Sports Outside the Beltway

Vancouver Canuck Alexandre Burrows says referee deliberately targeted him

Update- NHL says they will investigate the allegations made below.

Just last week he made news for scoring a hat trick in consecutive games. From AP-

Vancouver forward Alexandre Burrows got a 10-minute misconduct for telling referee Stephane Auger what he thought of him late in Monday night’s 3-2 loss to Nashville.

Burrows could be facing punishment from the NHL after sharing his opinion with the media after the game, including accusations Auger targeted him and promised to get revenge.

Burrows scored twice, but was in the penalty box for a second time when Nashville’s Shea Weber scored the game-winner with 4:03 to play.

He said Auger approached him before the game and told him he was going to get him back for embellishing a Dec. 8 hit in Nashville that left Burrows crumpled on the ice, and resulted in Predators forward Jerred Smithson receiving a 5-minute major penalty for charging.

“It was personal,” Burrows said. “It started in warm up before the anthem. The ref came over to me and said I made him look bad in Nashville on the Smithson hit. He said he was going to get me back tonight and he did his job in the third.”

While I don’t know if it happened in this instance, I do think professional sporting referees and umpires will retaliate against players. Do you think these people are above certain human acts?

Burrows will be fined, maybe even suspended. Nothing will publicly happen to Auger. It will come down to a matter of he said, he said. Also the NHL even if they can prove the penalty is deliberate, wouldn’t want that bit of information to become known to fans. It would put the league in a bad light.


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.


Snapped- Nashville beats Columbus 4-3

The Predators haven’t lost at home to the Blue Jackets since 2006. From AP-

When the Columbus Blue Jackets come to Nashville, everything seems to go right for the hometown Predators.

Steve Sullivan scored the winning goal in the fifth round of the shootout to give Nashville a 4-3 victory over Columbus on Thursday night. The Predators have beaten the Blue Jackets 13 consecutive times at home, dating to Nashville’s previous loss on April 3, 2006.

Sullivan beat goalie Mathieu Garon with a wrist shot under the goalie’s pad for the winner. Garon had won an NHL-record 13 consecutive shootouts and was 18-4 in his career in the tiebreaker.


Dave Scatchard, who had missed five games because of an upper body injury, gave the Predators a 1-0 at 11:03 of the first period. Martin Erat and Jason Arnott scored in the second period for Nashville.

Blue Jackets defenseman Kris Russell and Raffi Torres also scored in the second, and Rick Nash tied it in the third for Columbus.

Russell’s points last night were his first in over 60 games. Down here in Florida, Panther fans are lighting candles in hope of a goal from either Kamil Kreps or Gregory Campbell sometime before my 49th birthday.(January 12th 2010) Maybe there is hope yet.


Nashville Predators owner gets more than 8 years in prison

William Del Biaggio III defrauded investors and banks in part in order to buy the team. From AP-

A federal judge has sentenced a Silicon Valley financier to more than 8 years in prison for bilking banks and investors out of millions of dollars in an attempt to buy a pro hockey team and finance a lavish lifestyle.

William “Boots” Del Biaggio III was sentenced Tuesday in San Francisco. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to a felony charge of forging financial documents to obtain $110 million in loans from several banks and two NHL owners.

He used the money to buy an interest in the NHL’s Nashville Predators and to pay personal expenses that included $4 million in gambling debts.

The judge also ordered him to pay more than $67.4 million in restitution. His interest in the hockey team will be sold and the proceeds distributed to his victims.

Are the Predators worth 67 million? They have been a mediocre NHL franchise at best that has been rumored in the not too distant past to be moving out of Tennessee. Yes, they’re probably worth enough to make restitution for Mr. Del Biaggio but now NHL owners are probably getting migraines as they face yet another franchise with ownership problems. The mess in Phoenix is still ongoing.


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.


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?


You gotta believe?- Florida and Tomas Vokoun shutout Nashville 3-0

The Czech goaltender shutout his former team The Nashville Predators by stopping all 27 shots on goal. Michael Frolik scored two of Florida’s three goals. The other was netted by Cory Stilman.

Florida is now 9-2-3 in their last fourteen games. That included a 5-game winning streak, so they are 5-1-1 on the road 4-1-2 on the road. This was the second straight whitewash by Florida with Vokoun in goal, they beating Colorado two days ago by the same score of 3-0.

With the win Florida is now 16-13-4. A month ago they were 7-11-1. What a turnaround and it happened with the team missing three of its biggest scorers for 5 or more games. No matter the outcome of other games tonight, Florida will still be 3rd in the Southeast Division going into the Christmas break. Next up is struggling Tampa two games in a row.


Florida Panthers- Even more pain

More bad injury news for my favorite NHL hockey team-

The Panthers’ anemic offense took another hit when center Nathan Horton was lost for an indefinite amount of time after sustaining a deep leg cut in the third period of Wednesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils.

Horton got tangled up with a Panthers player and New Jersey defenseman Colin White against the boards and had his leg stepped on; the skate blade cut through Horton’s boot and left a deep gash.

Horton didn’t suffer a major injury, but coach Pete DeBoer said because of where the cut is, Horton (six goals, seven assists) cannot play. The Panthers likely will call up Shawn Matthias from AHL Rochester to replace Horton for tonight’s home game against the New York Rangers.

“He’s out through the weekend, then we’ll go from there,” DeBoer said. “It’s tough to see on the video how it happened.”

With Horton now down, Florida is without three of its most productive scorers. Cory Stillman and Richard Zednik are out with injuries also. The return to Matthias to Florida is the only good news to come out of this. I was very impressed by his play during a short call up last year.

In other Panthers news, Florida’s on again off again relationship with forward Wade Belak has come to a close

The Panthers traded enforcer Wade Belak to the Nashville Predators for center Nick Tarnasky on Thursday.

Tarnasky, 24, has no goals and one assist in 11 games with Nashville. The 6-foot-2, 224-pounder has 11 goals, 10 assists and a minus-23 rating in 180 games.

The Panthers placed Belak on waivers Saturday.

He cleared Monday, met with coach Pete DeBoer Tuesday and was in Wednesday’s lineup against the Devils.

Only a minus 23 rating in his NHL career. Tamasky should fit in well with the Panthers. Wasn’t one of the reason GM Jacques Martin traded Olli Jokinen was because the then Florida Captain had a minus 19 rating last year? More bright moves from the management of the Florida Panthers.


Nashville Predators suspend Alexander Radulov for playing in Russian league

Radulov was the team’s 3rd leading scorer last season. From AP-

The Nashville Predators suspended forward Alexander Radulov indefinitely without pay for deciding to stick with his Russian KHL team rather than return to the NHL club.

General manager David Poile announced the suspension Tuesday in a statement. The 22-year-old Radulov had a season left on his entry level contract with the Predators, but signed a contract with a Russian KHL team.

The Predators had given Radulov, their third-leading scorer last season with 58 points, until Monday to let them know if he decided to rejoin the team in time for the upcoming season. The team reports Sept. 19.

I wouldn’t consider this in any way as good news for Nashville. The team gave the eventual Stanley Cup champ Detroit Redwings a spirited fight in the last playoffs before losing in 6 games. This year without Radulov, the Predators may find themselves lucky to finish .500, alone make the playoffs.

Nashville’s actions were justified but will probably be futile. If Radulov doesn’t want to play in the NHL, the team hasn’t a lot of recourse. A little fight will be costly and take time. Its outcome uncertain, even if the Predators won in court, would Russian courts enforce the decision?

Alexander Radulov and the KHL are the villains in this story. For signing two contracts to play pro sports that weren’t compatible. May some bad karma catch up with both of them.


Nashville Predators trade Goalie Chris Mason to St. Louis

With Mason’s departure, the Predators are now without the two goalies who took them to consecutive Central Division 2nd place finishes in 2005-06 and 2006-07.

OTTAWA — The St. Louis Blues acquired goaltender Chris Mason from the Nashville Predators for a fourth-round pick in Friday’s draft.

The 32-year-old Mason played in a career-high 51 games for the Predators last season, posting a 2.90 goals-against average and a .898 save percentage.

“Acquiring Chris really solidifies our goaltending position which was one of our goals going into this weekend,” Blues president John Davidson said in a statement. “We are looking forward to a big day today at the draft.”

Nashville has two picks each in the first, second and fourth rounds. The team also agreed with goalie Dan Ellis on a multiyear deal.

Mason compiled a 58-43-12 record in 135 appearances for Nashville during two stints with the team (1998-01 and 2003-08), mostly serving as a backup behind former goalie Tomas Vokoun and Ellis.

Vokoun was dealt to the Florida Panthers a year ago. I don’t know who the Predators have in the minors, and Ellis did have a good year last year, but I see the team now thin at Goaltender. One strong year in the NHL doesn’t certify Dan Ellis as a quality #1 Goalie in my opinion.


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