Our Line Starts podcast

Our Line Starts podcast: NHL, NHLPA nearing agreement; hub cities, Olympics, CBA

Liam McHugh, Keith Jones, and Patrick Sharp react to the reports that the NHL and NHLPA are nearing the completion of a massive agreement that would not only cover this year’s Return to Play protocols, but also serve as an extension to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The guys discuss Edmonton and Toronto emerging as hub city favorites, as well as what it would mean for the NHL to return to the Olympics. Plus, a breakdown of the Qualifying Round series in both conferences.

Start-4:45 Edmonton, Toronto new hub city frontrunners
4:45-8:45 NHL, NHLPA nearing CBA extension, including Olympic participation
8:45-13:00 Other return to play details
14:00-23:00 Eastern Conference Qualifying Round preview
23:50-End Western Conference Qualifying Round preview

Where else you can listen:

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/id1482681517

Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/nbc-sports/our-line-starts

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/7cDMHBg6NJkQDGe4KHu4iO?si=9BmcLtutTFmhRrNNcMqfgQ

NBC Sports on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/nbcsports

Mogilny, others among Hockey Hall of Fame picks for Sharp, Jones

The Hockey Hall of Fame announced its 2020 class on Wednesday, mixing no-brainers (Jarome Iginla) with some surprises. Like clockwork, people pumped out takes about Hall of Fame “snubs.”

During the latest episode of “Our Line Starts,” Keith Jones and Patrick Sharp don’t go as far as throwing the “snub” word around.

Sharp and Jones did, however, share their future Hall of Fame picks with host Liam McHugh. You can check out the full episode at the bottom of this post, and the specific Hall of Fame clip in the video above.

[MORE: Who the PHT staff would have inducted into the 2020 HHOF]

Let’s dive into their most prominent choices:

Jones, Sharp make strongest Hall of Fame cases for Alexander Mogilny

In my opinion, the most fascinating thing about Mogilny is his legacy in defecting to play hockey in North America.

But it’s also interesting to find out “which” Mogilny people think of when you ask about the gifted winger. Maybe it’s an age thing, but as much as I enjoyed his work on other teams, my first thought is of his time with the Canucks.

(Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

Jones puts a lot of emphasis on Mogilny’s time with the Devils, though. Mogilny won a Stanley Cup with the Devils in 1999-2000, helping defense-obsessed New Jersey with much-needed offense.

(Granted, Mogilny didn’t set the playoffs on fire, scoring two goals and seven points in 23 games during that run. His prime postseason production was impressive, though.)

Really, we should probably remember Mogilny most for his explosive days with the Sabres. After all, he became the first-ever European captain of an NHL team with Buffalo.

Hall of Fame discussions aren’t always about the concrete, however. Some of it comes down to feelings. Jones explains that his memory of trying to defend Mogilny inspired a feeling of fear. Fear of being burned by Mogilny’s speed and skill. Jones was far from alone.

Daniel Alfredsson

Pretty simple case here. Alfredsson piled up considerable individual stats, and served as a face of the Senators franchise for years.

Sharp said it was probably a “matter of time” for Mogilny to get inducted, but that could be true with Alfredsson as well. I will admit that I blurted out “Scott Niedermayer” when Sharp asked if anyone had a bad thing to say about Alfredsson.

(Then again, Niedermayer probably let Alfredsson’s tantrum go a long time ago, anyway.)

Tkachuk and other mentions

  • Jones seemed pretty emphatic about Keith Tkachuk’s Hall of Fame credentials. (No, I don’t think It’s a Keith Thing.)

Jones points to Tkachuk’s 538 goals (33rd all-time), the most of any eligible player who’s not in the Hockey Hall of Fame. It’s likely a high compliment that Jones said he hated playing against Tkachuk.

  • In discussing Tkachuk, Jones linked him to a former power forward teammate John LeClair.

Granted, Jones acknowledged that Tkachuk boasts greater longevity and a comparable peak. LeClair’s best years — some strong playoff work with the Habs, that run on the “Legion of Doom” line — prompted Jones to say LeClair joined Eric Lindros as the league’s best “duo” for some time. I’m not sure I agree there, but I do generally appreciate quality-over-quantity Hall of Fame arguments.

  • Sharp brings up Rod Brind’Amour, a name that’s been gaining steam recently.

Whether “Rod the Bod” should be inducted or not, it’s delightful to see more love for dominant two-way forwards. And it’s not as if Brind’Amour was a total slouch offensively.

(Was “Rod the Bod” a slouch in any way, literally or figuratively? /Asks while slouching.)

As former players, Jones and Sharp reflexively mention a lot of their contemporaries. Regardless, it’s interesting to hear their insight on Mogilny and others they believe should be in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

“Our Line Starts” discusses Mogilny and other Hockey Hall of Fame hopefuls

Start-11:08 – Reaction to this year’s HOF class (Holland, Hossa, Iginla, Lowe, St-Pierre, Wilson)
11:10-16:45 – Who should be in the Hockey Hall of Fame (or not): Mogilny? Alfredsson? Tkachuk?
16:45-End – Fantasy draft for this year’s 24-team playoff tournament

Where else you can listen:

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/id1482681517

Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/nbc-sports/our-line-starts

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/7cDMHBg6NJkQDGe4KHu4iO?si=9BmcLtutTFmhRrNNcMqfgQ

NBC Sports on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/nbcsports

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Our Line Starts podcast: Hall of Fame reactions, snubs

Liam McHugh, Keith Jones, and Patrick Sharp break down this year’s Hockey Hall of Fame class. Sharp tells a hilarious Jarome Iginla story from their 2009 playoff encounter, while Jones explains how he helped Kevin Lowe to his sixth and final Stanley Cup in 1994. Plus, a conversation on which non-HOF members deserve to be elected the most. The show wraps up with a three-round fantasy draft, as the guys try to build a team to win the Cup in this year’s modified format.

Start-11:08 – Reaction to this year’s HOF class (Holland, Hossa, Iginla, Lowe, St-Pierre, Wilson)
11:10-16:45 – Who should be in the HOF that is not? Mogilny? Alfredsson? Tkachuk?
16:45-End – Fantasy draft for this year’s 24-team playoff tournament

Where else you can listen:

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/id1482681517

Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/nbc-sports/our-line-starts

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/7cDMHBg6NJkQDGe4KHu4iO?si=9BmcLtutTFmhRrNNcMqfgQ

NBC Sports on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/nbcsports

Can Kevyn Adams overcome inexperience to succeed as Sabres GM?

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Fair or not, it’s difficult to avoid the “inexperience” question regarding the Sabres handing the GM keys to Kevyn Adams.

Keith Jones, Patrick Sharp, and Liam McHugh discussed that subject, along with other Sabres issues, in the latest edition of “Our Line Starts.” While Sharp provided some glowing words for Adams, and Jones expressed optimism about holdover head coach Ralph Krueger, the larger Sabres picture is unsettling.

You can watch and listen to the full “Our Line Starts” podcast in the video above. The episode is also included at the bottom of this post. Here’s the specific clip discussing Adams and the inexperience issue:

Sabres present a colossal challenge for GM Adams, even ignoring inexperience

It’s amusing that Kim and Terry Pegula leaning on “E” buzzwords, especially efficiency, in making this change, being that they’re going with a third inexperienced GM in a row.

Let’s be honest, if there’s an “E” you’d use to describe this Sabres era, it would be “erratic.”

Adams represents the fourth GM the Sabres hired since the Pegulas came into the picture in 2013. Ralph Krueger ranks as their sixth head coach. Both Tim Murray and now Jason Botterill only received three years to make their marks as Sabres GMs.

To be frank, it’s difficult to guess what kind of vision Adams has as GM. In a lengthy discussion with The Athletic’s Tim Graham (sub required), Adams emphasized communication. And, yes, the word “efficient” went around a lot.

But there weren’t a lot of specifics. Just about every team claims that they want to emphasize speed and character, two things Adams did key on.

Adams did indicate that he’ll be working closely with Krueger. There can be some drawbacks to coaches having a lot of say in personnel matters, but considering how disjointed the Sabres are right now, having two top front office members on the same page is a plus.

(Yes, the Sabres are absolutely dealing in small victories right now. That’s what happens when you’re rudderless amid a nine-year playoff drought.)

Can Adams rebuild — not just the roster, but also the front office?

Botterill getting fired and replaced with Adams grabs the headlines. Yet, the Sabres absolutely dismantled their staff, almost top to bottom.

The Athletic’s John Vogl captures how scorched-earth the Sabres “barren” system currently looks (sub required), illustrated quickest in his tweet:

Yikes.

It’s not particularly promising that Adams doesn’t just qualify as inexperienced as a GM. He hasn’t served as an assistant GM, either. He was just promoted to vice president of business administration in September.

To be fair, many of us roll our eyes at NHL teams constantly hiring “retreads.”

Still, this situation makes you wonder if it’s really ideal for a novice. Sabres fans aren’t exactly overflowing with patience right now. Neither is superstar Jack Eichel.

Adams isn’t merely being asked to unearth prospects, or clean up the salary cap. While the Sabres’ messaging hinges on “doing more with less,” they’ll need to restock their front office — at least eventually.

Frankly, I view going short-staffed as short-sighted, at least in the longer term. It’s easy to look at a large staff as bloated. However, a savvy team can save millions merely by investing in an analytics staff that would tell people “No.”

Could a larger analytics emphasis have averted disastrous free agent signings over the years? Possibly. Maybe they could have salvaged more from trading Ryan O'Reilly, if that was unavoidable? It’s pretty easy to see how relatively cheap staff members could save teams millions.

The Sabres do still employ an analytics director (Jason Nightingale), but that doesn’t mean it’s an area of emphasis. I personally believe that is where a team can be more “efficient” than old-school, bigger spending teams.

Sabres at least have time to search for answers

Overall, there are a lot of troubling signs for the Sabres, with the inexperience of Kevyn Adams merely being one of them.

That said, it’s crucial to remember that the Sabres will probably look quite different whenever the 2020-21 season kicks into gear. (Or, gulp, 2021-22? Just 2021, then 2022? We live in uncertain times.)

The key is for important people, particularly the Pegulas, to learn from mistakes. Not even going through a GM search ranks as yet another troubling sign, but maybe inexperience won’t matter as much as some think regarding Adams?

It will be fascinating, and maybe a little frightening, to watch it all play out. Speaking of playing out, enjoy the latest episode of “Our Line Starts” below.

Start-12:45 Breaking down the front office overhaul in Buffalo
12:45-16:35 What will life in the “bubble” be like?
19:10-22:50 Discussion on potential hub cities as the official announcement nears
22:50-34:30 Handicapping some of the major awards

Where else you can listen:

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/id1482681517

Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/nbc-sports/our-line-starts

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/7cDMHBg6NJkQDGe4KHu4iO?si=9BmcLtutTFmhRrNNcMqfgQ

NBC Sports on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/nbcsports

MORE ON ADAMS, SABRES:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Our Line Starts podcast: Sabres cleaning house reaction; NHL Awards talk

Liam McHugh, Patrick Sharp, and Keith Jones address the big news out of Buffalo, as GM Jason Botterill and numerous others in the hockey operations department were let go. Can the new regime under Kevyn Adams finally build a winning team around Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin? Plus, the guys pick their winners for the Hart, Vezina, Calder, Jack Adams, and Norris trophies – a discussion that includes Jonesy calling John Carlson “miles ahead” of any other d-man.

Start-12:45 Breaking down the front office overhaul in Buffalo
12:45-16:35 What will life in the “bubble” be like?
19:10-22:50 Discussion on potential hub cities as the official announcement nears
22:50-34:30 Handicapping some of the major awards

Where else you can listen:

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/id1482681517

Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/nbc-sports/our-line-starts

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/7cDMHBg6NJkQDGe4KHu4iO?si=9BmcLtutTFmhRrNNcMqfgQ

NBC Sports on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/nbcsports