Sports Outside the Beltway

Dallas Stars- Sean Avery won’t return

This comes after the NHL handed down a 6 game suspension for the forward. From AP-

Sean Avery’s days with the Dallas Stars are done.

Although the combative forward was eligible to return from a six-game suspension Sunday, the Stars instead announced Avery will not rejoin the team — ever.

“All parties said there is a clear understanding that a return to the Stars is not in the best interest of either the hockey club or Avery,” the team said in a news release.

Details of his departure still must be worked out. He could be traded, sent to the minors or bought out next summer. The club said it will work with Avery to try making this an amicable divorce.

In a way, I don’t blame Dallas for wanting to be rid of this jerk. Then what is the uproar about the following?

On December 2, 2008; during the morning skate prior to the Stars’ game against the Calgary Flames, Avery approached a crowd of reporters in the dressing room and made the following comment about Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf, who is dating Avery’s ex-girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert:

“I’m just going to say one thing. I’m really happy to be back in Calgary, I love Canada. I just wanted to comment on how, it’s become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don’t know what that’s about, but enjoy the game tonight.”

So far as trashtalking goes, this is pretty mild if not lame. People in the NHL want nothing to do with Avery, but Todd Bertuzzi is still allowed to play in the league. What is wrong with this picture?

Avery, who has supposedly gone to get treatment for his behavior, I expect to be playing in the NHL again.


NHL Goalie suffers hip injury after tripping on carpet for Sarah Palin

I wonder how this will effect John McCain’s chances in Missouri.

ST. LOUIS — Blues goalie Manny Legace left after one period Friday night with a hip injury that occurred when he slipped on the carpet placed on the ice for Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The Alaska governor dropped the ceremonial first puck before the Blues hosted the Los Angeles Kings. A narrow carpet walkway was placed from the gate at the Blues bench to center ice for Palin, her husband and two of her daughters.

Just before the ceremony, Legace was the first player onto the ice for St. Louis. A team official pointed to the carpet. But Legace said the official moved his own foot from the carpet just as Legace stepped down, causing the carpet to slide.

Legace fell, then gingerly made his way to the crease.

After Legace’s mishap, the official rolled up enough of the carpet so other players wouldn’t have to step on it.

Legace described the injury as a strained left hip flexor. He doesn’t believe it is serious but said it is painful. He said he won’t play Saturday when the Blues host Florida, but wasn’t sure if he’d miss any additional games.

If you want to see the incident, go to the link at the top of the post.

How long before some Democrat makes hay of what happened? There ought to be a law- No women running for Vice-President can drop ceremonial first pucks. We have to protect goalies and other hockey players from further incident.


LA Kings name Terry Murray as their new head coach

I agree with AP, Murray will need all the luck in the world when it comes to his new job.

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Good luck, Terry Murray. You’ve just been hired for the toughest job in the National Hockey League.

That’s what Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said Thursday when he introduced Murray as the 22nd head coach in franchise history at the team’s training facility.

Murray, who turns 58 Sunday, signed a three-year, $2.65 million contract to succeed Marc Crawford, who was fired June 10 after two unsuccessful seasons.

Unsuccessful has been the byword for the Kings in recent years since they haven’t qualified for the playoffs since 2002. They had 71 points last season — tied with Tampa Bay for the fewest in the NHL.

“When you’re in a rebuilding process, you have to keep your eyes on two things: What’s in front of you, and where you want to go,” Lombardi said. “If you have a very good team in place, it’s easy to focus on the next game. When you’re dealing with young players, it changes day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month. That’s what I mean about the difficulty of the job.

“I think what I mean when I say the toughest job is it’s more multitasking. We want to put together a nucleus that can stick together. Sometimes there’s no good or bad coaches, it’s right fit. The No. 1 thing is that getting young is a process. He’s been through the process.”


Murray guided the Philadelphia Flyers to the Stanley Cup finals 11 years ago, and has coached 737 regular-season NHL games.

Murray, whose last head coaching job was with the Florida Panthers, will need a miracle or two to get the Kings turned around. The team’s ownership has shown little patience in recent memory with both coaches and players. Murray’s tenure in LA is therefore likely to be a short one. Just as it was with his predecessor, Marc Crawford. As it stands, the Kings are probably the worst team in the NHL.


Florida Panthers waive forward Jozef Stumpel

Another hole for Florida to fill for the 2008-09 NHL season.

SUNRISE – Panthers veteran forward Jozef Stumpel was placed on unconditional waivers Wednesday.

If Stumpel, 35, isn’t claimed by another team by noon Thursday and clears waivers, the Panthers’ next move would likely be to buy out the remaining year on Stumpel’s contract.

Buying out Stumpel’s contract would mean the Panthers would be responsible for paying him two-thirds of his $2.25 million salary for the 2008-09 season.


Stumpel struggled last season, though, recording career lows in goals (seven) and assists (13) and a minus-11 rating. Slowed by a shoulder injury, Stumpel played just 52 games, his fewest in a season since 44 with the Bruins in 1994-95.

Unlike with the Jokinen trade, I think Florida made the right move here. Stumpel supplied little production for the amount the Panthers were paying out to him. I just wonder where Florida is going to come up with any real forwards from. Defensemen/wingers Wade Belak and Steve Montador don’t produce enough in my book.


Post NHL All-Star game playoff assessment- Western Conference

From top to bottom, the standings

Detroit Red Wings 51-37-10-4-78
San Jose Sharks 50-28-15-7-63
Dallas Stars 54-29-20-5-63
Anaheim Ducks 53-27 20-6-60
Minnesota Wild 50-28-19-3-59
Calgary Flames 50-25-17-8-58
Vancouver Canucks 51-26-20-5-57
Colorado Avalanche 50-26-20-4-56

Phoenix Coyotes 50-27-21-2-56
Columbus Blue Jackets 52-25-21-6-56
Nashville Predators 51-25-21-5-55
St Louis Blues 49-23-19-7-53
Edmonton Oilers 53-23-25-5-51
Chicago Blackhawks 50-23-23-4-50
Los Angeles Kings 52-20-29-3-43

Note- The numbers above from left to right are- Games played, wins, losses, Overtime losses, total points

Teams in Bold are Northwest Division teams

I think its more than reason to say Detroit, San Jose, Dallas, and Anaheim are going to make the playoffs, while the LA Kings have no chance. Edmonton’s chances are slim also.

The closest division is the Northwest. Three points separate first to fourth place. I like Vancouver because of Goalie Roberto Luongo. The division is both talented and very tight and I could see anyone but Edmonton could come out on top and deservingly so. The Avalanche, Wild, Canucks nor Flames rate as mediocre or badly underacheiving teams unlike members of the Southeast Division.


NHL owners approve scheduling changes

All NHL teams will meet again once every season. From AP-

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The NHL’s board of governors approved the sale of the Nashville Predators and changed the league’s scheduling format Thursday night to allow every team to face each other at least once every season.

Paul Kelly, the new executive director of the NHL Players Association, also addressed the league’s owners during a late-afternoon session to open the board’s two-day meeting at an elite resort on the Northern California coast.

After a three-year experiment in developing rivalries in hockey’s far-flung outposts, the NHL voted to go back to the scheduling format used before the 2004-05 lockout, most notably decreasing the current eight games against every team’s divisional opponents to six.

Starting next season, teams will play just 24 total games against their four divisional foes, 40 against the rest of the conference and 18 against the other conference — one game against all 15 foes, and three home-and-home series against wild-card opponents.

First let me state, my interest in hockey was only rekindled in the last year. Otherwise I had watched little of the sport since the end of the NY Islanders Dynasty in the early to mid eighties.

The arrangement where teams didn’t all meet seemed dumb to me. Fans in the west miss out on seeing players like Sidney Crosby and fans in the east miss getting to see……. well see what problem I have. LOL, make that former Florida Panther and ace goaltender Roberto Luongo. Now I can learn about the LA Kings, San Jose Sharks etc. To be honest I’m sick of Atlanta. You would be too if you had to see the Thrashers and Panthers cross sticks eight times a year.


NHL Draft Lottery Results

It appears the Chicago Blackhawks have won the NHL Lottery thus making the first 14 picks of the NHL draft order look like this:

1 Chicago Blackhawks (moved up from 5th spot)
2 Philadelphia Flyers (moved down from 1st spot)
3 Phoenix Coyotes (moved down from 2nd spot)
4 Los Angeles Kings (moved down from 3rd spot)
5 Washington Capitals (moved down from 4th spot)
6 Edmonton Oilers
7 Columbus Blue Jackets
8 Boston Bruins
9 St. Louis Blues
10 Florida Panthers
11 Carolina Hurricanes
12 Montreal Canadiens
13 Toronto Maple Leafs
14 Colorado Avalanche

Picks 15-30 will be settled after the palyoffs.


Kings GM Lombardi Plays Cap Games

According to Bob McKenzie at, Los Angeles Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi is ruffling feathers among his fellow GMs after his signing of free-agent defenceman Joe Piskula from the University of Wisconsin.

As part of Piskula’s contract, there are games played bonuses of $25,000 for playing one game, three games and five games. In other words, he gets $75,000 guaranteed for playing just five NHL games with the Kings, which will likely happen by the weekend.

The NHL believes this bonus structure violates the CBA clause on guaranteed monies for entry-level players and, therefore, rejected the contract when the Kings submitted it. But the NHL Players’ Association filed a grievance over that rejection and so Piskula’s contract will stand until such time that an arbitrator rules on it.

And Lombardi’s managerial brethren are fuming at what they think is a blatant attempt to dress up a bogus games played bonus as an extra signing bonus, as signing bonuses are capped at $85,000 per year. They think Lombardi is setting a bad precedent of guaranteeing money to entry-level players without them earning it and that larger-market teams with cash to throw around will have a big advantage in the college free-agent sweepstakes.

Some of them are still angry at Lombardi over Owen Nolan’s lockout protection contract and previous contract controversies involving Kelly Miller and Craig Simpson. Lombardi and the Kings, meanwhile, maintain they are simply playing by the rules, and that Piskula’s total compensation falls within the $850,000 entry level limit.

Some of this strikes as an “I’m mad because I didn’t think of it first” reaction. Of course this isn’t the first time Lombardi has tested the limits of the new CBA. Earlier in the season the Kings were not able to call up the #3 goalie on the depth chart because he would of had to clear waivers and there was a 99.9% chance he would of been claimed. Sitting in 2nd to last place in the NHL at the time, Lombardi brokered a deal with Philadelphia (who holds last place) to trade a low round draft pick to the Kings for the goalie. Phildelphia would then turn around and send him to the minors, requiring him to pass through waivers allowing the Kings to claim him and assign him to the NHL Club because they would of had first rights to anyone on the waiver wire. The NHL also vetoed that deal.

I can’t fault Lombardi for two reasons: (1) I’m a Kings fan and (2) I can’t fault any GM for pushing the limits to make their team better, thats what they are supposed to do. Of course from pervious statements Lombardi made during one of many “Breakfasts with the GM”, he has laid out his severe dislike of of salary caps (so much so he let Ron Hextall take the mic and answer cap related questions to avoid “ripping the league”) covering how the salary cap has ruined the NBA, gives young players too much money too fast, hinders player development, doesn’t allow teams to reward veteran players, and inhibits the ability for teams to fix mistakes or fill holes in the line up.

Only time will tell if this deal holds up, but I give Dean full support to keep pushing the limits. 40 years and 1 Stanley Cup Finals appearance just isn’t cutting it.


Jack Johnson To Play Thursday

Its been a week for Jack Johnson, in 6 days he will have gone from playing in the NCAA Tournment to suiting up for his first NHL game. A trip that will take him from Ann Arbor to Los ANgeles with a lay over in Denver. After argeeing to a deal with the Kings on Monfay he spent Tuesday working out with some players on injured reserve, today was full practice with the team and his childhood hockey idol Rob Blake.

Jack Johnson
Photo Source: RinkRat @

While Anze Kopitar has become a foundation for the team at the center position, Dean Lombardi has been singing the praised of Johnson since he was aquired looking to him to be the cornerstone of the team on the blue line for better part of the next two decades. By Johnson jumping right into the NHL, it gives the Kings a glimpse at where his development stands to this point. The season is already a loss for the team but getting Johnson NHL experience will help in the creation of a development plan over the summer, acclimates him to NHL life and will shape the off-season aquisitions the Kigns will make with their anticipated $15-$17m in cap space this off-season. This move alone may end up selling out the last two home games fo the season because it sure won’t be playoff excitement. I of course will be at the game, because I am pretty much always there.


Breaking: Jack Johnson Jumps To NHL

Looks like Jack Johnson the #3 pick in the 2005 NHL draft will leave University of Michigan and play for the Los Angeles Kings this week.

DENVER, March 25 – Michigan star defenseman Jack Johnson is negotiating a contract with the Los Angeles Kings today, ending speculation of whether the sophomore would forgo his two remaining years of eligibility.

Johnson confirmed his departure in an exclusive interview with The Michigan Daily this afternoon.

“I thought I was ready for a new challenge,” Johnson said. “With all my close friends, the seniors, gone now and everything, I thought it was time for me to pretty much go for a new challenge.”

Following Michigan’s 8-5 loss to North Dakota Saturday night in the NCAA West Regional semifinals in Denver, the team flew back to Ann Arbor, but Johnson and his family stayed behind. Johnson’s agent, Pat Brisson, and the Kings’ general manager, Dean Lombardi, worked out the details of the contract.

“I’ll be flying from Denver to Los Angeles,” Johnson said. “Everything’s done except for they’re negotiating bonuses.”

Johnson said he will be in the Kings’ lineup Tuesday night when they play on the road against the San Jose Sharks.

The Kings aquired the rights to Johnson just before the start of the season from Carolina, in a trade that saw the Kings send forward Eric Belanger and defenseman Tim Gleason to Carolina for Jack Johnson and defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky. The Kings took advantage of Carolina who was desperate for an NHL defenseman and in need of a willing partner to take on Tverdovsky’s contract. While the move hurt the Kings in the short term, this news makes the pain go away.


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.