The Anaheim Ducks defense is a far cry from the Stanley Cup winning unit that dominated its way to a championship through both brutality (Chris Pronger) and finesse (Scott Niedermayer). I guess that’s what happens when you lose a Norris Trophy winner per summer.
The Ducks moved Steve Eminger to the New York Rangers for bruiser Aaron Voros and prospect Ryan Hillier. The OC Regsiter shares the reasoning.
While he often logged significant minutes, Eminger was one of the main reasons why the Ducks’ defense struggled mightily as a unit. He was demoted for all but one game over a month-long stretch from Dec. 3 to Jan. 2.
Eminger was scratched 18 times in all and finished with four goals and 12 assists in 63 games. The seven-year veteran had a plus-1 rating but that didn’t indicate the times he was often pushed around in his end and forced into making mistakes under pressure.
The deal appears to further weaken a blue line that’s down to Lubomir Visnovsky, James Wisniewski, Sheldon Brookbank and recently acquired Toni Lydman as far as proven NHL players but it’s also a sign that they’d rather have someone else than Eminger, who is due to make $1.25 million.
General Manager Bob Murray is looking to add another top-four defenseman but the move of Eminger could also be a sign that they may be ready to fast-track the development of some youngsters in the system by opening up a spot.
It’s funny that I’d describe this move as a “sneeze” due to its insignificance since Earl Sleek of Battle of California gave the often-baffled Eminger a disease-inspired nickname. Here are a few thoughts on the defenseman from Sleek.
Now we Ducks fans here at BoC may have been a bit hard on ol’ Eminger — one of his biggest problems was showing up in the immediate departure of Chris Pronger. We had become so used to overall blueline competency that the mistakes of Eminger (and others for sure, Mr. Whitney) became a bit more glaring. His inability to hit the net on his shots, his unwillingness to even pretend to play the body — these failings became his traits, in a way. All we could see was shortcomings.
While the Ducks’ defense is now way up in the air, the Rangers defense corps is just about locked up with Eminger, Wade Redden, Michal Rosival, Matt Gilroy, Mike Del Zotto, Dan Girardi … and possibly RFA Jordan Staal.
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.