Let me be one of the first to welcome you aboard the brand new THN.com. This mailbag feature runs Tuesdays and Fridays in this space; you can send your questions, concerns and general theories about anything your heart desires to firstname.lastname@example.org or use this form.
In the debate over the Rangers’ lack of scoring, I still haven't seen anyone talking about the loss of Michael Nylander to the Capitals this season. Isn't that more or less the whole problem? Sure, Scott Gomez and Chris Drury are both good players; one might argue both of them are even better overall than Nylander, but their respective playmaking skill is nowhere near that of Nylander's. As long as the team misses a set-up-guy, even an injured and out of shape Peter Forsberg would get the team back on track. What do you think?
Thanks for a great column.
Jorgen L., Stockholm, Sweden
I guess the pained shrieking of Rangers fans haven’t made it all the way across the Atlantic to where you are, but trust me, there’s no doubt this team and those who watch it understand what the absence of Nylander hath wrought.
I think the slow adjustment period for Drury and Gomez is at least as big of a problem as Nylander’s ability to make Jaromir Jagr dangerous every night, as is the absence of point production from a blueline unit whose strength surely isn’t as a defensive menace. However, when Brendan Shanahan only has three points in 10 games, it’s easy to see the Blueshirts’ lack of offensive sync can’t only be explained by Nylander’s departure.
In other words, this is a team-wide problem, not just a Jagr/Nylander problem – and if coach Tom Renney can’t fix it on the quick, a major shakeup could be in order.
I’m a hockey fan who lives in Barcelona, Spain and consequently may be totally out of it, so you’ll have to excuse me if this question sounds rather ingenuous: Whatever happened to Eric Daze? Have his back problems pushed him into retirement or is there any chance of him coming back? I'm not a Blackhawks fan, but I always enjoyed Daze's play and would like to know what’s become of him.
Thanks and keep up the good work.
Sadly, three herniated discs surgeries in a five-year span did in Daze, and though he attempted a comeback last season, the pain hadn’t subsided and he quietly left the game. I never had the chance to speak with him, but by all accounts, he was a good guy whose body crumbled under the nightly abuse an NHL game has come to entail.
You've bashed the Bruins a few times in this column. What do you think about their start, Tim Thomas's goaltending and Claude Julien's coaching?
A lifetime Bruins fan,
I have indeed bashed the Bruins more than a handful of times over the years, and, dare I say it, they deserved every bashing. You can’t argue with their early success this season, although, as with every upstart team in the league, no one will truly buy into it until they play well for a couple months in a row.
Same goes for Thomas, a member of the elite April 15th birthday club (other members include Ilya Kovalchuk, Maple Leafs public address announcer Andy Frost, and yours truly). You’ll probably recall Thomas had a stretch in November and December of last season when he went 10-3; that would’ve been remembered by many, if he hadn’t posted a 3-12 record to finish the year. Consistency separates the great from the good, and so far, it has eluded Thomas.
Julien is as capable a coach as any in the league, but he’s already got an interesting situation to deal with; because for as long as Thomas is playing well, Manny Fernandez won’t be happy. The last time Julien had an unhappy goalie was in Montreal with Jose Theodore, and we all know how that turned out.
I recently went to watch a Leaf game in the local Galaxy Cinema. Personally, I found the experience to be great. What do you think will happen with these games? Is the theatre the way of the future? A lot of people are complaining, but I think this makes games more accessible than in say Chicago or Vancouver. By the way – As far as the media's opinion goes, I put you second behind Bob McKenzie. Thought you might want to know. Keep it up!
Thanks a lot,
Cam S., Owen Sound, Ont.
What a great compliment. If I can have half the career/hair that Bob has enjoyed, I’ll be a fortunate man.
Moving on – you mean, I can have all the fun of watching a Leaf game, walking on sticky floors, and trying not to strangle the jackass talking on his cell phone next to me, and pay at least $30 for my ticket and “food”? Wherever do I line up?
There may be some benefits to the NHL’s move into movie theaters, and I applaud any social activity that requires face-to-face interaction between human beings. It’s just the general boorishness that’s become commonplace I can’t stand – and goodness knows, hockey has its fair share of it.