I have decided to write a weekly "column" for my site, which will also be posted on Hendrickshockey.com. I plan on getting a few other columnists to do weekly articles here. TJ Hurst, who does a lot of the daily updates on the site, as well as polices the forums when possible, will debut his column on Wednesday. I have a few other people in mind, but if you are interested please email me at email@example.com. This will ensure at least one blog per day at Hockeyleaks.com, giving you all more to read and more insight into the world of the NHL.
Introducing my weekly column, which will appear on Hockeyleaks.com every Friday afternoon/evening:
Two Minutes for Instigating
January 8, 2010
NHL says NO to profanity
I'll start this weeks entry with some breaking news that the NHL is cracking down on profanity used by coaches and team personnel. Yes, kids are fans of the game as well, but is it really necessary to clean up the NHL any more? Compared to the NBA (whose players duel in the lockerroom with guns), the NFL (where Pacman Jones is in trouble weekly and Plaxico shoots himself in the leg) and Baseball (Steroids, A-Rod's affairs, and what have you...), the NHL is already the goody-two-shoes of professional sports. Suspending Sean Avery for as long as they did for his "Sloppy Seconds" comment was stupid, and so is this new crackdown. With such issues as headshots and the inability for teams to make trades due to the Salary Cap, this is the least of the NHL's worries.
On a related note, I wonder what the league thinks of this?
A good friend of Hockeyleaks.com and potential Hockeyleaks.com columnist, Randy Workman, first broke that Phaneuf could be leaving Calgary over a month ago. While the chatter has been ongoing, it took off in a bit way this past week. Sutter denies that Phaneuf, or any of his other d-men, are going anywhere, but I've been hearing different. Two teams to watch? How about New Jersey (Bergfors would have to be involved) and Ottawa.
Kovalchuk a tough sell
While the Thrashers would love to hold on to Kovalchuk, it looks likely that the team will be forced to trade him. If I was in charge of Atlanta's roster, I'd trade him as soon as possible to get maximum return. With that said, Kovalchuk is hard to trade because of his large contract, and the longer Atlanta waits, the more teams are interested. A reliable source tells me that Chicago isn't in this, and that the reporter who started this rumour simply did so off of speculation from another reporter. So if not Chicago, then where could Kovalchuk end up? I'm hearing Boston, where he would be reunited with Savard. It would be tricky to work Kovalchuk into the cap, but I'm hearing Ryder or Wheeler would be part of the deal (which would make Kovalchuk easier to absorb, Savard being hurt so much this years also helps), plus a couple of Boston's many draft picks. I've heard people speculate that Detroit may make a run at Kovalchuk, but trust me, the Wings have no interest in a rental player at the deadline.
Rutherford to blow up Carolina
It came out this week that the Hurricanes plan on overhauling 50 % of their roster by next season. Aaron Ward is likely on the "to be cut" list, as he's been terrible this season. Guys like Whitney and Brind'Amour are also expected to go. Expect the sell-off to start any day now.
Hitchcock on borrowed time
Kenny Hitchcock will be lucky to get out of January with his job as the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Had the team lost last night, Hitch would have been let go, but they won, so he lives to see another day. No doubt about it though, Hitchcock is on borrowed time, especially after Filatov came out today and said that he won't return to Columbus unless Hitchcock is fired. No, Filatov doesn't have that kind of push, but Howson drafted this kid seventh overall, and if he never comes back to the NHL, while guys he passed over including Baily, Myers and Del Zotto continue to have NHL success, then he won't look too great. Hitchcock will be gone soon, and Filatov will be back next season. Bank on it.
I'm a Leafs fan, I admit it, but to watch them lately has been awful. Ron Wilson has lost this team, and if things don't improve by the time the Olympics wrap up, you have to think he'll be shown the door. Anyone else see Hitchcock replacing him? You can't blame Wilson for everything, this team is much faster than it's been in a long time and they work harder than any other Leafs team in recent memory. However, Wilson has handled so many situations the wrong way, and it's clear his players (most of whom lack real NHL talent) have lost interest in listening to him. Any team that ices four centres named Stajan, Wallin, Mitchell, and Mayers for any period of time isn't going to go on any type of a winning streak. Sure, Grabs and Primeau are hurt, but are they really much better? The Leafs are fine on the back end, on the wings, and for the most part (Toskala excluded) in goal, but they need to replace all four of their middle men (Grabs can stay when he gets back, at least he still has some potential, and Mitchell can stay, if it's in a fourth line role where he belongs). For all you Leaf fans who email me daily asking for Leaf rumours, here's one: Toronto has shown some interest in San Jose centre Joe Pavelski. Burke named him to the U.S. Team, while he's only getting 2nd-3rd line minutes in San Jose. Not saying it will happen, but it's been discussed.
Rookie of the Year
Finally, my last point involves the Calder Trophy and who deserves it. Forget John Tavares, my vote is a toss up between Tyler Myers and Jimmy Howard. Myers has been a tank on the back-end for Buffalo, and he not only makes Ryan Miller's job easier but also has put up a nice amount of points. As for Howard, look no further than him stealing a game from the Kings last night in a 51-save, 2-1 victory.
Two Minutes for Instigating appears every Friday at http://www.hockeyleaks.com and at http://www.hendrickshockey.com. If you'd like to comment on the content of this column, or are interested in bringing the column to your site, please contact Corey at firstname.lastname@example.org