Wednesday, March 30, 2011

College Signing Craziness is Just That

As we are down to the Frozen Four, most of the college players who aren't a part of those four teams and aren't drafted are being courted by NHL teams. We've seen these kind of sweepstakes and hype happen before, but are people making too much out of some of these players getting a look-see. Is this just a footnote and stop-gap exciting thing between the trade deadline and playoffs??

While people are raving over Stephane Da Costa of Merrimack College, at what point do you look at the past signees and realize that sometimes the hype doesn't pay dividends in the first few years....or ever. In the past, we've seen the sweepstakes for Tyler Bozak and Bobby Butler, and while they're slowly shaping into form-- do they warrant the hype, much like the hype some European free agents get-- but they never really pan out like many would think.

Granted, this is something that you could go with junior players and stuff-- but they often get drafted and then never pan out or signed and they kind of fade into oblivion. Yet, it seems that when it comes to this-- if the playoff excitement isn't there-- this is the only thing for the people to get up about. Which, if this is your thing, god love ya-- but I don't see where all the hype is coming from. I just don't get hype unless they prove it without hype...or something. But this whole idea is foreign and weird to me.

To be honest, I can't think of the last time an undrafted college player has made a big impact in the NHL. Maybe you could say that Matt Gilroy for the Rangers was the last big name to come in and contribute to his team immediately, while Tyler Bozak came in with the Leafs for a few games last year and did well, but was bussed between the Marlies and Leafs, while this year he hasn't been the best, as his -29 shows-- but it happens. Mark Letestu is another guy who got signed after his freshman year, but plied his trade in the minors before really getting his shot this year. It just seems the hype that comes from all of this isn't worth getting upset if you lose out on a guy-- because recent history hasn't shined kindly on some of these guys coming off a solid couple of college seasons.

While this is something that is a nice little distraction from the playoff race in the NHL, it seems that the attention it's given is a little much. Granted, I'm not one who has ever really bought into this being a route to be a cure-all or even stop-gap for a team's problems. It seems like if the player who signs even makes it into the NHL, regardless of how good they are in the college ranks-- it'll take a lot of time for them to make a full-time impact in the show. There are a few exceptions to the rule, but not many to warrant some of the craziness being thrown around.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Ron Grahame

It's tournament time in NCAA hockey and what better way to talk about it than with a man who not only played college and held his own pretty well, but also went back when his career is done. While he did have a solid WHA career, his NHL career wasn't as tenured as he wanted. However, NHL success seemed to run in the family as his family has two Cup rings to their name. This week, a look at Ron Grahame.

Starting in Junior A with the Victoria Cougars, Grahame decided against the major junior route, deciding to go to the University of Denver starting in the 1969-70 season. Grahame would play in 30 games that season, going 19-10-1 for those games. The 1970-71 season was one where Grahame would only see 17 games of playing time, finishing with a 9-7-1 record. Playing time would increase for Ron in the 1971-72 season, where he would play in 37 games, finishing with a 26-11-0 record; helping Denver to win the WCHA Playoff title. Grahame's performance allowed him to be drafted by the WHA's New York Raiders. However, Grahame would come back for his senior season in 1972-73, in which he would go 27-7-1 in 35 games, leading the Pioneers to another WCHA championship and getting them within one game of the NCAA title, but lost in the final to Wisconsin. Grahame's season was so great, he was named WCHA First-Team All-Star, NCAA West First Team All-Star, an WCHA Player of the Year.

That summer, Grahame's rights were traded to the Houston Aeros from the Raiders. Grahame would start out his pro career with the Macon Whoopee of the Southern Hockey League, playing 46 games and going 18-24-2 before getting a call-up to Houston for four games-- going 3-0-1 in those games. The 1974-75 season was a banner year for Grahame. Not only did he go 33-10-0 with four shutouts in 43 games, but he went a remarkable 12-1 in the playoffs-- helping the Aeros to win the AVCO Cup. Grahame was named WHA Playoff MVP, as well as taking WHA First Team All-Star honors along with the Bert Hatskin Trophy for Best Goaltender. Grahame saw his playing time increase in the 1975-76 season, playing 53 games and still putting up a decent 39-17-0 record for the Aeros, but a 6-8 playoff record was all he could muster. In 1976-77, Grahame would split time with Wayne Rutledge and only play 39 games, finishing with a 27-10-2 record, then putting up a 4-5 playoff record in his nine games in the cage.

For the 1977-78 season, Grahame made the jump to the NHL, signing with the Boston Bruins. Grahame would play in 40 games, topping out with a record of 26-6-7, while appearing in four playoff games-- going 2-1.

It was a short-stint in Boston, as Grahame was traded to the Los Angeles Kings for a First Round Pick, which turned out to be Raymond Bourque. Grahame shared time during the 1978-79 season with Mario Lessard, going 11-19-2 in 34 games. Again, Grahame played behind Lessard in the 1979-80 season, going only 9-11-4 in 26 games. Grahame only played six games in LA in the 1980-81 season, finishing with a 3-2-1 record.

In December of 1980, Grahame's rights were sold to the Quebec Nordiques for cash. Grahame only played eight games with Quebec, going 1-5-1, before he was sent to the AHL's Binghamton Whalers, where he would play 22 games and sport a 12-6-2 record before he would ultimately retire.

Currently, Grahame went back to his college roots, returning to the University of Denver in 1993 and now serves as the Assistant Vice Chancellor and Senior Associate Athletic Director. In that gig, Grahame oversees all the players and coaches to make sure they uphold the school's mission statement. Grahame has also served as a chairperson for the NCAA Hockey Tournament Committee, as well as being on server Local Organizing Committees for Hockey and Tournament Director for Denver volleyball, lacrosse, and hockey. He was inducted into the University of Denver Athletic Department Hall of Fame and named to the WCHA 50th Anniversary Team. In fact, Grahame and his son Jason were the first father/son tandem to play at Denver; while his other son John and his wife Charlotte were the first mother/son tandem to have their names on the Stanley Cup-- John as a member of the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning team and Charlotte was on the Executive Management team for the 2001 Colorado Avalanche team.

An excellent college career yielded to a solid WHA career, but a so-so NHL career. Even with all of this, his choice of going to college rather than major junior turned out to be a solid one when it came to later on in life, outside of the rink. He made a dent during his college career-- but that recognition also helped him have the tenure he's had at the University of Denver.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Five: Spoilers Or Busts

Thanks to the 'Net-less Thursday, it's now time for Friday Five-- huzzah!! We're inching closer and closer to the final day of the regular season and many teams have clinched-- so now it's time to see who's going what and where.

1. While there's a lot of teams who have clinched, at what point do they start to rest their star players, if they even do it at all??

You see the Capitals have done this with Alex Ovechkin, but when it comes to some teams-- you probably won't see that until one or two games left in the season, not eight or nine. With the Canucks, who have already clinched the Northwest Division, you probably won't see the Sedins rested too much because they're also in some personal accomplishments in the league, as well. It could be all discretionary on the team and players-- but I don't think we'll see anything epically happen when it comes to resting guys.

2. You have teams like the Canucks and Bruins being dominate down the stretch again-- but is this a red herring to their fans or could they be on a collision course of the Cup??

It depends on the expectations for the teams. When it comes to the Canucks, it seems like it's Stanley Cup or Bust-- which could be a huge set-up for a letdown, especially coming out of the Western Conference, where it'll be a rough road. When it comes to the Bruins-- they could be fueled by the disappointment of last year's outcome, but they are looking pretty solid-- even though the B's have to get over the Flyers or Capitals to get to the Cup Finals.

3. As the herd thins out, who can be the team who plays the role of spoiler for these teams in contention??

Out East, it doesn't seem like any particular team could be spoiler, as many teams have their destiny in their own hands. Out West, Edmonton has a good chance to spoil the Flames chances (for good, that is), as they play them twice, as well as playing Minnesota twice-- though both teams the Oilers play are in a solid free-fall themselves. Not too much to spoil, but at the same time; put the nail in the coffin of divisional rivals.

4. With Zach Parise coming back-- is this to actually help out the Devils who are nine points out of 8th with nine games to go or is it to display himself for his impending free agency??

It's very doubtful that he's doing this in order to actually bring some hope to the dwindling playoff chances the Devils have, so it's probably to put himself out there for display when it comes to his free agency. He probably want to be out there in a game situation with his surgically repaired knee and show that he can keep up and he won't have to wait until summer to get back into any kind of game situation. It's highly unlikely that the Devils could be able to re-sign him, but if we've learned anything from Lou Lamoriello it's that he's the only guy to get this thing done.

5. As we look forward to the Draft for the teams out of a playoff spot-- where in the Draft does the talent pool start to get dicey??

I think if you're not picking within the top-10, then you're going for a crapshoot in terms of, not so much the talent, but the time it'll take in order to get the Draft pick to the big club or even into the organization. It's not the deepest draft, but many thought this year's ago because of the lull of development of kids sticking to the game. We saw it in 1999 and this could be something like that all over again-- some stars, but many guys who just get bounced around; though I'm sure time will prove it all wrong.


That's it for the week, so enjoy. Email me at if you have questions or topics you want me to tackle.....or not.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rubles Doesn't Provide Championships

The big thing about the summer was that many NHLers who were in the twilight of their careers were making a defection to the KHL, primarily SKA St. Petersburg. The likes of Maxim Afinogenov, Denis Grebeshkov, Petr Prucha, Sergei Zubov, and Alexei Yashin were on the roster. Even Evgeni Nabokov tried his hand at it.....but then left after it wasn't for him.

Yet, with all the big names out there-- much like Ak Bars Kazan in the 2004-05 season-- they still weren't able to get to their championship for the season; which shows how little marquee names matter in any game, much less the Russian KHL.

Yet, while in the North American game, the lean is more towards getting the Stanley Cup when acquiring elite players; is that the motive for those in the KHL?? When you look at it all, while teams do want to provide a core that'll win games and get the ultimate championship-- it almost seems like getting these players are more of a way to attract the fans into the building. Let's not kid ourselves, the fact is that there are many KHL teams who are in financial peril, mostly because they're paying out to get these recognizable names the fans would want to come out and see.

So, it begs the question on what is the best way to go about things and what values the fans hold?? Obviously, the one market in the NHL has a salary cap; but beforehand, you saw teams like the New York Rangers swooping up free agents because they thought it could give them a chance to win the Stanley Cup and give themselves a name recognition to get fans talking about the team and get a buzz surrounding them. In the end, however, the Rangers always boomed out-- but they got the attention needed and got the people coming in. This almost seems like the way some KHL teams have been going-- get the names in, the people will show up, who cares if you win a title, so long as you make a profit.

But how long are fans able to take it?? I'm sure the tolerance in Russia could be a little bit more, but in the end-- fans are fans and as much as they would love to have the best players for their team; if they aren't winning against teams who don't have as much star power, but are playing like a team-- you'll want to have the front office shift in dynamics; or you'd think, of course.

In the end, it's all about what makes the most sense, and in a time where the KHL has seen teams have to fold up because the ends don't meet, whatever gets people out there to the rink will be the bottom line and if it's bringing back recognizable names just for the sake of it and not to really go out there to take the title-- then that's what's it has to be. It may not be right for most people, but if it's right for the team....that's all that matters.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Glen Hanlon

While we get closer to the NHL Playoffs, we also get closer to the start of the IIHF World Championships. This year, it'll be held in Slovakia and this week's AGM will be in behind the bench for the home squad and has plenty of international experience. That said, he did have a lot of experience in his NHL career, as well, though not as accomplished as he wanted or as many others thought he would be. This week, the profile of Glen Hanlon.

Hanlon started out his trek in the 1973-74 season with the Brandon Travellers of the MJHL Junior "A" league, playing in 20 games that season and three games in the 1974-75 season, before he was called up to the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings, where he would play in 43 games with a record of 15-20-6 in his first year in Major Junior. In the 1975-76 season, Hanlon hit a good stride with the Wheat Kings, playing in 64 games with a 31-25-4 record. That post season, the Wheaties were out of the Playoffs in five games, but Hanlon got the call for the Memorial Cup, being loaned out to the New Westminster Bruins; going 2-1 in four games, as the Bruins would lose in the final game. Hanlon would return to Brandon for the 1976-77 season, where he would have a breakout year with a record of 49-7-7, helping the Wheat Kings to the best record in the league. However, they would lose out to the Bruins in the Finals in five games. Hanlon, however, was named to the First Team All-Star squad for a second-straight year, as well as getting the Goaltender of the Year honors from the league.

Hanlon was a hot prospect and quite sought after, as the NHL's Vancouver Canucks and WHA's Houston Aeros drafted Hanlon in the third round. However, Hanlon went the NHL route, choosing the Canucks and going to their farm team in the Central League with the Tulsa Oilers for the 1977-78 season. With Tulsa, Hanlon played in 53 games with a 25-23-3 record, which was enough for him to get First Team All-Star honors and the Ken McKenzie Trophy for Rookie of the Year. Hanlon would get a call to the Canucks, playing in four games, with a 1-2-1 record.

Hanlon was posed to make a solid Calder Trophy run for the 1978-79 season with the Canucks, but he would go down to a knee injury, limiting him to 31 games with a 12-13-5 record. Back healthy for the 1979-80 season, Hanlon got the starting gig in Vancouver by playing in 57 games and having a 17-29-10 record to show for it. The Canucks would have a logjam in net for the 1980-81 season with Hanlon losing his job to Gary Bromley and newly acquired Richard Brodeur; relegating Hanlon to 17 games with the Canucks with a 5-8-0 record before being sent to the CHL's Dallas Black Hawks; where he would play four games with a 3-1-0 record. Hanlon would be back up with Vancouver in the 1981-82 season, playing in 28 games with a 8-14-5 record before being deemed expendable.

Hanlon was traded from Vancouver to the St. Louis Blues for Rick Heinz, Tony Currie, Jim Nill, and a pick. Hanlon would only appear in two games at the end of the season for the Blues, going 0-1-0, then going 0-2 in three playoff games for the Blues. Hanlon would return to St. Louis for the 1982-83 season, but only for 14 games (3-8-1) before he was on the move again.

Hanlon, along with Vaclav Nedomansky, would be dealt to the New York Rangers for Andre Dore. Hanlon would get 21 games in at the end of the '82-'83 season, ending up with a 9-10-1 record, then losing his only playoff games he appeared in. Hanlon was able to get the starting gig in New York for the 1983-84 season, putting together a solid season with a 28-14-4 record in 50 games, but would only go 2-3 in five playoff games. Hanlon would see his games decrease in the 1984-85, seeing 44 games and having a subpar 14-20-7; then going 0-3 in three playoff games. The 1985-86 season would be an interesting one for Hanlon, as he would play 23 games with the Rangers (5-12-1), but would also make stops in the AHL with the Adirondack Red Wings for 10 games (5-4-1) and five games with the New Haven Nighthawks (3-2-0).

During the summer of 1986, Hanlon and two draft picks were traded to the Detroit Red Wings for Kelly Kisio, Lane Lambert, Jim Leavins, and a pick. Hanlon would split time in the 1986-87 season with former AGM Greg Stefan; playing 36 games with a 11-16-5 record, but got into eight playoff games with a solid 5-2 record. The playoff performance allowed Hanlon more time in the cage for the 1987-88 season, compiling a 22-17-5 record in 47 games-- also leading the league in shutouts with four, but would have a 4-3 playoff record in eight games. The struggles for Hanlon would find him in the 1988-89 season, where he would only play 37 games with a 13-14-8 record, then going 0-1 in two playoff spots. Hanlon would be the main goalie for the Wings in the 1989-90, getting 45 games in, but a 15-18-5 record to show for it. Another logjam for Hanlon would see him play only 19 games (4-6-3) with the Wings, as another AGM, Tim Cheveldae would step up for Detroit. Hanlon would be sent to the IHL's San Diego Gulls, playing 11 games with a 6-4-0 record before calling it a career.

Post playing career, Hanlon went right to coaching-- starting as the goalie coach for the Canucks from 1992 until 1999. Hanlon would then move behind the bench as the coach of the AHL's Portland Pirates from 1999 until 2002, when he got the call to the be the bench boss of the Washington Capitals. Hanlon would last until Thanksgiving of 2007 before he was let go. After that, he moved onto become the head coach of the Belarussian National Team full-time, as he was there for them in the World Championships in 2006 and 2007 before going full-time. Last season, Hanlon coached between Jokerit Helsinki in Finland and Dynamo Minsk in the KHL before signing on with the Slovakians last May to be their National team coach.

While he had a killer instinct and often let his emotions get the best of him, that didn't keep people from having high expectations. Many believe Hanlon would could have been the best goalie in the NHL one day, but it didn't seem to materialize for him. Another tale of a goalie who had the tools to get it done himself, but one happenstance or another held him back from reaching full potential.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Five: Believers and Dreamers

As we get closer and closer to the end of the year-- we finally get a little clearer and murkier on who's going to into the second season. In this Friday Five, we'll cover that, plus other non-concussion (to a point) stuff.

1. While the West has people wanting moving up every day, the East seems to be scared of advancement-- what's the East's problem??

The East's placeholders are definitely on the downside of thing when it comes to fighting for spots. However, with them losing-- that makes it more exciting. Look at the Devils and Leafs-- both had "must-win" games on Thursday and both, you have the bizarro-Western situation, which is just as good; if not sadistic, as the Western race. There doesn't seem to be a sense of urgency, but as we get to less than 10 games left, you can bet the killer instinct will kick in.

2. For teams like the Calgary Flames and New Jersey Devils who have been fighting for their playoff lives since December; if they do make the playoffs-- will they be running on fumes by then??

It's an interesting situations, but at the same time-- they're a little more battle tested when it comes to fighting for each game. The Flames are clawing and grabbing for a spot and should be able to get things going and know how urgent they have to play rather than a mid-level seed or a team that has clinched a spot earlier. The Devils, however, will have a little more a tough battle because they have been on a such a great run and have been a solid story-- but at the same time, probably won't have enough for the last week of the season, much less a huge playoff run. If the Devils do make it-- it's the story of the year, minus the Cup winners plight, mind you.

3. With Manny Malhotra being struck with an errant puck in the face, is there a chance that the visor debate should be brought up again??

There was a little stir on Twitter about this and I don't know which side I fall on. For one, you'd think that with a good amount of Junior players keeping their visor on when they come into the league, the time to make a mandatory rule and grandfather in the guys who don't want to wear one would be now. Plus, it'd be good for insurance purposes, but you also don't want to determine the free-will of players rights. Of course, the AHL and lower leagues have a visor rule (if I'm not mistaken, mind you), so even the guys filtering in from the minors have some experience with the rule and would be able to deal with it moving into the NHL. While I doubt it'll be mandated, it's probably something to consider for the next round of GM meetings.

4. In a surprise move, the St. Louis Blues have been put up for sale. With this-- the Blues, Atlanta Thrashers, and Dallas Stars are the teams that are definitely up for sale. What's next for these teams??

In all of these cases, the current owners will want the team to stay in the city they're in. The Blues could most likely find someone who fits that criteria, the Stars should be able to find someone, but the Thrashers are the ultimate wild card in this. In the end, all of these teams are not only going to be hard-pressed to find local owners in this economy, but at the same time; they'll be hard-pressed to move the team if they find owners who won't keep them in town. While it's great to have teams stay in one place, if it's not a viable option-- you can't force it and have to let them go. That said, the Blues having been in the city since 1967 and they probably won't be moved because there's going to be enough interest to keep the team there-- but the Stars and Thrashers?? The former could stay, but the latter could be on the way out.

5. Leaving out the Coyotes for some reasons, the City of Glendale said their "Plan B" is to seek out a minor league franchise. How much will THIS idea fail??

If nothing else, the attendance could stay the same-- but you don't want to level down if you can help it. You saw a place like Kansas City not support a minor league squad when they had the Sprint Center built up the aspiration of a NHL team coming to town. Plus, the Phoenix area hasn't been keen to many minor league teams, as the Roadrunners of the ECHL had to fold up because they were in the bottom part of the league for attendance. Odds are, the operating costs will be far too high to bring in a minor league team to Jobing.Com Arena and be a successful organization-- but at the same time; you don't want a place sitting vacant when you want it to be a revenue producer for you. Some hockey is better than no hockey, I assume-- which if push comes to shove, something could get done. Just have to hope the Coyotes fans would follow the minor league team as much as they do the Coyotes, should it happen.


That's another week down and another week until the playoffs. If you have a topic or questions-- is the place to email me for it and give your two cents for everything.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wearing on Winnipeg Wondering

As much as I would love to get that 90s nostalgia I recently talked about back into the fold, am I the only one tired of the Winnipeg Jets talk?? It's not so much that I wouldn't want another team in Canada-- I do, it'd be good for the game; but the hype surrounding this whole "Will they, won't they" when it comes to any team relocation to possibly Winnipeg; it's getting on my nerves. It's gotten to the point where TSN has a "Jets Meter" on their NHL page.

Look, we're not kidding anyone when we all agree that Winnipeg is probably the best suited Canadian city to get a relocated team. They have the fan-base, the local sponsorship backing, and a great arena-- though some could say it's too small for an NHL franchise. It's ready for a team, but at the same time, I fear this hype could be for naught should one thing or another go awry in their planning when it comes to waiting for the Phoenix Coyotes to come back. I don't want the people to get their hopes up only to be let down again.

Even if another team not the Coyotes decides to relocate-- they couldn't be called the Jets because the current day Coyotes hold that name and it's history. Though the NHL could pull a Cleveland Browns situation, stripping the Jets history from the Coyotes and giving it to the new Winnipeg franchise that happens to come to fruition.

However, this whole thing about the Jets coming back could be for naught-- even if Winnipeg gets a team. Dave Wheeler for the Winnipeg Sun said that should the NHL return-- they won't be called the Jets. It seems that the jersey, logo, and colors have been created and they'll be called the Manitoba.......and a nickname will come later. So, instead of being very specific about where the team will be at-- the team will encompass the entire Province of Manitoba. Whether that's good or not, we'll have no idea until it happens. Off the bat-- it's smart because of the fact they will probably get more governmental support by including everyone. For what it's worth, Mike Cole of NESN said some sources are saying the team will adopt the AHL moniker of the Manitoba Moose-- so there's that.

Plus, I like the idea of a new team name. When a team comes back, I would rather a new identity so that this team coming in and their players won't have to live up to the team this city had lost. The heritage a team has leaving is something some wouldn't want to tarnish should the team turn out to be craptastic and want to remember the good times the team has before they left. A new team coming in should have a new identity, but not forget the identities that may have been in the city beforehand.

In the end, you have to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. The Winnipeg contingency and Jets die-hards are keeping the faith and proving to the NHL that they deserve a team. It's great for their case against another city and it's great for the NHL to see that if they put a team in there; it'll flourish. That said, the fact many are acting like this is all done but the shouting-- yet that's far from the case. There's going to be a lot of red-tape for the Coyotes deal or any deal to go through to make this happen-- but at least they're ready for it, should it fall into their it should.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Dave Dryden

It's hard to play in the shadow of a more famous brother, especially if he's younger. Hard to make it into the NHL and stick, as well. However, this week's AGM overcame both of these task and even went so far as revolutionizing the game for modern day goalies, plus jump-started the pro-career of the best in the game. This week, the profile of Dave Dryden.

Dryden started his career in Junior B with the Aurora Bears in the 1958-59 season, playing in 48 games with three shutouts and a 3.52 GAA for the season. Moving up to the St. Michael's Majors in 1959-60, Dryden would play in 12 games behind Gerry Cheevers that season, then 18 games the next season. Dryden was on the roster for the St. Mike's Memorial Cup championship in the 1961 tournament. The 1961-62 season had Dryden move to the Toronto Marlboros, where he would play 32 games, finishing with a 17-8-6 record, with three shutouts-- then going 7-5 in the OHA playoffs. His play afforded Dryden the chance to play one game in the AHL with the Rochester Americans (no decision) and a call-up to the NHL with the New York Rangers, which would result in a loss.

After his junior career, Dryden would have to play with senior hockey in the OHA, as there weren't many jobs in the NHL. In the 1962-63 and 1963-64 season, Dryden tended goal for the Galt Terriers-- playing in 79 games over two season, with two shutouts in that time-span and a 3.99 GAA. The 1964-65 season would see Dryden play with the Galt Hornets, playing in 35 games before received a call-up to the AHL's Buffalo Bisons, playing in four games, winning all four and compiling a 1.50 GAA.

Dryden got a chance in the NHL again, getting signed by the Chicago Blackhawks for the 1965-66 season, playing in 11 games and going 3-4-1 in those games. However, with Glenn Hall there, Dryden would be sent down to the CPHL's St. Louis Braves for the 1966-67 season, going 17-17-14 in 48 games that season. However, due to expansion, Dryden would be back with the Hawks for the 1967-68 season, playing in 27 games behind Denis DeJordy and going 7-8-5. The 1968-69 season saw Dryden get a small increase in games, playing in 30 and racking up a 11-11-2 record in those games. Yet, with the arrival of Tony Esposito in the 1969-70 season, Dryden was relegated to the Dallas Black Hawks of the Central League, playing in two games, losing both; as he was suspended because of his refusal to report at first.

Hope was almost running out, as Dryden would be playing with the Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the Western League at the start of the 1970-71 season, where he would play in 8 games and go 1-6-0. However, thanks to the expansion era, Dryden got new life in the NHL, with the Buffalo Sabres picking him up to play for them. He would get in 10 games that season, going 3-3-0, allowing himself some back-up time to start with in Buffalo.

During that 1970-71 season, Dryden was hoping to get to play against the Montreal Canadiens, where his younger brother Ken was playing. On March 20, 1971-- the game was to happen, but the Canadiens started Rogie Vachon over Ken Dryden; so the Sabres played Joe Daley over Dave. However, Vachon got hurt, with allowed Ken to play-- to which, Sabres coach Punch Imlach immediately replaced Daley with Dave-- marking the first (and only) time two brothers have faced off against each other in goal in a NHL game. After the Canadiens won, the Drydens met at center ice and shook hands in a sign of respect.

Dave Dryden would be back in Buffalo in the 1971-72 season, playing in 20 games and going 3-9-5. However, Dryden started to come out of his shell in the 1972-73 season, playing in 37 games and putting together a 14-13-7 record, but going 0-2 in the playoffs. The starting role of the Sabres would go to Dryden in the 1973-74 season; playing in 53 games and finishing with a solid 23-20-8 record with a stellar 2.97 GAA.

As Dryden's stock was on the rise, the WHA came calling with the Chicago Cougars plucking Dryden away from the NHL for the 1974-75 season, going 18-26-1 in 46 games with the Cougars. The new Edmonton Oilers would claim Dryden in the WHA Dispersal Draft, as he would take the starting gig in Edmonton, going 22-34-5 in 62 games of the 1975-76 season. It would be a topsy-turvy 1976-77 season for Dryden, playing in 24 games with Edmonton, going 10-13-0 for this troubles. However, Dryden would be traded to the New England Whalers in January 1977, but refused to report to the Whalers and subsequently suspended. Dryden's refusal paid off, as the Whalers traded him back to Edmonton in September of 1977, and Dryden would going 21-23-2 for the 1977-78 season.

It was a banner year for Dryden in the 1978-79 season, for good and bad reasons. Of course, the WHA was the starting point for Wayne Gretzky, who scored his first professional goal in the WHA on Dryden-- when Gretzky was part of the Indianapolis Racers. Gretzky would then be dealt to the Oilers, which helped Dryden's career season-- as he would go 41-17-2 for the powerhouse Oilers, even though they would lose in the AVCO Cup finals. That season, Dryden won the Ben Hatskin Trophy for Best Goaltender, as well as the Gordie Howe Trophy for WHA MVP of the season.

The Oilers would move over to the NHL for the 1979-80 season, but Dryden almost didn't make the trip over. The Buffalo Sabres claimed Dryden prior to the Oilers' Expansion Draft, but the Oilers reclaimed him as a priority selection in the Draft. Yet, Dryden would only see 14 games, with a 2-7-3 record in those games before retiring.

However, before he retired; Dryden created an innovation in goaltending equipment, which would be a godsend for today's keepers. Dryden created the first fiberglass mask with a cage; which was a primitive look at what we see today in the NHL. It provided full protection to the head, while allowing a clear sight with the cage element to it.

After retiring, Dryden would go to coach the OHL's Peterborough Petes for two seasons, then being the goaltending coach of the Detroit Red Wings for the 1983-84 season. Currently, Dryden is the chairman for Sleeping Children Around the World, a charity providing bed kits and clothing to children in developing nations. This charity was started by Dryden's father, Murray.

While he had to live in the shadow of his overly successful brother, Dave carved a niche out for himself in a solid fashion. He was never put into the most flattering positions, the fact he stuck it out through the lean years and actually knew where he wanted to be and not accepting anything less, he showed the winning instinct that seemed to be a family trait, regardless of personal achievement.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Five: Off-ice Thoughts of an On-ice Event

It's been a crazy week and it's now time for a short recap of the odds-and-ends of the week with the Friday Five. Maybe, just maybe-- someone would want to cash in on this fantasticness, because like "Wayne's World"; I do bow down to sponsors.

1. Is Air Canada using this as PR or do they actually think the NHL couldn't get another airline for 11 teams, so they pose a threat??

The Air Canada stunt was ridiculous and was only used to put themselves over. Odd how it "leaked" out and if any other sponsors raised issues-- still hasn't come out yet. While I understand the position of Air Canada and wanting to put the NHL under the gun, but this sponsorship is beneficial to both sides and kind of cutting the nose off to spite the face. Plus, if a sponsor starts to dictate how the game is play, the slippery slope of what could come after it would be monumental. That'd be like a patient telling a dentist how to go about drilling. In the end, I think that while it's a great stunt; Air Canada has a lot more to lose than win in a situation like this, because I'm sure other airlines are out there looking for 11 teams to be under their umbrella and others waiting to be the marquee name on the Toronto Maple Leafs arena. Bad spot that Air Canada put themselves in.

2. When it comes to the headshot issues-- how can the GMs actually change the rules and enforce it better without taking hitting out of the game??

Another fine-line issue, but there has to be something to discourage shots to the head-- whether it's by not playing and losing money or something; but the respect between fellow players just isn't there. I don't believe that any new rules in place will be a landmark change and actually make players not play as cheap as they have been. The league doesn't want to take hitting out if they don't have to, because it is a part of the game that appeals to some sectors of fans and is really what separates this from other games, to the extent of whether it's clean or not. It's more of something that the player's have to talk about themselves and start to respect each other.

3. The NHLPA seems to have hedged their bets when it comes to not directly coming out against one player over another in this event-- smart or silly??

The comment Donald Fehr made in the official statement, saying the injury of Max Pacioretty could have been caused by lack of padding, showed that he may have been led wrong; but at least his first statement saying he wasn't knowledgeable on the hit or dynamics behind it was honest and truthful. This padding thing could be silly, but the fact they haven't gotten to the point that the disrespect between union members is running rampant seems to be like an ostrich with its head in the sand. Granted, Fehr is new-- but at the same time, the people around him should have been seeing this for the longest time and should have brought this up to their members. While the NHLPA is looking out for their player's wallets and all of that, they should get more concern for their player's health and safety-- and maybe the padding is the first step, who knows-- but doesn't seem like it.

4. When it comes to Gary Bettman, he signed a five-year contract extension last fall. Fans hate it, but are they missing the bigger picture??

Of course they're missing the big picture. Bettman is a heel, he knows he's a heel, and he plays it well and almost embraces it. He doesn't kowtow to pressure from outside sources and has made great business for the NHL since he's come into the league-- bigger revenues some good and not so good expansions/relocations, and all around growth of the game. While people may hate him and his Count Count statue/appearance-- he's a great guy to have as the figurehead because he doesn't care what you call him and the Board of Governors have been making money out of his regime. He's good for everyone and should have been retained. (Sure, this all could be because of the fact the CBA is coming up and they want to look strong, but still-- all the things I said hold true.)

5. It seems after Chara-gate, the rest of the on-ice product has been ignored-- sans for hits and what-not.

Considering it's the same week (and same day, I think) that the Bertuzzi-Moore event happened back in 2004, the debates ramped up hardcore and, sure, the games got lost in the mix-- but that's going to happen when something this crazy happens. Sure, we've had some fancy shootout moves from Mike Ribeiro and Martin St. Louis (that caused its own controversy), but nothing too out of the ordinary happened. Maybe it wasn't the best time for teams to go into hibernation with excitement, but that's the way the universe works.


That's it for the week that was, which seemed very Chara-bomb heavy-- oof. In any case, you have a topic or a question to submit-- is the place to send it and I'll get to it, post-haste.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Long Line Change: Chara and the Coyotes

When it comes to this blog, I usually try to switch it up from the norm and try not do fall into the same discussion everyone else is doing, mostly because every angle has been eaten up. With this new Long Line Change gimmick-- I'll try to find another angle and if not; just another opinion.

Alright-- so the big thing today is Zdeno Chara and what he'll be punished with. As new starts to come out concerning Max Pacioretty's injuries, you can bet that could weigh in on the decision that Mike Murphy will have to make in terms of discipline for Chara. For those who don't know, Pacioretty has fractured vertebrae, which is in layman's terms is a broken neck; not to mention a severe concussion

Of course, the debate amongst fans is whether or not Chara had the intent of doing what he did, which was to ride off Pacioretty enough to put him into the turnbuckle between the benches. You have all the theories of him not knowing where he was on the ice, Chara kinda blaming the victim saying he jumped into the glass area, and whatever. Fact is, you know where that break is at between the benches and you have seen a lot of other times of this happening, but not everyone who gets hit like that gets carried off. Those guys got lucky, because it's a dangerous play to get caught up in and even though there's padding-- it doesn't cushion the impact as many think it would.

In the end, Chara should get at least a couple games, mostly based on the outcome of what happened. There's many times where other, worse hits go unpunished while the victim is out for a prolonged period of time-- so Chara's hit should at least get noticed due to the severity of the outcome. One can't say the 5-10-Game he got was enough, nor can one say that the hit should be over five games because it's a fine-line you have to walk. Happenstance is something that happens through and through in the game of hockey and this is one where it had a devastating outcome, whereas other hits have had guys get up right after it and be fine.


Moving in a drastically different situation, the Phoenix Coyotes. In a deal that was supposed to be done years ago, in a deal that Bill Daly was saying at the Heritage Classic he was happy was still goes on. With the City of Glendale threatening to sue the Goldwater Institute for holding up the deal that could happen to sell the team to Matthew Hulsizer to the Goldwater group threatening legal action should the City sell bonds and violate the Arizona constitution.

With Gary Bettman speaking out yesterday in Glendale, you can sense he doesn't want to give up on the area because the onus will be there that even if you build a new arena; it doesn't mean the team will stay (take note Long Island). There doesn't seem to be a different vision for the NHL other than staying in Arizona, NOR SHOULD THERE BE. Let's not kid each other, the moment that the NHL starts to focus on relocation or even give the HINT the Coyotes will move; the team is gone. The only objective should be trying to keep the team in Phoenix and talk up the team and city as much as you can-- not only to convince the people, but convince themselves this is a battle that is for the greater good.

Much to the chagrin of Winnipeg or Quebec City, the odds are the NHL won't be thinking about relocation until they get tired of the Phoenix mess and pulls the team unilaterally. It's not like Bettman wants to have this debacle at the forefront, but at the same time-- he's doing what he can for damage control and try to rally the troops and actually show the level of interest for this team.

This has been a the third year of a five year plan, it seems-- the same story over and over again. The NHL is doing their best to not give up on a city cold-hearted, but also not shutting out the other cities that could be vying for their services and actually acknowledging they're out there without giving too much hope.

With all that's going on and off the ice-- I don't envy Bettman and the NHL brass in these situations.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Roland Melanson

Sparked by the post from the New York Islanders photo day via Greg Wyshynski's Puck Headlines on Friday, it made me decide to go to Long Island again for this week's AGM. While this week's inductee was doing enough to get his name on the Cup three times, he seemed to get lost in the fold when it came to the overall picture. He was able to get a solid gig post-retirement thanks to people who were able to see what he could do for their career. This week, the profile of Roland "Rollie the Goalie" Melanson.

Melanson got his start with the New Brunswick Amateur Hockey Association with the Moncton Flyers, putting together 14 shutouts in 70 games of work for Moncton. Melanson would then move up to the OMJHL to play for the Windsor Spitfires starting in the 1977-78 season, playing in 44 games with a 4.51 GAA. More time for Melanson in the 1978-79 season with 62 games in and 4.40 GAA. After that season, Melanson was selected in the third round of the NHL Draft by the New York Islanders. Melanson stayed in the OMJHL in 1979-80 and would start off with Windsor for 22 games, going 11-8-0 before being dealt off to the Oshawa Generals, where he would finish the season, playing in 38 games and a 26-12-0 record to show for it.

For the 1980-81 season, Melanson went on his pro journey, starting in the Central League's Indianapolis Checkers, where he would play 52 games with a 31-16-3 record and a 2.57 GAA, before he would get the call-up to the show. Melanson would play 11 games with the Islanders that season, going 8-1-1 and then going 1-0 in three playoff games, getting in along for the ride for an Islanders' Stanley Cup victory. Melanson not only got a Cup ring, but Central League Rookie of the Year honors. Melanson would be with the Isles full-time int he 1981-82 season, backing up Billy Smith while getting in 36 games with a 22-7-6 record to show for it, then 0-1 record in three playoff games; as he would claim his second Cup with the Isles that season, as well. Melanson saw more time in the 1982-83 season, playing in 44 games with a 24-12-5 record and a 2.66 GAA, while in the playoffs, he would go 2-2 in five games as the Isles would win the Cup again, giving Melanson his third ring. Also in '82-'83, Melanson and Smith would win the William Jennings Trophy for lowest goals-against, while Melanson would also be named to the NHL's Second Team All-Star roster at the end of the year. In the 1983-84 season, Melanson would go 20-11-2 in 37 games for the Islanders, then 0-1 in six playoff appearances; but the Isles would lose in the Cup Finals, ending their dynasty. Melanson would return for the 1984-85 season, but only go 3-3-0 in eight games before he was on his way off the Island.

Melanson was traded to the Minnesota North Stars for a 1st round pick in the 1985 Draft. Melanson would finish out the '84-'85 campaign in Minnesota, playing 20 games with a 5-10-3 record. Melanson would start the 1985-86 campaign in Minnesota, going 2-1-2 in six games before he was on the move once again.

Melanson and Grant Ledyard were traded to the Los Angeles Kings for Brian MacLellan and a draft pick. Melanson would start off with the Kings' AHL affiliate New Haven Nighthawks, playing three games with a 1-2-0 record before getting called up to LA. With the Kings, Melanson played in 22 games, but had a dismal 4-16-1 record. Melanson would have his chance to be the #1 goalie in LA, playing in 46 games in the 1986-87 season with a 18-21-6 record, then going 1-4 in five playoff games. Melanson would get in 47 games for the 1987-88 season, but only sport a 17-20-7 record, then 0-1 in the playoffs. Melanson would only stick around for four games in the 1988-89 season, going 1-1-0 before being sent to New Haven, where he would play 29 games with an 11-15-3 record, but then going 9-8 in 17 playoff games, losing in the Calder Cup Finals to the Adirondack Red Wings.

The New Jersey Devils picked up Melanson as a free agent before the 1989-90 season and would put him with the Utica Devils of the AHL. That season, Melanson played 48 games, going 24-19-3, but then only going 1-4 in five playoff games. Melanson would be back in Utica for the 1990-91 season, sporting a 23-28-1 record in 54 games, as well as having a one game stint in New Jersey, playing only 20 minutes in a non-decision.

Before the 1991-92 season, Melanson was traded with Kirk Muller to the Montreal Canadiens for Stephane Richer and Tom Chorske. Melanson would only play nine games that year for the Habs, going 5-3-0. However, a reoccurring groin injury would limited his appearances.

Melanson would be without a gig for the majority of the 1992-93 season, but would sign on with the Colonial League's Brantford Smoke, where he would play 14 games in the regular season, going 9-3-1, but would explode in the post-season, going 11-3 in 15 games, helping the Smoke win the Colonial Cup and getting Playoff MVP honors on top of it.

One more chance for Melanson came in the 1993-94 season, playing with the Saint John Flames of the AHL, but he would only see seven games of action with a 1-2-0 record before hanging up the pads for his career.

Melanson wouldn't be out of hockey for long-- staying on with Saint John as a consultant before getting a job as an assistant coach for the QMJHL's Moncton Wildcats from 1995 until 1997. Then in 1997, Melanson would go on to be the assistant and goalie coach of the Montreal Canadiens until 2009. Currently, Melanson is the goalie coach of the Vancouver Canucks, many saying he's helped Roberto Luongo find his game again-- though it's up for debate.

While he did have his name on the Cup, he never really had a chance to shine by himself. When he was given the wheel, the team in front of him was often not up to snuff. Melanson has a lot to be proud of on the teams he played on and the achievements he had, as well as the career its allowed him to have post-playing career.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Are the 90's the New Retro??

As many of you know, I'm a big fan of the aesthetics of hockey. If you didn't, you do now. In any case, I peruse sites like the CCSLC, Icethetics, and NHL Uniforms. Recently, a topic on the CCSLC came up about what jerseys the users wanted to see come back and in a majority of the hockey comebacks, it seems that the 1990s style of jerseys were selected. It wasn't too far back that the 1970s crazed was going wild-- which it still is, but it seems that many have been longing for the uniforms of the 1990s as of late.

And while we're two decades removed, at what point do retros become retros?? Is there a timeline for such a thing or is it just arbitrarily decided for when one person becomes nostalgic and then becomes a domino effect on such a thing??

Since it's probably the latter, at what point does it all kick in for something to go back to the way it was?? There's very few times where a team does the wrong thing and them reverts back to what they had before, like the Penguins when bringing back the skating penguin and with the Anaheim Ducks putting the old Mighty Ducks logo on their new third jersey's shoulders-- but most of the time, the changes have been for the better. Especially when you consider the tackiness of the jerseys from the '90s, you have to wonder why anyone would want them back.....though, you could say the same about the 1970s movement we've seen.

Yet, at the same time; could it be the tackiness that's actually makes us want it to come back in full effect. Don't know at what people some people got "too cool for the room" when it came to those designs, but it seems everyone is so very happy genuflecting on the good ol' days of jerseys past. Even though there are some that aren't up to par; that could be a ploy to make you realize how good your team has it when what they're wearing now. And, let's be honest, people would buy up the retro jerseys when they come out like it's nothing. It'd definitely be a chance for people to get what they may have missed out on and can't readily get on the eBay.

Of course, whether or not most of these designs come back is another story. We all have a scheme that we hold near and dear to our hearts and regardless of how awful they may have looked at the time, the yearning for having those back onto the ice to rekindle the fond memories many had is always going to be present. This is one of the times where you have to envy the likes of the Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings, who haven't had many drastic jersey or identity changes since the 1970s.

Friday Five: The Playoff Push

It's been another week in the NHL, the trade deadline has come and gone and many of the traded players have paid off immediate dividends for their new teams. Of course, that's assuming they got their paperwork in order so they could play. So, time for the F5.

1. Of all of the tradees, Jason Arnott seems to be giving a lot in his first games with the Capitals. Is this a pace Caps fans could expect for the rest of the year??

Considering that Arnott's goal and assist in two games equals his output with the Devils in the last 14 games of his tenure there; you could say it's because he's playing with better players. That said, while this is a great pace-- I don't expect it to completely stay this way. While I have to say that it's great he's taking control of the room and address what's wrong; I don't actually know if this is just a honeymoon phase or if this the reality of the rest of the year. Yet, early returns are all that matters right now and he's got the leg up on everyone.

2. With the non-moving, is it a sign teams are content with their team or couldn't afford to bring in a premier player??

It could be a little from column A and a little from column B. It also could be column C, in that they were waiting for their counterparts to make a move and it never happen, so they could have lost out, too. It's doubtful that actually happened, but still an option. More often than not, it's the fact that teams are happy with the team they have for the cost they have; they didn't feel like giving up any of their guys and didn't feel like taking up or giving away anymore salary.

3. The Glendale/Goldwater/Coyotes situation won't end-- how much more posturing can we expect??

While the Goldwater Institute hasn't issued any action yet, you can bet that they'd do it if the City of Glendale does approve their use of bond money to give the team to Matthew Hulsizer; they'll come down on the city hard. And while they have many skeptics about the motives behind the Goldwater Institute possibly challenging it; the fact remains that they're going by the book and probably will do what they can in order to make sure nothing illegal least in their eyes.

4. The Oilers and Senators have been on quite a run, while the Colorado Avalanche are tanking at an exceptional rate. Are the Oilers and Senators acting crazy by winning and getting a chance at the top pick??

While the art of tanking is something many fans are pandering for, especially when the Draft is as shallow as this year's is. Yet, at the same time-- you want to have your fans look forward to something when they come for these late season games when the attempt at the playoffs has long but gone. It gives hope to some fans who may be down in the dumps about the season and brings about a great outlook should the younger kids be the future movement many teams want to have, but never normally try out.

5. came out saying they'll have an old-school kind of hockey game coming out in the spring. What hockey theme toys are remembered from your childhood??

While we all know about the art of bubble hockey, a couple of games stand out for me. Most notably, Radio Shack's Electric Ice Hockey is one that really stood out for me, mostly because it was probably the first version of rod hockey I had. The VCR NHL Hockey was another game I had, but I couldn't get into it. I mostly used the rink and nets for playing with my Lil' Sports Brats because I had a big imagination......and lonely childhood. Well.....that took a depressing turn, didn't it??


That's another week down and closer to the playoffs. If you've got anything for me to tackle, by all means-- email to send in your questions or topic suggestions.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

On the Topic of the Trade Deadline

You've gotten through it and now it's time to analyze and over-analyze the trade deadline. Thanks to working graveyard, I'm probably the last to actually do something like this-- so.....huzzah?? In any case, this will probably be along the lines of what others have done with it.

First, the biggest deal had to be the Dustin Penner deal to Los Angeles. Many thought Penner was on his way out, but it was a matter of where. The destination could be a great fit for him, especially considering he's a guy that can definitely fit what the Kings need; plus they didn't give up the farm in order to get him. It didn't seem like Colton Teubert was going to fill-out to what many though, therefore he was easily expendable. However, the question now is where Penner can regain the hot streaks he had at the beginning of the season and at the end of the calendar year and into 2011. He'll definitely have the scoring chances now and should be the big body for the scoring aces-- but can he actually cash in on it.

Another active trader because they seemingly had to be was the Washington Capitals, who picked up an insurance defenseman in Dennis Wideman and a veteran center, Jason Arnott. With Wideman, while the plus/minus isn't the best (minus-26), he can be an asset on a very stagnant Caps power-play. In fact, Wideman has more power play goals than Alex Ovechkin (8-to-5) and could change that whole game-plan around for them, as well as be an insurance piece for the injuries the Caps seem to have on the blueline. And while Wideman has another year left on his deal, Arnott is a rental and one that I'm not in full agreement with when it comes to response. I can understand that Arnott brings a veteran presence; but at the same time isn't the second-line center that will put them over-the-top. Maybe he could teach Nicklas Backstrom how to get out of a slump and guide Marcus Johansson; but with his recent lack of performance in the playoffs with the Predators; I doubt it'll get the Caps too far.

An active player in the negative sense was the Florida Panthers, who were heavy sellers in their third straight rebuilding campaign. Along with Wideman, Radek Dvorak and Bryan Allen were moved out of Miami-- which also means that there are no pieces left on the Panthers from the Roberto Luongo trade. Yet, the big thing is that Stephen Weiss and David Booth are still a part of the team, even though they were rumored to be on the block; so that's something at least-- yet they probably could have entertained more offers for Tomas Vokoun, because I don't know how much they'd want to re-sign an older goalie who doesn't have much in front of him. With the issues the Panthers have off the ice, you have to wonder how much they're willing to pump into the on-ice product because of it.

One of the more surprising notes was that Ty Conklin was able to seep through the waiver wires unclaimed. You'd think for a low price, some team in need of net insurance would claim him just to be there. He's a decent goalie who could really come in and have a hot streak when called upon. Other teams' lose is the Blues gain, I suppose.

While it was probably one of the most uneventful trade deadlines ever, it's always good to play armchair GM after the fact. Whether this pans out or not remains to be seen, especially trying to deal with chemistry and all of that. Which makes me wonder if the NHL will move the deadline up every year, but at the same-- you like this stuff going down to the wire. Granted, this deadline really happened in the 10 days leading up to it, more specifically the 18th, but still.

I have no real end to this. Thanks for reading.