The NHL is back. And so am I, answering your questions. As always, thanks for your submissions. Can’t get to all of them, but I appreciate the effort nonetheless. And be sure to check out The Hockey News magazine and THN Radio to see if I answered your question there.
Hi Adam. Do you have any information as to what is happening with broadcasting NHL games over here in Europe? Here we are with the season starting and there is no kind of television deal. You have a continent of desperate hockey fans here.
Charles Glasby, Worksop, U.K.
Hi Charles. I’ve heard from more than a few European fans incensed by the lack of coverage of NHL games, but a representative with the league told me they were working diligently toward ending the issue. An NHL source said the league was negotiating with TV distributors in different European countries – and crafting initiatives that would allow fans to watch games streamed on the league’s GameCenter Live Internet platform – to reach hockey fans outside North America. The longer fans are shut out, the louder they’re going to be. I’m hoping for the best for you.
Adam, How can you or anyone else pick anyone other than Boston to win the Stanley Cup? One might say because no one has repeated since Detroit in the late-‘90s, but the Bruins have just about their whole team back. I don't know that you can say that about other recent champions.
Plus most of their core is young and only going to be better, guys like Seguin, Marchand and Horton. Plus they’ve got the best goalie in the world by far in Thomas, so I really don't get anyone picking anybody but Boston to win the Cup!
Steven Martin, Springfield, Mass.
I’m not going to call you a wild and crazy guy for this question, but there are perfectly valid reasons for pundits not picking the previous season’s Cup winner to repeat.
The best one is that there hasn’t been a back-to-back champion in the NHL since Detroit did it in 1997-98 as you mentioned. The cumulative physical and mental effects of a successful Cup run can’t be understated. As well, the salary cap usually skims off a significant degree of talent from each champion’s roster.
As you say, that isn’t the case this time with the Bruins. But are you honestly saying that Boston rampaged so easily through their opponents and thus should be the definitive favorites to win it all this year? I hope not, because, for as resilient and clutch as the Bruins were, they also were the beneficiaries of some good fortune along the way.
It’s certainly possible that Tim Thomas stands on his head and every other body part come playoff time and takes Boston on another magic carpet ride. However, it is not assured, no matter how much outrage Bruins fans attempt to drum up.
Adam, is Brendan Shanahan playing favorites with Tampa Bay players because of his buddy and former Detroit Red Wing teammate Steve Yzerman? I bet yes.
Other NHL team players have been suspended during the pre-season games so far, but two Tampa Bay players (Steven Stamkos and Ryan Malone) should have been suspended and were not. All players should be treated the same regardless of the color of your sweater. As a Flyers fan, I am waiting to see if the player who hits a Flyer to the head will get a slap on the wrist or a gold star.
Jane Martin, Kelvin Grove, P.E.I.
It took even less time than I imagined for someone to make the baseless claim that Shanahan conspired to short-change someone of NHL discipline because of the relationships he developed as a player. Do you really think that a guy who willingly took on a thankless job is going to start it by acting with a clear bias in favor of a former teammate?
Not a chance. And don’t think I’m just picking on you, Jane. You watch – as the season progresses, fans of every team will search Shanahan’s entire life for a link they can pretend explains an unfavorable decision against their franchise. It’s the nature of some fans to be irrational, but the conspiratorial tone already taken with Shanahan is garbage.
Sometimes the calls go for you, sometimes they don’t. If there comes a time when Shanahan has suspended players from every team except Tampa Bay, let me know.
Adam, in The Hockey News the players’ salaries are published. Is there any way of seeing salaries of the coaches and assistant coaches as well? Do you have any idea or if there is a wage scale for the training staff? Thank you.
Derek W. Knee, Thunder Bay, Ont.
There is an NHL coach’s association, but no, coaching salaries are not made public – and there is no set scale for any member of an NHL management team (GMs, coaches, trainers, etc.).
Adam, Brendan Smith was suspended for five NHL games for his hit on Ben Smith. Is he also suspended for any AHL games, since he was likely to not make the Red Wings? Should the league look into hits on NHL players by non-NHL players? I worry that guys headed for the AHL might go after star NHLers in the pre-season. Suspensions and fines only hurt players you control.
Chuck Miller, Evanston, Ill.
The American League reserves the right to suspend a player for his actions in another league – and AHL president Dave Andrews proved it yet again when the league announced Thursday that Brendan Smith would have to sit out the first three games of the Grand Rapids Griffins’ season because of his hit on Ben Smith.
Trust me, Gary Bettman, Andrews and other hockey power brokers understand that there has to be some consistency between leagues for suspensions to have their intended effect. That’s why when Todd Bertuzzi was suspended for the NHL’s 2004-05 lockout season, the International Ice Hockey Federation announced the suspension would also apply to its jurisdictions.
Hi Adam. Do you think the NHL will ever implement the hybrid icing rule? If so, how soon would that be? Next season?
Martin McKezie-Jodoin, Montreal
I do think the NHL will adopt the rule – perhaps not next season, but sooner or later. Hybrid icing is a good compromise between no-touch and the current system and my guess is that it will build momentum in GM circles eventually.
Maybe once a superstar player has their career jeopardized, the way Sidney Crosby did due to concussions, we’ll see the impetus for change. But that has been the NHL’s pattern in regard to player safety – when relative nobodies such as Kurtis Foster and now Edmonton rookie Taylor Fedun are hurt, they are considered acceptable collateral damage.
Any observer can see how slowly the league implements new changes. Until that happens with this particular aspect of the game, more NHLers will continue to fall.