Archive for November, 2010

Remembering Pat Burns

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By Stu Hackel

Pat Burns passed away on Friday, a gruff but funny and beloved figure in the game and the only coach to win the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s Coach of the Year with three different teams — Montreal in 1989, Toronto in 1993 and Boston in 1998. He coached the Devils to the 2003 Stanley Cup and deserves a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame, which he sadly did not live to see.

But he did live to see construction begin on a rink named in his honor in the Eastern Townships of Quebec

…and learn how much he was loved when his death was reported erroneously earlier this year. At that time, Bob McKenzie of TSN, who was a close friend of Burns, wrote just about the best thing you could want to read about Pat, and you should read it sometime this weekend.

Jim Kelley of SI.com, who also writes for Sportsnet.ca, has written a very personal and insightful remembrance of Burns on that website and you should read that one too.

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  • Published On Nov 20, 2010
  • Savard cleared to practice, and more evening notes

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    Concussed forward Marc Savard is making hopeful progress, but his return to game action is still a ways off. (Michael Tureski/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    The Bruins’ Marc Savard, who has yet to play this season after a recurrence of concussion symptoms, has been cleared by doctors to practice with the team. Blogging for the Boston Globe, Barbara Matson reports that Savard passed a conditioning test and was cleared to return to practice with the team and take part in non-contact drills.

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  • Published On Nov 19, 2010
  • The Islanders’ Botta ban is pointless

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    Islanders GM Garth Snow (left) and owner Charles Wang are going to be left with an empty building if they keep alienating fans. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    There was a hat trick of bad news for the Islanders this week. First they fired coach Scott Gordon, which a number of observers took as a cosmetic step to rescue a plunging season. Then they lost their 11th straight game, their first under new coach Jack Capuano. Third, they pulled the media credential of Chris Botta, the team’s former public relations director who for the last few years has written a crucially important blog, Islanderspointblank.com

    Why is Botta’s blog so important? Because it is the best and most authoritative place to get reliable news and very reasonable views on the Islanders. It’s frequently updated and delivered by a hockey saavy guy with a long connection to the organization. It has credibility with the fans, averaging a whopping 1.5 million page views a month.

    The Islanders, you see, are not regularly covered by any of the New York newspapers except Newsday — and Newsday’s content is behind a paywall except for those who subscribe to the paper, pay to have the paywall lifted, or are customers of Cablevision, which also owns Newsday and is using its TV product to bolster the paper at a time when print media are fading as successful businesses.

    To antagonize Islanders fans even further, Cablevision also owns Madison Square Garden and the hated Rangers, so this entire situation is like pouring water on a drowning man.

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  • Published On Nov 19, 2010
  • The Colie-mail counterattack

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    Colin Campbell claims his hockey operations department is transparent, but fans and media see it differently. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    The NHL went on a big PR offensive yesterday in the “Colie-mail” matter, three days after the story broke. What was their hurry?

    First, Gary Bettman went on his weekly radio program (audio) and, sounding like he was at times reading from a prepared text, acknowledged that – from a perception standpoint, no doubt — “it looks bad,” but the reality is different and Colin Campbell has never done anything inappropriate.

    Bettman expressed his “full support” for his VP of Hockey Operations, saying those who accuse  Campbell of bias “have not had the opportunity to observe Colie’s professionalism and integrity….He takes his service to the game, the teams and the players as seriously as any human being can and he is somebody of the utmost integrity, and that’s the way people around the league view him.”

    Regardless of the public’s perception that there might be a conflict of interest or some bias as a result of those e-mails, Bettman said, “There’s no basis to suggest that anything wrong, unfair, biased was ever done, because nothing inappropriate has happened with respect to supplemental discipline or any of his other duties.” He added the clubs — who “would never accept anything less than fair, unbiased treatment” — have expressed unsolicited overwhelming support for Campbell.

    Bettman didn’t say unanimous, however.

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  • Published On Nov 19, 2010
  • Hole in the Oilers, a phone call from dad, more notes

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    Goalie Devan Dubnyk is the latest addition to the Oiler kiddie corps. (Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    The entire Western Conference is balancing on the Oilers, who sit at the bottom with 11 points. Apart from watching their uber-talented youngsters like Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Magnus Paarjarvi grow, no one expected too much from Edmonton this season (they “resemble a sadsack lottery contender,” writes Bruce McCurdy in The Edmonton Journal Cult of Hockey blog). But what little they have been able to achieve has been in some measure thanks to the goaltending of 37-year-old Nikolai Khabibulin. Certainly, Khabi has had ups and downs, but for the time being he’s down — forced onto the Injured Reserve list by a groin injury, according to TSN. The Oilers have recalled Martin Gerber from Oklahoma City and he’ll team up with Devan Dubnyk, the former first round draft pick who could very well benefit from the additional work.

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  • Published On Nov 18, 2010
  • Devils coach feels the heat

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    Security is hardly what coach John MacLean can expect even if his struggling Devils have been playing with an injury-depleted cast. (Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    Is Lou Lamoriello dragging out the guillotine to behead Devils coach John MacLean?

    Mark Everson in The New York Post thinks so, writing today from Toronto, ” It wouldn’t be fair, but should the Devils lose here tonight, that would be about the only remaining reason John MacLean might avoid the looming axe. But everyone knows life isn’t fair. If they can’t beat the dogmeat Leafs, who snapped an eight-game losing streak Tuesday, they’ll be worthy of the dogmeat Devils title themselves.”

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  • Published On Nov 18, 2010
  • The red light Blues

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    By Stu Hackel

    In soccer they call it an “own-goal.” In hockey, it’s called something unfit for public consumption. Last night in Detroit, Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak tried to clear the puck and inadvertently batted it into his own net, giving the Red Wings the first score of the game.

    Mickey Redmond on the Detroit telecast said “goaltenders make this move 100 times a night in the NHL,” and while that’s a slight exaggeration, it does happen — with better results — pretty regularly. In fact, the Sabres’ Ryan Miller made that exact move last night against the Capitals (sorry, can’t find video of it) in the second period, making a stop and sending the puck safely to the corner.

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  • Published On Nov 18, 2010
  • Rookie ruffles Flyer feathers

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    Canadiens blueliner P.K. Subban (left) did not endear himself to the Flyers on Tuesday night. (Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    Is Montreal rookie P.K. Subban too cocky? Flyers captain Mike Richards thinks so, but you have to wonder if he would be as critical of the brash defenseman, who is playing a leading role for the Canadiens, if Subban were wearing orange, black and white instead of bleu, blanc et rouge.

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  • Published On Nov 17, 2010
  • Dismal Isles need a lot more than a coaching change

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    The Islanders have fallen earlier than usual, and they aren’t likely to get up in time to make the playoffs. (Ric Tapia/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    A new, albeit interim, NHL head coach steps behind the bench tonight when Jack Capuano guides the Islanders against the Lightning at Nassau Coliseum. But no matter GM Garth Snow’s stated goal for the season, you can’t expect this young, struggling squad to be transformed into a playoff team, not in the short term.

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  • Published On Nov 17, 2010
  • Will the Road Bite the Kings?

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    Perfect at home, the Kings are now a .500 team on the road. (Don Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    The Sharks stopped the Kings’ six-game winning streak last night, looking faster and stronger than their SoCal foes — strange because of how fast and strong the Kings looked over that stretch of Ws, five of which were played at home.

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  • Published On Nov 16, 2010


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