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Monday, December 31, 2012

Don Cherry “hits the Nail on the head” — Then Yakupov Lies by Pretending that he did not Call Canadian Players “Dirty” — 2013 World Junior Championship

On December 26, 2012, TSN reported that Nail Yakupov (in answering questions from a representative from a Russian sport site) called the Canadian junior hockey players “dirty.” That didn’t surprise me at all and Yakupov was obviously declaring what was in his heart.
 
TSN wrote:
 
Speaking to Russian news website R-Sport on Monday, Yakupov reportedly said, “I understand that I will have to keep a cool head and ignore provocations. Especially against the Canadians. These guys play dirty. We got used to that, we played a few games in the North America, so our team is ready. Of course, I'm ready for the leading role morally, physically and by all other criteria,” Yakupov said.
 
Don Cherry responded in turn via his Twitter account by saying (as quoted from Edmonton Journal.com):
 
I see where Nail Yakupov said Canadian hockey players are dirty. Let me see… We let him take a Canadian kids spot in the Canadian Hockey … League, let him learn his hockey in our program, treat him royally, give him great coaching so he can go number one overall and he calls us … Dirty. Canadian people are no [so?] naïve, no let me change that word to dumb. We love everybody and everybody hates us. Like I said, when you … Hear Russians cheering for Germans you have to wonder. And the kid Yakupov is just being honest as that’s how he feels about us. … I could care less what Nail thinks of us, what bugs me, he took a Canadian kids spot in the Canadian Hockey League.”
 
I don’t agree with Don on everything, but regarding Yakupov he “hit the Nail on the head!” The only thing that Don should have changed is the direction of his “dumb” comment. He should have aimed it directly at the CHL, the teams, and the Canadian government, rather than applying it to “Canadian people” as a whole—because many of us are intelligent. In my opinion, foreign youth should be required to learn the game in their home countries rather than being allowed to take positions that Canadian youth would have. Shame on the CHL (and individual teams) for robbing Canadian boys the opportunity to play and perhaps advance to the NHL and other professional leagues!
 
Yakupov Lies
 
After the media frenzy over Yakupov’s and Don Cherry’s comments, Yakupov decided to remain quiet; but, when the media would not let the issue rest, Yakupov came up with a lie to try to lesson the effects of his comment, and on December 30th he delivered the lie to a reporter (with the assistance of a translator who he probably did not even need).  By lying, Yakupov disgraced himself and ruined his reputation. He reminds me of a sneaky kid who thinks that people are stupid enough to believe all of his lies—and unfortunately the CHL did buy one of Yakupov’s lies and it was regarding his contract with the Sting and I will talk about that later. Okay, let’s get to Yakupov’s December 30th lie (which was in the form of a video and aired by our friends at TSN).
 
On the TSN video Yakupov said (in response to being questioned about calling Canadian players “dirty”):
 
“I didn’t say that.”
 
He had a Russian translator with him and they attempted to state that the meaning of what he had originally stated was altered in “translation.” Yakupov claimed that he said that Canadian players “can” be “dirty” rather than they “are dirty;” and, the translator added that Yakupov meant that “anyone can be dirty”—however, these two statements are shown to be lies because they don’t fit in the context of the interview that he gave to the Russian sports site. Once again, he told the Russian sports reporter:
 
“I understand that I will have to keep a cool head and ignore provocations. Especially against the Canadians. These guys play dirty. We got used to that, we played a few games in the North America, so our team is ready.
 
As you can see he said that he “will” have to keep a cool head, and “will” does not fit with “can” when referring to Canadians as dirty. Then, to seal the issue, Yakupov said that his junior team “got used to that” after playing games in North America. Clearly, he meant that the Canadians “are dirty” and not that they “can” be dirty. “Got used to that” refers to a regular occurrence and not an occasional or possible occurrence. Even if one wanted to argue that he could have said that they “can” play dirty, it is only a minor difference as compared to “are dirty” and does not change the fact that he insulted Canada and Canadians who gave so much to help him and who are responsible for where he is today!  
 
The issue is not whether the Canadians are dirty—and in my opinion, the Canadian game needs to be cleaned-up even more—but the two issues are:
 
1.  That Yakupov clearly tried to lie his way out of what he had originally said because he did not want to suffer any ramifications in the future. I’m not going to excuse him until he admits his guilt—I doubt that he never will, and certainly the Oilers will talk to him further about the issue and they will try to bury it forever.  
 
2.  Yakupov showed no respect for Canada and Canadian hockey by badmouthing us after we had indeed spoiled the little bugger rotten by giving him hockey coaching, hockey experience, education, food, lodging, and countless other benefits! How many people made sacrifices of time and money in behalf of the little ingrate? His spot on the Sarnia Sting should have been given to a Canadian youth! Canadian people helped Yakupov to become a “somebody” in the hockey world, including being #1 in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft—and he returns the favor by purposely disgracing those who sacrificed in his behalf and also Canada itself! Furthermore, after the draft and in the face of the lockout, Yakupov did not want to play for the Sting and he was somehow able to convince Hockey Canada that he did not understand the contract obligations that he had with the Sting—he wanted out so that he could go to the KHL to make big money. Shockingly, Hockey Canada went forth to excuse Yakupov of his obligations to the Sting—yes, Mr. Cherry this was “naïve,” “dumb,” and clear favoritism to a #1 draft choice! How much money and / or time do you think Yakupov will give back to help the Canadian Hockey League and the people who labored in his behalf—none! Screw Yakupov and all other ungrateful foreign youth who are taking advantage of a faulty Canadian system! The fact is that Yakupov used an unfair Canadian system to provide himself the best opportunity to make it into the NHL. When I say “unfair,” once again I mean to Canadian youth who are losing opportunities due to foreign youth being invited to be a part of our leagues and education system.
 
Well, I am extremely glad that Yakupov attempted to lie his way out of the “dirty” Canadians situation because it shows us even more about his selfish, proud character—he’s one of those “sneaky” people like Radulov. The Oilers got what they deserved by foolishly keeping the #1 pick and choosing a Russian, and especially in the face of a lockout. Yakupov could stay in Russia and “pull a Radulov!” As I stated in a previous article (title given at end of this article), the Oilers should have traded a player or two along with the #1 pick in the 2012 draft in exchange for a proven or exceptionally talented goalie or defenseman. I would have traded for goalie Robin Lehner who the Senators have grossly abused. Lehner will be another Lundqvist if he is given a fair opportunity. Well, let us hope that Yakupov stays in Russia and continues to play in the KHL—forever!
 
Did the Oilers really get the best in choosing Yakupov? Well, in the World Junior Championship, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has nine points thus far while Yakupov has only three points!

UPDATE:  Nugent-Hopkins finished the tournament with 6 GP, 4 G and 11 A for 15 points, and was plus-6; while, Yapokov played one more game, 7 GP and had 3 G and 5 A for 8 points, and was only plus-2.

Despite Nugent’s performance thus far in the Junior Championship, the Oilers also made a mistake in taking him over Landeskog in the 2011 Entry Draft. Landeskog was 25 pounds heavier, had a great year before the draft, and the Oilers needed a bigger man rather than yet another smaller forward. Nugent-Hopkins has a very slight body frame and it was no surprise that he was injured last year for an extended period of time. I predict that he will have an injury-riddled career, but I truly hope that I am wrong and that he can stay healthy and be a good contributor to the Oiler team. 
 
Speaking of the Oilers draft mistakes, as I have declared to people many times, they should have gone for top-ranked goalie John Gibson in the 2011 entry draft—and he was still available for their third pick at the beginning the of second round (Oilers chose Nugent-Hopkins and then had a second pick later in the first round and chose defenseman Oscar Klefbom). Rather than taking Gibson as their third pick they went for another defenseman. John Gibson has played outstanding thus far in the World Junior Championship [UPDATE: Was the best goalie in the tournament] and he will be playing for the Ducks before long (who were smart enough to pick him early in the second round of that 2011 draft). Not taking Gibson was yet another obvious example of “dumb” Oiler management—Tambellini and Lowe! To read an in-depth discussion of the Oilers draft mistakes in the last few years, please see my article in the Oilers section entitled:  “Oiler’s Pick Yakupov 1st in Draft – Is it Another Mistake by Lowe and Tambellini? – Other Oiler 2012 Picks Analyzed” 
 
TJ Stanley


Saturday, November 24, 2012

NHL Lockout – Take the Family to a Live Game or go on Vacation?

Well, I wasn’t planning to discuss the NHL Lockout, but due to the length of the ordeal and the disgraceful greed of the league, owners and players, I have decided to offer my viewpoint—one that should enlighten all to the reality of the situation.

The fact of the matter is that it is the fans who have been screwed and who continue to be screwed by the league, owners and players! When the average family cannot afford to take the kids to one or two live games a year without feeling a huge “pinch,” then something is seriously wrong. At this point in hockey history, tickets are so expensive that parents need to decide whether to take kids to a live hockey game or to take them to Florida for a week-long vacation!

Most players are making far too much money, and the league and owners are reaping more than they would ever reveal. Players have a great life because they are able to play a game that they love, stay in great condition, and also make a lot of money—and yet they want more! Of course, many of them also cherish the adoration. As for the league and owners, their greed knows no end. All parties concerned have made NHL hockey a game to be viewed live by the rich—businesses and wealthy individuals. Yet, the NHLPA and the League both continue to disgracefully solicit pity from the fans and to point the finger at the other side! Are you buying it?  

What can I say but: shame on the league, owners, and the players for screwing fans, and especially over the last 15 years. In my opinion, the fans should get back at the league, owners and players by boycotting games so that they can give them a taste of their own medicine! DO IT! Boycott some games and show them that we can live without NHL Hockey. Give them a wake-up call because they are living in a fantasy world and are already asking far, far too much of the fans! They are not having any mercy of us so why should we show any in return?  

TJ Stanley 


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Predators Match Flyers Offer to Weber

This is an update to my previous article on Weber, the offer by the Flyers, and the Predators likely decision regarding the situation.

Shea Weber certainly did a nice job in confusing the media and fans about where he really wanted to play hockey, and he did so by first signing the offer sheet from the Flyers and following-up by declaring that he wanted to play in Philly. Well, that settled the matter for me because I would expect Weber to be honest. However, after the Preds matched the offer, Weber has stated that he is happy to be in Nashville and that he is glad that the contract issue is over so that he can concentrate on getting ready for the upcoming season. He also said that he wants to do his best for the team by recruiting other players when the opportunities arise so that they have a better chance to win the Cup. These are words from a person who obviously was primarily concerned about the size of his contract, and when the Flyers presented him with an offer sheet for 110 million, Weber knew that signing it guaranteed him that amount no matter where he ended-up. Weber also knew that the Preds had publicly stated on numerous occasions that they would match any offer sheet that any team presented to Weber; and, Weber confessed that he was well aware of that fact after the Preds matched the offer from Philly. All said, Weber played it smart but it now sounds like he wanted to be in Nashville all the time—which is what I thought before he and his agent declared that he wanted to play in Philly. If Weber did not want to be in Nashville then I wouldn’t expect him to be so satisfied with the contract match and eager to recruit other players to the team. Very strange indeed! Time will tell whether he will be happy in Nashville or whether he will pull a Rick Nash. Even if he pulls a Nash, the Preds made the right decision in matching the Flyer’s offer because Nashville can get a lot more by trade (and without having to wait) as compared to the compensation of five first-round draft picks which would be lower down each year since the Flyers are expected to place fairly well for some time.

TJ Stanley


Monday, July 23, 2012

Nash Traded to the Rangers – And He Shamelessly Lies Again to Fans Via the Media!

Today Rick Nash finally got his wish as the Blue Jackets traded him. The deal involved Nash and defenseman Steve Delisle going to the Rangers along with a conditional third-round draft pick in 2013, in exchange for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and the Rangers first-round pick in 2013. 

Nash Shamelessly Lies Again to Fans

NHL.com quoted Nash as saying,

“Initially, I went in with Scott Howson and was trying to get a game plan on what was going on with Columbus and I was told there was going to be a rebuild. I’ve been here for nine years now and figured I could be the main piece of a rebuild for them in that case. If the circumstance was right, I’d waive my no-trade clause and help them rebuild and help my career carry on.”

Oh come on Rick, now you (and your weasel agent) are trying a new story in an attempt to save your reputation! Compulsive liars always find the need to have to cover-up for themselves. Grow-up!

Who Got the Best of the Trade?

The Rangers will get a spoiled, lying baby in Rick Nash, and honestly what fans and players really want a guy like that on their team? Last year was the worst season of his NHL career next to his rookie year (all things considered including games played, points, plus-minus and his effect on his teammates). When a baby doesn’t work hard to earn the money that he is being paid (7.5 million last year), and when he doesn’t get his way and spits and throws food at you and stomps his feet—you know that you have to trade the rebel! By the way, his salary gradually goes up and in 2017-18 he will receive 8.2 million, at which time he will be an UFA. 

On the Ranger’s website it says, “The Nash Era is Here!” I find it comical to lift up a baby and a liar into Messier-like status. Messier was a true leader and far more talented than Rick Nash was or ever will be. I hope that Nash buckles under the pressure, that the Rangers finish no better than third in the East, and that they get knocked-out in Round 1 of the playoffs (which should have happened this year against the Senators if it wasn’t for the officials allowing the Rangers to repeatedly break the rules without being penalized, including punching Karlsson in the face over and over). Nash has proven that he is not a player who has the ability to make all of the players around him a lot better; and, he has to be responsible for, take “credit” for, his own poor plus-minus stats. In his nine years with Columbus, his plus-minus stats are (starting with his rookie season): minus-27, minus-36, plus-5, minus-8, plus-2, plus-11, minus-2, plus-2 and he finished-off his career with the Blue Jackets this past year with an abominable minus-19. Thus said, don’t “puff-up” a guy into Messier status when he doesn’t deserve it, and obviously, Nash is already full of himself so don’t give him any more pride or he might float away like a zeppelin! 

The Rangers also received 21 year-old Steve Delisle who is a 6-foot-6, 234-pound defenseman, but who hasn’t seen NHL action. 

The condition for the third round pick in the 2013 entry draft is that the Rangers get the pick if they don’t make it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2013. Blue Jacket GM Howson should have negotiated more regarding a pick in return, and if a condition was attached it should have been based on if the Rangers made the Eastern Conference Final (at most) and not the Stanley Cup Final. 

Howson and the Blue Jackets have received in return two respectable centers, a probable solid defenseman, and a first round pick in the 2013 entry draft (which is going to be down low in the round).

Center Brandon Dubinsky only had 34 points this past year and was plus-16 on a team that had quite a number of players in higher plus figures. His 34 points was 20 shy of his 2010-11 total, however, a new opportunity in Columbus might bring out the best in him. He is 26 years old so he has a lot left.

Artem Anisimov played in 79 games last year and had 16 goals and 20 assists, and was plus-12. The 6-foot-4, 200 pound Russian is 24 years-old.

Defenseman Tim Erixon played in eighteen games last year for the Rangers and had two assists and was minus-2. That was his first NHL action after playing for five years in Sweden (despite being born in NY) and I believe that he is going to be a solid NHL defenseman. He is just a kid at 21 years-old.

Final Analysis

Howson allowed himself to be pressured too much in this trade. He almost made a deal with Sather before the trade deadline and he has been trying to move Nash for months. Subsequently, he took a little less than he could have received and should have fought harder regarding the draft pick, condition or no condition attached to it. I would have pushed for a fifth or sixth round pick at best rather than letting Sather get a third round pick which can only be lost if the Rangers make the Stanley Cup Finals in 2013. Thus said, the pick is almost a gift in my opinion because I doubt that the Rangers are going to make it to the Finals in 2013. The Bruins, Caps, Flyers and the Penguins are all going to be tougher this year. 

If Dubinsky and Anisimov apply themselves mentally and physically, rather than sulk, then, Howson can still look like he made a good deal. If Erixon develops as expected then Howson will look even better; and, if the first-round pick in 2013 turns-out to be a winner then Howson can win this trade big-time. Just getting rid of an ingrate like Nash is a huge victory because was like poison to the team this past year.

The Rangers win this trade if Nash is able to be the leading scorer on the team and leads them to a Stanley Cup victory this year or in the next two or three years. I doubt that it will happen because I don’t think that he will have the positive effect on his teammates that Sather, Tortorella, media and many fans believe. He will not be another Messier!

TJ Stanley


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Predators to Trade Shea Weber?

Restricted free agent Shea Weber has signed an offer sheet with the Flyers, and the deal is huge at 110 million over a fourteen-year time period—according to TSN. Predators GM David Poile has indicated that the offer sheet is complex and that they will review it before making a decision to match the Flyers offer or to let Weber go and receive the compensation according to NHL rules. The compensation depends on the average annual value of the contract, and in Weber’s case it equates to the Flyers first round draft picks over the next five years. That might not sound too bad but when you consider that the Flyers are going to finish high in the standings over the next five years, that reduces the value significantly—yet, any first-rounder could turn out to be an elite player. One thing we do know is that this long-term contract is going to be similar to Crosby’s in that it will pay Weber a ton of money in the first several years (front-loaded) and then take a good-sized drop for another few years, and then pay very little for the last few years—which takes the cap hit down, and Weber won’t even play these low-paying final years because he will have lots of money and won’t want to risk injury. The Preds have seven days to match the Flyers offer if they choose to do so. Poile could match the offer and then trade Weber and we shall re-visit that scenario in a moment.    

Does Weber Truly Want to Go to Philly?

The Tennessean reported today that Weber’s agent has indicated that Shea wants to play in Philadelphia. I believe that to be true because Suter has left and the Predators gambled last year with trades and things do not look as bright as last year. Also, Radulov is probably going to return to the KHL.

What Should Poile and the Predators Do?   

Since Weber does not want to play in Nashville, there is no reason to force him to stay or you end up with an overgrown baby like Rick Nash.

What will be the best option for Poile? Should he match the contract offer and trade Weber, or should he take the five first-round draft picks? Honestly, I believe that he has to match the offer and then trade Weber so that he has a team this year (and future years) that has a chance to make the playoffs and that fans will pay to watch. For Weber, Poile could get two very good players or an elite player and a couple of draft picks. Weber has not been the easiest guy to deal with, and why let him go to the team where he wants to play? I would send him up to Toronto or Winnipeg and let him suffer there (no playoffs for either team for years in my opinion), but a more likely place would be Boston or even the Rangers since they have more talent to offer. We would expect Poile to try to do a deal with an Eastern Conference team if at all possible (increases Nashville’s chance of making the playoffs), but he would go anywhere if the deal is right. Certainly, Poile is not happy about Holmgren’s huge offer to Weber so it would be a little “shot” back if he could trade Weber to an Eastern Conference team.       

I think of the playoff series this year between the Red Wings and the Predators, and Weber putting his hand behind Zetterberg’s head and smashing his face into the glass. For that Weber, I hope you go to Toronto or Winnipeg and suffer!

TJ Stanley


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Selanne to Play in 2012-13

Teemu Selanne signed a one year, 4.5 million dollar contract with the Ducks for the 2012-13 season. Despite the good-sized pay-check, you know that he is playing for the enjoyment and because he wants to move up on the lists for all-time point and goal leaders. Currently he is 19th in career points with 1406, and if he produces like last year he could move up to 14th just behind Paul Coffey. In goals, Selanne is 12th all-time with 663, just two behind Jagr who will also be playing this year (with the Stars). If Selanne gets 29 or 30 goals he will move into 8th on the list, passing Lemieux who has 690 goals and Yzerman who has 692 goals. I would love to see him overtake Yzerman. By the way, Robitaille is in 10th with 668 goals and both Selanne and Jagr should pass him early in the season. Of course, Gretzky sits at the top of the career goals list—with 894.  

On the Ducks side of things, 4.5 million is definitely worth it to them because:

  1. Selanne was the highest scorer on the team last year with 66 points (26 goals and 40 assists). Included were 12 power-play goals and four game-winners.
  2. Selanne is a great leader and ambassador for the team (and the game of hockey itself). If more guys like him make the NHL the better the game will become.
  3. The fans love Selanne and will pay to see him as this could be his last year and he might just pass some big names on the career goals and points lists. 
All the best to Teemu this year!

TJ Stanley


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Yzerman’s Goalie Predicament – Yet he is Not Interested in Roberto Luongo? – Other Goalies he Could Trade For – Can Anders Lindback take the Lightning all the Way? – Mathieu Garon?

Steve Yzerman, VP and GM of the Lightning, probably made the worst all-time goalie decisions after the 2010-11 season. First, he let Mike Smith go—and for nothing! Second, Yzerman rested his hopes on a 42 year old Roloson and gave him a one-year deal worth 3 million! You can’t gamble your entire season on a retirement-ready goalie and neither is it wise to count on one goalie without providing an exceptional back-up—and Yzerman did not provide a good enough back-up in Mathieu Garon (who actually became the starter). Furthermore, you should always strive to have at least one other competent goalie in your system who can be brought-up in case there are one or more injuries—it simply is the most important position in hockey and you need a lot of depth, and you can ask the Penguins about that since Fleury choked big-time in the playoffs and they had nobody who could effectively take over. I guess Yzerman felt that a goalie would be given to him as a gift because he also passed on the chance of taking the #1 goalie prospect in the 2011 draft—John Gibson! Instead, he opted for a Russian center for his first pick, a Russian winger for his second, a Russian defenseman for his third (Round 5), and he finally took a goalie in Round 6. All said, Yzerman was entirely responsible for the Lightning missing the 2012 playoffs—a series of some of the worst NHL managing mistakes ever! He was a great player but obviously needs a lot of advice in managing and directing a team (and the same goes for Kevin Lowe of the Oilers). Yzerman selected a goalie for his second of two picks in Round 1 of the 2012 draft (19th overall), but too little too late, and again the player was a Russian. He also took a Russin in Round 7. Yzerman is going way overboard on Russian players in my opinion, and you tell me if fans in North America want to watch a team full of Russians rather than Canadians and Americans? Also, Russian players are a risk because they could go to the KHL, like Radulov did once, and will likely do it a second time this year—the baby that he is.

So, Yzerman needs an excellent starter (someone who can be a Top 20 goalie) if he wants to salvage the 2012-13 season, and a good back-up as well. A week before this year’s draft, Yzerman acquired 24 year-old netminder Anders Lindback from the Predators, along with forward Kyle Wilson and a 7th round pick in the draft, in exchange for two 2nd round picks in the 2012 draft, a 3rd round pick in the 2013 draft and goalie Sebastien Caron. Yzerman had put himself into a position where he really had to do this deal because he has nobody of merit between the pipes and Lindback could develop into a starting goalie. Currently, he is a back-up caliber goalie, but if Yzerman does not obtain a goalie by trade this summer or fall, I believe that Lindback will earn the starting spot over Mathieu Garon. Lindback played 22 games for the Preds in the 2010-11 season and his Save Percentage was acceptable at .915 and he had two shutouts. Last year he played just 16 games (with a 5-8-0 record) and his Save Percentage was .913. As for Garon, he had to play the starting role for the better part of last year due to Roloson’s terrible play. Garon proved that he is not a starting goalie because in 48 games his Save Percentage was .901, he only had one shutout, and his GAA was 2.85. The 34 year-old has never proven to be good enough to be a starter and his two previous seasons with the Blue Jackets were very similar to last year—with .901 and .903 Save Percentages. Only one season since he has been in the NHL has he shown any better and that was when he was with the Oilers back in 2007-08 when he had a .913 Save Percentage. Well, the chances of Garon significantly improving to the extent that the Lightning can make the playoffs this year are not good at all. So, unless Yzerman trades for a goalie it looks like Lindback should win the spot over Garon. However, it is too much of a gamble to trust in Lindback to be good enough to get the Lightning into the playoffs (either) so I see no logical choice but to trade for a goalie before the season starts. Yzerman has put himself in an extremely embarrassing position and has compromised the Lightning in a huge way, and I prefer that he suffer and miss the playoffs again this year so that people can see what a brutal job he has done with the team; however, if he has any commonsense he will sacrifice part of his team (including a couple of Russian prospects) and trade for a goalie before the season starts. He has no depth in the position and he needs injury protection and not just a starter. The ideal is to have a Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott situation where two good goalies are battling for the starting spot. Let Lindback battle for the starting position with whoever Yzerman can trade for and send Garon to the minors where he can stay ready in case needed. People, it is all about trying to make the playoffs and Yzerman has to provide goalie support so that his team can have a chance. When you have 60-goal scorer Steven Stamkos on your team and you can’t make the playoffs you need to make a big goaltending move so your players can have a chance at the Cup. To wait two or three years for an NHL-caliber starting goalie is wasting the talent of Stamkos—and not many Stamkos’ come around. Stamkos has said repeatedly that being in the playoffs is most important to him. Do the Lightning really have a chance of making the playoffs with Lindback and Garon? In the East, the Bruins, Rangers, Penguins, Flyers, Capitals, and Hurricanes are going to make the playoffs in my opinion, and that only leaves two spots open. The Canadiens are going to be tougher this year and I expect them to battle hard for a playoff spot. The Senators should have a decent year with Karlsson inspiring his teammates, the Sabres shouldn’t be far back, while it does not look good for the Devils without Parise but I wouldn’t entirely discount them since they could add some players before the start of the season. All said, I cannot see the Lightning in the playoffs unless they trade for an excellent goalie, or, unless Lindback is able to improve—possible, but again, why not have two very good goalies battle for the starting spot?

Who to trade for? Luongo?

Well Roberto Luongo is clearly available but Yzerman said that he is not interested in him. That surprises me a little because Luongo is a solid goaltender (but not elite) and would be enough to get the Lightning into the playoffs at least some years in the next six or seven years that Luongo will play before retiring. Luongo was a 10 million dollar man in the 2010-11 season but that dropped to 6.716 million a season and until 2017-18, and then to 3.382 million for the following year, 1.1618 in 2019-20, and then the final two years of the contract pay just 1 million a year—get that cap hit down boys. Luongo is likely to retire after the 2017-18 season which will mean six more years in-between the pipes until he is 39 years old, but, he could bow himself really low and play for the 3.38 million in 2018-10—wink, wink, snicker, snicker. Yzerman could take on Luongo’s contract if he really wanted to. To be honest, I don’t care for Luongo due to his over-rated status (as proven by stats and other parts of his game), his pride, previous poker TV commercials for BC Lottery (not a good example for the kids who look up to him), and his recent radio interview in Vancouver where he kissed the Canucks goodbye despite the fact that he has not been traded! Luongo should have just kept his mouth shut and let GM Mike Gillis do his job, rather than offending him by trying to force a trade. What it comes down to is that Yzerman has dug himself in a huge, extremely deep hole and Luongo would be a sure way of giving the team a decent chance of making the playoffs and advancing. So, I think that Yzerman should consider Luongo more carefully and go ahead and take him unless he can secure another goalie. Just don’t play Luongo in the TD Garden in Boston—enough said. 

Besides Luongo, Yzerman might want to consider a trade with the Kings for Jonathan Bernier. He had a tough year last year but given more ice time he would improve to where he was before and probably become even better. And, he is only 23 years old, a steal at 1.525 million for 2012-13, and would be a RFA at the end of the upcoming season.   

The goalie that I would go for would be Robin Lehner who the Senators have grossly mistreated despite the fact that he had the best Save Percentage of their four goaltenders last year. They only allowed Lehner to play five games in 2011-12, four after Anderson lacerated his finger; and, in those five games he had a Save Percentage of .935, one shutout, and a GAA of 2.01. Furthermore, in the four games he played after Anderson was injured, he was the 1st Star twice and the 2nd Star once. The 20 year-old, 220 lb Swede is going to be another Lundqvist in my opinion (almost already is and has not been given much of a chance), and maybe even better. GM Bryan Murray’s buddy, Ben Bishop, who he clearly favored, played in ten games and had a Save Percentage of .909, zero shutouts, and a GAA of 2.48. Alex Auld played in 14 games and had a brutal Save Percentage of .884, zero shutouts, and a GAA of 3.35. Craig Anderson played in 63 games and had a Save Percentage of .914, only three shutouts, and a GAA of 2.84.

Finally, Mike Smith is out now Mr. Yzerman. You better make a move for an excellent  goalie rather than resting all of your hopes and playoff chances on Lindback. Two goalies are better than one. Furthermore, I would trade a couple of your Russian prospects as part of a goalie trade.  

TJ Stanley


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Roberto Luongo’s Ego too Big for him to Want to Stay with the Canucks – On a Radio Program in Vancouver on July 6th he Spoke Like he was no Longer a Canuck Despite Not Even Being Traded – Also Luongo’s BC Lottery Corporation Poker TV Commercials

In Round 1 of this year’s playoffs against the Kings, Luongo’s ego was bruised when he was pulled as the starter in favor of Schneider, and when Schneider outplayed Luongo that was enough for Luongo to state that he wanted to be traded. Hard to believe a grown man would act like that!

Well, Luongo is still waiting for an NHL team to take a chance on him, and he could be waiting and waiting because he has never proven that he is an elite goalie in the NHL, but rather, only a very good goalie who can be extremely hot or utterly brutal. More on that after I present some of what Luongo said in a radio interview in Vancouver on Friday July 6th. Notice that he is talking like the Canucks have already traded him. I quote:

“I HAD a great six years in Vancouver. It’s a really wonderful city. I ENJOYED my time there……………”

People, this guy has so much pride that he has to gather sympathy from fans and try to publicly force a trade! I guess that he actually believes that the decision to be traded is up to him, and it isn’t.

Luongo has a no-trade clause but he agreed with GM Mike Gillis to waive that for about five teams. Well, Luongo had better expand that to the entire league, and fast if he wants to be out of Vancouver before the start of the upcoming season. I suggest that he offers to take a pay cut so that another team can more easily facilitate him. Luongo was a 10 million dollar man in the 2010-11 season but that dropped to 6.716 million the following year and will continue at the amount until 2017-18. Then, it will drop to 3.382 million for the following year, 1.1618 in 2019-20, and then the final two years of the contract pay just 1 million a year—that is how they get the cap hit down. Of course, Luongo is almost surely going to retire after the 2017-18 season which will mean six more years in-between the pipes.

Well, considering Luongo’s attitude and his disrespect towards the Canucks, I hope that Mike Gillis holds on to “Lu” and disgraces him for coming out and speaking on radio like he did. Let Lu rot in Vancouver until he learns some humility and understands that he is not the boss of the Canucks. He was extremely fortunate that the Canucks foolishly filled his pockets despite the fact that Lu had never proven himself to be an elite goalie, and yet, Lu is now repaying the organization by not showing any respect to them at all. Luongo should have just kept his mouth shut and let Gillis do his job by trying to work a trade. That way if they can’t do a trade Luongo could have returned to the team with his head held high, but now he cannot. And, if the Canucks decide that they don’t want to trade Luongo for what is being offered in return then that is their right. Rick Nash is another spoiled baby who is making too much money. The worst part about Nash is he is a liar.

For those of you who believe that I am being too tough on Luongo, please continue reading as we examine his career more closely including his endorsements, TV commercials, last year for the BC Lottery Corporation—what a great example (being sarcastic) for children who admire him!

In 2011 after the Canucks lost in the Finals to the Bruins, I indicated that I felt the Canucks should trade Luongo, and not just due to his collapse in the games at the TD Garden but because Luongo is too expensive for what he provides and Schneider was already showing that he was going to be one of the better goalies in the league. Luongo is a good NHL goaltender but he is not one of the elite—and stats and other factors prove that fact (more on that later).  

The Canucks had a golden opportunity to move Luongo last summer because the Flyers wanted a goalie and were willing to empty the bank to get one—signing free agent Bryzgalov to a nine-year contract worth 51 million! Bryzgalov had totally choked in the playoffs before the signing, as a Coyote, losing four straight to the Red Wings. This year we saw his brutal performance in the series against the Penguins, and it was hard to believe that Fleury’s play was so abominable that Bryzgalov was not exposed by the media as much as he should have been. Fleury might have provided the worst all-time playoff performance by a goalie and was benched. Anyway, the Canucks could have easily unloaded Luongo and his salary to the Flyers and would have received a player and one or two draft picks in return; but, the Canuck organization was too proud to admit error in signing Luongo to an enormous contract worth 64 million—and they still are too proud. By the way, I would much prefer Luongo over Bryzgalov since Luongo is far better in the playoffs. I predict that the Flyers will not win the Stanley Cup any time soon because you can’t win it without stellar goaltending—not in today’s league.

In January of 2012, I wrote an article entitled:  “Canucks—The Luongo Question?” and in February another entitled: “Canucks—Schneider, Luongo and the Red Wings.” In these articles I discussed the issues that I have with Luongo including his stats, his contract, problems with his game, the slighting of his teammates, and the better play of Cory Schneider. My articles were not designed to simply attack Luongo, but they were more geared to wake-up the many fans who have been deceived by the media into believing that he is one of the top goalies in the league, and, I also wrote the article to expose the Canuck organization’s mistake in offering Luongo a ridiculously high contract that he definitely had not earned. After signing Luongo to the big deal, the Canuck organization has continued to sell him to the fans and has not benched him when he should have been sitting. Coach Alain Vigneault played Luongo in Boston in Game 6 of the Finals when he knew full well that Schneider was the guy he should have played—but the organization was paying Luongo so much money that they felt that they had to play him no matter what. This year when the teams met in Boston in the regular season, Vigneault played Schneider and the Canucks won the game. I believe that Vigneault was hoping for a loss so that he could feel justified about his wrong decision in the Finals last year and so he could sleep better at night—but that did not happen.

By the way, in the April 8, 2012 edition of HNIC’s “After Hours” (just before the playoffs), Vigneault was the guest and he said that people blame Luongo for everything and he went forth to state that some fans have blamed Luongo for the teacher’s strike, the bad weather, and also for high gas prices. Oh, Alain, give us a bloody break and be a man and stop excusing yourself and pointing your finger at some of the fans. People, Alain knows full well that he played Luongo just because he was the highest paid goalie and not the best goalie in the particular situation. If you want to win the Stanley Cup you have to go with the player who is going to do best considering the circumstances and that obviously was not Luongo since he could not gather himself mentally in the TD Garden in Boston.

One person, after reading “The Luongo Question,” attempted to defend Luongo by pretending that I was not examining his total game. I directed this individual to parts in my article that proved that I was examining everything and not just stats. I told this person that Luongo has had a major problem in dropping his stick pretty much every game and sometimes two and three times a game (as any Canuck fan knows), that he has frequently dropped to his knees for no reason and left the upper part of the net wide-open, that he has at times not taken responsibility for his own poor play and has subsequently laid the blame on his teammates (publicly in interviews), and that he was promoting online poker for the BC Lottery Corporation (TV commercials) despite knowing that many children admire and follow him. Additionally, all elite goalies have excellent stats (at the very least in Save Percentage and shutouts) and you cannot be classified as an elite goalie if your Save Percentage is not great.

From “The Luongo Question?” I quote:

In the 2009-2010 season Luongo did not play that well all things considered. His Goals Against Average (GAA) was high at 2.57 and his Save Percentage was not overly impressive at .913. In fact about 15 starting goalies had a better Save Percentage! Luongo registered just 4 shutouts and there were 12 goalies in the league who posted more than him, and 6 others who tied him at 4. This entirely average season for a goalie in the NHL somehow convinced the Vancouver Canucks that he was more valuable than a chest full of gold and diamonds because they decided to bestow upon him a long-term contract that would make him the second highest paid player in the league! In 2010-2011 he was paid 10 million dollars! Sinking that much money into an average player is not only tough on the organization but also on the other players.

TJ Stanley


Friday, July 6, 2012

Joe Nieuwendyk Rebuilds Dallas Stars – Jagr, Whitney, Rome, Eakin, Roy, and 1st Round pick Radek Faksa

Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk has significantly and positively rebuilt his team going into the 2012-13 season and he still might acquire one or more free agents. Furthermore, he may be able to insert rookie Radek Faksa into his line-up this year as well as defenseman Brenden Dillon. Let’s analyze the series of huge trades and free agent signings that Nieuwendyk used to reconstruct the Stars. I will also list the Stars 2012 draft picks by round and will include their final rankings which is very interesting (North American and European). 

The Stars haven’t been in the playoffs since the 2007-08 season (including self-destructing the last two years) so the huge changes that Nieuwendyk has made were definitely necessary.

Trade – Ribeiro for Eakin and Draft Pick

The first move that Nieuwendyk made was a trade just before the draft and it involved sending Mike Ribeiro to the Capitals in exchange for 21 year-old center Cody Eakin and a 2nd Round pick in the 2012 draft (54th overall), who turned out to be center Mike Winther of the Prince Albert Raiders. Winther was 21st in the final draft rankings so the Stars certainly got their money’s worth in landing one of the better prospects at that stage in the draft. Eakin is extremely talented and it looks like he is going to make a huge difference for the Stars in the long-run and possibly this year as well. In 2010-11 he split time between WHL teams the Swift Current Broncos and the Kootenay ICE, and in 56 games he had 36 goals and 47 assists for a total of 83 points. Last year for the Caps he played in 30 games, and with limited playing time he was still able to get 4 goals and 4 assists and was plus-2. He has a cap hit of only $638 000 until the end of 2013-14 at which time he will be a RFA.

Of course, trading Ribeiro left a hole to fill in the Stars line-up since he has been a big contributor for the team over the last six years; however, he is 32 years old and also has a cap hit of 5 million. Yet, if he keeps himself in top condition he could be a game-breaking player for another five years. In going for Ribeiro, the Caps are making a big effort to win the Cup this coming year. Ovechkin was terrible this past season and especially in the plus-minus department. He was too busy with big endorsements and girlfriends and did not commit himself at all to hockey. The playoffs were a little different but it would have been better if he had trained himself properly before and throughout the season. I expect OV to put more effort in this year, and time will tell. The Caps should play Ribeiro with Ovechkin in the preseason to see how they do together, and add Backstrom and you have a very potent power-play. 

Trade Winner – The Stars are getting a probable long-term NHL producer in Eakin and at very low cost; and, they also obtained a good prospect in Winther. Ribeiro could make a big difference for the Caps for the next couple of years and help them go further in the playoffs. Both teams could turn out to be winners in this trade, but I am hoping that Eakin will come through in a big way and prove the Stars to have gotten the best of the deal.

Free Agent Signings – Ray Whitney and Aaron Rome

The next moves by Nieuwendyk occurred on the first day of free agency, and he began by signing 40 year-old Ray Whitney. Whitney led the Coyotes last year with 77 points and was also an impressive plus-26. Nieuwendyk awarded him with a two-year deal worth 9 million. Nice to see an older guy who works hard get paid what a lot of the younger guys are making.

Later that same day, Nieuwendyk was able to sign free agent Aaron Rome, who obviously decided that the Stars offered more money and a better opportunity as compared to the Canucks and everyone else who was interested in him. Signing 28 year-old Rome was a great move by the Stars because he is a big, tough defenseman who has several good years left if he takes care of himself. Nieuwendyk locked Rome into a three year contract worth 4.5 million, a raise for Rome but also an absolute steal of a deal for the Stars in my opinion. 

Derek Roy

The following day, Nieuwendyk traded Steve Ott and Adam Pardy to the Sabres in exchange for Derek Roy.

Roy was drafted by Buffalo in the 2001 Entry Draft, Round 2 and 32nd overall, and is now 29 years old. He was a proven performer for several years but in the 2010-11 he only played 35 games due to needing surgery to repair a torn quadriceps tendon. He returned for the 2011-12 season and he was only able to compile 44 points in 80 games and was minus-7. So, the question is can he get back to where he was before the operation? And, then there is another huge issue with this trade and that is the fact that Roy will be getting paid the highest amount this coming year of his six-year contract: 5.5 million; but, that is not all since this is the last year of his contract before becoming an UFA. If he does not like Dallas he won’t consider signing with them after this year. Roy does fill at least part of the gap at center left by the Ribeiro trade and that is important.

In exchange for Roy, Nieuwendyk surrendered Steve Ott and Adam Pardy. Ott was a fan favorite and a good team guy but he is a third or even fourth line center; and, he also carries a pretty high price tag considering what he can do on the ice. He is under contract for two more years and will make 3.2 million each year and then be an UFA. Like Roy, he is 29 years old but is only capable of producing about half of Roy’s offense (when Roy is at the top of his game, and yes, he may never get there again). Adam Pardy will be an extra defenseman for the Sabres and he has one year left in his contract and will make 2 million in 2012-13. He is 28 years old and only played 36 games for the Stars last year, his only year with the team since the Stars picked him up last summer.

Trade Winner – Well, all things considered, the Stars did not have to give up much at all to get Roy so the gamble by Nieuwendyk was a great one in my opinion. I don’t know what the Sabres were thinking, but maybe they know more about Roy’s leg than has been revealed?

Jaromir Jagr

Then, on July 3rd, Nieuwendyk signed Jagr to a one-year deal worth 4.5 million plus a significant signing bonus of $500 000, and he is also eligible to earn an extra $50 000 on a performance bonus. Jagr surprised us last year by choosing to sign with the Flyers over the Pens, for 3.3 million, and now he has surprised us once again. Obviously, the amount of money is a big issue for Jagr and that is why he signed with the Stars. I think he would have been better signing with a Stanley Cup contender for less money, however, I am happy to see him with the Stars and in the Western Conference since he has always played in the Eastern Conference.  

Jagr is 40 years old and brings a lot to the table including some excellent hockey, being an example for other players regarding work ethic and he has a “hate to lose” attitude, being able to give advice to other players, having the ability to teach others, and of course he will bring the fans into the American Airlines Center (where the Stars play). Last year Jagr played very well for the Flyers and in 73 games he compiled 54 points and was plus-5. In my opinion, he will not only be able to help the youngest players but also many of the veterans who are used to losing and who need an attitude and confidence boost. Whitney will also do the same work in helping the others and we should see a significant change in the team this year. All said, Nieuwendyk was wise to surrender 5 million to Jagr since he has much to offer, and Whitney too. 

Another thing, Jagr is Czechoslovakian and so is the Stars Round 1 pick in the 2012 draft, Radek Faksa. Faksa is a huge fan of Jagr and has watched him live. Jagr could help the kid a lot in training camp and onward if Faksa is able to crack the line-up this year; however, Niewendyk has stated that he doesn’t want to rush Faksa. Jagr won’t likely be with the Stars next year but who knows? Faksa has already signed a contract with the Stars and now he is in development camp. Benn, Eriksson, Jagr, Whitney, Roy and Eakin will certainly bring the fans into the building and that is another reason to wait until Faksa is actually ready for the NHL. I will never forget the Oilers inserting Taylor Hall into the line-up before he was NHL-ready and his first year was a disaster for the most part (improving in the second half). Hall was falling all over the place and he suffered a season-ending leg injury in a fight with Dorsett of the Blue Jackets. His play was significantly better this past year but he had numerous injuries and his season was cut short again and this time due to a concussion and the need for shoulder surgery.

Power-Play Boost

The Stars had the worst power-play in the NHL last year at 13.5 % overall (home and road games). We can expect that to change with the addition of Jagr, Whitney and Roy. Add on Benn and Eriksson and you have five guys who can put the puck in the net. Goligoski and Daley are the Stars best defensemen for power-plays, but I would only play one of them at the most and have at least four of the forwards previously mentioned on the ice most of the time.  

2012 Draft Picks

Nieuwendyk had nine picks in the 2012 draft and his choices were, along with their final ranking (North American being “NA” and European being “E”) or if they were unranked):  Round 1, 13th overall, center Radek Faksa (NA Ranking 7th); Round 2, 43rd overall, defenseman Ludwig Bystrom (E Ranking 8th); Round 2 again, 54th overall, center Mike Winther (NA Ranking 21st); Round 2 again, 61st overall, center Devin Shore (NA Ranking 58th); Round 3, 74th overall, defenseman Esa Lindell (E Ranking 12th); Round 4, 104th overall, center Gemel Smith (NA Ranking 37th); Round 5, 134th overall, right-winger Brandon Troock (NA Ranking 65th);  Round 5 again, 144th overall, goalie Henri Kiviaho (not ranked); Round 7, 183 overall, defenseman Dmitry Sinitsyn (Limited Viewing).   

In my opinion, Nieuwendyk didn’t do too bad up until his last two picks. There were some superior goalies left including 10th Ranked goalie Marek Mazanec—who is Czech like Radek Faksa! I don’t know what Nieuwendyk was thinking but he made a big mistake in my opinion. I would have taken at least two goalies in the draft and at least one in within the first two rounds.  

Finally

It is going to be extremely interesting to see if Jagr, Whitney, Roy, Rome and Eakin are going to be able to transform the Stars into a team that will make the playoffs this year. I will be providing my predictions at the beginning of the season and will update those after the All-Star break. Last year I chose the Devils to win the East (and to have a chance at winning the Cup) as long as they did not have to face the Bruins. I might get lucky again this year. No, I didn’t have the Kings to win the West because they did not show enough before the playoffs started.

TJ Stanley


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Steve Nash Traded to LA

Steve Nash has negotiated a deal that will take him to LA to join Kobe Bryant. Whoops, wrong sport. I don’t know how I mixed-up Rick Nash with Steve Nash because they are two entirely different people. Steve Nash is a pretty good guy and a lot better athlete than Rick Nash ever was or will be; while, Rick Nash is a liar and a baby. He is still sitting in Columbus where he belongs. I hope he rots there for lying to fans and turning his back on his team not long after signing a huge contract with them in 2010.

Sorry, I have to have a little fun people!

TJ Stanley


Monday, July 2, 2012

Crosby’s New Contract – Lemieux and Burkle Gambling Fools?

On July 1st, Sidney Crosby signed his new contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins, one that stretches over 12 years and that will pay him the enormous sum of 104.4 million dollars. There has been talk that Crosby could have gotten more and that he deserved more, but I entirely disagree considering his brain injury / concussion issue. The contract is not small since it makes him the highest-paid NHL player if you consider the first nine years of the contract, and it is only in the last three years that his pay-check drops drastically. In the first three years he will make 12 million per year, then the next two 10.9 million, then 10, 9.6, 9, 9, and then only 3 million the final three years. If a miracle occurs and he was to make it to the 10th year of his contract, he definitely would not play for 3 million and risk further brain injury. Crosby is fully aware that he will not play that long and in my opinion he has pulled the wool over Lemieux’s and Ron Burkle’s eyes—Burkle being co-owner with Lemieux in case you did not know. But, the contract itself is not the problem with this deal for Lemieux and Burkle (despite their having to free-up resources to make it happen), the real issue is that Crosby cannot be insured against a career-ending injury caused by concussion / brain injury because insurance policies won’t cover pre-existing conditions. That means that if Crosby goes out and gets nailed during his first shift of the new contract, and suffers a major concussion that sidelines him forever, Lemieux and Burkle will have to pay him the full 104.4 million! That is a huge gamble in my opinion and one that I would never consider after hearing Crosby speaking about his injuries throughout his lengthy recovery. I have had concussions and deal with ongoing symptoms and brain injury just does not go away—there is always a degree of permanent damage, small or large! By the way, excuse me if you read words in reverse order or words that don’t seem to fit in a sentence due to my typing the incorrect word. I proofread the articles a number of times and try to catch all of the problems before publishing.

Dear Mr. Lemieux, how much will you pay me to clean your golf balls, shine your shoes, polish your wine bottles, and have those Godfather movies ready when you want to watch them? Readers, to let you in on the joke, in an interview around the time that Lemieux’s statue was unveiled, March 7, 2012, he stated that his passions are golfing and fine wines, and that his favorite movie is The Godfather.

In continuing, last year Crosby presented himself as fearful and cautious regarding his concussion, and it lasted so damn long that people began to wonder if he would ever return at all. In fact, he sought out his own medical advice to be sure that the Penguins’ doctors weren’t just acting on behalf of the team. It was not a good situation and I stated in an article that Crosby should just get some more endorsements, retire as an NHL player, and do hockey schools or coaching (if he wanted to still be on the ice). Well, Crosby has decided that he will need a lot more money than he really needs and that he wants to risk further brain injury in the quest for one or more additional Stanley Cup rings. If I was younger and foolish I would probably do the same thing. Despite Crosby not being one of my favorite players in the game, I hope that he is able to escape further brain injury and that he can out-play all of the Russian stars in the league!   

TJ Stanley


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Oilers Sign Justin Schultz – It was Lucky but Tambellini Patted Himself and Lowe on their Backs Anyway! – Also, Deserved Rebuke of Tambellini and Lowe

The Oilers have been looking for an effective offensive defenseman for a long time, and today, the start of free agency, they hit the jackpot by signing Justin Schultz, a young, talented player who was a steal at the cost of an entry-level contract plus bonuses.

Schultz was originally drafted by the Ducks back in 2008 (Round 2, 43rd overall) but refused to sign with them and decided to play at the college level and study until he would become a free agent in July of 2012. What made him one of the most sought-after free agents this year? Three things: his youth, his low price, and his outstanding play in the three years he was with the University of Wisconsin Badgers. In both 2010-11 and 2011-12 he was named the WCHA defensive player of the year, and he was also named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award each of these years. In 2010-11 he had 47 points in 41 games (18 goals and 29 assists), while in 2011-12 he compiled 44 points in just 37 games (16 goals and 28 assists). Obviously, he was a much desired commodity. 

Pretty much every NHL team made an effort to get Schultz, but it really came down to three possibilities: Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver. Toronto made a huge effort to obtain Schultz and so did the Oilers, while Vancouver was the favorite in many people’s minds since Schultz is a BC boy—Kelowna. The Leafs used defenseman Jake Gardiner to try to convince Schultz to decide on Toronto, the two are good friends, while the Oilers used a barrage of people. In the end, Schultz chose the Oilers as the best place to begin his NHL career. I will explain why in a moment.

On June 28th, Kevin Lowe, Craig MacTavish, new head coach Ralph Krueger and Taylor Hall flew to Toronto to meet with Schultz to see if they could work his mind / sweet talk him. Furthermore, Kevin Lowe got dirty by contacting Gretzky and Coffey and asking them to phone Schultz to try to convince him to go to Edmonton. Both did phone Schultz and I guess Gretzky felt he owed something to his buddy Kevin and also to the fans of Edmonton for leaving. Nevertheless, all of this pressure was not responsible for Schultz’s decision to sign with the Oilers, but rather, various circumstances came into play. Lowe  and Tambellini were simply lucky to get the nod from Schultz and they landed him for the following four reasons, none of which had anything to do with Lowe and Tambellini’s skill in doing their jobs—and yet, Tambellini, in his pride, shamelessly patted himself on the back as he spoke to the media about the signing. 

  1. First, Schultz wanted to play in Canada.
  2. Second, and most importantly, he wanted to play on a team that had many players around his own age, as this would allow him to feel comfortable and enable him to easily connect with his teammates and make friends. The Canadian team with the greatest number of young players is of course the Oilers, who, will have eight under 24 including Yakupov. Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal have around five each, the Jets four, and the Canucks and Flames just three each. So, it was clear to Schultz that he would decide on the Oilers.
  3. Third, Schultz liked the Oilers team when he was growing-up.
  4. Fourth, Shultz wanted to play on a team where he would get a lot of ice time, and a team that had a coaching style that agreed with him. Schultz respected the attitude of Krueger. Schultz would have been given plenty of ice time in Toronto and Edmonton, and probably less in Vancouver (depending on how he adjusted to the NHL of course). One could say that Schultz wanted to be on a team that was going to have a great chance to win the Stanley Cup in 2013, but only Vancouver fits that role and the Oilers are likely looking at two to three years before they get their shot, depending on their goaltending. Tambellini and Lowe forgot that they needed an elite goalie to make the road to a Stanley Cup victory that much easier, and they did not even draft a goalie in this year’s draft! Unbelievable! They ought to pat themselves on the back for that too.     
All said, it was not Lowe and Tambellini who were the main factors in Schultz’s decision, but it really was luck since the Oilers had the situation that Schultz wanted to be in—one more comfortable for him with more players nearer to his own age. In fact, it has been Lowe’s and Tambellini’s abominable work that put the Oilers in the situation that they are now in, so, I guess they are indirectly responsible for getting Schultz—ha, ha, ha! Tambellini, go ahead and take credit for being a lousy GM who has screwed the Oilers in the drafts, in trades and also by never signing any significant free agents, previously. Furthermore, Tambellini, you don’t even know what players are worth and you have offended good players (Ryan Jones for example) and you have also blown money on players who really have not contributed much to the team—Hemsky for one, who you extended for two-years for a whopping 10 million dollars! Does he clean your house as part of the deal? Kevin Lowe has been no better. Both of these guys ought to pat themselves on the back for winning the draft lottery too—ha, ha, ha.

Yes people, I do hate to see Tambellini and Lowe taking credit for something that involved more luck than anything else. These two guys know no shame, and is it any wonder they were the first guys to bring cheerleaders into the NHL in Canada. If the Oilers can’t put out an entertaining team without cheerleaders it is time to pack it in boys. The people can get their “peeps” and sex at home! Kevin Lowe should have phoned Gretzky to ask his opinion on the cheerleaders. Certainly, Gretzky would have told him that it was sleazy, and Gretzky knows because he had to put his daughter in place for flashing her stuff all over the place. 

Regarding Schultz, he will make $925 000 a year for the next two seasons and also received a $92 500 signing bonus, but, the real money comes in performance bonuses as this takes him up to a potential 3.775 million US per year. Afterwards he will be a RFA and will have the opportunity at many millions if he performs as expected.

With Schultz on board, the Oilers just became a lot stronger and there is envy and concern in Calgary that is for sure.

TJ Stanley


Friday, June 29, 2012

Oilers - Krueger New Head Coach

On June 26th, the Oilers announced that Ralph Krueger would be their new head coach. Krueger has been with the team for the past two years, as associate coach to the now dismissed Tom Renney, and Krueger is partially responsible for a significant improvement in the Oilers’ power-play—which was ranked 3rd in the NHL last year. Previously, he was the head coach of the Swiss National team and improved their IIHF World rankings from 15th to 7th. He has numerous other credentials that indicate that he should be successful as a head coach in the NHL.  

Krueger is known to be a coach who demands hard work in practice and who expects players to always improve. His goal is to train the Oiler players so well that they will naturally become a winning machine. This all sounds great but you also need “heart,” and I see that coming from the younger Oiler players who are not just in it for the money.

Lowe and Tambellini made the right choice (for a change) in selecting Krueger as head coach as compared to the list of other candidates and rumored candidates. Marc Crawford was interviewed for the job, twice, and I am glad that he did not get the position because he has never impressed me. When he allowed his Dallas Stars team to slip out of a playoff spot in 2011 it was hard to believe, and of course it really hurts his resume. It was rumored that Brent Sutter as a candidate, and if Tambellini and Lowe actually seriously considered him it would be nothing short of insanity. To have the “enemy” (former coach of the Flames) coaching the Oilers would not sit well with the fans at all.

Besides rewarding Krueger with the head coaching position, Lowe and Tambellini also decided to keep the rest of the coaching staff intact, except, Moores in player development retired. Former Oilers, Buchberger and Smith, were kept as assistant coaches on the orders of Kevin Lowe, who, also created a new position for Craig MacTavish, “Sr. Vice President of Hockey Operations.” Lowe should have sought out a new goaltending coach for this coming year because they need improvement in that area. This past season I was stating that the Oilers had to change their coaching staff, including Moores and Sillinger in player development because younger guys were not advancing as they should have been—Paajarvi and Omark to name two. Well, with Renney being canned and Moores retiring part of my wish came true. The new Sr. Director of Player Development is Rick Carriere. Lowe is keeping Sillinger but I would have replaced him with someone else and started with two entirely fresh minds. In the next few years we shall see how Rick Carriere does.

I do have one issue with Lowe and Tambellini’s hiring of Krueger and that is the length of the contract given to him. They signed him on for three years? That really does not make sense because they just went through having to keep Renney too long and that was on a two-year contract. By the way, the reason they kept Renney right until the end was to save some money and to get a better spot in the draft. Krueger, as a rookie NHL head coach, should have been offered a one-year deal to see how he made out. If well, it would have been easy to extend him for two years. He did fill-in for Renney for five games last year and Krueger’s record during those games was 2-3-0—not good enough.

Under Krueger, I have no doubt that we will see an improved Oiler team, but a good portion of the improvement will solely be due to the maturing of the young talent and also the addition of one or more players—Eberle, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Yakupov and perhaps even Zharkov. I don’t want to pat Krueger on the back until he really proves that he deserves it.

TJ Stanley


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Oiler’s Pick Yakupov 1st in Draft – Is it Another Mistake by Lowe and Tambellini? – Other Oiler 2012 Picks Analyzed

Nobody can honestly deny the fact that Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini have done an utterly brutal job thus far in their so-called rebuilding of the Oilers. When you examine what they did in the 2010 and 2011 drafts (all players included), most fans could have done better even without all of the scouting reports and interviews with players. On the trade front, in 2011 Tambellini and Lowe shopped injury-prone Hemsky around but wanted far too much for him and then decided to trade their power forward Dustin Penner instead—a ridiculously stupid move for a team that has an overabundance of small forwards. In 2012, the Oilers made another poor and unsuccessful effort to move Hemsky before the trade deadline, and then, despite Hemsky having a season so bad that the stench is still lingering in Rexall Place, Tambellini rewarded him with a two-year contract extension worth a whopping 10 million—even the Calgary Flames had to publicly laugh via Twitter! Hemsky had 36 points in 69 games, was minus-13 and took 43 minutes in penalties (which is a disgrace in itself for a “skilled” player who is being paid to get points and not sit in the sin bin)! Do we really need to talk any more about Lowe and Tambellini to show that they are fools who really don’t know what they are doing? No, we don’t, but let’s do it anyway by taking a look at a few mistakes that they made in the drafts. Afterwards, we shall consider their decision to select Yakupov in this year’s draft and discuss other options which would have been better; and, we shall also analyze the Oilers other picks in the 2012 draft.

Lowe and Tambellini’s Mistake in Drafting Taylor Hall

Tambellini and Lowe chose Hall over Seguin despite the fact that they knew that Hall had a longstanding shoulder problem. Lowe and Tambellini also knew that Hall was reckless and that he had balance issues, and they also saw the hit by Hamonic on Hall in the Memorial Cup with Hall going face-first into the boards—definitely suffering some damage since he could not get up from his knees for some time and the parts of his face that made contact with the boards were red and his nose was bleeding. Clearly, Lowe and Tambellini made a mistake in drafting Hall over Seguin solely on the facts described above. That mistake became very clear to all Oiler fans who watched Hall falling all over the place in his first year, and, unfortunately, his cockiness, poor balance and shoulder issue led to some nasty injuries in 2011 and 2012 (including a concussion) and also surgery which cut his season short last year. On March 20, 2012, I posted an article entitled: “Taylor Hall’s Four Injuries in Two Years and Cory Sarich of the Flames.” I encourage you to read this article and watch the incredible videos of both Sarich and Hall. I shall provide a brief summary below but the videos are a must see. On March 3, 2011, Hall foolishly started a fight with Dorsett of the Blue Jackets and Hall suffered a leg injury which knocked him out for the latter part of his first year, 2011. Then, in his second year, November of 2011-12, Hall was hit in a game and his shoulder was injured (previous problem aggravated to be more accurate), causing him to miss seven games. In January of 2012, Hall wasn’t wearing his helmet in warm-up and he fell and slid into the boards where he collided with a teammate and then Potter tried to step over Hall but instead stepped on his forehead. Hall suffered a nasty gash that needed 30 stitches. At the All-Star break, Hall and some other Oiler players took a trip to Mexico and they went golfing but Hall forgot his shoes and golfed in sandals and injured a toe. Then, on March 16, 2012, in a game against the Flames, Hall recklessly went towards the boards where the puck was and he fell as Cory Sarich was coming in from the point to lay him low. Sarich made contact with Hall’s head and Hall suffered a concussion. Later it was decided by Oiler brass and doctors that Hall should have shoulder surgery and would miss the remainder of the year. Well, before Hall was drafted it would not have been too hard for anyone to predict that he would continue to have shoulder problems, problems that could have a major effect on his career and the team that drafted him. The NHL is faster, the players are larger, and Hall was going to get hit a lot due to his reckless style of play. Furthermore, kids like Hall that are too cocky do not learn lessons without paying the price. They don’t listen to older people who have experience but always do it their way and damage themselves in one way or another. It was Hall’s cockiness and pride that caused him to challenge well-known scraper Dorsett to a fight. Coach Tom Renney called it “character” but I call it stupidity.   

Lowe and Tambellini selected Hall as their money-making “poster boy”—they felt that he would bring in the most money and posted him on their website with a huge smile on his face. Be assured that Lowe and Tambellini make all of their decisions based on money, despite what they try to make the public believe. They are businessmen, bad ones at that. In my opinion, posting the smiling face of an unproven player on the team website was a slap in the face to veteran players who are better than Hall and who have contributed a lot to the team. Lowe and Tambellini will never sell me on Hall, but the kid himself can still turn his career in the right direction if he listens to experienced people and plays smart. His foolishness has already cost him a lot. I would have bypassed Hall in the draft and taken Tyler Seguin.

Cheerleaders?

Besides their “poster boy” plan, Lowe and Tambellini can be “credited” with greatly cheapening the game of hockey in Edmonton and Canada by presenting a cheerleading squad of young women—the first in Canada (2010-11). What these two men will do to turn a buck for Daryl Katz! Having cheerleaders is a disgrace and disrespectful to every woman who attends a game. Do women fans want their husbands and boyfriends looking at skating cheerleaders? Honestly, if hockey isn’t good enough to entertain the fans they would be better off going home and watching TV or porn. Shame on Daryl Katz, Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini for cheapening the game of hockey in Canada. Lowe ought to put his Stanley Cup rings on Ebay and try to make a few dollars that way. I would have more respect for him for doing that than his cheerleader plan.       

Lowe and Tambellini’s 2011 Draft Mistakes – John Gibson – And the Importance of Goalies in the NHL

Last year Lowe and Tambellini had the opportunity in the second round to get the top goalie prospect, John Gibson (6' 3'' and 212 lbs), but elected to pass on him. Khabibulin was 39 years old people! The Oilers took Nugent-Hopkins first and also had the 19th pick in the first round, and they selected a big Swedish defenseman, Oscar Klefbom. Okay, they got their big defenseman who they needed but then to start the second round they took another defenseman, David Musil rather than John Gibson? Musil was a respectable pick but how can you pass on the top-rated goalie prospect, one who could turn out to be an elite goalie in the NHL and lead you to one or more Stanley Cup victories? Gibson was taken shortly after by Anaheim and last year for the Kitchener Rangers his Save Percentage was .928! He will get a lot better in my opinion and he is already extremely composed. The Oilers have Dubnyk and should play him as the starter and buy-out Khabibulin for the sake of saving money to put towards another player who can help the team more. Khabibulin was very inconsistent last year and his record was terrible as compared to Dubnyk. The Oilers signed an experienced minor league goalie in Yann Danis, but they needed to bring more goalies into the system via the drafts and hope that one would turn out to be an elite player. It is always best to take your chances on top goalie prospects because without an elite goalie your chances of winning the Stanley Cup are poor. Look what happened to the Pens in the 2012 playoffs? Their so-called elite goalie, Fleury, proved that he really isn’t elite and that can be confirmed by looking at his career stats in conjunction with the awesome teams that have been in front of him. The Pens did not have a back-up who could take the reins and subsequently they fell to the Flyers. And for an even more important lesson, Steve Yzerman, VP and GM of the Lightning, probably made the worst all-time goalie decisions after the 2010-11 season. First, he let Mike Smith go—for nothing! Second, Yzerman rested his hopes on a 42 year old Roloson and gave him a one-year deal worth 3 million! You can’t gamble your entire season on a retirement-ready goalie, and neither is it wise to count on one goalie without providing an exceptional back-up—and Yzerman did not provide a good enough back-up in Mathieu Garon. Furthermore, you should always strive to have a couple of other excellent goalies in your system who can be brought-up in case there are one or more injuries—it simply is the most important position in hockey and you need a lot of depth. I guess Yzerman felt that a goalie would be given to him as a gift because he also passed on the chance of taking John Gibson in the 2011 draft! Instead, he opted for a Russian center for his first pick, a Russian winger for his second, a Russian defenseman for his third (Round 5), and he finally took a goalie in Round 6. All said, Yzerman was entirely responsible for the Lightning missing the 2012 playoffs—one of the worst NHL managing mistakes ever. He was a great player but obviously needs a lot of advice in managing and directing a team (and the same goes for Kevin Lowe). Yzerman selected a goalie for his second of two picks in Round 1 of the 2012 draft, but too little too late, and again the player was a Russian. Yzerman is going way overboard on Russian players in my opinion, and you tell me if fans in North America want to watch a team full of Russians rather than Canadians and Americans? Also, Russian players are a risk because they could go to the KHL, like Radulov did once, and now plans to a second time. Yzerman needs a starting goalie and also a good back-up goalie. A week before this year’s draft, Yzerman acquired 24 year-old netminder Anders Lindback from the Predators, along with forward Kyle Wilson and a 7th round pick in the draft, in exchange for two 2nd round picks in the 2012 draft, a 3rd round pick in the 2013 draft and goalie Sebastien Caron. Yzerman had put himself into a position where he really had to do this deal because he has nobody between the pipes and Lindback could develop into a starting goalie. Currently, he is a back-up caliber goalie. Last year for the Preds he was 5-8-0 and his Save Percentage was respectable at .912 and his GAA was 2.42. However, Yzerman was still in trouble after that deal and that is why he drafted goalies and was hoping to land Jonas Gustavsson on the first day of free agency but was unable to do so as Gustavsson signed with the Red Wings (who now are much more solid in net). Now, Yzerman is going to need to orchestrate a trade for another goalie who is at least as good as Lindback in an attempt to provide some stability and a chance of making the playoffs this year. You need to have a lot of depth in the goaltending position. Is there anything wrong with having two excellent goalies battling for the starting position? Ask the Blues who had Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak giving it their all the entire season and who captured the Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals against in the regular season. What the Blues have is the ideal and the same situation was in Boston with Tuuka Rask and Tim Thomas, and in LA with Quick and Bernier (although Bernier had a tough year). Look who Boston took as their first pick this year: top goalie prospect Malcolm Subban. I would have done the same. In getting back to Lowe and Tambellini, they both know the importance of great goaltending and yet, for their third pick they bypassed the number one goalie prospect in the 2011 draft. Hard to believe!

Lowe and Tambellini’s 2011 Draft Mistakes – Nugent-Hopkins

Nugent-Hopkins was a risky pick in my opinion due to his small body frame. Landeskog would definitely have been my first pick because he had improved tremendously in the 2010-11 season (In 53 games he had 66 points and was plus-27) and because he was about 25 pounds heavier than Nugent-Hopkins. Honestly, from the Oilers standpoint, if they were not going to fill a team gap with Landeskog they would have been better trading the pick along with a smaller Oiler player for an NHL goalie, power forward or a defenseman. Unfortunately, Nuge already suffered a shoulder injury and I fear that he will have multiple injuries just like Hemsky and Hall. I like the kid and hope that he can beat the odds.  

Lowe and Tambellini’s Mistake in Drafting Yakupov 1st in 2012 Draft

What players do the Oilers need so that they can become Stanley Cup Champions? They need an elite goalie, an offensive defenseman who can contribute on the power-play, some big men up front, and a couple of solid defensive defensemen. Did they fill any of those needs in the 2010 or 2011 draft? In trades or free agent signings? Lowe and Tambellini have obviously been so confused about who they need to build a Stanley Cup Champion—and it isn’t cheerleaders you idiots—that they decided to listen to sportswriters for guidance before this year’s draft. Well, they still selected the small guy, Yakopov, but did add a few larger boys as recommended by the media. Nevertheless, in my opinion it was another poor overall effort by Lowe and Tambellini because they passed on some great goalie prospects and also other high-ranked players.

What would you have done with the first pick in this year’s draft? I would have traded Hemsky, Hall or Nugent-Hopkins along with the 1st pick in the draft in exchange for Senators goalie Robin Lehner and another player or pick. GM Bryan Murray has grossly mistreated Lehner despite his having the best Save Percentage out of all four Sens goalies. Lehner is a young Swede and I predict that he will be as good as Lundqvist, and maybe even better when all is said and done. In the last four games that he was allowed to play (Feb. and March of 2012), he was the 1st Star twice and the 2nd Star once.

The Oilers could have also traded the first pick and one of the three players mentioned above for a skilled defenseman (not too old though) such as Shattenkirk and another player or picks. The Blues wouldn’t part with Pietrangelo. Or, the Oilers could have attempted to get a proven power forward to replace Penner. Instead, they took a small forward in Yakupov, a guy who may or may not even stay in the NHL. In fact, if there is a lockout this year, Yakupov would likely go to the KHL and the Oilers may never see him again! So, taking him involves risk and I would never have chosen him but used the 1st Pick as trade leverage to fill one or more gaps in my team.

Oilers Other 2012 Draft Picks

As I stated, Lowe and Tambellini did add some bigger boys in the draft, but no goalies.

They selected Edmonton Oil Kings left-winger Mitchell Moroz in Round 2, 32nd overall (despite his having a midterm rank of 171 and final ranking of 72). He is a 209 lb power forward but he compiled a lot of penalty minutes last year (including fighting majors) and the NHL is slowly moving away from dirty hockey. I prefer players that have exceptional skill and subsequently don’t have to take penalties. Brian Campbell won the Lady Byng and he only took three penalties all year, and Jordan Eberle wasn’t far behind. All said, regarding this second pick, the Oilers were far too anxious and could have done a lot better than Moroz, and there were some Top 10 ranked players still available. Moroz would have likely been available in Round 3 and the Oilers should have waited to see if he was available in that round.  

The Oilers third pick was Jujhar Khaira and he was taken 63rd overall, ahead of his final ranking of 74. He is a power forward with talent in front of the net. He might make the Oilers in a year or two.  
The Oilers fourth pick was also in Round 3, 91st overall, and they chose Russian Daniil Zharkov. His final ranking was 32nd and he is a power forward over 200 pounds. He had suffered a broken collarbone in training camp but was able to come back and put together a pretty good season. From his comments he is glad to be an Oiler (despite the fact that his favorite teams are Detroit and Washington—Datsyuk and Ovechkin surely) and he has a goal of out-working and out-playing Yakupov, Hall and Nugent-Hopkins—especially Yakupov. He feels slighted by being picked 91st and wants to prove that he will be the best player to come out of the 2012 draft. If his collarbone never breaks again, Zharkov will likely turn out to be the Oilers best pick in this draft since he was secured in Round 3; and, it is possible that he may turn out to be better than Yakupov. I like his determination to be the best and if his work ethic matches his words he just might make the Oilers this year—but it would take a lot because I am quite certain that Tambellini plans to only add one rookie this year and that is Yakupov. Oiler veterans are really going to be pushed this upcoming training camp and that will only benefit the team because they need better work ethic. Stiff competition between players will result in a much improved Oiler team.

The Oilers fifth pick was in Round 4, 93rd overall, and they chose their first defenseman: Erik Gustafsson. The Swede is already 20 years old, was unranked and is 176 pounds. Hard to believe that they selected him when there was a Top 10 goalie available (Marek Mazanec) and many other higer-ranked players left. The Oilers need goalies and did not select one in this draft? All said, Gustafsson is a huge gamble and even if he makes the NHL you have to think: “What would have been if they had selected Mazanec or one of the other high-ranked players that were left?” In two or three years we will be able to see the Oilers mistakes in this draft.

The Oilers then selected Joey Laleggia in Round 5. He was unranked and is a small defenseman, although he has a lot of offensive talent and could be another Kris Letang—or, he could be intimidated and pounded at the NHL level. The Oilers are such a small team as it is and already gambled too much with three previous picks so it is hard to back them on selecting Laleggia. However, Laleggia is friends with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who believes that Laleggia is NHL-caliber. Let’s hope so! I don’t mind gambling on Laleggia because he has a lot of skill, but if you plan on taking him then make higher percentage picks on your other selections.  

The Oilers final pick was in Round 6 and they chose 219 pound John McCarron. The Oilers need size up front but Marek Mazanec was still available to be had so the Oilers made another mistake in my opinion. Above all things you need goaltending depth because it simply is the most important position in hockey. Due to the Oilers great need for goalies, they should have selected at least two in this draft and maybe three.

All said, this was a draft in which the Oilers could have and should have done a lot better, starting with trading the number one pick along with an injury problem player for someone like goalie Robin Lehner and another player or pick. Additionally, the Oilers took too many gambles in this draft since high-ranked players including goalies were available to them. Lowe and Tambellini have had the first pick three years in a row and still have not been able to fill the positions on the team that need to be filled. And, in trades they have hurt the team more than helped it. Is that what you call rebuilding?

Too bad that the Oilers extended Tambellini. What a celebration it will be for Oiler fans when Tambellini is finally ousted as GM. I would get rid of Kevin Lowe despite the fact that he was a great player for the Oilers. Obviously, some great players are not skilled in managing a team or being President of a team. Yzerman is even worse than Lowe.
  
TJ Stanley