The Chip ‘n’ Chase: ‘All this supplementary discipline,’ creative suspensions, Giroux hasn’t scored yet, and more

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This is a new thing we’re trying. Every Wednesday, we’ll publish a little back-and-forth we have via email. We’re calling it the Chip ‘n’ Chase. Yes, it’s a terrible name. Enjoy.

Jason Brough: Hey buddy, so I have to admit, I was really struck by something John Tortorella said earlier this week about the need for players to police themselves. I’m not sure I agree with his argument entirely, but I definitely miss the days when hockey fans didn’t scream for a suspension after every single questionable play. Instead, they screamed for revenge. Good, old-fashioned revenge. I dunno, maybe it’s because we have to write about every single questionable play that I feel this way. Or maybe I’m just getting old and turning into one of those guys who remembers the past being better than it actually was. I just think “all this supplementary discipline and all this crap that comes after,” as Torts put it, is exhausting.

Mike Halford: That was so old school it was written on a typewriter and sent to me via telefax. And you know what? I LIKED IT.  I fondly remember the days when a cheap hit was cause to check the calendar for when the two teams played next. Now, you head to Twitter and debate @hawkey_bra1111 about suspension length while waiting to find out if it’s an in-person or phone hearing. It’s a lot less fun. Speaking of less fun, what do you figure Brendan Shanahan — the guy in charge of “all this crap that comes after” — thinks about this? Shanny (it’s OK, we’re tight) wasn’t exactly a saint when he played (see here and here and here and here) and fought nearly 100 times during his career. Think his old-school mentality sometimes clashes with his job?

source: Getty ImagesJB: I think Shanny genuinely believes in what he’s doing, which is trying to make the game safer than it was when he was playing. But yeah, I’m sure he pines for the old days sometimes. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes fake suspension videos as a form of stress therapy. “The NHL has decided to suspend Maxim Lapierre for one game and will also force him to fight a player of San Jose’s choosing.” Come to think of it, maybe that’s what the league needs to start doing — creative suspensions, like some judges do. For example, if you injure a San Jose player, you have to spend five minutes swimming with sharks. Or if you injure a Colorado player, you get pelted with snowballs, like you’re in an avalanche. Or if you injure a Buffalo player, you get your hands cut off by a gigantic sword.

MH: I think the NHLPA might take issue with that last one, unless the hands go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund. You know what else is tough about Shanahan’s job? When a situation goes FUBAR and there’s no rule in place to address it. Like the Emery-Holtby incident. Suspending goalies for leaving the crease to fight was never a consideration before, but now it’s being considered. For the record, I will be sad if they take away goalie fights, because goalie fights are to the NHL what fat sumo suits are to Thirsty Thursday at the student union. Anyway, let’s shift gears to tonight’s big game: Rangers versus Penguins. Is it me, or have we written nothing about the Pens this year? They’re just so…not a complete disaster. First-place team, Sidney Crosby’s healthy and Marc-Andre Fleury hasn’t melted down. It clearly doesn’t mesh with PHT’s editorial mandate of writing billions of posts about teams that resemble a garbage fire. We are jackals.

JB: We are total jackals, aren’t we. Just lurking in the shadows waiting for the next carcass to pick over. Wait, is that what jackals do? Maybe we’re vultures. Whatever, we’re just giving the people what they want. You’re right; the Pens are extremely boring this year. I mean, I guess their fans don’t feel that way; they probably think it’s pretty exciting watching Crosby pile up points and Fleury make saves as opposed to allowing comically bad goals. But for the other 29 teams’ fans? Borrrrrr-ing. They’d rather Crosby struggle like, say, Claude Giroux is struggling. If it’s not their team, they want to read about failure. Utter, humiliating failure. By the way, still no goals for Philly’s captain. Know how I know that? I check this website every day. And I follow this account on Twitter.

MH: I’m waiting on Twitter accounts for fellow zero-goal scorers Martin Erat (19 goals in 2011-12), David Desharnais (16 in ’11-12) and Tomas Kopecky (15 in 47 games last year). Kopecky deserves special mention because no forward in the NHL has taken more shots (37) this year without scoring. The only worse Panthers-related numbers are the team’s 50/50 payouts. See? This is what people want to hear — the fact last night’s 50/50 prize was only $1,598 because empty seats don’t typically purchase 50/50 tickets. Officially, attendance was 12,035 versus the Oilers, but there’s no way there were that many people in the building.

source: Getty ImagesJB: Move the Panthers to Quebec City! Or Seattle! Or Las Vegas! Or, another idea would be to win some damn games. I always enjoy when people rip a market for attendance and conveniently ignore the fact the team has been absolutely dreadful. I’m not saying Sunrise is a great place to put an NHL team, but come on, the Panthers have been to the playoffs twice in the new millennium. That’s not the way to build a fanbase. Maybe Blackhawks, Bruins and Penguins fans have forgotten when their rinks had thousands of empty seats. Which is weird, because it wasn’t that long ago. Anyway, Dale Tallon has a real mess on his hands. He’s vowing to fix it. I just don’t know if that’s going to be possible by trading Ryan Whitney. Might take a bit more than that.

Duchene trade talks quiet, but Avs will ‘listen to offers’

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To little surprise, not much is going on in the trade market. Just ask Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic.

The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers did just that, and Sakic revealed that he would still consider trading the likes of Matt Duchene … although he didn’t mention him by name.

“I will be listening to offers. Right now it’s quiet on all fronts,” Sakic said. “But I’ll listen to offers on how we can get better. I’ll never name names but I’ll sit there and if something makes sense for the way we want to go, with our team, we’ll really look at that.”

Considering that it’s mid-August, it’s not too surprising that little is happening. One can imagine that several GMs are more interested in finding drinks with umbrellas in them than trying to land Duchene, at least since the Avalanche don’t seem interested in giving him up without some serious haggling.

(And, really, the Avs would be wise to pump up Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog‘s respective trade values, anyway.)

That Denver Post story features a semi-update on Nikita Zadorov. Sakic told Chambers that the two sides agreed that a two-year deal would be best, but the “numbers” aren’t there yet. He didn’t tip his hand about how big the gap was. For what it’s worth, Sakic didn’t sound too worried about the lure of the 2018 Winter Olympics swaying Zadorov to head overseas.

While a lot of the activity circles around what hasn’t happened, the Avalanche did realize that Will Butcher officially won’t sign with them, while Colorado added a college free agent (and former Maple Leafs prospect) Dominic Toninato to their own mix.

At the moment, it doesn’t seem like something big is brewing regarding Duchene and other prominent Avs, but at least Sakic isn’t slamming the door shut on such a possibility.

Logan Couture’s teeth are still sore from horrifying mouth injury

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Still jarring and gross: the image of Logan Couture‘s mouth after taking a puck to the mouth about five months ago.

Still sore: Couture’s mouth.

Yep, the San Jose Sharks star hasn’t totally gotten over that injury, which forced him to have false teeth up top and some painfully sore ones on his bottom row. NBC Sports California’s Kevin Kurz transcribed the unfortunate details Couture shared with NHL Network this week:

“There’s good days and bad days,” Couture said. “My bottom teeth are still my real teeth. They’ve tried to keep them so I don’t lose them. I don’t know if I’ll be able to, they’re still pretty sore. My top teeth are all fake now – my front six, I think. So, it’s different. It just feels different in my mouth.

“But everything else with my face and all that is healed. I’m lucky that it’s an injury that didn’t affect my training, and hopefully won’t affect me going forward.”

As someone who’s endured more than a few unpleasant trips to the dentist, stories like these always lead to queasiness. This classic PHT post about Keith Tkachuk’s agony always comes to mind in situations like these.

Speaking of queasy, this is footage of when things were really bad for Couture. That link is provided because some will inevitably want to look, but treat this like the other gross things on the Internet that you wish you never saw and just move on.

(Seriously, the healing process continues on this end.)

Anyway, about the only bit of good news is that Couture can still train more or less as usual. He endured that injury late in the regular season (March 25), and while he suited up for the Sharks’ first-round series, it sure seemed like both Couture and Joe Thornton were limited in those six games against the Edmonton Oilers.

As much as dental agony seems like a uniquely “hockey” problem, this situation sounds especially rough for Couture.

Sidney Crosby at 30

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This post is part of Penguins Day on PHT…

Much like with Lebron James, Sidney Crosby is at the point in his career where the question is no longer “Will he be one of the all-time greats?” After back-to-back Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe wins, the discussion is shifting to where he ranks among the best of all-time.

And, like, with Lebron, there are a number of factors – including era, which is probably an even tougher nut to crack in hockey – that can twist and turn the debate.

Mere moments after Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins repeated as champs, Mike Sullivan made the case for number 87’s greatness.

” … You know, he’s arguably the best player of his generation, and he’s a guy that just knows how to win,” Sullivan said. “And so he’s done it in all different venues, whether it be the NHL and Stanley Cups to the World Cup to the Olympics. And he’s a player that — and I believe this, what separates him from others is his work ethic and his willingness to do what it takes to be the very best.”

It’s mind-blowing to consider the very real possibility that Crosby will be viewed as the best player to skate for the Penguins, edging Evgeni Malkin, Jaromir Jagr, and even Mario Lemieux.

It’s also mind-blowing that he just turned 30 on Aug. 7.

When it comes to the Mario vs. Sid debate that may eventually pick up steam, Crosby has some advantages. He matched “The Magnificent One” by getting those back-to-back titles and playoff MVP nods, while he already has three Stanley Cup rings to Lemieux’s two (and four Stanley Cup Final appearances to two).

Crosby already has an iconic moment to his name. Along with Paul Henderson’s goal and “Gretzky to Lemieux,” Crosby’s golden goal in the 2010 Winter Olympics will endear him to Canadian hockey fans for ages.

This list of accolades is honestly dizzying:

But, again, things get tougher when you try to really drill down to Crosby vs. The Greats. Most obviously since he’s far from done right now.

Circling back to the debate that might divide Penguins fans in particular, Crosby might also edge Lemieux if you correct for our modern era, which is so tough on scoring. NHL.com’s Rob Vollman explains Crosby’s place among the most impressive runs before 30:

From this perspective, Crosby is no longer in a block of a dozen players but in more select company. He ranks third at age 30 with an era-adjusted 998 points (377 goals, 622 assists), well ahead of Lemieux, who is in fourth with 899 points (365 goals, 534 assists). Gretzky is in first with 1,479 points (495 goals, 984 assists) in 896 games, followed by Jagr with 1,018 points (414 goals, 604 assists) in 858 games. (Adding to the distinction of being in the top four with Gretzky, Jagr and Lemieux: Those are the only three players to win the Art Ross Trophy as the League’s top scorer in the 21 seasons from 1980-81 to 2000-01.)  

Interesting. (This quick document has a bit more to chew on.)

Vollman also makes the point that even the all-timers tend to stop locking down the biggest awards once they turn 30. There’s an obvious barrier in Connor McDavid (just check the Hart Trophy odds) and possibly some other bright young players, so for all we know, most of our peak memories of Crosby may already be in the past.

That said, much like Lemieux, injuries have limited some of the stats Crosby’s been able to put up.

Crosby’s concussion history could conceivably prompt him to retire agonizingly early, but what if he instead gets better luck? We’ve seen cases, such as Patrice Bergeron, in which such issues become less of a concern over time. For all we know, Crosby might defy expectations and actually play until he’s 40.

(Hey, he already emulates Jaromir Jagr in being an inanely good puck protector.)

It’s been a special run already for Crosby, who’s already a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame. At this point, it’s about padding that resume.

Though, to Crosby’s credit, it’s still probably all about winning.

Sabres sign Zemgus Girgensons: two years, $3.2M

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The Buffalo Sabres basically wrapped up their mandatory summer moves by signing RFA Zemgus Girgensons to a two-year, $3.2 million contract on Thursday.

That translates to a cap hit of $1.6M per year; the team confirmed those terms.

The 23-year-old was selected 14th overall in the 2012 NHL Draft by the Sabres. He went two picks after the Sabres selected Mikhail Grigorenko, whose claim to fame is being part of the package that helped them nab Ryan O'Reilly. (Feel free to cringe at who went next, though hindsight seems especially convenient considering how long it takes to get to some of the whoppers.)

In Girgensons’ case, it’s still been a work in progress. His best years actually came early, particularly a sophomore season where he posted career-highs in goals (15) and points (30) despite being limited to 61 games. He enjoyed significantly higher ice time (19:05 per game) during that 2014-15, then came right back down.

If nothing else, Girgensons already has ample NHL experience, as he’s already played in 277 regular-season games.

Buffalo has about $7 million in cap space left, according to Cap Friendly, so there’s theoretically room to make more moves. Girgensons was their last remaining loose end of note, however.