This is the second-to-last mailbag I’ll be doing before embarking on a vacation for a couple of weeks. However, as is always the case, the THN online mailbag will continue and my colleagues will answer your questions. Thanks to all who submitted one (or more) queries.
It astounds me Jason Spezza wasn't invited to the tryout camp for the Canadian 2014 Olympic roster. Yes, he was marred by injuries this season, but I still believe he’s able to play with the best in the NHL. I’m not a huge Senators fan, but still feel he was snubbed. What do you think?
Chris Small, North Vancouver, B.C.
Spezza’s absence from Team Canada’s summertime orientation camp isn’t as much about his skills as it is about the incredible depth the defending gold medalists have at center. Besides Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews, the Canadians can turn to Steven Stamkos and John Tavares down the middle. If you’re making the argument Spezza is the equal of those four, I’d have to disagree.
In addition, with Spezza now 30 years old and Daniel Alfredsson off to Detroit, the Sens will need as much of Spezza’s energy as they can get. He can still perform well early in the season to put himself back in the picture – as Boston’s Patrice Bergeron did in 2010 – but the truth is it might be best for all involved if he were a spectator.
I am an American. I do not disagree with your assessment about expansion teams in Canada and the support they would get. I just feel a bit slighted by you because I am a huge NHL fan! I go to games all the time. My man cave is all New Jersey Devils and Washington Capitals stuff. I grew up in D.C. and have been a Caps fan since I can remember and moved to NJ in 2000 and became a rabid Devils fan. I can't get enough of the NHL. Hockey is the best sport ever. There are a lot of people in the US that feel the way I do.
Remember, we have 320 million people. We probably have as many hockey fanatics as in Canada, but we are diluted because of our large population. I do get your point, but don't dis us either.
Wally Ward, Lake Hopatcong, N.J.
This is something that happens often in my line of work. I write something and some people imagine I’m taking a personal shot at them. But nothing could be further from the truth. If I want to address you directly, I’ll name you. If I don’t, it’s safe to say I have others in mind.
When it comes to American vs. Canadian fans, I’ll say the same thing I always do: I deplore the arrogance we see from some people in Canada who believe the game is “ours” and is to be shared with no other country. The only point I was making with that column is that both Quebec City and Southern Ontario are better revenue-generating locales than Seattle (which, as I noted, can still be a great NHL market).
People erroneously extrapolated that to mean many other things, but I can only control the words I use. I can’t be responsible for the way people comprehend them. Hope that clarifies things.
With Ron Hextall starting his new job as Assistant GM and Director of Hockey Ops in Philadelphia, what do you think his first official task will be? I personally believe and hope he immediately starts to rebuild the poor farm system the Flyers have built in recent years. How close do you think he will work with top goalie prospect Anthony Stolarz?
Jarred Miller, Casper, Wy.
I don’t think Hextall has an official first task. He’ll likely begin by reacquainting himself with people in the Flyers organization who weren’t there when he initially left for the Kings. But after that, he’ll have his hands in most areas of the franchise, just as he did in L.A. I’m sure he’ll offer advice to Stolarz and all goalies in Philly, but they have people whose sole job is to do that.
As for the Flyers’ farm system: I wouldn’t call it poor. I’d say it is deficient in developing NHL prospects at two positions – goal and defense. They’ve done quite well with their forward group (including Claude Giroux and Matt Read), but obviously, their lack of production on the back end has meant GM Paul Holmgren has had to take drastic steps to try and bolster the team in that sense.
All things considered, Hextall wasn’t a miracle-worker with the Kings and won’t be one with his new/old team. He’ll be a valued voice – and most likely, the successor to Holmgren – but he’s just another piece of the machine.
With the departure of Daniel Alfredsson and Jared Cowen's contract talks going badly, how dire is it for Eugene Melnyk and the Senators? The franchise seems to be on the brink of financial collapse, so in the event Melnyk goes bankrupt, what are the options? Will the Sens fold/relocate? This whole situation stinks.
Dan Blackwell, Ottawa
I don’t think the Sens are contacting moving companies just yet. Yes, Melnyk has been vocal about the need for a casino to help offset the costs of owning the team, but he hasn’t suggested once he’s interested in selling and/or relocating it.
Now, Melnyk also has stated he can’t spend to the salary cap ceiling under the current business climate and loses money every season, so sooner or later, things may bubble to a boil. But I’m sure Cowen’s deal will get done before training camp and that the Sens will be in good shape when the regular season begins. No sense getting worked up into a froth before an actual threat materializes.
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.