In this week’s online mailbag, Adam Proteau answers questions on the Leafs’ off-season trading plans, the Flyers’ defense corps, Martin Brodeur’s future in the league, and more.
Hello again. A selection of your questions follow. Thanks to all who took the time to submit one.
Is there a reason the delay of game for puck over the glass rule hasn’t been changed yet? It’s asinine games are being decided because of this being a penalty. It should be a defensive zone faceoff with no change, just like icing. It was put in place because of the no change with icing, why is this exponentially worse?
Ben Mayo, Chicago
I’m no fan of the rule either, but people at the NHL level I’ve spoken to swear if it were taken out, defending players would habitually, tactically flip the puck over the glass during high-pressure situations and kill the flow of the game.
I understand the spirit of where that’s coming from, but I don’t remember it being a problem when I was a kid (mumbles, coughs) years ago. More importantly, when there’s video replay capability the NHL could take advantage of – and remember, right now they only use video review to decide the legitimacy of goals – it seems foolish to let something that could be proven to be a genuine accident decide the result of a game.
Why doesn’t the league fix that? We should know by now the NHL isn’t into rapid changes or reactions to rules changes such as this one. They also fundamentally believe the officiating of the game is subjective and best left to the men at ice level, which is why there isn’t more video review. Again, I can see why that sentiment is appealing, and goodness knows video review wouldn’t end all controversy. But high-definition, slow motion TV broadcasts are almost taunting fans by showing them action that moves too fast to the naked eye trying to police the game at ice level.
The surface optics of the game are better than ever thanks to technology, but the optics of the NHL refusing to embrace technology that can more accurately ascertain what took place in a game make the league look worse with every passing year.
Do you think that Toronto Maple Leafs will make any big trades on July 1?
Jason Miller, Collingwood, Ont.
It depends what your definition of big is. Do I think they’ll trade any of their very best players – Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, Jonathan Bernier and Morgan Rielly – and dramatically renovate the roster? No. Do I think GM Dave Nonis is more likely to deal a secondary player such as Cody Franson or Joffrey Lupul? Yes.
With new president Brendan Shanahan just settling into his role, Toronto is in the midst of an evaluation period that extends behind the bench to Randy Carlyle and his new team of (as-yet-unhired) assistant coaches. If the group stumbles out of the gate to start the 2014-15 season, bigger changes will take place in many areas. But for now, I’d expect the Leafs to make moves that significantly affect the bottom of the roster instead of the top.
The Philadelphia Flyers’ first-round exit by the Rangers exposed the team’s sub-par defensive core. What do you think new GM Ron Hextall has to do to right the ship in this? He’s made comments about trying to build with the draft and prospects on the back end, but do you foresee any short-term solutions through free agency with the likes of Dan Boyle being available July 1? Thanks.
Mitch Brochu, Philadelphia
I wouldn’t credit the Rangers with exposing the Flyers’ defense. It was exposed pretty much as soon as Chris Pronger’s career was cut short due to post-concussion symptoms. Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen have been solid components of the defense corps, but Philly has had to depend on the Islanders’ blueline (bringing in Mark Streit and Andy MacDonald) to restock their shelves in the wake of Pronger’s unofficial retirement; with due respect, they’re not Pronger’s equal.
So it’s clear the Flyers want to upgrade on the blueline, but that puts them in a group of about 28 other teams – and that’s assuming the eventual Stanley Cup champs have a day or two of satisfaction with their defensemen before tweaking begins again. That means Hextall won’t have an easy time of improving his defense. Boyle and any other defenseman available in free agency aren’t going to be solutions, so he’ll either have to give up something of real value in a trade or develop defensive talent internally.
With the retirement of Teemu Selanne, what do you think will happen with Martin Brodeur? Do you think Brodeur will retire and if he does not retire, which team do you think he will play for as either a backup or starter? Thank you.
William Cavers, Langley, B.C.
There aren’t many teams looking for No. 1 goalies at the moment – Pittsburgh, maybe? – and it’s unlikely they’re willing to commit to a 42-year-old who hasn’t posted a save percentage above the rather pedestrian .910 mark since 2009-10. If Brodeur can find a place that will give him 25-30 starts, he should leap at it.
I think he can and will. Despite clearly not being the dominant force he was at his peak, Brodeur still loves the game and a team could be tempted to take a chance on him based on his pedigree alone. They might come to regret that move, but you can understand why Brodeur still wants to play: the self-confidence that fuels icons throughout their Hall-of-Fame-worthy career often causes them to extend their NHL days into a painful final stretch.