Hello again. You’ve probably guessed it by now, but you’re reading the weekly THN.com mailbag. It’s a bag by the fans, for the fans. I thank (a) all of you who continue submitting questions week after week and (b) the rest of you for reading a selection of my answers. Be sure to come back every Friday for a new lead paragraph and different inquiries and responses.
Hey Adam! Do you think Jonathan Quick was robbed of the Vezina? I understand that only regular season stats are counted, but he had a great season. Also, who do you think will win it next year?
Kevin Cottrell, Torrance, Calif.
The Professional Hockey Writers Association doesn’t vote on the Vezina, but I agreed with the NHL GMs who gave the honor to Rangers star Henrik Lundqvist. There’s no doubt Quick was incredible for the Kings during L.A.’s Stanley Cup-winning run, but it took Quick a couple months (along with the rest of his teammates) to consistently perform at that level.
Lundqvist, on the other hand, was tremendous for the Blueshirts right out of the gate and did it all season long to lead his team to the best record in the Eastern Conference. That consistency is much appreciated by the GM community, which is likely one of the reasons he got the nod.
If there were a goalie award for the entire regular and post-season, you’d be a fool not to give it to Quick. But I’m pretty sure he’s satisfied with the consolation prizes of a Cup ring and the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
Hey Adam, I just wanted to know whether the Habs are interested in Bobby Ryan and whether they have the goods to pull him in. He's a good power forward with great hands and it seems to me that he could complete the second line of Plekanec and Gionta, therefore sending an underachieving Rene Bourque to the third line.
Nick Farrow, Montreal
In regard to your first question, I’ll paraphrase what a long-time NHL executive recently told me: if you’re ever wondering whether a team is interested in a top star in the league, you can assume the answer is “yes” and be wrong far less often than you would if you thought the answer was “no.” In other words, so long as a team has a need for top-tier help at any particular position (and the financial wherewithal to complete the transaction), your default expectation should be your team is interested in any elite player available.
There’s also no indication a trade is imminent. But in Montreal’s case, there’s not a chance GM Marc Bergevin wouldn’t value the size, skill set and youth the 25-year-old Ryan offers.
The reason why it probably won’t happen is the answer to your second question: Montreal doesn’t have the organizational depth to outbid some of the other teams that would surely participate in a Ryan sweepstakes. If Bergevin did pull off the deal, he’d instantly create another hole that needed filling.
Adam, first of all, huge fan. I aspire to have your profession and succeed as much as you do one day. Also, your tweets are hilarious. Anyways, do you think Alex Galchenyuk will make the Habs starting lineup this year? I know he hasn't played much for about a year, but as a diehard Habs fan, I'd love to see him make it. What are your thoughts?
Sebastian Lane, Ariss, Ont.
Thanks very much for the kind words. And good luck in your aspiration to be a writer. It’s a tough but rewarding business and it’s always great seeing young people interested in the written word.
It’s difficult for me to see Galchenyuk sticking with the Habs this coming season. And that’s no slight on him. As you noted, he’s been largely inactive thanks to a knee injury and it would be presumptuous to imagine he can not only make the jump back to his normal self right away, but do so in the whirlwind that is hockey’s top league.
Adam, why aren’t the small-market owners demanding more revenue sharing? Why are they just allowing the very profitable owners to control the negotiations?
Rick Adamczak, Columbus
I don't know we can assume small-market owners wouldn’t want and/or aren’t interested in a greater degree of revenue sharing. Now that the NHL is in full lockdown mode, no owner will publicly speak a word, lest commissioner Gary Bettman hits him with a six-figure fine for breaking the owners/employees code of silence.
In many cases, Bettman sells a collective bargaining agreement to different teams for different reasons. For example, in the expiring labor deal, he could go to small-market owners and say, “See what I’ve done for you? This CBA caps the financial advantage big-market teams can have over you.”
But that’s not a great message to send to the big-market owners who are driving the league’s success. So to those owners, Bettman takes the same deal and says, “See what I’ve done for you? I’ve capped your team’s wildly escalating payroll and now you’ll be even more profitable.”
Bettman has been very good at being many things to many owners, which is why he’s been running the show for nearly 20 years. It may not be good for the game, players, fans or some of the owners, but it’s the reality.