Posted on: December 31, 2010 1:05 pm
PITTSBURGH -- For the 12,000 fans who were lucky enough to get one of the limited tickets available, (and even those who paid up to $160 to scalpers) the end to today’s alumni game didn’t really matter.
Obviously it would have been better had the Penguins defeated the Washington Capitals rather than tying them 5-5 in this politically correct-labeled old-timers matchup, even more so had former captain and current team owner Mario Lemieux scored a goal or three. But Lemieux did get a couple of assists, one of them on a goal by Rob Brown, his former linemate who might have appreciated the setup more had it come 23 years ago.
“He finally got me my 50th,” laughed Brown, who scored 49 times in his best season with the Penguins.
Mind you, no one was complaining on what late, great Penguins coach Bob Johnson would have definitely called a great day for hockey. The temperature was 41 degrees at the start, it was dry and the sun managed to pop out before it was all over.
“It was fun to be a part of,” Lemieux said. “I saw some old faces again, guys I haven’t seen for a long time, some guys from the Cup years and older guys. It was pretty special for all of us. These are memories that we can cherish for a long time."
For those in the stands though, this was less about creating memories than bringing back old ones, most notably when the Penguins showed flashes of the past by taking the lead on the power play late in the final period. Paul Coffey started things with a familiar rush, Lemieux directed traffic from the wall on his off wing and Larry Murphy quarterbacked from the point, with Ron Francis and Kevin Stevens doing the screening in front of Caps goalie Don Beaupre.
“Pretty much the same setup we had 20 years ago,” Lemieux laughed. “It looked like we knew what we were doing.”
Apparently because Francis neatly deflected the shot Murphy took after a feed from Lemieux. The Caps didn't quit though and drew even before it was over on a goal by Peter Bondra.
“What else do you expect from that guy,” Stevens said. “Some things never change.”
Even when they do.
Posted on: December 28, 2010 4:04 pm
Funny thing about Flames GM Darryl Sutter being shown the door is that Calgary has won its last two games. One of them was even on the road in Dallas against one of the league’s top teams.
Normally that would delay the inevitable, which is this case is Sutter getting finally pushed aside, but only for so long.
Of course his brother, coach Brent, might be the next to go, a decision that is now up to new GM Jay Feaster. Feaster won a Stanley Cup in that role with Tampa Bay and was hired last summer as Darryl Sutter’s assistant, a fallback position for the team’s ownership that was as obvious then as it is now.
The Flames may not have quite been ready to face the reality of their situation last summer, but midway through another season that will end a lot earlier than anyone wants, the higher-ups have obviously come to terms with the need for a different type of builder.
Feaster will bring a view of the world that better understands the NHL of today along with the painful lessons he learned about the salary cap after winning the Cup. And he’ll be able to operate without being encumbered by any of the personal ‘loyalties’ that have become ingrained in the organization.
The Sutter family produced six brothers who played in the NHL and now has some of their offspring on the ice, resulting in a level of iconic status in their native province of Alberta. That provided a lot of latitude for Darryl over the seven years he served (including two seasons as coach) he’s been with the Flames in terms of personnel on and off the ice. But the bottom line is that Sutter got them to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2004, ironically against Feaster’s Lightning, and had been living off that ever since.
Calgary managed to catch some lightning in a bottle that pre-lockout season after missing the previous seven playoffs, but they flamed out once play resumed in large part because Sutter never quite seemed to understand just how much the game had changed after the stoppage. Sutter not only mismanaged the salary cap to the point his team played some games below the roster limit, he made questionable trades and signings and constructed lineups that were plodding, old and slow in a game that has become all about youth, quickness and agility. And Sutter never put together the kind of offense that could at least provide adequate support for franchise player Jarome Iginla.
The Flames made opening round exits in the first four seasons after the lockout, and then missed the playoffs entirely last season, Calgary’s first after Brent had been controversially hired away from New Jersey. The brothers found themselves on thin ice as far as the rabid fan base was concerned, and Darryl didn’t help matters when his two biggest off-season moves were bringing back forwards Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay, both of whom had been essentially run out of the town.
And now the Flames are 14th in the West and all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. This team needs a rebuild, one that would be helped immeasurably be helped if Iginla, who has been in high gear of late, agrees to waive his no-trade clause.
Sutter may or may not have gotten around to asking that of someone who has carried the team during his tenure, but now that he has, ahem, 'stepped down' it doesn't matter. Feaster will figure that part out and more important, he’ll take the team in a much different direction. It's a much-needed change.
Posted on: December 16, 2010 1:23 pm
So how is it that someone who was a nationally-ranked figure skater as a kid raises concerns about his ability on the blades? Hurricanes rookie Jeff Skinner has heard those knocks since the scouting reports on him began to emerge when he was a junior player, even if they tended to be always tempered with glowing remarks about his ability to score.
Posted on: December 15, 2010 11:52 pm
Good thing Paul Maurice was in an upbeat mood, although coaches tend to be that way after their teams rally from three-goal deficits the way the Carolina Hurricanes did to beat Florida 4-3.
Posted on: December 14, 2010 1:58 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2010 2:40 pm
There are a couple of prominent aging veteran names on the open market right now with Brian Rolston being put on waivers today by the New Jersey Devils and Evgeni Nabokov being released from his contract with St. Petersburg of the KHL.
Posted on: December 7, 2010 5:53 pm
Among the first-time participants in an NHL board of governors meeting this week was former Colorado Avalanche captain and franchise icon Joe Sakic.
The future Hall of Famer ended his brilliant 20-year career before last season and has spent much of his time since then with his family and contemplating his future. But he has stayed close to the Avs organization, attending many of their games and hanging with team president Pierre Lacroix, so the general assumption is that Sakic will eventually follow the lead of several other peers like Steve Yzerman and get into some sort of management role.
Sakic, though, said he hasn’t thought that far ahead.
“This is just a start for me,” Sakic said after the two- days of meetings in Palm Beach, Florida ended. “Pierre asked me to come and I jumped at the opportunity to get in and learn the business side of it before I start anything.”
Sakic said he isn’t in any rush to get back into the game. And Yzerman, now the rookie general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, noted that Sakic is going about things the right way.
“He’s gradually getting back into it,” Yzerman said. “We all retire at relatively young ages -- 40sh or so – and he’s s got an opportunity now to spend some time with his family and kids, but the game is what we grow up doing and what we’re most comfortable in and what we know best and the ability to stay in it is important.
“But you have to get your feet wet. There’s an incredible amount to learn and coming to a board of governors meeting attending or other meetings, being at games, it’s a great transition. When the time is right to get back in, you’ve got an education.”
Posted on: December 7, 2010 7:31 am
Some of the excitement Kevin Shattenkirk has been experiencing since making his NHL debut in early November was tempered last week when his childhood friend Colby Cohen was traded away to Boston by the Avalanche.
“Part of the business, I guess,” Shattenkirk shrugged. “We were hoping to play together up here, but he’ll enjoy being back in Boston.”
That’s where the two of them played as defense partners in college, with Shattenkirk setting up Cohen for Boston University’s Frozen Four-winning goal in overtime in 2009. The 21-year-olds have played with or against each other since they were 10 years old, and have taken similar career routes through the U.S. National Team Development program and college hockey.
Cohen, a native of Villanova, Pa., actually left the national program a year before Shattenkirk to play junior A hockey but they reconnected at Boston U. and were both drafted by the Avs in 2007. Each made their NHL debut this season for Colorado, though not at the same time, but the next time they’ll meet, it will be as rivals.
“That’s the nature of the beast,” Shattenkirk said.
Posted on: December 1, 2010 3:24 pm
Imagine if Sidney Crosby actually had a high-end winger to play with.