Image (1) lemieuxsecondrun-thumb-250x348-16260.jpg for post 2667

Capitals and Penguins officially announce Winter Classic alumni game rosters

We’ve been getting little hints as of late over who will be  playing in the 2011 Winter Classic alumni game set to take place at Heinz Field on December 31. The Penguins let us know that Super Mario will suit up for them and the Capitals sending Peter Bondra and a cast of mostly unknown Caps from the past.

Today, the rosters were made official and, if you’re the type to gamble on such fun events we first ask you to seek help and then we also say that even money is on the Penguins to run away with a win considering who they’re trotting out for the game. The Penguins will be sending these former players and coaches out to take out the Capitals. Straight from the press release:

Hall of Famers Paul Coffey, Ron Francis, Bryan Trottier and Larry Murphy will join Mario Lemieux on the Penguins’ roster, while two alumni rookies – Gary Roberts and Billy Guerin – will add some much-needed “youth” to the team.

Other alums playing for the Penguins include Phil Bourque, Rob Brown, Rod Buskas, Jay Caufield, Bob Errey, Dave Hannan, Francois Leroux, Troy Loney, Greg Malone, Gilles Meloche, Craig Simpson, Frank Pietrangelo, Gary Rissling, Rick Tocchet, Kevin Stevens and Warren Young.

Eddie Johnston, Pierre Larouche and Randy Hillier will coach the Penguins, and Jack Riley – the team’s original general manager in 1967 – will serve as GM.

No Tom Barrasso, no problem since most of the big hitters from the Penguins 1990s Cup teams are there. Also there are a few of Mario Lemieux’s running mates who saw their best seasons playing along side 66. With Warren Young there, he’s our odds on favorite now to score 40 goals just in this game as long as he plays on the wing with Mario.

Seeing Guerin and Roberts join the likes of Kevin Stevens and Rick Tocchet is an incredible mashup of “old” and new. I don’t dare call Stevens and Tocchet old because, well, I grew up watching them and I’m not about to call myself old.

As for the Capitals, their squad is still a bit underwhelming but still fun to check out.

Bondra, a 500-goal scorer in his NHL career, leads the Caps’ roster, which also includes Michal Pivonka, Scott Walker, Sylvain Cote, Greg Adams, Don Beaupre, Alan Hanglesben, Nick Kypreos, Yvon Labre, Gord Lane, Craig Laughlin, Mark Lofthouse, Denis Maruk, Alan May, Paul Mulvey, Robert Picard, Errol Rausse, Pat Ribble, Ken Sabourin and Blair Stewart.  Others may be added in the coming days.

All right, so it’s a bit of a letdown after seeing all the legendary names the Penguins are bringing. It’s disappointing to not see names like Mike Gartner, Olaf Kolzig, Dale Hunter,  and Calle Johanssen but it’s great to see 90s nostalgic names like Pivonka, Cote, Kypreos, and Beaupre though. Adding this game to the schedule of events surrounding the Winter Classic is a great idea and works beautifully to take advantage of having the rink on Heinz Field. We can only hope they continue to do this each year.

Here’s hoping 3-on-3 doesn’t degenerate into a boring ‘game of keep-away’

Leave a comment

Are coaches going to ruin 3-on-3 overtime?

It’s been the one, big worry since the NHL decided to change from 4-on-4 to 3-on-3 as a way to reduce the number of shootouts.

Via TSN’s Bob McKenzie, here’s a quote from an anonymous coach (talking about 3-on-3 strategy) that won’t exactly quell that worry:

“Really, it’s a game of keep-away, that’s what it is and the longer you can keep it away from the other team, the more likely they’ll break down. So I say let’s slow it down and hold onto that puck for as long as we can.”

Now take that a step further and imagine there’s a team that’s really good at shootouts. If you were coaching that team, might you tell your players to rag the puck for as long as possible to try and get to the skills competition?

Granted, five minutes is a long time to rag the puck. Not sure any team could play “keep-away” that long. Plus, there will always be teams that aren’t very good at the shootout; theoretically, those teams should be more willing to take their chances in 3-on-3.

But just remember that more time and space doesn’t always lead to more goals. Look at international hockey, which is played on a bigger ice surface. Canada won gold in Sochi by beating Latvia, 2-1, the United States, 1-0, and Sweden, 3-0. It was hardly firewagon hockey.

While nobody’s quite ready to suggest that 3-on-3 will actually lead to more shootouts, it will be interesting to see how things evolve, and if there are any unintended consequences.

“I don’t know if anyone’s figured it out completely yet,” Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said Saturday after losing in 3-on-3 overtime to Vancouver.

“The big thing is, you want to control the puck as much as you can. It’s 3-on-3, so there’s lots of room and space out there. You don’t need to give it away. I think it’s smart to just wait, take your time, and wait for a good opportunity.”

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

1 Comment

Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and, subsequently, the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.