Tag:Adam Gretz
Posted on: August 24, 2011 10:03 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2011 11:22 pm

Another Crosby update: He speaks, thanks fans

CrosbyspeaksBy: Adam Gretz

As the Sidney Crosby concussion saga has unfolded over the past couple of months there's been a lot of discussion and speculation regarding his status. Most of the talk has come from his agent, his team and media reports, with little actually coming from Crosby.

Earlier on Wednesday Dejan Kovacevic of the Tribune Review and Sportsnet's Jeff Marek both made their case for Crosby to break his silence and give an update straight from the horses mouth.

On Wednesday evening the Penguins website offered yet another update on Crosby's recovery, including a quote from their captain -- which didn't really tell us all that much -- as well as an update that several of the leading concussion experts that he's been seeing expect him to make a full recovery. Eventually.

Said Crosby, via the team release, “I appreciate all the support I’ve received from my family, friends, teammates and fans and from the entire Penguins organization. I know they only want the best for my health, and for me to be fully ready when I return to game action.”

Surely you weren't expecting anything different at this point.

The release did, however, seem to address the altered offseason workouts we recently heard about:

Crosby, who suffered a concussion in January and missed the rest of the 2010-11 season, made significant progress over the summer and took part in his normal, rigorous off-season workout program – including skating, shooting, stickhandling and off-ice work.

When he got to 90 percent exertion in his workouts, however, he started having some headaches again. At that point, his doctors and trainers altered his workouts accordingly.

Crosby's agent, Pat Brisson, is also quoted in the statement, saying “We always knew this was going to be a progressive recovery – based on how he felt. With a concussion, there is not a finite recovery period like with a shoulder injury or a knee injury. That’s why we’ve never even set a specific goal for a return date like the start of training camp or Oct. 1 or anything else. He will play when he is symptom free.”

And that obviously hasn't happened yet. But again, we're still over a month away from the start of the regular season, so there's still time for him to be ready when the puck drops in October. But we are running out of time. And as Brisson points out in the statement, and this is still the most important thing in all of this, dates aren't the issue -- it's all about how Crosby feels.

The fact that he's still seeing specialists -- the statement claims he recently saw specialists in Georgia and Michigan -- and experiencing headaches when he reached 90 percent exertion has to be concerning on some level, even if the specialists still expect a full recovery.

We just don't know when that's going to be.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: August 24, 2011 5:04 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2011 10:35 pm

Is Dubnyk ready to start for Edmonton?


By: Adam Gretz

Preventing goals has been an issue for the Edmonton Oilers the past two seasons. Last year only two teams surrendered more goals than the Oilers 260, which was a slight improvement from the 278 they allowed during the 2009-10 season, which was the most in the NHL.

Many of those struggles can be attributed to the fact they've been a rebuilding team short on talent, especially on the blue line. Goaltending hasn't exactly been an area of strength, either, finishing 28th and 29th in save percentage the last two years. They're returning the same two goaltenders from last season, a duo that is made up of veteran Nikolai Khabibulin and former first-round Pick Devan Dubnyk, who will be entering his third season in the NHL.

To hear Oilers coach Tom Renney talk, it sounds as if Dubnyk will soon be Edmonton's No. 1 option in the crease after appearing in 35 games last season.

Renney spoke to Dan Tencer of CHED on Tuesday night (via David Staples of the Edmonton Journal) and said that he expects Dubynk to be a No. 1 starter in the NHL sooner rather than later, and also pointed out that he doesn't quite know what to expect from Khabibulin this season in terms of the number of of games he'll be able to start. Khabibulin, of course, just spent a couple of weeks serving some jail time (as well as time on house arrest) due to a DUI arrest in Arizona last season.

There's also the fact that he's going to turn 39 this season and is coming off what was one of the worst seasons of his 15-year career, recording a .890 save percentage in his 47 appearances, while also taking the loss in a league-leading 32. He probably shouldn't be counted on to be much better this season.

A couple of weeks ago the folks at The Copper and Blue looked at the performances of goaltenders in recent NHL history that played over the age of 38, and the results weren't exactly encouraging, with the majority of them posting a save percentage below the league average.

That leaves the 25-year-old Dubnyk. In the second half of last season he started most of Edmonton's games and seemed to play well, especially given the young team and sketchy defense that surrounded him. His .916 save percentage was not only a solid improvement from his debut during the 2009-10 season (it was also 17th out of the 43 qualified goaltenders in the NHL), but was also significantly better than what Khabibulin was able to do with the same team.

Given the way Dubnyk improved over the second half of the season, which followed the struggles of Khabibulin who will of course be another year older, why not plan on going with the younger Dubnyk for the bulk of the playing time? The Oilers are going to struggle to win games this season anyway, and they already know what they have in Khabibulin. So why not find out for sure what they have in a former first-round pick that's shown some some improvement from year one to year two? Yes, there will be some growing pains, especially playing behind a defense with some holes, but there is more long-term upside than what another year of Khabibulin in the No. 1 role to start the season would provide.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: August 23, 2011 10:54 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2011 11:32 pm

Matt Cooke talks about changing his ways


By: Adam Gretz

If you're a fan of one of the 29 NHL teams that Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke doesn't play for there is a pretty good chance you dislike the way he plays the game of hockey.

The easiest way to describe his role is as one of the NHL's top agitators. He's paid to get under the skin of opponents and get them off their game playing a physical, in-your-face brand of hockey. Along with that, his style of play, and numerous run-ins with the NHL's disciplinary board, has resulted in him being suspended multiple times over the past couple of seasons, including twice last season.

The second suspension cost him the final 10 games of the regular season and all seven of Pittsburgh's playoff games following a hit on New York's Ryan McDonagh. It was a play that not only helped swing the momentum of that game, but also put a dent in the Penguins lineup for the remainder of the season.

All of that has added to his reputation, and seemingly made his name synomonus with "dirty" play in the eyes of many fans and observers.

Cooke has promised to change the way he plays the game, as he explained to John Hartstock of the Altoona Mirror on Monday night during an appearance at a minor league baseball game in Altoona, Pennsylvania.

From the Mirror:
"It's a mentality, it's how I'm going to approach the game,'' Cooke said of his plan to clean up his act. "And the team has worked hard in supporting me to accomplish these minor tweaks in my game.''
Cooke tends to be viewed as a player that needs to play the game on the edge, which is part of what makes him so effective in his role -- but that doesn't excuse some of the plays he's been involved in, including the aforementioned one on McDonagh. Because they're not neccessary for him to do his job.

Here's the thing about Cooke: all of the controversy that surrounds him on the ice (all of which he has brought on himself, of course) overshadows the fact that he really is good hockey player -- one that 29 other NHL teams would probably love to have patrolling their third line -- that doesn't need to be involved in such nonsense to be a valuable player. He's an excellent penalty killer (one of Pittsburgh's best), and possesses enough offensive ability to chip in between 10 and 15 goals every season. 

The other stuff doesn't add to his game, it takes away from it, and cleaning up his act will not only be good for the rest of the league and the Penguins, it will be good for him, too. So let's hope he's not only serious about changing the way he plays, but actually follows through with it.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: August 22, 2011 7:29 pm
Edited on: August 22, 2011 7:42 pm

More Sidney Crosby reports, denials


By: Adam Gretz

Are you ready for some more reports on Sidney Crosby's status for the start of the regular season (and yet more denials of those reports)?

If so, you're in luck, because CTV out of Halifax, Nova Scotia, reported on Monday that Crosby has suffered another setback in his recovery, stopped his workouts, and may not be ready for the start of the regular season. As expected, Crosby's agent quickly denied the report.

If you've heard this song before, it's because it's been playing on a non-stop loop for the past six months (or more).

From CTV:
Sources say Crosby's concussion symptoms returned last week and he cancelled all of his scheduled on-ice workouts at a Halifax-area rink.

Penguins players are expected to appear at training camp in mid-September and it appears Crosby will not be one of them.
Think back to last week when a nearly identical report surfaced from Josh Rimer of SiriusXM Radio, only to have the Penguins quickly address it, with general manager Ray Shero saying, "Training camp is a month away, so there's no expectation for me that he won't be ready or will be ready. He's doing his usual routine. He'll probably be in a week before camp starts. We'll evaluate him then."

This time it's Crosby's agent, Pat Brisson, doing the talking. Brisson said, via the Associated Press, that Crosby "hasn't been shut down by anyone and has instead adjusted his summer program to address the different needs for his recovery."

And 'round and 'round we go.

The fact this is still an issue at this point, with no clear idea of whether or not he will be ready for the season or how his recovery is really going, is a definite concern -- especially on the same day a former NHL player announced his retirement because doctors told him his concussion history made it unsafe for him to continue playing. But, as has been the case throughout this entire process, the only person that seems to have any definitive idea as to what's going on is Crosby himself, and he's not talking.

It's Aug. 22, and we don't know whether Crosby will be on the ice for the Penguins when training camp opens (let alone the regular season), and it's obvious that we won't know that for sure until he is or isn't on the ice when the Penguins open camp.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: August 22, 2011 9:48 am
Edited on: August 22, 2011 10:37 am

Steve Mason talks mask, upcoming season

Mason1By: Adam Gretz

Steve Mason, goaltender for the Columbus Blue Jackets, introduced his new mask (pictured) to the world last month and, wow, it's something else.

The incredible piece of artwork features the skull from the 1987 movie Evil Dead II, as well as a few other grim images on the left side, including a skeleton dressed as a civil war soldier.

The 23-year-old goaltender is still one of the youngest players at his position in the NHL, and following a rookie season where he quickly burst on the scene, leading the league in shutouts, winning the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year and qualifying for the Vezina Trophy, he's had some struggles the past two seasons. That's not entirely uncommon for a goalie that young, especially one that's counted on to be the unquestioned No. 1 starter.

Mason, entering his fourth season in the NHL, and his teammates are facing a big season in Columbus after an exciting summer that saw the Blue Jackets acquire forward Jeff Carter from the Philadelphia Flyers and defenseman free agent James Wisniewski.

I had a chance to speak with Mason on Friday afternoon about the new artwork he'll be wearing this year, as well as the 2011-12 season.

Adam Gretz: I guess the first thing I want to ask you about is your new mask. I saw some pictures of it last month and, man, that thing is crazy. Can you tell us a little bit about what all is going on there because it kind of scared the hell out of me.

Steve Mason: (laughs) Yeah that's kind of the feeling I was going for. The past couple of years I've been with Columbus I've had kind of cartoony stuff on there and this year I wanted to go with a different look. Kind of realistic looking pictures and kind of a scary theme.

I conversed with David Gunnarsson on a couple of emails back and forth and a couple of different sketch designs. I told him I wanted something that would give the fans a different perspective as to what goalie helmets can be about. There's a couple of skulls on there, the guy with the Blue Jacket is on there, then on the other side you have a completely different look. It has the Blue Jackets logo but it's not just a plain old logo.  it kind of ties in with that scary theme.

Gretz: You mentioned you spoke with the artist on some things, I wanted to ask you about the process for how one of these things gets completed. Is it as simple as you going to the artist and giving him an idea as to what you want and letting him come up with the design? Or do they present you with certain ideas or themes?

Mason: Yeah, at the end of the day it's entirely up to the goaltender as to what he wants and they have pretty much free rein of their helmets, as long as it doesn't have anything derogatory on there, of course. For this season it was really all my doing, all the design thoughts and David was able to put it on a piece of paper and finally onto the helmet.

I told him what I wanted to see on the helmet, he sketched up a couple of things, and then I told him the things I liked, the things I'd like to see changed, and he put together a pretty good piece of work.

Gretz: Yes, he really did. It's very interesting. It's certainly different.

Mason: It is. It's unbelievable what he can do. I actually received it a few days ago. It was the first time I saw it in person, and it looks just as good as it did in the pictures. It's amazing what these artists can do today, taking life-like pictures wherever they come up with them in their mind and putting them on a goalie helmet. It's an incredible talent these guys have, and in my opinion David is probably the best.

Gretz: Let's talk some hockey. You're only entering your fourth year but for some reason it feels like you've been around a lot longer than that. You came on the scene so fast your rookie season, and it seemed like that set expectations really high going forward. I think sometimes it's easy to forget that you're still the youngest starting goaltender in the league, and if you look around the NHL, a lot of the guys that are starting weren't even in the NHL at this age. It Just seems like that's a position that takes plenty of time to develop and there's going to be some bumps early on. Your thoughts on that?

Mason: Yeah, absolutely, my first year was everything I could have asked for and more. I think a lot of those things came to me easier than they should have. It was one of those years where pucks just seemed to hit you, and if a guy had an open net he might have missed it.

I think I was 19 or turning 20 that year, so by far I was the youngest starting goalie in the league other than maybe Carey Price. It's something you have to relish and you can't take it for granted because it can be taken away from you pretty quick. For myself I just have to have the confidence to get back to that level. Obviously this is a big year for us, we made some big changes in the offseason.

Gretz: That first season, and even into your second season, you played under Ken Hitchcock who plays a pretty defensive system, and now you're playing under Scott Arniel, who seems to play a more up-tempo style; you guys seem to want to play with the puck, get in the other zone and all of that. How different is that for you as a goaltender?

Mason: Yeah, they're two different coaches. Ken has had a great career and I hope he gets another job soon, and with Arnie, it was obviously his first year and he was getting to know the players and they were getting to know him and his style.

They have two different systems in a lot of ways, but for a goaltender, at the end of the day your job is to stop the puck. For myself playing with Scott Arniel, his system might be a little more up-tempo where we want to control the puck more and hang on to it, where Ken's was more dump-and-chase. But again, for myself it really doesn't matter as I'm just focusing on the position and not really worrying about what's going on with the other guys.

Gretz: You mentioned the offseason changes a little bit ago. You guys brought in Jeff Carter, who along with Rick Nash gives you two of the top goal-scorers in the NHL over the past couple of years, and James Wisniewski, a guy that can bring some offense from the blue line. That added offense has to make a goaltender pretty excited for the upcoming season, yes?

Mason: Yeah it's something I'm really looking forward to. It was a huge offseason for the organization and I think (general manager) Scott Howson did an unbelievable job getting some guys that can help push us over the top and get a good playoff under our belts and keep going for our ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup.

I mean, with Jeff Carter you have a perennial 30-goal scorer, so for us to add that offense is going to be huge to help out Rick Nash and R.J. Umberger and Derick Brassard. So to have a guy like that coming in, a guy that's been to a Stanley Cup Final, that's going to be huge for us.

And obviously getting Wisniewski locked up for six years on the back end, a physical presence who has put up huge numbers the past couple of seasons, that's another big thing to do for our back end, and most importantly for myself to help clear rebounds and help clear guys out from in front of me. And he's played in Montreal, so he knows what it's like to play under pressure with high expectations and all that. So it was really nice to see the organization step up and go after some really sought-after players this offseason.

Gretz: There has to be some excitement for the fans, as well, because the best, and really one of the only ways, to build a strong fan base is to win, and those are the type of additions that can help make that happen.

Mason: Yeah, the fans are in 100 percent there in the city and the surrounding area. When we made the playoffs my first year the city really rallied itself around the organization. I think the fans have been more than patient. It's a fun spot to play and it's one of the nicest rinks in the league, and when they're filling up the building it's a loud place, has a great atmosphere, and when the team puts together a winning streak there's a definite buzz in the city, and we want to get in that spot more often than we've been.

Gretz: And just to finish up here real quick, I see you've recently joined Twitter and fans can find you at @1masey. How long have you been on there, and have you enjoyed the interaction with fans?

Mason: Yeah, the reason I got it was actually for the free agency signing period. I wasn't going be able to see everything up to the second, so that was my reason for getting it. It was just to follow all the updates.

It's been good to stay up to date in the world of hockey, and really, just sports in general. I'm not that exciting like some other guys, like Paul Bissonnette or players like that, but the following has been pretty cool. You get some messages from fans here and there, younger players asking questions and asking for tips, and from a player's perspective that's pretty cool, and to get some words of encouragement, so it's been really good.

Photo: Steve Mason Twitter

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

Posted on: August 21, 2011 12:44 pm
Edited on: August 21, 2011 12:54 pm

Daily Skate: hockey's most dangerous lead

By: Adam Gretz

HOCKEY'S MOST DANGEROUS LEAD Every time a team has a two-goal lead in a hockey game you will hear an announcer comment that it's the most dangerous lead in hockey, or something along those lines. That, of course, goes against all common sense because a two-goal lead is still better than a one-goal lead, and the folks at Puck Scene looked at every game during the 2010-11 NHL season and put a number on how often certain leads were surrendered. To the surprise of no one, one-goal leads were surrendered far more often (85 percent of the time) than two-goal leads 40 percent of the time) during the 2010-11 season. That does seem like lot of two-goal leads that slipped away, but it's still not as difficult to hold as a one-goal lead.

The Los Angeles Kings added some defensive depth to their forward group on Sunday by signing Ethan Moreau to a one-year deal worth a reported $600,000, assuming he passes a physical. Moreau spent last season playing for the Columbus Blue Jackets and scored one goal in 37 games. His main role is as a defensive forward and penalty killer. He spent most of his career with the Edmonton Oilers.

GAGNER READY TO IMPROVE DEFENSIVE PLAY? Sam Gagner is one of the many talented young forwards in the Edmonton Oilers organization, and while his offensive skills are strong, his defensive game could use some improvement. Dave Staples takes a look at whether or not the young forward is ready to improve that aspect of his game.

YAKUPOV A STAR IN THE MAKING The 2012 NHL Draft is a little less than a year away, but it's never too soon to start talking about the top prospects, and Russian forward Nail Yakupov is already impressiving scouts and making his case to be the top overall pick.

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

Posted on: August 20, 2011 2:23 pm
Edited on: August 20, 2011 2:33 pm

Coyotes want to re-sign Shane Doan

Doan1By: Adam Gretz

Shane Doan has been with the Coyotes franchise since it moved to Phoenix from Winnipeg prior to the 1996-97 season, and is one of just three players still active from the original Jets franchise (along with Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin and Ducks forward Teemu Selanne, assuming he returns for another season).

He is the team's all-time leader in games played and is in the top three in most major offensive categories, including goals with 296 (trailing only Dale Hawerchuk's 379 and Keith Tkachuk's 323), assists (trailing only Thomas Steen and Hawerchuk) and total points (again trailing only Hawerchuk and Steen). He's been one of the best players in team history going all the way back to its days in Winnipeg, has been its captain since 2003 and is still the face of the franchise.

He is also eligible for unrestricted free agency after this season, and it seems that general manager Don Maloney wants to make sure a new contract gets taken care of sooner rather than later, telling USA Today's Kevin Allen that he would like to start speaking with Doan's agent as early as next week.

From Allen:
"I would like to start dialogue to see where he is at, and what he is thinking," Maloney said. "He is certainly a guy we would like to re-sign, and I would rather do it now and not next June 30."

Doan, 34, has played his entire career with the Coyotes organization, dating to when the team was still located in Winnipeg. He moved with the team to Phoenix in 1996-97.

"He lives and dies with the Coyotes as much anyone," Maloney said. "He's important to us."

Maloney said he may contact Doan's agent, J.P. Barry, as early as next week to start the process.
Doan is in the last year of a five-year contract that has paid him $4.5 million per season.

He turns 35 on October, but has still been a productive player -- and according to Maloney still has "that cowboy body" -- scoring at least 20 goals in 10 of the past 11 seasons, including 20 in 72 games last season. As is the case with anything involving the Coyotes, the ownership saga could play some factor in this -- and it took another turn this past week -- but Maloney said he hopes making the playoffs in each of the past two seasons shows his captain the team is on the right track. Still, this is a guy that's never had the opportunity to play for a Stanley Cup, or even beyond the first round of the playoffs. The opportunity to join a team that's closer to a championship has to at least be minor consideration.

The Coyotes have few players signed beyond this season with only 11 players under contract for the 2012-13 season for a total of $23 million in cap space. Their commitments for 2013-14 are even fewer with only four players signed, and the only player locked up beyond then is standout defenseman Keith Yandle who signed a five-year contract with the Coyotes earlier this summer. So cap space isn't an issue. It's simply a matter of whether or not the last remaining of the original Coyotes is willing to commit what will likely be the rest of his career to the team.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz 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.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com