July 14 2011 03:06PM
Best wishes, Pete
The round-up returns in its new amalgamted form, as we examine a few items of interest for the Flames and Jets, as well as some of the notable news bits from around the league. In this instalment, the Flames lose their voice, Winnipeg continues to add to their coaching corps, and a former Flame favourite hits a roadblock.
The primary news of interest today isn’t on the ice, of course, as Peter Loubardias has apparently been relieved of his duties as Calgary’s TV PBP man. I’ll confess that Loubo wasn’t exactly my favourite announcer, and I could have done without his signature goal call (He Skeeeeeeyores!), but I never had any serious ill will towards the guy, and as a middle-aged gent myself, I never wish unemployment on a contemporary unless there’s clear evidence he’s an actual evil-doer. Loubo’s just lost one of the best jobs in hockey television, so I’ll absent myself from the piling-on and simply wish him well in the future.
Beyond that, and for whatever I might have thought of him in his role as the Flames’ play-by-play announcer, I’m completely sincere in my hope for him to be involved with the CHL in some fashion. His affection for that level of the game was blatantly obvious to anyone listening, and my sense is if he was under the influence of sodium pentothal, he’d confess it was his true joy.
As for the team itself, other than a bunch of moves to sign every free agent AHL defenceman extant and this morning’s acquisition of a marginally talented tough guy, there isn’t much in the way of worthwhile personnel activity around the club. Behind the scenes, Kent noted a Forbes interview with Chris Snow the other day, and the Flames’ addition of him to their backroom staff hints at a change in the club’s approach to scouting and analysis.
I suppose the other positive aspect beyond any improvement in the Flames’ pre-scouting is that the bigfoot media types that have spent years acting as if this stuff has no value might well have to change their tune. There’s nothing like team validation to make your average reporter suddenly realize the merits of more modern analysis.
One of the city’s favourite sons might be a candidate to spend next year in back of the Jet bench, as Ken Wiebe reports that Mike Keane could be added as an assistant to Claude Noel. He’s certainly a True North guy right to the core, so I wouldn’t be that surprised if it were to occur.
Charlie Huddy is already in place on the staff, and I’m fully in favour. Huddy has a good track record of working with young defenders, and players like Bogosian and Byfuglien will almost certainly benefit from his tutelage.
Bogosian, of course, is still out of contract, although his agent advised Ed Tait that they expected matters to be settled in due course. I’m not all that sure about what a proper ticket for him would be. I suspect that he’d likely want something in the 3M range, and although I don’t doubt he’s a player with significant potential, his play doesn’t quite rate that sort of expenditure. A two year bridge contract in the range of 2.5M might be about right, and Erik Johnson’s second contract might be the best comparable in terms of performance and potential being balanced.
On the AHL front, the organization has tabbed Keith McCambridge to run the ship in St. John’s. It should be noted that the last four head coaches working for True North used that job to catapult themselves into NHL head coaching positions, so McCambridge might well have a bit of history working for him down the line.
Business-wise, Bruce Dowbiggin’s story in the Globe and Mail hints that the Jets are still working out the details of their TV and radio rights, although from my POV, as long as the games are on somewhere and the team gets a nice pile of cash, there’s not much to choose between SN and TSN. There’s no mention of PPV, either, which is likely a good thing in terms of fan access.
Columbus has spent the summer attempting to bolster their roster in order to get out of the Western Conference’s group of also-rans, but they got some lousy news yesterday in the form of Kristian Huselius’ torn pectoral muscle. Surgery today was deemed a success, but the 4-6 month recovery time leaves the Jackets down a top-six winger. I do hope Scott Howson has Jay Feaster’s phone number, since the Flames might well have a fellow Scandinavian port-sider available for hire.
There’s been plenty of chat regarding the status of Steven Stamkos, but a story that’s stayed below the radar is the inability, thus far at least, of the Kings to finalize a contract with Drew Doughty. Don Meehan’s statement that the two sides hadn’t done anything on a contract since June 23rd seems a bit odd, since you might think that securing your franchise defenceman might be a priority for a club. Of course, it’s possible that Lombardi has been preoccupied with extracting a pound of flesh from Steve Tambellini, so maybe he’s just not a multi-tasker ;-)
While the wholesale free-agency adds in Florida dominated July 1st coverage, Dallas was nearly as busy in terms of adding players. The Stars signed six UFAs to fill the roster with the most notable being Michael Ryder. I’m not quite as sold as Joe Nieuwendyk on the quality of his signings, and Sheldon Souray in particular might disappoint. A player said to be too slow to play well in the AHL isn’t likely to help a club in the bigs, and that was the word regarding Souray last season.
Speaking of the Panthers, George Richards features a lengthy conversation with Erik Gudbranson, covering off several topics, including his disappointment at being sent back to junior last fall. He still doesn’t have a contract signed, although absent a Tim Erixon situation, he should get inked. Still, if I were Dale Tallon, I’d ask him if he was a Rangers’ fans growing up, just to be safe.
Dirk Hoag of On the Forcheck attended last night’s Skate of the Union in Nashville, and the primary news from the event was David Poile’s comment that he expected Alexander Radulov to end his self-imposed exile in Russia and return to the Predators in 2012/13. If the winger were to resume his NHL career, that might just be the offensive boost the franchise needs to move into the upper echelon of clubs for an extended period.
It appears Shane O’Brien found a home for himself, joining the Avalanche on a deal paying just over a million dollars for next year. On a personal level, Colorado has three trips a year to Vancouver, so at least the poor bugger will get a few nights in his preferred hangout. As a competitive matter, I can’t imagine what could ever go wrong with adding a player that takes a ton of demented penalties to a team that finished 30th on the PK last year. Heckuva job, Greg Sherman.
Oh, you Coyotes:
Finally this week, the interminable search for a Coyotes owner continues, but Matt Hulsizer has decided that maybe the Blues might be more his speed. Mayor Scruggs sounds a bit sad to see Hulsizer go, and maybe that’s sensible, odd as it might appear at first blush. The next potential Coyotes’ owner might want even more favourable terms, which will mean an even larger outlay by Glendale city council.
A point worth remembering is that the next Glendale council elections are in 2012, which might serve the purpose of concentrating a few minds down there, and anyone that watched any of the council meetings over the last couple of years would agree that those minds could definitely use a bit of concentrating.
That’s all for this outing. If there’s anything you might have noticed that rates a mention, feel free to link it in comments.