When Anaheim won the cup in 2007, they did it with a backend thinner than twiggy. They played the heck out of Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer and Francois Beauchemin and held their breath when anyone else was on the ice.
This season, with J.S. Giguere struggling to stop pucks and Beauchemin hurt, the lack of depth on the blue-line has been exposed and when he looks down the road, Murray can see a time when Pronger, Niedermayer and Beauchemin are gone. So, naturally he’s begun addressing the situation.
Niedermayer is unrestricted and might retire although it is speculated he’ll play another year to get in on the Olympics. Beauchemin is also unrestricted and Pronger has another year left on a big ticket. Whitney becomes the insurance in any number of scenerios, all of which see that defence changing dramatically.
Most teams are loath to part with a blue-chip young defender, especially one like Whitney who’s locked in at a fixed cost for several years to come. But last season’s Hossa deal cost Pittsburgh its depth at the forward positions and they needed a winger for Sidney Crosby. So Pittsburgh got Chris Kunitz, Anaheim got Ryan Whitney and the options that come with him.
In the not to distant future, this could be seen as a key deal in the re-making of the Ducks. With Whitney, the Ducks can now afford to trade Pronger, absorb the retirement of Niedermayer or the loss of Beauchemin - as long as they don’t all happen at the same time - and still have someone of substance between the forwards and their goal.
Sutter's magic wand
Darryl Sutter should buy a lottery ticket.
Every deal Sutter made in fixing up his Calgary Flames has been a winfall and because of them Calgary is a runaway leader in the Northwest Division.
He traded for Michael Cammalleri who’s leading the team in scoring. He added Todd Bertuzzi as a free agent and the big grump is having a superb, bounce-back season. Sutter got Rene Bourque from Chicago almost for free, and, until he was injured recently, the 27-year-old has been one of the Flames’ top forwards. Curtis Glencross was added as a free agent and has helped give Calgary three lines that can score (and it doesn’t hurt that he can handle himself in a chuckwagon race, either).
Even the controversial hiring of Mike Keenan seems to be paying dividends if he doesn’t overreact to the first sign of adversity in the playoffs like he did last year.
Sutter is the NHL’s executive of the year and his moves could bring back spring parties to the Red Mile. And still the man won’t smile.
Here’s the difference between Hockeytown and a hockey town.
The Montreal Canadiens leave Alex Kovalev at home for two games to rest and get his head together and it’s front-page news. President Obama’s visit to Canada paled in comparison.
The Detroit Red Wings take goaltender Chris Osgood out of the lineup for a week to rest and get his head together and it’s greeted with a yawn and so what.
Goaltending is the biggest obstacle between the Red Wings and another Cup and if he was in Montreal, you can bet GM Ken Holland would be vilified for refusing to address the obvious deficiency. Yet, in Detroit, he gets a free pass.
What will the reaction be if the Wings repeat the collapse of 2006 when they lost in the first round to Edmonton because they couldn’t get a save?
Do you have improvements to suggest for this page?