Sports Outside the Beltway

Anaheim Ducks sign Defenseman Steve Eminger

He last played in the NHL for the Florida Panthers. From AP-

The Anaheim Ducks have signed defenseman Steve Eminger to a two-year contract.

The Ducks also acquired left wing Shawn Weller from Ottawa on Friday in a trade for right wing Jason Bailey.

Eminger played for Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and Florida last season, compiling a career-high 26 points.

The former first-round draft pick by Washington played parts of five seasons with the Capitals before being traded three times in less than nine months, culminating in his move to the Panthers last March.

The Panthers acquired Eminger just before last March’s trade deadline. He did very little during his stint with the cats. Anaheim is hoping Eminger will finally show some of the skills that led Washington to spend a first round draft pick on him. Honestly, I see no reason for such optimism.


Veteran NHL C Mike Sillinger retires

He played for 12 different teams in his career but he scored the most points for his final team, the New York Islanders. Enjoy your retirement Mike.

New York Islanders center Mike Sillinger decided two hip operations were enough.

The center who played for a record 12 teams during 17 seasons in the NHL is retiring because of an injured left hip.

“The decision was clear to me after dealing with hip surgery the last two seasons, Sillinger said during a conference call Wednesday. “If I was to come back and be a hero I’d be getting a hip replacement before I’m 40.”

The 38-year-old forward played in only seven games last season and had season-ending hip resurfacing surgery in January. In February 2008, he had a microfracture procedure on the hip that forced him to sit out the final 29 games of that season.

Sillinger spent three years with the Islanders and his 42 goals and 87 points were his most with any NHL team.

“It’s a big hole to fill,” Islanders general manager Garth Snow said. “Mike was good at many different things, whether it was putting the puck in the net or taking a faceoff.”

Sillinger was chosen No. 11 in the 1989 draft by Detroit. For his career, he had 240 goals and 308 assists in 1,049 games.

Sillinger said he’d like to stay in hockey but downplayed the notion that he might go into coaching right away.

“I’m just going to enjoy the kids for now and see what the future brings,” he said.

Besides the Islanders and Red Wings, Sillinger also suited up for Anaheim, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Florida, Ottawa, Columbus, Phoenix, St. Louis and Nashville.


Toronto Maple Leafs trade Goalie Justin Pogge to Anaheim

The winters in Southern California are so much appealing than those offered to people living on Lake Ontario. From AP-

The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded goaltender Justin Pogge to the Anaheim Ducks for a conditional draft pick in 2011.

Pogge had one win and a 4.35 goals-against average in seven appearances with the Leafs last season.

He spent most of the season with the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies, where he had 26 wins and a 2.70 GAA in 53 games.

Drafted 90th overall by the Leafs in 2004, the 23-year-old was once expected to be Toronto’s future netminder, but the Leafs signed Swedish free agent Jonas Gustavsson in July.

On Monday, they also signed free-agent goalie Joey MacDonald to a one-year deal. He was 14-26-6 with a 3.37 goal-against record and .901 save percentage in 49 games with the New York Islanders last season.

Pogge has failed to impress so far in limited NHL play. He certainly didn’t get much help from the team he played for. Toronto was not a good team at all during the 2008-09 season.

Toronto has very questionable goaltending at present. Vesa Toskala has the starting job, but he is coming off a poor 08-09 plus surgery. Joey McDonald, like Pogge, hasn’t been impressive in limited NHL duty but that may have caused by the poor team(NY Islanders in MacDonald’s case) they were playing with. Jonas Gustavsson has yet to play a minute in the NHL. For this and other reasons, I don’t see Toronto being much better in 2009-10 than they were last season.


Did the NHL make a mess of the 2009-10 schedule?

The upcoming schedule was released yesterday. Right away I noticed something interesting. Florida has a home and home series with Nashville.

Nov 28 and Mar 29 are when the Panthers and Predators play next season.

What I find interesting is- Florida is playing Nashville home and home for the second straight season. In 2008-09, the Panthers and Predators played on November 1st and December 23rd.

In light of the way the NHL season is set up, namely that any Eastern or Western conference team plays only play 3 home and homes in any season, Florida and Nashville shouldn’t meet home and home more than once every five years 15 western conference teams divided by 3 home and home series equals five.

Here’s a link to the 2009-10 schedule. Anyone have theories as to what happened here or am I off base?


Joe Sacco named new Colorado Avalanche coach

The franchise didn’t waste much time after firing Tony Granato. From AP-

Joe Sacco envisions a fast and feisty team taking the ice, one that attacks and stays aggressive.

Perhaps a version of himself when he was a forward in the league.

Sacco, who spent 13 years in the NHL, was introduced as the new coach of the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, a day after the club fired Tony Granato and shook up its front office.

Flanked by newly appointed general manager Greg Sherman on his left and assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre to his right, Sacco talked about carving out a revamped identity for a team that’s coming off its worst finish since moving to Denver in 1995.

“We want to be a team that plays with a lot of energy. We want to play on our toes, we don’t want to play on our heels,” Sacco said. “We want to be a team that attacks, we want to be a team that doesn’t sit back.”

Most of all, Sacco wants this team to return to glory, when the Avalanche were perennially challenging for a Stanley Cup crown.

Sherman shares that vision.

“We all want the Avalanche to return to the standards that made this franchise so successful,” he said. “There will be no shortcuts to return to those standards.”

Sacco, 40, was promoted from the Avalanche’s American Hockey League affiliate, where he coached the Lake Erie Monsters the last two seasons.

Sacco should know the Av’s young players intimately from his AHL days. He has also been an NHL player.(A 13-year career with five teams) On the other hand, I think Colorado is in a rebuilding phase right now. Sacco will have to work hard just to make the Avalanche playoff contenders in 2010.


Former NHL player Peter Zezel dead at 44

His best seasons were with the Philadelphia Flyers in the mid-1980′s. The AP article makes no mention of the controversy at the end of Zezel’s career. He had a niece who was very ill in the Toronto area, so Zezel requested a trade to an Eastern team. At the time Zezel was playing for the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks traded him, but to Anaheim the team furthest from Toronto in the NHL. Zezel retired rather than play for the Ducks. The trade, made by then Canuck GM Brian Burke, was heavily criticized at the time. RIP.

Peter Zezel, a center who played 15 NHL seasons after breaking into the league with the Philadelphia Flyers as a teenager, has died. He was 44.

Zezel struggled with the rare blood disease hemolytic anemia for the past 10 years and died on Tuesday. Zezel suffered from the ailment off and on, but had rebounded after being in critical condition in 2001.

He was admitted to the hospital last week for scheduled surgery, but complications developed and his conditioned worsened.

“Peter will forever be remembered as a great teammate and a wonderful individual who touched the lives of many both on and off the ice,” Zezel’s family said in a statement released by the National Hockey League Players’ Association. “In his typical character of generosity, Peter donated his organs through the Trillium Gift of Life Network.”

The gritty center was known on the ice for his strong two-way game. In 873 NHL games with Philadelphia, St. Louis, Washington, Toronto, Dallas, New Jersey and Vancouver, Zezel had 219 goals and 389 assists.

His matinee idol looks also earned him a small role in the 1986 hockey-based movie “Youngblood” that starred Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze.

Zezel was born in Toronto and played junior hockey with the Toronto Marlies before the Flyers chose him with the 41st pick in the 1983 draft. He made his NHL debut in 1984 when he was 19.


All even- Chicago beats Vancouver 2-1 in overtime

With three minutes to go in the game, it looked like the Canucks would return home up three games to one. From AP-

Andrew Ladd had perfect position. When the puck came flying off teammate Dave Bolland’s stick from far away, Ladd was right in front of Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo to tip it in.

We keep waiting for this thing to fall apart, for the kids to show their age. But the Hawks keep proving us wrong, writes’s Pierre LeBrun. Story

Ladd’s goal less than 3 minutes into overtime Thursday night capped a remarkable 2-1 comeback victory for the Chicago Blackhawks and tied the Western Conference semifinal series at 2.


Game 5 is Saturday night in Vancouver and the Canucks will have to regroup after losing a game they apparently had sealed up. Chicago’s Martin Havlat tied it at 1 with 2:44 left in regulation after Luongo had been unflappable most of the night.

Roberto Luongo had to be unflappable, because his teammates made franchise playoff history last night. They only took 15 shots on goal, breaking a record set twenty-seven years ago.

The Canuck offense has taken at least one similar snooze in the 2008-09 NHL season. For this reason, I can’t pick this team to make the Stanley Cup finals no matter how good Luongo is.

In the other Western Conference playoff series, normalcy seemed to take over.

Johan Franzen and Marian Hossa gave the Detroit Red Wings all the offense they needed on a new line with center Valtteri Filppula.

Franzen and Hossa each scored twice to help the Detroit beat the Anaheim Ducks 6-3 on Thursday night, tying the Western Conference semifinal series at 2.

I have already been proved wrong about this series. My prediction was a Red Wing sweep. Detroit will win here, and most likely make the Stanley Cup finals for the second consecutive season.


The Mighty Ducks- Anaheim beats San Jose 4-1, take series

The team with the best record in the 2008-09 NHL regular season has been eliminated from the playoffs. From AP-

Right when the opening puck dropped, Ryan Getzlaf and Joe Thornton dropped gloves. The star centers’ simmering dislike erupted into a brawl dominated by Thornton, who pummeled Getzlaf with at least two flush blows to the face.

Getzlaf took it and smiled, knowing he still could win the only important fight.

And that’s exactly what happened in the waning minutes of Game 6. Getzlaf scored the knockout goal as the eighth-seeded Anaheim Ducks ousted the not-so-mighty San Jose Sharks from the postseason with a 4-1 victory Monday night.

Top To Bottom

With a 3-1 loss to Anaheim, the San Jose Sharks became the fourth team to go from winning the Presidents’ Trophy to first-round elimination in the NHL playoffs.
Season Winner Points Result
2008-09 Sharks 117 lost to Ducks
2005-06 Red Wings 124 lost to Oilers
1999-00 Blues 114 lost to Sharks
1990-91 Hawks 106 lost to North Stars

Teemu Selanne and Francois Beauchemin put Anaheim ahead with their first playoff goals on fortunate deflections 43 seconds apart in the second period, and the Ducks coolly finished off the Presidents’ Trophy winners in an upset that could resonate for years in this juicy in-state rivalry.


Jonas Hiller made 36 saves to finish his phenomenal playoff series debut for the Ducks, who won a fight-filled clincher to complete a remarkable playoff upset two years after winning the franchise’s only Stanley Cup.

The clubs’ final meeting was a slugfest with 60 total penalty minutes and a long series of brawls between Anaheim’s goals and Hiller’s saves. It all started with the stunning fight between Getzlaf and Thornton, who traded shoves and harsh words two days earlier in San Jose.

San Jose was showing its frustration out of being beaten by their in state rival. Personally I thought Anaheim was capable of winning this series, and thought this was the series most likely to see an upset(After the Rangers-Capitals).

Hiller was brilliant in goal and should get most of the credit for Anaheim’s advancement to the next round. San Jose out shot the Ducks in each of the six games of their series.

The Western conference semi-finals are set now, as the other remaining series ended last night also.

Chicago downed injury-riddled Calgary 4-1 in Monday’s Game 6 to take the series 4-2. The Blackhawks’ previous playoff series win was a four-game sweep of Calgary back in 1996.

The Blackhawks were simply relieved after Monday’s game to have earned their first road win in the series and get a breather before facing the well-rested Vancouver Canucks in the next round.

I thought Chicago would win this series, which they did. Now here are my semi-final round predictions-

Detroit beats Anaheim 4-0. The Ducks magic runs out.
Chicago beats Vancouver 4-3. The superior scoring ability of the Blackhawks trumps Roberto Luongo in goal for the Canucks.


Dallas Stars Steve Ott suspended for eye goguing

He says it was an accident. From AP-

Stars center Steve Ott was suspended indefinitely by the NHL on Sunday after he received a penalty for attempting to injure Anaheim’s Travis Moen at the end of a game one day earlier.

Ott missed Sunday’s home game against Pittsburgh and won’t be eligible to play until after a hearing with league officials that will determine a specific length of the ban.

Ott and Moen squared off in a fight after the final horn sounded in Anaheim’s 4-3 victory Saturday over Dallas. Ott’s hand made contact with Moen’s eye, which game officials ruled was an eye-gouge and gave him a match penalty for attempting to injure.

Ott left the ice with two cuts on his face.

The bout ensued after Ott cross-checked Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer during the final seconds of the game. Once time ran out, Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere whacked Ott in the knee with his stick and punched Ott behind the head.

Moen saw Ott involved with Giguere and began punching Ott, who has a broken bone in his right hand and can’t punch back. Ott said the eye-gouging was an accident.

Here’s the You Tube video of the incident.

The video is too unclear to pass judgment. If its determined Ott tried to gogue out Moen’s eye(s), I’d suspend him for the rest of the 2008-09 season. Realistically I expect no more than a 10-game suspension.


Montreal Canadiens acquire Mathieu Schneider from Atlanta Thrashers

The trade brings him back to the NHL team he started his career with. From

Montreal Canadiens General Manager Bob Gainey announced today the acquisition of defenseman Mathieu Schneider from the Atlanta Thrashers, as well as a conditional draft pick from the Thrashers at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, in return for a second-round pick at the 2009 draft (Anaheim’s pick previously acquired by the Canadiens from Washington) and a Canadiens third-round pick at the 2010 draft.

Schneider, a 20-season veteran, made his NHL debut with the Canadiens in 1987-88. The 39-year-old, New York City native recorded 717 points (216 goals, 501 assists) and posted a plus-63 rating in 1,241 NHL regular-season games, with Montreal, the New York Islanders, Toronto, the New York Rangers, Los Angeles, Detroit, Anaheim and Atlanta.

Schneider is a good journeyman defenseman, and I understand Montreal is trying to rev up for the playoffs, but I feel a 2nd round pick for a player about to turn 40 is an awful lot to give up.


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