It got to a point last week (that) we weren’t certain we were going to have him in the lineup,” Maurice said. “He played so very well on limited legs and produced points.”

With Saturday’s loss comes the end of a stellar season by rookie Jeff Skinner, a favorite for the Calder Trophy. Skinner had an assist to bring his point total to 63, the highest of any rookie.  His 31 goals were the third-most goals by a rookie, trailing New York Islanders forward Michael Grabner (34) and San Jose’s Logan Couture (32). 

Soon the ‘Canes will assess who will be around next season. Forwards Erik Cole, Chad LaRose, Stillman and Jusi Jokinen, along with defenseman Joni Pitkanen will be unrestricted free agents. Maurice, who is in his second stint as Carolina’s head coach, even addressed if he might be back. 
“(General manager) Jim (Rutherford) will make his assessment,” said Maurice, who took the ‘Canes to the playoffs after he replaced Peter Laviolette during the 2008-09 season. “I’m very proud of the way the team has performed this year.” 

It didn’t take long, however, for Luke DeCock of The News & Observer to point the blame: 
Someone’s going to have to answer for this. Surely it will be coach Paul Maurice, who hasn’t taken a team he has coached for a full season to the NHL playoffs since 2002 and who cannot account for a loss Saturday that cost the franchise millions of dollars.

No matter how highly owner Peter Karmanos and general manager Jim Rutherford regard Maurice, even they must see that it’s time for a change. Maurice is a good man and a good coach, but the past two seasons haven’t measured up, and Saturday’s flat-line with everything on the line defies explanation.

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Associated Press
Posted on: April 4, 2011 4:50 pm
Edited on: April 4, 2011 5:05 pm

Lecavalier avoids structural damage to eye

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier has no structural damage to his right eye that was hit by a high stick, the club announced Monday. 

Lecavalier was examined by an ophthalmologist in Buffalo Monday, a day after Chicago Blackhawks forward Michael Frolik hit Lecavalier in the face in the second period of 2-0 Lightning victory. Frolik received a double minor for high sticking Lecavalier, who does not wear a shield, did not return to the game and required three stitches to close the cut above his eye.

"He wanted to go back in, but he couldn't see," Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher told The St. Petersburg Times after Sunday's game. "He's a warrior. There was blood here, blood there, around the nose."

The Lightning listed Lecavalier as day-to-day and said his status for Tuesday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres will “will be made at that time based on his progress.”

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