Now you readers have gone and done it: your ever-increasing volume of Ask Adam questions has caught the attention of THN's higher-ups and starched shirts, and they've decided to turn this into a twice-weekly feature. Starting next week, every Tuesday and Friday, I'll be back to deal with what's on your minds.
But I'm warning you now, if the popularity of the mailbag column increases to the point where it's just me sitting in front of my laptop with a webcam obeying whatever direction you type into the screen Â– like this poor sucker Â– I'm outta here.
Why on earth is Chris Simon allowed to play in the pre-season while Sean Hill gets to sit in the press box? Both are suspended (yes, for different offenses), but it doesn't seem quite fair to let one play and the other not. What's your take on the situation?
Brian Kolis, Atlanta, Ga.
My take? When I first saw Simon on the local sportscast playing in a pre-season game, I did a double-take. Then, when I saw him getting into a scrap with Ryan Hollweg Â– that's right, the guy he treated as a tree while he was pretending to be a lumberjack late last season Â– in the same game, I did a spit-take with my adult beverage.
Am I bowled over at the inherent hypocrisy of the situation? Not entirely, no. Cover this league long enough and you become acclimated to Olympic-style long jumps in logic, disappointing and disturbing absences of leadership, and an overall sense you're working in Bizarro World. But hey, it's a living.
Your Ask Adam question/answer on the differences between the AHL and NHL, brought to mind those players who seemingly come to life after they jump up to the NHL. Here in Michigan, I follow the Red Wings and their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids quite closely. As a Griffin, Valtteri Filppula was a solid player; but as a Wing he's quickly developed into a top-six forward. Conversely, many players can dominate at the AHL while they whither in the NHL. I know players such as Filppula benefit from more talented team members, but it appears that something else is at work as well. Any ideas?
Dan, Three Rivers, Mich.
More talented team members do indeed have a fair amount to do with a player performing better, but you're right, there is something more to it than that.
What the AHL does for players who go on to successful NHL careers is this: it teaches them to be a productive professional. That is, they learn how to prepare for and survive the rigorous physical and mental grind of an 82-game regular season, as well as the heightened emotions and pressures that come along with a deep playoff run.
Those who assimilate that sense of professionalism into their day-to-day lives almost inevitably do well in the world's best hockey league.
Thank you once again for all the great hockey insight. I wanted to see if you had any answers on the following: - Has anyone expressed interest in Robert Esche as a backup? - Do you really feel that it is all over for Eric Lindros, or will one more team take a chance?
Thanks, Greg Snell, Syracuse, N.Y.
Esche hasn't signed with any team Â– NHL or otherwise Â– as of yet, but he worked out for a while with the Pittsburgh Penguins and has been heavily rumored to be interested in the New York Rangers' backup position. But the Rangers prefer to see how Stephen Valiquette handles the role before they eat up what little salary cap room they have remaining. So Esche will have to be patient.
And yes, I think the Big Â‘E' really is done. Even if he did have the inclination to keep on keepin' on as a player (and by all accounts, there's no indication that's true), he is the poster boy for the high-risk/receding-reward type of veteran that cost-conscious NHL teams are avoiding like the plague.
For a guy who once was considered the poster boy for the future of hockey, that's a sad way to exit.
What do you think the NHL would be like if it featured 4-on-4 play full time during games?
Thanks, Matt R.â€¨Waitsfield, Vt.
I think having eight skaters on the ice would result in more end-to-end action, more highlight-reel goals and saves, more creativity and speed, and fewer goons and fourth-line pluggers on rosters.
Naturally, I haven't the slightest expectation the league would be ballsy enough to ever embrace a fundamental change like that. Hell, it's taken these geniuses three years to realize their schedule sucks, so why would anyone believe they'd take the initiative on something so bold and creative?
Long time reader, first time writer. My question is: when is the NHL going to give out the Wayne Gretzky Award for most assists in a season? The league already has a goal-scoring trophy, so why not an assist trophy? It would only be appropriate that they name it the Wayne Gretzky trophy; the guy has more assists than most people have points. That would be pretty special.
Keep up the good work, Joey Ballantyne
For the record, Gretzky has more assists than any player in history has points. I've been arguing for years the NHL should revamp, modernize and expand its award system. And finding a way to incorporate the name of the game's best-ever player into that mix absolutely should be at the top of the list. From your word processor to Gary Bettman's brain, my man.
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