It's the inaugural mailbag! As I mentioned a week ago, we're starting a weekly forum to answer some of your questions. Every Thursday, I'll respond to five of them.
Here are five from the past week:
My question involves the current Red Wings goaltending situation. When the Red Wings attempted to sign Nabokov, I read many articles and blogs where it was stated that they felt the Red Wings were sending a wake-up call to Jimmy Howard. After seeing him leave the game like he did this past weekend, and taking into consideration Chris Osgood's most recent setback with his sports hernia, I look back to when that contract offer was submitted to Nabokov and wonder if Kenny Holland knew then that Ozzie's injury was severe enough or had the potential to possibly threaten the rest of his career and think he needed to add another piece of NHL calibre goaltending in the event Howard were to get hurt was well?
Kind Regards, Desmond Ryan, St. John's, NL
Ultimately, the Red Wings make such decisions for one reason: Will it help them win? Last weekend, I was talking to three players who've signed extensions over the years rather than test unrestricted free agency: Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Holmstrom and Howard. I asked them why they didn't bother to hit the open market, and they all said some variation of this: "Why would I leave? It's a great organization to play for and we're always a contender to win it all."
That's why your key point is the Osgood injury. His setback was disappointing to the organization because at the deadline they believed he'd be returning. Otherwise, they'd have acquired someone else after the Nabokov experiment failed. As for Howard, if they didn't believe in him, they wouldn't have signed him to the two-year extension. (Although, I do think the entire process unsettled him, since he admitted he was trying not to think about the contract.)
My line of questioning is about the Leafs (I bet you get lots of these, so apologies in advance). I was just looking over our cap space (lots), contracts locked in (MacArthur seems to be the only core guy we need to worry about signing), and prospects (decent, and growing), and all things considered I'm feeling cautiously optimistic. How much/what will Burke do?
Cheers, Tom Hill
When the Maple Leafs were making their decision about Clarke MacArthur prior to the deadline, one member of the organization said, "We think we can make it work with him. But, if he asks for more than he's worth, we'll move on, because we know we need A-list players and that costs money."
So that tells you what the organization is thinking. For all of the improvements this season, Toronto still lacks star power up front. Obviously, Brad Richards is the prime guy this summer, and Burke will probably throw bags full of money at him. But there's some real doubt he wants to play there.
The other interesting scenario involves the CBA. Because 2011-12 is the last year of the current deal, bonuses will count immediately against the cap. So, for example, Tyler Seguin counts for $3.75 million next season, regardless of what he achieves. With his own cap room, Burke can go to a team that's tight and offer to "help." (I'm looking into one scenario for next week.)
My biggest concern about Burke is that, sometimes, he's too impatient. This is a tricky time for him. The team looks like it is improving, and he will be determined to move that forward. But A-list talent is hard to get, and the wrong move can set you back. This is the kind of summer where it's easy to make the wrong move.
Thank you, EF
So who is the most insightful, honest, and/or interesting current player (that you've spoken with)?
Thanks, Chris Moher
The best current player interview in the NHL is probably Tim Thomas. But there are a lot of other really good ones: Chris Pronger, Daniel Alfredsson, Kevin Bieksa, Teemu Selanne, Willie Mitchell, Adam Burish, Luke Schenn, J-S Giguere, Ryan Whitney, Jason Spezza, Sean O'Donnell, Marty Turco to name a few. Sidney Crosby has really improved. I know I'm missing plenty of others. The NHL is like life: 95 per cent of the people are really good; the other 5 per cent are clowns.
I have the greatest respect for players who show up and talk after brutal losses. I've never covered a player who shows up more when I'd tell the world to get lost than Alfredsson.
Should the Canucks elect to deal Cory Schneider this summer (when I believe his value will be highest), what do you think they can expect in return, generally speaking?
Thanks, Erik Rolfsen
To me, the most fascinating question is: where is Mike Gillis willing to trade him? Earlier this week, Denver Post hockey writer Adrian Dater floated the idea the Avalanche should trade their (very high) first-round pick for a guy like Schneider. In a perfect world, what a return that could bring the Canucks. And that's a very fair trade. But, do you want Schneider doing some divisional tush-kicking for the next 10 years? (Although, a team moving to Winnipeg could solve that problem.)
There are GMs who would trade a player like Schneider in the conference, but not within the division. So, Gillis' philosophy is key, because the more you limit the potential destination, the harder it is to get the highest value.
That said, Schneider looks great. Other teams see it and know it. If they want him, it won't be cheap. The Canucks will have plenty of options, whether good players or high draft picks. I know you'd love it if I threw out names, but I hate doing that unless I have reason to believe it.
From your perspective, how manufactured are the negative sentiments towards PK Subban? Obviously Hab fans are living by the "see no evil speak no evil" side of the sword, but I encounter fans of other teams on a daily basis who scream to the rafters regarding PK Subban's "lack of respect" and his "dirty" play. I can't help but think how much these folks have been influenced by another CBC employee. Will all this negative attention affect the odds of PK being nominated for the Calder?
Thanks and keep delivering those Monday 30 thoughts, one of the best regular hockey pieces found on the internet as far as I am concerned.
- Andre Bouchard
Glad you like the column.
I do think Subban's Calder candidacy is being hurt by some of the things that have happened this year. Maybe not fair, but fact. He deserves a lot more credit than he's getting, considering the role he's played on a decimated blue-line.
However, it's not fair to solely blame Don Cherry. Before the season started, I asked 10 coaches and GMs who deal with the AHL to submit players who were ready to make an impact in the NHL. Every one named Subban. Every one. But one person said the only thing he hated about the rookie was that he started things and let others fight those battles. So this kind of thing predates Don's rants.
Earlier this year, I asked Subban about all of the things he says, and he replied, "That's me," adding he feels he needs to be that way to be at his best. If that's his choice, it comes with consequences. But it doesn't sound like he's too worried about them.
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