Around the league - Oct 29 2009

Jason Gregor
October 29 2009 09:56AM

We near the end of the first month of the season, and there are many great story lines on the ice. The Avalanche are still cruising, Alexander Ovechkin is still scoring, Anze Kopitar and the Los Angeles Kings are making waves on the west coast, there is still a double-standard for suspensions, the defending champs look dominant, even though Crosby isn’t top-ten in scoring and now teams are starting to sniff around for possible trades.

All summer we heard that the salary cap would be significantly lower next season; due to the downturn in the economy. The NHL is predominantly a gate-driven league, although they do make some money via television, but the majority of the money comes from the fans. Many expected attendance to drop, but early on this season we haven’t seen a major dip, outside of Phoenix.

Here is a look at league-wide attendance last year, and how it has looked so far this year courtesy of www.espn.com.

2008/2009 2009/2010
RNK
TEAM
GMS
AVG
PCT
TEAM
GMS
AVG
PCT
1 Chicago 41 22,247 111.2 Chicago 7 20,238 102.6
2 Ottawa 41 18,949 105 Toronto 5 19,252 102.4
3 Minnesota 41 18,568 102.8 Vancouver 7 18,810 102.1
4 Toronto 41 19,312 102.7 Pittsburgh 6 17,079 100.7
5 Pittsburgh 41 16,975 102.6 Minnesota 3 18,192 100.7
6 NY Rangers 41 18,172 102.3 San Jose 3 17,562 100.4
7 Vancouver 41 18,630 101.1 Ottawa 6 18,550 100.3
8 Philadelphia 41 19,545 100.2 Montreal 6 21,273 100
9 Montreal 41 21,273 100 Calgary 6 19,289 100
10 Calgary 41 19,289 100 NY Rangers 7 18,200 100
11 Edmonton 41 16,839 100 Edmonton 8 16,839 100
12 San Jose 41 17,488 100 Philadelphia 6 19,369 99.3
13 Buffalo 41 18,531 99.2 Buffalo 5 18,443 98.7
14 Detroit 41 19,865 99 Washington 6 18,277 97.9
15 Anaheim 41 16,990 98.9 Detroit 4 19,183 95.6
16 Boston 41 17,039 97 Boston 6 16,756 95.4
17 Washington 41 18,097 96.9 Dallas 4 17,229 93
18 Dallas 41 17,680 95.4 New Jersey 4 16,114 91.4
19 New Jersey 41 15,790 89.6 St. Louis 4 19,150 91.2
20 Los Angeles 41 16,488 89.1 Anaheim 6 15,092 87.9
21 Carolina 41 16,572 88.5 Colorado 4 15,696 87.2
22 St. Louis 41 18,554 88.4 Columbus 3 15,563 85.8
23 Nashville 41 15,010 87.7 Los Angeles 5 15,798 85.4
24 Columbus 41 15,543 85.7 Atlanta 3 15,560 83.9
25 Colorado 41 15,429 85.7 Carolina 4 15,629 83.4
26 Tampa Bay 41 16,497 85.6 Florida 3 15,655 81.3
27 Phoenix 41 14,875 85 Nashville 4 13,572 79.3
28 NY Islanders 41 13,773 84.5 Tampa Bay 5 14,987 75.9
29 Florida 41 15,621 81.2 NY Islanders 5 12,065 74
30 Atlanta 41 14,626 78.9 Phoenix 5 10,699 61.1

You will notice that the 12 teams that sold out every game last year are all there, although Philly is just under 100% right now. You would think that if L.A and Colorado continue to be competitive their totals will increase, but from top-to-bottom we haven’t seen a major difference that would lead us to believe the salary cap will drop that significantly.

If the cap stays the same or drops marginally, it will allow many teams including the Oilers, Flames and Canucks to not purge their team. For next season the Oilers have $42.185 million committed to 14 players. The Flames have $44.075 million for 14 players, while the Canucks have $36.625 million committed to 13 players.

The Oilers have young guys like Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, Gilbert Brule, J.F. Jacques, Ryan Stone Jeff Deslauriers and Denis Grebeshkov to sign, while Fernando Pisani, Mike Comrie, Jason Strudwick are UFAs.

The Flames have Dustin Boyd and Brandon Prust as young guys, but have Rene Bourque, Olli Jokinen, Craig Conroy and Erik Nystrom as UFAs.

The Canucks have RFAs like Ryan Kesler, Raymond Mason, Jannik Hansen and Tanner Glass, while their main UFA is Willie Mitchell. They will have to decide if the other unrestricted guys; Pavol Demitra, Kyle Wellwood, Ryan Johnson and Mathieu Schneider are worthy of new contracts.

If the cap doesn’t go down significantly, it will make life much easier for Mike Gillis, Steve Tambellini and Darryl Sutter this summer.

Ice women of the week

It pains me to say this, but even Calgary is ahead of Edmonton when it comes to Ice Women, I call them Ice Women because they are of age and thus women. The Flames have Ice Women now, but they didn’t make my photo of the week. Instead, I will go with this photo-shopped pic of the Dallas Stars Women.

Random thoughts

Yes the Flames have Ice Women, but they also play the most annoying song ever, Cotton Eyed Joe at the Saddledome, and what is worse is the crowd sings along. Just another reason the Rexall DJ must continue to boycott CEJ.

Strange stat. Sidney Crosby has three career hat tricks, and two of them have come on October 28th according to www.nhl.com.

Strange stat part two. Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have taken the 3rd most minor penalties in the league with eight. Only Hal Gill and Scottie Upshall with nine and Mike Komisarek (10) have been in the sin bin more often.

The more I watch James Neal the more I like him. The Stars drafted him 33rd overall in 2005, and he has developed nicely since. He spent one year with Iowa in the AHL, and then broke out with a 24-goal campaign as an NHL rookie last year. The 22-year-old has 14 points in 12 games and has a solid overall game. He skates well, has size, blocks shots and has great vision. He will be a guy to watch for on the 2014 Canadian Olympic team.

I don’t think the USA will be that good at the Olympics, but with Craig Anderson and Ryan Miller off to great starts, they should have solid netminding. Both have been sensational, and are the main reason the Sabres and Avalanche lead their divisions.

The best Canadian goalie this month has been Marc-Andre Fleury. Barring an injury Roberto Luongo, Martin Brodeur and Fleury will be the three goalies in Vancouver.

Jeff Deslauriers has a ridiculous .957 SV% and a stellar 1.51 GAA in two games this season. Shouldn’t Pat Quinn use him again soon?

Another bad week for the NHL injury-wise. Ilya Kovalchuk, Roberto Luongo and Simon Gagne all went down. Is it just me or does the NHL have more injuries to top stars than the NFL, NBA and MLB. Hockey is a tough game, and I don’t think there is any way to prevent the stars from getting hurt.

I can’t stand the Yankees. Go Phillies. Cliff Lee was sick in game one, and Chase Utley is a gamer. But let’s hope that Pedro ‘Soul Glo” Martinez doesn’t allow the Yankees to be “His Daddy” in game two.

Using the Cheers theme music for the Kelsey’s commercial doesn’t fit. Sorry, but that’s not a place you go often enough that people know your name.

Teams with the most fights are the Flames (13), Oilers, Leafs and Sharks (11), Canucks (10) and Senators and Canadiens (9). The six Canadian teams are in the top seven. Seems they understand what most hockey fans enjoy.

The Kings and Rangers each have four players in the top 30 in scoring. The Rangers won’t maintain that, but the Kings might with Anze Kopitar, Ryan Smyth, Dustin Brown and Alexander Frolov.

Terry Murray benched Alexander Frolov in Dallas and since then he has three goals and seven points in four games. Do many of you still think that benching a player and telling the media and fans he has to be better is really that bad???

Say what!?

Salo has had 39 injuries in his career”, Farhan Lalji from TSN on Just A Game. Seriously he wasn’t lying. Salo is the biggest band-aid in the game.

“I will go down as the first NHL player to play with H1N1”... Ladislav Smid.

“The Flames will come out strong and see if Colorado can handle their physical game. If they can’t it might be a blowout for Calgary”, Jermaine Franklin on Flames radio pre-game show. The Avs were 9-1-2 going in, how could anyone think they would get blown out. Avs won their 10th game.

Leaders through the week

Here are the top ten in pts, goals, assists and other stats.

Goals:
Eleven: Alex Ovechkin (leads for the second straight week)
Ten: Anze Kopitar Patrick Marleau and Marian Gaborik
Nine: Ilya Kovalchuk and Sidney Crosby (five goals this week).
Eight: Dustin Penner, Wojtek Wolski and Dany Heatley
Seven: Seven players tied

Assists:
Fourteen: Joe Thornton (leads for the third straight week).
Twelve: Nicklas Backstrom and Vinny Prospal
Eleven: Anze Kopitar and Dan Boyle
Ten: Marty St.Louis, Evgeni Malkin, Brad Richards, Drew Doughty,Tomas Kaberle (six assists this week) and Ales Hemsky (six assists this week).

Points:
21: Kopitar (eight points this week)
Nineteen: Ovechkin
Eighteen: Gaborik
Seventeen: Thornton and Marleau
Sixteen: Prospal
Fifteen: Healtey, Penner, B. Richards, Henrik Sedin, Rick Nash, Ryan Smyth and Nicklas Backstrom

Plus/Minus:
+11: Ovechkin and Alex Goligoski
+10: Nicklas Grossman and Ryan O’Reilly
+9: Crosby, Wolski, Henrik Tallinder, Curtis Glencross, Jay McKee and Scott Hannan

PP Goals:
Five: Andrew Brunette and Dany Heatley
Four: Smyth, Kopitar, Gaborik, Mike Richards, Devon Setoguchi, Raffi Torres, Rich Peverley and Niklas Hagman.

Hits:
55: Ryan Callahan…(leads for third straight week).
49: Chris Neil (Seventeen this week)
46: Dustin Brown
45: JF Jacques
38: Matt Cooke
37: Brandon Dubinsky, Stephane Robidas and Marc Staal
36: David Backes
35: Four tied

Shots:
72: Ovechkin
51: Jeff Carter had 23 shots this week, but no goals.
50: Crosby had 18 shots and five goals.
48: Mikael Samuelsson
47: Zach Parise
46: Gaborik
45: Malkin, Eric Staal and Mikko Koivu
44: Michael Cammalleri

Final point

There have been 15 OT goals this year, and the Montreal Canadiens have four of them. Cammalleri, Roman Hamrlik, Josh Gorges and Brian Gionta have scored.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#51 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 29 2009, 01:08PM
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Reggie wrote:

ha ha ... I thought, why lie, tell the truth. I'm at work around 6:30, grab coffee and then start.

sounds like you need to become a season ticket holder ... :o) ... or are you one of the out of towners ?

my parents come in 40 miles for games - they attend about 25 a year and they definitely like the 7:00 pm starts.

I don't have the money to spend on tickets, wouldn't be bad if I just had to buy one but I can justify buying two tickets. Plus I have a drinking problem when my team is playing poorly and 8 bucks a beer is too steep.

I was at tuesday's game and was never embarassed that much in my life to see how quite the crowd is.

What they should do is move everyone in the 300 section down to the lower section behind the Oilers bench for one game and see the difference.

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#52 Ogden Brother
October 29 2009, 01:12PM
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Deep Oil wrote:

I disagree with IgorUlanov, Tambellini has taken the reins of a team that is overpaid and underperforming as a .500 club over time. First and Foremost, Oilers came out the game with the exact same record last year and the wheels fell off - so is the rose off the bloom already ????? Until the overpayments of Lowe have run their course, or have been dispursed via waivers - or trade (taking a bad contract back) having a playoff team will be a challenge. Problem is that Lowe in the past has let emotion and the post stanley cup run / free agent frenzy diminished the available money to "performers" as the pretenders have taken more than their fair share.

Lowe cancelled the Comrie trade for Corey Perry out of spite via blood money. The media pull a Mark Mcgwire here and do not talk about the past - this was a bonehead move - Corey FREAKIN PERRY.

Lowe surrendered draft choices for Penner. Placing Penners non performance the last two years aside for a minute, why would a GM surrender draft picks and overpay, when you could just overpay a free agent - case in point - the Nylander case, he was playing possum and possibly using the deal as leverage with Buffalo - refusing to proceed with the verbal agreement. So it appears at that time, very few players wanted to actually come to Edmonton. Isn't it ironic that the the two GM's at the time throwing mud at each other, calling each other idiots - TRADE THEIR TWO FIRST ROUND DRAFT PICKS with Penner and Kessel.

MacTavish despised Nillson's work ethic, and Lowe signs the kid for two more years for 4.5mm dollars - OMG.

Horcoff learns quickly from Tie Domi (Tanenbaum) on how to influence people, rumored to be Katz's workout friend - signing for more money than the market warranted - not his fault, back up the truck.

http://www.canada.com/topics/sports/story.html?id=88fe637a-c56e-40aa-8301-4ffce4931d2b Reference: Mr. Tanenbaum and Mr. Domi are known to be friends, but those close to the owners say if the general manager was nudged, it didn't happen inside the boardroom.

Is anyone comfortable with Pasini's contract, we have been blessed with financial relief on the LTIR - untradeable for both medical and money reasons.

Final signing of Khabibulin raises my eyebrows, when the Oil pushed Rollie out the door due to age, and we now have an aging goaltender past 40 at 3.75mm per year when the contract is over. Paying Khabibulin may be a thorn in our side if JDD starts to shine, this year, next etc - when Anderson (1.5 and 2.1mm two year deal) and Biron (1.8mm one year) were available.

Oilers have very little cap space, with 89 and 13 coming out of their entry level deals, something has to give, as the math will not allow this formula next year.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda..... time will heal these contract mistakes, only time. Rexall Sports have corrected the situation with promoting / extracting Lowe and removing him from this equation to prevent future harm.

Do you just copy and paste this over and over again.

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#53 Reggie
October 29 2009, 01:16PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

I don't have the money to spend on tickets, wouldn't be bad if I just had to buy one but I can justify buying two tickets. Plus I have a drinking problem when my team is playing poorly and 8 bucks a beer is too steep.

I was at tuesday's game and was never embarassed that much in my life to see how quite the crowd is.

What they should do is move everyone in the 300 section down to the lower section behind the Oilers bench for one game and see the difference.

Just tell me you weren't the guy behind me at the game with the two Aussie chicks who was trying to explain hockey to them ... lol

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#54 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
October 29 2009, 01:21PM
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Reggie wrote:

Just tell me you weren't the guy behind me at the game with the two Aussie chicks who was trying to explain hockey to them ... lol

was he trying to tell them how to properly hold a stick?

how to score?

how to play as a team?

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#55 Reggie
October 29 2009, 01:31PM
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cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan wrote:

was he trying to tell them how to properly hold a stick?

how to score?

how to play as a team?

His first explanation that I heard was that icing occurs when you shoot the puck from behind your own blue line and it crosses the ice at the other end ...

I chuckled ...

Then on a neutral zone turnover he is yelling forecheck oilers forecheck as Colorado enters the blue line with the puck.

His favorite was calling oiler player X and then player Y a piece of sh#t all night.

The guy couldn't go away fast enough for us regulars in the section.

Happiness occurred when he goes ... damn it i'm losing my voice ... it happens every time i come to Rexall.

Unfortunately his voice lasted til the end of the game.

One of the Aussie gals who obviously caught on to how annoying his ranting was says ... do you yell at the tv when you are at home too ?

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#57 Tyler
October 29 2009, 02:06PM
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post #56

thanks for the response grregor

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#58 Andrew W
October 29 2009, 03:00PM
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Tyler wrote:

post #56

thanks for the response grregor

A classy reply, Tyler. You took a bit of an open ice hit there, and instead of slashing in response or looking for a cheap penalty, tipped your hat and skated for the bench. There will be other battles in your next shift, I'm sure.

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#59 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
October 29 2009, 05:40PM
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Tyler wrote:

post #56

thanks for the response grregor

so, how does it feel to have been one of the topics on brownlee's irritants?

being mentioned by name!! you are one of the most famous knuckleheads in town!!

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