Monday, September 05, 2005

Q & A Session With Steve Simmons

Before I get to our very first Q & A session, few news and notes to pass along. First, Datsyuk has signed a one year deal with Russian club Avangard Omsk. There is a clause in the contract that would allow him to return to the NHL anytime before December 1st if a deal can be worked out between him and Detroit. I am sure a lot of NHL teams will start inquiring about Datsyuk over the next few weeks. With Datsyuk gone, I think it is time for everyone to forget they ever heard a rumour involving Zetterberg coming to Toronto, as Zetterberg will likely re-sign with Detroit later this week. This also means the chances of Toronto signing Czerkawski have increased. According to a Polish NHL website, Czerkawski is suppose to sign with the Leafs sometime this week, but like all rumours, please don't take it too seriously. Anyways, enough about Datsyuk, Zetterberg, and Czerkawski, lets get to Steve Simmons. Steve Simmons writes for the Toronto Sun, and is defiantly one of Toronto's best sports writers. Here is a quick Q & A session I was able to have with him. Enjoy!


Question #1: What new rule do you think will have the most positive effect on the NHL? most negative effect?

Simmons : Shootouts will have the most positive effect on the upcoming season. The reason being: Everybody except goalies love penalty shots and suddenly the most mundane Tuesday night hockey game between Buffalo and Minnesota can turn into a fun, dramatic ending that people will leave the building, or the television screens talking about. Shootouts will keep people in the buildings right to the last moment of tight games.

As for the area of negativity, I truly wonder after several attempts if the league can cut down on obstruction. The league has talked this way before - tried it several times in fact - and not succeeded. Coaches will continue to try and suck the life out of the game, especially teams with limited talent. I'd love to see that change but don't believe it will happen.

Question #2: From what has happened so far this offseason, which team has improved the most since the last time hockey was played.

Simmons : Obviously, Pittsburgh has made the largest leap of any team since hockey was last played and it was started with them winning the lottery. But it may have started before that, when Craig Patrick basically cleared off his payroll so that he could start from fresh in the new NHL environment. Unlike Washington, which did just about the same thing and didn't get Crosby, Patrick then turned around and used his money wisely (with the possible exception of signing John LeClair) to pick up Sergei Gonchar, Ziggy Palffy, to add to Crosby, Lemieux, Mark Recchi, and a few other nice parts. Not a Stanley Cup contender but definitely a playoff contender.
Also improved: Atlanta, by adding Marian Hossa and Bobby Holik, so long as they get Ilya Kovalchuk signed.

Question #3: Which player do you think will excel the most under the new rules? Which players numbers do you think will drop because of the new rules.

Simmons : Players who play special teams - especially those on the power play - will benefit most from the new rules. As the league tries to find itself, more penalties than ever are likely to be called. As for individuals, I don't see things changing all that much - but I do see a new breed emerging in the league, led by Joe Thornton and Rick Nash and obviously Iginla. I think they, not Sakic and Forsberg, will be the big stars in the league: And what you might find out is that players who took a year off and didn't play competitively won't bounce back as quickly as expected.

The bigger change might come with goaltenders - now we';ll find out which goalies benefited most from large equipment and which ones are going to be quality under any system.


Once again, thank you very much to Steve Simmons for taking the time to answer some questions for us. He is the first of many people from the hockey world to do a Q & A with us, and we are most appreciative. Mike Zeisberger has agreed to do one with us, so if you would like to ask him something, please email me at Remember, only 3-5 questions will get asked so not all questions received will be asked. I have also talked to one of The Hockey News' top writers, and if he gets approval from his boss, we may have a third Q & A to announce this week! Have a good night everyone!