Hey all, I’m Stu, and I’ll be posting a weekly “what happened in the NHL and what I think of it” post every Monday morning. Think of it as Peter King’s Monday Morning QB on SI.com, only much shorter, with far less football, and without a couple million Starbucks references.
The big one finally happened, and Phil Kessel was finally traded to the Maple Leafs in exchange for two first round picks and a second. While I like Kessel as a player, I find that giving up two consecutive first-round picks from a mediocre rebuilding team to be a bit steep of a price to pay. That said, 21-year-old goalscoring talents don’t come hanging around all that often, and when the opportunity arises, you sometimes have to take it. Even if his goal tally drops by virtue of not playing with Marc Savard, he’s still a legit top-6 forward on a team which lacked one until now. Other than that, I pretty much entirely agree with Dan Scratch (http://www.dailyfaceoff.com/1791/say-it-aint-so-burkie). Story Link.
It’s maybe not the biggest news of the week, but with training camps underway, it was a relatively quiet week in the NHL Kessel trade aside. More than anything, I’m surprised that it took until now for Petr Sykora to sign anywhere. While 46 points in 76 games isn’t a fantastic season, he is a proven talent with a heavy resumé behind him. The fact that it took until mid-September for him to sign is more a sign of the interesting economic situation of the NHL (and spent-to-the-cap method of most team’s salary management policies) than it is his declining ability. At the least, it’s a low-impact deal to try and replace some of the impact of the loss of Gaborik, along with Martin Havlat. Story Link.
A bit of fallout is underway following Paul Kelly’s firing as the head the PA a couple weeks ago. Crosby, Chelios and other key figures are upset with how secretive the firing happened and how little say they collectively had in the matter. The key part of this news to me is in the final paragraph, stating that the players are unhappy with the fact that each team’s rep voted on such an important decision without consulting them, even though they didn’t have to. If the PA can’t get its act together enough to coordinate the hirings and firings of its leader, how are they going to hold a candle against the equally-inept league in a couple year’s time when the current CBA expires? Story Link.
Gretzky AWOL in Phoenix
Can’t say it any better than Allan Muir of SI: “Instead of showing up in the face of difficult circumstances and serving as a shield/rallying point for the players, he’s chosen the path of self-interest.” Gretzky is sitting out and staying quiet because his contact status is unsure, whether the NHL or Ballsillie wins the Phoenix case. Flagrantly disregarding the fact that he has a contract to honour right now and backing away from the situation when you’re the head coach (and, by the by, the sport’s most well-known ambassador) is an embarrassing act of irresponsibility, and only adds to the joke of a situation that every facet of the Phoenix Coyotes has become. How does staying away help your team, Wayne? That’s your job as coach – to help the team any way you can. That said, another line of thinking from Muir: “they believe The Great One is a Great Liability behind the bench, and any game without him patrolling it is one that Phoenix has a better chance to win.” Story Link.