Under Review: Sept 7–13

Updated: September 14, 2009 at 11:52 am by Stuart Thursby

underreview

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.

Phoenix Coyotes

This is the story that never ends. With the amount of suits and legalese flying around, I’m surprised its taken this long for the judge to say “you’ll just have to wait and see.” While Balsillie is clearly trying to bludgeon his way into the league, he’s also clearly the most viable option for the team to stop sinking in $30 million of debt a year. I have a feeling that the judge is going to come back and side with the NHL, purely because of Balsille’s tactics. But an extra $100 million (give or take) sure goes a long way when the team’s lost that much in the last three and a half years alone. Besides, at this point, what casual fan in Phoenix is going to bother to turn up to a game anyway with so much turmoil? Story Link

Jiri Hudler

With Phoenix, Heatley and training camp flying around this week, it’s no surprise this piece of news fell through the cracks. While not nearly as controversial as last summer’s KHL signing of Alexander Radulov, it’s still unfamiliar territory for the NHL to be losing players in their prime (or, in Radulov’s case, before it). What makes Hudler’s case interesting is his status as a RFA with Detroit; what’s stopping other RFAs for teams not happy with their contract offer from jumping ship to Europe and earning a boatload of cash virtually tax-free? While I can’t see Kessel and others doing this, it might be a trend to pick up a bit of steam in the years to come with players unhappy with contract offers. Story Link

The Return of Fleury

The little engine that could is back on the path to the NHL. Six years after last lacing them up in the NHL, Theo Fleury is attending training camp with Calgary on a tryout basis. Claude Lemieux actually making it with San Jose last year has shown that anything old is new again, and the retirement of Jeremy Roenick makes the NHL a bit less interesting, so having the pint-sized maniac skating up and up down the wings, even as a 41-year-old, would certainly be a welcome sight. It’s definitely a more intriguing comeback than Jason Allison in Toronto… Story Link

The Tussle Over Kessel

“The American Crosby” is sitting in Toronto’s sights, as has been rumored for a couple weeks now, and it looks increasingly possible that a deal with Boston might be worked out in the next couple days. I’m not convinced that, if push comes to shove, Burke won’t send out an offer sheet to sign him. While there’s been much fuss about how hypocritical it would be following the Dustin Penner debacle for Burke to send an offer sheet for anyone, he’s gone to great lengths to distance this situation from that. I doubt that a trade with Chiarelli would be worked out unless it’s phenomenally stacked in Boston’s favour, but an offer sheet looks like a likely option to me. Story Link

Heatley Goes West

It finally happened: Dany Heatley got his wish and got shipped out to San Jose along with a fifth-round pick in exchange for Michalek, Cheechoo and a second rounder. This makes almost no sense to me, from San Jose’s point of view. The Sharks, as we all know, kill the regular season then drop off a cliff come playoff time. Why give up two solid, if under-performing, players in exchange for one player who has a reputation for dropping off the face of a cliff come playoff time? The Sharks are like the San Diego Chargers of the NHL: a fantastically talented team that will never win so long as the current team is in place. The team’s failures are systemic, not due to personnel, and while it’s not a bad trade in terms of A-for-B value, it makes no sense for the Sharks to go after Heatley compared to another playoff performer (while he was available, Mike Knuble, etc?). Story Link

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