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.


Tampa Bay Lightning sign F Alex Tanguay

He still has to take a physical before the deal is finalized. From ESPN-

Alex Tanguay is off the market.

The sought-after free-agent forward has agreed to a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning worth $2.5 million, a source told’s Pierre LeBrun.

“We’re pretty happy he is with the Lightning and he’s looking forward to giving his best,” Tanguay’s agent David Ettedgui told the St. Petersburg Times

Though a separated shoulder sidelined him for most of last season, Tanguay finished with 16 goals and 25 assists in 50 games.

Lightning GM Brian Lawton told the Times that Tanguay was “the guy we wanted.”

“It’s a chance for him to play with some really high-end, high-skill players, which we think he is,” Lawton told the newspaper. “And we think together, it should be a nice combination.”

Nice combination, but does it really improve Tampa? The Lightning had a horrible 2008-09 season. They were weak at defensemen, average at best at goalie, and other than their front line, mediocre when it came to scoring. Tampa needs a whole lot more than Alex Tanguay to make it back to the playoffs and I don’t see that happening at the end of the 2009-10. Tanguay on the other hand is free to move on to his next sucker team.


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?


Atlanta Thrashers sign Noah Welch and Anthony Stewart

Two former Florida Panthers have moved on. From the Atlanta Journal Constitution-

Adding depth in their roster, the Thrashers signed unrestricted free agents Anthony Stewart and Noah Welch on Monday. Contract terms were not disclosed.

Stewart, a forward, had seven points (two goals, five assists) in 59 NHL games with Florida last season. He has appeared in 105 career NHL games. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Stewart, 24, was a first-round pick by the Panthers in 2003. He has a career total of 66 points (29 goals, 37 assists) in 130 AHL games with Rochester and San Antonio.

Welch, a defenseman, had two points (one goal, one assist) in 40 NHL games with Florida and Tampa Bay last season. He has appeared in 73 NHL games with Pittsburgh, Florida and Tampa Bay. The 6-4, 220-pound Welch, 26, was a second-round pick by Pittsburgh in 2001. He has a career total of 59 points (16 goals, 43 assists) in 122 AHL games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Rochester.

At this point in his career, you have to label Stewart a draft bust and a very big one. He was selected 25th overall and in over 100 Florida Panther games, he scored 4 goals and 8 assists. Not the type of numbers you want from a 1st rounder or a forward. I’ve seldom missed a Panther game for the last two years. Stewart never impressed me, and I doubt he will turn around his career in Atlanta.

Welch is a whole other story. His biggest problem in Florida was staying healthy. He may be of use to Atlanta.


NHL Left Winger Gary Roberts announces his retirement


Florida Panthers acquire Defenseman Steve Eminger from Tampa Bay

In return Florida sent D Noah Welch and a 3rd round pick. From Sports Network-

The Florida Panthers did make a trade involving a defenseman on Wednesday, however, it didn’t involve Jay Bouwmeester. Instead, they acquired defenseman Steve Eminger from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for defenseman Noah Welch and a third-round pick in the 2009 draft.

This marks the third time Eminger has been traded since the end of last season. He was dealt to Philadelphia from Washington in a 2008 draft-day deal and posted two assists in 12 games with the Flyers before being traded to Tampa Bay along with Steve Downie for Matt Carle in early November.

The 25-year-old recorded four goals and 19 assists in 50 games with the Lightning. In 274 career games with Washington, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, Eminger has notched 10 goals, 58 assists and 265 penalty minutes.

Eminger has a career -48 rating. That’s terrible but could be a result of his not playing for very good teams and being rushed to the NHL after being selected 12th in the 2002 draft by the Washington Capitals.

John McGourty fills us in on the maybe the most important aspect of this trade.

The trade reunites Eminger with Panthers coach Peter DeBoer, with whom Eminger won the 2003 Memorial Cup as a member of the OHL Kitchener Rangers. Eminger has since struggled in his six-year NHL career.


The difference between Eminger in juniors and the NHL has been astounding. In Kitchener, he controlled play, offensively and defensively. He was well positioned and strong on defense, and crafty with the puck on offense, quarterbacking the power play.

Until he joined the Lightning, Eminger showed little of those skills and even less confidence. Reuniting with DeBoer could be exactly what he needs.

In light of that and how Welch didn’t fit in Florida’s scheme of things, I think the gamble on Eminger is worth it.


NY Rangers fire coach Tom Renney, hire John Tortorella

This marks the sixth time this year an NHL team fired their man behind the bench. From ESPN-

Tom Renney was fired as coach of the New York Rangers on Monday and replaced by John Tortorella in an attempt to save a season that has spiraled out of control.

The Rangers opened 10-2-1, but 10 losses in the last 12 games have knocked the team out of contention for the Atlantic Division title and placed it in danger of missing the playoffs completely.

Tortorella led the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Stanley Cup title in 2004 and was let go following last season. The Rangers were not required to provide compensation to the Lightning.

Renney, a former coach of the Vancouver Canucks, was 164-121-42 with the Rangers in four-plus seasons and ranks fourth on the team’s career wins and games coached lists.

I think Renney is the fall guy in New York. The Ranger management has made a series of poor personnel decisions over the last year. Trading for Nikolai Zherdev, Signing Markus Naslund, not retaining Brendan Shanahan.

I do however like John Tortorella. He’ll certainly light a fire under players in New York. Will it work? I don’t know.


Washington Capitals Mark Green sets new record for defensemen

The old record stood for 25 years. From columnist John Kreiser-

Mike Green and the Washington Capitals both got what they came for.

Green set an NHL record for defensemen by scoring a goal in his eighth consecutive game, and the Caps left the St. Pete Times Forum with the two points they wanted by rolling over the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 on Saturday night.

The 23-year-old defenseman made history when he picked up the carom after Matt Pettinger blocked his initial shot and snapped the puck through the legs of goaltender Karri Ramo at 5:33 of the second period for a power-play goal that made it 4-0. It broke a tie with Mike O’Connell, who scored in seven consecutive games for the Boston Bruins midway through the 1983-84 season.

“It’s incredible,” said Green, who was covered with shaving cream applied by his teammates after the game. “I’m playing with some of the best players in the world.”

Up next for Washington, is a game this afternoon against their division rival Florida Panthers. The cats are red hot right now, they are 6-2 since the all-star break and 7th in the playoff standings but only two points out of 5th with one less game played and three points out of 4th. Catching Washington for the division lead is unlikely but I am feeling more and more certain Florida will make their first NHL playoff appearance in nine years this April.


Florida Panthers and the Eastern NHL Conference at the half way mark

The Florida Panthers played their 41st game of the NHL season last night. A 4-2 win over division rival Carolina Panthers. Before I make some comments, here are the standings

1 Boston Bruins Games played- 41 Record- 30-7-4 Points- 64
2 Washington Capitals 41, 27-11-3, 57
3 Philadelphia Flyers 41, 22-10-9, 53
4 Montréal Canadiens 40, 24-10-6, 54
5 New York Rangers 42, 24-15-3, 51
6 New Jersey Devils 40, 23-14-3, 49
7 Carolina Hurricanes 42, 21-16-5, 47
8 Buffalo Sabres 40, 20-15-5, 45
9 Florida Panthers 41, 19-16-6, 44
10 Pittsburgh Penguins 42, 20-18-4, 44
11 Toronto Maple Leafs 41, 16-19-6, 38
12 Atlanta Thrashers 42, 14-23-5, 33
13 Ottawa Senators 39, 13-20-6, 32
14 Tampa Bay Lightning 40, 11-19-10, 32
15 New York Islanders 42, 12-26-4, 28

First I can safely conclude the NY Islanders, Tampa Bay, Ottawa, and Atlanta are out of the playoff picture. Toronto faces a uphill battle, but I won’t count them out yet.

Look where Pittsburgh is only one year after making the Stanley Cup finals. What is going on up there? They recently had a five-game losing streak at home.

They aren’t the only recent memory Stanley Cup final team fallen on hard times. Ottawa who made it in the 06-07 looks to be re-building. How did anyone in Senator management think Alex Doug Auld and Martin Gerber were playoff quality goalies?

Tampa Bay has gotten out of the cellar. Two wins against Florida in late December helped. Will Rick Tocchet still be coaching next season?

Florida has its best record at the half way since the 1999-2000 season, or the last time they went to the playoffs. I had high hopes for Florida last year only to see them dashed. Could they make it this year?

Definitely. The teams immediately ahead of them are beatable. If Florida sneaks in as the 7th or 8th seed, they are most likely to get buzz sawed by Boston or Montreal.(Though Florida does have a good record against Goalie Tim Thomas and are the only NHL team with a lifetime winning record against the Canadians. )

Some miscellaneous Florida notes-

Their defensemen have scored more goals than any other team in the Eastern Conference

Florida has gained at least 1 pt in every game Gregory Campbell has scored in.

Yesterday’s game marked just the 3rd time ever Florida went without a penalty in a game.

Tomas Vokoun now has 201 career wins as a goalie.

Florida has a very good goalie at Rochester that the name eludes me. Would Florida consider a deal for Craig Anderson and bring up the rookie before the season ends? Anderson is a free agent at the end of the year and not expected to be back.

Florida signed a multi-year agreement with Fox Sports Florida which as a result have more Panther games on television.(I got NHL Center Ice too, so I rarely miss a game unless there is no television at all) That’s good news. Now I would like FSN to stop showing upcoming programming promos while play is happening on ice. Those idiotic spinning pucks fill 1/8th of the television screen and often interfere with watching play. Every time I see this crap I feel like screaming at the television.


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