Monday, May 31, 2004


Team Russia World Cup Roster Nominations - Russian for a Crushin'

Like William Hung�s rendition of �Take Me Out to the Ballgame�, Team Russia is looking pretty f�ugly right about now.

The good news: Vik Tikhonov has been replaced, for now, by Zinetula Bilyaletdinov, 49, a former national team defenceman. Tikhonov (pictured) will still remain on the team as a �Senior Consultant�, like a cockroach that just won�t die, no matter how much Raid� you spray on the damn thing.

Poor Bilyaletdinov seems to be set to take a big fall as his international coaching career gets under way. Not only is Tikhonov still lurking in the shadows, waiting to backstab his way back into the head coaching position, but the roster given to Zinetula is just poorly constructed. I foresee Tikhonov taking back the coaching reigns if Russia has a poor showing at the World Cup, which is quite likely.

Here are the roster nominations released :

Evgeni Nabokov, SJ
Nikolai Khabibulin, TB
Maxim Sokolov, Avangard

Oleg Tverdovsky, Avangard
Sergei Gonchar, Was.
Daniil Markov, Phi.
Alexander Khavanov, Stl.
Darius Kasparaitis, NYR
Anton Volchenkov, Ott.
Vitaly Vishnevski, Ana.
Andrei Markov, Mtl.

Dainius Zubrus, Was.
Artem Chubarov, Van.
Sergei Samsonov, Bos.
Alexei Kovalev, Mtl.
Sergei Fedorov, Ana.
Ilya Kovalchuk, Atl.
Maxim Afinogenov, Buf.
Pavel Datsyuk, Det.
Viktor Kozlov, NJ
Alexei Yashin, NYI
Alexei Zhamnov, Phi.
Valeri Bure, Dal.
Oleg Kvasha, NYI
Alexander Ovechkin, Dynamo
Maxim Sushinski, Avangard

The goaltending is fine, the defense is passable, but the forward group is a defensive black hole that threatens to envelop the entire universe.

Like the New York Ranger$, the forward group is a set of skilled �stars� and egos with just about no heart, defensive ability, or grit. Chubarov is the one true �role player� to make the squad, while Federov and Zhamnov are pretty decent 2-way forwards (Federov used to be Selke quality, but that was many moons ago).

That�s it, that�s all. Every other forward on the roster is definitely lacking in defensive ability, defensive effort, and grit.

Perhaps they brought so many cherry-pickers to bring some nourishment back to the homeland, because this group of small one-dimensional wonders is not going to bring home any medals. Datsyuk, Samsonov, Afinogenov�I�d like to have one of these guys on my NHL team, but there is no way I�d take all 3 on one national team.

The Russians didn�t learn from their World Championships debacle in St. Petersburg, where they absolutely bombed in front of their home fans with a team full of soft, one-dimensional forwards who were too concerned with fancy rushes up the ice, rather than solid team play. It�s no small wonder why these guys wouldn�t want to play for Tikhonov, as they would actually be forced to backcheck more than once a game.

Unlike the Czechs, Canadians, and Slovaks who took skilled forwards that have excelled and performed in defensive roles in the past (Draper, Dvorak and Cajanek, for example), none of the Russian forwards outside of Chubarov, Federov, and Zhamnov can be relied on in defensive situations; and we know Federov and Zhamnov will be put in offensive roles, so that leaves just Chubarov as a true defensive stopper.

Notable Players and Exceptions:

1. Alex Mogilny - Like Bobby Holik, �Pokerface� Mogilny would rather sit in his Malibu beach house than play hockey for his �homeland�. Mogilny has basically cut his ties with Russia, and had no interest in joining the World Cup effort.

2. The Lithuanians - Darius �Fear of Ghosts� Kasparaitis and Dainius Zubrus will both don the jersey of their former Russian oppressors. Kaspar has a long history with the Russian team, so his selection is no surprise, but Zubrus was granted a special exception.
Since this tournament is not IIHF-run, Zubrus and the Russian team were given permission to use Zubrus for this tournament. The reports suggest that Zubrus won�t lose his Lithuanian eligibility for future tournaments�although I can�t remember the last time the Lithuanian hockey team played in any tournament of note. It speaks volumes for Russia�s development program that they constantly have to import players from their former slave states like Ukraine and Lithuania.

3. Alex Ovechkin - The supposed �Next� one has arrived. The probable 1st overall pick at the upcoming Entry Draft was nominated for this team, most likely just to showcase Mother Russia�s supposed hockey superiority. Ovechkin is a fine prospect, but I don�t think he made the team purely on his own merits. The kid was pretty ordinary at the Under-20 WJC�s, so you wouldn�t expect him to have a positive impact at a tournament like this. If they wanted to showcase a young talent, then the very impressive Nikolai Zherdev (Columbus) would have made a fine choice.

4. Ground Puree and a dash of Kvasha - Most sane GM�s wouldn�t want Valeri Bure or Oleg Kvasha on their NHL teams, so it�s amazing that they even got a sniff of a tournament this prestigious. I can�t think of many more amazing wastes of talents in the league than these two players. Puree has whined his way around to many teams, living off of the production of one good season.
Kvasha, meanwhile, just has the fortune of being 6�5� tall, which makes NHL GM�s forget about his choppy and unbalanced skating style, mental softness, and total lack of offensive production to date. I�m glad Russia picked these 2 players, simply because Canada can exploit such a weakness quite easily.

Until the Russians can get some real leadership and 21st century thinking running their federation, the senior squads will continue to suffer through turmoil, incessant politicking, and below-average squads. The skill is there, but it�s a bad looking �team�, and I would be quite shocked if they finished in the Top 3.

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Sunday, May 30, 2004


Donald S. Cherry - Safety Ambassador

It's been a rough Cup Finals for poor Ruslan Fedotenko.

In addition to the free plastic surgery he received in Game 1(pictured), Ruslan had his face smashed into the ridge on the boards by Robyn Regehr in Game 3.

Playoff hockey just isn't for pretty boys.

Now, this brings me to the CBC's noted talking head, Don Cherry, who called the glass to be extended right to the edge of the boards, so there would be no ridge or ledge area. If the glass and board area was connected together, the damage to Fedotenko's face and those of other previous victims could have been lessened.

Isn't it ironic (In the Alanis Morrisette sense), that the most outspoken and clear-headed public discourse on player safety comes from a man who has made millions marketing the rough side of the sport? (Think Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Hockey)

For all of the flak Cherry gets for his anti-European and anti-French sentiments, he has used his Coach's Corner segment numerous times discussing the issue of player safety and common sense approaches to reducing injuries. While the NHLPA is purely concerned with $$, and not the health of its members, and the NHL moves like a glacier to induce change, Cherry is the real players' voice, and a somewhat caring 'Father Figure' for improving conditions in the workplace.

In addition to his call to remove the board ridges, Cherry has discussed...

1. Removing Touch Icing - Is the possibility of negating 1 icing per game worth the risk of season or career ending injuries? Just ask Pat Peake, or Al MacInnis.

2. Softer Elbow and Shoulder Padding - Is there a real need for players to wear kevlar vests and kevlar elbow pads? Elbow injuries were never a serious problem in the NHL, and these rock-hard elbow and shoulder pads are concussion-inducing weapons.

3. Ankle Guards and Neck Guards - Two non-traditional forms of protection that many players to be too obstructive to their game. Cherry has promoted products that would give players optimal protect from some freakish injuries, yet would give the players freedom of movement.

Why is it, then, that Don Cherry is so adamantly opposed to helmet visors?

Look on the face of most players, and you'll see more scars than Frankenstein's creation.
With pucks flying at 90 MPH, and sticks constantly being waved about, why doesn't Cherry worry about life-altering eye injuries? Visors seem to be the most common sense form of protection left for most players to wear.

Is Cherry simply echoing the sentiments of the players?

Bryan Berard has stated publicly that he didn't even want to wear a visor after coming back from a near career-ending injury. Players such as Al MacInnis, who have donned a visor later in the career, were very reluctant to put them on until they were absolutely forced to.
Noted cementheads Owen Nolan and Tie Domi wore visors for very short times recovering from injury, and then ripped them off at the first chance they got?

Is the visor still the Scarlet Letter of the NHL? At least to many North American players, it seems.

Look, CHL players all wear visors, and it doesn't stop them from fighting. Many of the NHL's top players wear visors, and it doesn't seem to have stopped them from scoring.

So they fog up? Then wipe them down, it takes about 5 seconds.

Cherry claims that players should be free to make their own choice.


Would you let workers at a coal mine determine their own safety standards? How about a toxic chemical plant? Just imagine all of the accidents and deaths then.

If Don Cherry was truly concerned about player safety, he'd tell the players to suck it up and don visors permanently. Dismissing visors as 'girly' is not a 'manly' stance at all, it is simply a foolish one. There is nothing admirable about foolish and false bravado. If these players were really tough, they'd wear the same cruddy leather style pads that Maurice Richard wore back in ye olde days.

Friday, May 28, 2004


THN 2004 Draft Preview - Return of the Slovaks

So, I finally got my hands on the THN Draft Preview edition. It's one of my 'must-buys' every year, and it's the perfect read for the expert or casual fan.

I'll wait until the Cup Finals are over to really comb through it, but I'm happy to see some Slovaks getting recognition in the Top 100 rankings, as it really is a strong year for the Slovaks. After a drought of sorts, the Slovaks have produced a pretty solid crop of prospects this year, with a little bit of everything.

I'll have a more extensive preview on in June, but for now I'll offer my thoughts on the Slovak prospects THN has ranked.

#12 - Andrej Meszaros, D - Trencin
He's got mad skillz, baby, and not since Marian Gaborik ripped up Slovak League defenses apart has a junior player had such an impact in the Extraliga.
Basically, he's a super-skilled defenseman who plays well in every facet of the Europe.
Some seem to really like him (like THN), while others fear he's a bit too raw and that his skills won't translate well at the NHL level. McKeen's has him ranked all the way down in 30th. Not many 18 year olds play a regular shift for their country at the World Championships, but Meszaros did just that. Should make a great #2 NHL defenseman, but not a superstar.

#20 - Boris Valabik, D - Kitchener
I wrote a more complete profile for here.
He's big (6'6"+), he's nasty, he's competitive, he loves to fight, and he doesn't play at all like the stereotypical European player.
As you'd expect, he's getting all sorts of comparisons to Zdeno Chara, although I don't think he'll ever produce the kind of offensive numbers Chara has been putting up the past couple of seasons.
I really like how he improved over the course of the season, as he adapted to the smaller playing surface and worked on skating less like an ogre. Before this season, he wasn't considered a top prospects by anyone outside of his own family.

That said, I really think he's being overrated by some simply due to the fact that he is so big and nasty. He's basically the opposite of Meszaros; He has 1/10th of the skill, but he's proven that he excels in the North American game. He seems like a sure-fire 1st rounder, anyway, so that gives the Slovaks 2 potential first-rounders in this draft.

#45 - Juraj Gracik, RW - Topolcany (1st Div. and Junior)
Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing the Slovakian Eric Daze! (Try too hard not to get excited)

He's big (6'3") and scores goals. Unlike other tall Slovaks that were drafted simply for being blessed with high levels of growth hormones (Vladimir Kutny, Vladislav Balaz, Tomas Troliga), Gracik is actually a productive and skilled forward who will produce offensive numbers. Like Daze, his defense is somewhat weak and his passing skills are Richard Zednik-like.

He played most of the early season with the Junior squad, but was promoted to the 1st division team and scores 17 goals in 29 games, including a hat-trick in 1 game.
I'd like to see him come to the CHL next season as his game is suited for the style and the 1st division isn't really the best place for him to develop his NHL aspirations.

#63 - Michal Sersen, D - Rimouski
A balanced defenseman with a solid build, I think a lot of people were expecting/wanting more from the kid. He was the 1st overall pick in the 2003 CHL Import Draft, and just didn't blow anyone away.
He could be the kind of pick that slips, but will make a team very happy later on. He could make a serviceable defenseman, much like a Radoslav Suchy.

#93 - Jaroslav Markovic, C/RW - Martin
To quote internet geeks all around the world: 'MEH!'
For some reason, I've never been all that keen on Markovic.
I don't see Markovic on the CSS rankings, and he may have opted out of this draft. This might be a good strategy if he plans to go to the CHL.
To his credit, Markovic may actually do himself better in the CHL, as his strengths seem to be his work ethic and ability to generate offense from cycling the puck.

I know THN has their own methods and opinions, but I am stunned that either Michal Valent (G - Martin), or Roman Tomanek (W - P. Bystrica) weren't in that #93 spot instead, as they are well ahead of Tomanek in terms of potential and current draft stock.

5 Slovaks ranked in the THN Top 100, with 2 others that deserved strong consideration, and 2 overagers that could get drafted leaves at least 9 good prospects that Slovakia can expect to get drafted this summer (or 8 if Tomanek opted out).

Thursday, May 27, 2004


Stanley Cup Finals - Game 1 A Ratings bonanza...or not.

Are the Calgary Flames Canada�s team? Judging by the TV ratings, they certainly are.

CBC reports that over 3 million tuned in for Game 1 of the Finals, which means at least 1 in every 10 people in Canada was watching the game! This is the 2nd highest viewership since the Canucks/Ranger$ Game 7 finale in 1994 (Oh, the painful memories).

In the USoA, however, Game 1 was met with the usual collective yawn of apathy, reports

Game 1 was watched by an average of 1,013,000 people and had a rating of 1.1. Of the 34 Stanley Cup finals game the network has televised since 1990, only Game 2 of last year's series between New Jersey and Anaheim had a rating as low.

Like most Canadians, I couldn�t care less that the US ratings are lower than Dukes of Hazzard reruns. This is just more proof that hockey is not much more than a �niche� sport in most markets. It�s a shame that Americans just can�t get into the game, but hockey is not part of their culture is most places outside of Minnesota, New England, or Michigan.

3 times as many people in Canada watched the game than in the US, and yet Quebec City, Hamilton, and Winnipeg don�t have NHL teams?

If Bettman and the owners ever get the salary �certainty� that they want (and they probably won�t), then they have no real excuse not to move some failing teams back to Canada (or Hartford), since the markets are definitely good and eager enough to support an NHL team.

Speaking of Bettman� Note to Gary: Please, shut up!

You have two exciting teams playing in the most exciting Stanley Cup finals in years, and yet you choose to harp and whine about the CBA negotiations and the doom and gloom of a lockout. You claimed you wouldn�t use the finals are a sounding board for your rhetoric, but that went all out the window in about 10 minutes.

Instead of taking away from the potential goodwill from marketing the biggest event in your sport, you choose to cast a dark cloud over the game and miss out on a great opportunity. You will have more than enough time during the off-season to cry about your CBA issues.

It�s too bad Gary Bettman is more like Bud Selig, and less like Paul Tagliabue or David Stern. Anti-Marketing is not going to help sell the sport in the USoA.

I am not really taking sides in these negotiations, but Bettman�s constant bleating is almost enough to turn this �blog into a pro-NHLPA platform.

PS: Tell your referees to call obstruction. It�s not hard to do.


Grant Fuhr, Canadian PGA Tour Pro...almost

NHL Hall of Fame goaltender Grant Fuhr was pretty damn close to getting his CPGA tour card, but had to screw it up with a scorecard error.

Story Link Here

Fuhr's card said he shot a 76 on Wednesday, but he had actually fired a 77. The discrepency was on the 17th hole, where Fuhr's card said he made a par. He had actually made a bogey.

Now, if tournament officials are keeping track of the scores, why do players need to keep their own scorecards? In this case, however, Fuhr apparently was honest enough to tell the tournament officials about his error.

More proof, kids, that honesty never gets you anywhere in life ;)

We often hear about how certain pro athletes (especially Mario Lemieux) are such great golfers and could be good enough to make the grade professionally. None of them has ever been able to make the grade, however.

It�s a shame that Fuhr�s dream had to end in such a way, as he would have given the CPGA tour a great publicity boost and given the CPGA tour a big �name� to follow.

Fuhr will be given some tour exemptions, but it won�t be the same. I hope he isn�t too discouraged from trying again next year.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004


Finland and Czech Republic World Cup Nominations Released

In what became a throwaway news item in light of the hoopla surrounding the Stanley Cup Finals, Finland and the Czech Republic announced their World Cup roster nominations yesterday. It kind of makes you wonder why the NHL chose a May 25th date to have these nominations announced, rather than wait until after the Cup Finals�

Finland�s Team (link here), like anything Finnish, is pretty boring.

But I am shocked...SHOCKED!!! that Jyrki Lumme was not selected! ;)

Czechia�s Team, on the other hand, is more interesting, especially due to the list of players that weren�t selected.

Here is a look at Hlinka�s initial nominations:

Goalies: Roman Cechm�nek (Los Angeles, NHL), Martin Prusek (Ottawa, NHL), Tom� Vokoun (Nashville, NHL).

Defensemen: Roman Hamrl�k (NY Islanders, NHL), Franti�ek Kaberle (Atlanta), Tom� Kaberle (Toronto), Pavel Kubina (Tampa), Marek Mal�k (Vancouver), Jir� �l�gr (Boston, NHL), Jaroslav �pacek (Columbus), Marek Zidlick� (Nashville).

Forwards: Petr Caj�nek (St. Louis), Jir� Dopita (Pardubice), Radek Dvor�k (Edmonton), Patrik Eli� (New Jersey), Martin Havl�t (Ottawa), Milan Hejduk (Colorado), Jarom�r J�gr (NY Rangers), Robert Lang (Detroit), V�clav Prospal (Anaheim), Robert Reichel (Toronto), Martin Rucinsk� (Vancouver), Martin Straka (Los Angeles), Josef Vas�cek (Carolina), Tom� Vlas�k (Kazan, Rusko), David V�born� (Columbus).

First of all, it looks like provided some �false� information. Although Reichel and Hamrlik were declared they were not interested in playing in the tournament (to spend time with their families), they were named to the squad anyway. Hlinka also named Cechmanek, Lang, and Straka to the roster. had confirmed these players were �not available�, but it is great news for the Czechs for them to be on the team. The center position no longer looks like a great weakness.

** Stay tuned, however, as 1 or more of those 5 guys may withdraw from the team later on. The Czechs may have named them onto the roster in the event that they can be replaced later on due to certain �circumstances�. If those 5 players weren�t named to the initial roster, they would not be able to be added later unless one of the other players was injured.

Some other thoughts :

1. No Petr Sykora � Given his great chemistry with Patrik Elias in the past, and his offensive ability, I would have figured Sykora was shoe-in to make this team. The Czechs certainly have enough talented wingers, so his exclusion isn�t going to hurt them severely. Sykora could play center in a pinch, but Hlinka is not going to play him there.

2. No Petr Nedved � Now a Canadian citizen, Nedved would be allowed to play for Czechia in this tournament since this is an NHL/PA deal, and not an IIHF one. I guess the Czechs didn�t want him back, anyway, which is no big loss.

3. No Radek Bonk � I�m not sure what Hlinka has against Bonk, but �Smiley� has never really liked the guy for his own special reasons. Bonk had his worst NHL campaign since 98-99, was a total negative-impact player in the playoffs, and does not have a great history with the national team. So, I can see why Hlinka left him off of the initial roster, although I�m still a bit surprised by the exclusion.

4. The Lack of Role Players? I�ve heard some people question the Czech roster for lacking in �role players� like Canada and the USA have taken (Draper, etc�). Would the Czechs be better off with a grinder type like Vaclav Varad�a?

Well, the Czechs have always had success by slotting their speedy and less offensive players into defensive roles; much like Canada did in Salt Lake City. Radek Dvorak, Josef Vasicek, and Petr Cajanek, for example, will take on defensive roles and have done so successfully for the Czechs in the past. That said, it wouldn�t have hurt them to take at least one other forward who could play a gritty game.

5. Tomas Vlasak � The real surprise of the roster is Vlasak, who had a much abbreviated NHL career with the Los Angeles Kings (4 points in 10 games in 2000-01) before running back overseas to the Finnish league.

While Hlinka was coaching in the Russian League, he had many opportunities to view Vlasak, and perhaps was impressed by his play then. I am not sure what kind of role Vlasak will play, since he is not known for being a �role player� type, and the Czechs already have superior offensive forwards. I could think of a few other European-based players that I would have selected ahead of him. Hlinka is a hard man to figure out, sometimes, and this selection just adds to the mystery.

In other news, the Russians have been given until May 31st to submit their rosters.
Really, it will take more than 6 extra days to sort out the mess within their own federation.

Finally, The Hockey News has released its Entry Draft Preview Edition, and I can�t wait to pick up my copy. It�s one of my must-buy purchases every year, and a good little resource guide for fantasy league drafts, especially for the pittance that it costs.

Monday, May 24, 2004


2004 Stanley Cup Finals Preview

The Stanley Cup finals won�t be a ratings bonanza for the NHL, and ABC executives are jumping out of windows, but who cares? For once, we aren�t subjected to the Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalance, New Jersey Devils, or Detroit Red Wings in the big show.

The high-flying Tampa Bay Lightning will take on the crash-and-bang Calgary Flames. Offense vs. Defense, speed vs. more speed, and so on. The small market Flames carry the hopes of most Canadian hockey fans as they take on one of Bettman�s pet expansion projects.

Here�s how the match-up shapes up in my eyes.


Both goaltenders are Stanley Cup Finals �rookies� and both love to show the leather. Mikka Kiprusoff and Nik Khabibulin seem to use their glove hand to make saves whenever possible.

The Stats:
Khabibulin � 16GP 12-4 1.64GAA .939 SV%
Kiprusoff � 19GP 12-7 1.89 GAA .930 SV%

Overall, Khabibulin has put up better numbers than Kiprusoff. That being said, Khabibulin piled up most of his gaudy numbers against �inferior� competition in Montreal and Long Island, while Kiprusoff has had to play against �superior� competition in each round.

Since each goalie is playing so well, coaches Tortorella and Sutter will need to exploit the weaknesses in each opposing �tender.

Kiprusoff � He�s an aggressive goalie who often gets a bit anxious to make the first save... and he can get off of his game when he�s run into and has to fight for his vision through traffic. Dave Andreychuk will need to park his big booty in front of Kiprusoff on the Power Play like he usually does, and the Lightning will have to get shots onto Kiprusoff�s stick side.

Khabibulin � The flashy Khabibulin has been weak to soft five-hole goals through the playoffs, so look for the Flames snipers to shoot there whenever they have an open chance. Khabibulin is prone to lapses in concentration, so the Flames will hope that Khabibulin has some off nights during the series. If Khabi lets in a weak goal early in any game, the floodgates could open wide.

Both goalies are pretty weak in handling the puck, so expect both teams to take advantage of this by dumping the puck in and putting pressure on the goalies to make bad decisions.

In the end, there is no clear advantage to either team in goal. I will give the slight edge to Calgary, simply because Kiprusoff has been more valuable to his team up until this point, and goaltender is more important to the low-scoring Flames than it is to the high-powered Lightning.


Calgary � The Flames have a very punishing defensive-minded corps that will lay the body on the Lightning forwards at every opportunity. Rhett Warrener, Toni Lydman, and Robyn Regehr are tough to score on and are adept at blocking shots.

As the Flames defense sticks to its own end so well, they don�t produce much in the way of offense. The Flames defense corps has accounted for just 3 goals in their 19 games, as Jordon Leopold is their lone true offensive threat from the back end. To their credit, the Flames defense does a good job of kickstarting the Flames opportunistic counter-attack game with crisp, accurate passing.

Injuries: A big blow for the Flames as Canadian Diving team member, and Canucks fans least favourite player, Denis Gauthier is injured and will miss the entire finals with a �lower body� (knee) injury. Toni Lydman is �probable� and may play in the finals, albeit at far less than 100%.

Tampa Bay � Coach Tortorella has a group of very offensively adept defensemen, and has given them the green light to join the attack at most opportunities. You will often see the Lightning defensemen join the rush to create odd-man situations. Dan Boyle, Pavel Kubina, and Daryl Sydor all have a history and pedigree for creating offense. Amazingly, this group has only accounted for ONE goal through the entire playoffs. They have been piling up the assists (21 in 16 games), but haven�t been lighting the red light. If this group gets going at all, the Flames will be in big trouble.

The 3 offensive d-men are well complimented by 4 stay-at-home defensive d-men in Jassen Cullimore, Cory Sarich, Nolan Pratt, and Brad Lukowich.

On paper, the Lightning defense looks rather ordinary. If you were an owner of a fantasy sim league team with group, chances are you aren�t near the top of your standings.

Give a big certificate of merit to coach Tortorella for turning this group of misfits (except Sydor) into a cohesive group that plays better than the sum of their parts. Just look at these guys�

Dan Boyle � In Florida, Boyle was an exciting, and very small, offensive defenseman that would often look like a 4th forward on the ice. He spent so much time in the offensive zone, that his goaltenders never knew him on a first name basis. His aversion to defense and public arguments with his coaches soon led Boyle to an AHL demotion, and later a trade to the Lightning for the paltry price of a 5th round draft pick (Martin Tuma, who never panned out).

Pavel Kubina � Here is a big defenseman with great wheels that gave his former coaches many grey hairs and excuse for Rogaine addiction. Kubina loved to pinch in and score goals, much too often sacrificing defense. Eventually, he was put up to the left-wing forward spot on the Power Play to take advantage of his size and zest for offense. On top of that, Kubina just didn�t use his size to punish opposing players.

Jassen Cullimore � A 2nd round pick of the Canucks in 1991, Cullimore was nothing more than a big lug of a 7th defenseman during his tenure with the Canucks. He later went on to the Canadiens, where he played less than impressive hockey. After 6 years, Cullimore was nothing more than a slow-skating fringe defenseman who didn�t use his size well enough and was always within a hair of AHL demotion before finding his way to Tampa Bay.

Cory Sarich � Another 2nd round pick, this time out of Buffalo. Sarich was an offensive minded defenseman in the WHL who piled up a lot of points mainly on the strength of his powerful slap-shot.
At the NHL level, Sarich looked to be over his head and his offense disappeared as he found that his slapshot couldn�t produce everything for him. Buffalo basically tossed him into a trade in order to acquire Chris Gratton, and Sarich didn�t look like much more than a fringe defenseman.

Now fast forward to today, and each of these defensemen has improved their games immensely and are core parts in a successful Stanley Cup finalist.
Under Tortorella, Dan Boyle has matured and learned to be much more dependable in his own end. Pavel Kubina, while still pillowy soft at times, has learned when to jump into the play and went to stay back and shut up. Kubina still piles up the goals (17 this year), and plays solid defense most nights.

Cullimore is the type of defenseman that the Canucks could really use now�A top-4 defensive defenseman with good size and shot-blocking ability. After many baby steps and rookie mistakes, Cullimore is now extremely valuable to the Lightnings chances.

As for Sarich, Tortorella has certainly realized that Sarich will not be a big point producer at the NHL level. So, rather than focus on what Sarich can�t do, Tortorella has helped mould big Sarich into a reliable stalwart on the defensive end.

If more teams were this good at turning throwaways and misfits into positive-impact players, they would likely realize that spending big dough on overpriced free agents just isn�t worth it many times.

With the injuries to Gauthier and Lydman, I give a slight edge on defense to the well-rounded Lightning squad. There is always the chance that the Lightning�s defense will leave themselves exposed to Calgary�s counterattack, but the Flames just can�t match up nearly enough offensively when all is said and done.


Calgary � Without a doubt, the Flames depend a great deal on their first line of Gelinas-Conroy-Iginla for their offense. This trio has 21 of Calgary�s 46 goals in the playoffs, while the second unit of Nilson-Donovan-Nieminen has just 10 goals.
With such a pop-gun offense, the Flames rely on their demonlike work-ethic, their ferocious forechecking, and attention to defense. Coach Sutter likes to roll 4 lines, and the Flames will use their physical prowess to punish and weaken the Tampa Bay defense.

The Flames will certainly take few chances on the attack, so expect the Flames to have 3 or 4 men back on every rush. The Calgary forward corps has great speed, so they can easily keep up with the faster Tampa forwards while on the defensive.

Tampa Bay � It doesn�t take a rocket surgeon to see that Tampa Bay forwards clearly have more offensive skill than the Flames� forwards. The top two units of Fedotenko-Lecavalier-StLouis and Modin-Richards-Stillman give the Bolts two very productive and effective options while Dave Andreychuk anchors a great shutdown line with Taylor and Afanasenkov on the wings.

In addition to turning himself into a wise and powerful defensive center, Andreychuk is a big presence on the Power Play as he always has been throughout his entire career. Captain Andreychuk will finally get his shot at the big prize after the longest draught in NHL history. Since he is one of my favourite players, and the player I model my own game against, it�s almost reason enough to pull for the Lightning to win it all.

The Achilles heel of the Bolts is really their reliance on just 3 lines. With 7 defensemen to be dressed, and fourth-line goons Andre Roy and Chris DingDongman playing just 5 minutes a game, the Bolts top 3 lines get a lot of ice time each and every game. In a long 6 or 7 game series, this could play into the hands of the Flames who do a better job of spreading their ice time around. Any injury to the Bolts top-9 will put a dent in their attack as they don�t have anyone who can jump in and provide nearly the same level of play as the guys they normally dress.

Overall, I give a big edge to the Lightning for their skill, size, and offensive ability. The Lightning can play good defense to go along with their offense, while the Flames will have a very tough time catching up if they ever fall behind the Lightning in any game.

Coaching -

Both coach Sutter and Tortorella fall into the �Master Motivator� category of coaches.
Flames players would jump in front of trains and bullets for Sutter, and put their bodies on the line each and every night, while Tortorella acts like a grouchy old codger and he likes to challenge his players and have them prove themselves to him each and every night.

Sutter � He�s not known as the most cerebral guy around, but he�s used his dual position of GM/Coach to acquire the players that fit into his system without giving up too much in significance. Markus Nilson, Kiprusoff, and Nieminen were acquired for Jason Morgan, two 2nd round picks, and a conditional draft pick.

Sutter challenges his players to put their heart and soul into each and every shift, and his players love to play for him. Sutter was a blue-collar lunchpail player, and he demands only a complete effort from his players: nothing more, nothing less

Tortorella - He came into the NHL with a good minor-league pedigree, but wasn�t well known to most anyone when he started out.

Torts has succeeded by challenging his players to prove him wrong. As is publicly seen with his battles with Prince Vince Lecavalier, Tortorella is very critical of his players, and is a very demanding coach. Players want to play well to prove Torts right or wrong, and shut the Fonzy look-a-like up.

Torts has also done a great job in getting the most out of the talent that he has been given. As talked about above, Tortarella has turned a very shaky-looking defensive unit into a very cohesive group that plays well at both ends. Tortorella has created an environment that plays to the strengths of his roster, and the players have succeeded because they�ve been given a chance to play to their talents. Rather than try to change his players too much, Tortarella has adapted his style to the types of players he has. Few coaches do this and do this well.

I don�t give any edge to either side on coaching. Both teams are well-coached units and you can expect a full effort from every player on each roster on any given night.

Final Predicition � Tampa Bay in 6.

Let�s face it, Cinderella has no problems making it to the ball, but the chariot always turns into a pumpkin at midnight.

What do Carolina, Florida, Anaheim, Buffalo, and Washington all have in common? They all made the big show, but had their dreams shattered in the end.

When all of the chips are down, the cream rises to the top and the clear favourites prevail.

The Bolts just have so much more firepower than the Flames, and they have the goaltending and defense to match. It would be foolish to count the Flames out, but they call it an �upset� for a reason.

I�ll be cheering for the Flames to bring a Stanley Cup victory back to Canada, but my Vegas bucks are all on the Lightning to win it all.


Canadian Hockey to abolish the Red Line next season

According to a report from , Hockey Canada will abolish the Red Line for offside passes in all levels of amateur hockey starting in 2004-05

When you look at it, a lot of our leagues are not using the red-line already," Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said. "I'm really happy to see that it's happening because it's just making it really consistent for everyone across this country."

Wow, for all of my ranting about the boring play in the WHL and Memorial Cup this season, along comes this bombshell.

So, the CHL will go out on its own and stop trying to be just a feeding factory for the defense-hungry NHL. I like the fact that Hockey Canada sees that it's more important to develop kids rathen than produce players for the NHL.

Now, is removing the red line the panacea for the game? It remains to be seen.

In the past, I've been opposed to removing the red line to match the European game.

Yes, I know the play at the Olympics was riveting, but that was a time when you had the world's best players in one small tournament. Everyday regular games will not have that level of competition.

European leagues, especially Sweden and Russia, are extremely low scoring and boring in their own right. Removing the red line has led to defensemen rarely joining the rush, and has actually made it easier to trap.


Without the red line, teams simply pull 4 or 5 backcheckers and try to divert the oppositions attack to one side of the ice. The opposition is forced into turnovers, and has little choice but to put the puck into the corner. Once the puck is in the corner, the wider ice surface ensures that fewer scoring opportunities will ensure.

Now the North American rinks do not have that problem of wider ice surfaces making cycling an inferior weapon, so that alleviates some of that worry.

I just worry that coaches will be even more afraid to use the open ice, and will use 0-5 or 1-4 systems instead.

But I expect the good coaches will adapt, and that skill can prevail.

Hockey can't get any more boring and low-scoring, can it? I applaud Hockey Canada for this bold step.


Panthers Fire GM Dudley - The Reign of Darkness Begins reports that the Florida Panthers have fired GM Rick Dudley and will likely hire Herr Mike Keenan to the role of GM.

Jacques "La grande choque" Martin is rumoured to take over as head coach, which would mean 5 coaches and 3 new GM's in 3 years.

The owner, Alan Cohen, has an obvious love affair with Mike Keenan, which culminated in Keenan being offered a lucrative contract extension through 2007-08 when he was coach of the Panthers. This extension was signed 2 years before Keenan's current contract at that time was to expire.

Any Canucks or Blues fan can attest that hiring Mike Keenan as a GM is a disaster waiting to happen.

Sure, the initial results might be good, but you'll be left with a financial and organizational mess to clean up. It took Pleau a few years to be able to clear Keenan's messy veteran contracts from the books, and it took Brian Burke a lot of work in Vancouver to turn the Canucks around. Under Keenan's regime, the Canucks were non-competitive and GM Place routinely had crowds of about 13,000 on a nightly basis. I recall going to a few games during that period, and having nearly an entire row in the upper section to myself.

The Panthers have a lot of great young talent, and surely Keenan will end up trading a lot of it for overpriced veteran 'proven' players that he loves so much. Keenan does not trust the young guys, and will rip apart the foundation that Dudley had built. For a team like Florida, a guy like Keenan is the worst choice for GM next to Phil Esposito.

Dudley appeared to have won the power struggle when Keenan was fired last November, but Cohen's infatuation with Keenan and obvious distrust of Torchetti as a viable coach led to a lack of trust in Dudley's regime from the get-go.

Dudley may have not wanted Martin as a coach, which could have been the nail in the coffin. Cohen saw that well-coached teams succeed, and Torchetti is far from a proven commodity.

Let the reign of darkness begin...

Sunday, May 23, 2004


Kelowna Rockets - 2004 Memorial Cup Champions

"Offense gets the glory, but defense win championships"

A great contrast in styles was on display at the 2004 Memorial Cup as the league's best offensive team (Gatineau Olympique) and the league's best defensive team (Kelowna Rockets -> 125 goals allowed in 72 games!) went head to head in the championship game.

As always seems to be the case these days, the defensive team came out on top as the Rockets won the lowest scoring Memorial Cup final in 30 years by a 2-1 score. The Rockets, coached by Marc Habscheid (who should be fielding a few NHL offers very soon), played a very defined defensive system that would have brought a tear to Ken Hitchcock's eye, if he wasn't a robotic minion from hell.

Although the championship game was quite exciting, the Memorial Cup tournament overall was a boring disappointment to me.

The main problem with the tournament was that it showed exactly what is wrong with hockey these days, in the non-financial sense. From the NHL on down to the CHL, it is clear that hockey is still going in the 'wrong' direction in terms of entertainment value. Long gone are the days when Cliff Ronning was putting up 197 points in 70 games, and 4 goals leads weren't considered "safe". Offense is on the wane and the flow of action has slowed to a crawl. As the CHL is a 'development' league, it will ultimate mimic the NHL and all of the problems that come with it.

Diluted Talent - With constant expansion into new and richer markets, the WHL, itself, has expanded to 20 teams while the OHL and QMJHL have experienced similar growth. The talent pool within Canada has not grown to compensate such expansion, and not every CHL uses their allotted 2 spots for European players. There is certainly a lot of 'average' or replacement-level talent, but there are still the same amount of star players being allocated to more and more teams. The skilled players have less of their true peers to play together with, leading to less offense created overall.

Defensive Assimilation - If the low-scoring Kelowna Rockets didn't win the WHL Championships, then it would have been the Everett Silvertips who would have represented the WHL at the Memorial Cup. The Silvertips are the newest WHL expansion team, and despite a total lack of real talent, managed to trap and choke their opponents with great success. 'Tips coach Kevin Constantine (Yes, that Constantine) had his little borglings playing the most conservative defensive system this side of the Alpha Quadrant, and the Silvertips had the 2nd best defensive record in the WHL with an incredible 2.12 Goals Against Average.

It's great that Constantine was able to bring together a bunch of scrubs and pluggers and pull off the near-impossible, but it made for incredibly boring hockey. If we want to watch a game with no offensive opportunities and stifling defense, we'd watch soccer.

There is no mystery as to why NHL teams love drafting WHL players (Just look at the San Jose Sharks). WHL players are typically strong, industrious, and play great defensively. Why take a chance on a one-dimensional offensive player when you can have a plugger who can already recite the first 10 chapters of Jacque Lemaire's book "How to Kill Any Semblance of Fun - Defensive Hockey for Dummies". OHL players aren't far behind, but the QMJHL still hasn't fully adapted. You can see the results on the past few drafts, as NHL teams tend to be afraid of drafting QMJHL players, who are seen as 'soft' and defensive unreliable.

Unfortunately, the focus on defensive systems 'at all costs' hurts the entire game of hockey in the long term. As the game continues to get harder to watch, the players being developed in the WHL and OHL will not have the skill level to create offensive wizardry if the NHL game ever decides to open up again. Rather than preach skill development, coaches like Constantine will preach defensive systems, which hamper offensive and creative development.
Defense and systematic hockey can be taught a lot easier than can offensive creativity. If the kids aren't allowed to 'play' the game, then it makes a lot less fun for the players and the fans.

Of course, any changes start at the top with the NHL. If the NHL continues to be a clutch-and-grab world where offense is often seen as sinful, then the CHL will simply follow suit.
The CHL wants to develop players for the NHL, and that is what they are doing by producing defensive plumber clones.

Expansion, Dilution of top talent, and defense-first hockey all started at the NHL level, and filtered on down to the AHL, CHL, and eventually will affect every level of hockey in North America.

PS: Shouldn't the Kelowna Rockets rename their team the 'Dragons'? Their logo has absolutely no resemblance to a rocket of any sort...

Czechs and Slovaks in the Memorial Cup
Martin Vagner, D - Gatineau - 5 GP 0-3-3 +5
Had a good tournament, but a poor year. Dallas may choose not to sign him, and instead get the compensation pick instead. Has done poorly since being drafted and was probably drafted too high to begin with.

Peter Pohl, C - Gatineau - Did not Play

Jakub Koreis, C - Guelph - 3 GP 0-0-0 -3
A tough tournament after a great playoff showing. Koreis was stuck on the 3rd line as a checking centre, and hasn't been able to get a lot of prime ice time since leaving Plzen. He's incredibly strong for his age and should make a fine NHL checking centre some day.

Martin Kubaliak, D - Medicine Hat - Did not Play
It's been a rough ride for Kubaliak in his WHL career, and he'll probably be back in Europe very soon.

Patrik Valcak, C - Kelowna - Did not Play
Not really a banner year for Czechs and Slovaks in this tournament. With no Slovaks likely to play a game in the Stanley Cup Finals, it's been a pretty cruddy spring for the region so far.

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Saturday, May 22, 2004


Just Say NO to Hasek

As the Czechs are taking their sweet time in choosing their World Cup roster, coach Ivan �Smiley� Hlinka (pictured) has a very tough decision on his hands: Do they take Dominik Hasek on their World Cup roster?

By all rights, Nashville�s Tomas Vokoun has earned the #1 job for the Czechs and should take over the mantle from Hasek.
Vokoun carried Nashville into the playoffs, and almost past the Red Wings in the NHL Playoffs. Vokoun was rolling at the World Championships until a shocking shootout loss to a roach playing for the Americans.

Of course, replacing Hasek isn�t quite so simple, since the old bastard is still hanging around like the unwanted stepparent with the lucrative will who just won�t die.

Despite his vicious assault of Martin Sila during a roller hockey game, and his overpriced clothing line which is a crime against the sports fashion community, Hasek is a living legend in his homeland and is worshipped like a major deity for his exploits in Nagano.
Ivan Hlinka could be running from Czech lynch mobs if he were to deny Hasek a spot on the team, if Hasek proclaims his enthusiasm for the World Cup.

Thus, Hlinka needs to step up to Hasek and do what is best for Team Czechia: Leave Hasek at home.


1. Performance � Vokoun is one of the better goaltenders in the NHL right now, and his showing at the WC in Prague showed that he is the right man for the job. Hasek, on the other hand, clearly �lost� whatever mojo he had, and he was no more than an average NHL goaltender this season.

When Hasek retired at the end of the 2001/02 season, he retired �on top�. He had his Stanley Cup, six Vezina trophies, a Hart trophy, an Olympic Gold medal, 6 Czech League Goalie Awards, and a partridge in a pear tree, and he was still a pretty effective goalie. Sure, his skills were declining, but ever so slowly. Most NHL teams would have been happy to have him.

So, Hasek went back to Pardubice and lived the good life. He hung up the goalie pads for good (He didn�t put them on once during his �retirement�), built a hammock in the back year and drank Budvar all day. Once a fanatic about practice, Hasek had about 15 years of being a lazy bum saved up, and went to work cashing them in.

Unfortunately, Hasek caught the same �unretirement� syndrome that prompted Michael Jordan, Mario Lemieux, and countless others to come back to the game, only to tarnish their legacies.

Hasek�s lack of conditioning caught up with him in a hurry, as he lost a great deal of his trademark flexibility, and tore his groin into bite-size shreds after struggling through a handful of games. Hasek looked rusty, and he�s obviously not at the level needed to play in International hockey.

2. Chemistry � The only player less popular to the Red Wings players last season was the ghost of Claude Lemieux.
Ask any of Hasek�s backups what they think of the guy, and chances are that they�d rather spend time with Gilbert Godfried.

Dwayne Roloson and Scott Shields in Buffalo, Manny Legace in Detroit, and Libor Barta in Pardubice can all attest to the fact that Hasek is a first-class jerk who does not get along well with the fellow goalies on his team. Team-mates of Hasek have put up with his flaky personality (Mathew Barnaby, who threatned to run Hasek at training camp on year, being the notable exception), but only so long as Hasek was carrying their jock straps to the promised land.
If Hasek were to be selected onto the team, there is no doubt that Hasek would use his influence within the federation and whine incessantly until he was reinstated as the #1 goalie. Hasek is not the type to play second fiddle to any other goalie, and his attitude would poison the efforts of the Czech squad.

3. Injury Status � As mentioned above, Hasek�s groin has given his numerous troubles and despite the fact that he is rehabbing furiously (as Face Off Circle �Octopus� put it), Hasek will not be in game shape or 100% healthy by the time the World Cup rolls around. There won�t be time for Hasek to get into game shape, and the roster spot will be better spent on a goalie that is more �fresh� and prepared.

In a perfect world, Hasek would make a fine #2 or #3 for this squad, and I�d be dating Jessica Biel , but this isn�t a perfect world. Hlinka needs to make the tough, but just, choice for the good of his team and leave Hasek off of the team. If he doesn�t, watch the Czechs chances combust internally.

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Projected Czech Roster for the World Cup of Hockey

As the Czechs are taking their sweet time in choosing their roster, they are already running into difficulties months before the tournament begins.

For one, the »Hasek« quandry. To take, or not to take, the gumby flake?

For two, the fact that many top players will be 'unavailable' for the World Cup tournament.
According to, Robert Reichel and Roman Hamrlik have declined the opportunity to play in the tournament, citing the fact that they want to stay at home with their families. Although Reichel has always left NHL coaches shaking their heads at his lack of assertivness, Reichel has always been a demon on the national stage (much like Martin Rucinsky, who couldn't hit an empty net in his short tenure with the Canucks)

Robert Lang, Roman Cechmanek, and Martin Straka have also been confirmed to be unavailable due to their injury status.

So, that leaves 5 players and one living gumby doll off of the roster? Who would I take?
Knowing that the Czechs will stay from European-based players, here is my predicted roster.

1. Tomas Vokoun
2. Martin Prusek
3. Roman Malek

F. Kaberle - T. Kaberle
Kubina - Kuba
Slegr - Modry
Spacek - Zidlicky

Jagr - Bonk - Havlat
Elias - Prospal - Sykora
Rucinsky - Peter Nedved - Hejduk
Vyborny - Cajanek - Dvorak
Vasicek, Beranek, Dopita

With the absence of Lang, Straka, and Reichel, the Czechs are suddenly much thinner up the middle, which could cost them dearly in the end.
I expect Malek will be the only pure 'Euro' player taken, while ex-NHLers Josef Beranek and Jiri 'The Best Player in Europe' ® Dopita are good candiates to be selected.

No room this time around for up and comers such as Klesla, Erat, Hudler, and Petr Prucha.

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Thursday, May 20, 2004


Burke back to the NHL?

I was kind of hoping that Burke would replace Don Cherry...the results could have been hilarious.

Of course, there wasn't a chance in Hell (or Pittsburgh) that was going to happen. reports that Brian Burke may be headed back to the NHL head offices to help the NHL and NHLPA play nicely together.

It was be a great move for Burke, given his law background and the fact that he scares the crap out of most people.

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Team USA World Cup Team Announced

Wow, team USA looks like a collection of fogeys and players on the downturn.

Unlike Canada, who supplemented their team with a good core of younger stars, Team USA has only 4 position players under the age of 30.

This speaks volumes of the Americans player development, as most of their stars are entering the twilight of their careers.

Of course, the recent WJC20 and WJC18 teams for the USA were very strong, so the future is somewhat bright for the US...there is just a big gap between the stars of yesteryear and the stars of tomorrow.

The biggest weakness, by far, is in goal where the US can no longer count on superstar goaltending like they got from Mike Richter or John Vanbiesbrouck.
Rick DiPietro may one day be a star, but he's far away from it.
Esche is a quality goaltender, but he still hasn't proven himself over the long haul and isn't quite the same level of goalie as Richter was.

And btw, no Scott Gomez??!?!

Coach: Ron Wilson, San Jose Sharks
General Manager: Larry Pleau, St. Louis Blues
Assistant GM: Don Waddell, Atlanta Thrashers

Ty Conklin 03/04/76 Edmonton Oilers
Rick DiPietro 09/19/81 New York Islanders
Robert Esche 01/22/78 Philadelphia Flyers

Chris Chelios 01/25/62 Detroit Red Wings
Derian Hatcher 06/04/72 Detroit Red Wings
Ken Klee 04/23/71 Toronto Maple Leafs
Brian Leetch 03/03/68 Toronto Maple Leafs
Jordan Leopold 08/03/80 Calgary Flames
Aaron Miller 08/11/71 Los Angeles Kings
Brian Rafalski 09/28/73 New Jersey Devils
Mathieu Schneider 06/12/69 Detroit Red Wings

Tony Amonte 09/02/70 Philadelphia Flyers
Jason Blake 09/02/73 New York Islanders
Craig Conroy 09/04/71 Calgary Flames
Chris Drury 08/20/76 Buffalo Sabres
Bill Guerin 11/09/70 Dallas Stars
Jeff Halpern 05/03/76 Washington Capitals
Brett Hull 08/09/64 Detroit Red Wings
Steve Konowalchuk 11/11/72 Colorado Avalanche
Jamie Langenbrunner 07/24/75 New Jersey Devils
Mike Modano 06/07/70 Dallas Stars
Jeremy Roenick 01/17/70 Philadelphia Flyers
Brian Rolston 02/21/73 Boston Bruins
Bryan Smolinski 12/27/71 Ottawa Senators
Keith Tkachuk 01/28/72 St. Louis Blues
Doug Weight 01/21/71 St. Louis Blues

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Wednesday, May 19, 2004


Der Kommisar's in town, whoa uh oh..

If Gary Buttmann were shot in the head, he'd probably turn the situation around and say that the extra oxygen getting into his brain was a good thing.

From, Buttman is up to his old shtick

On a day in which the NHL announced a U.S. TV contact with NBC that has no money up front and a new cable agreement with ESPN worth half the former deal, the league's commissioner was all smiles.

``The future for us on (U.S.) national television couldn't be more bright,'' Bettman said. ``We couldn't be more thrilled.''

The NHL's two-year deal with NBC is the same type of revenue-sharing agreement the network has with the Arena Football League. NBC will take the first chunk of income from advertising to cover production expenses, the NHL takes the next chunk and the two split additional revenue equally.

Couldn't be more bright?
No guarantee money, and a television contact on par with the Arena Football League??
There is no way that hockey can be considered on par with Baseball, Football, or Basketball in the USA.

I just hope NBC decides to make a real go of this thing and plough some serious marketing into there NHL games. If they do, then NBC can profit big and the NHL can get some $$ back.
Otherwise, this is a big step backwards, no matter how much Glade Buttmann sprays on the media.

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Team Slovakia's World Cup Roster Nominations Announced reports that coach Jan Filc has released his World Cup 2004 nominations for Team Slovakia.

As I expected, this line-up is heavy on NHL and North-American talent.
The only player without NHL/NA experience would be center Miroslav Hlinka, who won�t be at all familiar to North American hockey fans.

Basically, Hlinka is a smooth-skating defensive center who is adept on face-offs. He�ll be expected to have a key role in shutting down opposing centers and killing penalties. He�s too old to be drafted now, and he doesn�t put up great offensive numbers, so don�t expect to see much of him on this side of the Atlantic again.

My projected line combos:

#1 goalie � Jan Lasak
Backup � Rastislav Stana
3rd goalie � Peter Budaj

Lubo Visnovsky - Zdeno Ch�ra
Martin Strbak � Richard Lintner
Ivan Majesky � Rado Suchy

Reserves: Jaroslav Obsut - Branislav Mezei


Reserves: Orsz�gh, Somik, Radivojevic

This is a line-up very heavy on speed and skill, and short of grit, size and sandpaper. The Canadians might take them to the cleaners, if they can catch up with them ;)

Just 2 quibbles with this roster:

1. Ronald Petrovicky � I was quite surprised to see both Radivojevic and Somik taken over Petrovicky. Ronald is the type of pesky and gritty player that would be perfect for the 4th line in a tournament like this, and he played well this year for Atlanta and with Slovakia at the World Championships.

2. On defence, I don't really like the pick of the unlucky Jaroslav Obsut, as much as I like the guy.
Eurovet Ladislav Cierny had a great World Championships (as he usually does), and I would have taken him or Lubomir Sekeras over Obsut.

Brano Mezei also had a hella-weak performance World Championships, and he's not as well developed as expected when Mad Mike Milbury took him 10th overall in the 1999 draft. The reserve roster spot would have been better spent on a defender who can be more useful this time around, especially since Majesky might be too slow to handle the fast-paced play in this tournament.

I�ve heard comments that the Slovakian defence looks weak overall, but this unit has traditionally played better than the sum of its parts in International competitions. As long as Richie Lintner doesn�t go too crazy on the offensive forays, this unit should hold its own.

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NHL to switch to NBC reports that the NHL will be signing a new TV deal with NBC starting 'next' season (04 or 05, whenever they play hockey. No $ figures have been given yet.

Under the deal, the league will not receive the kind of upfront fees that are common in most network television contracts. Instead, the NHL and NBC will share revenue, with the network covering its production and distribution costs.

Yikes! In addition to the fact that the NHL is going to take a big paycut, the NHL isn't even guaranteed a dollar figure from this deal.

But I'm sure Der Kommisar Gary Buttmann is loving this...he can cry 'poor' even more, claiming that the NHL is getting greatly reduced revenues.

I'd love to see how Buttmann puts his usual positive spin on this situation.
Probably something along the lines that this new TV deal is revolutionary because it 'shares' revenue (More like the network gives the NHL the spare change).

It's obvious to anyone with half a brain (Although maybe not Leafs fans, j/k), that the NHL has not made gains in the US TV market, and has actually gone backwards.

The deal is only for 6-7 regular season games and playoff it's not as if that kind of contract is going to bring in the 'bling bling' anyhow.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2004


Random Ramblings on a sunny Tuesday

After a long playoff absence, the Flamers are certainly making up for lost time as Cinderella is one win away from the big ball. Even Flames fans in Liberia(!) are pumped up about things.

My co-worker commented that the Flames are a symptom of "Today�s" NHL, and I couldn�t agree more.

If you have a good goaltender (not: Cloutier, Dan) and a rock solid defence, all you need is to do is choke the opposition to death in order to have some form of playoff success.

The Canucks failure to adapt and assimilate to these conditions has them on the golf course instead of on the ice. Until the flow of play and pace of the game opens up in the NHL, we�ll continue to see more Cinderella teams succeed in the playoffs.

Now, I don�t mind the underdogs doing well, and I certainly hope to see the Flames succeed and bring the Stanley Cup back to Canada, but it would be nice to see the most talented teams fighting it out for the holy beer mug.

As happy as a Cinderella story sounds, it generally leads to boring hockey series. The best series always have the talented teams fighting it out. People don�t want to watch Anaheim, Carolina, Washington, and those types of teams in the finals too often, because it�s not great hockey to watch for anyone not cheering for those teams.

On a side note, I enjoyed the pre-game 1-on-1 interview between Elliot Friedman and coach Sutter. Sutter didn�t have the hard-a$$ coaches face on (see Tortarella, John), and he gave some good answers to some thoughtful questions.

�wilka91� posted a translated segment of an interview with Russian Hockey president Alexander Steblin in this thread at Some interesting excerpts:

Q : So who will coach our (national) team at the World Cup?

Steblin : At the beginning of next week we will reveal the name of the national team's general manager. It is going to be a Russian. The composition of the coaching staff will mainly depend on him.

Q : Does Tikhonov have any chance of keeping his job?

Steblin : At the World Championship some players, especially NHLers, expressed their discontent regarding the coach. We can't close our eyes on such facts. The World Cup is organized by the NHL. Most of the players on the Russian team will be from the NHL (...). The World Cup will be played under NHL rules, on smaller rinks, and that the coach must know how to play against other NHL players.

Of course, Tikhonov refuses to give up �his� team without a fight.
I�m sure most Canadians like myself would love to see the cold-war relic still coaching the Russian squad at the World Cup. With Tikhonov at the helm, Russia�s chances for success are drastically hampered.

Germany announces its World Cup entry here

Definitely a deep step down from the Top 7...Germany has to import marginal Czech (Martinec, Martin �the other� Reichel) and Canadian players, as well as a goalie born in South Africa.

Until the Germans learn to develop players from within (ie. Stop giving every German League roster spot to a foreigner), they will continue to swim far below the big sharks.

Canucks Rookie Review

Sukhwinder Pandher has a nice review of the rookies who played for the Canucks this past season.

I will say that if the Canucks insist on wasting a roster spot on a useless goon like Wade Brookbank, then they should at least play him at forward, and not defence. That way, he�ll hurt the team less.

Perhaps Nonis can make his first move to dump Brookbank and the vastly overrated Fedor Fedorov for a good 3rd line defensive defenseman.

Monday, May 17, 2004


Team Sweden World Cup Roster Announced

TSN.CA reports that Team Sweden has named their roster nominations for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

The biggest omission would be one Michael Nylander, who had a very productive year this year, albeit very short season, with 14 points in 18 games. This was after 56 points in 71 games in 2002-03.

The IKEA boys have had a very rough time of it these past few years, as their development system has been turning out very few star players and bonafide NHL prospects. This roster, however, looks fairly strong and certainly capable of getting some colour of medal in this tournament (Not Gold, because Canada will win that ;} ).

The biggest question for the Swedes, and their greatest weakness, is definitely goaltending. Tommy Salo can no longer be considered the automatic #1 goalie for "Tre Kronor."

As many Oilers fans will tell you, Tommy Salo has been an extremely poor goaltender in the past couple of years, and Ty Conklin is definitely the best goaltender in the Oily city these days. Aside from Salo�s choke job against Belarus at Salt Lake City, Salo�s playoff performances in Edmonton leave a LOT to be desired.

Daniel Alfredsson doesn�t seem too concerned, however �
"I don't know who will be the starter," said Alfredsson. "Tommy's always been good for the national team and in the NHL."

"Everything gets blown up because of the miss he made in Salt Lake, but he also won gold in 1994."

Well 1994 was 10 years ago, and 10 years ago, people were wearing Club Monaco t-shirts all over the place. How many people do you see wearing that brand today?

The alternatives to Salo are Mikael Tellqvist and Henrik Lundqvist...not exactly awe-inspiring stuff.

The Swedes will pretty much have to count on their usual defensive choke-job in order to have success. I don�t think their more offensive-minded �Torpedo� system can function too well with the goaltending that they have.

Oh, and only 2 non-NHLers (Lundqvist and Jorgen), which makes sense given the venues. I expect the other European teams to follow suit and dress fewer European-based players than they would for the World Championships. Of course, the Russkies are still run by the old hardliners, and who knows who they will pick, or who will choose not to play for Mother Russia.

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Canada's World Cup Team - Part III

To finish off my thoughts regarding Team Canada�s World Cup roster, just so that it can be beaten to death like a clubbed seal�

Patrick Marleau and Brendan Morrow were not horrible selections, but I don�t think they were the greatest picks, either. With the full International Grind Line � in full effect, there wasn�t really a need for Morrow. Marleau has had a good playoff performance, but there are certainly other players more deserving of his roster spot. Marleau seems like a true �B�-team candidate, like you would take to the World Championships.

If I were picking the team, there are two guys that were excluded from the roster that the mediots rarely mention, that I would have taken or strongly considered given their skill level and track record.

Glen Murray, RW � Boston

While Joe Thornton was basically a �Slam Dunk� pick to most people, his linemate, Glen Murray, who has had 2 extremely productive seasons, was basically not even considered.

In addition to Murray�s gaudy production in the last 2 years (152 points in 163 games), he brings the much needed/wanted/craved size and power-forward type game to the table. Murray is a good skater, and he�s far more talented than Brendan Morrow.

Team Canada seemed to be considering chemistry in their selections, and the Murray/Thornton combination has been one of the best in the NHL over the past 2 seasons. Murray played fairly well at the World Championships, although he didn�t produce huge offensive numbers (4 pts in 9 games), so perhaps the directors that his production wasn�t good enough in such a short sample size.

To me, Glen Murray would be my #1 offensive-winger replacement for Team Canada, and it�s somewhat of a shame that most people haven�t seriously considered him in that role.

Brendan Morrison, C � Vancouver

I know Brendan Morrison wasn�t seriously considered by Gretzky and his Superfriends, nor did the (l)Eastern mediots think of him as a viable candidate, which is a shame.

Just look at what Morrison can bring to the table and you can see that there really aren�t that many better 2-way centermen in the league. Morrison is a good skater, a great playmaker, and is very capable defensively. Rather than an old, creaky, and injured retread like Steve Yzerman, Morrison could have provided the same (or better) skill level and more speed, to boot.

Morrison�s performance at this year�s World Championships (7 points in 9 games) proved that he could excel in International competition, and Morrison was one of the few Canucks to play effectively against the Calgary Flames in the playoffs.

Unlike Lecavalier, who floats like a butterfly, and whines like a member of the Hospital Employees Union, Morrison is a solid citizen, and would be my #1 center ice replacement in case of injuries.

Keith Primeau, the sequel

Listening to the crying from Flyers fans and some mediots, you�d figure that Team Canada has just denied a player in the calibre of Eric Lindros (in his prime) off of the team. Is it really that much of a tragedy?

Sure, Primeau has had a pretty good playoffs (though he started quite slowly), but he was ordinary during the regular season, as I mentioned earlier.

The main reason why Primeau was left off was likely due to the pace that will be dictated at the World Cup. Right now, Primeau is in his element as the Hitchcockian Flyers are masters at slowing down the game to a chess-matchian crawn (Now I sound positively Don Taylorian).

Once the World Cup starts, the games will be played at much faster pace with all of the speed demons and superstars playing. Team Canada will not be able to slow down the game to nearly the level that the Flyers have been doing in the NHL Playoffs. A guy like Primeau could easily get in over his head in this type of tournament, which is why Kris Draper was tabbed as the #1 defensive center for Team Canada.

Other Notes:

The Wilted Garden - The Flyers could have Eric Desjardins back for the Stanley Cup Finals, provided they make it that far. The Courier Post Online has the story, here.

Normally, I would be quite hesitant to add in a half-healed (Desjardins will not be anywhere near 100%) player who has played very little hockey in the past few months to the roster in the Finals. We saw how a half-healed Eric Lindros came back to the Flyers during their playoff run a few years back, and he greatly detracted from the team.

Given the current Flyers injury situation in the defence corps, however, the Philly crew have little choice but to welcome back Eric with open arms.

** Master comedian and handsome devil Bob Saget turns 50 today. Now that the Olsen twins are almost legal, I�m really starting to feel old these days.

As the World Cup rosters must be named by May 25th, I�ll be speculating on the Czech and Slovak roster nominations in the coming days.

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Sunday, May 16, 2004


Canada's World Cup Team - Part II

Now that the team has been selected, let�s look at who didn�t make the cut.

Jose Theodore � He might have been a better pick than Belfour for the #3 spot given his youth, but remember that Belfour was chosen as #3 for the Olympic squad and was his attitude was exceptional. Theodore is a bit too shaky in terms of elite goaltenders, so it�s no shock to me that he wasn�t selected.

Curtis Joseph � Remember the last World Cup? Remember who choked big for Canada back then? There are many things Joseph is, and a proven winner is not one of them. Keep him the hell away from the team!!! He�s a curse!!

Bryan McCabe � If you believe the Toronto mediots, McCabe should not only win the Norris Trophy, but he should also have a street named after him and be given the keys to the city.
I�ll admit, McCabe had a fine season this year on the offensive side of the ledger. In 75 games, McCabe had 16 goals, 37 assists, and finished with a +22 rating.

What Leafs fans and the media don�t seem to realize is how shaky McCabe can be defensively. If it wasn�t for Belfour, McCabe wouldn�t be sporting such a nice +22 rating.

So why didn�t McCabe get the nomination?
I present Exhibit A - His play against the Flyers in the playoffs, which may have cost him his World Cup spot. Exhibit B � Robyn Regehr�s stalwart play in the playoffs, which caught Gretzky�s eye: "We really feel that Robyn Regehr's play this year in the playoffs has gone to another level," stated the Great Endorser.

Could McCabe finally have put it all together? Canucks, Islanders, and Hawks fans (are they are Hawks fans left?) still have nightmares of McCabe�s baffling defensive mistakes costing them games.

McCabe certainly wouldn�t have been a bad selection for the squad, but may have been passed over because he wouldn�t take kindly to being simply a �reserve� player.
I�d take him as the #1 injury replacement, however.

Keith Primeau � If we take playoff performances into account, it�s a little puzzling that Primeau wasn�t named to this squad. Primeau has played for Canada at big events before, and he�s been a 2-way force for the Flyers in the playoffs.
But look at it this way, the guy had 7 goals and 22 points in 54 regular season games, and is nowhere near the offensive �force� that he used to be. Primeau was quite ordinary during the regular season, and a short playoff run can�t mask the fact that Primeau�s game has deteriorated quite a bit this past year.

Vincent Lecavalier � Until he can learn to play every game like he does against the Montreal Canadiens, and learn to stop acting like a spoiled brat, Lecavalier still needs to prove himself to be an elite player. If Mario Lemieux can�t play, Lecavalier would be the perfect replacement as an offensive center. Vinnie should make the 2006 Olympic squad, if the NHLers take part.

Alex Tanguay � A deft offensive winger who has lived on the good fortune of playing with Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk. Take Tanguay away from those 2 guys, and you have just an above-average offensive winger that offers little else. Tanguay has talent, but he�s not in the class of the offensive stars chosen already.

Paul Kariya - Really, I couldn't feel happier for this money-grubbing shill that he was left off of the team. When he wasn't injured, Kariya was ineffecitve at both ends of the ice this year, and has never really grown into the elite player that he could have been. Thank you, Gary Suter.

Todd Bertuzzi � The most noticeable omission by Gretz and company. While most Canuck fans are crying in their Sleeman�s, I�m actually happy that Bertuzzi wasn�t chosen for the squad.

Team Canada decided not to choose Bertuzzi to avoid any distractions and problems that would arise around his suspension, which is the diplomatic answer you�d expect him to give. Still, isn�t this suspension a blessing in disguise?

If Bertuzzi was available to play, I don�t think it would be anywhere near a slum-dunk that Bertuzzi would be chosen for the team.

Think about it this way�without Todd Bertuzzi, Canada still has plenty of offense and plenty of size up front. Losing Todd Bertuzzi isn�t any sort of blow whatsoever, so they aren�t hurt by not having him play.

Bertuzzi, however, is exactly the type of player that could hurt Team Canada by playing.

How so?

The lack of discipline should be rather obvious�
a. 10-game suspension for jumping off of the bench to participate in a fight.
b. Indefinite suspension for his cowardly attack on Steve Moore.
c. Like Pronger and Tkachuk, Bertuzzi is easily baited in the playoffs, and has taken his fair share of bad penalties in the playoffs. 82 PIM�s in 24 playoff games. How many times has Bertuzzi killed a late-game rally or a Power Play with an ill-timed penalty? I wish some site kept track of those stats, because I�m sure Bertuzzi would be near the top.
d. Poor Defence � For all of his offensive skills, Bertuzzi is still rather poor defensively, but this isn�t recognized nearly as much these days with his inflated +/- and gaudy offensive stats.
e. World Championships 2000 � Despite his 9 points in 9 games, Bertuzzi also totalled 47 PIMs and cost the Canadians a chance at the gold medal with his ill-timed penalties against the Czechs (Running over Cechmanek with the extra-attacker on the ice). His check-from-behind of Slovakia�s Lubomir Sekeras earlier in the tournament was dangerous, and Bertuzzi was lucky that he wasn�t suspended for that.

Let�s not forget that the guy slept through the regular season and piled up a whopping 17 goals in 69 games. (Thanks for the fat paycheck, Brian).

For all of his offence, I could live without the negatives he brings to the table. In the end, it will be better for Team Canada that Bertuzzi won�t be available to them for this tournament.

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Canada's World Cup Team - Part I

Now that Gretzky and his cronies have picked your gold medal winners for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, everyone has their own view of who should have been picked and who shouldn�t have. Canada�s new guard is coming into its prime, and Canadian hockey hasn�t looked this strong in a long time. Two straight World Championships, Olympic Gold, and consistently strong showings at the World Under-20 Junior Championships have Canada ranked a clear #1 by the IIHF, much to the chagrin of the jealous Russkies.

Unlike the Olympics, Team Canada will be playing its games on the smaller North American-style ice surface. Power Forwards and grinders who normally have trouble with the bigger ice (Keith Primeau and Brendan Shanahan) would feel more at home in this tournament. This is a critical and overlooked factor when selecting a squad for this tournament. The European teams will need to account for this once they name their squads.

With 26 players selected (6 extras), there were extra rosters spots available, and this made Gretz�s job a lot easier. Before we look at who didn�t make it, let�s look at who did. Overall, this is a strong roster that has lots of everything.


Martin Brodeur, 32, New Jersey Devils: The goalie with the golden horseshoe up his buttocks, Brodeur is a good goalie behind great teams. Canada has won gold with him before, so he�s basically the default #1.

Roberto Luongo, 25, Florida Panthers: THE #1 goaltender in the NHL right now, Luongo proved himself at the World Championships in Czechia, and is their heir apparent to Brodeur. I�d give the #1 job to Luongo in a heartbeat, but we all know politics and the status quo will prevail.

Ed Belfour, 39, Toronto Maple Leafs: When is the last time that Belfour played for Team Canada? He�s a great goalie, but his back is questionable and he should be the #3.

The Ministry of Defence

Scott Niedermayer, 30, New Jersey; He might not put up the Bobby Orr-like offense that was expected of him, but he�s finally become an elite 2-way defenseman who really excels everywhere on the ice. If you want a proven winner, he�s the one, as he�s perhaps the only player who has won an Olympic Gold, WJC Gold, World Championships Gold, a Stanley Cup, and a Memorial Cup. Can you think of anyone else who has won all 5? If Canada wins the World Cup, he�ll have 6 major trophies on his mantle.

Rob Blake, 34, Colorado Avalanche: When he�s not headhunting and putting himself out of position for big hits, Blake is still an effective 2-way force on the blueline. With Al MacInnis injured, Blake will be the anchor on the Power Play.

Adam Foote, 32, Colorado Avalanche: Foote will take over Scott Stevens� role as the physical stopper on the back end, and will have to cover for Blake�s occasional brainfart. Foote has been able to stay healthy for the past couple of years, so he should be in good shape heading into this tournament.

Ed Jovanovski, 27, Vancouver Canucks: Special Ed is the �toolsy� choice that gives scouts orgasms and gives coaches heartburn. He can skate, pass, shoot, hit, and carry the puck all very well, but he�s prone to the occasional Igor Kravchuk giveaway. Unlike teammate Brent Sopel, at least Jovo doesn�t do that every 3 shifts.

Chris Pronger, 29, St. Louis Blues: Big, strong, and undisciplined. If he pulls the same crap of taking bad penalties like he did in the playoffs, I wouldn�t hesitate to bench him in an instant. Pronger can log big minutes, anchor the left side of the Power Play, and be the true #1 defenseman for Team Canada�but watch for some enterprising team to take advantage of his temper and get under his skin.

Eric Brewer, 25, Edmonton Oilers: Brewer is the most vanilla of Team Canada�s defenseman, but he�s big, skates well, and has played well for winning Canadian teams before.

Wade Redden, 26, Ottawa Senators: Redden�s been one of the best 2nd tier defensemen in the NHL for quite awhile, but hasn�t yet had much success winning anything.

Robyn Regehr, 24, Calgary Flames: A �surprise� addition to some, but since he�ll likely be a reserve, it�s a good pick since he won�t complain about lack of playing time.


Mario Lemieux, 38, Pittsburgh Penguins: This is guy who injures his back by bending over to tie his skates. Sure, he�s quite talented, but how effective can he be? If he were to get �injured� and miss the World Cup, it might not be the biggest loss for Team Canada. Right now, all Lemieux will be is an offensive role player for Canada.

Joe Sakic, 34, Colorado Avalanche: Pretty much a no-brainer here.

Joe Thornton, 25, Boston Bruins: Like Lemieux, he�s got questions regarding injuries. He skated with a broken rib in the playoffs when he shouldn�t have been playing at all. The result? 0 points and �6 in 7 games. Has he had enough time to heal? If not, take him off the roster and add a healthy body.

Steve Yzerman, 39, Detroit Red Wings: This guy must have his wife and kids, because he seems deathly afraid of retirement�and despite the fact that he has a shattered eye socket, a reconstructed knee, and a host of other ailments, Yzerman seems intent on coming back for another NHL season. Now, he was showing his age in this past playoffs, and this selection reeks of the old-boys club more than astute team picking. Yzerman is a good 2-way player, but there are better selections at this point in time. That said, Yzerman won�t hurt the team if he�s playing a 3rd or 4th line role, but I�d like to see someone younger in his place.

Brad Richards, 24, Tampa Bay Lightning: Will likely be shifted to the wing given the other centers on the roster. Vincent Lecavalier gets all the press, but Richards is the Lightning center who consistently performs at a high level.

Patrick Marleau, 24, San Jose Sharks: It�s hard to believe Marleau is only 24, since he�s played 558 games in 7 NHL seasons. Marleau has generally been a frustrating player to watch, since he�s so talented, but chooses not to use that talent on a nightly basis. He�s a pretty good player, but he�s still below-average defensively, and will likely be a reserve player at this point in time.

Kris Draper, 32, Detroit Red Wings: Not since Jody Hull scored 20 for the Panthers in 1996 has there been a less likely 20 goal scorer in the NHL than Kris Draper and his 24 goals this season. Draper has good speed and he�s proven himself to be an adept shadow in International Competition. Will form the International Grind line with Doan and Maltby that was so successful at the 2003 World Championships.


Jarome Iginla, 26, Calgary Flames: If you want the complete package, this is your specimen. If I were to start an NHL club, Iginla would be the first player I would choose (followed closely by Luongo).

Martin St. Louis, 28, Tampa Bay Lightning: The Canadian Pavol Demitra, St. Louis proved any doubters this season and deserves the MVP award. His lack of international experience is a concern, but he�s already stepped into uncharted territory and has proven himself with a big playoff performance.

Dany Heatley, 23, Atlanta Thrashers: When he�s not crashing Ferrari�s, Heatley is crashing the net and could very soon take over Iginla�s place as the best player in the game today (Once he learns some defense). His MVP performance at the World Championships erased any doubts about his current skill level, and I am very jealous of Thrashers fans that they have this guy and Ilya Kovalchuk to build around.

Shane Doan, 27, Phoenix Coyotes: Solid power forward, a Todd Bertuzzi-lite.

Simon Gagne, 24, Philadelphia Flyers: People look at his offensive numbers and seem puzzled at why Gagne would make the squad. Let�s face it, Gagne is still one of the most talented and speedier players in the game, and he�s more a victim of his coach�s defensive system and team depth than anything. Gagne is better than his numbers show.

Ryan Smyth, 28, Edmonton Oilers: If there was a Captain Canada, this guy would be it. Smyth has been a constant figure for Canada at the Olympics and World Championships, and has never rejected Canada�s call once. Smyth embodies the traits that Canadians claim make a �Canadian� player, and it�s only due to the presence of the old guys like Lemieux and Yzerman that would keep Smyth from getting the �C� again.

Brenden Morrow, 25, Dallas Stars: This is a classic example of a player that is better than his numbers. Morrow doesn�t tend to score more than .6 points a game, but he�s got the speed and skill set that makes him a good addition for Canada�s international teams as a defensive role player.

Kirk Maltby, 32, Detroit Red Wings : The most surprising pick to me, and the most annoying player on the Red Wing$�I expected Draper and Morrow, but not Maltby. There are many more skilled players to choose, so Maltby was selected more for the chemistry he�s developed with Draper.

Some nitpicks here and there, but you can't say this team isn't 'complete'.
Of course, the most important question is, where will they hide the lucky loonie?

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