Sports Outside the Beltway

Calgary Flames trade Olli Jokinen to the NY Rangers

From ESPN-

It took a while, but the proposed trade between the New York Rangers and Calgary Flames was finally completed late Monday night.

The Rangers shipped forwards Christopher Higgins and Ales Kotalik to the Flames in exchange for center Olli Jokinen and rugged winger Brandon Prust, a deal that was nearly consummated Sunday night but was delayed a day.

Kotalik’s limited no-trade clause and his ability to nix the deal was partly responsible for the holdup, but he ultimately agreed to the move, a source told

The trade call between both teams occurred following Calgary’s game Monday night.

Calgary is scheduled to play Florida on February 5th. Which would have enabled the Panthers all-time leading scorer(Jokinen) to make his first South Florida appearance since he was traded to Phoenix after the 2008-09 season. That has now been delayed till April when the Rangers come to town.

The Panthers beat writers have been hammering the Jokinen return to death IMHO. Does the Miami Herald’s George Richards or the Sun Sentinel’s Steve Gorten care to tell us that Jokinen will now be coming to Florida two times a year rather than once every two years? Jokinen is in the last year of his contract, but that isn’t pointed out but I don’t see mention of that or the chance of Jokinen coming to Florida two times a year if he should stay in New York.

As for the deal, both teams rid themselves of players who either couldn’t get along with their coach(Kotalik vs. the volatile John Tortorella) or a underachiever who isn’t supposedly giving a full effort(Jokinen). I think the Rangers come out better on this deal if they re-sign Jokinen but its a close thing. This was Jokinen’s third trade in less than two years and he is now working on his 6th NHL team.

George Richards in a blog post about this trade, made a huge sportswriting blunder.

Of course, Olli isn’t headed east to New York just yet. According to reports, he’s on his way to California to meet up with the Rangers in Los Angeles. Sports is funny this way, yes? Olli’s NHL career started with the Kings. They then traded him to the Panthers where he enjoyed his most professional success. Olli didn’t want to leave the Panthers, know that.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Jokinen is heading back to a NY area team for the second time in his career. He played a year with the NY Islanders. And how did the Florida Panthers acquire him?George Richards

June 24th 2000- Jokinen and Roberto Luongo traded to Florida in exchange for Oleg Kvasha and Mark Parrish

Florida only got a great goaltender and its all-time leading scorer in the same trade. This was only the biggest transaction the team ever made that went the right way for the Cats. Forgetting this trade is like a New York City baseball reporter forgetting the New York Yankees got Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox.

Next thing George will be doing is tell us Jacques Martin didn’t coach in the NHL prior to Ottawa (like at least one other Panther beat writer did) and that Martin had great confidence in Craig Anderson!


Up in the air- Spectator removed from rafters at Detroit Red Wing game

Sir, can I see your ticket? From AP-

An unidentified man was taken down from a conduit above a catwalk during a Detroit Red Wings game on Saturday night.

Almost an entire section of stands in the lower bowl was cleared out when the man was noticed during the second period of the Red Wings’ 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings at Joe Louis Arena.

After he was removed from the area, fans were allowed to return to their seats.

“We didn’t know what was going on until somebody pointed it out,” Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said.

Photographers have remote cameras stationed on the catwalk, but no one is usually there during games.

“He got in through one of the storage cages and came out through one of the cable traps used for show cables,” arena audio engineer Ricky Gopigian said.

Why didn’t they evacuate the stadium? It is routine for airports to be emptied if someone breeches security. One guy with a bomb in the rafters could literally bring down the roof.

I don’t know if I’m being serious or not in the above criticism. On the surface, it does sound inconsistent.


NHL Western Conference at the mid point of the 2009-10 season

Due to the Winter Olympics, the NHL season is being being played at a more accelerated rate than normal. For instance, prior to Christmas week the Florida Panthers had four games in a week, five straight weeks in a row.

A NHL season is 82 games in length. Half of 82 is 41. Most teams are at 41 games or more

San Jose 42 games 27 wins 8 losses 7 overtime losses 61 points
Chicago 41 28 10 3 59
Colorado 43 24 13 6 54
Phoenix 43 25 14 4 54
Calgary 41 24 12 5 53
Nashville 42 25 14 3 53
Vancouver 42 25 16 1 51
Los Angeles 42 24 15 3 51

Detroit 41 21 14 6 48
Dallas 41 18 12 11 47
Minnesota 42 20 19 3 43
St. Louis 41 17 18 6 40
Anaheim 41 16 18 7 39
Columbus 43 15 19 9 39
Edmonton 42 16 22 4 36

Bold denotes all teams who would make the playoffs as of this minute.
The above standings are as of 10 a.m. on Sunday January 3rd.

Teams all but certain to make the playoffs- San Jose, Chicago
Team that won’t make the playoffs- Edmonton

I think Detroit will get their act back together and make the playoffs. Who do I think they will bump? I’m not sold on Phoenix yet. Los Angeles is the next most likely team to drop from the top 8

Columbus won’t make the playoffs unless Steve Mason returns to his form of last season. Dallas could also climb into the top 8. I won’t rule out Anaheim, Minnesota or St. Louis from making the playoffs but IMHO it will be a surprise if any of them do turn around their seasons.


St. Louis Blues fire Coach Andy Murray

A new year and decade is only a day old and a firing has already taken place.

The St. Louis Blues have fired coach Andy Murray, naming Davis Payne coach in the interim.Andy Murray

Payne was promoted from the team’s AHL affiliate in Peoria, Ill.

“Davis is very knowledgeable of the players in our organization and we feel he is the best candidate to coach our team,” team president John Davidson said in a prepared statement.

Davidson was expected to discuss the decision at a news conference Saturday morning.

The Blues are 17-17-6 with 40 points, fourth in the NHL’s Central Division.

What is much important than the Blues’ Standing in the Central Division is where they are in relation to the Western Conference playoff race. The Blues are 12th of 15 teams and stand a full 9 points out of the last playoff slot.

That in a nutshell is the real cause for Murray’s firing. I know nothing about Payne, but St. Louis doesn’t have the talent Pittsburgh did a year ago when the team fired their coach and his replacement turned things around. All the way to the Stanley Cup Championship. I’m willing to bet $20 the Blues don’t even make the 2009-10 NHL playoffs.


Los Angeles King Winger Justin Williams suffers a broken leg


Los Angeles Kings right wing Justin Williams broke his right leg early in the first period in a loss to Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night.Kings Coyotes Hockey

Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski was spinning off a check of Kings center Anze Kopitar to hit Williams behind the Phoenix net when both players fell onto Williams.

Williams fell backward with his right leg trapped underneath his torso, dropped onto his back and remained on the ice as play continued briefly in the Kings’ end. He was taken off by stretcher after a lengthy delay at 4:27 of the first period.

“It’s not good,” Kings coach Terry Murray said. “We’ll take him back on the flight with us tonight, have the team doctors look at him and get the word out.”

Williams is the Kings 4th leading point scorer. His injury will most certainly an effect on how Los Angeles plays and whether they can make the playoffs for the first time since the 2004-05 NHL Lockout.


Carolina signs Goalie Manny Legace

He will be the Hurricanes backup netminder as Michael Leighton fills in for the injured Cam Ward. From AP-

The Carolina Hurricanes have signed veteran goaltender Manny Legace to a one-year, $500,000 deal, general manager Jim Rutherford said Monday.

The Hurricanes lost starting goalie Cam Ward to injury Saturday for at least a month.

Legace, a 10-year NHL veteran with the Los Angeles Kings, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues, has played six games with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves this season, logging 317 minutes while going 2-2-1 with a 3.21 goals-against average.

He last played in the NHL for the Blues last season.

At this point in his life, Legace is a mediocre backup Goalie at best. The Canes better hope Leighton picks up the slack or this season will grow even worse than one that already features a eleven game streak without a win.


Bankruptcy Judge approves sale of Phoenix Coyotes to NHL

Anyone crave hockey and have 140 million dollars lying around?

The Phoenix Coyotes’ bumpy six-month journey through U.S. Bankruptcy Court has come to an end with a judge’s approval of the sale of the franchise to the NHL.

Judge Redfield T. Baum signed the order on Monday after a quiet, brief hearing in a mostly empty courtroom, a stark contrast to earlier scenes of high drama featuring countless high-priced attorneys locked in often-bitter arguments.

The NHL’s bid totals about $140 million. The official figure listed in the sale order is $128.4 million, but that does not include the $11.6 million the NHL has agreed to spend to purchase claims of nearly all the unsecured creditors in the case.- Associated Press

The NHL said it would now move quickly to complete the purchase. After that is completed, the league will look for new owners.

What part-Coyote team owner Wayne Gretzky thinks of all this is a bit of mystery. He didn’t object to the sale and could be out as much as 8.2 million dollars. I don’t think that can have a positive effect on the relationship between Gretzky and the NHL.

Now that the financial turmoil and question of where the Coyotes been temporarily shelved, are there many hockey fans left in the state of Arizona who care about the franchise?

The Phoenix Coyotes gave the Kings’ Drew Doughty an open look at the goal. He buried the chance.

Doughty scored the go-ahead goal with 4:51 remaining and Los Angeles rallied to beat the Phoenix Coyotes 5-3 Monday night.


Earlier Monday, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Redfield T. Baum approved the Coyotes’ sale to the NHL with the league intending to find a buyer committed to keeping the franchise in Glendale. The conclusion of the team’s bankruptcy proceedings didn’t help the Coyotes avoid a franchise-record low announced crowd of 5,855.

Which leaves serious doubts as to whether NHL can ever be successful in Phoenix. I think it would be wisest for the NHL to entertain bids from owners who will take the franchise to somewhere where it can flourish.


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?


Dallas Stars name Marc Crawford head coach

He replaces Dave Tippett who was just fired yesterday. From AP-

For Dallas Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk, it became clear in less than two weeks on the job that a coaching change was necessary. The team needed a leader with a tougher edge.

Nieuwendyk turned to Marc Crawford, a coach he once played for in the Olympics and someone similar to the coach he played for when the Stars won their only Stanley Cup 10 years ago.

“What Marc will bring is a real command at the top,” Nieuwendyk said. “The players will know who’s in charge. They will be held accountable on a daily basis. That’s what I think is necessary.”

Crawford was introduced Thursday as the replacement for Dave Tippett, who was fired Wednesday. The coaching change is the first significant move made by Nieuwendyk since he was hired May 31.

The more player-friendly Tippett had replaced Ken Hitchcock, who was fired midway through 2001-02 season. Now the Stars are going back to a more dominant coach after missing the playoffs for only the third time since moving to Dallas in 1993.

While Tippett did a good job in Dallas, he probably outlived his usefulness to the franchise. Will Crawford(Who took Colorado to a Stanley Cup Championship in 1996 over my favorite team, the Florida Panthers) make the team better? The Stars have more than their share of aging and or injury prone veterans. Michael Modano, Sergei Zubov, and Brendan Morrow. Crawford has a lot of work ahead of him.


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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