December 8 News and Notes


GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 16: Matthew Hulsizer (C), CEO of PEAK6 Investments, attends the NHL game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena on October16, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)


The round-up is back after a few days’ delay due to technical difficulties, so let’s get to it. This week, the Flames turn a good effort into actual points in the standings, the Oilers lose a game and a valuable man, and the Board of Governors meet Matthew Hulsizer.





The club played a pretty sound game last night, although their power play still looked a shambles, Iggy’s goal notwithstanding. The Herald’s chat this afternoon, predictably, had its fair share of concentration on the ongoing ineptitude of Olli Jokinen. He’s not getting anything to go in, but the absence of any sort of decent chances off his stick has to be a concern even to his strongest advocates. His line was the only one pinned in its own end for much of last night, and if Brent Sutter is serious about players earning ice time or even a roster spot on merit, it’s past time for Joker to either sit in the PB or be demoted to the 4th line.


It’s not all bad, of course. Adam Pardy looked like a NHL defenseman last night, albeit one that wasn’t asked to do much more than play against bottom-sixers, and if nothing else he’ll keep Mikkelson from acting as any more than a seventh D. He should also keep Staios in civvies when he gets healthy, but that’s another matter entirely. The Flames’ PK was also good, only giving Stamkos one shot from his favorite spot, and it was one Kipper diagnosed pretty handily. 


On the farm, the Heat manged to outlast Lake Erie in a shoot out, and Leland Irving’s play has to be a relative bright spot on that injury riddled club. He’s currently sitting at a .916 SV%, and although we don’t have ready access to the special teams breakdowns to split off EV goaltending in the AHL, the Heat’s PK is running at 79.1%, so I’d guess his numbers aren’t being aided by a lofty PKSV%. It sounds like he’s taken his chance to be the number one guy and made something of it thus far, which is a nice change for your average Flame prospect.


Next up:


BOSTON - MAY 01: Marco Sturm #16 of the Boston Bruins lies on the ice after a hit in the first period agianst the Philadelphia Flyers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 1, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts. Sturm left the game and did not return. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)



The club is in Southern California for a brace this week, with the Kings on the docket for tomorrow evening. L.A. has cooled after a hot start, leaving them searching for another forward. If the Sturm trade really is just delayed, he’s a decent enough left winger, and the Kings are short on that side, so giving up a conditional pick for him isn’t bad, presuming that it wasn’t anything more than a second or third rounder.


I do wonder if a few teams are looking at the Western Conference standings and reconsidering whether to make a deal or not. There are exactly two points separating 3rd from 12th entering this evening’s play, so any team with a bit of cap space and gumption might be able to gain an edge if they move now. An extra week of good play might be the difference between a good seed and being out of the playoffs for any number of squads. I know several teams are holding off due to revenue sharing considerations, though. Teams like Phoenix and Nashville will always be careful to remain under the mid-point in order to maximize their return from the league’s redistribution, which is why it’s so hard to make a deal that unloads an expensive player for picks/prospects until the deadline. L.A. isn’t eligible for revenue sharing, so they do operate with more freedom, and the Sturm move is that sort of play on their part if it gets revisited.


The Ducks managed to scrape out a win last night in the shoot-out, with Cam Fowler launching the winner in the 10th round, but the news of interest came from the other locker room. Shawn Horcoff was on the bad end of a questionable play from Corey Perry, and the Oiler captain will apparently be lost for a couple of months. Horcoff has had a fine year, especially considering the fact that he’s played with kids against good competition, and the next two months will be a test for the likes of Hall and Eberle. My hunch is that they might find the going a bit more difficult without a grown-up having their back at EV.




TORONTO, CANADA - DECEMBER 4: Francois Beauchemin  of the Toronto Maple Leafs battles for the puck with Nathan Horton  of the Boston Bruins during game action at the Air Canada Centre December 4, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages / Getty Images)



The Pens host Toronto tonight as the Sid Crosby Experience continues. His shooting percentage is pretty high, but his underlying numbers are very good this year, and this is the first season since his rookie year where the club has needed him to do all the heavy lifting against good players, so I’d argue that he’s having his best season yet irrespective of the bounces. That tougher icetime’s not likely to go away, either, since Jordan Staal has no near-term date for a return. If Crosby continues this level of play, it’ll should be as lopsided a Hart vote as we’ve seen in years.


The Leafs are, of course, missing a player of interest themselves, but reports are that Dion Phaneuf is nearing a return, and there’s every chance we’ll see him against the Flames next Thursday. One thing that I did notice when I looked at the Leafs’ underlying numbers is how well Francois Beauchemin has been doing. He’s above water playing the toughs with some pretty rigorous ZoneStart numbers, which made me wonder about this from Bruce Garrioch:


No wonder Leafs GM Brian Burke can’t make a trade. Two names being thrown around the league: D Francois Beauchemin ($3.8-million cap hit) and D Mike Komisarek ($4.5-million cap hit). Both have strong character, but their contracts make them nearly impossible to move. 


Komisarek isn’t any hell, but if a team is looking for a very solid top four D with a contract that expires before the next lockout (after 11/12), Beauchemin’s 3.8M a year isn’t exorbitant in the slightest. Let’s put it this way: Cory Sarich costs 200k less a year, and I certainly haven’t noticed Beauchemin being healthy scratched. Burke shouldn’t move him, IMO, but if he’s on the market, there are plenty of teams that could use him, and his ticket shouldn’t be a deterrent. The Flames don’t appear to be in the market, but I’d take him as Gio’s running buddy in a heartbeat if Calgary had any cap space at all.


Alexander Frolov has denied asking for a trade from the Rangers, but his interview with a Russian newspaper has raised questions about his status in the Apple. Tortorella isn’t wrong to have cut his ice time, though. Frolov is playing very poorly, sitting underwater despite easy competition and cushy Zone Starts, and the Rangers have to wonder what’s happened to a guy that spent years being a good player against top level comp. It should be noted Frolov was still OK last season with the Kings, but there were complaints from that organization about his productivity.


The Contrarian Goaltender has a couple of new posts in the last week, and in one of them he notes that the fact that Euro leagues don’t emphasize wins or goals against in their goalie stat packages, using SV% instead. I’d recommend that piece as well as his look at how GMs in the 90s really rated performance by the masked men.


Filthy Lucre:


WASHINGTON - APRIL 21: Treasury Secertary Timothy Geithner (L) and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke pose for photos during the unveiling of the new $100 note at the Treasury Department April 21, 2010 in Washington, DC. According to the Treasury Department, the U.S. government evaluates advances in digital and printing technology to redesign currency and stay ahead of counterfeiters. The new note will be put into circulation in Feburary 2011. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)



The Board of Governors finished their December meetings this week, and the prospective Coyotes’ owner got a chance to meet his future partners. Matthew Hulsizer still has a bit of work to do in terms of a lease, but Glendale seems more than willing to do whatever he asks in order to keep a team in their building. The hints are that his lease will look like what Jerry Reinsdorf was requesting in terms of dollar support, so a city of 250,000 will likely be covering eight figure losses for the next several years. There are many days where I’m glad not to be a taxpayer in Glendale. Of course, my city might be on the verge of spending 200M for a CFL stadium, so I shouldn’t be too haughty, I suppose.


The next alleged basket case the owners might have to consider is Atlanta, and although Atlanta is renowned for poor attendance in several sports, I can’t really see them moving any time soon. The Board, for better or worse, is dominated by Americans in search of a major U.S. television deal, and I really can’t imagine a scenario where a U.S. team moves north. The Coyotes will have been wards of the league for roughly 2 1/2 years if/when Hulsizer takes over. I don’t doubt for one second that the league would do the same for Atlanta if need be. The general subject of relocation is covered off by Scott Burnside here, and Derek Zona looks at potential markets here.


That’s all for this time around. After these two matches in SoCal, the Flames play once in six days. If there’s a move afoot, we might see it next week.





  • dustin642

    Horcoff hurt again? Is it just me or does it seem that whoever wears the “C” in Edmonton gets injured-A LOT?
    Also, Ryan Stone was sent down to the Heat today, anyone know if this is a conditioning stint or if this was where he was designated to be anyways? My guess is that our roster is full to the brim (especially with players of his ilk) so there really isn’t any room for him up here anyways.
    Phaneuf returning to the Leafs soon?! I really really hope he is good to go by the time the Leafs/Flames play. Like most, I’ve been waiting for this game since “the trade.”

    This whole Phoenix thing is quite troubling, and seems to be spreading to other sports now as well, with a similar thing happening to the Charlotte Bobcats in the NBA. I really know nothing about the ownership part of all of this mess, other than what you already pointed out, that they are looking for a tv contract in the US, but it really seems pointless to even have small market teams in areas that can not even fill half their arenas seats most nights, when there are other cities (not necessarily just in Canada) that would die for a franchise. Oh well, enough complaining….

    Great stuff as usual!

    • Robert Cleave

      I think the Stone was always likely to head to Abbotsford at least for a while, although adding Kostopoulos in the White trade pretty much guaranteed it. If Stone were healthy out of camp, he maybe beats out Meyer or Sutter, but that wasn’t certain.

      The one thing about the New Orleans deal I’ll add is that the Charlotte Hornets were a model franchise in the NBA’s late 80s expansion. They routinely filled a 22,000 seat facility, drafted two good young players (Mourning and Larry Johnson), seemed to be adding pieces around them as the core for a good club, and it all went to bits, mostly due to a community souring on an owner perceived as cheap. George Shinn walked on Charlotte after his attempt to get a new building fell through and the Hornets as a franchise have been a shaky proposition ever since. Throw in the economic issues New Orleans has had to deal with since Katrina, and it was no surprise that we’ve seen the league step in when a planned ownership transfer fell through. The Hornets are an extreme case, but there are a few other NBA owners that would likely walk if they could sell their franchises, not unlike what we see in the NHL.

  • dustin642

    stone being sent to the heat is simply a case of where he belongs. jeez if backlund is a press box candiadate and they dress stone the angry mob would grab the pitchforks and oil.

  • Robert Cleave

    having spent considerable time in the us midwest, i think the nhl is overlooking a great marketplace. the city of milwaukee wisconsin. the natural rivalry of wisconsin-minnesota.milwaukee-chicago,wisconsin-michigan would be at a fevered pitch. besides wisconsiin is a hockey state. there is a lilttle company headquartered in milwaukee, perhaps you may have heard of them. harley davidson. the ahl franchise in this city always grew huge crowds. not only would this be a city”s team, but a states team as and winnipeg could also get the failed sunbelt franchises. its marketplace. you wont sell alot of pork sausages in israel would you, so why would you open try to sell hockey in football crazed southern usa.

    • Robert Cleave

      My guess is that the NHL would a) want a new arena in Milwaukee and b) want some assurances that the corporate community would be willing to kick in enough sponsorship to make a go of things. The Bradley Center doesn’t have a lot of the luxury boxes and other revenue generators that newer facilities have. That’s part of the reason that the Bucks’ revenue numbers are worse than what their attendance would normally rate.

      As well, the city isn’t that large in relative terms, and the Bucks, Brewers and Packers would likely command a good chunk of the corporate money available. I don’t doubt they’d draw better than several current franchises, but it isn’t just about people in the seats when you talk about a NHL franchise’s economic health.

      • Robert Cleave

        you raise some very good points. the arena would need some refurbishing. the greater milwaukee area has approximately 1.5 million. hey its gotta be better than watching the 15 fans atlanta is drawing. milwaukee,winnipeg and quebec would appreciate an nhl franchise. the demographics of atlanta isnt realy a hockey audience. honestly i dont think many south of the mason dixon line care for hockey.

        • SmellOfVictory

          I think Carolina has been doing a decent job of increasing fan interest. Not sure about TB, but given that they have Stamkos and won a cup not all that long ago, I wouldn’t be surprised if their fanbase was increasing.

  • GermanFlame

    Just a random thought/question that popped into my head today figure I would ask.

    Who thinks that the NW, this year, is the worst division in hockey?

    I certainly think so… I mean the SE used to have that title, but with Atlanta being competitive and Tampa being a pretty good team (Other than a terrible goalie, as we saw yesterday) it isnt really that bad of a division.

    You could make an argument for a couple other divisions, I mean both the Northeast and Atlantic divisions have two pretty good teams, while three others that have some work to do.

    I mean Vancouver should be a ‘top’ contender, although they are fairly medicore right now. And the rest of the division, well I guess one look at the standings can answer that question. Colorado with a win, probably jump about 5 spots because of the logjam, but still not a pretty sight

    Oh wait, speak of the devil, they just scored with about 20 seconds left to push the game into overtime.

  • Can’t say I can agree with your opinion on “Bob Beachman”. He’s one of the many problems the Leafs have. It’s not just the forwards causing grief for the Wilson/Burke Team Mega Supreme.

    He drops coverage and has a weak presence in front of his own net. I wouldn’t give him a second thought at this stage.

  • CitizenFlame

    Crosby is a juggernaut this year! When is the last time anyone saw a guy play like this? I wish I saw more Pittsburgh games because the highlight packages have a way of skewing things, but still, is there anything he isn’t willing to do. As if a 17 game point streak isn’t enough but he is basically putting up two points a game, unreal. I think he is burying any comparisons of him with anyone else right now (at least among active roster players). Where is Malkin?

    Speaking of russians, I thought that was pretty cool of Ovechkin in the game against Toronto, after he was run by Orr and scored on the PP or 4 vs. 4 – whatever it was, to go over and tap the glass and salute the goon in penalty box for stepping in and fighting Orr for him. That is a classy move by Ovechkin.

    • Crosby is bonkers this year. His SH% is pretty high (21%) but he’s also getting more than 4 shots per game. And he’s doing it with Dupuis and Kunitz on his wings and no Staal in the line-up.

      He’s pulling away from the field I think. Dude is scary good.