Around the League – Feb 25, 2010

What an incredible week of drama, excitement, passion, athleticism, heartache and unbridled emotion we’ve seen from the Olympics.

The United States’ victory over Canada has American media outlets actually talking about hockey. Jim Rome’s show has talked more hockey this week than he did all of last year. ESPN has led their broadcasts with hockey and now NBC is promoting hockey throughout their broadcasts and they’re promoting another "miracle" theme.

With this type of exposure for hockey, I don’t see how the NHL won’t be a part of the 2014 Olympics in Russia. Sure the Americans were annoying with their chest-pumping about beating Canada on Sunday, but this is good for the sport, and if Canada has to lose a round-robin game for it to happen so be it.

I’ve heard many say that the NHL needs an American gold medal in hockey to grow the sport even more. I say hogwash. The NHL would benefit if the States was in the final, but if they lose to Canada it won’t hurt growth. In fact, I think it keeps the target on Canada and forces the Americans to push harder to try and keep up to us. While they are hesitant to admit it, America knows that Canada is the dominant country in hockey, and if they finish second it will give them extra incentive moving forward, plus it will make the rivalry even better.

Canada and the USA in the final will be great for the league, and I think it will ensure that we see NHL players in 2014. If the States beats Finland — which they should — and Canada downs Slovakia, the American media will give hockey the most coverage it has ever had — that’s great for the sport.

It’s amazing how in three days Canada has gone from worrying about not “Owning the Podium” to challenging the States and Germany for the most gold medals. All three are tied at seven gold medals with four days left. Normally the team with the most gold medals is ranked 1st, even if they don’t have the most medals, so Canada still has a shot to finish first, although Own the Podium’s goal was to have the most overall medals.

In 2002, Norway was ranked 1st with 13 gold, even though they only had 25 medals. Germany finished with 12 gold and 36 medals, while the States had ten gold and 34 medals.

With curling, hockey, men’s aerials and some more speed skating events, it’s possible that Canada could finish with the most gold medals. Our next gold will set a record for most gold medals in one Olympics. Even though Canada didn’t get off to a great start last week, they can still finish strong.

Ice women of the week

To wrap up our Olympian profile here are a few more talented and beautiful Olympians.

Kimiko Zakreski is a Canadian snowboarder. She was born in St. Albert but now lives in Calgary. Nice.

Chemmy Alcott is an alpine skier from Great Britain. I like how her boots match her outfit.

Kiira Korpi is a Finnish figure skater. She won’t win a medal, but you might want to check out her routine before Joannie Rochette’s tonight.

Random thoughts

  • With Pekka Rinne signing a two-year, $6.8 million extension with Predators, Dan Ellis is definitely on the market. I wonder who garners more attention leading up the deadline: Ellis or Marty Turco.
  • Turco is a $1.13 million cap hit the remainder of the year, while Ellis is only $366,492 and that could be the difference.
  • Ethan Moreau is a $366,492 cap hit, while Fernando Pisani is $523,560 and Steve Staios will cost $565,445 the remainder of this season. It seems very likely that Moreau and Pisani will be moved by next Wednesday.
  • Jaroslav Halak’s play for Slovakia might be the deciding factor for Pierre Gauthier. Gauthier has to move Halak or Carey Price, and you wonder if Price is now the man to move. Either way I doubt the Canadiens will get market value in return for either Price or Halak.
  • Minnesota, Calgary, Anaheim and Washington don’t play a game until March 3rd, so they don’t have any games to showcase a player prior to the deadline.
  • It looks like Tampa Bay continues to be a mess. GM Brian Lawton fired assistant coach, Wes Walz without consulting head coach Rick Tocchet. Lawton’s played the game ,so I don’t get why he would think this is a good move, unless it’s a tip-off that Tocchet’s job is in danger.
  • Steve Ott could be an attractive rental player. Ott is an UFA this summer and it sounds like he’ll get $3 million a year. Darryl Reaugh said on my show this week that he doesn’t think the Stars will go that high, so Ott could be had before Wednesday. He is one of the best pests in the league and is a great guy in the dressing room. The Sharks could use his abrasive style during the playoffs.
  • Some are whispering that if the Flames miss the playoffs Darryl Sutter’s job could be on the line. Interesting that when I talk to guys close to the team they don’t think that’s the case. Sutter has a long leash, but if they miss the playoffs and don’t have a first or second round pick, I can’t see ownership being overly happy.
  • The trade deadline is Wednesday, but don’t be surprised if some teams get a jump on things on Monday. GMs have had 14 days without any hockey to analyze their team and address their weaknesses. Boston, Edmonton, Dallas and LA are rumoured to be close to some deals, but not necessarily with each other.
  • With Russia getting crushed by Canada I expect Alex Ovechkin to light it up down the stretch and win the Maurice Richard trophy by four or more goals.
  • Ray Emery’s injury might force Paul Holmgren to bring in another goalie just in case. Traditionally the Flyers’ goalie has been their weakness, and if Emery isn’t healthy Holmgren can’t afford not to make a move. Dan Ellis to Philly maybe???
  • If you didn’t think Shea Weber was top-end D-man before the Olympics, I’m guessing you do now. He is tough, physical, skates well and has an heavy and accurate shot.
  • Rene Bourque at $3.3 million for the next six years is a good contract for him and the Flames. Problem for Brent Sutter is that after Bourque, Nik Hagman and Jarome Iginla he doesn’t have much proven offensive depth.

Leaders through the season

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

Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby
38: Patrick Marleau
35: Marian Gaborik and Steven Stamkos
32: Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk
30: Alexander Semin
28: Anze Kopitar, Bobby Ryan Rick Nash and Zach Parise

Joe Thornton
55: Henrik Sedin
50: Nicklas Backstrom (eight assists this week)
49: Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis
47: Ovechkin
46: Mike Green
44: Ryan Getzlaf and Evgeni Malkin
43: Tomas Plekanec

89: Ovechkin
80: H. Sedin
78: Crosby
76: Backstrom
75: Thornton
71: St. Louis
70: Stamkos
69: Gaborik and Marleau
67: Patrick Kane
66: Dany Heatley and B. Richards

+43: Ovechkin
+37: Jeff Schultz
+32: Backstrom
+28: Alex Burrows and Mike Green
+27: H. Sedin
+26: Daniel Sedin
+25: Semin, Jonathon Toews
+24: Christian Ehrhoff, Mike Knuble and Zach Parise
***Shawn Horcoff leads the race for the green jacket at -29, with Patrick O’Sullivan giving him a run at -28. Robert Nilsson’s -21 gives the Oilers three of the top-five contenders for the jacket.

PP Goals:
15: Stamkos
14: Heatley
13: Mike Richards and Gaborik
12: Crosby
11: Backstrom, Marleau and Kopitar
10: Malkin, Ovechkin, Ryan Kesler, Andrew Brunette, Bobby Ryan, Eric Staal and Kovalchuk

Cal Clutterbuck
236: Ryan Callahan
226: Dustin Brown
203: Stephane Robidas
195: Brooks Orpik
193: Steve Ott
186: Matt Greene
185: Scott Nichol
182: David Backes and Mike Fisher

283: Ovechkin
265: Parise
259: Jeff Carter
226: Crosby
218: Gaborik and Marleau
216: Rick Nash
215: Henrik Zetterberg
214: Phil Kessel, Radim Vrbata and Malkin

Final Word

Most Canadians found a way to watch part of the Russia/Canada game last night, and the same effort should be made tonight to watch Joannie Rochette’s long program. I think an entire nation will be cheering for her and holding their breath every time she attempts a jump. If she wins a medal, that medal presentation could produce the most tears of the Olympics. And no one should be ashamed to admit they felt a lump in their throat watching her skate.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Not sure Turco is on the market, waiving Auld is a pretty interesting move if you are considering moving Turco.

    Any word if the Stuart and Bos 1st for Gilbert and Cogs is a legit rumor from a legit source?

    • Jason Gregor

      The Boston/Edmonton rumour with those names won't happen. Those teams have chatted but this specific rumour isn't happening. Stauffer just text me to confirm this deal is not on the table.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        I questioned the deal from the start, but I also questioned why a guy like Stauffer who has as many ties as he does wouldn't check the rumor first.

  • Thanks for the read Gregor. I agree that if we meet the Americans, it will give hockey a ton of coverage and be a bonus for 2014.

    It was amazing that Joannie Rochette even skated, let alone gave the amazing performance she did. Good on her, and I hope she kicks arse tonight! I know I'll be watching and cheering her on. She deserves it to show such courage!

  • You forgot an ice woman. Canadian born 3rd of the German team Melanie Robillard from the 'infamous' curling calendar.

    More women of Van2010 here:

    I hope Rochette does well tonight. It's tragic the events of the last couple of days for her. It will be a fantastic moment when she wins a medal.

    Just throwing stuff out there but Iginla would look pretty good playing beside Sid. ~Maybe the penguins should give up Malkin for him~.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    "I doubt the Canadiens will get market value in return for either Price or Halak."

    Please send this in a memo to Tambellini. Lets get our tending situation solidified for the next 10 years please.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Hate to be cynical but strong increased American popularity of NHL hockey could be the death knell of our NHL franchise in Edmonton. One could argue that the long-term survival of a NHL team here in Edmonton is inversely correlated to the strength and popularity of NHL in the US as a whole as well as the strength of the US greenback. Based on this premise, I cannot support more popularity of NHL hockey in the US. Long live the NFL down there.

    • Jason Gregor

      The NHL will never be in the category of the NFL, or MLB and probably not NBA. But it can get back on ESPN and at least be a player in the sports world. I don't see why you think getting more exposure will hurt the Oilers? Unless you think the cap will go up that much that they can't compete. I think the game will have to grow a lot in order for that to happen.

    • Starving Student

      I really doubt that. If there was no cap, maybe. Between the cap and Edmonton selling out pretty much 100% of the time for home games, they're pretty solid financially. Their situation of being godawful will get sorted out over the next couple of years, and all will be well.

  • OilFan

    I will be cheering Joannie Rochette on tonight. If Montreal is trading one of those tenders I hope Tambo is knocking on there door. Is there any possible way we can dump Horcoff this deadline? Any chance? Rumor is Comrie and Hillary are buying a house in Beverly Hills. I hope we resign him, he seems to be good with our younger players.

  • OilFan

    Price or Halak would be great for the Oilers. Young tender to start the rebuild. The Ice Birds started with Fleury added forwards ect ( of course they have Crosby).

  • Starving Student

    We were within whiskers of losing this team. Of course the NHL will probably never become an elite league like the NFL but even marginally increased fan interest and tv dollars could allow several troubled teams to remain intact and fuel the flames of another US expansion. Don't kid yourself on how tenuous the entrenchment of a NHL team is here given our population base. I never take for granted having the Oilers here and no one else should either. A lot of jobs direct and indirect depend of having such a team here in this city.

    • Jason Gregor

      Yes the team almost left, but considering how hard The Count is fighting to keep Phoenix I think Edmonton is pretty safe from moving. Even Bettman knows that having teams in Canada is good for the league. If anything I see another team in Canada in ten years, rather than losing one.

  • Milli

    Ya I was ver happy for Joannie Rochette, that must take amazing focus to be able to compete at the highest level after just losing her mom….That, and she is beautiful!