Each week hockey columnist Scott Morrison and his protegé, senior hockey writer Tim Wharnsby, exchange (mostly) friendly banter on the latest storylines in the NHL.
1. Which Canadian team is most likely to make a coaching change first, Calgary or Ottawa?
MORRISON: I am not certain either team is a coaching change away from being better, but having said that we all know they happen regardless. I tend to think the change will come in Ottawa first, if it happens. Calgary has played better of late, Jarome Iginla has really taken charge and even if they haven't earned the results, their play has been better. In Ottawa, they need to answer the question: are they a struggling team or just an overestimated team? Cory Clouston has basically been told to make it work with Alex Kovalev. A few more losses and I see Bryan Murray behind the bench again.
WHARNSBY: We'll give both coaches until the New Year to pull their teams back into the playoff race. To me, Clouston has the better lineup. But the Senators can't score this season. They're 27th in offence. The 38-year-old Daniel Alfredsson has hit a dry spell and there simply aren't enough nights when a secondary forward steps in to help out. With the Flames, they simply have been too inconsistent and make too many mental mistakes. Despite the whispers that general manager Darryl Sutter and his head coach Brent have been at odds occasionally during their time together in Calgary, it would be difficult to fire a brother. Although, Darryl did trade his son Brett last month.
2. What's been your favourite story in the past week?
WHARNSBY: If you've ever met Marc-Andre Fleury, you can't help but be charmed by the smiling assassin. That's why it was great to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins' likeable goalie turn around his season with an incredible 13-0-1 run before the 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.
MORRISON: No question my favourite story was the 1,100 Nordique fans who took 22 buses to Long Island to watch Saturday's Thrashers-Islanders game to spread the word they are keen on getting an NHL team back. To do that you really have to be a diehard fan and I'm sure the Islanders want the Nords fans back because without them the announced crowd would have been around 8,000.
3. What are your thoughts on the NHLPA finally hiring Donald Fehr as its executive director?
MORRISON: I think Fehr is an excellent choice. Obviously he has a tremendous amount of experience, he has had time to understand the association and how it works, he had a history with Bob Goodenow so he understands the workings. I don't care who is in charge as long as they understand this game cannot survive another work stoppage.
WHARNSBY: The NHLPA desperately needs a strong leader like Fehr after the past five years of turmoil. He has the benefit of a year-or-so as a consultant with the PA. There is no doubt that Fehr is a hard-liner. He'll know how to exploit leverage points like participation in the Olympics in order to make sure the players don't give up any more concessions on the next collective bargaining agreement. Don't forget, Fehr was the long-time boss of the Major League Baseball Players' Association and successfully kept the salary cap world out of baseball.