John Tavares has made New York Island cool again.
This franchise hasn't seen this level of excitement since good ol' Davey Volek took a pass from Ferraro and ended the 1993 Playoffs for Super Mario and the Penguin faithful. It's definitely a positive thing when a fan base who have been jilted time and time again by bad management (Mike Milbury please stand up), bad draft picks (anyone remember Dave Czyzowski? I didn't think so) or promises of a new beginning (Peter Laviolette turning the team around in the early 2000's only to be fired a few years later).
I truly believe owner Charles Wang and Garth Snow are trying to do this the right way. Build through the draft and then sign a sprinkle of seasoned veterans to teach the young guys how to play a grown man's game. It has certainly worked in Pittsburgh, where the addition of Billy Guerin really helped the Pens immensely, en route to the 2009 Le Coupe Du Stanley (that's for our Francophone readers).
John Tavares needs some veteran encouragement so he can keep his eye on the ball, and not worry about what the fans or New York media will say about him. This is a player who has the potential to be the next Mike Bossy, if time and patience is warrented. Not everybody can come into the league and score 50 goals right off the bat like Bossy. That's a rarity. I truly see maybe a 70-75 point rookie season from Tavares. I believe that's a fair prediction.
A good addition would be someone like Saku Koivu, a proven star who could help Tavares with the media pressure of playing in a big market like New York. Koivu has played his entire career in Montreal, where your career and life are under a constant microscope. But Koivu has handled it with class and dignity, and that could be the mentor Tavares might need.
This week, the Ottawa Senators could not get rid of their cancer. A player so toxic that the very thought of him makes people want to punch walls. Of course, it's none other than Dany Heatley (aka 'I'm a grown man yet I act like I am 7).
A blockbuster trade was on between the Sens and Oilers which would have sent Heatley to the Oil Patch for Andrew Cogliano, Dustin Penner and Ladislav Smid. But Heatley nixed the deal. Good one, Dany. Classic.
If you have been following the story of Heatley, he got boo-boo faced ever since new coach (and a mighty good one I might add) Cory Clouston put him on the second line in order to change the face of things. It worked for the team, as they went from lackluster waste of space to a team in the thick of the playoff hunt. But that wasn't good enough for Heatley. He threw a tantrum a demanded a trade.
So GM Bryan Murray tried to accomodate him, but no one was willing to eat that huge contract Heatley is currently raking in. San Jose balked. As did the Kings. The only team that offered to give the kid a chance was Edmonton, which by the looks of things, are trying to change into a winning culture. But Heatley said, "no dice."
If I was were Senators management, I would bring him back to the team, and have the fans just completely rip him to shreds, burying his confidence, and making him go play in the KHL, never to be heard from again. Frankly, that's what he deserves.
Now, if you are a Detroit Red Wings fan, you must be thinking, "We didn't have a very stellar week". The Wings let both Marian Hossa and Ty Conklin just go to two of their division competitors. I understand that Detroit might want some flexibility under the cap, but let's not forget Hossa helped your team get to the Cup Finals, and Ty Conklin helped carry the load when Chris Osgood wasn't doing so hot in mid-season. Expect Chicago and St. Louis to be strong in the Central Division this year. Detroit will finish 1st or 2nd, but don't know if they can make the Finals for the 3rd straight year.
The Montreal Canadiens got some star power by acquiring Scott Gomez, Mike Cammaleri, and Brian Gionta. Now, while I think they truly got better offensively, letting Mike Komisarek go was a mistake. Defensive playmakers are a huge piece of a championship puzzle, and he was a player that could make things happen defensively. Not necessarily a great two-way player, Komisarek adds the grit Brian Burke loves. Montreal's loss is Toronto's gain. Expect the Maple Leafs to get better and better in the next few years.
What did the New York Blueshirts do? They acquired Marion Gaborik, a player who is definitely skilled but his rash of injuries makes any team wonder. I just don't understand why Glen Sather feels he has to keep overpaying for big name free agents. This is a guy who built the Edmonton Oilers from the ground-up. Everybody used to praise Sather for being a "genius". While he was a tremendous coach, I believe the term genius is a bit too much. Rather than keep inflating his salary cap, he needs to re-build the Rangers from the ground-up. Then he has more cap flexibility, and can mix in the veterans with a young core of good players. But that won't happen. He's in Yankeesville. The Rangers are in some ways the Yankees of the NHL. They feel to compete they must sign the biggest stars available. Well, sometimes, they doesn't always work. Ask the Washington Redskins about that one.
Questions? Comments? Feel free to post one on this blog! Talking hockey is better than eating pizza for breakfast.