Everyone in fantasy hockey leagues has a license to snipe.
Mostly, we trash talk the opposition and take pot shots at their draft picks and trade decisions. Pretty much anything is fair game.
That same poolie privilege also allows owners to question NHL coaching strategies, especially as it pertains to their players. Sure, he’s minus-15 and coughs up the puck more than cats expel hairballs, but this guy is really great – why don’t they put him on the first line and top power-play unit?
Marian Gaborik answers the question with this apology to poolies.
“When developing this team it is obvious that management paid no attention to fantasy owners but instead selfishly decided that winning games was more important,” Gaborik said in a statement prepared with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
Fantasy owners will appreciate the humour but Gaborik owners will probably wish his health was as robust as his wit.
He’s back now after missing three games with a groin injury, returning in style Thursday with a goal and an assist.
Now if only Pavol Demitra, his equally fragile centre, would soon get better. Their talents always make them worth the risk, but there probably isn’t another pair of players who so frustrate their fantasy owners.
As for apologies to fantasy owners, next in line to say sorry should be Brian Gionta and Patrik Elias of the Devils.
The best player in Minnesota this year has been centre Mikko Koivu with five goals and 16 points. Now he, too, will be out at least a week after a vicious two-hand slash from Mattias Ohlund of the Canucks cracked a bone in his leg.
Poolies will need to replace him for the time being. And Ohlund, too.
That nasty stick work earned him a four-game suspension, which is unfortunate for his owners since Ohlund was assuming a bigger role on the blue-line with injured Canucks defencemen Kevin Bieksa and Sami Salo on the sidelines.
Simon Gagne of the Flyers is the latest marquee player to go down with a concussion after receiving two hard shots to the head.
Gagne was injured at Florida on Oct. 24 when hit in the jaw by Panthers defenceman Jay Bouwmeester. He returned after four games but was flattened again on Nov. 5 by Gary Roberts of the Penguins.
That Gagne is out indefinitely is merely a bother for pool owners; this should be a more serious concern to the NHL.
Todd Bertuzzi of the Ducks is out 13 games and counting after the weekend as he continues to rehab from a concussion suffered after a thump from Wild goon Derek Boogaard. And there are fears in Beantown that Patrice Bergeron of the Bruins could be lost for the season because of the severity of his concussion.
Of course, Randy Jones, the Flyers defenceman who smashed Bergeron into the boards from behind, is back after serving a two-game suspension.
What a whirlwind 24 hours for goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.
The Ducks released him Friday and he had barely packed his pads when the Coyotes claimed him Saturday morning. A short flight from Anaheim to Los Angeles landed him with his new team just in time to start and pick up a 1-0 shutout win.
Poolies should jump on this goalie just as fast. He will most likely be the No. 1 man in the desert.
Anyone looking for goals might take a chance on Devin Setoguchi of the Sharks. With playmaking centre Joe Thornton feeding him passes, the rookie marksman scored five goals in four games.
Another impact rookie to keep an eye on is David Perron, now making a home on the Blues second line after registering seven points in his first nine games. And up in Edmonton, first-year forward Andrew Cogliano continues to impress.
His 12 points after weekend action are good for third in rookie scoring behind that dynamite duo in Chicago – Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
Some players to watch or watch out for in your hockey pool this week:
1. C Todd White, Thrashers. Four helpers in three games between Hossa and Kovalchuk.
2. G Martin Gerber, Senators. Darth Gerber’s eight straight wins zaps Emery’s star status.
3. C Patrick Marleau, Sharks. Finally getting in high gear after dreadful first quarter.
4. LW Jussi Jokinen, Stars. Four-goal game Friday might boost his third-line profile.
5. D Steve Wagner, Blues. Rookie has consecutive two-point games last week.
1. C Saku Koivu, Canadiens. A minus-6 rating and but one assist in skid of six games.
2. G Marty Turco, Stars. Three starts, no wins and an uncharacteristic 14 goals against.
3. D Jaroslav Spacek, Sabres. Battling injury, one point last week and minus-5 in November.
4. LW Geoff Sanderson, Oilers. Three points in 19 games as light fades on long career.
C Tuomo Ruutu, Blackhawks. Oft-injured, always enigmatic and seriously slumping.
Greg Dennis can be reached at theCanadianpress.pool(at)hotmail.com.