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Bernier a star? Lindros in HHOF? Norris for Phaneuf? Counting down my biggest blunders

I sure know how it feels to be wrong. When you are as opinionated as I am, being wrong comes with the territory.
The Hockey News

The Hockey News

I had an uncle who claimed he had never been wrong. Used to insist he didn’t know how it feels to be wrong.

“Is it like an itch?” he’d joke.

Me, well I sure know how it feels to be wrong. When you are as opinionated as I am, being wrong comes with the territory.

I’ll give you a few examples:

I thought Jonathan Bernier would be the solution to the Toronto Maple Leafs goaltending woes, but I was wrong. Bernier has been a dud with the Maple Leafs. Nice guy, to be sure, but I am certain his team would rather he was a prickly winner as opposed to a charming loser. Bernier is 0-7-1 this season with a 3.17 goals-against average and .895 save percentage. That comes hot on the heels of finishing 2-9-2 (with one game started where he got pulled) last season.

I thought taking the red line out and adding a goalie trapezoid would lead to more scoring chances and more goals, but I was wrong. There are not nearly as many stretch passes that directly lead to breakaways, scoring chances and goals as I imagined there would be. And the trapezoid has been a complete and utter bust. Goalies wandering out of the net to play the puck and messing up created way more scoring chances. The trapezoid was put in because of one goalie – Martin Brodeur. It is time to get rid of it.

I thought Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars winning the scoring title last season was a bit of a well-timed fluke, but I was wrong. Sidney Crosby would have won the Art Ross Trophy had he stayed healthy and, being honest, Benn demonstrated he had the potential to be an above average player in his first five seasons, but not a star. That has changed. Benn is both a great player and a leader…and will be for years to come.

I was certain I would never write an anti-fighting column for The Hockey News, but I was wrong. There it was in this space last week. Here’s the thing, I do not make a mad dash for the exit when a hockey fight breaks out and there are still times when I see something on the ice that I know would have caused me to drop my gloves if I was in the game. I just don’t have the same thirst for violence that I once had. It used to be if I watched a hockey game and there was not a fight, I’d feel ripped off. Not anymore. If you like fighting, that’s great. Knock yourself out. I can live without it.

I thought the Colorado Avalanche were well on their way to being a Stanley Cup contender after they finished third overall in 2013-14, but I was wrong. Patrick Roy was the NHL’s coach of the year, goaltender Semyon Varlamov was runner-up for the Vezina Trophy and the Avalanche had a handful of rising stars, the likes of Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O’Reilly, Nathan MacKinnon, Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie to go with veterans such as Paul Stastny, Max Talbot and PA Parenteau. The Avalanche lost in the first round of the ’13-14 playoffs, missed the playoffs last season and are dead last in the Central Division this year.

I thought Eric Lindros would have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame by now, but I was wrong. Those charged with deciding who gets in and who doesn’t continue to ignore one of the greatest players to ever skate in the NHL. Is Lindros being punished for demanding to be traded from the teams that drafted him in junior and the NHL? Is he being punished for having meddling parents? Or because injuries cut his career short? Next year there are not any blue chip first ballot contenders for the Hall of Fame so it would nice for Lindros to finally get the call.

I thought Dion Phaneuf would have been a Norris Trophy winner by now, but I was wrong. After Phaneuf broke in with the Calgary Flames in 2005-06 scoring 20 goals and followed that up with back-to-back seasons of 17 goals, it seemed like only a matter of time before he would win the best defenceman award. He came close in 2007-08 when he was the runner-up to winner Nicklas Lidstrom. Phaneuf has become something of a lightning rod for what ails the Maple Leafs and that is not fair. Indeed he is no longer a consistent scoring threat from the blue line, but as a second-pair defender this season he has 11 points in 19 games and is a plus player on a team that allows more goals than it scores.


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