Hockey Night's Take 5
HNIC's senior online reporter Tim Wharnsby dishes out the latest news, buzz and inside information in the hockey world.
1. Empty seats
A big topic of discussion at the NHL board of governors meetings in Pebble Beach, Calif., this week will be sagging attendance. At the top there is Montreal (21,273), Chicago (20,573), Philadelphia (19,383), Calgary (19,289) and Toronto (19,236).
The rest of the Canadian teams are Vancouver at seventh (18,810), Ottawa 13th (17,924) and Edmonton 18th (16,839).
The bottom six include the league’s usual trouble spots: Phoenix (9,825), N.Y. Islanders (12,590), Nashville (12,656), Atlanta (13,718), Colorado (13,811) and Tampa Bay (14,403).
2. Russian Rocket roars
Even though Pavel Bure spends part of the year living on Fisher Island near Miami Beach, he has yet to attend one Florida Panthers game after seeing six last season. The Panthers haven’t made the playoffs since Bure scored 58 goals for them in 1999-2000. They are 11th in the Eastern Conference standings and 23rd in attendance with an average crowd of 14,489.
"I watch on TV, and because I spend lots of time here it would be nice to see a winning team,'' Bure told the Florida Sun-Sentinel. "To get the fans back they have to play well, and to me, I like to go and see some superstars. I'm not a big fan of golf but when I know Tiger Woods is playing, I'm going to watch him. I like [Miami Heat’s] Dwayne Wade because it's attractive to have a superstar because a superstar gives you something other people can't.''
The 38-year-old Bure also remarked that he would like to see shootouts in the Stanley Cup playoffs and was asked about the possibility of him being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
"I love the breakaways, penalty shots, the shootouts,'' he said. "That's what they did in the World Cup, and we should do in the playoffs, too, instead of playing until 3 a.m. Even if it's 0-0, people get excited for the shootout.
"It's a huge honour, but it's not up to me,'' Bure said of the Hockey Hall of Fame. "Everyone plays the game differently, but since I was a little kid I like to score goals. If I score 50 goals and give up 10 that's still a plus-40, which is pretty good. When the fans watch the game they want to see goals; they don't want to see great defence. We play for the fans.''
3. Markov almost ready
When Montreal defenceman Andrei Markov suffered severed tendons from the skate of goalie Carey Price in the season opener in Toronto, the original diagnoses was the injury would keep him out until possibly February. But Markov hopes to soon receive clearance to engage in contact in practice and that may mean a return to action could happen later this week.
The Canadiens have a busy week. They play host to Buffalo on Monday and visit New Jersey on Wednesday, before entertaining Minnesota on Thursday and a road game against the New York Islanders on Saturday.
4. Gerber suffers neck injury
After he couldn’t find work in the NHL, former Toronto and Ottawa goalie Martin Gerber signed with Russia’s Atlant Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League as the replacement for Ray Emery.
According to various reports over the weekend, Gerber suffered a serious neck injury, possibly a fractured vertebrae, that hospitalized him after he collided with an opponent in a game.
5. New coach, no help
The Philadelphia Flyers' struggles continue under coach Peter Laviolette. They have just one win in five games under the new bench boss.
Last year, there were seven mid-season coaching changes. Ottawa’s Cory Clouston, Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma and New York’s John Tortorella made the most immediate impact last season with 3-1-1 starts, followed by Chicago’s Joel Quenneville (2-1-2), Tampa Bay’s Rick Tocchet (1-1-3), Carolina’s Paul Maurice (1-1-3) and Montreal’s Bob Gainey (1-2-2).
The Flyers visit Boston on Monday.