It was another relatively quiet week in the NHL as the season starts winding down towards Christmas, but some history’s about to be made — in more ways than one — if the newsworthy notes from last week are any indication.
Brodeur Ties Sawchuck’s Record
I’m not sure how many goaltenders of Brodeur’s talent and class we’re going to see in the immediate future of the NHL. Ryan Miller, Roberto Luongo and others will all have the stage to themselves for years to come, but they don’t have a chance of matching Brodeur’s record of excellence. Last year, he passed Patrick Roy to set the wins record, and last week he tied Terry Sawchuk for career shutouts with 103. Hockey’s one of the few sports which have remained relatively untainted by solid accusations of steroids or other performance-enhancing substances, and it’s an absolute joy to watch history unfold for one of the classiest people in the league. He may have lucked into the situation of the New Jersey Devils, but many other solid goaltenders haven’t done nearly as well in similar systems (or even New Jersey itself, though they have had some stellar backups in Marty’s time) and this record, when he does break, is entirely his to cherish. Hats off, Marty. Story link.
The NHL To Return To Canada?
A couple months after the Premier of Quebec stopped rattling his sabres, proclaiming Gary Bettman’s supposed interest in returning a team to Quebec City, I had pretty much given up hope that The Count was actually considering the situation, whatever the reality in Phoenix. However, Jean Charest was at it again last week, explaining to the Canadian Press that Greedy Gary was actually interested in the Quebec City situation for two reasons: number one, that the salary cap had changed the economics of the game in small market’s favour, and number two, the prospect of finding investors in the provincial capital. Colour me skeptical until the fleur de lis graces the jerseys of an NHL team again, but I am pleased to hear that it’s at least still up in the air, however tentatively. Story link.
Small Window for the Blackhawks
Chuck this one into the “Obvious” pile (though someone had to say it): Farber’s article on SI.com detailed the struggles which the Blackhawks will face with the salary cap as soon as this season is complete and contracts need to be re-signed (using Pittsburgh as an example of what a salary cap can do to a solid team). While I understand that the salary cap constrains some dynasties, that’s the point: to level the playing field. The fact that the New England Patriots or Indianapolis Colts didn’t win all the Super Bowls of the past decade doesn’t make them any less but the two teams of the decade (with a nod to the Pittsburgh Steelers too…but this isn’t a football blog), and it’s incumbent upon NHL GM’s to make do with the options they have available. Detroit’s done it as well as any, and father time and the inevitable end of a good stretch are the only two things standing in the team’s way of continued success. Critics would point out that the salary cap has hurt teams like Carolina, Edmonton and Anaheim after their Cup-contending seasons — but this is along the same timeframe as the perpetual competitiveness of Detroit, Pittsburgh, Ottawa and San Jose. The salary cap may have put a plug on such wonder runs as the Islanders or Oilers of the 1980s, but I’d rather have a league where there’s more unpredictability and changeover on a season-to-season basis than one where the Oilers and Islanders win all the marbles while the Red Wings and Leafs roll over and play dead for an entire decade. Story link.
The NHL Gets Its Just Desserts in the Desert
Ice Edge Holdings, the little group that could when it came to the embattled Phoenix Coyotes situation, has formally put in a letter of intent to the NHL to purchase the troubled team, long after the dust had settled from the Jim Balsillie saga. The purchase does not come with an “out clause” which would allow them to break the lease, and they’re evidently committed to keeping the team in Arizona for the entire 26-year period of the Jobing.com Arena lease. It remains to be seen how committed they’ll be once they get a good look at the money pit they’re willingly buying into, but if the team can stay and become viable, then I’m all for it. Though part of me wants to see this talented core of youngsters move back to Quebec City to make up for the Nordique’s loss and the Avalanche’s gain of the 1990s with a Stanley Cup or two… Story link.
Kelley Says It True
A good read from Jim Kelley on the philosophical inpetitude of the Philadelphia Flyers over the years which was resulted in a carousel of coaches, a 35-year drought of success, and a tendency to win without winning it all. As Jim says, when will the players be responsible for the continued flameouts in Philly? Story link.