A few Monday musings as we prepare for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final:
• I’ve been there and I know the story lines get thin by the time the Stanley Cup final rolls around, but Gary Roberts being inserted into the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup is an earth-shattering event?
Please. The only way Roberts will be a difference maker in this series is if he uses his patented hit from behind to take one or two of Detroit’s stars out of the series.
And please (again) spare this “Gary Roberts is a great team guy and ultimate warrior” stuff. What he did prior to Game 1 of the final was deplorable and certainly not the kind of leadership the Penguins were looking for when they acquired him.
First, he took it upon himself to inform the media he was being designated a healthy scratch for Game 1 of the final, then went on to express his dissatisfaction with the decision.
That’s not what the inexperienced Penguins need going into such a crucial situation.
Sounds an awful lot like the actions of a “me” guy, doesn’t it?
• Here’s a little known fact concerning the Red Wings. Did you know since Scotty Bowman joined Detroit as coach in 1993, the Red Wings have been in the bottom five of fighting majors each season?
One season they were the lowest with seven. And all they have to show for it since is three Stanley Cups (going on four), five appearances in the Stanley Cup final and two more appearances in the Western Conference final.
So a certain TV personality who remains nameless, can talk all he wants about how Detroit hockey fans don’t identify with this team because it doesn’t play smashmouth hockey, but the fact is Detroit hockey fans have been fed a steady diet of this style of play for the past 15 seasons.
It also puts to rest the notion you have to intimidate with toughness in order to win the Stanley Cup. The Anaheim Ducks didn’t win the Cup last year because George Parros got into a bunch of orchestrated, meaningless fights during the regular season. It was because they had plenty of skill and character and many of their physical players could play the game at a high level.
Throughout their run over the past decade, the Red Wings have never been a physically intimidating team, yet they’ve been by far the best one in the NHL over that stretch of time. Almost all of their intimidation has come from an abundance of skill.
• According to sources close to the Ontario League, it looks as though the OHL is turning a blind eye to a couple of rather shady transactions.
Both involved high-profile goalies who were among the best stoppers in the league this season.
Despite leading the Plymouth Whalers to the OHL championship last season, Washington Capitals prospect Michal Neuvirth was dealt to the Windsor Spitfires, who, despite being a surprise contender, flipped him less than two months later to the Oshawa Generals.
“It might be a baby step backward,” Spitfires GM Warren Rychel said at the time, “but it’s also two big leaps forward, especially when the puck drops next year.”
That’s because sometime this summer, the Spitfires will receive Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Dale Mitchell to complete the deal.
In another deal, the London Knights surprised the hockey world by dealing Canadian World Junior hero Steve Mason to the Kitchener Rangers in exchange for two 18-year-old players and three draft picks in 2011 and 2012.
Mason found out his life was turning upside down the day before playing the gold medal game at the World Junior Championship, but hey, that’s how these guys in junior hockey roll.
In any event, the part of the deal that was not announced will come sometime soon when the Knights acquire Nazem Kadri, a talented 17-year-old who was a big part of the Rangers offense and a prospect for the 2009 NHL entry draft.
Nice of these guys to deal a top goalie not once, but twice, in the same season to serve their own ends, wasn’t it? What makes it all worse is that those kinds of trades undermine the league’s credibility, both among perspective players and fans.
The Quebec League used to do this kind of thing all the time, except teams there used to lend players to other teams to make a run at the Memorial Cup, and it was ridiculed then, just as it should be now.
The way they get around it is they end up trading the player for a draft pick, but here’s the kicker – most of the time it’s for one of the picks they dealt away to get the player in the first place.
But as I said, that’s how these guys roll. They talk about nurturing young men and how they treat them so well on one hand, then treat them like nothing more than chattel with the other.
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