Author: Joe Yerdon

Roberto Luongo,

Columnist to Luongo: Quit being such a diva


Now that Roberto Luongo is ready to settle back into his starting job in Vancouver, you’d think fans and media alike would be ready to rally around him.

You’d be sorely incorrect.

After spending the past two years in limbo and wanting a trade out of town, he watched Cory Schneider wind up being the guy sent packing and columnist Tony Gallagher of The Province wants Luongo to quit being so dramatic about the entire situation.

Gallagher lays into Luongo for being a diva about the whole mess and says it’s time to put it in the past in his own special way.

There are those who would argue that Luongo is the totally blameless, aggrieved party in this whole sorry mess. And reading into his long period of silence, maybe Luongo was buying into that type of thinking as well, and in his heart of hearts, perhaps he still is.

But enough. Cut the melodrama already.

Yes, he mentally had checked out at the end of the season, and was expecting a trade, and that didn’t happen, and we understand that.

Fair enough, it was tough and very unusual. But couldn’t he have rolled with the punches a little better? Couldn’t he imagine he’d been traded — to Vancouver? After all, with Alain the goaltender roaster gone, there will be a whole new direction to this team, and some new, young faces.

Cutting the melodrama is a good idea, isn’t it? Ahem…

So let’s see: Luongo plays at an elite level, one that isn’t good enough to some in Vancouver despite taking the Canucks to within one win of the Stanley Cup, loses his job to Schneider and sees the writing on the wall that he’s eventually the odd-man out and wants to get out of town and he’s the problem here?

Tough to agree with any of that.

Related: Luongo finally speaks — and reveals he tried to void his contract

It’s Washington Capitals day on PHT

Alex Ovechkin

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Washington Capitals.

If ever there was an accurate way to describe the Capitals season last year it was a roller coaster ride. At one point they were at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings and looking like a team that made a mistake hiring Adam Oates as their new head coach.

That’s when the team finally got comfortable in his new system and Alex Ovechkin took over on his way to a Hart Trophy-winning season. Scoring a league-leading 32 goals in a shortened season and looking like the Ovi of old had fans in Washington believing whatever Oates was selling.

While the team took down a very weak Southeast Division on their way to another division title, they bowed out yet again to the Rangers in the first round of the playoffs. With a full season to work with, Oates has a real test ahead of him in a new division.

Offseason recap

Things were shaping up to be yet another quiet summer in D.C. until recently when GM George McPhee made, arguably, the best signing of the summer landing recently bought out centerman Mikhail Grabovski. The Capitals’ glaring weakness was at their second center spot after Mike Ribeiro grumpily bolted to Phoenix. Grabovski gives them a guy who will push their offense and score goals as well.

The team had a buyout of their own in defenseman Jeff Schultz who moved on to Los Angeles. Free agents Ribeiro, Matt Hendricks (Nashville), and Joey Crabb (Florida) all landed elsewhere while the team made some depth signings to help fill out their AHL roster in Hershey.

Here’s to hoping new blue liner Tyson Strachan (signed from Florida) doesn’t have an awkward first day on the job with Jason Chimera.

The Capitals are sticking to their guns with the roster the way they had it, for the most part, last season. That’s not a new strategy in Washington, but maybe this time it can prove to be successful.


Introducing: PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ summer series

PHT Morning Skate: Phil Kessel says ‘Hello’

Phil Kessel

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Photo day in school was always an awkward day. That’s certainly the case for Team USA and, in particular, Phil Kessel. Show us your “Grr” face, big guy! (Puck Daddy, Pension Plan Puppets)

In Team Canada’s camp, Eric Duhatschek says everyone should stop worrying about their goaltending. (The Globe And Mail)

Meanwhile, Mike Babcock says the answer to who plays in goal will be clear in Sochi. Well we’d hope so by that point. (Calgary Sun)

Bobby Ryan’s summer of change has kept him busy, but he’s ready to take over in Ottawa. (Toronto Sun)

Andrew Ladd hopes he’s got what it takes to crack the Canadian roster. (Winnipeg Free Press)

The Capitals’ home-away-from-home practice rink in Virginia has made for a nice setting for Team USA. (

Gustav Nyquist’s finesse makes him a great fit on the third line? Remember when that used to be the “Grind Line” in Detroit? (Detroit Free Press)

What if Henrik Lundqvist doesn’t return to New York?

Henrik Lundqvist

There’s been no player who’s been more the face of the New York Rangers than Henrik Lundqvist.

For the past eight seasons he’s been a workhorse (four seasons of 70-plus games played), he’s been exceptional (2012 Vezina Trophy winner), and he’s been a role model (and supermodel) in the community. Basically, he’s the perfect guy to be playing in New York City.

What if he wasn’t there anymore though? There’s a possibility that could happen after this season.

Lundqvist is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and there’s no doubt he’d be able to command any salary he’d want on the open market. While he’d be 31 years old next summer, teams in need of a No. 1 goalie would fall all over themselves to get him.

He’s said he can’t see himself leaving the Rangers and he’s not even thinking about free agency. At some point he’s going to have to do that, however, and if he goes elsewhere GM Glen Sather is going to be in quite a bind.

If the Rangers tried to go to a goalie from within, the way they did with Lundqvist back in 2005, their crew of prospects isn’t exactly hot.

Free agency? There are possibilities there if other teams made like the Rangers and didn’t take care of their own.

Other possible 2014 free agent No. 1 goalies include: Jonas Hiller, Ryan Miller, Corey Crawford, Semyon Varlamov (RFA), Devan Dubnyk, Martin Brodeur, Evgeni Nabokov, Robin Lehner (RFA), Ray Emery, Steve Mason (RFA), Tomas Vokoun, Jaroslav Halak, Brian Elliott, Anders Lindback (RFA), and James Reimer (RFA).

You have to assume many teams will re-sign their own guys, so many of these names will be knocked off before next summer.

If Sather can’t get a deal worked out with Lundqvist there are some options to work with here, but for the Rangers that’s a worst-case scenario. The right move is to make sure King Henrik finishes his career as a Ranger at a price that won’t make him start thinking of other cities to play in.

Benn wants to ‘kind of shove it in their face’ over Canada camp snub

Jamie Benn

One of the more surprising names left off of Team Canada’s Olympic orientation camp list was Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn.

Stars fans may reap the benefits of him being left out of the camp in Calgary because he’s itching to prove they made a mistake as Mark Stepneski of Stars Inside Edge reports.

“It gives you a little fire. I think I said that in the interview back home, I just want to kind of shove it in their face,” Benn said. “It is what it is. I definitely want to be there. I’ll just have to prove myself the first half of the year.”

Benn was the Stars’ leading scorer last season and was second to Loui Eriksson the year before that. At 24 years old his game is only improving and now with Tyler Seguin and Sergei Gonchar in Dallas, the point production should continue.

To make matters better for the Stars, Benn says he thinks he’s in better shape this year and that should help. Maybe Team Canada will need to take another look towards Dallas when it comes time to pick their roster.

Related: Coach Ruff hopes Olympic camp snub motivates Benn