Posted on: September 17, 2011 11:12 am
Edited on: September 17, 2011 11:19 am
By: Adam Gretz
MORE CROSBY CONFUSION It was announced on Friday that Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, still recovering from a concussion, has been cleared to skate in non-contact drills. Helping to add to the confusion that's already out there regarding his comeback is that his medical team is apparently not on the same page. Ted Carrick, a chiropractor that has been observing Crosby for the past month, appeared on a Pittsburgh radio station (WDVE) on Friday and said that he's as ready for contact as any other player in the NHL, which would be the first time we've heard such a report, and one that seemingly goes against everything his other doctor, Michael Collins, as well as the Penguins team doctors are saying. Rob Rossi of the Tribune-Review has more on the story.
OSHIE APPEARS IN TOP SHAPE St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie had an up-and-down season a year ago, going through a team-imposed two-game suspension following an unexcused absence. He was committed to making the team forget about all of it, and it seems that he is off to a good start, having appeared to Blues camp in great shape and acing the teams conditioning tests. Said Oshie, via Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, "I just wanted to prove to them after everything that happened that I've matured and have grown up." In 49 games last season he scored 12 goals to go with 22 assists.
DATSYUK'S SALEI TRIBUTE Pavel Datsyuk will be honoring his former teammate, Ruslan Salei, who was tragically killed in the plane crash involving the KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, by wearing No. 24 during the preseason. That is the number Salei wore for most of his NHL career, including the 2010-11 season which he spent as a member of the Red Wings.
JAGR OPENS CAMP ON TOP LINE The top line at Flyers practice on Saturday featured Jaromir Jagr, Claude Giroux and James vanRiemsdyk. Jagr signed a one-year deal with Philadelphia this summer after playing the past three seasons in the KHL. Scott Hartnell, Danny Briere and Jakub Voracek, acquired in the trade that sent Jeff Carter to Columbus, skated on the second line.
Posted on: August 10, 2011 10:11 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2011 10:27 pm
By: Adam Gretz
It's been over 10 years since the Czech Republic was one of the top hockey powers on the planet, winning Gold at the 1998 Winter Olympics and boasting an impressive list of NHL players. Over the years their numbers across the NHL have dropped significantly. Last season there were just 42 players from the Czech Republic to appear in the NHL, down from their peak of 78 during the 2001-02 season.
Perhaps the best Czech player ever, Jaromir Jagr, (I say perhaps because you can make an argument for Dominik Hasek in that discussion) will be returning to the NHL this season as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers after spending the past three seasons playing in Russia. And also after what was a highly entertaining and, at the same time, maddening free agency courtship earlier this summer.
Between 1997 and 2008, which was Jagr's last year in the NHL, he was the top scoring player from the Czech Republic in the NHL in eight of those seasons, and the two years he wasn't (2002-03 and 2003-04, also two of the worst seasons of his career) he finished third and fourth respectively.
Can he return to the top of the list in 2011 after a three-year stop in the KHL?
The top-scoring Czech player last season was a three-way tie between Martin Havlat, David Krejci and Patrik Elias with 62 points, and 2009-10 it was Tomas Plekanec with 70. In Jagr's last NHL appearance three years ago he scored 71 with the Rangers, which led the team .
I guess the question becomes whether or not Jagr can still be a 60-70 point player at the age of 39. During his stay in the KHL he was nearly a point-per-game player over the three-year stretch, and finished in the top-10 in scoring twice, including this past season. It's obviously a different style of play on a different playing surface and in what seems to be lower-scoring league, so it's not exactly easy to see how the production would translate.
We've seen elite players like Teemu Selanne and Nicklas Lidstrom continue to put up huge numbers in the NHL at the age of 39 and beyond (Selanne, for example, recorded 80 points last season as a 40-year-old), and Jagr was certainly an elite player during his time in the NHL. And even though he wasn't in the league the past three years, he was still playing hockey in what is probably the second-best league in the world. He also showed he can still play against a high level of competition during the 2010 Olympics, as well as the most recent World Championships.
This season he's going to have a chance to be one of the top offensive weapons (along with Claude Giroux and youngsters like James vanRiemsdyk) on a retooled Flyers team that should still score its share of goals, even if they don't look anywhere near as dangerous -- on paper, anyway -- as they did before trading Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.
It's a bit of a mystery for sure, and it's hard to figure out what to expect. He's certainly not as explosive or fast as he was during his prime, but it's hard to believe his hands and offensive skill have deteriorated to the point that he won't still able to put in between 50 and 60 points, and perhaps more, assuming he stays injury free.
Photo: Getty Images
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: July 1, 2011 4:17 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 8:36 pm
There had been a lot of talk around the draft last week that the Panthers were trying to get Versteeg from the Flyers. Now, it actually goes through. You might remember that Versteeg played for Tallon while he was in Chicago, making it another former Blackhawk added to the Panthers roster, joining Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky and Jack Skille in the past six months.
It stood to reason the Panthers would be busy considering they had to spend more than any team just to reach the salary cap minimum. In the past few weeks they've taken on the the nickname FLOOR-ida. They also made four moves on the free-agent market, signing Scottie Upshall, Jose Theodore, Ed Jovanovski and Marcel Goc to big deals within the first two hours of free agency beginning.
They topped it all off by later signing Tomas Fleischmann to a four-year, $18 million contract. Fleischmann has been battling a blood clot issue but is believed to be over it as long as he continues to take the prescribed medicine. His highest offensive output came two seasons ago with Washington when he scored 23 goals with 28 assists.
But that didn't end the day for the Panthers. Oh no, they still had one more move left in them. In the late evening, the Panthers announced the signing of Sean Bergenheim for four years at an average of $2.75 million. Bergenheim had a breakout performance when he scored nine goals in the playoffs for Tampa Bay, substantially increasing his asking price and the Lightning were no longer willing to meet it. The Panthers hope Bergenheim found himself in the playoffs and he can continue to play up to a level close to that.
Last season Versteeg had 21 goals and 25 assists.
For Philadelphia it adds to another busy day, something that has become the norm for GM Paul Holmgren of late. Earlier in the day he surprised the NHL by signing Jaromir Jagr to a one-year contract then added Maxime Talbot from the Penguins. After those moves he was approaching the salary ceiling, but by sending Versteeg to Florida he opens up just more than $3 million on the cap, according to capgeek.com.
By Brian Stubits
Photo: Getty Images
Click here for more free-agency updates.
Posted on: July 1, 2011 11:42 am
Edited on: July 1, 2011 11:08 pm
The deal is reported to be for one year at $3.3 million.
So how did the talks start between the sides that didn't seem to have any previous contact? It was something the Flyers sort of stumlbed in to.
“Well, obviously it sort of just started innocently yesterday. I just sent a text to Petr Svoboda, his agent, who also represents Jake Voracek, and I didn’t know who was involved," Holmgren said. "I read over the last few days it was just Detroit and Pittsburgh were the teams, so I just sent him a text about if Jaromir would have interest in playing for Philadelphia and it just kind of went from there, and culminated today with our signing of him."
GM Ray Shero had hoped to have an answer from Jagr by now, but things have changed in the last 24 hours. Since Jagr flew to the United States, the list of potential suitors that was believed to be two (Penguins and Red Wings) or maybe three has grown.
"We made what we thought was a very fair contract offer to Jaromir on Tuesday, based on his stated interest of returning to the Penguins," Shero said in a statement. "We made our best offer from the start, given our salary cap structure, in an attempt to facilitate a deal. But now, after several days, with an extended time frame for making a decision, and additional teams getting involved, we have decided to move in a different direction. It was never our intention to get involved in a free agent bidding war, and we have to focus on our team."
The Penguins were believed to be the favorite to sign Jagr and bring him back to the NHL. The 39-year-old spent 11 seasons with the Pens and is near the top of all the franchise's records.
By Brian Stubits
Photo: Getty Images
Click here for more free-agency updates.
Posted on: June 30, 2011 10:16 am
Edited on: June 30, 2011 11:06 am
QUALIFIED MESS: It could be a Blackhawks snafu situation all over again. Late Wednesday night the NHLPA filed a grievance claiming the Nashville Predators failed to tender qualifying offers to its restricted free agents such as Sergei Kostitsyn (not Shea Weber, who was taken to arbitration). NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly had said earlier in the day that the NHL wasn't aware of any issues, but the official grievance came later. If the ruling goes in favor of the NHLPA, the players will all become unrestricted free agents. You might remember this happened to Chicago under Dale Tallon, forcing the team to re-sign its players to inflated prices, eventually helping to put the team in salary cap hell, which it is just recovering from.
KONTINENTAL DIVIDE: Last season, the Capitals had, I hesitate to call it a problem, but an issue with three goaltenders for two roster spots. Perhaps that problem is taking care of itself. While it's still not clear, it appears as though Semyon Varlamov is likely going to ply his trade in the KHL next season instead of with the Caps. That leaves Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby to tend the goals in the capital, if it happens that way (or to sign a veteran backup and leave Holtby to get more playing time in the AHL). But adding intrigue to the situation is Varlamov's agent throwing the Capitals team doctors under the bus a bit, saying they aren't as good as the doctors in Russia and it led to some injury troubles for Varlamov in D.C.
REALIGNMENT MAP: Are you the type of person that has a difficult time visualizing such things as realignment? Well here's a handy little map with one of the proposed plans. In this rendition -- not a very likely one if you ask me -- it keeps 15 teams in each conference, moving only Detroit to the East and leaving Columbus in the West. It does chop the league down to four divisions instead of six.
TRUE KEEPER OF THE CUP? A few of the Blues players recently attended a screening of the movie Zookeeper with the movie's star, Kevin James. While at the screening, James pointed out he knows what the Blues need to do if they want to win the Stanley Cup: have him film a movie in St. Louis. "I shot [a movie] in Chicago and the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup. I shot in Boston recently, I just wrapped. Who wins? The Bruins win it," James said. "So St. Louis, you better bring me here to shoot my next movie. That's all I'm saying ... I'm just throwing that out there right now." Now St. Louis must weigh the pros vs. cons of winning a Stanley Cup or giving the world another Kevin James flick.
JAGR WATCH BEHIND THE SCENES: Think the big, seemingly never-ending stories that drag on are tough to read every day? Imagine the task of covering it. Penguins beat writer Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review details the dizzying experience he has had keeping tabs on all things Jaromir Jagr, including an invasion of turtles and a superstar lost in transportation.
Posted on: June 29, 2011 9:52 am
Edited on: June 29, 2011 1:12 pm
The ongoing flirtation between Jaromir Jagr and the Pittsburgh Penguins, his former fling, is getting real. Penguins GM Ray Shero told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he has offered the former team captain a one-year deal and expects word from Jagr today.
"[Today] is decision day," Shero said. "We'll see what he does. ... He's got all the information he needs from us [to make up his mind]."
Since it became clear Jagr was interested in a return to the NHL, there have been two teams at the forefront with a third, unknown team supposedly also in the mix. Jagr first was in contact with the Red Wings, and GM Ken Holland showed reciprocal interest. Since then, Jagr and the Penguins have been figuring out if things would work for a return to the Steel City.
Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is of the mind that if Jagr had his druthers, he'd come back to Pittsburgh. Same goes for Dan Bylsma, the Penguins coach who has commented a few times on how he'd like to see Jagr on his bench.
"I've been on record a few times with the media about what the attributes of Jaromir Jagr are still really good," Bylsma said. "I think [a reporter] used the word 'hypothetical,' and we've kind of run with that word. There are things that I think he could add to our team."
Rossi quoted Jagr's agent, Petr Svoboda, as saying Jagr is on his way to the States.
"He is flying to New York [from the Czech Republic] right now," Svoboda said. "He is coming this afternoon and will tell us his answer then."
Because of CBA rules, the deal cannot be made official and signed until Friday, when free agency begins.
It's hard to believe that he would fly to America just to say no. Assuming the offer is truly "fair" and "respectful" as Shero said -- the deal is worth a reported $2 million -- it looks as if you can bust out those No. 68 sweaters in Pittsburgh and start growing back those mullets.
Jagr, a Czech native, won an Olympic gold medal in 1998 and a bronze in 2006. He also won two Ice Hockey World Championships in 2005 and 2010. He has already played in 806 games in a Penguins uniform.
He has 646 career NHL goals, and if he returns to the league, his career point total would make him the active leader.
-- Brian Stubits
Photo: Getty Images
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Posted on: June 28, 2011 11:40 am
Edited on: June 28, 2011 4:56 pm
While all eyes are on Jaromir Jagr in Pittsburgh, GM Ray Shero took care of the in-house business first by re-signing Pascal Dupuis.
The deal is for two years and $3 million, meaning an annual hit of $1.5 million to the cap. The deal was officially announced this afternoon.
"[My family and I] really love Pittsburgh. It was the only place we wanted to go," Dupuis said Tuesday.
Dupuis came over to the Penguins in the deal that landed them Marian Hossa and Hal Gill, clearly the third of three players in the trade. Since then he has proved to be a very valuable player, fitting on any of the four lines Pittsburgh has and stepping into the leader's role a bit when Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin went down with injuries.
Last season for the Pens, Dupuis scored 17 goals and had 20 assists in 81 games. Plus, he was one of the more memorable characters to come out of HBO's 24/7 series before the Winter Classic.
The Penguins now sit at just less than $58 million on the roster, giving them about $6.5 million to spend. They seem to be on the verge of bringing Jagr back to Pittsburgh, something that can't be done until Friday at the earliest, and also are still in talks with Tyler Kennedy, a player that they did not give a qualifying offer to.
-- Brian Stubits
Posted on: June 28, 2011 11:05 am
Edited on: June 28, 2011 11:31 am
COSTLY RETURN: Would you like to go see the Winnipeg Jets make their return to the NHL for the home opener in the 'Peg? Do you have $1,645 handy? A search of ticketcenteronline.com shows only two choices available for any tickets to the game against the Canadiens, and the other price is $1,839. I'd say they have the concept of supply and demand down pretty well.
MAKE IT EIGHT: With news coming out Monday that Matthew Hulsizer has withdrawn his bid to buy the Coyotes, speculation immediately began that that could have been the straw that broke the camel's back and the Coyotes' hopes of staying in the desert might have dried up. There's certainly hope in Canada that it means the Nordiques will be coming back to Quebec City. You might remember when Jim Balsillie was trying to buy the Coyotes that a site makeit7.ca was launched? Now, there's a makeit8.ca with as simple a web page as you'll ever see.
OVER-QUALIFIED: Want to know which restricted free agents were given qualifying offers and which, like Dan Carcillo, let go? Check the list here courtesy of Pro Hockey Talk. Keep in mind that any player who was not given an offer is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent when the market opens July 1.
MR. KENNEDY, JAGR WATCH: One restricted free agent who wasn't offered is Pittsburgh's Tyler Kennedy. But that doesn't mean he won't be back in the black and gold next season. Penguins GM Ray Shero says Kennedy wants to come back and he wants Kennedy back; it's just that arbitration or a qualifying offer wasn't the best option. What's more? The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Jaromir Jagr and the Penguins have a handshake that he will return to the first franchise he called home.
SHARK THINK TANK: When the Sharks sent Devin Setoguchi and more to the Wild for All-Star defenseman Brent Burns, they undoubtedly upgraded the blue line. But they lost a top-line winger in the process. So fearthefin.com takes the task of figuring out who should take the spot next to Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. There is no shortage of names in the mix, from Dany Heatley to Ryan Vesce.
Flyers ARE FINE: Worried that changes the Flyers just made might damage their chances of winning the Stanley Cup? Senior vice president Bobby Clarke doesn't think you should be. It comes as no surprise, but Clarke believes the Flyers did exactly what they needed to do to get better and explains exactly why Philadelphia is in a better position now than at this time last week.
-- Brian Stubits