If it’s Friday and it’s online at THN.com, then it almost certainly must be the mailbag. Below are a selection of questions you – yes, YOU – submitted via email.
Adam, if you were in Montreal GM Pierre Gauthier’s shoes, who would be your pick: oft-injured, yet highly talented Andrei Markov, or last season’s acquisition, James Wisniewski (and what about the possibility of retaining the two of them)? Also, would you unload disappointing RFAs Andrei Kostitsyn and Benoit Pouliot to make some cap space for a proven scoring commodity, such as Ville Leino?
Benoit (Ben) Robin, Whitby, Ont.
With the Canadiens possessing some $25 million in available salary cap room, it definitely is within the realm of possibility for Gauthier to sign both Wisniewski and Markov. The real question is, can and should he sign both those two as well as veteran Roman Hamrlik?
That answer, I would humbly submit to you, should be “no” and “no.” I know Hamrlik has been a steady hand for the Habs, but with the emergence of P.K. Subban, many of Hamrlik’s skills have become redundant. As for Kostitsyn and Pouliot: I don’t know that there’s going to be a lineup of GMs trying to acquire either player. If Gauthier can sign them to cap-friendly, short-term deals, that’s what he’ll do – and if they continue to underwhelm, a mid-term trade would be more likely.
Adam, since we don’t have a pro basketball team anymore, could the city of Seattle get an NHL team?
David Foster, Snohomish, Wash.
Since the NHL has never completely and legally ruled out the chance of locating a franchise in Seattle, there is a possibility of it coming to pass. Unfortunately, that possibility appears slim at the moment.
There is not the faintest hope the league or a prospective owner would succeed with a hockey team playing out of KeyArena. Although the former home of the NBA’s Sonics was home to the Western League’s Thunderbirds for many years, there is no political will to retrofit the nearly half-century-old building to the degree the NHL would require.
Related and just as importantly, there is no sign of a prospective owner. If there were, the Atlanta Thrashers would be moving to the Pacific Northwest and not, as seems increasingly likely, to Winnipeg. No building plus no owner equals no NHL team in Seattle for now.
Hey Adam, with all the talk of money-losing teams staying or relocating, I wonder if you ever see the NHLPA getting involved in the fray? It is essentially the players subsidizing these teams in a roundabout way through escrow payments and it impacts their earning potential by limiting league revenue and, in turn, the salary cap. What do you think?
Jeff Brohman, Ottawa
Trust me, the NHLPA is extremely interested in franchise relocation as it pertains to the overall financial picture of the league, for the reasons you outlined. But the players really don’t have a say in where franchises are situated. It’s the owners who are in control of the process and thus far they are more than happy to offset the cost of the league’s often-puzzling dedication to certain marketplaces on the backs of NHLers.
There’s an outside possibility the Don Fehr-led union insists on a greater voice in the matter when negotiating the next collective bargaining agreement. But as we saw in 2004, the players aren’t exactly bargaining with a whole lot of leverage on their side.
Ultimately, the owners are going to decide where teams operate. But as we’re seeing in Phoenix and Atlanta, it isn’t as if there is a huge lineup of billionaires looking to purchase a team and abide by the NHL’s wishes as to where that team goes. Sooner or later, the league will have no choice but to go where the actual money is.
Yo Adam, Why do you think they felt the need to take hitting out of house league hockey? I am a second year midget player and I believe it adds one more skill into the game by being able to avoid or absorb a hit. Taking the contact out of the game will make it less enjoyable for some players, why risk the possible decline of participants?
Eric van der Zalm, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.
There is certainly an ongoing debate about the value of teaching and allowing bodychecking in amateur youth hockey. Some people I’ve spoken with feel as you do –that we’re seeing some terrible hits at the NHL level because young players haven’t learned how to properly take a hit or put themselves in safe positions on the ice.
However, there also are those who believe that, with the skyrocketing number of concussions at the amateur level, hockey has to remove heavy and intentional physical contact until players are old enough (and talented enough) to be ready for it.
To be honest, I can see both sides. But after talking to more than a few neurosurgeons who are outraged and saddened by concussions sustained by young players who will never play at an elite level, I’d rather err on the side of caution and make the game as safe as possible.
Adam, this will be the third straight year that sub-par penalty-killing and less-than-stellar goaltending are major factors in the Red Wings losing in the playoffs. Do you think that it’s time for Ken Holland to change his “good goaltending is good enough” philosophy?
Chris Champion, Lansing, Mich.
You assumed right. But I don’t know that Holland will be burning up the phone lines this summer looking to replace Jimmy Howard between the Wings’ pipes.
For starters, although Howard wasn’t performing at a Tim Thomas or Dwayne Roloson level in this post-season, he wasn’t Michael Leighton-bad either. And with the Red Wings’ group of skaters so banged-up by the time they got to the playoffs, it was little wonder they were eliminated by a bigger and younger Sharks team.
Holland may decide to give Howard a new experienced platoon-mate, as it seems the end is here for Chris Osgood. But I never expect Holland to make a panic move. And I think to some degree, that’s what bringing in a big-name goalie would represent.
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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