Yes it is still relatively quiet around Hockeytown up here in Canada, but there is lots going on in hockey and the sports world.
>> A source close to the Oilers revealed to me that the Oilers have interviewed five coaches: Pat Quinn, Marc Crawford, Todd Richards, Rob Daum and Tom Renney. I still see Daum as the head man in Springfield next year, so I wonder if his interview was for the Oilers’ job or more of a “See where his head is at” type of conversation. Now that Geoff Ward’s Bruins are out expect him to get an interview soon, and Scott Arniel will get one when his Moose are done in the AHL playoffs. I wasn’t able to get confirmation whether or not the Devils will let Brent Sutter interview for the job.
>> Last year I was told by a few different scouts that the Springfield blueline was one of the worst they’d ever seen in over 20 years of covering the AHL. Not exactly a ringing endorsement. The Oilers are well aware of this blatant weakness and will address it over the summer. The signing of Johan Motin is a decent first step. Motin signed a three-year deal for a cap hit of $637,500.00. Motin won’t bring a lot of offence but reports are he is a decent first passer and a solid stay-at-home guy. Don’t expect to see him in Edmonton next year, but if he progresses the way they expect him to he might play a few games in 2010/2011.
>> I think Ovechkin is the best player in the game. He scores, hits, brings raw emotion and most of all he is the most entertaining. But Sidney Crosby’s performance in the playoff’s has put him right back in the conversation. Crosby is a better playmaker, and is just as competitive if not more.
The area he lacks, and this has nothing to do with greatness, but is hugely important from an entertainment aspect. Ovechkin is way more marketable and gives fans a glimpse of who he is. Crosby never seems happy. He rarely smiles or jokes during an interview or even in the game. Crosby’s personality makes him hard to like. He is great, but needs to show that he enjoys the game a bit more.
Lebron James’s persona is larger than life. Casual fans are attracted to that. Peyton Manning’s acting made him more acceptable in many fan’s eyes. Crosby needs to relax and let his guard down now and then. He is well on his way to being considered one of the all-time greats, but he needs to become more personable. More importantly the league needs it. If hockey wants to keep growing in the States, even at a turtle’s pace, they need their best players to be just as exciting off the ice as they are on the ice.
>> Say What? On Tuesday I had PJ Stock on my show, and he threw out this comment, “I don’t think Crosby is in the top-five best players in the game right now.” I know that guys like to be controversial at times, but there is no way Crosby isn’t a top-five player in today’s game. No way.
>> Say What Part II? Also on Tuesday, Bill Watters said this about Erik Cole, “He’s a perfect playoff type player. Hard and gritty.” I have no idea how people see Cole as this great playoff player. He has a whopping three assists in 15 games this year, and now has a sub-par six goals and 12 points in 40 career playoff games. How is that the perfect playoff performer?
Which begs the question, Is Wanye related to Bill Watters? Because they both are drinking the Cole-Aid.
>> The last year there wasn’t at least one player with two OT goals in the playoff was in 1999/2000 when there was a paltry nine OT games the entire playoffs. This year there has been 14 OT games, but no one has lit the lamp twice so far.
>> Does the winning goaltender of the Eastern conference final become the 3rd goalie for Canada at the 2010 Olympics? Cam Ward and Marc-Andre Fleury will both be making their 2nd Stanley Cup final if they win.
>> The teams with the least wiggle room under the cap heading into the summer are:
- Philly is committed to 19 players at $53.9 million. (although if Rathje can’t play then they have 18 at $50.4 million.)
- Detroit is committed to 16 players at $51.2 million.
- Ottawa has 20 players at $50.9 million.
- Pittsburgh has 14 players at $46.8 million.
- Boston has 14 players at $46.7 million.
- Washington has 14 players at $45.9 million.
- San Jose has 13 players at $46.7 million.
- Edmonton has 18 players at $46.9 million.
- Calgary has 15 players at $46.8 million.
- Buffalo has 15 players at $45.5 million.
- The Rangers have 11 guys at $42.8 million.
>> If the Wings sign Hossa like many assume they will, and they get him for a $6 million cap hit, that puts them at the limit. Not only will they lose Mikael Samuelsson and Tomas Kocepky to free agency, they will have to sign and trade Jiri Hudler and probably one of their top four D-men. Brad Stuart will be the most likely to move.
Although maybe someone is willing to take Brian Rafalski and his $6 million ticket. This will be the first summer that Ken Holland will have to part with players he’d rather keep.
>> Some “character” free agents that should interest the Oilers, and any team that needs grit, and wouldn’t cost much include Dan Hinote, Rick Rypien, Travis Moen, Chris Neil, Scott Nichol and Ian Laperriere.
>> Players who should take a pay cut: Brian Gionta. Since his 48 goal season he has followed with 25, 22 and 20 goal seasons. He made $4 million last year, so I can’t see the Devils or anyone offering him that money again.
Alex Tangauy: Will someone pay him $5.25 million again? What about Saku Koivu at $4.75 million or Kovalev at $4.5 million. I can’t see how anyone signs them for that money. Erik Cole will take a home town discount from Carolina and will probably get les than the $4 million he made. Martin Havlat will be sought after, but I don’t see someone giving him $6 million again, but he’ll get something close.
>> And it looks like one of the best to ever play will hang them up this summer. Andy Lindahl from KOA radio in Denver said this yesterday on Just A Game on the TEAM 1260, “It sounds like Joe will retire once the Stanley Cup is awarded. He doesn’t want to take any of the hype away from the playoffs.” For my money Sakic is a first ballot hall-of-famer, and one of the classiest guys to ever play. He will be missed.