Jacques Martin admits “mistakes were made” while he was in charge in Florida but regrets nothing

When a GM or a coach is fired, fans usually hear all about it as the news is immediately splashed all over the headlines. People will debate whether the employee in question should have been fired or got a raw deal. People will want to make snap judgments about the man’s tenure as if all of the answers are obvious for the world to see. In truth, it usually takes a little time to gain the proper perspective to make judgments.

It’s been almost 3 years since Jacques Martin left South Beach and took his talents to Montreal so we can now take an educated look at what he did during his time. George Richards of the Miami Herald did exactly that:

“Some of the deals Martin would probably like to a do-over on include signing Rostislav Olesz to a impossible-to-move six-year contract worth $19 million and not trading Jay Bouwmeester at the 2009 deadline. The Panthers were in the middle of the playoff pack at that deadline and Martin kept Bouwmeester for a playoff chase. That fizzled and Bouwmeester walked away – as expected –with the Panthers getting nothing in return.”

We’re not really breaking new ground here. The Florida Panthers haven’t won a playoff game since 1997 and only appeared in the playoffs once since then (1999-00). They opted for a full rebuild in the middle of the decade—yet only a couple of years later Dale Tallon was brought in to tear it down to the ground again. He was given the exact same task as the Martin regime: rebuild this team into a contender. They’re hoping in Panthers country that Tallon has more luck than Martin did.

In the same article, Martin took a look back at his time in Florida.

“I have no regrets. You learn with every situation in your life… I enjoyed my time here, enjoyed working here. There are some great people here. I always enjoy coming back.”

Translation: I took my shot, I missed. I had fun while I was here, it’s fun to visit but I’m glad I’m only visiting.

All things being equal, the Panthers should be happier today than they were under the Martin regime. They narrowly missed the playoffs in 2008-09, but the reality was that a 9th place finish was the high point of the last decade. A quick look at the standings will tell you they’re in no better shape than they have been in recent memory, but there’s a difference this time. This time, there’s a plan. They’ve drafted a slew of good prospects and are stockpiling draft picks for even more prospects. They’re taking their time and developing them the right way this time around.

It’s going to take time with Tallon, but this time they’re selling hope. There’s the promise of something better down the road—and Tallon has the track record that warrants hope.

Only time will tell if we’re saying the same things about Dale Tallon’s rebuild as we are about Jacques Martin’s failed rebuild.

Plenty of opportunity on revamped Blackhawks defense

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For almost a decade, Niklas Hjalmarsson was a mainstay on the Blackhawks’ back end, quietly providing some of the most effective defense in the league.

But with Hjalmarsson in Arizona now, traded to the Coyotes for the younger-though-less-proven Connor Murphy, it remains to be seen how Chicago’s blue line will roll out next season.

In addition to Hjalmarsson, the ‘Hawks also bid adieu to Brian Campbell, Johnny Oduya, and Trevor van Riemsdyk this offseason.

Add up all the good-byes, and that’s a lot of minutes to replace.

“We’re going to see when we’re putting the pairs together, whether we’re going to reunite [Duncan Keith] and [Brent Seabrook] or look for some balance,” head coach Joel Quenneville said, per CSN Chicago. “There are a lot of options. We’ll look forward to that and sorting it out.”

The way it looks right now, the top four will be comprised of Keith, Seabrook, Murphy, and Michal Kempny. That’s two left shots — Keith and Kempny — and two righties — Seabrook and Murphy.

Read more: After major changes, Bowman thinks Blackhawks are in ‘good spot’

The bottom pairing, though, is anyone’s guess. Newly signed Czech defenseman Jan Rutta is in the mix. But so too are Jordan Oesterle, Gustav Forsling, Ville Pokka, Erik Gustafsson, Viktor Svedberg, and possibly even Luc Snuggerud.

Once training camp starts, it’ll be up to those young players to prove themselves.

“Just the amount of opportunity that is in front of me just drives me even more,” said Oesterle, whom the ‘Hawks signed July 1. “I want to be here and force their hand to keep me here.”

Veteran Michal Rozsival is also under contract for next season. However, he turns 39 in September, and with all that youth champing at the bit, the Blackhawks will be hoping they won’t need him much, if at all.

Chicago’s defense in 2016-17, ranked by total time on ice

Sheary’s agent — who’s also Dumoulin’s agent — hoping to avoid arbitration

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Conor Sheary‘s agent is hopeful that an arbitration hearing won’t be needed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And that same agent has reason to be optimistic, since he’s also the agent for Brian Dumoulin, who settled at the last minute today.

“Each (case) is so different,” Andrew Gross told the Post-Gazette this morning. “Ultimately, though, team and player would like to avoid going in that room. It’s not a pleasant experience.”

Sheary’s hearing isn’t scheduled until Aug. 4. The 25-year-old forward is coming off a 53-point regular season. In his young NHL career, he’s already won two Stanley Cups.

That said, the Penguins can’t afford to break the bank on an extension. After all, a big reason for their success has been having players like Sheary on affordable deals — a necessity with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Kris Letang taking up so much cap space.

Sheary wasn’t all that productive in the 2017 playoffs either, scoring just two goals with five assists in 22 games, while finishing a team-worst minus-5 for the postseason.

“We’re prepared to go to arbitration,” Pens GM Jim Rutherford said last week.

Of course, Rutherford was also speaking about Dumoulin, and the two sides were able to reach an agreement on him.

You can probably expect a similar outcome with Sheary.

Just don’t bet the house on it.

Preds avoid arbitration with Austin Watson

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Another narrowly avoided arbitration to pass along.

The Nashville Predators have signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year, $3.3 million contract that will pay him $1 million next season, $1.1 million in 2018-19 and $1.2 million in 2019-20.

Watson’s hearing was scheduled for today.

From the press release:

Watson, 25 (1/13/92), set career highs in goals (5), assists (7), points (12), penalty minutes (99) and games played (77) during the 2016-17 season as he established himself as an integral member of the Nashville roster. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound winger then added four goals and nine points in 22 postseason contests as the Predators advanced to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Watson also appeared in 57 games for the Predators during the 2015-16 season, recording three goals and 10 points.

The Pittsburgh Penguins also avoided an arbitration hearing today by signing defenseman Brian Dumoulin to a six-year contract.

Spooner seeking $3.85 million in arbitration

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Ryan Spooner‘s arbitration hearing with the Boston Bruins is scheduled for Wednesday. And if it goes ahead, it could be a rather contentious one.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Spooner is seeking $3.85 million on a one-year deal, while the B’s are thinking almost half that at $2 million.

Spooner, a 25-year-old forward, will certainly be able to sell his offensive statistics. He had 49 points in 2015-16, then 39 points last season.

“Ryan’s a talented player,” said GM Don Sweeney, per CSNNE.com. “He’s had a lot of success. Our power play is better when he plays as well as he’s capable of playing, and he can really be a good complement to our group.”

But the knock on Spooner has always been his defensive play. The past two seasons, he’s a combined minus-17. Back in May, it was reported that the B’s were entertaining trade offers for him.

Spooner’s last contract paid him $1.9 million over two years.