Every week, Gord offers his take on a variety of NHL topics
Rumours of a conflict between ex-Leaf coach Ron Wilson and defenceman Luke Schenn were confirmed to me by someone close to Schenn. Give Schenn and his handlers credit for keeping it quiet but the prize young defenceman and Wilson definitely had not seen eye to eye for awhile. He is looking forward to the new regime.
Hunter the hunted?
On the flipside, Dale Hunter must wonder what he has gotten into as the coach for the chronically inept and underachieving Washington Capitals. The word is that Hunter is prepared to make hastiest of all exits if the Caps don't qualify for the playoffs. Insiders feel that he will once again assume his coaching duties with the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League for their playoff run towards the Memorial Cup.
Sabres salary (un) structure
Buffalo Sabre GM Darcy Regier acknowledged to me on a Hockey Night in Canada Radio interview that free agency has its drawbacks along with its positives. The Sabres were aggressive in adding the likes of Robyn Regeher, Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino with a new owner willing to open his wallet. The downside, as Regier and the Sabres soon found out was that it also through the appropriate pecking order of their team salaries out of whack. The newcomers were making more than Sabre holdovers that were more talented players.
That didn't play well in the Sabre dressing room and was a significant reason for their struggles in the first half of the season.
The New Jersey Devils resisted any temptation to trade soon to be unrestricted free agent Zach Parise by the trade deadline. Though it has been thought that he is a sure thing to go to his hometown Minnesota Wild, the recent Wild woes make it more likely that Parise consider remaining a Devil or sign with one of the other teams that will be coming after him hard as a free agent, like the Detroit Red Wings.
Kudos to Habs fans
I have to give Montreal fans credit. Despite their season of woe, they make the Bell Centre absolutely rock through thick and thin. A fabulous environment to watch an NHL game regardless of the result.
Staal thrives under Muller
Wonder if Montreal Canadien fans would have a problem with a non-bilingual Kirk Muller as their head coach. Quietly, Muller has totally righted the ship in Carolina. A massive sell-off around the trade deadline never materialized as Muller got the most out of his Hurricane players. Eric Staal has had a tale of two seasons. After a horrendous start he is once again a dominant NHL forward. His streak of 10 consecutive games with at least one assist tied a franchise record that was held by the legendary Dave Keon (with the Hartford Whalers in 1979).
Not afraid of the tough call
Nobody argues with Steve Yzerman returning as the Executive Director for the Canadian Olympic Team in 2014. While in the same position in 2010, and then as a member of the Detroit Red Wing management, three of Yzerman's last cuts from the team are now players that he manages in his role as general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning - Steven Stamkos, Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis.
A New Mann
Nicklas Grossman was thrilled to join the NHL with the Dallas Stars in 2006. So thrilled that he wasn't going to make any waves about anything, including the spelling of his name.
Traded to the Philadelphia Flyers about a month ago, the Flyers' travel organizer noticed a difference on Grossmann's passport. There, Grossman was spelled with a second "n". Grossmann acknowledged that was the correct spelling but he had let it ride while in the NHL.
The next day, Nicklas Grossmann donned his Philadelphia Flyer jersey which for the first time in his NHL career had his name spelled correctly.
Carlyle, Farrish deal with Leafs again
Let's hope for the sake of Leafs fans that general manager Brian Burke makes few trades that work out as poorly as the trade that sent Randy Carlyle to Pittsburgh.
On June 14th, 1978, Jim Gregory traded Carlyle and George Ferguson to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for defenceman Dave Burrows, who Leaf coach Roger Neilson coveted for his strong defensive play.
Two years later, Burrows career as a Leaf was over while Carlyle won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenceman in 1981.
Carlyle wasn't the only ex-Leaf on a potent Pittsburgh Penguin team. In the early 1980s, the Penguins had one of the best power plays in the NHL and it was all comprised of players that had been traded by the Leafs to Pittsburgh. Rick Kehoe, Paul Gardner and Pat Boutette were the forwards while Carlyle and Greg Hotham played the points.
New Leaf assistant coach Dave Farrish was the product of one of the better trades that Punch Imlach made in his second go-round as Leaf general manager. On Dec. 13, 1979, Imlach acquired Farrish and Terry Martin from the Quebec Nordiques in exchange for forward Reg Thomas. Thomas remained a career minor-leaguer while both Farrish and Martin had decent stays with the Leafs.
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