Five things: More Gaudreau Gushing

1. I can’t believe how good Johnny Gaudreau is

I think by this point I’ve watched four or five of Boston College’s nine games, and Johnny Gaudreau has been very good in all of them. (I know I talk about this kid a lot but there’s a lockout. What do you want from me?)

That’s reflected on the scoresheet of course. Again, BC’s played nine games, he has at least a point in all of them, and 7-5-12 overall. Dating back to last season, in which he had points in his final three games, that’s a 12-game run of 9-8-17, which doesn’t seem fair to me.

And the thing is, I haven’t especially thought he was really great or anything in all of them. The game in Lowell a few weeks back that I wrote about here he was more or less bottled up by a staunch defensive effort, and he wasn’t getting many pucks to the net very effectively either by himself or for his teammates against archrival Boston University this past Sunday. But — and though I am loath to use the term — he does seem to have a certain amount of "clutchness" about him even when he’s not carrying the game outright, which, I should note, he does rather a lot.

For instance, in that Lowell game, the moment came for him to make a difference and something small, a simple pass, was all that was needed to set up the only goal a 1-0 win. Then on Sunday, he very much took the game by the collar and sparked an offensive explosion with a few strong shifts in the middle of a hailstorm of BC trips to the penalty box. Though he didn’t get the goal to extend it to 2-0 for his Eagles, he did get the third 82 seconds later to take it from nailbiter to laugher, engineering a great give-and-go passing play with exceptional linemate Pat Mullane, and that goal stood up as the eventual game-winner. He has five of those in nine games at this point.

At this point, nothing he does surprises me, but probably only because I see him a few times a month. What a transcendental college talent. Such a pleasure to watch.

2. A very reasonable thing I totally believe

So yesterday in Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts (item No. 2 in your programs), the NHLPA comes out and says players weren’t told to demonize Gary Bettman, despite all evidence to the contrary.

That’s a little hard to swallow, to be honest. It seems like from the very beginning, lots of players were like, "Well this is what Gary wants, pretty obviously." Gary this, Gary that. No mention of their teams’ owners, who are the people who are pulling the strings for Bettman here. Understandable that you don’t want to bite the hand that feeds, and that Bettman himself comes off as fairly unlikable so he’s an easy target that everyone already hates.

Always seemed like a pretty cut-and-dry tactic, and rather a smart one. I suppose it’s not unreasonable that this is true, though. After all, every hockey fan on the entire planet seems to have arrived at the decision that Gary Bettman is a huge turd everyone should hate pretty much independent of each other (this was probably around the time of the last lockout). So perhaps, just maybe, the NHLPA isn’t lying at all.

I don’t know what to believe any more.

3. How long does this last in Abbotsford?

Only one team in the AHL has as many points as the Abbotsford Heat, and it has three times the regulation losses as Calgary’s farm club, which has just one.

One regulation loss (and three more in overtime or the shootout, including the one to Oklahoma City over the weekend) in 12 games is absolutely crazy output, especially for a team that didn’t get to send down as many world-class young talents as other AHL teams did. Charlotte, OKC, Adirondack, etc. all got quality NHLers. Abbotsford, if I’m not mistaken, got Roman Horak, TJ Brodie and Sven Baertschi, the latter of whom you can hardly call and NHLer at this point, despite his clear readiness for that role.

So the question a lot of people have asked around here is, "How long does it last?" Horak can’t continue shooting the lights out (he has 10 of the team’s 40 goals on just 41 shots), and to be honest, it’s pretty hard to envision this lasting much longer. No one can kill penalties at the 95.9 percent clip the Heat have, though to be fair, the team also takes very few penalties relative to the rest of the league.

This is a real nice start to the season, obviously, and it’s been great to see some of the organizations better young players light the world on fire. But I wouldn’t go engraving the Calder Cup just yet.

4. Back to CBA negotiations for a second

So we’re at Day, like, 5 or 6, I think, of No Negotiations, and then last night around 7:15 Eastern Time we get an NHLPA memo where the Brothers Fehr profess their willingness to negotiate anywhere, any time, under any circumstances.

Great, so we’re back to this then?

Not actual negotiations, but rather statements about willingness to negotiate. Which is almost the same thing if you kind of squint and tilt your head to the right at a 45 degree angle and let your eyes go out of focus. Then a sailboat appears. 

5. Fehr and Loathing

I’m starting to wonder if all that talk late last week about Don Fehr being a jerk in negotiations as a deliberate stall tactic because the owners have a drop-dead date for the lockout. As in, once "x" date hits, this has to be wrapped up in a week.

I mean, there’s no other reason for him to be taking 20 minutes to "get a drink of water" other than to be an hilarious jerk and annoy everyone, before coming back into the room to be like, "Clearly we’re not getting anywhere. Steve, come get a drink of water with me and then we’ll come back and we’re LEAVING." There can’t be, right? I have no other explanation for it, but I did enjoy how much the owners hated him for it. The tactics were so annoying they tried to drive a wedge between him and the PA.

I’ve also noticed that in the past few weeks, more owners have paid some amount of lip service to the general badness of the lockout and its effect on hockey, which is interesting. Got to wonder if there’s any building pressure from guys who might have been more willing to sit back and quietly dissent, or even see where Bettman took it all. Interesting to see if this direction, toward further contentiousness, rather than bridge-building, will have any appreciable effect on a continued willingness for revenue-driving clubs to start kickin’ up a big old stink.

I hope so, anyway.