This is the THN mailbag. I answer your submitted questions here. I also very much hate lead paragraphs to mailbags. I’d rather give you fun random facts like this – actor Gary Oldman is two weeks younger than singer Gary Numan – than write mailbag lead paragraphs. Anyway, on to your questions.
Hi Adam, some observers thought Randy Carlyle’s job was somehow safe because of the contract extension he signed this summer. Do you think he would still be coach had Boudreau not lost his job earlier in the week? It sounds to me like they hired Boudreau to revive their three offensive stars and to fill the stands.
Thomas Vidal-Lessard, Cookshire-Eaton, Que.
I do think there is a possibility Carlyle would still be behind Anaheim’s bench if Boudreau hadn’t been available. But if he stayed, there’s every likelihood young sniper Bobby Ryan would be sitting on another team’s bench after being traded. It is apparent now that if Carlyle hadn’t lost the entire Ducks room, he surely had lost Ryan. Both men didn’t have to leave the organization, but at least one did.
As for your notion that Boudreau sells tickets: With all respect to one of the best people in the game, there’s no way California hockey fans are going to see him coach. As I said Thursday, the Ducks looked to him because he represents the opposite of hardliner Carlyle. Certainly, the organization hopes Boudreau’s player-friendly approach is enough to get their big three forwards up and going. Otherwise, Ryan may yet be shipped out of town.
Hey Adam. Do you think Luongo would ever waive his no-trade clause so that the Canucks could trade him?
Malcolm Ross-Delisle, Victoria, B.C.
In a word, absolutely. Let’s put it this way: if you walked up to Luongo and said, “hey man, I could put you in an NHL city with a powerful team similar to the Canucks, but without the 24/7 fishbowl lifestyle and increasing pressure brought on by your understudy,” I think he’d quit looking for someone to pump his tires and accept in a second.
Of course, that’s much easier said than done. But if the next NHL labor deal includes an amnesty clause allowing each team to buy out the contract of a player without salary cap repercussions, the Canucks may not have to ask Luongo to waive his NTC. We’ll see.
Greetings Adam. I have a suggestion to the realignment discussion in the NHL. Since the Pacific teams are keen to keep Detroit in the West, how about requiring the West Coast teams to start their games with the Red Wings at 6:00 local time? They still get valued home dates with a big draw and Detroit can view more of the game without requiring intravenous coffee the next day.
Larry McDougall, St. Louis
That sounds like a more appealing option – until you consider what you’re asking of those West Coast teams. A 6 p.m. start may be OK with some fans, but what about the people who work until 5 p.m., or later, then have to fight traffic, get home, pick up the kids and turn around only to fight traffic again to get to the rink? Something tells me there would be hundreds, if not thousands of latecomers. The NHL doesn’t have the tradition of afternoon weekday games as does Major League Baseball and I don’t think teams are eager to start experimenting with their gate receipts to build such a tradition.
Hey Adam, I can’t remember what issue I read this in but it was stated by The Hockey News that Washington was going to win the Stanley Cup and the Panthers will finish near last. Do you and the other experts at THN still think this will happen? P.S. I know you won’t respond because my question is not “politically correct” but it is something I have to know before I renew my subscription.
Johnny Albert, St. Catharines, Ont.
OK, a few things: first, I don’t discern between questions you’d call “politically correct” – a bogus term that should simply be “correct” – and those that aren’t. I also don’t answer mailbag questions based on a reader’s subscription status with THN.
Now, as for the Caps: we did indeed pick them collectively as our Cup choice. On paper, their roster is chock-full of talent at every position. And that’s really what pre-season predictions are all about – the expectations of the hockey world based on roster talent.
Will new coach Dale Hunter be able to reverse the downward trajectory of the Caps and make us look smarter? Impossible to say. But our Cup picks the past two seasons were Stanley Cup finalists. That’s far from an impressive prediction record, but nobody ever gets that stuff letter-perfect anyway.
Hey Adam, There’s a lot of talk right now about Wayne Gretzky being a part of the ownership group interested in purchasing the Maple Leafs. This has me wondering, how close did Gretzky come to signing with Toronto in 1997 as a player and why didn’t they end up reaching a deal?
Jon Sholter, Estevan, Sask.
In 1997, Gretzky was excited and perfectly willing to sign at a healthy market discount with the Leafs, the team he grew up loving. Toronto’s GM Cliff Fletcher was equally willing to sign him, but then-owner Steve Stavro – who was having his share of money issues – kyboshed the contract because he didn’t believe it was worth it. It was as unforgivable then as it is now.