Author: Matt Reitz

John Tortorella

Rangers and Flyers have a few more days before 24/7 insanity


The cameras have already popped up here and there for both the Rangers and the Flyers in anticipation of their 24/7 appearances. The cameras were around for their meeting last Saturday at Madison Square Garden. They were around for a day when HBO was putting together their 15 minute preview for the series. But starting Monday, they’ll be around 24 hours a day, seven days a week for four weeks.

What an appropriate title.

With that in mind, these are the last few days of peace for the Atlantic Division rivals. It’s the calm before the storm, if you will. The Flyers have a pair of games out West over the next couple of days while the Rangers have a single game left before the cameras move in for good. Then again, with Toronto in town on Monday, the cameras around every corner should make the Rangers feel like it’s just another game against the Maple Leafs.

With the Pens and Caps serving as guinea pigs last season, both the Flyers and Rangers have a better idea what to expect this time around with the omnipresent cameras. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma explained that it was especially tough when the cameras were around after a defeat. “The tough part is after you’ve lost a game and they’re there. We saw that last year. I felt it when we lost in the Winter Classic game — you feel the scrutiny with the cameras there.”

It’s not just the players and coaches that learned from the experience last season. The HBO producers shared that filming during the NHL’s regular season was a different animal than some of the other sports they had previously tackled. Dave Harmon from HBO talked to TSN about the differences:

“One of the things we learned while shooting it last year is ‘Oh my God the intensity level is so different. We know now how serious it is shooting with teams in the regular season as opposed to boxing, when they’re in training camp, or NASCAR, when they’re just getting ready for the Daytona 500. Right from the start it’s ‘Stay out of their way, this is their profession, this is their business. Just be flies on the wall observing.”‘

Here’s a little bit of advice: be a very quiet, unnoticed fly when observing John Tortorella. Rumor has it he has a tendency to be rather “honest” when the cameras are around and he’s annoyed after a loss. Come to think of it, he’s pretty honest all the time.

Can you imagine the television gold that could ensue after a Flyers victory over the Rangers when the two teams meet on December 23? The countdown has begun.

Fans welcome Shane Doan back to Winnipeg… by relentlessly booing him?

Phoenix Coyotes v Buffalo Sabres

You’d think that fans in Winnipeg would be happy to see their former hero return to the ice for the first time in 15 years. He’s the last member of the Jets 1.0 that is still in the league and he was the final first-round draft pick of the team that moved in 1996. So what’s the best way to welcome the well-respected veteran back to where it all began?

By booing him every time he touches the puck, of course.

For the record, Doan has never trashed the city of Winnipeg since moving with the Jets/Coyotes to Arizona. “I never once said a single disparaging word about Winnipeg,” the Phoenix captain told The Hockey News. “I simply stated that the connection that I had with Phoenix was because I’d been there for 15 years, the same thing as I would have had if I’d been with Winnipeg for 15 years and someone told me I had to leave.” “I never once said a single disparaging word about Winnipeg,” said Doan. “I simply stated that the connection that I had with Phoenix was because I’d been there for 15 years, the same thing as I would have had if I’d been with Winnipeg for 15 years and someone told me I had to leave.”

To be fair, the MTS Centre crowd was ready to boo just about every time any member of the Coyotes took possession of the puck. Still, the loudest boos were reserved for the guy who should have been receiving the loudest cheers.

The Jets organization paid tribute to Doan during a TV timeout in the first period even though the crowd started booing Doan from the beginning of the game. The crowd participated by rising to their feet and giving him a standing ovation—then promptly returned to booing as soon as the game resumed.

Here’s the question for the readers: Does it make sense for the Jets fans to boo Doan in his “homecoming?” Or has the ridiculously cold weather ruined their ability to think clearly during the hockey season?

Fight night video: Erskine settles score with Asham

Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals

Remember the last time the Penguins and Capitals faced one another on the ice? That was the game that Arron Asham dropped the gloves with Caps’ winger Jay Beagle, dropped the Caps forward, and let everyone know that he had just put him to sleep.  So when the two teams renewed acquaintances tonight, it wasn’t a question whether Asham would have to answer for his actions—it was a question of how long would it take before he was trading punches with someone his own size.

The answer: not long.  It only took John Erskine about five minutes to square off with Asham. The result was a flurry of roundhouse rights from both pugilists.

Bruce Boudreau talks to the media in Anaheim

Bruce Boudreau

It only took about twelve hours for Randy Carlyle to be fired, Bruce Boudreau to be hired, and for the new coach to meet with the media in Anaheim. Pro Hockey Talk was there as Boudreau addressed the media, talked about his expectations for the rest of the season, and the Ducks players should still expect to make a run at the playoffs.

Here’s the transcript of Bruce Boudreau’s portion of the press conference:

Boudreau statement:

“It’s great to be here. It’s been a wild ride for me for the last week as well. Like Bob said, I sat there on Tuesday and I didn’t believe that this was a team that had the possibilities and the makings of something special, I think I would have sat at home and waited. But I don’t think opportunities like this come around every day with the talent we have here. I talked to my wife about it, I said: ‘I think we should jump at this.’ I know it’s only been a day basically since I got let go, it was something that I thought was a chance that I wouldn’t get again. So, I jumped at it and got in the plane yesterday, and here I am. It’s a new start, I’m looking forward to it, can’t wait to play, and let’s get going.”

Boudreau: “Salvaging the season is winning regularly. Every team has its warts; it’s a question of making less mistakes than the other team. I know it’s very basic, but we don’t get a chance, and I didn’t get a chance, to see Anaheim play as often as I’d like to being a) in the Eastern time zone, and b) the Eastern Conference; we didn’t pay that much attention to them. I do know a few of their players and I do know that they have some great players. They have the players in really prominent role positions that need to be to be a good team. So, not taking anything away from Randy [Carlyle], if we do it together, we should hopefully make strides. Every night and every day. And it’s going to take time, but I think it could be done within the next four months.

On the circumstances being very similar to when Boudreau took over the Caps, memories of first days and months when he took over Caps:

Boudreau: “I think the biggest thing I tried to instill in the Capitals was confidence. They were beaten down a little bit and they had lost for many years. They didn’t believe in themselves. This is a totally different story in that respect, is that they haven’t lost. They have been a really good team. They have just sort of lost their way a little bit. But I told them this morning, I believe in them. I think they’re a really good team and I wouldn’t have done this if I didn’t believe that they have a really good shot of doing a lot of good things this year. I want them to believe in themselves. If they do, then good things can happen.”

On the Bobby Ryan rumors that have been floating around this week:

Boudreau: “I just got here. I haven’t paid too much attention to that. I’ll let the first day go before I address [the rumors]. You know, [I need to] talk to Bobby…

On his reputation of being an offensive coach and will he have defensemen jumping into the play?

Boudreau: “I don’t know. I’d like to walk before I can run a little bit. It doesn’t really matter if you win 8-7 or 2-1, I just want to win. If you know me, losing grates on me quite a lot. But I think it’s assessing where your strengths are, then work to your strengths.”

On the comments that said Boudreau had nothing left in the tank in Washington:

Boudreau: “No, I had told George [McPhee] that I had tried everything that I knew with this group right now and it wasn’t working right now. It didn’t mean that it wouldn’t work a week from now, it just didn’t work right then—for those two games I was talking about. It was the Buffalo game and the Winnipeg game. And that hadn’t happened in the previous 4+ years that I was there, so it was more of a surprise for me that it hadn’t worked. I was sort of taken aback by it and I told George that.”

About extracting Carlyle’s philosophies and instilling his own with the Ducks:

Boudreau: “Well, I just do what I do. I can’t say we’re not doing this. Randy is a great coach, good teammate, good friend—all of those things. But I just got to do what I’ve done and what I’ve been used to; what I’ve done has been successful. And those are the things that I know. So we integrate those things, we did a couple of things today. Systems—there’s no right system or wrong system. Coaches have faith in what they’ve done and has been successful for them. What I was doing today [at practice] may have been different from what Randy did, but at the same time, they were both successful. We’ll see if the group can do it, whether it was better for them what I’m showing or it isn’t and we’ll adjust accordingly. I mean, I’ve been with them for one practice, so we’ll see their strengths and their weakness. I just can’t go on and do things that aren’t me. I just have to be me and see how that works.”

On the mood of the team this morning:

Boudreau: “Like all team, when there’s a change, they’re waiting to see how it affects them. It’s hard to tell. They listened very well, I thought, and they looked [like] when they went on the ice they had some ‘jump.’ But I don’t know them individually well enough to know if that was the norm or if it was a different thing for them. Time will tell. But I thought, for me, it was OK.”

On everything moving quickly over the last week, if he would have hung around the house for a while:

Boudreau: “Oh, my wife wouldn’t have liked that very much. No, I was looking for something to do. It’s always important, for me anyway, to get out. I can’t lie around and [not] do anything. I was going to start watching games somewhere, going somewhere. At that time, I was making plans to go to Toronto and do some work with TSN or something. But, this was much better.”

On if any other teams contacted him (or the Capitals about him):

Boudreau: “No, not that I know of. Not with the Capitals, not that I know of; with me no.”

On which place was furthest way from Anaheim:

Boudreau: “…boy, I’ve been everywhere. I don’t know. Just distance-wise, Manchester was the furthest. But when I first started getting into coaching, when you’re coaching in Muskegon, Michigan or Biloxi, Mississippi, you really aren’t looking far enough ahead to think that you’re going to be coaching in Anaheim or Washington. I’ve been lucky.”

On the month (November) starting with his Capitals facing off with the Ducks:

Boudreau: “No, quite frankly I wouldn’t have laid [money on it]. If you could have a crystal ball, this wouldn’t have been something I thought was going to happen.”

On if he’s spoken to Randy Carlyle:

Boudreau: “No. It’s too early.”

On filling the coaching staff out:

Boudreau: “I think we’ll talk to Bob when this is done and we’ll see where it goes.”

GM Bob Murray: “We have some things in the fire that may happen fairly quickly.”

On how he can prevent the players from tuning him out:

Boudreau: “If I knew how to prevent it, I wouldn’t let it happen. So I just hope it doesn’t happen. I hope that they buy into the message and we just surge from here.”

On what his message is to the players:

Boudreau: “I want them to be very positive. I want to be aggressive, I want them to play the way they’re capable of playing. With energy and thinking that they’re going to be successful. The way they should be successful. This was a team that before the season started, if you read a lot of the clippings, they said they would really contend for the Pacific Division crown, and I think they’re very capable of doing it. I want them to believe in themselves. That’s the message for today. Believe in themselves.”

On Ryan/Getzlaf/Perry being linemates going forward:

Boudreau: “The first shift tomorrow they will be. Beyond that, we’ll have to see how they do.”

On any lessons he could take away from the Ovechkin/Semin stuff that went down over the last month in Washington:

Boudreau: “You know what; I mean a lot was blown out [of proportion]. I got along really well with both of those guys and I think I’ve said that for the last week that there was never a problem. With either one. But we all tend to want to make something out of nothing. And we did. So there’s really no story there.”

On the excitement to get started:

Boudreau: “I think nervous excitement goes hand-in-hand. I’m excited, don’t get me wrong. Any time you take a new challenge on, you get excited. And nervous. I’m trying to put a good analogy together—it’s like going to a new school. You want to put your first step, you want to make a good impression with everybody. And you’re following someone who had a lot of success and is really popular. So it’s tough.”

Bobby Ryan on possibly being traded: “I wouldn’t be surprised”

Bobby Ryan

There have been plenty of rumors flying around this week about Bobby Ryan, the Anaheim Ducks, and a possible trade to help shake things up for the freefalling team. Bobby Ryan responded to the rumors this evening with Ducks beat writer Eric Stephens. Let’s just put it this way—it sounds like he’s heard the rumors too.

Stephens asked him directly if he’d be shocked if the Ducks were to trade him in the near future. “I wouldn’t be surprised,” Bobby Ryan told the Orange County Register. “That’s all I’ll say about that.”

It sounds like Ryan has something in common with most hockey fans in North America these days. No one would be surprised if the struggling Ducks moved the 2005 second overall pick. The Ducks have only won twice in the last 18 games and desperately need something to shake up the team that started the season with promise. People forget that this team finished the season as the Western Conference’s fourth seed last season and started this season with a strong 4-1-0 record.

Then the bottom fell out of the season.

General Manager Bob Murray was given the vote of confidence by Ducks CEO Michael Schulman on Monday. There are reports that ownership would rather not replace Randy Carlyle because he’s under contract until 2014 (and they’d rather not pay two salaries). Ryan Getzlaf will keep the captaincy. What’s left to help change things up with the struggling team?

The easy answer is a trade.

Stephens also talked to GM Bob Murray about the trade rumors regarding Ryan. Murray was predictably non-committal in his response: “… at any time if we get offered a deal on any player that makes this team better, we would have to take a long, hard look at that.”

Like they said in Dumb and Dumber: So you’re saying there’s a chance…

Ryan goes on to say that he’s not looking to be traded and would rather stay with the Ducks. Anaheim would be wise to listen to Ryan in this case. The winger only has 11 points this season and has been slumping like the rest of the team. But even with the struggles this season, the guy is a walking, talking 30-goal season just waiting to happen. If they were to move Ryan at this point, it would be a perfect example of selling a player at the lowest possible point.

If the Ducks were to make a trade, what potential trade target around the league would make the trade worth while? Unless they can find someone just as good as Ryan, then they’ll lose just about any possible trade. He’s locked up at a reasonable price for four seasons so trading for a potential free agent doesn’t make sense.

The Ducks would be wise to remember the old adage: whoever gets the best player in a trade, wins. If the Ducks trade Bobby Ryan, they will not be getting the best player in the deal. Period.