Don't count on a Lidstrom retirement this year

Lidstrom.jpgAs we approach the inevitable end to the season for the Detroit Red
Wings, questions about the future of Tomas Holmstrom and Nicklas
Lidstrom are going to keep coming up. Detroit GM Ken Holland has gone on
record as saying that the team will do everything possible to retain
their prized veteran free agents, and it’s tough to think of a scenario
where Holmstrom and Lidstrom play for another team.

Yet with
Lidstrom just a few days over 40, there’s a chance that he could
consider retirement.
Talking to Drew Sharp of the the Detroit Free Press
, Lidstrom says
he’s not going to waffle about the decision either:

“I’m pretty sure that I won’t look back and wonder if I could have
done something differently,” Lidstrom said. “I’m sure the biggest
challenge is accepting in your mind and your heart that you’re at that
point where you were used to playing at a certain level and expecting
certain things out of yourself that you can’t do anymore.”

While I doubt the time for Lidstrom’s eventual retirement is coming
this summer, he also said that he can’t see him staying to the point
where he’s playing as anything other than a top pair defenseman.
Lidstrom has been so good for so long, it’s understandable that such a
classy and humble player would prefer to go out when he’s still on top
of his game.

While he’s certainly lost a bit of a step, he’s still one hell of a
defenseman. He’s still one of the top defensemen in the NHL and there
are some that think he should have been considered for the Norris
Trophy. Again.

Lidstrom most likely won’t be retiring this summer, he’s still too
good. But becoming a Chris Chelios type player, just playing out his
final days just because there’s still a will but not necessarily the
skill? That’s not going to happen.

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    Video: Don Cherry sings ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ at Cubs game

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    So, CBC personality Don Cherry was the Chicago Cubs’ recent guest for their traditional rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch.

    He’s not the first hockey-person to do so, as Jonathan Toews was involved in a memorable butchering of that song, among others.

    Cherry put his own spin on it, giving fans a chance to review both his singing, lyrics, and his suit (the latter of which was relatively understated):

    Russian Machine Never Breaks and Sportsnet note that Cherry tweaked the lyrics just a bit, but he earned some points with fans in Chicago by getting a cheap Blackhawks pop.

    Hey, if nothing else, it provided an opportunity to dust off that awesome, ancient photo via Getty.

    The case for Hurricanes signing Jaromir Jagr

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    This post is a part of Hurricanes day at PHT…

    It’s tough to pick the perfect NHL home for Jaromir Jagr because there are just so many variables.

    There are, for instance, unspoken demands. Jagr has easily earned the right to ask for a significant salary and role thanks to his Hall of Fame career. It’s his right to hold out for what he wants.

    Of course, it makes him a tougher puzzle piece to wedge into a team’s bigger picture. The 45-year-old could finally totally fall off the map in 2017-18. Naturally, even if he merely continues to slip, there’s the argument that Jagr is taking minutes away from players with a brighter future.

    SBNation blog Canes Country, for instance, ultimately argued against the Carolina Hurricanes bringing the legend in:

    Justin Williams was brought in this offseason to help bring veteran leadership to the Hurricanes, and it seems general manager Ron Francis – Jagr’s former teammate in Pittsburgh – is done making moves. Their leadership quota filled, there’s really no place for Jagr to fit in the Canes’ lineup.

    Perhaps not, but let’s trot out a few reasons why the Hurricanes should really think it over.

    Star power

    In Mid-July, 24/7 Wall St. reported that the Hurricanes saw the second-largest percentage drop in professional sports over the last decade. An eight-year postseason drought tends to hurt a team at the box office, after all.

    Now, winning would be the best way for the Hurricanes to fill the seats. There’s no denying that.

    Still, for all the hype about this roster full of young stars, that buzz might not go far enough to really draw mainstream attention. Signing Jaromir Jagr would be a way to draw eyes to the Hurricanes, and with a ton of cap space, Carolina is nicely equipped to meet his demands.

    Grumpy old men?

    Canes Country makes a strong point about how Jagr might not fit in with, say, Jordan Staal or Victor Rask.

    Of course, part of that reasoning is based on a perfect world scenario where no one gets injured, but even assuming that’s the case … perhaps head coach Bill Peters could find some creative solutions?

    For one thing, the question of foot speed could, conceivably, be mitigated by putting the few elder statesmen together. Perhaps Jagr would line up with Lee Stempniak and/or Justin Williams, thus sequestering some of the older legs and giving Peters a chance to massage situations to their advantage?

    He might still provide a boost

    It’s understandable to point to, say, dipping numbers for Jagr without Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau and say that he can’t do it on his own.

    On the other hand, Jagr sure seems like he would fit in on a team that’s quietly building a reputation as a possession powerhouse. Even in 2016-17, Jagr’s incredible hockey IQ and puck protecting prowess allowed him to put up the sort of possession numbers that players half his age would envy.

    Just consider how he compares to the HERO chart standard for a first-line winger:

    If fancy stats bore you, consider this:

    Maybe Jagr wouldn’t be such a bad stylistic fit, after all?

    ***

    Hurricanes GM Ron Francis said that he’s comfortable with the team as is, yet he’d also be willing to make an upgrade. The implication seemed to be via the trade route, but the Hurricanes really might want to give some extra thought to bringing in Jagr.

    It might just help them break that playoff slump.

    Gulutzan thinks Flames can be ‘a 100-point club’

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    Calgary Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan covered a wide array of topics in a great Q & A with the Calgary Sun’s Wes Gilbertson, with his discussion of how well 2017-18 could go possibly being the most interesting note:

    “The challenge, for sure, is managing expectations. We weren’t a 5-10-1 team to start last year, and we weren’t a 16-5 team to end,” Gulutzan said. “We finished with 94 points. I think, realistically, we can do better than that. But to make a jump from 77 to 94 to 118 isn’t realistic. So we have to manage that expectation. Our goal is we think we could be a 100-point club. That’s kind of what I think a lot about in the summer — trying to manage that expectation but also have something in mind that we think we could be.”

    Interesting.

    Adding Travis Hamonic to a defensive mix that was already quite impressive should raise Calgary’s ceiling to begin with. It doesn’t hurt that many of their best players are in the meat of their primes, from Johnny Gaudreau to Dougie Hamilton to Sean Monahan and more.

    Gulutzan praised the size, character, and “play” of new goalies Mike Smith and Eddie Lack, yet that might once again be the reason to wonder if the Flames can make that next step from a team fighting for a playoff spot to a team legitimately contending.

    (The jury’s still out on Gulutzan, too, though he makes a reasonable point that 2017-18 could be more stable as his second season after the “mega changes” of his debut season.)

    There are some other interesting bits in this interview, which is worth your time, including:

    • Micheal Ferland is slated to start the season as Calgary’s first-line winger alongside Gaudreau and Monahan.
    • Hamonic will likely pair up with T.J. Brodie to begin; Gulutzan says that while Hamonic isn’t a “void” on offense, he expects Hamonic to open things up for Brodie.
    • Gulutzan expects a “big leap” from Sam Bennett.

    Check out the full back-and-forth at the Calgary Sun.

    If you need even more Flames action, there’s also this:

    Francis hopes Hurricanes live up to hype

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    This post is a part of Hurricanes day at PHT…

    The Carolina Hurricanes haven’t been able to make the jump that some have been anticipating for a while, but that hasn’t shaken GM Ron Francis’ confidence in head coach Bill Peters. At least not yet.

    Francis had high praise for Peters and other facets of this Hurricanes team in a detailed interview with Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer.

    And, oh yeah, Francis also doesn’t have an issue with the Hurricanes being a dark horse candidate in many eyes.

    “It all starts with us and we have a lot of belief in our players and we think we’re capable of having a good year and doing some good things,” Francis said. “I have no problem with people talking about that and putting those kind of expectations on us. Hopefully, they’re right.”

    Even so, Francis had some interesting things to say about the makeup of the team, including the fact that while he’s comfortable with where Carolina stands, he’s also open to making a move if an opportunity comes up.

    Don’t expect him to bash what they have, though.

    Take the team’s set of centers, for instance.

    “If you look around the league and you say ‘This guy is a legitimate No. 1, top-line center,’ there’s probably 16 of those guys in the entire league,” Francis said. “They are not easy to find, and a lot of time you have to draft those guys and develop them. We’re hoping we have that kind of guy in our system already, but I certainly feel the guys we have in the middle are elite center men.”

    Francis reasonably views Jordan Staal as a sturdy “horse” for the team, and doesn’t seem too concerned by Victor Rask‘s uneven 2016-17 season. Even in also flattering depth options, those two will indeed play a role in Carolina taking the next step, as long as some big changes – Scott Darling getting a significant contract, Justin Williams coming back – end up working out.

    That said, file this under “Easier said than done,” as the Hurricanes must navigate the brutal Metropolitan Division to get a “foot in the playoffs.” For all we know, that might not work out even if this group makes some big strides in 2017-18.

    Either way, it’s enjoyable to get Francis’ perspective on the team, being that he was one of the most cerebral players of his era. Read the full article here.