Under Review makes its triumphant return after several dormant weeks of holiday/hangover cheer! Hope everyone had a good holiday season, enjoyed the Winter Classic, reveled in the World Juniors (including one hell of a gold medal game), and otherwise kicked back for some iced times over the break. On to a couple pieces of news…
CuJo Stops Barking
The ref-tripping, sprawling-save-making, and eminently well-traveled Curtis Joseph will retire this coming Tuesday, according to reports out of ESPN. I knew his career was a long one, marked mostly by modest success (reaching the conference finals twice with Toronto, in 1999 and 2002), but it still surprised me that he’s fourth on the all-time wins list with 454 total (although he’s tied with Gump Worsley for most losses, with 352; can’t hold that against him too much, it’s a tribute to his longevity). Hats off to a goaltender who, like many other players, got ran out of town on a pitchfork by Maple Leaf fans, but he continued to play a decent game while doing a fair amount of good works for the hockey community in Ontario and, I’m sure, elsewhere. Story link.
Michael Farber’s First-Half Awards
While spending a fair chunk of time addressing the revolving door at the emergency ward that has been the NHL injury list this season, Michael Farber of SI.com also went on to list his picks for the six major awards at the halfway point of the season. I agree with his Vezina, Calder, and Selka picks, and have something to say about the others. Tippet for Jack Adams? While he’s done a great job in taking a promising, if uneven, team to a level of respectability (so far) rarely seen in Phoenix, my pick has to be Jacques Lemaire. It’s one of the most widely-known truths about the NHL that Lemaire is one of the league’s best coaches (if also one of most snooze-inspiring), and he’s managed to take a semi-mediocre Devils team to top of the East; I’d also potentially pick Ruff ahead of Tippet, who has taken a previously-under-performing and seriously-uninspiring Buffalo team to second (albeit on the back of the true “Monster”, Ryan Miller). Goalie bias be damned, I’d pick Miller for MVP, and it’s also worth noting that the names Farber pulls as potential candidates for the Norris speaks volumes about how deep the elite level of NHL defenders is right now. Story link.
The Messiah Returns
Rick DiPietro made his long-awaited return to the NHL a couple days ago against Dallas…and promptly lost. The realist in me would suggest that a decent goalie a year out of NHL practice would be hard-pressed to win his first game back against any team, but it’s far more fun to blame his contract. Yes, money’s the problem, here, not the woeful Islanders team. Story link.