AROUND THE NHL: WEEK ONE

 

 

It was quite a first week in the NHL.

Winnipeg welcomed back the Jets and gave Gary Bettman a standing ovation, an agent went ballistic over a two-game suspension, Sidney Crosby didn’t play, Jaromir Jagr returned, the Sabres, Leafs, Capitals, Flyers, Red Wings, Predators, Sharks and Oilers were undefeated, Don Cherry looked foolish, the Blue Jackets, Flames, and Jets went pointless, thankfully Lowetide didn’t change his ways and a few players inched closer to some great achievements.

The best part about the Jets home opener is that it’s over, and now we can concentrate on actual games. I’m very excited for Jets’ fans, but the build up almost became too much. It was Jets, Jets, Jets everyday, and it seemed every person needed to marvel at the passion of Winnipeggers. Of course they were passionate, the fans were passionate before they left in 1996.

I did find it a bit strange how the guy they villified for years was given a hero’s welcome upon his return to Winnipeg. Bettman finally made up for his mistake of letting the Jets leave without a fight fifteen years ago. He has learned from that mistake, which is why Phoenix still has a team for another six months, which is nice to see.

Welcome back Jets fans, but be prepared for a rough season. You might want to talk to some Oiler diehards on how to deal with losing, because unfortunately they’ve become too familiar with it for the past five seasons.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

  • I’m guessing most agree that Cherry was offside in his comments regarding Chris Nilan, Jim Thomson and Stu Grimson. The name calling was childish, and lumping Grimson in with the other two was completely inaccurate. I really wasn’t surprised Cherry said what he said, because he’s Cherry. That is his gig. He screwed up, and he felt the backlash for the next four of five days, but let’s move on. I hope that Stu Grimson just moves on from it. Is he really going to contemplate suing the former Bruins’ coach? Would anything come of it? What would it prove? That Don was out to lunch on this topic, I think most of us have already realized he was. There are much bigger issues to worry about.
     
  • I’m going to set October 30th as the line on when Crosby returns. Over or under, what do you think? I’ll take over.
     
  • Eight teams have yet to lose a game, but which one will stay undefeated the longest? Will any of them match the record for most wins to start a season, 10, set by the Leafs in 1993/94? I don’t see any of them going 10-0, but I’ll pick the Flyers to go the longest. They have lots of home games coming up.
     
  • The Blue Jackets, Flames and Jets would really have to work hard to tie the 1943/44  Rangers’ record of 11 consecutive losses to start a season. I think the Flames will go the longest, since Columbus hosts Colorado this week and the Jets’ 3rd game of the year is in Phoenix. I can’t see how the Karma Gods won’t ensure they win in Phoenix on Saturday night.
     
  • Lowetide, the minute you conform for those who don’t know you is the day your soul will die. Glad to see you are still writing great articles filled with the odd picture of a classy lady. Don’t change.
     
  • Allan Walsh had quite the week. How many of you had heard of him until this week? He is an agent. He ripped the Capitals for having the gall to not start his client, Tomas Vokoun, for the season opener. Supposedly the Capitals gave Vokoun the impression when they signed him that he was going to be the starter. I guess Walsh forgot that training camp and preseason is a competition for playing time. Agents shouldn’t moan publicly when their client doesn’t get to play, because it makes both of them look like whiners. Then Walsh ranted and raved about another client, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, and his two-game suspension. How is highsticking a guy in the face, because he bumped you off the draw, not a suspension?

    Be better Mr. Walsh, be better. 

     

  • Like most years the early-season NHL leaderboard is filled with many names that won’t be there at the end of the season. Of the current top-30 scorers in the league only five them were in the top-30 at the end of last season; Anze Kopitar, Daniel Sedin, Marty St.Louis, Eric Staal and Thomas Vanek. I saved the first week leaders and I’ll see how many of them end the season in the top 30. I’ll guess nine.
     
  • There will be a few personal milestones reached this season. Jarome Iginla is now 15 goals shy of 500. He is currently tied for 45 in career goals with Brian Bellows (485) and he’ll pass Norm Ullman (490), Jean Ratelle (491) and Glenn Anderson (498) on his way to 500. He’s also likely to pass Lanny MacDonald (500), Joe Mullen (502), Peter Bondra (503), Jean Beliveau (507), Gilbert Perrault (512) and Jeromy Roenick (513) this year. If Iginla can average 23 goals over the next five season he’ll become the 18th player to score 600 goals. I think he gets there.
     
  • Iginla will be the last 500 goal man for a few seasons. Jason Arnott is next at 402, with Daniel Alfredsson at 391, Marian Hossa at 388 and Ilya Kovalchuk at 370. Arnott and Alfredsson won’t play long enough to get to 500, so look for Kovalchuk to be the next player in the 500 club.
     
  • Jaromir Jagr picked up his 1,600th career point in the Flyers’ season opener, and he needs 42 points to pass Joe Sakic (1,641) for 8th all-time. Jagr is currently 12th in goals with 646. He should pass Brendan Shanahan, 656, this year, and if he scores 23 goals he’ll pass Luc Robitaille, 668, and sit 10th all-time.
     
  • Jagr can also become only the 12th player to register 1,000 career assists. He needs 46 helpers to join an elite group. Wayne Gretzky is first with 1,963, followed by Ron Francis (1,249), Mark Messier (1,193), Ray Bourque (1,169), Paul Coffey (1,135), Adam Oates (1,079), Steve Yzerman (1,063), Gordie Howe (1,049), Marcel Dionne (1,040), Mario Lemieux (1,033) and Joe Sakic (1,016).
     
  • Teemu Selanne, 637, trails Jagr by nine goals. Selanne will pass Dave Andreychuk, 640, and Shanahan this year. Who do you think finishes the season with more career goals, Jagr or Selanne? I’ll take the Finnish Flash.
     
  • Selanne is tied for 5th in career PP goals with Mario Lemieux at 236. He trails Shanahan (237), Robitaille (247), Brett Hull (265) and Andreychuk (274). He’ll be 3rd after this season.
     
  • Late last season Joe Thornton became the 78th player to reach 1,000 points. He finished the year with 1,001. No one will be getting there this year. Ray Whitney is the active leader at 927. If he scores 39 points he will pass "The Rocket", Maurice Richard (965) and move into 83rd place all-time. Not bad for a guy the Oilers put on waivers in 1997.
     
  • If Whitney plays another year after this he could reach 1,000. Arnott has 907 points, but based on his past few seasons, he’ll need to play this year plus two more to get into quadruple digits.
     
  • If you care about PIMs. Matt Cooke is ten away from 1,000, Danile Carcillo needs 14 and Cory Sarich is 27 shy. Cooke will become the 356th player to spend 1,000 minutes in the sin bin/dressing room.  

Final note: For those wondering, the Ice Women of the Week runs on Fridays not Wednesday anymore. Just so you don’t freak out.

  • Douche Nietzsche

    Don Cherry is a goof and a bigot. I dont’t understand why CBC still bothers to put him on the air. It is not the 80’s anymore, the ignorant redneck whisky drinking quebec hating hockey fans are a minority of the Canadian hockey fans. CBC should get with the times and send Cherry back to the time of ignorance he came from. Cherry can’t even string a sentence together properly and most of the times he can’t even remember or prounce the name properly of the people he is talking about.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Am I the only one supremely impressed by Shanahan’s approach to his job? I really like how he breaks down the rules, reviews the tape and is open and straightforward with the public. it makes holding him accountable so much easier as his decisions are laid out, and I think he understands that and is welcoming criticism. it’s a whole new world.

    my sense is most agents are DBs, but this Walsh character seems averse to even basic knowledge of the game.

    That Jagr hair is indeed amazing? how many seasons did he miss again? how would he compare against Sakic et al. if he didn’t hop in and out of the league… pretty impressive.

    • RexLibris

      Walsh is a bit of a character.

      He spent most of last season (when not tweeting about his clients achievements), tweeting about how the NHL has to protect the players and that they were failing the players by not stepping in on the headshots.

      He went as far as to insinuate the players were basically too stupid on their own to learn to not do it and that the NHL would have to intervene.

      That was all well and good until it was his client on the other side, now he tweets things like “Let them play the game”, because apparantly swinging your stick at someone else is part of the game.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        more broadly, I’m not entirely sure anyone should rely on an agent’s analysis of the game… other than flocking to noise, how is it that this guy’s opinion even bubbled up to be discussed?

  • Puritania

    Nilan’s comments were pretty unambiguous:

    “The NHL should ban fighting because it’s no longer a factor in the games.”

    Grimson was ambiguous:

    “All three of these incidents are individual. Call them random. It’s a coincidence all three were enforcers. There are many more logical reasons against fighting that people could bring up.”

    If I was Cherry’s lawyer, I’d have him point to Grimson’s comment, explain that he took it as supporting a ban on fighting and that, as Grimson says he misunderstood him, he withdraws his comment.

    Nilan and Thompson have zero leg to stand on. All the media guys making fun of Cherry’s lack of eloquence and general incoherence should listen to Nilan talk for thirty seconds.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Did you see Nystrom was waived? I couldn’t believe it.

      We don’t really need him with, with Eager on the team… but I’m still hoping we grab him.

      Edit: Wrong Tyler… still like to see the Oilers grab Nystrom though

    • Jason Gregor

      You will notice that TSN and Sportsnet, the two biggest rivals of CBC, were the ones trying to question Cherry’s relevance and smarts more than most.

      You are bang on that Thomson and Nilan would have no leg to stand on. I’m curious, does Grimson have any serious legal options? Could he actually win?

      • justDOit

        You’re right, I can’t see Thomson and Nilan getting anywhere, given what they’ve said. There’s a defence of “fair comment” that can apply and the test, IIRC, is whether a reasonable person could reasonably hold the opinion that Cherry expressed, given the known facts. I think it’s easily fair comment.

        Grimson’s in a bit of a different position but I don’t think it’s much better. Again, I think a reasonable person could find it hypocritical to make a really good living from fighting and then turn around and say that there are a bunch of logical reasons to ban it.

        So, in short, I don’t think that they have much of a case. And I think Grimson looks sort of foolish (Nilan and Thomson moreso, although they aren’t lawyers and shouldn’t necessarily know better) walking around and talking about the full gamut of legal options being available.

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          I think your right that the case is headed nowhere (if it goes forward at all).

          but, I’m curious about your interpretation of what Grimson said. He said:

          “All three of these incidents are individual. Call them random. It’s a coincidence all three were enforcers. There are many more logical reasons against fighting that people could bring up.”

          The key question seems to be whether he endorses banning fighting (I don’t know if he does).

          If he does, than he’s saying: “I don’t think fighting should be a part of hockey, but I don’t think this is the reason why” Or the ends are right but the means are wrong.

          If he doesn’t, or is ambivalent about it, than he’s saying: “Regardless of whether there should be fighting or not, it is stupid to discuss it on these terms; there are more logical arguments out there, than knee-jerk stuff. If we are going to have this conversation we should have it on those terms, not these ones”

          Either way, all he is saying is this is not the issue to pull out your fighting-in-nhl-jump-suit for. I’m not so sure that makes him look foolish.

          (does that make sense?)

          • Romulus' Apotheosis

            On the other hand threatening legal action makes him look petulant, but i guess if you fight with an irritable old man it’s hard to come out looking good

  • Puritania

    As far as the Cherry thing goes, there has been one thing that has puzzled me for years. That is the number of people who dismiss him is irrelevant, the Senile Old Uncle, a gasbag, etc that get all fired up when he says something inflammatory. Either his opinions are valid or they aren’t. Don’t pick and choose whether his opinion matters based on the topic.

    • Oilers21

      Good point…I would guess that people don’t THINK he’s irrelevant as much as they WISH he was irrelevant. I mean, CBC calls it “Coach’s Corner” and the man hasn’t even coached in 30 years.

  • Bucknuck

    I remember being completely stunned when they put Whitney on Waivers that year. He was the oilers best players on a lot of nights. I couldn’t believe they let him go down for nothing. Those days were hard ones to understand the Oilers management. I was consistently bewildered. LIke letting Miro Satan go for a couple of nobodies, and trading Guerin for Carter. Some of it was money related, I remember, but Whitney… on waivers? come on…

        • Jerk Store

          Another factor in the Guerin move was that he was in the last year of his contract and it was unlikely the Oil could re-sign him. Those were the days of 65cent C$ and no cap. They got some value for him by doing a deal before the inevitable contract dispute surfaced.

          I always thought cutting Whitney loose was motivated by Sather’s dislike of undersized players.

  • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

    Hey I actually had something to say other than the fist. Come on JG I was just reserving my spot…

    Here goes again I guess.

    Jagr’s numbers would be that much more impressive had he stayed in the league the last few seasons.

    Also Alan Walsh is a DB.

  • xis10ce

    Philly has Canucks, Kings and Caps to get 10straight, I figure Buff has a better chance at 10 straight with Pitts and 2xTB instead for stiff competition. Keeping in mind that come Oct.15th Crosby will still be out and Malkin may or may not be back.

    As for the 11 straight L’s, I hope your prediction for the longest streak on the way towards that is wrong, but then again I was talking about the odds at the Flames still making the playoffs with five games to go last season. One can always dream.

    As far as Crosby is concerned, I think theres a chance he will be back pre-November, but if he his I would say it’ll be by a few days at best. I would say Best Case Scenrio he’ll be around for the Islanders visit to Pitts on Oct.27th, perhaps the Road game in TO on Oct.29th.