Some assorted news from the NHL today, mainly focusing on two teams who are preparing for a summer full of margaritas and golf.
- I was glancing at the league standings today and I noticed something that gave me “forgot someone’s birthday” type guilt; I must belatedly congratulate the Oilers for being the first team to be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Sorry guys, I have to admit if a special occasion isn’t spelled out plainly to me on my Facebook feed, I’m flat-out going to miss it. I really feel like I let you down on this one.
- In other semi-Oilers news, unemployed coach du jour Craig MacTavish was named the head coach for Team Canada for this summer’s World Hockey Championships according to the Edmonton Journal. The tournament is a fun, if odd competition since the squads are often a hodgepodge of players who either missed the playoffs or were booted from them quite early. Some might bristle when I refer to it as “a consolation round” but in some weird way it really is kind of the NIT to the Stanley Cup Finals’ March Madness.
- The Orange County Register’s Ducks Blog brings up the somewhat ludicrous trade proposal to send soon-to-be RFA Bobby Ryan to the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Luke Schenn. (To be fair, they didn’t originate the trade rumor.) Here’s a snippet from that story.
So do you go the extra mile to keep Ryan, already a two-time 30-goal scorer who just turned 23? Or do you dangle Ryan as an attractive piece to beef up a problem area if he and the Ducks can’t hammer out a deal? The club doesn’t have to be rash as Ryan is a pending restricted free agent but the big winger will get a raise this summer. A big one.
Eh, there’s no doubt that the Ducks need help on defense (and there isn’t a whole lot of great defensive talent set to go the free agent route this summer) but I think both teams would risk some serious heartache if they made such a trade. Sure, it’s sort of an exchange of abundance (Ducks’ young forwards, Leafs’ many defensemen) to improve areas of weakness but I still would be very reluctant to make such a move. Especially considering the fact that the Ducks should see some serious monetary relief with the probable retirements of Scott Niedermayer, Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu.
Would you make that move if you were Bob Murray or Brian Burke?
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.