While NHL fans continue on the lockout’s emotional roller coaster ride, here at the THN Mail Center it’s business as usual. So long as you’re gracious enough to type out some questions, I’m happy to answer as many as I can. At least, until someone tries to take a piece of my MRR (Mailbag Related Revenue). Then it is on.
For now, though, on to your inquiries. Thanks again to all who sent one (or more) in.
I am going to step away from the negative lockout thoughts and the junior hockey viewing long enough to ask you your valued opinion on the Washington Capitals’ newest addition, Mike Ribeiro.
My first thought was he gives Alex Ovechkin a different type of center, and that the Caps may have thought moving Ovie between two pivots might help to add goals inside their defensive structure. Or do you think this was simply a bolstering of the center position?
Bill Placzek, Chicago
To be honest, I’m not the biggest Ribeiro fan around. His goal and point totals have declined – from a career-best 27 goals and 83 points for Dallas in 2007-08 to 18 goals and 63 points for the Stars last season – and he doesn’t do enough in other areas of the game to justify his $5 million salary. Indeed, if you saw the relatively meager return Dallas got for him (mid-tier prospect Cody Eakin and a second-round pick) when they dealt him to Washington, you’d know how much his stock has fallen.
With the departure of Alex Semin and new head coach Adam Oates, the Caps will give Ribeiro every opportunity to turn around his offensive numbers and he’ll very likely get time with Ovechkin (another player under pressure to produce more). But if Ribeiro wasn’t in the last year of his contract, I doubt Washington GM George McPhee would have made the deal. Ribeiro has a limited window in which to impress; if he can’t, his next contract will be for a much smaller amount of money.
Love the mailbag, learn a lot from it about what’s going on in the sport. My question for you is why do we only ever see and hear from Bill Daly in the media right now? Gary Bettman has no problem taking the fans’ wrath in handing out the Stanley Cup. In fact, he almost seems to enjoy rubbing it in everyone’s face that they can’t do anything about it. So why is he scared of the media now?
Ryan Johnson, Abbotsford, B.C.
Oh, I don’t believe Gary Bettman is frightened of the media in the least. People in my line of work are a part of the job he has to deal with and he’s very well compensated to be a human shield for fan and media dissatisfaction.
However, as we saw in the leaked questionnaire by notorious political operative Frank Luntz, the league is aware of the negative opinion many people have of the commissioner. So they do what a lot of companies worried about public relations do: namely, they deliver the same message, but through a voice/face that doesn’t irk the customers.
Where will the Phoenix Coyotes franchise be after this lockout? Is Gary Bettman finally going to dump the bleeding franchise?
Dan Cearns, Janetville, Ont.
It’s not a matter of the league “dumping” the Coyotes. Rather, as we reported on in a recent magazine edition of THN, there are many hockey people who expect that the NHL will do everything in its power to push that franchise to suitors in Seattle and leave prime puck-loving locales in Quebec City and Southern Ontario for far more lucrative expansion fees.
Of course, there are still some people holding out hope Phoenix won’t lose its team. For the sake of the fans who’ve faithfully supported that franchise, I hope that turns out to be the case. Unfortunately, there’s an overwhelming sense that, in large part because of the location of their building in Glendale, making this team profitable isn’t a real possibility. That would explain the inability of the league to bring a new Coyotes owner into the fold. It’s sad to say, but the clock continues ticking on that team in its current location and I don’t see anyone rescuing it from moving on. The only question for most people is where they’re going.
And again, at least when it comes to the interests of the 29 other team owners, it makes the most sense for them to move to Seattle. So that’s my best guess.
Hey Adam! What do you think of the AHL instituting a new no-touch icing rule and penalty when a player closes his hand on the puck while in play? I do not understand these new rules and why they decided to do this this year. Thanks!
Ruth Gray, Claremont, N.H.
For starters, let’s clarify: the American League isn’t testing out a pure no-touch icing rule per se; they’re experimenting with a hybrid no-touch icing rule that gives linesmen the judgmental leeway to stop a footrace to the end boards if they see the defending player is clearly ahead of a hard-charging opponent by the time they reach the faceoff dots. That rule is there to mitigate the catastrophic injuries suffered by NHLers such as Kurtis Foster and Taylor Fedun in recent years.
Unlike hybrid icing, the hand-on-the-puck rule is already in place in the NHL. It is now in the AHL for the same reason it is in The Show: to prevent players from moving the puck along unfairly. Besides, given that it is an NHL fixture, it’s only natural to want NHL prospects learning how to best handle those rules in the minors.
That said, this isn’t the first year the AHL has experimented with new rules or made rules changes. In fact, the league regularly serves as a test lab of sorts for the NHL and will continue to try out new rules in the coming years.