We’re a week away from genuine NHL hockey and you’re all ramping up your question-submitting efforts accordingly. Perpetual thanks to everyone who takes a moment to write – and to folks who understand why I can’t get to all of them.
Hey Adam, I’m not a fan of the Hawks or Oilers, but I am a little stumped. I understand why the Hawks had to part with Antti Niemi, but why wouldn’t the Oilers take a shot at him? Couldn’t they add one more young player to their core to grow like the Hawks did? Are they that in love with the prospects in goal? Cheers,
Nick Boukas, Denver
The Oilers aren’t at the salary cap upper threshold, so in theory they could’ve offered Niemi more money. But why would they want to add Niemi when they’ve got four other goalies (Nikolai Khabibulin, Jeff Deslauriers, Devan Dubnyk and Martin Gerber) already fighting for spots? You’re not going to send any of those guys to the ECHL, so unless you’re prepared to waste a roster spot on a third goaltender, it doesn’t make sense.
Also, put yourself in Niemi’s skates for a moment: given the choice to play for a Stanley Cup contender in Northern California, or the 30th-place team last season in Northern Alberta, which one would you choose? And how quickly would you make your choice – a fraction of a millisecond, or a fraction of a fraction of a millisecond?
Therein lie the reasons why there wasn’t a fit to begin with.
Hi Adam. Been out of the country for a few years now. Haven’t seen a lot of hockey and want to watch some big hits through boob tube. Who has been the best hitter (not most hits) in your opinion over the past couple seasons? Thanks mate.
Scott Starchuk, Richmond, B.C.
For me, Kings captain Dustin Brown is the guy. He’s a smart and clean hitter who, as this video clip shows, doesn’t have to skate across the rink to drill an opponent with a bodycheck.
Speaking of Brown – I had a short-but-engaging Twitter interview (via the technology’s direct messaging system) with him a little while back, where we discussed his hitting skill and a number of other topics. Here’s an edited recap (and thanks to Brown’s agent, Scott Norton for arranging the chat):
The Hockey News: You’re a physical player, but you keep your PIMs low. Have you had to work on your discipline, or has it always been there?
Dustin Brown: I’ve always been physical, but have always been disciplined, part of that is that most of my physical play is very clean.
THN: How does it feel knowing your GM wouldn’t deal away L.A.’s young talent to make cap room for Kovalchuk? Vote of confidence?
DB: With everything with the Kovalchuk thing it was all about improving our team, but not at the detriment to the team in the long run.
I think they tried and couldn’t find a way to make it work so they moved on and we as players know we have a great team for years to come.
THN: Is this the deepest team you’ve played on? Competition for jobs/roles must be tougher than ever.
DB: Yes we have a deep team, however it’s a yes/no answer ‘cause we have our top eight forwards coming back and top five D so there is no comp for those.
But for the 4-5 forward spots and 2-3 D spots there is huge comp in camp also is the (competition) in goal. ‘Quicker’ is No. 1; who takes No. 2 is a huge (competition).
THN: How is the city of L.A. responding to the team this year? Did the playoffs build expectations for fans?
DB: Fans are huge here in L.A. They always show great support, now that we have this team the expectations are there, but so is the excitement.
THN: What has your experience on Twitter been like? Are fans even more passionate about the game now that you can hear from them directly?
DB: It has been good so far. There are fans everywhere is what I am noticing. Kings (fans) in Montreal. You wouldn’t think (so), but there is and it’s good to see.
THN: Your agent’s "Make My Day Monday" initiative (asking Twitter users to do a good deed for someone) – is it as rewarding for you as other charity work you do?
DB: MMDM is a great cause that we all can do. I think it’s something that can grow to be huge and it started small. It’s all rewarding.
THN: Finally, what was your opinion on the Dan Ellis Twitter controversy?
DB: With Dan Ellis I think he really didn’t say anything wrong. It’s that tweeting is out there and people can take offence to it. It’s about opinion.
But if you’re in the spotlight you are going to be scrutinized. You say what is on your mind, I guarantee someone won’t like (it). It’s too bad he had to quit.
Adam, when a player is on a two-way contract and is called up sporadically, is he paid by the game? In other words, with Mark Mancari signed for $575,000 at the NHL level, will he receive 1/82 of that amount for each game? Thanks and keep on doing what you do...but beware of bets involving the Blue Jackets!
Dick Estel, Clovis, Calif.
Players promoted to the big show are paid a pro-rated amount based on the number of days they spend on an NHL roster. That includes practices, days off and any time they spend on the injured reserve (so long as they were injured during NHL action or practices).
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears regularly, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.