Happy almost-ended NHL season! I’ll be away next Friday, but the mailbag never goes away, so keep sending your inquiries to the usual location.
Adam, Aaron Rome’s vicious, unnecessary hit on playoff hero Nathan Horton left me completely disgusted. Has the NHL considered suspending the coach of a player who commits such an egregious act? These incidents have to stop and I wonder if coaches actually faced punishment for the actions of a player, whether it might make a difference.
Jeffrey Adelman, Coral Springs, Fla.
Suspending coaches for their players’ actions definitely has been bandied about hockey circles for years, but never has gained enough traction at the NHL board of governors level, where the power to change rules really lies.
But here’s the thing: if the league levied serious suspensions in the first place – the kind of suspensions that actually made players change their behavior, as opposed to suspensions that qualify as a one- or two-day holiday – we’d never have to consider suspending coaches to begin with.
Now, in regard to the Rome four-game suspension, the league certainly did better than its usual supplementary discipline song and dance. But the real test will come next season, when a top-line star player waylays an opponent with a head shot or when the NHL has the chance to rationalize a non-suspension by saying (like the Alex Burrows bite of Patrice Bergeron) it can’t prove intent on a player’s behalf.
If we revert to those days, it won’t matter whether players, coaches or GMs are suspended, because the league will have proven it doesn’t take over-aggressive behavior seriously enough.
Adam, obviously star players such as Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin dominate play at a young age, but what about everyday NHLers who aren’t household names, guys such as Darroll Powe and Andreas Nodl? Did these guys dominate play in their early years and make it obvious they were way above their teammates and opponents or did they have more subtle differences that made them a future NHLer?
Dave Smith, Orlando, Fla.
Good question. The reality is that to make it to the NHL, a player has to dominate at virtually every level prior to the pros and from there, one or two aspects of his game still have to stand out above the rest.
Look at Nodl’s accomplishments: in 2007, he was the WCHA and NCAA rookie of the year after scoring 18 goals and 46 points in 40 games and made the WCHA Second All-Star Team the following season by amassing virtually the same numbers (18 goals and 44 points).
Powe, meanwhile, never was blessed with a ton of goal-scoring ability. But he worked his way through the U.S. collegiate system and eventually became the captain of his team at Princeton in his final year at school.
Make no mistake – NHL teams rarely provide opportunities to players on a whim. If you haven’t established a world-class skill or two in your development years, you’re just not going to get one.
Hey Adam, after the unfortunate moving of the Thrashers, I’ve become worried about the other team some think should relocate. The Phoenix Coyotes move may be inevitable, but what about the Florida Panthers?
If any city has had more disappointment to put up with than Atlanta, it’s Sunrise. I honestly think they would have no trouble filling the Bank Atlantic Center if they could ice a good team more than once in a lifetime. What do you think the chances are the Panthers will go the way of the Thrashers? Can management make the team competitive again within the next few seasons?
Matt Ainsworth, Herkimer, N.Y.
The Panthers are mentioned in lists of potential franchise relocations for good reason. They have the same type of perennial mismanagement the Thrashers had; their attendance is routinely pitiful (they were 22nd in the league in average attendance in 2010-11 with 15,685 per game – and remember that’s announced attendance, not actual numbers); and they don’t have the type of marquee players to attract significant media attention and fan interest.
It’s fair to question whether the consumer disinterest in the Panthers and their on-ice futility are linked in a chicken-and-egg-type way; if that’s the case, it’s also fair to wonder which role the customers and team are playing. But as long as the franchise is a big-time money bleeder, people will speculate as to how long ownership is willing to endure it before putting it on the selling block.
I wouldn’t want to give odds on the Panthers relocating, because there are so many moving targets (including other teams being for sale and fluctuating economic conditions) that will affect the chances of it happening. But under GM Dale Tallon and a management group that appears driven to change the organization’s fortunes, there is a chance that, in two or three years, an exciting young group gives South Florida hockey fans something to put their money into.
Whether it’s a great chance – and whether an improved win/loss record would turn around their box office woes – remains to be seen.
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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