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.
If Brett Hull wasn’t already “persona non grata” in Buffalo he is now. He tweeted out the photo you see with the message, “Happy Halloween to all my friends in Buffalo!” That’s ice cold and a fantastic way to troll an entire fan base. (@2ndBestHull)
Eric Macramalla says the hubbub about the players’ union not knowing the NHL was going to contact the players is incorrect. (Offside Sports Blog)
Former Sabres forward Adam Mair will be coaching at Canisius College. (WKBW-Buffalo)
You’ll be happy/curious to know none of the Ottawa Senators took advantage of the owners’ 48-hour window to chat. (Ottawa Sun)
Rob Rossi seems to think there’s positive things to take out of the grim-looking labor war. (Tribune-Review)
Turns out Flyers forward Tom Sestito is just as rough in England as he is in North America as he sent a player to the hospital. (Broad Street Hockey)
James van Riemsdyk is thinking about playing in Finland. (Toronto Sun)
Since we started with Brett Hull, it’s only fitting that we end with Dominik Hasek as today marks Day 39 of the lockout.
With a slim lead over the New York Islanders to avoid being the worst team in the Eastern Conference, it’s a little early for the New Jersey Devils to commence back patting and self congratulations.
Still, considering how dismal the 2010-11 season has been, it’s important to acknowledge any sign of life. Signing backup Johan Hedberg was a move that was praised in some circles and now it looks like at least one move GM Lou Lamoriello made last summer might actually pay some dividends.
“The Moose” and the Devils are now 3-1-0 in their last four games, with two shootout wins, one shutout and only four games allowed by Hedberg in that span.
New Jersey 2, Philadelphia 1 (SO)
This afternoon’s game ranks as possibly Hedberg’s best performance of this brief run, as he made 40 out of 41 stops before Travis Zajac won it for New Jersey in the shootout.
Hedberg made the biggest difference in the second and third period, allowing only one power-play goal despite the fact that the Flyers out-shot the Devils 28 to 11 in those two periods.
Brian Boucher played a strong game too, although he wasn’t nearly as busy (he stopped 24 out of 25 shots). Adam Mair scored for the Devils while Daniel Briere scored for Philly.
While the Devils are a stride or two ahead of the Islanders for the second to worst spot in the East, the Flyers might feel like their Atlantic Division lead over the Penguins is slipping away. They have a two point lead over Pittsburgh (same amount of wins, but the Flyers lost two more games after regulation), but they’ve lost two straight shootout games while the Penguins are on a six game tear.
It should be an interesting race to watch – and you never know – the Devils might at least be able to inch their way back into playoff contention if they keep this up.
Adam Mair seemed like the house guest that wouldn’t leave in New Jersey. After going through training camp on a professional tryout agreement and then not signing a deal with the Devils, Mair continued to stay close to the team on the off chance that a position would open up on the roster and he could be brought in. All it took was Pierre-Luc Letorneau-Leblond to be waived and sent down to AHL Albany to clear his salary from the Devils’ books to get Adam Mair in a Devils uniform officially, signing a one-year deal with the team.
Mair will get to make his debut with the Devils on Wednesday night against the Buffalo Sabres, Mair’s (and teammate Henrik Tallinder) former team. With Mair in the lineup and Brian Rolston and Anton Volchenkov still believed they’ll be out of it, the Devils will go with 16 skaters against Buffalo. The problem here is that a team is supposed to suit up 18 skaters in a game and keep an active roster (with scratches) at a maximum of 23. The NHLPA doesn’t exactly enjoy the fact that the Devils are getting by with just 15 or 16 skaters (plus two goalies) because that means there are some fine members of the NHLPA that aren’t getting the chance to play and collect a check.
The NHLPA, after sticking up for the Devils to get Ilya Kovalchuk‘s contract approved is now going to do some of their own investigating to see if the Devils are breaking the rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement by going with less than the league regulated number of players.
“We are currently reviewing this matter to ensure that the CBA is complied with and that any potential violation of the agreement is remedied,” NHLPA director of Communications Jonathan Weatherdon told TSN.
The Players’ Association raised their concerns after the Devils dressed only 15 skaters for a matinee loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. New Jersey was playing the game short-handed due their close proximity to the NHL’s mandated $59.4 million salary cap, paired with injuries to Brian Rolston and Anton Volchenkov as well as a one-game suspension to Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond.
The Devils are getting a break here because of the sudden suspension to Leblond, but now that Mair is in the lineup, the team going without the minimum number of players thanks to injury doesn’t really buy them much time to get their house in order. Anton Volchenkov’s broken nose is the precise kind of small injury that doesn’t give the Devils a chance to get salary relief from LTIR whereas Brian Rolston might have a sports hernia.
Something will give here for the Devils whether they like it or not. It’s just a question of whether or not they can get it taken care of before things get ugly with the same player’s union that stood steadfastly by them just a couple months ago.