Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Final Round

We follow the final round of the Stanley Cup chase from here:

Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings

Game One-- Sat May 30-- Pittsburgh 1 at Detroit 3
Game Two-- Sun May 31-- Pittsburgh 1 at Detroit 3
Game Three-- Tue June 2-- Detroit 2 at Pittsburgh 4
Game Four-- Thur June 4-- Detroit 2 at Pittsburgh 4
Game Five-- Sat June 6-- Pittsburgh 0 at Detroit 5
Game Six-- Tue June 9-- Detroit 1 at Pittsburgh 2
Game Seven-- Fri June 12-- Pittsburgh 2 at Detroit 1

** If necessary


Pittsburgh Penguins stats page
Detroit Red Wing stats

Notes from the Media pages

Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Pittsburgh Tribune Review
Detroit News
Detroit Free Press
Windsor Star
Team websites
Pittsburgh Penguins website
Detroit Red Wings website

Friday, May 29, 2009

Patrick takes a pass

After all the mystery and speculation, Patrick Roy has apparently turned down the Colorado Avalanche and their desires to see him take over as coach and GM of the NHL franchise in the Mile High City.

Roy, citing family concerns has decided that life in Quebec City is the best option for him at this time (however long "this time" may be) and so he firmly declared Non, to the idea of his relocation to Colorado. Instead he will remain in his various positions with the Quebec Remparts, while watching his sons and daughter begin their way along the journey that is young adulthood.

While Patrick has done what is apparently best for Patrick, what it does to the Avalanche may be a whole different story.

The public nature of this entire botched effort can only be seen as a rather sad humiliation of Tony Granato, who NHL fans may remember is still actually the head coach of the Avs, complete with a signed two year contract and all of that legal mumbo jumbo that supposedly binds you to an organization.

Now, we gather he is just supposed to pick up wherever it was that he left off when the rumours first started swirling around that Patrick, the anointed saint of salvation for hockey in Colorado may soon be on the way. Somehow you get the feeling that despite the current turn of events, Tony might best use his summer refining the resume and heading for the nearest Fed Ex/Kinkos to talk about volume discounts.

How the Avs managed to let this mess get so public and so out of their control is anyone's guess, but it certainly provides testimony as to the rather ramshackle nature of their affairs of late, a veritable gong show of management, which is making them one of the more humorous of franchises. And that's a pretty steep hill to climb when you factor in what's going on in Phoenix, Tampa and such.

Pierre Lacroix, once was considered to be one of the leading GM's during his day, now as President he's providing a very different impression as to his ability to handle the changing nature of the NHL and risking destroying the image of the Avs for a very long time.

After this week, Colorado fans certainly won't be taking much in the way of comfort over where their franchise is heading in the short term.

Denver Post-- Roy refuses Avs' offer
Denver Post-- Roy says no to Avalanche
Sun Media-- Roy says no to the Avs Roy turns down coaching offer from the Avalanche
Toronto Star-- Roy turns down Avalanche offer, cites family reasons

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Gary Bettman's headaches get a little worse...

Beyond the mess that has become the Phoenix Coyotes, away from the rumblings that more of those struggling franchise dominoes are about to fall across the southern USA comes another problem for the Commissioner that may give the NHL as black an eye as the ever popular financial troubles do.

Richard Thomas, and his wife, Sandra Thomas, of Lakeland, Florida were arrested after Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials and the local police raided their home and found $200,000 worth of drugs, part of a supply which if the stories coming out of the USA are proven correct could very well have been destined for some members of either the Washington Nationals baseball team or the Washington Capitals hockey team.

In the early moments of this investigation, the Capitals have issued a statement which says that they have no knowledge of “any aspect of this allegation.”. The NHL was quick to add however, that they planned to conduct a complete investigation into the charges.

For the most part, hockey's boosters have tried to portray the league as somehow immune from the sordid world of the steroid boosters, just featuring good strong lads who work out hard, play hard and probably do nothing recreational other than a few pops with the boys after the game.

It's a quaint illusion, but one that probably isn't reasonable in these times of performance enhancement. While the issue of steroid abuse probably isn't in the same scale as made famous by baseball and professional football, the NHL has a pretty spotty record when it comes to testing and watching over its players.

Despite Gary Bettman's time in the spotlight with the other big sports leaders last year with the US Congress, the league's dedication towards the topic of steroids has been more pedestrian, than determined over the years.

That is what makes it ripe for the low lifes and bottom feeders to get a hold on some of hockey's players who may feel that they need an extra edge to hang on, maybe introduce a few of his team mates to his "friend" and from there the thing of trouble is made.

Eventually, as proven in Florida, the bad guys get caught, they look to save themselves and in the course of that process they will throw out as many names as possible, some maybe fanciful others caught dead to rights. Suspicion will replace fact in a good many cases, and in the fallout will come a shadow on the game.

If the Florida couple prove to be nothing more than a pair of drowning souls looking for a lifeline, then the NHL will have dodged a bullet. Perhaps using it as a warning to get a better handle on what their member teams are doing towards the goal of a clean sport.

If the naming of the names however brings out some unwanted news of some of the stars of the game, perhaps going beyond Washington, then Mr. Bettman's year from hell will only be getting worse, much worse than even he must surely have thought possible.

The NHL has always wanted to be considered one of the big four of sports in America, however we suspect that this wasn't quite what they had in mind in their quest for that goal!

Globe and Mail-- Watch the NHL turtle
Picture above from the Washington Times website

Oilers look to the future with a familiar face

His success with the youngsters in last years World Juniors, may just have been the best thing that could have happened to Pat Quinn, the long time NHL coach, GM and one time President, gets another stop to add to his resume this fall, as Quinn takes over the reins of the Edmonton Oilers.

A move that could change the dynamic in the Northwest Division for a number of years to come.

Quinn, expressed more than a good deal of enthusiasm at his next assignment as he, Tom Renney and Kelly Buchburger, made their introductions to Edmonton's hockey followers on Tuesday.

For astute students of the game, they need only look back a few years and a few hundred miles to the west and Vancouver, where both Quinn and Renney once toiled, along with current Oilers GM Steve Tambellini.

The combo is being described by some as the perfect match, Quinn's steady leadership, his ability to get as much out of his players as possible, in concert with Renney's dedication to the basics, the X and O's of the game, could be the right mix to take the under performing Oilers to the next level of their evolution.

The youthful group that seemed to lose their focus this past season, won't find an easy touch in their new head coach, while generally considered to be a players advocate, Quinn is just as quick to let a player know if he's not pulling his weight or shirking his on ice responsibilities.

A team that seemed to disdain the need for accountability for former coach Craig MacTavish, won't find the journey an enjoyable one if they continue that trend for Quinn, Renney and Buchberger.

Despite being away from the coaching ranks of the NHL for the last three years, Quinn managed to stay quite relevant as the designated coach for a pair of Canada's junior teams and their quest for success. Frequently expressing his desire to return to the coaching ranks, not quite ready to curl up with some hot tea and spin tales of the old days.

On those junior squads he brought a steady hand to the young talent assembled for him, putting an end to the myth that he was best suited to a team of grizzled vets, with many years under their belts. His success and the respect and thirst for knowledge that he pulled out of the juniors provided the jump that was needed to get him back to the NHL, Tambellini merely provided the platform.

In Edmonton, he is getting another opportunity to do what he does best, teach the game and bring out the best of his players, the rest is up to those that pull on the skates in September, the keys for their success are being assembled, the time to show that they belong is near.

The upcoming year promises to bring with it some fascinating twists for the Western Conference, where Vancouver goes from their early exit and what direction Calgary goes with Mike Keenan gone from his post.

But all eyes it seems will be on Oil country, quite interested to see what an icon of the NHL can do with the next generation of Oilers.

Edmonton Sun-- Bucky on board
Edmonton Sun-- 'No-brainer'
Edmonton Sun-- Players like trifecta
Edmonton Journal-- Quinn still game to coach
Edmonton Journal-- Renney brings experience
Edmonton Journal-- Double visionaries

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Red Wings return to the finals

The youngsters from Chicago provided for a rather stern test, but in the end, it was as expected a Detroit Red wing team that would be moving on to the Stanley Cup final.

With a lineup riddled with injuries, the Red Wings counted on the second, the third and the fourth line players to pull more than the expected weight, a complete team effort indicative of the Red Wing ethic that not one player seems to be larger than the collective group.

Wednesday nights overtime victory found Dan Cleary back in a familiar spot, scoring an important goal, the first one that broke the 0 to 0 deadlock in the third, but to their credit the Hawks were not frustrated or ready for defeat, Patrick Kane quickly got that one back, his goal seemingly sending the message that an overtime win was going to be the required ticket for the Red Wings if they hoped to move on to the finals.

And just shy of four minutes into that extra frame, Darren Helm did just that, a furious scramble in front of Christobal Huet, resulting in a desperate poke at the puck and on into the net, the winning goal bringing dejection to Chicago and euphoria to Detroit.

While the eventual result seemed only a matter of time as the series progressed, the Hawks served notice that they are not that far away from their own shot a the Stanley Cup final. If not for a number of breakdowns at key periods of the five games, they may have forced this series to its full seven games.

But, against a veteran squad such as the Wings, those lapses proved to be too costly, the Wings with such depth in their line up that even the absence of some of their top line stars hardly seemed to have any effect.

Instead, we found a Dan Cleary, a one time Chicago cast off, suddenly one of the hottest players in the playoffs, each game another indicator that the Conn Smythe Trophy doesn't necessarily have to be destined for a star player.

And while Chicago fans may bemoan their fate, they must be quite excited about their future, with this vital bit of playoff success, these Hawks will no doubt be a team to be reckoned with.

For now though, the season belongs to the Wings and the Penguins, a renewal of last years festivities, one of historic tones, with the Penguins playing the role of the 84 Oilers, the Wings the Islanders.

Detroit, as one of hockey's most historic teams, will no doubt be seeking to change the destiny that played out in 84, anxious not to turn over their championship status just yet.

While there were a few twists along the way, as we head for Saturday night's game one debut, we have a fine looking series ahead, considering the off ice diversions this playoff year, it's rather nice to have some hockey to look forward to for a change.

Globe and Mail-- Helm powers Detroit into final
National Post-- Red Wings will once again meet Penguins in final
Windsor Star-- Injury-plagued Wings dispatch Chicago
Detroit Free Press-- If Wings win it, put Helm's name in all caps on the Cup
Detroit Free Press-- Clinched without their C
Detroit News-- Wings pull out OT thriller to earn return Finals trip against Penguins
Detroit News-- Unlikely hero Helm puts Wings in Stanley Cup Finals
Detroit News-- Dan Cleary continues hot scoring streak
Chicago Sun Times-- It's overtime and out for Hawks as Wings advance to Finals
Chicago Sun Times-- Blackhawks' end also a beginning of great expectations
Chicago Tribune-- Chicago Blackhawks lose to Detroit Red Wings 2-1
Chicago Tribune-- Hawks were good, Huet was great, Wings are best

Hockey mourns the passing of one of the good guys

The tributes have begun to arrive for Peter Zezel, the long time NHL veteran who passed away in Toronto on Tuesday at the age of forty four.

Many looked far beyond his skill on the ice and instead focused on his ability to understand the relationship between athlete and fan, his frequent appearances at team functions and a never say no attitude when it came to hospital visits or other events that involved young children.

His career spanned fifteen seasons and took him to seven teams around the NHL including stints with the Vancouver Canucks and his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs.

He passed away on Tuesday in a Toronto hospital, suffering from a rare blood disorder known as hemolytic anemia, as was indicative of his nature, he donated his body for organ donation, allowing others to live thanks to his generosity.

From NHL coaches and managers to union reps and fellow team mates over the years, all joined in the chorus of recognition and praise for Zezel, who added a touch of dash to his class over the years.

Besides his exploits on the ice, he was an accomplished soccer player suiting up for the Toronto Blizzard and North York Rockets during his playing days, he also was featured in the hockey themed motion picture Youngblood, a 1986 feature which starred Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze.

But beyond those interesting sidelines to his life, it was his dedication to charity work and his love of hockey and coaching young people that is being reflected upon with his passing, a fitting testimony to his achievement in the short forty four years that he lived to the fullest.

Globe and Mail-- Peter Zezel passes away
National Post-- Former NHLer Zezel passes away in Toronto hospital
Philadelphia Inquirer-- Former Flyer Peter Zezel dies at 44
Toronto Star-- Former Leaf favourite Peter Zezel dies
Toronto Sun-- Hockey loses Zezel
Winnipeg Free Press-- NHL veteran Zezel, 44, dies after long illness
Vancouver Province-- Rare blood disorder kills former Canuck Peter Zezel
photo from Vancouver Province website

Pens make quick work of Canes...

The Pittsburgh Penguins will either want to get to work on their Stanley Cup quest as soon as possible, or they may soon have enough time for a lengthy vacation before they get down to the task of bringing Lord Stanley's cup to the city of Three Rivers.

Regardless, they won't have to keep the Carolina Hurricanes entertained/terrified any longer.

The Pens made quick work of their Eastern final competition, sweeping the Canes in four straight with game four another clinic put on by the suddenly surging Penguins. They showcased the maturity and confidence that they have achieved this year early in game four, refusing to be rattled by the Carolina surge in the first few minutes of the game.
Instead, they calmly kept to their plan, shutting down the attack and turning the flow of the game back in the direction they wished, eventually taking away the Carolina lead for good and completing the sweep of the series.

Portraying more of that imagery that has many thinking back to the early days of the Oilers dynasty, the Pens were once again dominating in their play, indicated throughout this series by their ability to outscore the Canes by a margin of 20-9.
Marc Andre Fleury out dueled Cam Ward in this Eastern final, shutting down the Carolina attack on those rare occasions that they managed to find a way around the Penguins game plan. In the final game of this series, he faced down the Hurricanes in the final fifty eight minutes holding them to their solitary goal of the game.

The Penguins trailed in only twenty minutes and thirty seconds of 240 minutes of play over the course of the four games. An indication as to the focus and determination that they have brought to this their second run for Stanley in two years.

Sidney Crosby shrugged off the traditional superstition over the Prince of Wales trophy, carrying the Eastern division trophy off to the dressing room at the conclusion of the game. Most teams over the course of the NHL's history have chosen not to touch the trophy, preferring to wait for the grand prize to come in the final round.

However, the Pens seem to be skating to their own agenda this season, more confident than last year, more seasoned and certainly ready for another shot at taking that larger more honoured bit of silver ware home with them.

They will perhaps find out when they skate next and against which team, after the conclusion of the Detroit - Chicago game on Wednesday, a Detroit win would set the table for a rematch between last years Stanley Cup finalists.

And with it, the comparisons to those early Oiler days will again become prominent. It was after a heartbreaking loss in 83 to the Islanders, that Edmonton then began it's reign as defending champions in 1984.

History tends to work in cycles in sports, perhaps with Tuesday nights win, the 2009 Pens have positioned themselves in place for their chance to begin their lodging in the history books.

Pittsburgh Tribune Review-- Penguins earn another shot at Lord Stanley
Pittsburgh Tribune Review-- All or nothing for Penguins
Pittsburgh Tribune Review-- Hurricanes have parting words for Pens
Pittsburgh Tribune Review-- Controversial Cherry praises Pens' Crosby
Raleigh News and Observer-- End of the journey
Raleigh News and Observer-- Ward's playoff run finally ends

Monday, May 25, 2009

He's the Choice and he'll have his choice

All that is left in Denver is seemingly to offer him up the majority share of ownership of the team.

According to a Montreal on-line publication, Patrick Roy has been offered not only the head coaching position of the Avalanche, but if he wishes he can be the team's GM as well.

With Colorado trying to recover from the worst season in the team's history since relocation, the answer to their problems it seems is the former goaltender with the combative nature.

There has been no actual confirmation from any of the principles in the potential union, neither Roy nor the Avalanche have much to say over the last few days as the story began to percolate and pick up steam.

The Denver papers haven't found any smoking memos or deep throat like informants to give them the inside track on the story, but perhaps they have been lost in the euphoria of the Nuggets march on the western division championship.

In fact, besides the fact that the Avs stunk the place out this past year, the Nuggets success has made for thin coverage of the Colorado debacle since the regular season ended. This despite the almost soap opera like qualities of the chase for Patrick.

The jilted coach, Tony Granato, still left unaware as to his status for September, though no doubt comforted by the fact of his current contract which has two years left to go on it.

Then there are the thoughts that what Patrick really may wish for is that Bob Gainey show some of the same love that the Avs have provided these last few weeks. More than one sports reporter in Montreal is anxious to see Roy take over the reigns of the Canadiens. The pressure cooker that is the Habs could make for a very interesting work environment for Roy and with it, sell more than a few copies of the local papers. In an industry facing dwindling circulation and interest, the arrival of Patrick Roy on the local sports scene could save one or two of Montreal's papers all on its own.

In the end however, it may the lure of his old friend and former agent Pierre Lacroix, which moves his direction, that and a handsome reward to taking on the challenges of a Colorado team that has lost its way over the last few years.

Far from the dominating squad that seemed a lock on Stanley Cup runs for a decade, now relegated to the back end of the sports pages and the after thought of the sport casts on TV and radio.

More than anything else, a quest for relevance seems to be at play here, bringing in one of the most identifiable of faces from the Avs history may be the last move of a hockey team that seems to have run out of answers for their lack of success in the last few years.

The atmoshphere around this potential move has all the makings of a circus, a far cry from where the Avs were just a few short years ago, when they were the envy of the league and one of the blue print franchises for how to get things done.

National Post-- Roy offered Avs’ coach, GM jobs: Report
Denver Post-- Avs' policy proving silence isn't golden
Denver Post-- Roy has combo offer
ESPN-- Roy denies job offer report
TSN-- Avalanche add to offer for Roy to coach team

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Eight down, twenty two to go

The lengthy coaching career of Mike Keenan can collect another exit visa, as the Calgary Flames announced on Friday that Mr. Keenan would not be part of their plans for the 2009-2010 season.

Keenan who arrived in Calgary two years ago had mixed results during his short time in Alberta, his teams started each year with high expectations of success, only to find that their regular season progress was cut short after but one round of the second season.

While it's not unusual to put the words, Keenan and Fired together in a sentence, it wasn't supposed to end this way at stop number eight. Keenan a friend of Flames GM Darryl Sutter was expected to provide the sense of discipline that many felt that the Flames were missing, the legendary stare and caustic commentary however were apparently a thing of the past.

It was reported to be a kinder, gentler Keenan who went behind the bench in Calgary, one who provided a looser leash on his players than normally associated with his rule and in the end, it perhaps was that approach that did him during his stay in the Flames organization.

The early exit once again of the Flames from the playoffs, seemingly proved too much for the Flames ownership group to bear, with a team that had been built to contend for the Stanley Cup spending the last two springs watching the playoff action in rounds two, three and four from TV.

Some of the blame for the poor season will fall on the shoulders of Darryl Sutter who made a number of moves this season that have raised eyebrows in relation to salary cap room and additions to a line up that didn't play out as planned.

But it was the inability of the coach that Sutter picked to get things done, that eventually proved to be the final word.

With Keenan still owed one year on his contract the Flames will have to be careful in the off season to select a new coach (if Sutter doesn't step back in) one who can best motivate the mixture of talent experienced or not that make up the Flames roster.

Two names that instantly have been shuffled around have been those of Brent or Duane Sutter, a move that would make the Flames the domain of the Viking bred Sutters, returning the team to that style of play that all of the Sutters provided during their days on the ice in the NHL.

The names of speculation will grow over the summer months, but in the short term once again the team will be under the rule of Darryl Sutter, who will craft together a squad for next season starting with the draft table in June.

He'll provide the players for the sweaters, it will be up to whomever replaces Keenan to make sure that their effort is full whenever they pull them on.
Or maybe he'll take on the job once again himself and try to turn around the team that seemed on a course to Stanley Cup destiny only a few short years ago.

Globe and Mail-- Flames fire Keenan
Calgary Sun-- Flames fire Keenan

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A few tweaks to the rules and the game should be fine...

The Onion, one of North America's favourite spots to spend a bit of idle time has turned it's always comprehensive gaze on the state of the NHL.

The on line website today provided a few ideas for some rule changes that could just make the game of hockey more accessible and enjoyable for Americans, especially those looking for just a few friendly reminders of sports that they love.

The NHL's upper brass, no doubt a tad humourless these day's perhaps may not realize the satirical value of the Onion offerings.

Then again, things may be so bad in the footprint states, that Mr. Bettman and his fellow sailors adrift on stormy seas of the NHL these days, may just adopt the recommendations in time for training camp in the fall...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cleary making a clear case for Conn Smythe consideration

By any measuring stick, this has been a rather remarkable playoff season for Daniel Cleary, who has figured large in a number of key moments during the Red Wings run for Stanley this year.

The Newfoundlander has scored winning goals, tying goals and momentum changing goals during the playoff months, his intensity level and ability to turn to the right play at key times is gaining him a fair amount of notice these days, as Red Wing fans and those just watching at home seem to find him in the thick of the action almost with every shift.

His timely goals, have lifted the Red Wings to their current status as favourites to return to the Stanley Cup finals, for Cleary himself, the playoff run has provided for some well received stats, 6 goals and 6 assists thus far in his thirteen playoff games, a very impressive plus 14 puts him in the top three scoring leaders on the Red Wing roster.

But besides the volume of his points, it is the key moments that he picks them up that has made most of us sit up and take notice.

His points tend to come at the most important moment, that instant when an on ice shift changes the dynamic of the game and in most cases, Cleary has been at the centre of the play either with the goal or the set up pass to lead the Wings on to victory.

So far in the first two games of the Western Final, Cleary has been a one man wrecking crew against the Hawks. Two goals in game one, another in game two, a surge of offense that seems to grow with each shift.

Much has been made of his former first round pick status for the Black Hawks, a selection from 1997 that didn't pan out for the Hawks, but seems to have been ok for their rivals to the east the Wings.

Those that have followed his career over the years, always knew that the talent was there, the key it seems was to finally provide him with the motivation to be more engaged on the ice and more dedicated to a training regimen off of it.

The results as can be seen this post season have been rather positive.

His story makes for the kind of blue print that the Conn Smythe winner usually provides, the trophy is awarded to the player who has made the most impact on a team during the course of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

On a team loaded with stars, Cleary has begun to take his place on the Red Wings depth chart as the go to guy when the time comes to get that all important last goal or the one that keeps the Wings in the hunt.

Should his remarkable play continue and if the Wings end up hoisting Lord Stanley's Mug later next month, we suspect that the odds on favourite to collect the Smythe trophy will be Cleary, and on that there probably won't be much of an argument.

M Live-- Experience isn't overrated for Red Wings forward Dan Cleary
Chicago Tribune-- Long road to success for Red Wings' Dan Cleary
CBC-- Cleary leads Wings to early advantage

Mr. Bettman calls out some heavy artillery

The NHL called on some markers it seems on Monday, as they offered up an all star cast of sports league commissioners to back their case when it comes to the movement of the Phoenix Coyotes.

With the proceedings on the fate of the Coyotes set to resume in bankruptcy court on Tuesday, Mr. Bettman provided statements from the top executives of the NFL, Major League Baseball and the NBA all outlining their concerns that any change in the current workings of the NHL's movement rules could change the dynamic of sports leagues across the continent.

While they didn't quite come out and say that anarchy would prevail, the other three league leaders did throw their NHL compatriot a lifeline to hold onto, one that takes the position that the judge should "respect the National Hockey League's rules and procedures regarding ownership transfer and relocation."

It's a powerful display of unity for the sports leagues of North America, though one wonders if the other three partners in this foursome of fear might be wanting to take their junior partner behind the arena and give him some advice. As any fan of the Godfather movies will remember, creating waves for the member partners is something that is frowned on and comes with dire consequences...

Letting the Phoenix situation get so out of the NHL's control is not something that is helpful to the other leagues, who enjoy their comfortable situation where for the most part all of their partners follow their rules without much in the way of questions.

By not sensing that the Phoenix situation was set to spin out of his control, Mr. Bettman now finds himself throwing the kitchen sink defence out there to keep his hold on the league's mysterious bylaws.

His continuing match up with would be investor Jim Balsillie is proving to be a long term marathon, which may change the NHL for years to come. What the other three league commissioners must be hoping for with their statement is to try and contain that contagion of freedom of movement, lest any of their owners find that losing money in their locations isn't much fun when there may be greener pastures elsewhere.

Suddenly, the simple case of a stumbling NHL franchise is morphing into a quest to stem revolution before it jumps sports. With such heavy hitters as these offering up their interpretations of events and potential outcomes in other leagues, it will be quite interesting to see how the judge handles all of the drama that is set to unfold in a Phoenix courtroom later today.
Weighing the support of sports biggest hitters is certainly one thing to consider, then again the fans of Phoenix offered up their support this weekend as well, though by their numbers their message perhaps was heard loud and clear, only 500 people turned up for a save the Coyotes rally, a crowd that organizers called a strong turnout.
Perhaps a hint that Mr. Moyes may be more in tune with the markets potential than Mr. Bettman is, helpful advice from the big three notwithstanding...

Toronto Star-- Key questions
Hamilton Spectator-- Who controls NHL Coyotes?

Hanging Tony out to dry in Mile High

"I never received an offer ... but anyway, I'm not commenting."-- Patrick Roy adding to the mystery of employment matters with the Colorado Avalanche

The star attraction says that no offer has been made as of yet, but one has to wonder if in the end there is but no other result than watching Patrick Roy step behind the Avs bench when training camp opens this fall. That is of course, providing he doesn't get offered a job in Montreal, where the theatrical opportunities would be bountiful for fans and reporters alike.

The Denver Post got the job hunt speculation ball rolling on Sunday with a story citing anonymous soruces that stated that Roy had been offered the coaching position by Av's President Pierre Lacroix, who if the story proves true has seemingly forgotten that Tony Granato currently holds that particular job in the Mile High city.

The Avs have had a rather frustrating year this past season, out of the playoffs, dead last in the West and with the firing of their former General Manager Francois Giguere rather ruderless over the last month or so.

The move to bring Roy back to Colorado as a coach, would be unusual as it would preced a hiring of a General Manager, a process that usually is reversed in most places where success is a hoped for result.

If the Avs have indeed tendered an offer to Roy (despite his protestations) it would make for a rather interesting situation where any GM might not have as much control over the team as is considered normal for most NHL teams. Add on the burden of having to work with a coach who clearly has a special relationship with the President and, well, it won't be the template for stability one would think.

Lost in the mystery is the status of Mr. Granato, who has watched his boss get tossed over the side of the ship and probably is wondering if perhaps it's not time to reach out for a life jacket of his own. Though the comfort of a two year contract at least ensures that he will be compensated regardless of how this mess plays out.

The Avs have not handled this very well so far, just the speculation alone creates a climate of uncertainty and shows a less than steady hand on the franchise at the moment. Add on the churlish way in which they are treating their current coach (for whatever amount of time may be left on the meter) and it would seem that a once blue chip franchise is starting to look rather tattered these days.

Then again, perhaps the events of the weekend are more of a favour for Patrick, after all Pierre Lacroix was once his agent. Maybe this is just a bit of extra pressure on Montreal to either offer him their job, or make it clear he isn't wanted. We suspect that old habits die hard for agents, current or retired.

Globe and Mail--Roy denies Avs' offer

Monday, May 18, 2009

For Gary Bettman, the PR troubles in Canada may grow

As the Commissioner continues his prep work for the court room drama to unfold on Tuesday, one wonders if perhaps there isn't a wee bit of deflection being provided for the hockey fans of Canada to mull over.

Facing a rather successful effort by the forces of Jim Balsillie to sell his quest for relocating the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton as a nationalist clarion call, the latest revelations from court documents suggest that if the Coyotes were to ever leave Phoenix they may be bound for Winnipeg.

It would make for a wonderful strategy of divide and conquer the Great White North, suddenly everyone west of the Sudbury city limits would be thinking, that finally Winnipeg will be rewarded for their long time lost love of the game, a chance to bring back the White Outs, to bring back the Jets...

The NHL issued a short statement on the Winnipeg idea, stating that the move back to Manitoba was only talked about in a scenario where no other bids came in for the team. The original discussion goes back to April, as documents submitted by the Jerry Moyes legal team outline, a move they say proves their point that Mr. Moyes was still operating the Coyotes despite the financial problems of the day.

The introduction of Winnipeg to the debate will certainly make for some interesting optics in Canada, as it could split that public support down the middle, the folks in Ontario up against Western Canada (with Toronto perhaps able to play the unusual role of national unity champion by siding with the Winnipeg idea).

If the whole scenario had not come out in the course of a court case and relayed by Mr. Bettman's opponents , we might suspect the NHL head office of dropping the Winnipeg plan into the mix, just to get back at Mr. Balsillie. Determined as they seem to be to keep him and apparently Hamilton out of the NHL. Bu then again, that may be too complicated a plan for the NHL to try and pull off, considering their handling of past events in recent times.

If we may be so devilish in our thoughts as to suggest to the NHL that perhaps both communities are the answers to the NHL's problems. We might hazard a guess that both Winnipeg and Hamilton would draw significantly more of a crowd to games in those cities than currently show up in Phoenix, Atlanta, Miami, Nashville, Long Island, oh need we go on....

Long term though, it may be the opening of Pandora's Box for the Commissioner, once you've publicly ruminated about relocating to Winnipeg, then surely the logic of locating in Hamilton and Quebec City will come into play.

The out of the blue mention of Winnipeg over the weekend, may reinforce for Canadian hockey fans just how out of touch the Commissioner is, refusing so far to place teams in hockey markets where at least the game will find an audience.

If he ends up alienating Canadian fans over his handling of this, he may find that the blow back towards the NHL might degrade their brand in the one secure place that the NHL still has for a base. Already it's not passing the smell test in Winnipeg where 73 percent of those responding to a poll suggest that they think it's unlikely that the NHL will move the Coyotes to Winnipeg. Readers of the Winnipeg stories will also find that Mr. Bettman's credibility is definitely not very high there these days.
Not that we suspect it is facing an upward tick anywhere above the 49th parallel either.

Winnipeg Sun-- Enough Bettman bull
Winnipeg Free Press-- 'Peg still on NHL's map

This Boots, ain't made for walkin'

As if Gary Bettman's problems aren't enough, what with the sordid mess coming out of Arizona these days, a name from the past has come back to grab some headlines, reminding hockey fans of the NHL's rather peculiar vetting of prospective owners .

This week saw William (Boots) Del Biaggio III, face the very real prospect of watching hockey (if he still actually follows the game) from the comfy confines of the common area of an American penitentiary.

Del Biaggio, could be spending more than six years in prison, this after he entered a guilty plea to one charge of fraud for using forged financial documents to obtain $110-million in loans from several banks and two NHL owners.

To refresh your memory, around this time last year Del Biaggio was seeking to become a major player in the NHL owners club, (his second attempt after trying for the Pittsburgh Penguins back in 2005) this time hoping to grab up 24-per-cent share of the Predators, the same Predators that the NHL seemed to want to deny to Jim Balsillie, who before his efforts to secure the Coyotes this spring, was considered the shining knight turned away to keep the Predators afloat.

Boots, worked on what is described as a fraudulent scheme to create an impression of wealth and security, that in reality doesn't seem to have been there.

Apparently making a convincing enough account of things to at least get the original green light from the NHL for his attempts to be a minority owner with the Predators, a plan that some suggest was to be the precursor of a move to Kansas City.

Instead, his ownership situation fell apart, as did his financial situation all the while as his legal troubles began to mount, ending to last weeks guilty plea. If nothing else, he might be comforted to know that he has some company in the NHL's rogues gallery, which in recent years have included Bruce McNall, John Spano and John Rigas all of whom have faced jail for financial improprieties.

The timing isn't at all helpful to the image of Mr. Bettman, who seems dedicated to his stubborn resistance of Jim Balsillie, the Canadian billionaire seeking to join the lofty ranks of NHL ownership.

If the NHL's current ownership group (those that aren't preoccupied with bankruptcy or legal arrangements) were to sit the commissioner down, one wonders if they might ask why he would then green light the Del Biaggio bid, questionable as it now seems, while seeking to keep Mr. Balsillie out at all costs.

His answer might prove to be rather illuminating for the owners, who surely must be wondering about how the NHL seeks out their would be owners and if perhaps they aren't trying to scare off the wrong ones...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Round Three Reviews

Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins

Scoring Summaries

Game One-- Monday, May 18-- Carolina 2 at Pittsburgh 3
Game Two-- Thursday May 21-- Carolina 4 at Pittsburgh 7
Game Three-- Saturday, May 23-- Pittsburgh 6 at Carolina 2
Game Four-- Tuesday, May 26-- Pittsburgh 4 at Carolina 1

Pittsburgh wins the series 4 games to 0, advance to Stanley Cup Final!

Pittsburgh Penguins stats page
Carolina Hurricanes stats page

Notes from the Media pages

Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Pittsburgh Tribune Review
Raleigh News and Observer

Team websites
Pittsburgh Penguins website
Carolina Hurricanes website

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Round Three Reviews

Chicago Black Hawks and Detroit Red Wings

Scoring Summaries

Game One-- Sunday May 17-- Chicago 2 at Detroit 5
Game Two-- Tuesday, May 19-- Chicago 2 at Detroit 3 (1st OT)
Game Three-- Friday, May 22 Detroit 3 at Chicago 4 (1st OT)
Game Four-- Sunday, May 24 Detroit 6 at Chicago 1
Game Five-- Wednesday, May 27-- Chicago 1 at Detroit 2 (1st OT)

Detroit wins the series 4 games to 1, advances to the Stanley Cup Final.
Chicago Black Hawk Stats
Detroit Red Wing stats
Notes from the Media pages

Chicago Tribune
Chicago Sun Times
Detroit News
Detroit Free Press

Team websites
Chicago Black Hawks homepage
Detroit Red Wings home page

On to the Third Round

We follow the progress of the third round of the playoffs from here.

Western Conference Final
Chicago Black Hawks and Detroit Red Wings

Game One- Sunday, May 17-- Chicago 2 at Detroit 5
Game Two-- Tuesday, May 19-- Chicago 2 at Detroit 3 (1st OT)
Game Three-- Friday, May 22-- Detroit 3 at Chicago 4 (1st OT)
Game Four-- Sunday, May 24-- Detroit 6 at Chicago 1
Game Five-- Wednesday, May 27-- Chicago 1 at Detroit 2 (1st OT)

Detroit wins the series 4 games to 1, advance to the Stanley Cup Final!

Eastern Conference Final

Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes

Game One-- Monday, May 18-- Carolina 2 at Pittsburgh 3
Game Two-- Thursday May 21-- Carolina 4 at Pittsburgh 7
Game Three-- Saturday, May 24-- Pittsburgh 6 at Carolina 2
Game Four-- Tuesday, May 26-- Pittsburgh 4 at Carolina 1

Pittsburgh wins the series 4 games to 0, advance to Stanley Cup Final!

Round Three Archives

Round Three Schedule and Scores

Series Reviews:

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Carolina Hurricanes
Detroit Red Wings vs Chicago Black Hawks

Rimouski plays the host to Junior Hockey's best

As the Memorial Cup gets underway in Rimouski for the next ten days, teams from the Western and Ontario leagues, the champions of both, arrive in Quebec eager to leave with the legendary championship trophy for Junior hockey as part of their carry on baggage for the ride home.

The city on the southern shore of the St. Lawrence, features some of the most passionate fans in the Quebec League and they will no doubt be making themselves heard when the hometown Oceanic take to the ice during the tournament.

We'll provide some reviews of the events of the week that celebrates the best of Junior hockey in Canada.

May 24-- Spitfires lift Memorial Cup, battered town's hopes
May 24-- Spitfires make history
May 24-- Go ahead, Windsor, party down
May 24-- Spitfires complete Memorial Cup comeback
May 24-- Join the Spits' homecoming festivities Monday
May 24-- Windsor Spitfires win Memorial Cup for 1st time
May 24-- Spitfires looking to make history at Memorial Cup
May 24-- This time it counts for Kelowna
May 23-- Hodgson named CHL Player of the Year
May 23-- Connolly named top rookie in CHL
May 23-- Spitfires vow they’ll be ready for final
May 23-- Stars shining in Rimouski
May 23-- Tavares a shoo-in for top prospect
May 23-- Myers stays humble in face of overwhelming success
May 22-- Poutine on the menu as Rockets kill five-day break before Memorial Cup final
May 22-- Adam Henrique' OT winner sends Windsor to Memorial Cup final
May 22-- Spitfires win in OT, off to Memorial Cup final
May 22-- Mitchell erupts in third, Spitfires oust Oceanic
May 22-- Down time is key time, say coaches of Cup teams
May 22-- Windsor charges into semifinal
May 22-- Oceanic, Voltigeurs need to dig deep at Mem Cup
May 22-- Perseverance pays off for Rockets goalie
May 21-- Spitfires blast way into semi-final
May 21-- Dale Mitchell's hat trick gives Spitfires 6-4 comeback win over Oceanic
May 21-- Mitchell's natural hat trick sinks Oceanic
May 21-- Mitchell's hat trick gives Spitfires the win
May 21-- Scouts get good looks at some top draft prospects at Memorial Cup
May 21-- Voltigeurs earn semifinal berth at Memorial Cup
May 20-- Dumont advances Voltigeurs to semi-finals
May 20-- Voltigeurs vault into Memorial Cup semi-final
May 20-- Spitfires get a new lease on life at Memorial Cup
May 20-- Rimouski loses, will face Windsor Thursday
May 20-- Spits squeeze out win to stay alive
May 20-- Weight of history bears down on Spits
May 20-- Rockets drawing on past experiences of coach Huska
May 20-- Rockets suffer minor setback
May 20-- Boughner's long wait ends
May 19-- Spitfires stay alive at Memorial Cup with 2-1 win over Rockets
May 19-- Spitfires: Beat Kelowna or go home
May 19-- It's a clash of Flames' No. 1 draft picks
May 19-- Benn comes up big
May 18-- Rockets are contenders: Voltigeurs
May 18-- Oceanic outgun Spitfires
May 18-- Benn scores four, Kelowna advances to final
May 17-- Rimouski springs upset
May 17-- Do or die for Spitfires after 5-4 loss to Rimouski
May 17-- Spitfires fail to live up to favourite billing in first test
May 17-- Rockets still underdogs?
May 17-- Host Rimouski score first win at Memorial Cup
May 16-- Drummondville tops Windsor in overtime
May 16-- Spitfires drop opener to Drummondville 3-2 in overtime
May 16-- Rockets make initial splash
May 16-- Rockets preparing for great unknown
May 16-- Kelowna shows Rimouski the ropes in practice, game
May 15-- Kelowna impresses in Memorial Cup opener
May 15-- Rockets soar in Memorial Cup opener
May 15-- Kelowna opens tournament with win
May 15-- Spitfires familiar with role of favourite
May 15-- Spitfires have some unfinished business
May 15-- Spitfires to face injury-racked Voltiguers
May 15-- Boughner, Jones go back long way
May 15-- Spitfires coach consults Vellucci
May 15-- Memorial Cup capsules