But, what are the answers to the following questions:
Just imagine you're the owners of the Montreal Canadiens. Here you are: a dominant, money-making organization in the province. All of the young fans in Quebec City cheer for you, because they're not old enough to remember the Nordiques. Now, the NHL drops the "new Nordiques" into town. Say the dollar drops, and, the team, because it's located in a small market, starts receiving revenue sharing.
Now you're paying, what, $10-$15 million into a pool? And, the Nordiques are using some of that cash to buy players to beat you in a white-hot rivalry?
That's not very appealing.
The other thing I really don't like about all of this is that it plays with people's emotions. Go through the reader comments on the CBC website on any Phoenix Coyotes story. Some of it is way over the top, but it's clear that Winnipeg and Quebec City are full of hardcore hockey fans who want another shot. It reeks of opportunism, by politicians looking for votes and the NHL trying to improve its image.
If returning to either city is really a serious option, provide a detailed plan, an answer to those questions. Until someone can do that – stop. It's enough.
NON-SPORTS THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Don't know how many of you watch Dexter, but the last scene Sunday night was one of the greatest season-ending plot twists ever. Right up there with the first year of 24.
NON-HOCKEY THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Jose Calderon is a great teammate and a terrific person, but the Raptors are a better team with Jarrett Jack running the show. He brings an edge that a starting five featuring Hedo Turkoglu and Andrea Bargnani desperately needs. It's tough to have two guys on the floor who don't defend well; three is basketball suicide.
The less Calderon plays, the more the offence flows through Turkoglu. He needs that to be more effective. (And, after talking to him about it yesterday, I think he told Jay Triano exactly that.)
Wish I had a photo of the watch Jack wore post-game. It's worth more than my house.
1. Good on the NHL to accept it may have to go over-budget on referee costs. Each ref is budgeted for 73 games. There are 51 assignments set aside for newer ones to gain experience, which is very important. But season-ending injuries to Dave Jackson and Mike Hasenfratz ballooned that number to 174. NHL director of officiating Terry Gregson said that if the new guys are too nervous, the veteran refs will be given extra assignments. With all that's at stake in these games, it's the proper decision.
2. Gregson didn’t say this, but another official did: Rick Tocchet scored huge points by not embarrassing a rookie referee who mistakenly disallowed a Lightning goal. Not sure many coaches would have been as understanding.
3. Another GM on the Oilers five-game road winning streak: "They’re playing for each other. That's what this game is all about, getting your players to be accountable to one another."
4. Similar to that is another GMs thought on New Jersey's success: "They buy in. Everybody on that team accepts their role."
5. Would Paul Holmgren consider re-acquiring Martin Biron? Or, is it too much of a PR nightmare to try?
6. Then again, would Garth Snow even be willing to help a team below him in the standings?
7. Where the schedule really hurts: When you make a coaching change. Philly goes from a dump-it-in, conservative strategy (John Stevens) to a puck-possession, attack strategy (Peter Laviolette). As of today (Monday), guess how many non-game nights the Flyers have had since the change? Four – in 10 days. How can you expect the team to adapt?
8. For that reason, if the Blues really wanted to fire Andy Murray, you have to think it would have come after Friday's home collapse to the Oilers. St. Louis had three days to stew over that one. Now, it's six games in nine nights.
9. OK – Wayne Gretzky is the greatest player ever, but a member of the St. Louis Blues Dream Team?
10. Scouting report on the Calgary Flames: They love to rim the puck along the boards in their zone. If you stop/control that, you can really slow them down.
11. Another one about Miikka Kiprusoff: Former coach/assistant Jim Playfair once saw him driving behind a gravel truck on Deerfoot Trail. Stones were flying onto his car. Playfair later asked why he didn't switch lanes. Kiprusoff said he pretended they were pucks and was trying to catch them.
12. Know there was a lot of debate about Vincent Lecavalier following last week's column. Don't think any trade would happen during the season. After this year is over, I'd expect there will be some kind of sitdown. If the same management group is in place, he would be willing to explore trade options.
13. Mike Gillis met with his players this week, telling them they weren't showing the effort they did last year. Maybe that's why a couple of people said they'd heard Gillis called Atlanta about Ilya Kovalchuk. The Canucks GM is bold, not afraid to make huge moves or gambles (Sundin, contacted Forsberg), but forcefully denied this one.
14. One thing about Gillis: My experience with him is that when there is truth to a rumour, he doesn't respond.
15. Don Waddell is in a tough spot with his captain. He's got an offer of at least $100 million on the table, with the option for a shorter term if Kovalchuk doesn't want to commit that long. You can only gamble with these guys if you think you can win it all. (See: Nikolai Khabibulin and Jay Feaster.) However, if you trade him, you probably aren't getting equal return. And, your fans love him.
16. Really disappointed to see that Wayne Simmonds is going to be out six weeks. He has been a huge part of the Kings success; a player who deserves a lot more attention than he receives.
17. Last year, the Kings lost an afternoon game in Montreal on a questionable penalty. Their players talked about it being an example of the lack of respect towards their organization. Wonder how they feel now?
18. It's taken a lot longer than they wanted, but Michal Nylander's decision to accept an assignment to Grand Rapids will have a huge effect on the Capitals. His salary comes off the cap, and George McPhee has room to make moves.
19. Brooks Laich with a great observation on Nicklas Backstrom: He's a great passer because he doesn't need to turn his body before firing one tape-to-tape. He can do it all in one motion.
20. One GM told me that if you're going to sign a player to a long-term, big-money deal, he'd better be three things: critical to your success, consistently healthy and, most importantly, extremely self-motivated. Backstrom (who has not missed a game in three years) fits that profile.
21. Serious question Capitals must ask themselves – does Alexander Semin?
22. Bruce Boudreau talks up Mike Green for the Olympic Team to anyone who will listen. Asked why, the coach said, "He doesn’t need to play 26 minutes a game. You can have him as your seventh guy playing 12-14. In some of these games, you’re going to be down a goal, and who better than [Green] to be your fourth man in the attack?"
23. Follow-up: I'm not sure Yzerman's scouted anyone harder than Green. Sounds like he's really wrestling with it.
24. Barry Trotz has never won the Jack Adams Award. But no one has done a better coaching job this decade than him.
25. Really thought Ron Wilson went out of his way to shield Luke Schenn from the fallout of being a healthy scratch on Saturday. In any Canadian city, it's huge news, so Wilson refused to confirm it until the defenceman wasn't in the pre-game warmup.
26. Don't understand why Senators fans are so infuriated with Alexei Kovalev. What did they expect? After 15 years, he's going to change?
27. Pavel Bure told The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel that the NHL should go to the shootout in the playoffs. Thankfully, Bure is not in a position of any power. What a horrible idea.
28. By beating Chicago, Patrick Lalime shot a hole through my theory that Ryan Miller is the NHL's most irreplaceable player, but I'm going to blog about it some day.
29. If IceEdge guys do buy the Coyotes, they are not going to change hockey operations. Maloney/Tippett are doing a great job.
30. Bit delayed with this one, but wanted to include a note about late Wizards and one-time Capitals owner Abe Pollin: Years ago, the Raptors were playing on New Year's Eve in Washington. I asked Vince Carter how you celebrate after a game there. He said, "You get away from that arena as quickly as possible and hope you don't get shot." The area around the Verizon Center is lively and safe now, a great place to go after a game. Pollin deserved most of the credit for that.
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