The NHL’s training camps are open – and with it, the volume of your questions is picking up. If you’re new to the THN mailbag, remember this: I do my best, but I can’t get to all the questions and I answer them here on THN.com, as well as in The Hockey News magazine and on THN Radio on XM Home Ice. Now, on to the inquiries that made the cut this week:
Adam, coming off a record-setting save percentage, Vezina Trophy, Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy year, and adding to his previous Vezina and all-star appearance, do you think Timmy Thomas may ever get Hockey Hall of Fame consideration? Do you think Roberto Luongo will? If not, what would it take for either of them to get there eventually?
Alec Duncan, Anchorage, Alaska
Although Thomas had a season for the ages last year, he hasn’t demonstrated the longevity at that level most people see as a base requirement for entry into the HHOF. For example, Eric Lindros was one of the most dominant players for the first five years of his career, but there are people who will argue he shouldn’t be in the Hall because his production tailed off significantly after that. Thomas, now 37, would have to be as much of a star the rest of his NHL career to receive serious consideration.
As for Luongo, the first and main thing he needs is a Stanley Cup on his resume. Without that, entry into the HHOF isn’t likely. Of course, if the Hall’s secretive Star Chamber induction committee decides the Cup-less Curtis Joseph deserves to be honored, Luongo might get in regardless of whether he wins a championship.
Hi Adam. What’s the latest on Kyle Turris re-signing with the Coyotes? Is there a real dispute between him and the team over the contract or even a chance he will get out of the desert and sign with a more competitive team in a true hockey market?
Petr Seda, San Diego, Calif.
Oh, there’s a real dispute between Turris and his team all right. And as long as the 22-year-old is reported to be looking for around $3-4 million per season, the dispute will continue.
I mean, yes, Turris had his best showing as an NHLer last season, when he put up 11 goals and 25 points in 65 games and he still has plenty of time to develop into the player hockey people thought he would be when Phoenix drafted him third overall in 2007. However, asking for a significant pay raise based on a single decent season is the type of thing NHL owners will hold up as sufficient reason to tighten their already tight grip on player costs in the next round of labor negotiations.
Another team in better financial condition than Phoenix might bite the bullet and capitulate to Turris’ demands, but it’s difficult to fault GM Don Maloney for digging in his heels and taking a hard line with the player. Otherwise, what’s next – $3 million a year after a five-goal campaign?
Adam, why hasn’t any team hired Wayne Gretzky? He should be a part of the NHL in some capacity.
Travis White, Kenora, Ont.
Trust me, Gretzky’s hiatus from the NHL scene isn’t a result of a lack of interest in his services. There would be an instant lineup of about 29 franchises (let’s assume the bridges in Phoenix were pretty much burned by the financial boondoggle that shortchanged No. 99 of millions) the moment he pronounced himself ready to return in some capacity.
But the fact is Gretzky deserved a break from the stresses and rigors of NHL life. He never had the chance to enjoy family time the way most NHLers do after hanging up their skates. I think a respite is exactly what he needs to recharge his batteries and eventually return with a new, stronger focus. The Coyotes debacle appeared to drain some of that from him, but I don’t doubt for a second he’ll be back soon enough.
Hey Adam, I just read a story about a 14-year-old girl who got EA Sports to include her in the new NHL 12 game and I got to wondering what your opinion was on when Manon Rheaume played for Tampa. Do you think that was simply just a publicity stunt?
Mitch Wood, Battleford, Sask.
Former Bolts GM Phil Esposito admitted the opportunity afforded to Rheaume was a publicity stunt, saying in 1992, “I’d be a liar to say I wasn’t using (Rheaume) for publicity. But I don’t care if she is a woman. If there were a horse with skates and it could stop a puck, I’d put it in there.”
That said, I’m not sure you can make the same connection between Rheaume and the girl you referenced. I think a sport that is trying to grow its boundaries should be as inclusionary as possible, in whatever manner possible. Giving young females a chance to imagine themselves playing against the game’s greats doesn’t hurt anybody other than misogynists.
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays and his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays.
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