Thursday, February 3, 2011

NHLPA Player opinion poll on coaches, franchises, rule changes and peers

Recently the NHL Player's Association and CBC network in Canada conducted a survey amongst current NHL players.  Less than half responded and those who returned surveys did not necessarily answer every question.  But here are the results.

What team would you least like to play on?
New York Islanders – 27%
Edmonton Oilers – 20%
Buffalo Sabres – 8%
Atlanta Thrashers – 7%
Toronto Maple Leafs – 5%
Montreal Canadiens – 5%

What team would you most like to play on?
Detroit Red Wings – 14%
Vancouver Canucks – 11%
Chicago Blackhawks – 11%
New York Rangers – 9%
Tampa Bay Lightning – 6%

What rink has worst ice?
Bank Atlantic Centre (Florida Panthers) – 20%
Madison Square Garden (Rangers) – 14%
St.Pete Times Forum (Lightning) – 12%
Honda Center (Anaheim Ducks) – 10%
Staples Center (Los Angeles Kings) – 9%

What rink has best ice?
Rexall Place (Edmonton) – 37%
Bell Centre (Montreal) – 15%
Joe Louis Arena (Detroit) – 13%
Xcel Energy Center (Minnesota) – 8%
Rogers Arena (Vancouver) – 7%

What is your favorite rink to play in?
Bell Centre (Montreal) – 40%
Madison Square Garden – 9%
United Center (Chicago) – 7.4%
Joe Louis Arena (Detroit) – 7%
Rogers Arena (Vancouver) – 6%


Which current assistant coach should be the next head coach?
Kirk Muller (Montreal) – 9%
Bob Boughner (Columbus) – 8%
Tony Granato (Pittsburgh) – 6%
Adam Oates (New Jersey) – 5%
Brad McCrimmon (Detroit) – 4%

Which coach demands the most of his players?
John Tortorella (NY Rangers) – 28%
Mike Babcock (Detroit) – 24%
Guy Boucher (Tampa Bay) – 7%
Brent Sutter (Calgary) – 6%
Dan Bylsma (Pittsburgh) – 4%

Which coach is the easiest to play for?
Bruce Boudreau (Washington) – 21%
Barry Trotz (Nashville) – 12%
Dan Bylsma (Pittsburgh) – 8%
Dave Tippett (Phoenix) – 8%
Terry Murray (Los Angeles) – 5%

Which coach would you most like to play for?
Dan Bylsma (Pittsburgh) – 21%
Mike Babcock (Detroit) – 18%
Dave Tippet (Phoenix) – 9%
Guy Boucher (Tampa Bay) – 8%
Joel Quenneville (Chicago) – 6%

Which coach would you least like to play for?
Ron Wilson (Toronto) – 24%
John Tortorella (NY Rangers) – 15%
Marc Crawford (Dallas) – 14%
Brent Sutter (Calgary) – 10%
Mike Keenan (UFA) – 9%


Should the Instigator rule be abolished?
No – 66%
Yes – 33%
Depends – 0.3%
Don’t care – 0.3%

Should fighting be banished from the NHL?
No – 98%
Yes – 2%

Which Canadian city deserves an NHL franchise (Hamilton, Quebec City, Toronto or Winnipeg)?
Quebec City – 53%
Winnipeg – 25%
Toronto – 16%
Hamilton – 5%


Which rink has the worst boards/glass?
Joe Louis Arena – 12%
Bell Centre – 11%
Pengrowth Saddledome – 9%
Madison Square Garden – 8%
Nassau Coliseum – 8%

Who has the toughest forward to play against?
Sidney Crosby – 29%
Pavel Datsyuk – 19%
Alex Ovechkin – 11%
Ryan Kesler – 4%
Henrik Zetterberg – 3%

Who is the best referee?
None – 15%  (Apparently 15% of those polled have the comprehension skills of your average internet keyboard warrior)
Kelly Sutherland – 13%
Bill McCreary – 10%
Wes McCauley – 9%
Tim Peel – 7%
Paul Devorski – 7%

Which team is underrated?
Nashville Predators – 18%
Dallas Stars – 16%
Phoenix Coyotes – 9%
Atlanta Thrashers – 8%
St. Louis Blues – 6%

Which team in overrated?
Washington Capitals – 35%
Vancouver Canucks – 12%
Montreal Canadiens – 11%
San Jose Sharks – 10%
Pittsburgh Penguins – 4%
Philadelphia Flyers – 4%

Who is the toughest defenseman to play against?
Zdeno Chara – 20.3%
Nicklas Lidstrom – 20.3%
Chris Pronger – 20.0%
Shea Weber – 7%
Duncan Keith – 3%

Which active player would you select to start a franchise?
Sidney Crosby – 69%
Nicklas Lidstrom – 6%
Steven Stamkos – 5%
Jonathan Toews – 3%
Alex Ovechkin – 2%
Pavel Datsyuk – 2%

Who is the cleanest player?
Pavel Datysuk – 28%
Martin St. Louis – 10%
Nicklas Lidstrom – 8%
Henrik Zetterberg – 6%
Kyle Wellwood – 4%

Who is the most-underrated player?
Loui Eriksson (Dallas Stars) – 5.4%
Frans Nielson (NY Islanders) – 5.0%
Patrick Sharp (Blackhawks) – 3.5%
Travis Zajac (New Jersey) – 3.5%
Tomas Plekanec (Montreal) – 3.1%

Which active player is the best role model?
Sidney Crosby – 26%
Nicklas Lidstrom – 20%
Jarome Iginla – 11%
Shane Doan – 9%
Martin St. Louis – 3%


Skaters only: Which goalie is the most difficult to score on?
Roberto Luongo – 17%
Ryan Miller – 16%
Tim Thomas – 15%
Henrik Lundqvist – 14.8%
Mikka Kiprusoff – 4%

For goalies only: Which player is the most difficult to stop?
Alex Ovechkin – 27%
Sidney Crosby – 24%
Steven Stamkos – 14%
Pavel Datsyuk – 5%
Alexander Semin – 5%
Brad Richards – 5%

Who is the toughest to play against?
Sidney Crosby – 18%
Zdeno Chara – 17%
Pavel Datsyuk – 16%
Alex Ovechkin – 8%
Chris Pronger – 7%

Who is the hardest to take the puck off of?
Pavel Datsyuk – 36%
Sidney Crosby – 24%
Joe Thornton – 8%
Rick Nash – 3%
Henrik Zetterberg – 3%

Who is the smartest player?
Sidney Crosby – 29%
Pavel Datsyuk – 24%
Nicklas Lidstrom – 19%
Henrik Sedin – 6%
Martin St. Louis – 4%

Who is the toughest player?
Derek Boogaard – 23%
Colton Orr – 9%
Matt Carkner – 6%
Zdeno Chara – 5%
Milan Lucic – 4%

Who is the best skater?
Marian Gaborik – 26%
Sidney Crosby – 17%
Patrick Marleau – 9%
Duncan Keith – 4%
5 players tied at – 2%

Who is the league’s fastest skater?
Marian Gaborik (NY Rangers) – 37%
Patrick Marleau (San Jose) – 11%
Darren Helm (Detroit) – 8%
Jason Chimera (Washington) – 6%
Michael Grabner (NY Islanders) – 5%

Who has the hardest shot?
Zdeno Chara – 44%
Shea Weber – 41%
Milan Jurcina – 3%
Ales Kotalik – 2.5%
Steven Stamkos – 2%
Dustin Byfuglien – 2%


Monday, August 2, 2010

Niemi Number, Amonte Turns 40 and tonight's TTMI~Radio preview

First off, a reminder. Tonight on TheThirdManIn~Radio, I'll be pleased to welcome John and BlackhawksBob, writers over at the outstanding Blackhawks blog,

Tonight's show airs live at 8pm (central) and you can listen live at And if you can't join us live, the show will be posted on this site and at BTR shortly after we go off the air.

We encourage your phone calls, emails or Tweets as well. The number to call into the show is listed on the show page during the stream.

I'm sure its rather obvious the main topic of tonight's discussion, so I don't feel the need for a teaser here. But we'll also cover how the many alterations to the Cup Champions roster will impact the Blackhawks chance at a repeat; this weekend's Blackhawks Convention; how the Blackhawks still managed to lose money in 2010 and the McDonough Monologues.

-- Saturday, we learned of the arbitrator's decision in the contract case between the Chicago Blackhawks and their Stanley Cup champion goaltender, and restricted free agent, Antti Niemi. By lunchtime today, we'll know what the Hawks think of it.

Niemi was awarded a one-year $2.75 million deal for the upcoming season. Next summer he will be scheduled to become an un-restricted free agent.

Over the weekend rumors surfaced of the Blackhawks allegedly having made an unofficial side-agreement with Dallas Stars UFA goaltender Marty Turco for one-year and anywhere between $1.5 to $2.0M. Turco, a nine-year NHL veteran, turns 35 on August 13th.

Turco, a Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native and University of Michigan graduate, has seen his numbers decline in each of the past two seasons with the Stars and has not led his club to the playoffs since 2008.

On Sunday night, WGN-TV's Dan Roan reported the Blackhawks have come to terms with Turco and a deal, as reported by Roan, would be made official today.

Quickly news spread of Turco's "signing" across social networking platforms but several reporters, including Chicago Tribune Hawks' writer Chris Kuc and the Sun-Times Adam Johns, refuted WGN-TV's report saying they were unable to confirm the signing or that their sources had denied an agreement, as of last night, with Turco exists.

Everything will become clear and we'll know soon enough.

Until then, there's really nothing to comment on.

I highly doubt the Hawks will let Niemi walk entirely without getting any compensation for him. $2.75M is a figure the Hawks can manage under their cap with a little creativity.

The easiest solution would be to trade Tomas Kopecky for a minor leaguer or draft pick. With his $1.2M (Kopecky is a UFA next summer) off the books, and a player with a contract of about 850k or less, Niemi fits in many scenarios in which the Hawks carry a 21 man roster.

Of course, Stan Bowman would prefer more flexibility. The above mock roster would all but guarantee Kyle Beach would be stuck in Rockford barring injuries. Turco coming in at $1.75, as Dan Roan reported Sunday night, would give Stan Bowman a little more comfort and players like Beach and Lalonde renewed chance at making the big club out of training camp.

As we discussed on last Thursday's TTMI~Radio, declining Niemi's arbitration reward would be a statement by the organization that they value a third line center over a vastly-improving 26 year old goaltender whose poise and athleticism helped win the organization its first championship in 49 years.

If Niemi were to move on, a signing of Turco or Washington Capitals UFA goaltender Jose Theodore would not only lead to a drop-off at the position this season, it would also be a step backwards for the organization.

In Niemi, the Blackhawks lucked into a quality number one when Cristobal Huet faltered. Without Niemi, the organization is re-forming their situation of a year ago. No matter Turco or Theodore, you have a goalie on the decline whereas Niemi showed improvement all throughout last season. The pressure on an outside netminder to perform every outing will be tremendous. While his body of work is only that of a rookie, those are still some sizeable footwear Niemi would leave behind.

Which brings us to the greater question. Is Corey Crawford ready or capable of repeating Niemi's path should Marty Turco be unable to shoulder the load. That determination is where Stan Bowman's decision should be made.

Walking away would put the Blackhawks right back on the market for a franchise goalie next summer no matter how well Turco plays this season. If Turco turns in a huge year, he'll be looking for a contract the Hawks won't be willing to hand a 36-year old goalie, just as they didn't in 2009 when they were in talks to retain Nikolai Khabibulin on a one-year term. Edmonton called, offered three and Khabibulin was gone.

Unless Crawford sees 40 games and playoff time, Stan Bowman would likely be understandably reluctant to hand the reigns off to him, so he'd be in the same situation Dale Tallon was in 2008 - burning the phone lines on July 1st with a blank check in his hand, pleading for a number one goalie.

Isn't that what got us into this mess?

If you don't believe in Corey Crawford, the Hawks do not appear to have another goaltender in the system anywhere near ready to start behind a championship contender. If the Hawks are forced to house Huet in Rockford, his presence will only further inhibit the enhancement of young prospects at the position.

All the more reason to stick with Niemi. If the Finnish backstop hits a rough stretch or struggles from time to time, fans and Quenneville will give him more rope than they would afford to an outsider.

Perhaps difficult negotiations with Niemi and agent Bill Zito will factor into Stan Bowman's final decision? If he figures there's little chance he'll have the resources to satisfy Niemi's demands on the open market, trading Niemi now for a prospect and a high draft pick might be his best move.

Bowman could also be appraising this season as a rebuilding year. Yes, the Hawks will be a very good team with as good a chance as any to win the Central, but with the depth lost and the inexperience of those who will be asked to replace Ladd, Byfuglien, Versteeg, Sopel, Eager, Madden and Huet - it could take a season to reshape the Hawks into Cup contenders. If that is the case, and he sees Niemi's demands as impossible, Bowman's focus should be on giving Crawford a full audition at the NHL level and keeping two goalie spots open in Rockford for youngsters he needs to evaluate properly.

Whatever the case, we'll have a good indication very soon.

This day in Chicago Blackhawks history.....

- First off, Happy Birthday to Tony Amonte, who turns 40 today.

- 5 years ago today, Dale Tallon signed defenseman Adrian Aucoin to a 4-year, $16M contract.

- Today is not a good day to remember free agent signings. But then again, how many good free agent signings in Blackhawks' history are there? On this day in 1999, Bob Murray signed LW-Wendel Clark (apprx three months shy of this 33rd b-day at the time) to a one-year deal worth $1.4M. Clark was signed after finishing the 1998-99 season with Detroit, a year he posted 32 goals in stints with the Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning. Clark would skate in just 13 games with Chicago, scoring 2 goals. Not even two months into his stay with the Hawks, Bob Murray waived Clark and negotiated a buy-out of the veteran's contract (reported to be about $1M, so the Hawks wound up paying most of his guaranteed salary) clearing the way for Clark's return to Toronto, where he had his glory years and to this day remains a legend. Clark did not leave on good terms or have much nice to say about Murray, or head coach Lorne Molleken, who both believed Clark was a 3rd liner at best on that year's team after seeing him in camp and at the start of the season. They weren't wrong. Clark retired after the 1999-00 season. He scored 2 goals and 2 assists in 20 games with the Leafs. And another goal and one assist in six playoff games before hanging his skates for good.

-- We'll return with another report later today with reaction to the Niemi decision and much more.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Setting the Leddy Record Straight

-- Before we get started, as a reminder, or for those who don't know, the NHL Network tonight will be airing Game 4 of the 1992 Stanley Cup Final between the Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins at 7pm central time. This is a continuation in the network's Raising the Cup series. At the time, this was the greatest game I had ever seen live and still would rank in my top 3 or 5. This is the Dirk Graham hat-trick game. Pittsburgh shut out the Hawks 1-0 in Game 3 two nights prior. Again, tonight, 7pm, NHL Network. It replays at 12:30am Thursday, and again at 8am tomorrow morning.

-- Look for the next edition of TTMI~Radio with Dieter Kurtenbach and myself late tomorrow. It appears will be in Antti Niemi/arbitrator waiting mode by that time, but there's much more for us to discuss.

-- Antti Niemi's arbitration hearing is tomorrow. No progress, apparently, has been made in talks between the Hawks and his agent to elude this process. The Hawks can only afford to give Niemi so much under their current salary cap constraints. Anything more than $2.5M would trigger another trade. While its true the Hawks will have cheaper options in free agency should the arbitrator's decision come down in Niemi's favor, letting your rookie Stanley Cup Champion goaltender walk without receiving any compensation in return is a tough sell to 90% of the fan base. Its possible a ruling could come as early as Friday, which would mean a decison on whether to accept the arbitration reward would have to come down before the convention closes. Letting Niemi walk is not a good way to climax John McDonough's sacred creation. And for that reason and a few others, I just don't see it as a real option.

Nick Leddy leaves Gophers, signs contract with Blackhawks

On Tuesday, news broke that Blackhawks prospect Nick Leddy would be leaving the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers as he has signed a professional contract with Chicago.

The contract Leddy signed is a standard three-year, entry-level contract that would pay him at a rate of $900,000 with the Blackhawks, or $67,500 while in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs.

Let's first be clear on something - just because Leddy has signed this contract does not necessarily mean he's turning pro.

Young players sign entry-levels all the time and return to their junior teams. In Leddy's case, he's left college and could turn pro if that were his best option. Well, it won't be.

I'm sure as you read this, general managers across junior hockey are contacting Leddy's agent and the Blackhawks pitching their teams as a great place for Leddy to continue his development.

Currently, the Tri-City Americans own Leddy's WHL rights.

Leddy, 19, posted 3 goals and 8 assists in 30 games in his freshman year with Minnesota in 2009-10.

At the conclusion of this month's Prospect Camp, general manager Stan Bowman was glowing over Leddy's performances, touting him as one of the most impressive players in the week-long assessment camp.

"(Leddy) is really smooth out there and I think he's going to be a Blackhawk for many years," Bowman told assembled reporters on July 12th. "This is the first time we've seen him here in Chicago. We saw him perform during the (09-10) season, but boy he's really smooth out there. I think he's going to be with the Blackhawks for many years. It's exciting to see that."

As a player, Leddy projects long-term as a solid two-way defenseman with a strong offensive upside. He resembles Duncan Keith in many ways and watching him, it doesn't surprise you Leddy himself has said (before he was ever traded to the Hawks) he models his game after two Blackhawk blue liners, Keith and Brian Campbell.

There is an agreement in place between the American Hockey League and the CHL (the sanctioning body that overseas major Canadian junior leagues such as the OHL, WHL and QMJHL) that prevents players under the age of 20 from leaving their junior organizations to play in the AHL. Since Leddy is leaving the NCAA, this rule would not apply to him. Unless he does at some point, report to a junior team.

However, one would have to question whether or not Canadian junior would be a better fit for the 19-year-old at this time? While Leddy was one of the better players at the Hawks prospect camp, he was paired with Shawn Lalonde (who is a year older and is ready to make the transition to pro hockey) and Lalonde was distinctly the better of the two. Dylan Olsen was never paired with anyone near the ability as Leddy or Lalonde, and he was still one of the most consistently impressive defenseman in the camp. Had Leddy been paired with scrubs or non-organization invitees, we probably wouldn't be having this discussion to begin with.

Another peculiar side-note to the Leddy signing directly relates to Olsen. Dylan Olsen, 19 (who turns twenty on January 3rd, or 2 1/2 months before Leddy) was selected 28th overall by the Hawks in the same 2009 Draft that Leddy went 16th overall to the Wild. Olsen is significantly bigger and further developed. His game is more aggresive and at this point he's more assertive than Leddy. Olsen's size and nastiness would suit the Hawks needs more than anything Leddy could bring at this stage. And many times we've heard Olsen may not be the best student yet the Blackhawks seem to be in no rush to get Olsen away from Minnesota-Duluth and into a Hawks' sweater.

With Leddy only having skated in 30 games in all of 2009-10, transitioning to a league where he'd be asked to play in 70-plus against players much bigger and faster than he saw in college might be asking a bit much. While the AHL is a developmental league, teams and coaches are still under significant pressure to put the best possible product on the ice. Leddy shouldn't have left Minnesota if there is a good chance he'll sit a significant amount of Rockford's games or spend more time in a weight room than he will on the ice.

According to fitness tests completed this month, Leddy is apparently in terrific physical and cardiovascular condition according to the Hawks. Yet, at the end of scrimmages on the final two days of prospect camp, Leddy was noticeably spent at the end of shifts late and visibly exhausted on the final day. This, facing suspect competition.

At 19, and not turning 20 until late March, this is a crucial year of development for a young blue liner. At the same age, Duncan Keith left Michigan State at the half-way point of the collegiate season to get more ice time playing for the Kelowna Rockets, the Western Hockey League team that held his Canadian junior rights. Keith saw the ice he sought and played in twice the games in Kelowna than he would have in Lansing. Keith was a dominant player with the Rockets and turned pro the next season, playing for the Norfolk Admirals, the Blackhawks AHL affiliate at the time. Keith probably would have made the jump to the NHL in 2004-05 had the league not been shut down, unable to come to terms with the NHLPA on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Leddy will report to Blackhawks training camp in September and theoretically be given an opportunity to make the NHL team just like anyone else. Of course, the trouble with that is Leddy's cap hit comes in at a little under a million dollars. As currently assembled, there is very little chance Leddy would get a spot on the Hawks roster even should he cash in on the long odds and earn it. And even if he did, playing a maximum of 10-12 minutes a night on the Hawks' third pairing is hardly the best thing for Leddy. The Blackhawks should be looking for him to become the next Duncan Keith, not the next Jordan Hendry.

As of this writing, the Blackhawks have been mum publicly on the Leddy signing. This could, as we suspect it to be, a dramatic choreography to get Leddy out of Minnesota and into a better situation for development. Leddy is not alone as a recent Gopher exiting the program early for greener pastures and there have been plenty of rumblings from amateur scouts questioning the developmental abilities and system that of Gopher head coach Don Lucia. Transferring collegiate programs would cost Leddy a year on the sidelines. He could play in the USHL in the meantime, but that's a step backwards. By signing his entry-level contract with the Hawks, Leddy and the Hawks have two options. Throw him into the fire in a professional league, or allow him to experience a full season as someone's horse in major Canadian junior hockey.

The man who has a lot of influence behind this decision and the acquisition of Leddy is Norm McIver, the Hawks director of player development. McIver lives in Minnesota and naturally does a lot of scouting in that region.
Ironically, Justin Holl, the defenseman who the Blackhawks selected in the 2nd round (24th overall) of the 2010 Entry Draft, will be joining the Golden Gophers for his freshman season in the fall.

Should yesterday's move prove to be true as its being presented and Leddy is turning pro and not turning back at the behest of the Blackhawks, this will be the first true barometer of Stan Bowman's leadership skills.

I'm sure Bowman sees what I, and I'm sure many others, saw at prospect camp, and that's a young Duncan Keith in Leddy. Its very accurate to say Leddy is almost a mirror image of Keith - the 19-year old version.

It's easy to forget the pain in Keith's progression. Even two full seasons, logging tons of minutes in the AHL (after a season and a half at Michigan State and another 56 games in that sophomore season in Kelowna) there were still moments in his first two years in the NHL many wondered if Keith would ever put it all together.

Fast-tracking Leddy based on a week up against collection of un-drafted or un-signed college players and expired junior hockey burnouts is either a ballsy move, or the work of an inexperienced GM allowing his emotions to get the best of him. A short-coming, by the way, you can legitimately criticize Tallon for.

Nick Leddy will always be Stan Bowman's first significant NHL acquisition. The Eden Prairie, MN native was the rookie GM's "baby" so to speak. Bowman's first big trade as an NHL general manager came on February 12th when he sent Cam Barker to the Minnesota Wild for defenseman Kim Johnsson and the rights to Leddy. Although Johnsson was brought in to provide insurance and even-more depth to what was already the league's best defensive six, Leddy was the golden piece of the deal. In continuing the model Dale Tallon set, Leddy possesses the same tools as Keith and Campbell and has since that day been touted as a potential replacement for the latter.

So, it was no surprise Bowman was in a rush to heave praise in Leddy's direction this month. Leddy made it easier, but its to be expected Bowman would be pushing his "baby" to the front of the pack of prospects and ahead of the lot Tallon left behind. While the Blackhawks have racked up wins, accolades and a Stanley Cup championship, Bowman has sat aside for months with ears ringing, listening to how great of a team Dale Tallon and Rick Dudley left him. Who could blame Bowman if he were eager to earn his keep? He's inherited a bit of a mess, but its not the Florida Panthers. And he's not filling holes and still trimming cap space in Toronto. Stan Bowman has a really great GM job. Contrary to popular belief, he's envied. Not pitied. He's a Stanley Cup Champion but still, his Cup is half empty. The 2009-10 Blackhawks weren't his creation.

However, Bowman should tread carefully with Leddy. A wrong move here could possibly do irreparable damage to the kid's future, and the Blackhawks' defense.

I watched Leddy at prospect camp and I have since digested what Stan Bowman has said about his prospect. While I agree Leddy can become a Blackhawk I disagree with anyone who suggests that time is upon us. I have vividly recall Duncan Keith in years three and four of his professional career and many nights he couldn't find the net in his own zone if you led him to it by the hand. Defenseman need more time to learn the position and adjust from one level to the next than forwards usually do. Freaks like Drew Doughty come around only once in a great while. Leddy is no Doughty.
Keith was lucky to be with a bad team with little to no expectations in his first two seasons in Chicago. Had the Hawks been contenders, Keith would have been ridden out of town or buried in the minors.

If Leddy is in fact a Keith-clone, he should follow a similar path. And so should Bowman.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

J.R. owes Bryan McCabe an apology

Puck Daddy @ Yahoo! spells out the details of Roenick’s interview with Steve Cofield and Dave Cokin of ESPN Radio’s Las Vegas affiliate.


Bob Probert, Tie Domi to star in CBC Reality-TV series

I watched the CBC broadcast of Tuesday’s Game 6 instead of NBC. During a first intermission commercial, Tie Domi and Bob Probert appeared on my screen promoted a new fall CBC reality series named “Battle of the Blades.” The twosome pop on the screen wearing figure-skating tights before Domi says “Wait until you see our pants.” Apparently teams of popular former Canadian hockey players and figure skaters will be matched in weekly elimination challenges. The promo I saw can be seen on YouTube here. More on the show here.



Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rocky Wirtz interview with Score 670 Chicago

Interview done on Monday May 18th, the day after Wirtz was in Detroit for Game 1 of the Conference Finals, is broken into three parts. In part three, Wirtz addresses rumors of his general manager, Dale Tallon's job security.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Blackhawks Burish nearly has throat sliced by teammate Eager's skate

Video from YouTube of Game 1 incident in Detroit on Sunday.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Huge Ratings News for NHL

Versus has been posting sizable year-over-year ratings increases for NHL
semifinal games.

Its audience for these games is up 31 percent from last year, to an
average 806,000 viewers, based on 19 games over 12 days, compared to 616,000
viewers for 15 games over 11 days last year.

Its household rating for the same time period is up 33 percent, to a
0.8 rating.

Versus is also up in its core male audience.

Among men 18-34, semifinal games are up 19 percent. Versus is posting a
29 percent increase among men 18-49 and 38 percent among men 25-54.

CSN Chicago Sets All-Time Blackhawks Ratings Record of Game 6 Coverage Press Release

Citing Nielsen Media Research, Comcast SportsNet-Chicago, cable broadcast partner of the Chicago Blackhawks, Monday night’s Game 6 set the all-time ratings record for a Blackhawks telecast on the station (including previous incarnations FSN-Chicago, Sports Channel, Sportsvision, etc).

Monday’s game drew a 7.82 household rating (a average of 273,145 households) with the peak quarter-hour coming in at a 12.6 rating (440,095 households) from 10:30-10:45 (the game ended at 10:40).

To show how big Monday night’s game played to the Chicagoland audience, the telecast nearly doubled the network’s average for the previous nine Hawks’ playoff games shown on the network. Overall, the ten CSN games drew a 4.82 average. The Vancouver series itself (4 telecasts, games one and four were exclusive VERSUS) drew a 5.27 rating.

The CSN press release also claimed the Blackhawks-Blues 2002 playoff opening-round series (the last time the Hawks participated in postseason hockey) drew an averaging rating of 1.93 for then Fox Sports Net. Of course

-- From George Malik's Snapshots at, on the heels of a record-setting rating on FSN-Detroit for the Red Wings/Ducks Game 5 on Sunday, Tuesday’s late night Game 6 (aired locally in Detroit from 10pm to 12:45am) drew a 13.5 rating (averaging 260,145 Metro Detroit households). Sunday’s Game 5 registered a 17.1 rating, the highest ever for a Red Wings game on Fox Sports Detroit.

Game 6 out-pointed all other Tuesday evening programming in Detroit (though only hour two of The Biggest Loser ran directly opposite the game) including American Idol on Fox (13.2), The Biggest Loser on NBC (10.2) and Dancing With The Stars on ABC (9.6).
Tuesday’s Ducks/Wings broadcast peaked at a 15.8 rating during the second period (11-11:30pm).

Fox Sports Detroit is averaging a 12.0 rating for its seven playoff telecasts. As noted in the article, that’s a 32% increase from last spring’s playoffs in which the Wings average a 9.1 rating for five telecasts on FSN Detroit.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Coyote Ugly?

This means war

Perspective new Phoenix Coyotes owner Jim Balsillie has launched the website Make it Seven aimed at gathering support for a seventh NHL franchise in Canada, specifically far suburban Toronto or Hamilton. Remember, it was Balsillie who started accepting season-ticket deposits for a proposed team in Hamilton when he was negotiating to buy and relocate the Nashville Predators before he ever had a deal.

Read the Balsillie call to action letter here.

Meanwhile, Balsillie doesn't need to convince Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Balsillie has also reportedly made an advance to Coyotes’ coach and limited partner Wayne Gretzky of a 10-15% stake in a potential southern Ontario franchise, in addition to suggesting he’d name a new arena after Wayne’s father. Gretzky told the CBC in February he had no intention of moving his family away from Phoenix should the franchise relocate. But that was before his team filed for bankruptcy and his ownership partners agreed to sell the team to Balsillie on the condition he could move the team to Ontario. Gretzky has made no new comment on this issue since it resurfaced on Monday.

More on Gretzky’s personal dilemma in today's National Post.

On the other side of this issue, Comcast SportsNet last night reported NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman again reached out to White Sox and Bulls owner, and Phoenix-area resident, Jerry Reinsdorf over the past few days in an effort to peak Reinsdorf’s interest in buying and keeping the Coyotes where they are in Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix not far from the White Sox new spring training facility. If you recall, Bettman approached Reinsdorf, as well as a few other groups, earlier this year about the Coyotes and at the time Reinsdorf left the meeting feeling such a move didn’t make business sense. More on Reinsdorf's possible involvement from Dave van Dyck in today’s Chicago Tribune. Reinsdorf's son Michael owns the Stockton, California ECHL franchise (Thunder), one of the most, if not the-most, successful teams in the ECHL.

The potential Reinsdorf deal was rumored to be an asset takeover and not a purchase since the Coyotes aren’t worth much these days since the franchise has reportedly lost 200 million dollars and is more than $80M in debt to creditors. They also owe the NHL for an influx of cash to meet payroll payments this season. Balsillie’s $212M offer was formed specifically to stave off objections from the NHL in bankruptcy proceedings figuring the league would not be able to conjure up a better offer from a party they approved of.

NHL-Moyes-Glendale drama to get Coyote Ugly Arizona Republic

The paper is also reporting in bankruptcy the Coyotes can essentiallly tear up their existing lease with arena and the city of Glendale. That lease was a killer for the franchise since they receive no revenue from area parking facilities (parking is free) and a portion of each ticket sold, in addition to regular entertainment taxes, goes back to the city to repay the cost of building the arena. As reported by the AZ Republic, the Coyotes’ annual lease payments are $4M in addition to the $9M a year the team owes the City of Glendale for building Should this bankruptcy hold up in court and Balsillie seize control of the Coyotes, the court would satisify any past debts to the city and Glendale would receive just $500,000 per the lease termination agreement. You’d expect the city will be at least as fiercely opposed to this bankruptcy and relocation as Gary Bettman, who can’t stand Balsillie and will do anything seemingly to keep him out of his league.

Also, understand that in bankruptcy court, all financials pertaining to Phoenix Coyotes’ operations will become public record, something that a private business like the NHL, and the other 29 owners, absolutely do not want. /


Monday, May 4, 2009

The Save

It's the save that had Sidney Crosby practicing lifting his shots on an empty yet yesterday.

Call it luck, desperation or whatever you'd like, it still counts the same. The best save of the postseason thus far from Saturday's Pittsburgh-Washington game one.


Halak gets whacked by Slovakian teammate at World's

Montreal Canadiens goaltenders haven’t had much luck lately. From Carey Price wilting under the pressure last season to suffering the consequences in standing behind a completely inferior Habs bunch in this spring’s first round match up with the Bruins, and hearing the wrath of Montreal fans as a result, now his back up is getting some too. But not in Montreal.

Slovakian netminder, and Montreal Canadiens back up, Jaroslav Halak entered Saturday’s IIHF World Championships qualifying round game against the Czech Republic midway through the second period with his team already down 7-0. He relieved Jan Lasak (who’s also the goalie of HC Pardubice, the team Dominik Hasek is coming out of retirement to play for next season) who had allowed seven goals on thirty shots in just over thirty minutes of action.

Eight minutes later Halak would allow a Patrick Elias goal and the colossal deficit increased to 8-0.

Frustrated, Slovakian forward Tomas Surovy swung his stick angrily towards his net, suspected with the intention of taking out his frustrations on the goal post, but hit Jaroslav Halak in the back of the head instead. Seconds later Surovy spikes his stick on the cross bar.

The final twenty-two minutes of the game went on scoreless and Halak made ten saves in all. Minor fisticuffs between Boris Valabik of Slovakia and Peter Cajanek of Czech Republic late in the third period was about as close as the game came to getting out of hand.

In the game, the Czechs outshot Slovakia 41 to 18 at the Zurich-Kloten Arena in Switzerland. Jaromir Jagr scored twice. San Jose left winger Milan Michalek and Edmonton Oilers winger Ales Kotalik also scored.

Slovakia has a number of skaters with NHL experience on this year’s team; Michal Handzus (current LA King), Peter Olvecky (Wild), defenseman Boris Valabik (Thrashers) and Andrei Sekera (Sabres) as well as former NHLers Ladislav Nagy, Branko Radivojevic, Milan Bartovic, Marcel Hossa (brother of Marian) and Lubos Bartecko. However, Slovakia is overmatched by a stacked Czech roster including Jaromir Jagr, Patrick Elias (Devils), Ales Hemsky (Oilers), Milan Michalek (Sharks), Tomas Plekanec (Canadiens), Ales Kotalik (Oilers), Rostislav Olesz (Panthers), Marek Zidlicky (Wild) and Roman Polak (Blues). Other notables include Petr Cajanek (now with Metallurg Magnitogorsk), Jaroslav Hlinka (Linkopings), Karel Rachunek (Dynamo Moscow) and Josef Vasicek (Yaroslavl Lokomotiv).

Slovakia responded to Saturday’s trouncing by defeating Norway in overtime on Monday 3-2. Ladislav Nagy scored the game-winner on the power play in extra time. It represented their only win of the tournament as they finished with a 1-2-2 record.

Relegation games in this year’s IIHF World Championship begin on Wednesday with the quarter-finals matchups. Winners in the quarter-finals games Wednesday and Thursday will face off on Friday. Gold and Bronze medal games take place on Sunday in Berne at the PostFinance Arena.

While the host team managed to defeat the United States quickly in overtime on Monday night, Switzerland was eliminated from the tournament on points Monday.


Thursday, April 30, 2009

On-Ice Officials assigned to work NHL Conference Semi-Finals

The following is the list of officials assigned to work the conference quarter-finals released by the NHL Wednesday. As in the opening quarter-finals round, officials will work throughout the round as assigned pairs. NHL News Release

Referee Combos (Playoff games officiated), Total NHL years experience

#7 -Bill McCreary (270), 26yrs
#27-Eric Furlatt (31), 10yrs

#10-Paul Devorski (155), 21yrs
#14-Dennis LaRue (41), 19yrs

#11-Kelly Sutherland (34), 9yrs
#25-Marc Joannette (59), 15yrs

#8 -Dave Jackson (59), 19yrs
#33-Kevin Pollock (86), 11yrs

#20-Tim Peel (29), 13yrs
#23-Brad Watson (99), 15yrs

#3 -Mike Leggo (29), 12yrs
#13-Dan O’Halloran (67), 16yrs

Linesmen Combos (Playoff games worked), Total NHL years experience

#68-Scott Driscoll (116), 16yrs
#89-Steve Miller (37), 8yrs

#54-Greg Devorski (104), 15yrs
#74-Lonnie Cameron (39), 12yrs

#57-Jay Sharrers (120), 18yrs
#86-Brad Lazarowich (169), 22yrs

#80-Thor Nelson (20), 14yrs
#97-Jean Morin (142), 17yrs

#65-Pierre Racicot (92), 15yrs
#75-Derek Amell (54), 11yrs

#55-Shane Heyer (104), 20yrs too many
#93-Brian Murphy (181), 20yrs

-- Dismissed from duty after serving as referees in the opening round (with their partner still active in the second parenthesis):

#21-Don VanMassenhoven, 16yrs exp – Sorry to say about a guy who returned after taking such a horrific shot to the face a couple years ago, but CanMassenhoven had an awful year.
#30-Mike Hasenfratz, 8yrs exp
(these two worked together in the 1st round)

#4-Wes McCauley, 7yrs exp (Furlatt)
(I was somewhat surprised at this. McCauley has been one ref officiating head Stephen Walkom has been very high on in the past and with McCreary out after next year he must have done something wrong I missed in the first round)

#5-Chris Rooney, 12yrs exp (Watson)

#28-Chris Lee, 9yrs exp (O’Halloran)

#29-Ian Walsh, 12yrs exp (Devorski)

#34-Brad Meier, 14yrs exp (McCreary)

#42-Dan O’Rourke, 9yrs exp (Joannette)

-- Referees not working as on-ice officials this playoff. Some have served as the extra, emergency official on call for games in round one. (NHL experience in parenthesis)

Stephane Auger (14), David Banfield (1), Chris Ciamaga (2), Gord Dwyer (5), Kerry Fraser (35), Greg Kimmerly (15), Don Koharski (31), Tom Kowal (10), Steve Kozari (5), Frederick L’Ecuyer (2), Dan Marouelli (26), Rob Martell (16), Dean Morton (9), Brian Pochmara (6), Kyle Rehman (1), Rob Shick (24), Francois St. Laurent (5), Justin St. Pierre (5)

Don Koharski is now officially retired. This was Shick’s last year as an on-ice official. Actually last year was supposed to be but they persuaded him to come back one more year. He’s working for the league these playoffs as a supervising official in the arena video booth and such.

Next year is the last for Kerry Fraser, Dan Marouelli and Bill McCreary.

Adam Gretz at AOL Fanhouse posted a first round referee report Wednesday night. Notice only two (Anaheim, Vancouver) of the eight teams on the wrong side of the PP/SH differential are still around. But looking at their second round opponents numbers and considering how those two teams (Detroit, Chicago) power plays are going right now, they may not be for long.

Also notice from that article three of the four referees responsible for calling the most first-round penalties (Hassenfratz, VanMassenhoven and Rooney) are now gone.


About This Blog

In March of 2007, Chris Block started, a website concentrated on the Chicago Blackhawks organization. Two years later, remains among the best sources for information and insight on the Blackhawks, their affiliates and prospects.

Now Chris is broadening his base to focus on the National Hockey League and professional hockey in general here with PuckChatter.

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