Tag:San Jose Sharks
Posted on: January 30, 2012 11:55 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 12:01 am
 

Nyjer Morgan to practice with Sharks

MorganBy: Adam Gretz

If you've ever watched a baseball game involving Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan it's a good bet that you've heard an announcer make some sort of remark about his days as a hockey player. If you haven't? Pay attention the next time you do watch a game he's involved in, because it's sure to come up.

Before he was causing the kind of chaos that only he can provide as a Major League outfielder, he was a hockey player in the Canadian junior leagues during the 1999-00 season, playing seven games with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League.

So he knows his way around the rink a little bit.

Now he's going to have an opportunity to show what he can do against the best players in the world as he will practice with the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday morning.

Morgan, who was born in San Francisco, said in a statement that he followed the Sharks from the time the team arrived in San Jose back in 1991, and also added "I will never forget the George Kingston and Patty Falloon days. I'm not sure the guys are ready for me!"

Well, at least he knows the team history, making reference to the Sharks first coach, Kingston, and perhaps most well-known player in those dark early years (Falloon).

After Morgan stopped playing hockey and focussed on baseball full-time he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 33rd round of the 2002 Major League Baseball draft. He's since spent time with the Pirates, Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers over parts of five, let's say ... polarizing seasons. You probably love his Wild antics if he plays for your team, but if he's playing for somebody else? Not so much.

Given his approach to baseball it's probably fair to assume that he would have fit in quite well as an agitator in the Matt Cooke, Sean Avery, Jarkko Ruutu mold had he continued to pursue a career in hockey. He did, after all, record 20 penalty minutes in his seven games with the Pats.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 26, 2012 9:41 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 10:51 am
 

Logan Couture last man standing at All-Star Draft

By: Adam Gretz

Nobody remembers that Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward was the first pick in last year's All-Star draft, just like nobody will remember that Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk went first this year.  But everybody seems to remember it was Toronto's Phil Kessel that was the last man sitting in the seats waiting for his name to be called a year ago.

Perhaps a little too much.

Kessel, of course, didn't think it was all that big of a deal, and still doesn't today. When asked on Thursday, after being selected in the eighth round by Zdeno Chara, what advice he would give to the player that goes last this year, he simply laughed and said "it doesn't matter, it's not a big deal."

The last man standing this season: San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture, as he ended up on Alfredsson's team after Zdeno Chara selected Dallas' Jamie Benn in the final round.

But don't feel too bad for Couture. This isn't quite the same as being picked last for kick ball in gym class or on the playground. He is, after all, still getting an opportunity to play in the NHL All-Star game with some of the best players in the world, which is an impressive accomplishment on its own. But he also takes home a brand new car for being the last player selected, which this year is a Honda Crosstour. Shortly after the draft ended, Couture went to his personal Twitter feed and posted, "First order of business. Pimping that Honda out."

Along with the new ride, the NHL and NHLPA will also be donating $10,000 (each) to the grassroots hockey fund of his choice.

It's not much of a surprise that Couture was the last pick, as he was one of the favorites heading into the draft. According to the folks at Bovada earlier in the week he was a 13/2 pick to be the last player selected (yes, people actually bet on this … recreationally, of course).

The other favorites were Philadelphia's Scott Hartnell (6/1), Buffalo's Jason Pominville (13/2)  and Benn (13/2).

The only thing we knew for sure was that the last player was going to be a forward, as every goalie had to be selected before the end of round 10, and all of the defensemen had to be selected before the end of round 15.

More 2012 NHL All-Star Game Coverage

Complete All-Star Game Rosters
Complete 2012 All-Star Game Coverage

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 26, 2012 7:45 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 7:45 pm
 

NHL playoff race at the All-Star break

NHLPlayoffRaceAllStarBreakBy: Adam Gretz

Back in December I looked at the teams you could probably consider as being out of the playoff race at that point in the season, and how difficult it would be to overcome a slow start, even a quarter of the way through the schedule. Obviously, as you get deeper into the season teams that are on the outside of the playoff picture have an even more difficult time climbing back into it. Those points are tough to make up, and by the time you reach this point in the season you start to get an idea as to which teams are good, and which teams are not.

As we head into the All-Star break this weekend, we're a just passed the halfway point in the season, and in the Eastern Conference there are probably only two teams that currently sit outside of the top-eight that can still be considered to be in the playoff face: Toronto and Winnipeg.

The Maple Leafs are currently in a three-way tie with New Jersey and Florida with 55 points, but lose out on a tiebreaker. The Jets are barely holding on to their slim postseason hopes, trailing both the No. 8 seed, as well as the top spot in the Southeast Division, by five points.

The other teams in the East? See you guys next season.

The Western Conference has a few more teams still in contention as Colorado, Dallas, Calgary and Phoenix are all within three points of the current No. 8 seed, the Minnesota Wild. But even though some of those teams are still within striking distance, the bottom of the playoff picture in the west has a logjob of six teams (Los Angeles, Minnesota, and the four teams mentioned above) fighting for just two spots.

It's not just the fact you have to make up the points, but that you also have to jump over a number of teams, as well.

To get an idea as to how difficult a point deficit of even three or four points is to overcome at this point in the season, I went back over the standings at the past three All-Star breaks (not counting the 2010 season, as there was no All-Star game that year due to the Olympics). Of the 48 teams that held a top-eight spot at that point in the season, 40 of them went on to make the playoffs.

Of the eight teams that worked their way into a playoff spot over the remainder of the season, only two of them overcome a deficit of more than two points -- the 2010-11 Sabres, which overcame a six-point deficit, and the 2008-09 St. Louis Blues, a team that was nine points out at the break. Four teams overcame one point deficits, and two overcome two point deficits.

The race in the east this season has a pretty similar look when compared to last season's, not because of the teams involved, but in the sense that we have a pretty good idea as to which teams are going to represent the conference. Last year the Atlanta Thrashers held the No. 8 spot at the break (yeah, they had a great first half) but were replaced by the Sabres by the end of the season.

The Western Conference is a little bit cleaner this season, as last year's playoff race at the break had every team with the exception of the Edmonton Oilers within at least five points of a playoff spot. The Sharks and Kings, both one point out at the break, ended up making the playoffs, while the Dallas Stars let a six-point lead in the Pacific Division at the break slip away by losing 20 of their final 32 games.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 24, 2012 12:47 am
Edited on: January 24, 2012 1:22 am
 

Sharks' Burns leaves game after knee-to-knee hit

By Brian Stubits

The San Jose Sharks took a tough loss in Edmonton on Monday night, dropping the game 2-1 in a shootout despite dominating the Oilers to the tune of a 45-18 advantage in shots.

What made it even tougher was the hit that star defenseman Brent Burns took in the third period, having a knee-on-knee hit from Ales Hemsky that knocked Burns out of the game. It also knocked Hemsky out of the game via a five-minute major (on which the Sharks scored their only goal of the game) and a game misconduct.

Here's a look at the play.

It can't be comforting at all seeing Burns having to be helped off the ice without putting much if any weight on his right leg, favoring the knee. It looked bad, really bad.

"It felt bad right away," Burns said after the game. "Almost threw up on the bench. He's [Hemsky] not that kind of player. Wasn't his fault."

In the good-news department, Burns reportedly walked onto the bus without assistance, including by the way of crutches. The upcoming All-Star break comes at a good time in that it gives them a few extra days off to further evaluate

But the mood wasn't overly optimistic after the game. From Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area:

“They’re still evaluating. I know he doesn’t feel good. I would doubt that he’s going to play for us tomorrow, and the doctors and the medical group have to really evaluate him to give us an update,” said the coach.

The Sharks have eight healthy defensemen, but [coach Todd] McLellan is still worried about San Jose’s prized offseason acquisition.

“Very high level of concern. It’s knee-on-knee, he doesn’t return, and you see him in there he’s not walking very well. I am concerned.”
The Sharks traded for Burns in the offseason, sending a pretty penny package of Devin Setoguchi, former first-round pick Charlie Coyle and a first-round pick in the last draft to the Wild for the defenseman. It was part of their summer objective to bolster the defensive corps in San Jose.

His numbers are down from the offensive production he put up in Minnesota, but he has been playing much better of late, raising his season total to seven goals and 10 assists thus far.

The question has to be asked if Hemsky, who is a target of a lot of trade speculation, will face any punishment from the league. Brendan Shanahan has punished players this season for knee-to-knee hits already. But to me it doesn't seem as bad as some of the others, seems more accidental than anything. I don't see Hemsky going out of his way to go knee-to-knee or leaving it out there long enough for the contact. I agree with Burns' assertion that it wasn't Hemsky's fault, it was more of an accident.

“For sure, he isn’t [at fault]," Burns reiterated about Hemsky. "I know that. It happens. It’s a quick game, and just a quick reaction. I’ve been on the other end. It’s quick, and it’s not his fault, I know that.”

The Sharks will hope it was nothing but a scare.

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

Posted on: January 20, 2012 12:57 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2012 3:50 pm
 

Weekend Preview: Rangers and Bruins finally meet

McDonagh's and Seguin's teams renew acquaintances. (Getty Images)

Weekend Schedules: Friday | Saturday | Sunday

By Brian Stubits

Thanks to the scheduling quirks of the NHL, it has taken us until the end of January to get a dose of some real New York-Boston feuding in hockey. No offense to the Devils and the Islanders, but the city-to-city rivalry is reserved for pretty much only the Rangers against the Bruins.

This season, though, the wait has seemed even longer than it really has been. That's because of the little fact that for the first team in a long, long time, the Bruins and Rangers are the best two teams in the Eastern Conference.

There has been some bemoaning lately of the lack of rivalries in hockey. Well this isn't on par with Yankees-Red Sox in baseball, but there's always a little extra flair when it's New York vs. Boston. This one should have a lot of extra flair.

Nobody at this point will dispute the Rangers are one of the best teams in the league this season. You'd be foolish to try. But there are people, myself included, who are still wondering exactly how good are the Rangers? Well what better way to find out than to send them to the hornets’ nest that is TD Garden in Boston to face the defending champs?

Although it’s too bad we could have had this game a week or so ago. By their standards this season, each of these teams has lost some steam going into the game. The Bruins are only 6-4-0 in their last 10 (gasp!) while the Rangers just slightly better at 7-3-0. I laugh about it a little but it was just in the last two weeks that each of these teams had won nine of 10 games.

One of the tricks for each of the coaches is to find ways to keep pushing their guys in the middle of the season, particularly when you've had as much success as these two Original Six squads have. Sometimes that can be as simple as finding a bear to poke (pun clearly intended).

Bruins coach Claude Julien took his poking stick to the midsection of Nathan Horton this week on the Bruins' recent road trip.

"Horton has got to pick up his game. No ifs or buts about it," Julien said after the shootout win at Florida. "A guy his size needs to get more physically involved. He needs to compete a lot harder. He's skating hard, you can see it on the backcheck ... but we need more from him. When he's emotionally engaged, he scores goals and he's a difference-maker. He's got to find his game. We're at the point where we're a little shorthanded and we need him to step up."

Horton responded by scoring twice in the loss to the Lightning and then one more in the win on Thursday night against the Devils. That might be mission: accomplished.

It looks like Rangers coach John Tortorella has his own target to try and prod.

Brad Richards was the star they brought to New York this summer to give Marian Gaborik that other scoring threat and finally give Henrik Lundqvist some much-deserved support. In that regard, Richards has been alright. But that's it.

In 45 games he has 15 goals and 16 assists for 31 points while carrying a minus-3. That stat still means very little, plus/minus, but on a team like the Rangers, it's tough to be negative. He and Ruslan Fedotenko are the only players on the team with more than 10 games played that are in the red.

Going into the game against the Bruins, Richards hasn't tallied a single point in the last six games. Obviously that's not very good, particularly for a guy making $6.7 million per season.

While Tortorella didn't go anywhere close to the level of criticism that Julien did with Horton, he at least made it known that Richards needs to step up some. From Ranger Rants:

Coach John Tortorella said he didn’t want to analyze individual performances after the game when asked specifically about Staal and Brad Richards. But he acknowledged that Richards’ game wasn’t spot on right now (he was a minus-1 in 16:46 though he won 12 of 16 faceoffs).

If the Rangers can get a point-per-game pace out of Richards like he has been doing for most of the past few seasons, then watch out.

This will be the first of four matchups between the foes this season and each will very likely go a long way in determining who gets home-ice advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.

If that leaves you wanting more ...

... Then you'll get it. There is no better way to spend Saturday if you're a hockey fan than to tune in to the NHL Network. Once that Rangers-Bruins tilt is done it's on to the next, but it takes no backseat to the first game.

The Vancouver Canucks seem to have a lot of rivalries these days. We all know about their ongoing feud with the Bruins, they have a fierce battle with the Chicago Blackhawks and pretty much any team from Canada.

But don't forget about their rivals to the south in San Jose, too. They've had some damn good playoff battles as well, including that Western Conference final matchup a season ago where Kevin Bieksa was the only person on the ice who knew what the heck was going on.

The Sharks are an interesting team to me. Perhaps it's a situation of just getting used to it, being desensitized to them, but once again they are right there in the race for the Presidents' Trophy this season. Remember, they have games in hand on every single Western Conference team.

Yet they are just quietly trudging along on the West Coast. It's expected from them now to be honest. That's a great compliment to give to the ownership and front office in San Jose.

Unlike the Eastern powers mentioned above, these Western heavies have already met three times this season, so when they dance on Saturday night in Vancouver, it's the last time they'll see each other until next season. Unless ...

Hot, hot, hot!

The Ottawa Senators are 12-2-2 since Kyle Turris came to town. They are in the midst of a very challenging road trip to the West Coast, starting it off with a win on Thursday in San Jose.

When they looked at the itinerary for the road trip, they had to look at the Saturday visit to Anaheim as a little bit of a reprieve on the tough trip. Not anymore.

It took a while, but Bruce Boudreau is seeing the Ducks play the way we all thought they would this season. All of a sudden, these are the two hottest teams in the NHL (what?!?). The Ducks are 6-0-1 in their last seven games in their own right.

It's likely well past the time for them to get back into the playoff picture. Even with these 13 points in seven games, they are still 13 points behind Colorado for the eighth spot in the West. What a really strong finish can do, though, is affect the way general manager Bob Murray views his team and thus how much of a seller the Ducks will be at the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

In the meantime, each of the Sens and Ducks gets a heat check in one of the few places in either the USA or Canada that it's actually warm right now, Southern California.

Familiar foes

Friday night will feature some old friends facing off as the Florida Blackhawks visit the Chicago Panthers. Wait ...

Since Dale Tallon took over in Florida as general manager, the Panthers have taken on quite a strong feeling of the Blackhawks. They currently carry five former players from Chicago: John Madden, Brian Campbell, Kris Versteeg, Tomas Kopecky and Jack Skille. Of them, only Skille wasn't a contributor to the Stanley Cup a couple of seasons ago.

To make that happen obviously Tallon had to send some of his Panthers players to GM Stan Bowman in Chicago. It's not as strong the other way but the Blackhawks currently employ former Panthers Michal Frolik, Steve Montador and have Rostislav Olesz and Alexander Salak in the system.

But the player to watch in this battle? How about Andrew Shaw, who is quickly making a big name for himself in Chicago. The 20-year-old forward who was a fifth-round pick by the 'Hawks has five points in the last four games on the strength of a goal in each game. That's led to the Twitter hashtag of #ShawFacts where fans have taken their best Chuck Norris jokes and tailored them for Shaw.

Something else worth watching: With weather conditions as bad as they are in Chicago this weekend, will the Panthers have any problems getting out of town and into Winnipeg in time for their game Saturday against the Jets?

Speak of old friends ...

What would the Tampa Bay Lightning give to have the summer over and keep Mike Smith instead of Dwayne Roloson?

The Bolts will get the chance to see firsthand what has happened to Smith since he moved to the desert this offseason. For those not in the know, what has happened is that he has become a quality starting goaltender for the Coyotes.

The Lightning are giving up more goals than any team in the league. Don't you think Smith and his 2.41 goals against average would be handy in Tampa Bay this season?

Then again, it probably wouldn't be too much different if the defenders in front of Smith were playing the same/as injured as they are in front of Roloson and Mathieu Garon.

Fun doesn't stop Saturday

On Sunday there is a nice pair of battles for matinee games in the Eastern Conference.

The Bruins will take on another one of the I-95 corridor powers in the Philadelphia Flyers while the Pittsburgh Penguins will host the Washington Capitals for their final bout this season. It might be a bit watered down without Sidney Crosby playing, but it's still worth watching.

Both games are worth it, so get ready to wear out the "last" button on your remote.

We're going streaking!

A look at the winning and losing streaks heading into the weekend.

Penguins: Remember how they just lost six in a row? This is how you rebound from that. The Pens take a four-game winning streak into Friday night's game against the Canadiens before the game against the Caps.

Detroit Red Wings: For the moment, they have taken the lead in the Central Division, which is an unbelievable race this season. Their five straight wins will be put on the line Saturday vs. the Blue Jackets.

St. Louis Blues: They are doing what they can to keep pace with the Red Wings and Blackhawks, and they're doing it just fine. They ride a three-game run into a home game against the Sabres, losers of 10 straight on the road.

Buffalo Sabres: As just mentioned, 10 straight road losses, four in a row overall. Only the one chance in St. Louis to snap it this weekend.

Panthers: They haven't won a game in their last three chances but they have picked up points in two of those three. The double dip this weekend is at Chicago and at Winnipeg.

Minnesota Wild: The ship keeps on sinking. Remember when they were first in the NHL? I hardly do either. Four straight losses and Dallas on tap this weekend.

Dallas Stars: Misery loves company, I suppose. Dallas brings its own losing streak of three games into the weekend, but they get Tampa Bay before facing the Wild.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.
Posted on: January 16, 2012 8:01 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 8:17 pm
 

Blue Jackets' Byers suspended three games

By Brian Stubits

Brendan Shanahan enjoyed a few quiet days in the past week, it must have felt like the Christmas break again, minus the delicious ham or turkey dinner, of course.

But he was back at it on Monday, handing down a three-game suspension to Columbus Blue Jackets forward Dane Byers. To the video ...

The hit occurred in the Sharks zone with San Jose trying to advance the puck out. Byers came across the ice and put a hit on Desjardins. But as Shanahan notes, the principal point of contact was the head of Desjardins, an obvious no no as the NHL has made clear multiple times this season.

What Shanahan notes in giving Byers a three-game suspension is how he had the chance to deliver a body check but instead rose up and delivered a hit to the head using his shoulder and continued to drive upward through the hit.

Adding into the mix, Desjardins was injured as a result of the hit, leaving him a little groggy and leading to concussion tests.

Plus Byers, despite being a recent callup from the AHL, has a suspension on his NHL resume for starting a fight in the final five minutes of a game. So the three strikes in this case add up to three games.

More NHL Discipline news

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

Posted on: January 12, 2012 1:43 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 4:24 pm
 

All-Star Game: Dissecting the picks; predictions

By Brian Stubits

The NHL announce its full list of All-Stars on Thursday in about as poor a way as it could have. Remember when Mario Lemieux called the NHL a garage league? Maybe he was thinking of days like this.

The NHL had ample opportunities to put this front and center. They could have announced the selections on Wednesday night using NBC Sports Network and TSN. Heck, they could have made the announcement using the NHL Network instead of running a replay of a game from last night.

All of that would have been better. Instead, the All-Star selections started leaking one at a time. The first was the Florida Panthers announcing Brian Campbell would be representing them. Then the Blackhawks followed with the Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. The leaks continued until the NHL finally released the entire list of players about an hour later.

It's almost like it wasn't planned.

Anyway, on to the guys who were selected. These are the guys who will head to Ottawa for the All-Star Game and will be part of the second NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft, much like the way you would pick teams for kickball at recess with two captains selecting players until they're gone.

As usual, there are a few head-scratchers in here.

Forwards

Jason Spezza (Senators), Milan Michalek (Senators), Daniel Alfredsson (Senators), Jamie Benn (Stars), Pavel Datsyuk (Red Wings), Marian Gaborik (Rangers), Claude Giroux (Flyers), Marian Hossa (Blackhawks), Jarome Iginla (Flames), Patrick Kane (Blackhawks), Phil Kessel (Maple Leafs), Mikko Koivu (Wild), Joffrey Lupul (Maple Leafs), Evgeni Malkin (Penguins), Logan Couture (Sharks), Alex Ovechkin (Capitals), Jason Pominville (Sabres), Daniel Sedin (Canucks), Henrik Sedin (Canucks), Tyler Seguin (Bruins), Corey Perry (Ducks), Steven Stamkos (Lightning), John Tavares (Islanders), Jonathan Toews (Blackhawks).

Defensemen

Erik Karlsson (Senators), Dion Phaneuf (Maple Leafs), Dustin Byfuglien (Jets), Brian Campbell (Panthers), Zdeno Chara (Bruins), Alexander Edler (Canucks), Dan Girardi (Rangers), Shea Weber (Predators), Keith Yandle (Coyotes), Dennis Wideman (Capitals), Ryan Suter (Predators), Kimmo Timonen (Flyers).

Goaltenders

Tim Thomas (Bruins), Brian Elliott (Blues), Jimmy Howard (Red Wings), Henrik Lundqvist (Rangers), Carey Price (Canadiens), Jonathan Quick (Kings).

For those wondering on the breakdown, that's 24 players from the Eastern Conference, 18 from the Western. The six vote-ins all coming from the East helps with that bit of disparity, though.

Now, on to the superlatives ...

Biggest snub

You never know who actually said no to the invite. That's the caveat here. But if nothing else the players should get the honor and then decline to appear (I get the murkiness of it, but they deserve the honor).

With that said, wow, where do I begin? Teemu Selanne? Nicklas Lidstrom? Well they asked out, so no use getting bent out of shape there. So moving on ...

I understand that Nicklas Backstrom (the Capitals center, that is) is injured at the moment, but he's day to day and the game isn't for another few weeks. There is zero doubt that he has been the Capitals' best player this season, not Ovechkin, who made the roster ahead of a long list of players that probably deserved it more.

I scratch my head a little with the selection of Byfuglien on defense. Not that he is bad by any stretch, but I probably would take a few guys over him. From the Jets perspective, I would have liked to see Evander Kane more.

You could make a case -- probably not a great one, however -- for Florida's Jason Garrison, as well. He leads defensemen in goals with 11 and has a slap shot that might possibly stand a chance in the hardest shot competition against Chara and Byfuglien.

There are a few more in the forward role who seem to be more deserving. It's going to continue to come back to Ovechkin because he's the high-profile name with mediocre numbers. Thomas Vanek in Buffalo? Scott Hartnell in Philly? Kris Versteeg in Florida? Patrik Elias for the Devils? Patrice Bergeron in Boston? Patrick Sharp (who was reportedly not picked before injury concerns) Or even Radim Vrbata from the Coyotes? The lists goes on.

It goes to show how even when the fans aren't voting, star power is a big factor. It's always about a little more than just performance.

Least deserving

To make room for the snubs you obviously have to decide who shouldn't be on the list, otherwise they aren't a snub, right? Well that is pretty tough to do.

I do not think Ovechkin deserves his selection based on merit alone. But again, there's more to it than just the stats. Ovechkin gets in based on the star power and marketing more than anything else. I don't necessarily like that, but I can accept that. I think Kane falls into this category to an extent, too. All things being equal, a few of the snubs probably deserve the honor more than Kane this season, but he has a little star power that, say, Versteeg doesn't have.

I'm not terribly high on the other Caps pick of Wideman either. He's had a good season offensively, which is what this game values most, so in that regard it's OK. But even he admitted he was surprised when he was told, he thought he was getting traded.

After them (not counting the guys voted in) it gets pretty tough. Not any wholly undeserving guys (not even the above mentioned).

Keeping in mind that every team gets represented through the All-Star Game or the rookie selections, some guys are safe. That makes it tougher.

Who will be Mr. Irrelevant?

We know this much: It won't be Kessel again. Absolutely no way to predict this accurately, so my stab in the dark is going to say Couture. He's the only member from the Sharks, he is young and plays at the position with the most players, on the wing.

Who will be the captains?

The official announcement will come in a week, so for now we're left to speculate. Alfredsson is a given seeing how the game is in Ottawa. Take that one to the bank. The other was likely going to be Selanne, but now ... Iginla? Maybe you go with an old Senator in Chara? I'd take my chances it's Iginla.

Or maybe Kessel? That would be interesting.

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

Posted on: January 11, 2012 10:54 am
Edited on: January 11, 2012 2:16 pm
 

Setoguchi misses meeting after seeing Sharks?

By Brian Stubits

The Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks built up quite a relationship this offseason. They made a couple of trades, big ones too. In separate deals the Wild acquired both Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi from the Sharks while giving up Martin Havlat and Brent Burns.

Tuesday was the first time that the former Wild players had the chance to go back to Minnesota for a game, a chance to show the fine folks of St. Paul how the trades have worked out for both sides. Only problem was Setoguchi wasn't playing for the Wild, and not because of injury but instead he was a healthy scratch.

Why would the struggling Wild willingly put Setoguchi in the press box for a night, particularly against his former team? Michael Russo at the Minneapolis Star Tribune has an idea:

On a night when the Wild was already without second-liners Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Guillaume Latendresse, Yeo made the gutsy decision to scratch Devin Setoguchi for what he called a violation of a team rule. Multiple sources tell me Setoguchi missed a team meeting this morning the night after going out with a bunch of his Shark buds.

Cavorting with the enemy before the game and missing the team meeting (presumably) as a result? I think most would agree that's grounds for something.

Personally, though, I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often. Any time you hear players who are retiring or who recently retired, what do they always talk about missing? Not the game itself, but the guys they played with, being on a team. Of course a lot of these guys develop great friendships, they spend so much time together and pour their hearts into a common goal.

Maybe I'm not old school enough (or is it a case of being too old school?) but I don't have much of a problem at all with Setoguchi hanging out with his former teammates when they visit town. I like my athletes to be real, not be made from the steel, as one of my favorites Ilya Bryzgalov would say. I hate when players are held to this higher, robotic standard in the guise of professionalism.

As long as he isn't giving away secrets of the Church of Yeo or doing anything stupid to put himself in trouble, it doesn't bother me much. Key word being much. I can live with that.

Obviously where he runs afoul of the rules in anybody's book is missing the team meeting. Setoguchi wasn't the first nor will he be the last to be scratched for that. Remember Bruins forward Tyler Seguin and his really bad excuse for missing a meeting in Winnipeg because his clock was still on Boston time (do the time zone conversion to see why it's bad)? That earned him a scratch.

That's what got Setoguchi a seat in the press box here, too. You can't miss team meetings.

The good news for him is that coach Mike Yeo says the slate starts clean on Wednesday.

I'll put it to you: Is hanging with the enemies before a game an absolute no-go?

Photo: Getty Images

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