The Vancouver Canucks season ended with a whimper rather than a bang this year and the post mortem began almost immediately.
Canucks general manager Mike Gillis admitted that the Cody Hodgson trade to the Buffalo Sabres (for Zack Kassian) was personal. With the absence of Daniel Sedin for most of the series, the ordinary play of Ryan Kesler, the lack of anticipated scoring from David Booth, many Canuck fans feel Hodgson could have been the difference.
LUONGO TAKES RIGHT APPROACH
I agree that Roberto Luongo took the "noble" approach in making it clear that he would waive his no-trade clause for an appropriate deal. I still think he has lots to offer as an elite goaltender and would be great value for any team that that could get him for what should be a reasonable price.
His salary of $5.3 million US is actually reasonable compared to the likes of Pekka Rinne and especially Ilya Byrzgalov. The challenge is the nine years left on his deal.
I still think Luongo made himself an easy target by being the first modern-day NHL goaltender to be team captain. Whether it was the team or Luongo or both that made that decision, it proved to be a disaster. Being a No. 1 goalie on a Canadian based team is pressure enough. Add in the captaincy and the hot seat becomes a burning cauldron.
Interesting that Cory Schneider, Luongo's heir apparent, had a 0-10 won-loss record in playoff action during his AHL career with the Manitoba Moose.
TALLON DESERVES EVEN MORE CREDIT
Dale Tallon has been rewarded for his excellent work in Florida by being named one of the three finalists for the NHL GM of the year award (along with Doug Armstrong of the St. Louis Blues and David Poile of the Nashville Predators).
Tallon took a bum rap at the end of his tenure in Chicago. The team made an administrative snafu that led to the Hawks having to pay larger than necessary player salaries which in turn caused unnecessary salary cap problems.
Tallon had to fall on his sword and take the blame. He actually deserves credit for his excellent work in putting that Stanley Cup team together. Stan Bowman, his assistant, seemed to unfairly duck most of that blame and ultimately took Tallon's job.
IS HOLMGREN BEING PUNISHED?
Hard to rationalize why Paul Holmgren of the Philadelphia Flyers is not one of the three finalists for the GM award. Gutsy trades of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter saw him really stick his neck out. All of the young talent in return paid dividends in Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Josef Voracek and Sylvain Couturier.
He correctly identified Claude Giroux as ready to rise to the occasion as the team leader, made a great NHL free agent signing in Jaromir Jagr and a great college free-agent signing in Matt Read.
Did this all get wiped out just by signing Ilya Byrzgalov?
A disappointing season end for the Pittsburgh Penguins. I liked that Sidney Crosby showed a wide array of emotions throughout the series. He was human: angry, frustrated, a bit sucky, and it was all good.
Probable Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin was a different story. As my Hockey Night In Canada colleague Glenn Healy related on HNIC Radio: "He tried to go through everyone on the ice by himself, skated up to the concourse level, tried to beat a beer vendor, skated around the hot dog stand...", well you get the picture from the always colourful Healy.
PRICE OF CHEATING
Regular HNIC Radio guest and co-host Kelly Hrudey has been consistently angry when talking about Ryan Clowe sticking his stick on the ice
from the player's bench and disrupting a Los Angeles King rush during an important regular season game.
Hrudey was angered by the pure "cheating" that this illustrates. He argues that it defines why the San Jose Sharks have seen true playoff success elude them the past few years.
The Sharks took even a bigger hit in their first-round exit to the St. Louis Blues. The player that Clowe's "cheating" disrupted? None other than Jarrett Stoll of the Los Angeles Kings. Stoll is the player who scored the series winner in overtime as the Kings eliminated the Canucks.
Kelly karma at work?
If the story is true, why would Todd Bertuzzi bother to get a Joe Louis Arena employee to remove the ping pong table where a few of the Nashville Predator players were playing?
Why not worry more about the events on the ice where the Predators were beating his Detroit Red Wings at all aspects of the game. It was a chintzy, lame move that might have poked the bear against a team that already seemed to have the Red Wings' number.
Doesn't sound like something the Stanley Cup champion Red Wing teams would bother about.
NO CANADIAN TEAMS
If the Ottawa Senators get eliminated by the New York Rangers, it would be the first time since 1996 that no Canadian-based NHL team makes it to the second round of the playoffs.
Lots of excitement building about the 2012 NHL entry draft. Must have warmed the hearts of Edmonton Oiler fans that likely No. 1 pick Nail Yakupov said he would like to be drafted by a Canadian-based NHL team. I hope he realizes Edmonton is in Canada.
AMERICAN COULD BE NO. 1
The 2013 NHL Draft has an American as a possible No. 1 overall pick. His name is Seth Jones, a defenceman who plays with the United States Developmental Elite Team and reminds many of Larry Robinson.
Jones does have a Canadian tie-in. His father is Popeye Jones, who had a solid NBA basketball career. It was while playing for the Toronto Raptors that young Seth developed an interest in hockey while watching Hockey Night in Canada
When Popeye Jones was traded to the Denver Nuggets, he spotted Colorado Avalanche captain Joe Sakic in the weight room that the two teams shared. He approached Sakic and asked how he could address his son's unexpected insatiable thirst for hockey.
Sakic directed Jones where to get his son started in the Denver area. Little did they know that they were talking about a future NHL first-rounder (like Sakic was) and a very good chance at first overall to boot.
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