This is my latest introductory paragraph for THN’s online mailbag. There are many like it, but this one is mine. Thanks again to all who submitted a question.
Hi Adam, I am an Avalanche fan and obviously really excited about their No. 1 overall draft selection. The Avs need help in many areas, but defense is right at the top. Seth Jones is ranked first overall and is projected to go first, but I am worried this could be a similar situation to Erik Johnson where Jonathan Toews and others were picked behind him, and in hindsight Johnson was not the right choice.
Is history a factor when deciding who to draft? Do you think there is a chance the Avs pass on Jones?
Kyle McConnell, St. Thomas, Ont.
There’s always a chance a team that has the top pick could go against the grain and select a player who isn’t the consensus No. 1. However, most people I speak with are of the opinion Colorado needs a cornerstone defenseman much more than they do a dynamic young forward, even if he does have as much potential as Nathan MacKinnon.
And if you’re going to use the Johnson/Toews draft as one possibility that could look terrible on the Avs, you also have to consider the converse – namely, that they would pass up on a d-man who could be the Chris Pronger of his generation at a time they desperately required a blueline-bolstering. To me, that would look at least as bad as allowing MacKinnon to move on.
And let’s just say the Oilers had the top pick for the fourth straight year; do you think they’d be hemming and hawing over who to choose? I don’t. I think that, even though teams love to say they choose the best player available, sometimes need dictates the selection. That’s how I see it with the Avs.
I'm confused about Mike Keenan's hiring in the KHL. Should we laugh about it because Keenan is a dinosaur? Or should we be happy one of our boys got a job, thinking he may have changed his ways and evolved? I thought his Calgary stint was a mistake (from the team), now I'm just confused. Why would a team offer him a coaching job? What does he bring to a team? Enlighten me please!
Eric Barriault, St-Constant, Que.
While Keenan’s old-school style of coaching is increasingly anachronistic in today’s NHL, nobody can make the definitive statement that his employment in the Kontinental League is for marketing purposes only.
Yes, you can’t rule out the brand value of his name and reputation in the equation, but this is a league that also has hired respected coaches such as Paul Maurice (whom Keenan is replacing at Metallurg Magnitogorsk) and the late Brad McCrimmon as bench bosses. The KHL is an important part of the Russian sports scene and fans would not take kindly to a glorified publicity stunt.
By the time it’s all said and done, this could be the last career stop for the 63-year-old Keenan. But the Stanley Cup winner has nothing to be ashamed of. Just as players only have a certain shelf life in the world’s best league, so too do even the best coaches.
Adam, what are the chances the Montreal Canadiens repeat their success this season by winning the Northeast division next year? Do they have any chance of achieving the same feat with the new conference/divisional layout?
Ryan Kleinau, Richmond Hill, Ont.
In the era of NHL parity you can’t say the Canadiens will repeat as Northeast (or whatever they’ll call the division) champs next year. Nor can you say they’re going to fall off the map and miss the playoffs as they did in 2011-12.
Ultimately, there will be many factors that go into deciding Montreal’s place in the standings: health, improvement from their young core (including a reversal of fortune in the way goalie Carey Price played the latter third of this season) and a successful integration of any new additions GM Marc Bergevin makes this summer.
I don’t know that the increased number of teams in the division (which now will include the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers) will make it more difficult for them. For me, the entire league is as competitive as it’s ever been, so I won’t be surprised to see any particular franchise struggle one season and then play strongly the next (or vice versa). In today’s NHL, that’s the new normal.
Adam, is my cable bill going to go up so Jim Dolan can buy out Brad Richards?
Michael GaMarsh, Lindenhurst, N.Y.
Your question made me laugh, but I’m sure another year of disappointment in Manhattan isn’t causing Rangers fans to slap their knees and double over in hysterics.
That said, the fact the Rangers made Richards a healthy scratch in an elimination game is an indication the team could buy out his extravagant contract this summer and the latest indictment of the tenure of GM Glen Sather. As I joked about on Twitter yesterday, since Sather is responsible for signing Scott Gomez, Wade Redden and now Richards, I think his new nickname should be “Amnesty International.” And I think until Dolan ends Sather’s tenure, the team will continue to lurch from one high-priced theoretical solution to another.
Ask Adam appears Fridays on THN.com. Ask your question on our submission page. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Adam on Twitter at @ProteauType.