Welcome to the show that takes the art of drinking cider to an all new level....it's time for Hockey Around THE HORNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!
Hello I am your host, Chris Wassel, and here are today's panelists......
Right on to First Word (Our Intros)
I'm John Fischer of In Lou We Trust. I'm a Devils fan until I die and I'm proud to say I am now successful at figuring out CNAME registries.
I'm Derek from Hitting Back, Battle of New York, Hard Hits, and so much more...diehard Ranger fan.
Doug Stolhand Co-Host Puck Podcast....Hello hockey fans from beautiful Southern California – current residence of Lord Stanley's Cup!
Hey all, Matt Bodenschatz from Faceoff-Factor.com, here. Thanks for inviting me to be a part of this celebration!
What's up fellow K-Mart shoppers, Tony Ferrante here, from MVN's Penguins blog, The Confluence of the Three Rivers. Not much to say, I have to admit I got a late start really getting into hockey. I'm a retired Navy Chief, served from '83 to '03, ten of those years overseas, so as a Pens fan I missed just about all of Mario in his heydey. So in all honestly, it wasn't until Mario's return in '00, at which time I was finished with my overseas duties for good, that I just fell in love with hockey. Or maybe it was the Pirates sucking again, not really sure. I feel so fortunate not only myself being able to watch Lemieux before he hung up his skates, but having my two sons watch him also. Living in Virginia Beach makes it tough to watch games in person, basically 200 miles either to D.C. or Raleigh, but I make about three trips a year. In terms of my blogging (I also write for MVN's Steelers blog, The Steel Tradition), I don't do it for notoriety, nor because I want press passes. I do it simply to get on my soapbox and vent about my favorite teams. I used to do it for MVN's Pirates page, but I couldn't take it anymore, I'd be bald from pulling my hair out.
News of the Week
1. The All-Star selections and reserves and all that good stuff came out this week and there were some very noticeable snubs...who was the biggest slight and why?
There is only one person who actually qualifies as being "snubbed." Mike Ribeiro. Yeah, Mike Ribeiro. He's the current leading scorer on Dallas and has 22 goals and 28 assists so far this season. That's just as many points as all-stars Mike Richards and Marian Gaborik. He has more points than Marian Hossa, Rick Nash, Henrik Sedin, Paul Statsny, and Marc Savard. Maybe things were a bit different at the time of selection, but Ribeiro is among the top 20 scorers in the league. He is a victim of the "at least one player per team" rule, since Shawn Horcoff has to have a spot and not and so he's sitting at home with his absolutely lethal 32.8% shooting percentage despite his strong season so far. -- John
Tim Thomas is the biggest. Screw the whole getting every team a representative. This guy should be up for the Vezina. How in the world was he not selected? -- Derek
By far the biggest snub was Henrik Lundqvist. Tomas Vokoun makes it but Lundqvist, who has more wins, a better GAA and twice as many shutouts, doesn't? That's a perfect example of why the rule that every team needs a representative needs to be changed. Lundqvist has been a Vezina trophy candidate in each of the last two years and his performance so far this season is worthy of being on the All-Star team. -- Doug
How could it be anyone other than Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins? He's among the top forwards in the NHL and is one of the most exciting young players in the league playing for one of the most exciting young teams. Plus, how can you not vote for a guy who wears capris and watches Transformers to learn English? -- Matt
That's an easy one, Geno Malkin. The dude is simply among the top five playmakers in all of hockey. The NHL All-Star Game is an opportunity for the NHL to showcase it's stars. You NEED your young superstars to be out on the ice putting on a show. Even after snubbing him with the original reserve list, the NHL had another chance once Heatley went out with his injury, but they still didn't put him on there, instead putting Marc Savard. Last but not least, two hat tricks in the last six games. -- Tony
2. The New York papers are all over this! Are the New York Rangers really underachieving or are they on the precipice of breaking out similar to what the Pens did four weeks ago?
As a Devils fan, I am very pleased by the floundering of the Rangers. Basically, the team is built on the base of one man: Henrik Lundqvist. And if he can't keep up his incredible play - and he hasn't as his GAA ballooned up to 2.36; the Rangers are very vulnerable. While they average 31.8 shots per game and only allow 25.7 shots per game on average - both good for top 5 in the league - the Rangers only have a .417 winning percentage when outshooting the other team. Given their team averages, that happens a lot and it tells me that while the Rangers are putting pucks on net; they have trouble generating chances, finishing the ones they do get, and stopping the other team in setting up the open shots. Pretty sad considering that they have about $24.6 million in cap space tied up by Gomez, Drury, Shanahan, and Jagr - who have only scored 50 goals combined this season. If you can't keep the pucks out of the net and can't put them in, you're not going to win many hockey games. So yes, they are underachieving and I hope it continues. -- John
The NY papers don't even care about hockey because they're too preoccupied with firing Isiah or digging more dirt on Roger Clemens or whether Johan Santana is coming here. The Rangers have underachieved and aren't out of their slump until they prove otherwise. When they reel off four or five in a row, then we'll talk. -- Derek
The New York Rangers are underachieving and unless they make some good trades before the deadline I see no reason why they would go on a run the way the Penguins did. The Rangers flat out don't have the toughness or the defense to win hockey games. If you are relying on Sean Avery to be your spark and your physical presence, you are a soft hockey team. The Rangers need to trade for grit and defense because they have plenty of offense and skill on special teams to get the job done. -- Doug
Tough one, Chris. The Rangers have all the tools to be a top team in the league, but the team lives and dies with Jaromir Jagr. When he's happy and playing well, the Rangers are unstoppable. When he's not, they're a pushover. Henrik Lundqvist is doing his job, now Jagr needs to step up and be the captain to lead this team. Until that happens, the team will continue to underachieve. -- Matt
Well, I think it's pretty obvious, all winning streaks last as long as your goaltending holds up. The Pens' streak is due to no small part by Ty Conklin playing out of his skin, and quite surprisingly I might add. The Rangers sure have the goalie to do it, Lundqvist is a stud. And because half of the team is former Pens anyway (lol), they've got the firepower to ring up a bunch of wins in a row. The only thing that always seems to bite them is injuries. If they can keep healthy for a long stretch, they're a very dangerous team. -- Tony
3. The IIHF-NHL agreement has more or less failed. Negotiations have reopened but it seems the new agreement that will be forged will be far less NHL friendly. What does this mean for the NHL?
To be honest, I haven't followed these proceedings and every time I try to understand them, I'm left even more confused. I am going to assume that the new agreement will lead to larger transfer fees that the NHL or NHL teams will have to pay - as that would benefit European clubs more than they already are. That all said, I don't think you're going to see an end to European players in the league. This last draft year was a down year in terms of high-end European prospects with only 3 in the first round; but there were 7 in prior draft's first round, and you continue to see European players do well in the league. I think it may have an impact on management, but the quality of play as far as I know shouldn't suffer. -- John
It probably means more international players stay home for bigger bucks. In turn that translates to teams passing up on BAP from other countries because of the uncertainty whether they'll sign and come over. -- Derek
If the NHL cannot come to an agreement with the IIHF it would be disastrous for the league. Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Mikka Kiprusoff, Evgeni Nabokov, Henrik Zetterberg, the Sedin Twins…all would not be here without the IIHF and NHL transfer agreement. The NHL has to find a way to fairly compensate these leagues for losing their players and to get it done as quickly as possible or the level of play in the NHL will drop dramatically. Imagine an NHL without European players. If you think the popularity of the sport is suffering now, if the league has to pay more to get players, so be it. These are billionaires that are making a lot of money every year off of these players so they can afford it. The NHL cannot afford not to come to an agreement and the IIHF knows it so they will finally get the better end of the deal after the NHL has had the upper hand for so long. -- Doug
It means the game will become more physical and less skilled. Most European players aren't necessarily known for being the best leaders or the toughest players, but they provide a flashy dimension to the game of hockey that most North Americans don't. I don't think this will affect the NHL overall, as players like Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, the Eric Staal and many others are showing that they too can play an exciting brand of hockey, while not neglecting the physical elements. -- Matt
Frankly, it's about time, in the International point of view. The NHL has been robbing countries blind based on past agreements. It's just not fair to give a country a couple hundred thousand clams for a world-class hockey player. And from what I've read, with the US dollar going down the tubes, that means less for those countries as well. Also, they've said that they don't want the NHL to sign European players and then just reassign them to the minors, they want them to be NHL-ready before they cross the pond. -- Tony
4. The Corey Perry rumors have started already. Now honestly it is pretty much a given the Ducks will resign him long term. But who will they have to give up in order to sign him?
According to NHLsCap, the Ducks can make some space. Doug Weight is an unrestricted free agent after this season. Should the Ducks not sign him, that's $3.5 million right there. Though some other RFAs may want a raise and maybe Perry will demand more; so the Ducks may need to make some more space. First up is back-up goaltender Jonas Hiller. He's a RFA after this season and he's counting as $3.2 million against the cap. I thnk the Ducks will look for a cheaper option behind J-S Giguere, who has found his form again. Beyond Hiller, Todd Bertuzzi would be the next to fall. Perry's got 24 goals and 44 points and is the second highest scorer; whereas Bertuzzi has only potted in 11 and has 27 points. 27 points in 36 games is good; but at $4 million per year and with Perry's emergence, I wouldn't be surprised if the Ducks to drop his deal as well to make even more space. So in order: Weight, Hiller, Bertuzzi. -- John
Perry signs an 11-year 77 million deal. But hey. There's nothing wrong with it. If this is what the NHL wanted by locking out the players, then they sure are getting it. -- Derek
What will the Ducks have to give up? A lot of money and that's it. They will get him signed with the money they save when Scott Niedermayer retires for good after this season. If Niedermayer decides to return the Ducks will trade away someone else to make room for Corey Perry, but they are going to get him re-signed. Perry likes it in Anaheim, the Ducks know how valuable he is and they will get a deal done. They just have to wait until after the season to do it. -- Doug
Mathieu Schneider is the guy to go. With Scott Niedermayer back in the mix, Schneider no longer is needed. Look for him to be dealt at or around the trade deadline for a package of draft picks/prospects and a cheap, yet effective veteran. The Ducks do everything right, and this will be no different.-- Matt
Well, let's not forget about Selanne, either. His return is just a matter of time as well. But from everything I've read, it's going to have to be one of their defenseman that'll have to go to get them under the salary cap, probably Mathieu Schneider if I'd have to guess. -- Tony
Out of Bounds
With the NHL's wisdom.....every team has to have one representative on the All-Star team....is this really out of bounds or is this the fair thing to do?
It's not out of bounds, but it keeps guys like Mike Ribeiro who has 50 points, he's a top 20 scorer right now, he leads his team in scoring; but he's sitting because other teams have to have their best represent them like Rick Nash for Columbus or Shawn Horcoff for Edmonton, while they are having lesser seasons than Ribiero. And so it's Sergei Zubov - who is deserving, don't get me wrong - as Dallas' sole representative. As unfair as it is, the rule is implemented because the game is a showcase for the league, to show off all the team's best players and give them some recognition. If Ribeiro is in there but no one from Edmonton, the league is basically saying there is no one worthy on the Oilers to showcase. Fine for the purists, but it means teams won't be represented and that hurts the fact that this game is a showcase to the fans. This especially hurts if the hosting city has a poor team; as no representation could cause local fans to stay away. Someone is always going to be left out and again, for the purposes of showing off the entire league, this rule makes more sense. -- John
See answer above. It's pointless to try to represent everyone. The best players belong there. Why should fans not get to see the best roster in a meaningless skills exhibition?
I talked about this in my power play on January 12th and you can hear it by going to PuckPodcast.com. It's time to get rid of that rule. The All-Star Game should be a collection of the best players in the game and not simply the best player from each team. Nobody is tuning in to see how Tomas Vokoun plays in this game nor are they interested in how Jason Arnott is going to do. Fans would rather see the Lightning's top line and the Senators top line go against the Red Wings top line and the Flames top line. Let's see how the Eastern stars do against a Western defense of Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Niklas Lidstrom, Dion Phaneuf, Ed Jovanovski and Sergei Zubov. That's an All-Star defense. I realize that it would suck for the fans of teams that did not send any players, but that's too bad. If you don't have any players that are worthy, too bad. Enjoy the game anyway. This is an All-Star game, not Congress – not every team needs to be represented. -- Doug
I see both sides of the coin on this one, but, in reality, the league should be putting the best players in the All Star game. Putting a player in the game simply to represent a team dumbs down the game and makes it less effective. Is it really an All Star game when the determining factor isn't star power?-- Matt
They have the same arguments in baseball, and us idiot Pirate fans hear it every year, "Why does Jack frickin' Wilson make the All-Star team" ?? Obviously, the NHL wants as good ratings as they can get, and having players from every team will at least help with that to ensure the fans from all NHL cities will tune in. But as I said before, the NHL desparately needs to put on a show during the All-Star game festivities to gain as much exposure as it can, so leaving off more deserving stars in lieu of having a rep from each team may bite them in the buttocks in the long run.
So who will win this Hockey Around The Horn? Who will survive till the next round and beyond? Stay tuned tomorrow to see who made it because two will be gone as soon as you see Part 2. By all means, comment away.