A quick programming note to begin this Draft Day mailbag: in spite of reports to the contrary, The Hockey News Radio Show will return to the XM Home Ice airwaves on July 1, the first day of free agency, from 3-4 p.m. EST.
Until then, my fondest congratulations to all draftees and their families – as well as the kids who don’t hear their names called at the podium in Los Angeles. There are so many instances of undrafted players who got to the NHL, the only shame in being passed over is letting it define you.
OK, I’m starting to get a little Hallmarky. Did I mention I’ve been flu’ed up all week? Yeah, sick just in time for the first day of summer. Need any more proof I’m a hockey writer?
Dear Adam, I am a person very fond of hypothetical situations, which leads into my question. I have been listening to my local sports radio station in Philadelphia and a lot of conversation has been devoted to the Flyers, naturally. One critical topic is next year’s goalie debacle (not sure if that describes it well).
If the Flyers end up not signing Michael Leighton, who would most likely be the goalie attractive to the Flyers’ front office?
Jimmy Amore, Philadelphia
First of all, does it get any more Philly than Jimmy Amore from Philly? The only way I’d enjoy that more is if you were a new immigrant and indigenous tribesman from the jungles of Peru who changed your name in an effort to melt in with the rest of the people in America’s pot.
OK, I’m starting to ramble. Did I mention I’ve been flu’ed up all week?
Because you wondered which goalie would appeal to Flyers management, I get to mention names like Martin Gerber, Eric Fichaud and Denis Lemieux from Slap Shot.
Joke attempts aside, the Flyers’ acquisition of Dan Hamhuis from Nashville – and the cap space he will command – leads me to suspect they won’t break the bank for Evgeni Nabokov or anybody else. That doesn’t mean Nabokov might decide to play in Philadelphia on the cheap or that Philly GM Paul Holmgren won’t continue dealing to free up cap space and go after a Tim Thomas-type player or salary.
However, all past evidence (including Holmgren’s reluctance to acquire a goalie at this year’s trade deadline) suggests they’ll continue putting more of their financial eggs into baskets of forwards and defensemen.
(You didn’t ask, but if I were Holmgren, the goalie I’d pursue is soon-to-be former Predators netminder Dan Ellis. He wasn’t consistent this past season and Pekka Rinne took the starting job from him, but Ellis is only 30 and a couple years removed from a 23-10-3 record and a .924 save percentage in 44 games with the Preds.)
Hey Adam, having a tough time understanding why players such as Doug Gilmour, Eric Lindros and Pavel Bure to name a few got bumped in the Hall of Fame process for three people I have honestly never heard of?
Chris Tully, Toronto
It’s simple, really. The 18-person induction committee operates under a cloak of absolute secrecy – they won’t even talk about the voting process, let alone publicly reveal how the ballots were cast – and that complete absence of accountability does nothing but invite ridicule and misunderstanding.
The committee’s excuse for its aversion to transparency – “We don’t want to embarrass the players who aren’t voted in” – doesn’t apply to other public honors NHL players are up for.
As I’ve said before, using the Hall of Fame’s logic, the NHL shouldn’t have announced three contenders for every individual award that was handed out in Las Vegas Wednesday night, because the two runners-up in each category would have suffered a humiliation too severe to recover from.
If that doesn’t sound ridiculous to you, email me once you’re done reading and I’ll send you the definition of ridiculous.
Adam, now that the Sharks have officially parted company with Evgeni Nabokov, who do you see tending goal in San Jose going forward? Is goaltending the missing piece for them?
Jerry Atkin, Paramount, Calif.
I can see Sharks GM Doug Wilson turning to a veteran such as Marty Turco. He’s someone who understands the rigors of Western Conference travel; isn’t an egomaniac and won’t mind splitting playing time with Thomas Greiss; and, most importantly, will work with Wilson on a salary that will allow San Jose to stay far beneath the salary cap ceiling.
I don’t know if Turco or any other goalie is the final piece of the puzzle for San Jose. Now that Patrick Marleau has re-signed with the team, it seems Wilson again will turn to the players already within the organization for the bulk of the Sharks’ future playoff growth.
If he adds a few more complementary ingredients to the mix (most notably, a replacement for Rob Blake’s veteran savvy) Wilson can be confident in additional regular season success. But it’s that ever-elusive playoff chemistry that really pushes teams deep into the post-season – and I don’t think you’d get that simply with the acquisition of one goalie.
Hey Adam, I am a high school student who probably should be studying for finals. Anyway, I recently read Theo Fleury’s book Playing With Fire, but I never saw him play or really heard much about him.
So I thought it would be best to ask you how good he really was. Do his stats tell the story? Also, do you feel he is in the top 10 players of his era?
James DeMarshall, New Jersey
Take it from someone who isn’t a stats geek: statistics never completely tell any story – and they definitely don’t tell even half of Fleury’s stunning, often harrowing existence.
He’s got more than 1,000 career NHL points, an Olympic gold medal, a world junior championship and a Stanley Cup on his resume. Yes, he’s had some awful and awfully public personal demons to deal with, but now that we know the root cause, I think he has established himself as a very brave soul on and off the ice.
Considering that Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Martin Brodeur, Joe Sakic, Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, Scott Niedermayer, Mario Lemieux, Peter Forsberg, Chris Pronger and a dozen others were around when Fleury played, I don’t think you can say he was one of the top 10 players of his era.
But like most great players, GMs would always have preferred Fleury play on their team as opposed to playing against him.
Ask Adam appears Fridays on TheHockeyNews.com. Proteau also answers readers’ questions in every issue of The Hockey News magazine and on The Hockey News Radio Show on XM Radio channel 204. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.
Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.