Flyers' goalie curse strikes again: Leighton out 8-10 weeks

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The Philadelphia Flyers are to goalies what the Chicago Bears are to quarterbacks. (Which I guess means Ron Hextall is Jim McMahon? Works for me.) TSN reports that Michael Leighton will miss 8-10 weeks with a high ankle sprain.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren made the announcement on Thursday, meaning the team’s Stanley Cup hopes now lie with Brian Boucher.

The Flyers will need to win a couple of playoff series to give Leighton a chance to return to the lineup.

That’s gotta hurt! Earlier this year, Ray Emery needed to conclude his season – and may ultimately end his career – after hip surgery. The team will now center its playoff hopes on the well-traveled Brian Boucher, who isn’t a horrible backup but certainly not the guy you’d want to pin your Stanley Cup hopes on.

I both agree and disagree with Hockeycentric’s Tweet about the injury.

Michael Leighton out 8-10 weeks… Paul Holmgren’s ineptitude on full display.


On one hand, many people – myself included – criticized Holmgren for not trading for goaltending insurance during the trade deadline. You’d think that they’d want to add a veteran such as Dwayne Roloson or former Flyer Martin Biron (or even someone outside of Long Island) just in case Michael Leighton faltered.

The thing is, Leighton was actually providing Philadelphia with solid play in net. With that in mind, can you blame Holmgren for something as random as injuries? How many legitimate contenders, exactly, could deal with the injury of their No. 1 goalie right now?

Then again, this is Philadelphia, where they always seem to skimp on goalies. There are few certainties in sports, but these things seem to hold true: the Yankees will out-spend everyone, the Lakers will get lucky with trades, the Bengals will acquire malcontents, the Trailblazers will draft injury prone centers over Hall of Fame shooters and the Flyers will fail in net. 

Really, it’s good to have a few sure things in an increasingly uncertain world.

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    Canucks sign free agent goalie and Mike Richter Award nominee Garteig

    Quinnipiac goalie Michael Garteig (34) eyes a save on a shot by North Dakota during the first period of an NCAA Frozen Four championship college hockey game Saturday, April 9, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
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    Nine days after getting prized prospect goalie Thatcher Demko under contract, the Vancouver Canucks have inked another college puck stopper.

    The Canucks have signed college free agent goalie Michael Garteig to a one-year entry-level contract, the team announced Friday. Garteig recently completed his senior year with Quinnipiac University, which won the ECAC championship but lost the NCAA championship game to North Dakota earlier this month.

    Garteig, 24, posted a 32-4-7 record with a .924 save percentage and a career best eight shutouts this season. He was also once again nominated for the 2016 Mike Richter Award.

    Sabres extend Larsson: one year, $950,000

    BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 22: Johan Larsson #22 of the Buffalo Sabres warms up before the game against the Detroit Red Wings on January 22, 2016 at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Brenner/Getty Images)
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    BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Sabres have re-signed forward Johan Larsson to a one-year contract.

    Larsson was eligible to become a restricted free agent once his contract expired this summer. The Swedish-born player is coming off a season in which he set career bests with 10 goals, 17 points and 74 games. He also finished tied with rookie center Jack Eichel in scoring five game-winning goals.

    Overall, he has 16 goals and 21 assists in 142 games for the Sabres.

    Buffalo acquired Larsson in a trade that sent former Sabres captain Jason Pominville to Minnesota in April 2013. The Wild selected Larsson in the second round of the 2010 draft.

    Contractual details, per the Buffalo News:

    Burke: Once a team picks first overall, no more drafting first overall (for a few years at least)

    Calgary Flames' President of Hockey Operations & acting GM, Brian Burke speaks to the media as team members show up for NHL hockey season-end activities in Calgary, Alberta, on Monday, April 14, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Larry MacDougal)
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    Brian Burke isn’t trying to pick on the Edmonton Oilers — no really, he isn’t — but Calgary’s president of hockey ops doesn’t believe any team should get to draft first overall as much as his northern rivals have done the past few years.

    “If you’re a team that picks first overall, you shouldn’t be allowed to pick first overall for some specified period … three years or five years, whatever … or even the top two teams, pick in the top two,” Burke told the Flames’ website.

    “You could still pick four or five, still get a good player, but you can’t get rewarded for continued failure, or continued luck.”

    The Oilers, of course, picked first overall in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2015. And after yet another dismal season in 2015-16, they have a 13.5 percent of winning’s tomorrow’s lottery and getting the same privilege again

    “Everyone thinks when you talk about the draft having flaws, that you’re picking on Edmonton,” said Burke.

    “There are a lot of teams that have followed this path and have repeated high, high picks for a number of years. Chicago did it. Florida’s done it. Buffalo’s done it. You can argue we did it in Toronto, certainly by not any effort of ours. We were just not successful in the lottery. This is not an indictment of any one team and it’s not an indictment of the system.

    “This is saying, ‘Okay, if 30 reasonable people got into a room and said, how do we best award amateur talent in the draft without having abuses,’ I’m not sure this is the system we’d come up with. That’s all I’m saying.”

    And many would agree with Burke.

    In fact, many would go a lot further, suggesting the entire system should be rethought.

    But the question will remain, what’s a better system? The current one incentivizes losing, and so some teams tank. They may not use the word “tanking,” but they’re sure not trying to win. Not in the short term.

    Now, is it a good look for the NHL when teams are built to be bad and we see fans openly rooting for losses? No, it’s not a good look.

    But would it be preferable for each team to have the same odds of drafting first overall. Even the Stanley Cup champion?

    Imagine for a moment a system that didn’t take the standings into account. You just know there’d be some poor franchise that was chronically unlucky, year after year after year. And you just know there’d be some ultra-lucky franchise, too.

    The fact is, as long as the NHL wants to maintain its competitive balance — and remember, there’s nothing the NHL is prouder of than its precious parity — losing teams will be rewarded in the draft.

    Burke is fine with that.

    All he’s saying is the current system could use a few tweaks.

    And if the Oilers win the lottery tomorrow, you can bet there’ll be some.

    After firing Boudreau, Ducks GM unloads on core players

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    When the Ducks were struggling this season, GM Bob Murray took some not-so-thinly veiled shots at the team’s core players.

    And after the club’s disappointing first-round playoff exit to Nashville, he was at it again.

    The juicy stuff, from today’s presser following the Bruce Boudreau dismissal.

    (Video here):

    “Let’s face it: I’d like to know where they heck they were in Games 1 and 2. The players are going to have to answer that the next four or five days. Where were they? They showed up in Game 7, but where was the passion, the controlled emotion? Where the heck was that? They’re going to have to be held accountable, too.

    “There’s definite concerns in that area, and I think the core has to be held responsible, and they have to be better. Maybe I haven’t been hard enough on them in the last few years, but they’re going to hear some different words this time.”

    Murray then shared a few of those “different words” with the assembled media.

    If you’re looking for one of the core guys Murray may be referring to, consider Corey Perry.

    Having just wrapped the third of an eight-year, $69 million deal with a $8.625M cap hit (that’s a long-term contract, right?), Perry failed to score over the seven-game series against the Preds, and had a team-worst minus-7 rating.

    Say what you will about the merits of plus-minus, but minus-7  is minus-7. It’s not good. Hard to see how it could be viewed positively.

    Of course, there’s no doubt other core guys are in Murray’s crosshairs. But it’s not just about core guys making big money and failint to produce in crunch time. It’s also about core guys making big money, failing in crunch time and not going anywhere.

    Because that affects the futures of the players around them.

    Some of Murray’s anger — justifiably — comes with the long-terms deals he’s got on the books, and how they’ll likely hamstring the Ducks this summer. He’s already on record saying this will be an “interesting” offseasonHampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, Rickard Rakell and Frederik Andersen are all RFAs, and it’s quite conceivable one or two won’t be with back in Anaheim for the start of training camp.

    Had the Ducks made a legit playoff run, it would’ve taken the sting away from (potentially) losing players.

    But now?

    Consider what Murray said about retaining Rakell, who finished fourth on the team in scoring.

    “In keeping certain people, other people may have to go,” he explained, per the Associated Press. “That’s what you get forced into. A couple of big contracts get signed, and you end up following because that’s what you get pushed into, and that’s what they expect.

    “We are all guilty of that.”