1. I can’t believe it maybe possibly coulda worked
When it was first announced that the owners and players should meet by themselves, with no Bettman and no Fehr, I was admittedly very skeptical.
Seemed like a PR scheme, especially because Murray Edwards and Jeremy Jacobs were almost immediately tabbed as two of the owners in the meeting. They’d been hardlining their asses off from August until the day before the meeting, and I saw no reason that 18 players with no legal experts on their side of the table would be enough to intimidate them into not doing so now.
This was especially true because I figured these guys would get put through the ringer by Fehr and Bettman for days in preparation for the showdown itself. "New ideas" and all that were likely to seep in but I wasn’t going to sit here and expect the rhetoric to get dialed back all that much. Seemed naïve given how things had gone.
But hey, I was wrong. They’re rockin’ and rollin’ now, thanks in large part to the handful of moderates brought into the argument, instead of letting the hawks run the show. I didn’t see it coming, but obviously I’m glad that it did.
2. A modest proposal
A lot of the talk I heard yesterday was about how this would affect the scheduling of the remainder of the season.
There was a Sports Business Journal report out in the morning that said basically the sponsors get some of their money back unless the league has every team play a 62-game schedule. So it seems like that’s exactly how many they’re going to play, which is disappointing.
A little while back now, I wrote a column for Puck Daddy extoling the virtues of playing a truly balanced 58-game schedule. You get 29 games at home, and play 29 on the road. During that time, you play every team in the National Hockey League once. Of course, the fix to bump such a schedule to the league’s necessary 62 isn’t that hard: You also play your division rivals once more each, with some random thing determining which two you play at home, and which two on the road.
That, to me, seems fairly equitable, and allows for the league to have full-on victory laps for true legends of the game like Dany Alfredsson, Teemu Selanne, et al. It would all come full circle and potentially help to heal the wounds of this latest lockout. At least for me. Cuz man oh man do I wanna see Teemu Selanne play hockey one last time.
3. How insufferable will the Penguins be now?
They’re already annoying enough, but if Sid Crosby and their owner are credited with saving the NHL season, I don’t want to live.
4. Flames at World Juniors
While six Flames prospects were invited to their countries’ World Junior camps, you have to be realistic and say that only about four of them are sure things. Obviously the three locks, as far as I’m concerned, are Johnny Gaudreau, Laruent Brossoit, and Markus Granlund for the US, Canada and Finland, respectively. I also have to think Jon Gillies is on the "would need to get hurt driving a boat into a preschool" list as far as making it for the US goes but he’s not the slam-dunk sure-thing the other three are.
Which leads us to the two guys who are anything but a sure thing: Tyler Wotherspoon, who will have to kill several suitors to make the Canadian squad in my estimation, and Patrick Sieloff, who is an intriguing option for the U.S.
Sieloff in particular is intriguing. For one thing, the U.S. doesn’t exactly sit knee-deep in top-end defensive talent, so it will have to cobble together its group from guys with — as pointed out by Chris Peters — varying skillsets, rather than letting a team full of Seth Joneses do whatever they want. To me, no one in USA Hockey’s upcoming camp has what Sieloff brings, which is physicality and the ability to play shutdown defense. Also as Peters pointed out, the U.S. isn’t going to rain goals on teams, so having a smothering defense is the only way in which it will be able to make a good accounting of itself. Sieloff can definitely be that guy, and if he happens to knock Ryan Nugent-Hopkins into Row Q with an open-ice hit, all the better.
The only concern I really have of his making it is that the U.S. only brought three right shots meaning Sieloff, as a guy who’s not guaranteed to make the team, will really have to impress to muscle ahead of the other guys, two of whom will be sent home, given that the U.S. invited nine D and only intend to bring seven to Russia.
5. Just another reminder
This Friday, as in tomorrow, I am attending a Boston College/Providence College game in which four — count ’em, four — of the Flames’ most intriguing prospects will be playing. Gaudreau and Billy Arnold for BC, Mark Jankowski and Jon Gillies for Providence will all be there, and I’ll be doing a scouting report on that game for Flames Nation within a few days of that game having taken place.
With that said, as I did last week, please leave any questions you have about these guys in the comments, or hit me on Twitter or by email (twolinepassblog at gmail dot com), and I’ll see what I can do to answer them. I will say that I’m more familiar with BC’s players because I’ve seen them about six or seven times this season, compared to this being my first Providence game. Again, I will glean for you what I can from this one performance, which I fully expect the Eagles to dominate. But then I’ve been surprised before.