Soo slooooow, these August days of hockey be. So let's react to a random dose of "news" and opinion around the league, beginning with the beloved Isles:
The "I'm on vacation autotext" column. I've often enjoyed his stuff, but my god did SI's longtime hockey reporter Jim Kelley mail this one in. His column on the Islanders' hiring of -- well, no, actually, it's more about one line new coach Scott Gordon said in his press conference -- is littered with all of the trite pseudo-history every writer lazily throws together when they need to mention something about the Islanders.
According to Kelley's theorem, the Isles are dysfunctional, they've had a lot of coaches since 1994, Snow has no prior GM experience, so mentioning aspirations for the Stanley Cup (you know, that shiny thing everyone is in this for) amid 2+ hours of interviews was foolish of Gordon. Not that Kelly bothered to catch any of the interview footage, by the looks of it. Coverage like this does not advance information to anyone: it just ticks the club's fans off, while it misguides fans of other teams who don't pay close attention to the other club. It's like going to an article about the Blackhawks only to read, "Bill Wirtz destroyed this team and its fan base." Thanks for the memo, but what's happening with the club now?
[Update 8/22: Former Isles PR man Chris Botta -- who has, ahem, a tad more reach than I -- tackles a different lazy facet of Kelley's mailed-in-piece. That's nice to see -- not just as an Islanders fan but also as someone who generally roots against misinformation.]
Prospect Quits at Age 19. Apparently, the Blue Jackets have lost the 37th overall pick from 2007, Stefan Legaine, who is quitting the game. There are a hundred reasons why a kid -- even a well-regarded one -- could say enough is enough. You hate to see someone throw away a chance at financial security at a still-maturing age, but I can imagine a lot of ways a kid would get to that point. Not to speculate, but the quote from his father ("Until September 20th [when training camp opens], he hasn't quit anything") reminds me of *shudder* hockey parents whose kids' careers are their sole focus. Again, not saying that's the case here; just saying the overbearing parent is a scourge in any sport.
Likewise, I'm reminded of Alexander Daigle's own journeys through vocation crises. It's all a reminder that these humans who we pin our hockey hopes and passions on are often just adolescents going through their own process of self-discovery -- often complicated by pressures from those around them.
Who are the Top 50 Trade Values in the NHL? TSN columnist Scott Cullen, with a nod to Bill Simmons, tries to drill down the top 50 players by trade value in the NHL. This is no small effort. The idea is much more conducive to NBA rosters (where Simmons originated the idea), because those are largely confined to five starters with well-defined roles plus a "sixth man." Things like age and contract term/value are key to the rankings. It's a fun list, and you can debate the names and rankings all day. So I'll take issue with one that immediately popped out: Tomas Kaberle at #43.
Cullen reasons that Kaberle's is a relative bargain contract at $4.25M through 2011. My quibble: He has a no-trade clause! That clause, which apparently did not expire this summer, rather erodes his trade value. The fact that he has leverage over where he'd end up -- if he'd end up elsewhere -- should mean that, as with Bryan McCabe, another GM won't give you full value in a trade. Kaberle's off my list.
Ryan Whitney has Surgery, Out 3-5 Months. That is a sizable blow -- especially since, for some reason, surgery wasn't decided upon and conducted until now. But if it fixes the problems that slowed his production last year, his return should be a nice boost for the Pens come stretch-drive time.
Generalissimo Francisco Franco is Still Dead. Speaking of the "No Trade Leafs," this guy Mats Sundin -- you may have heard of him -- hasn't signed yet. Thought you'd like to know.
Of Course You Realize, This Means War. First they took Branislav Mezei. Then they took Dubie. But now, oh-ho-ho now, they took Ladislav Nagy. I'm, like, so totally boycotting the Great Threat that is the oil-drenched Mother KHL. They're stealing all of the players we fans hold dear. Where else in North America will we possibly find the talent to replace them?
NHL standings (Reuters)
5 hours ago