Tag Archives: brad stuart

Is this the end result of the lockout? There could be more than 200 unrestricted free agents by next Tuesday.

By next Tuesday, July 1, the National Hockey League could very well have more than 200 unrestricted free agents. 

Included on the list are Buffalo defenceman Teppo Numminen, Anaheim forward Teemu Selanne, Calgary forwards Kristian Huselius, Craig Conroy, Owen Nolan, Daymond Langkow and Stephane Yelle, Calgary goalie Curtis Joseph, Colorado veterans Peter Forsberg, John-Michael Liles, Jose Theodore, Andrew Brunette, Adam Foote and Joe Sakic, Detroit defencemen Andreas Lilja and Brad Stuart, L.A. Kings defenceman Rob Blake, Rangers veterans Sean Avery and Jaromir Jagr, Ottawa defenceman Wade Redden, Pittbsurgh’s Marian Hossa and Gary Roberts and two Manitobans from the New Jersey Devils, Arron Asham and Bryce Salvador.

Roberts and Hossa have already made it clear they won’t be re-signing with the Penguins, a team that must get long-term deals done in the next couple of years with Sidney Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury, Jordan Staal and Evgeni Malkin.

Sakic won’t make a decision — and neither will the Avs — until Sakic becomes a free agent.

Jagr will probably sign with the Rangers, but Avery is headed to free-agency.

Calgary could be a completely different team season. 

This coming season, the salary cap will rise to $57 million. That’s quite a significant number and proves that having salaries tied to league revenue is a concept that makes incredible sense (too bad that dummy Bob Goodenow didn’t understand it and we lost an entire NHL season). In fact, when the NHL gassed a season to get a collective bargaining agreement, the league paid out $1.2 billion in player salaries. In 2008-09, it will, potentially, pay out $1.71 billion in salaries. And Goodenow didn’t like this idea? One gets the sense that if Goodenow wasn’t a lawyer, he’d qualify for Special Olympics.

Still, with $57 million to work with (and, granted, not all teams will use all $57 million in available salary cap money), many teams are watching closely how they spend their cash. Some teams want to get younger. They’ll let high-priced veterans go elsewhere. Some teams feel they are on the verge of a Cup run, they might chase a Selanne, Sakic or Hossa.

Regardless, there are more than 200 free agents because teams are counting their dollars before they make offers and those 29 teams that didn’t win the Cup are figuring that the players they had weren’t good enough so it might be time to look at somebody else.

This week, the Toronto Maple Leafs allowed Mats Sundin to negotiate with Montreal, released goalie Andrew Raycroft and forward Kyle Wellwood and bought out veteran winger Darcy Tucker. The Leafs are breaking down before they re-build and the one thing Cliff Fletcher said he would do, is find the money necessary to take a serious look at what’s available on hockey’s version of e-Bay.

This year, there will be plenty of free-agent action. In fact, it will be more fun than the draft. But the reason so many players have come free is that so many teams want to make sure they have the cap money available to get better.

On Tuesday, we start the NHL’s second season and it might be more interesting the the first. We’ve come to this point because the league now has a salary cap and the salary cap, at least one tied to revenues, is good, not only for competitive hockey, but for the players wallets.

Now all the league needs to do is get some of those financially weak U.S. teams to re-locate to Canada and then everybody will be better off. 



Ongoing Perfection. Game 2: Detroit 3 Pittsburgh 0.

Hard to imagine the Detroit Red Wings could be better in Game 2 of the 2008 Stanley Cup final than they were in Game 1, but it seems that just when you think you have the Wings figured out, they shift into another gear.


Monday night at Joe Louis Arena, the Wings made the Pittsburgh Penguins look as silly as, ohh, penguins.


In fact, Pittsburgh was so out of this one that even though they managed to get more shots on net in Game 2 than they did in Game 1, most of the shots were unscreened dump-ins from the blueline.


Meanwhile, Detroit plays the game the way Minnesota Wild assistant general manager Tom Thompson always wanted his hockey team to play.


“It’s like the difference between European hockey and Canadian hockey in the 70s,” Thompson once said. “In Canada, we always wanted to shoot the puck into the opposing zone. Our theory was, if it’s in your zone, you can’t score. In Russia, their theory was, it doesn’t matter what zone it’s in, if we have the puck you can’t score. That’s the way Detroit plays. They always have the puck.” 


Last night, playing that frustrating puck-possession style, the Red Wings took 34 shots at Marc-Andre Fleury while holding Pittsburgh to 22, mostly weak ones. There were times when Chris Osgood must have thought he was sitting on his porch having a lemonade as he watched the traffic go by. 


Ozzie now has two straight shutouts to start this year’s final. That’s only happened on three other occasions — Clint Benedict of the Montreal Maroons in 1926, Frank McCool of the Leafs in 1945 and Martin Brodeur of the Devils in 2003. That’s pretty good company.


Of course, to give credit where it’s due, the Red Wings shutout heroics start with a defence that has been all but impenetrable. Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart, Brian Rafalski and Niklas Kronwall have been particularly good and the relentless checking of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Holmstrom, Kris Draper, Dan Cleary and Johan Franzen has certainly given the Wings control of the neutral zone.


Meanwhile, the Penguins have spent more time marching to the penalty box than they have toward the Red Wings net. This March of the Penguins is not what Pittsburgh fans had in mind.


Of course, Pittsburgh fans probably thought Evgeni Malkin was going to show up (he was minus-2 with no shots on goal last night).


If the Penguins didn’t have Sidney Crosby, the outcome would be worse than a 2-0 deficit, two straight shutout losses and two straight embarrassments.   


Game 3 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. The Pens will have to win one of the next two to force a return to Detroit. They should get at least a split at home.

But then again, based on the first two games of this series, there is no guarantee. 


Why I like the Red Wings to win the 2008 Stanley Cup final

Chris Chelios leads the Red WingsThere is little doubt that most Canadian hockey fans — and perhaps just plain old hockey fans in general — have fallen in love with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Most polls out there would suggest that the majority of fans in this country will be cheering wildly for the Pens, although not necessarily booing Detroit at the same time.


It’s pretty hard not to like the Wings, and most fans know that they’re in for a great Stanley Cup final regardless of which team wins. While most fans are cheering for the younger, although only equally as exciting Penguins, I continue to have a problem picking Pittsburgh to win the series.


In fact, I look at Pittsburgh as the 1983 Edmonton Oilers. Oh, man, they were good, but they just weren’t quite ready to unseat the New York Islanders as masters of hockey’s domain. The Isles beat the Oil in ’83, but Edmonton came back to create a dynasty of its own starting in 1984.


The Penguins have a chance to be a hockey dynasty. But not just yet.


Here’s why I like the Red Wings…


(1) They have 11 guys who have won the Cup before and in total, they have 24 rings in their locker room.


(2) The Wings are the President’s Trophy winners which means they’ve been at the top of their game for an entire season and for three rounds of the playoffs. Just like the Oilers in 1983, a team that went 11-1 through the first three rounds of the playoffs, Pittsburgh has played only 14 games (12-2) to reach the final. Trouble was, the Oilers lost that final in ’83 and so, too, will the Pens in ’08. 


(3) The Wings are considerably better — not just a little better but considerably better — than the three teams Pittsburgh beat to reach the final.


(4) Defensively, Detroit is the only team with the ability to shut down Pittsburgh’s high-powered offence. Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart, Nicklas Kronwall and Brian Rafalski can shut down Pittsburgh’s two potent top lines.


(5) Detroit can score. Sure, the Pens have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and Marian Hossa, but Detroit has Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen (if he’s healthy). The two teams match up nicely, but Pittsburgh’s defensive units will have their hands full with the Detroit forwards.


(6) Detroit has home ice advantage and they don’t lose at home very often. 


(7) The Wings are in the final for the fifth time in 13 years. They have more experience (46-year-old Chris Chelios has two Cups and virtually a lifetime of experience) and more poise. Not to mention all those rings.


OK, so I worry about Chris Osgood and I wonder if the Detroit power-play is as good as the Pittsburgh power-play, but that’s all I worry about.


Pittsburgh will start reeling off a few Cups — next year. This year, the Red Wings win in six.