Tuesday, March 30, 2010

ESPN's NHL player survey: The missing questions

Richard Dawson is a pimp
Survey says...
The April 5th issue of ESPN The Magazine will contain the annual NHL player's poll, in which 50 players were asked about a variety of subjects. The poll yielded some interesting results, as players weighed in on topics such as PEDs, officiating, groupies, and more.

But something's wrong. All the media reports, and even the actual ESPN article, only make reference to 20 questions. And I happen to know there were 30, because I have a copy of the full results.

I don't know why the extra ten questions haven't been reported on. I'm thinking it may have just been an oversight. So I'm going to fix that right now, by revealing the ten NHL player poll questions ESPN forgot to tell you about.

The players are currently hiring a new head for the player's association. What is the most important qualification that your ideal candidate would have?
13% - Experience recovering from disastrous work stoppages.
11% - Inability to hack into e-mail systems.
8% - Some vague sense of familiarity with the sport of hockey, although to be honest that's really more of a "nice-to-have".
68% - We have a player's association?

Which team would you least like to be playing for?
13% - Columbus Blue Jackets
16% - Florida Panthers
12% - New York Islanders
59% - Whoever has to play the Red Wings in the first round of the playoffs.

Do you think Alexander Ovechkin will hit the 50-goal mark this season?
74% - Yes
15% - No
11% - Only if it turns its back to him first

The NHL is rumored to be considering another round of expansion. Would this be a good idea?
31% - No.
28% - No!
24% - Good lord, no.
17% - Yes.
17% - Just kidding... but seriously: No.

Should the NHL alter its overtime format for the playoffs?
23% - Yes, introduce 4-on-4 overtime for the playoffs.
17% - Yes, introduce the shootout for the playoffs.
45% - No, do not change the overtime format for the playoffs.
5% - I am a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs and I do not understand the question.

Do you think it's ridiculous that in today's NHL, a team can lose more games than they win and still be considered over .500?
58% - Yes
54% - No

Travis Moen recent suffered a gruesome eye injury that nearly ended his career. Why don't more players wear visors?
27% - Find that it reduces peripheral vision.
34% - Stigma that tough players don't wear them.
22% - Not necessary since chance of suffering a serious eye injury are probably small.
17% - What? Who said that? Is there somebody in the room?

What's the single most important thing a hockey player can accomplish during their career?
23% - Stanley Cup championship
18% - Olympic gold medal
13% - Hall of Fame induction
38% - Trade out of Edmonton

There is growing concern over the number of serious injuries to NHL players. What's your best advice to fellow players on staying healthy?
19% - Hide behind the mascot any time Shea Weber winds up for a slapshot.
25% - Spend a lot of time standing next to Rick DiPietro; at least you'll look healthy by comparison.
12% - Never make eye contact with Colton Orr.
34% - Try to get an appointment with the Capitals' team "chiropractor".

The Winter Classic has become an unqualified success, generating massive fan interest and historic television ratings. How will the NHL ruin it?
11% - Hold it more than once per season.
10% - Play the game in indoor stadiums in southern markets like Dallas.
15% - Start re-using the same teams every year.
64% - Not sure, but have an absolute and unwavering faith that Gary Bettman will figure something out.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Good Times

Just a quick update on some site news, before getting back to regular posting by mid-week...

You may have noticed that last week's "The NHL on NBC" promo video also made an appearance on the New York Times' Slap Shot hockey blog. I'm happy to say that wasn't a coincidence -- It's due to new partnership with the Times that will see DGB content featured on nytimes.com.

If you're not familiar with Slap Shots, it features news, scores and analysis, but until recently had been short on Kyle Wellwood fat jokes and Kerry Fraser slander. Now that they've fixed that, the site is well worth a place in your bookmarks or RSS feed.

Meanwhile, I'd like to take a moment to address all of my old journalism school professor who told me I'd never get a byline at a decent publication if all I did was sit around all day making jokes and talking about sports. Who's laughing now, Klaus? Who's laughing now?

(Checks student loan balance.)

Oh right, you are. OK then, carry on.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

NBC's strange new NHL promo

I know it's become trendy to complain about NBC's hockey coverage. And I know it has to be a hard job putting those broadcasts together for a national audience that may or may not even be interested in the sport.

But is it me, or does their latest advertising campaign seem a little... odd?

(Remember, when you don't subscribe to Bloge Salming videos, you're telling the world that you're on Team Leno.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The NHLPA's very good reasons for stalling on the headshot rule

Terrible goaltender
Oh, get up, you're head
is still mostly attached.
The NHL announced tonight that the Board of Governors has approved the new rule on blindside headshots. But wait -- the NHLPA hasn't had a chance to vote on the rule yet, and they say they need more time to consider the proposal. The NHLPA says that means the rule can't go through. The NHL says it can. Confusion reigns.

Meanwhile, the NHLPA is taking all sorts of heat for not moving quickly on the issue. More than a few observers have pointed out that it's the players who are getting their brains scrambled on these hits, and it should be the players who are leading the charge to outlaw them.

Instead, they seem to prefer what Jason Spezza has referred to as "a band-aid fix". Since, as we all know, bandaids are an appropriate way to deal with catastrophic head wounds.

Everyone's so busy attacking the NHLPA that nobody has asked for their side of the story. Well I did. And it turns out the association has plenty of very good reasons for taking its time on this issue. They were even kind enough to send me the full list:
  • Our younger players were convinced to reconsider the need for a rule change after hearing a persuasive presentation from veteran players entitled "Hey, we've been taking headshots our whole career and you don't see us banana toolbox salamander".

  • We're all big fans of Swingers, and are hesitant to do anything that would prevent us from making each other's heads bleed.

  • We've been subjected to a relentless lobbying campaign from the nation's powerful stretcher industry.

  • Many of us are good friends with the media who cover us, and we'd hate to resolve this and force them to actually come up with something else to write about.

  • Players could protect themselves from headshots if they'd just take a few simple precautions. For example, Zdeno Chara suggested that we all try being 6'9".

  • We're still seeking confirmation from the league that a ban on headshots won't impact on our ability to pwn each other in Call of Duty.

  • We're trying to get feedback from every player, but no, lazy guys like Marc Savard would apparently rather just lay around in bed all day.

  • It's taking us several days to explain to Jason Spezza what a "bodycheck" is.

  • American players finally have nationalized health care -- it's only fair that they all get a chance to use it.

  • We're pretty sure that if we can draw this out just a few more days, Mike Milbury will end up physically attacking Pierre McGuire. And then we all win.

  • We're not really into that whole "taking decisive action" scene; that's more of an NFL thing.

  • We're still studying several detailed proposals from Chris Chelios, who for some reason seems really interested in protecting the player's brains. Their tasty, tasty brains.

  • Hey, excuse us if it takes us a little longer than normal to think this stuff through. If you hadn't noticed, we've all been getting elbowed in the head since October.

  • We keep leaving voicemail for our senior leadership asking for their advice, but for some reason nobody ever calls us back.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Twelve factors behind the Leafs' sudden turnaround

Leafs win. No, really.Don't look now, but the rebuilt Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the hottest teams in the NHL since the Olympic break. The team has won six of their last seven, and seems to showing significant signs of hope after an otherwise awful season.

Why? What's changed? How can a team that's already bad trade away almost all of their veterans and suddenly emerge as a world beater?

I spent the weekend breaking down the video tape of the team's recent games, I've come to the conclusion that what we're seeing is actually the result of a combination of factors. Below are the twelves recent changes that I think have been the most important to the Leafs stunning turnaround.

  • Ron Wilson wisely ensured that Phil Kessel would be well-rested for the stretch run by ordering him to do absolutely nothing during the Olympics.

  • The team has responded well to newcomer Dion Phaneuf's legendarily inspiring pre-game motivational rock-bangings.

  • Since trading Vesa Toskala, the team's save percentage has improved to 1.000 on shots taken from behind the opponent's goal line.

  • After extensive research, the coaching staff discovered a loophole in NHL rulebook that allows a shorthanded team to shoot the puck all the way down ice without being called for icing. Did you know about that? Dude, it changes everything!

  • Tyler Bozak woke up one morning and decided to start being ridiculously good.

  • The absence of Lee Stempniak has created an opportunity for younger players to step into the role of a fourth-liner who contributes absolutely nothing.

  • Nikolai Kulemin has embraced the opportunity to spend time on the first line, kill penalties, and play during key defensive situations, experience that will prove invaluable when he's in the KHL next year.

  • Tomas Kaberle's steadfast refusal to waive his NTC and continued insistence that he wants to win a championship in Toronto has become an inspiration to the team's young players to win now, since they now realize that even a few seasons of NHL hockey can be enough to cause early onset of dementia.

  • Not completely sure, but there's an outside chance that facing second and third-string goalies every night has something to do with it.

  • Goaltending coach Francois Allaire has worked hard with Jonas Gustavsson to correct the flaws in his game, such as overcommitting on cross-ice passes, losing track of rebounds, and letting his heart explode in the middle of key games.

  • After almost five years, finally got around to practicing this shootout thing.

  • The team's veterans are motivated by the knowledge that if they play poorly enough, Brian Burke won't hesitate to demote them to the team's AHL affiliate in Calgary.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cold Cases: The NHL's other missing items

Crime sceneHockey fans are well aware of the recent mini-drama involving Sidney Crosby's equipment from Canada's gold medal game. The stick he used to score the winning goal went missing along with a glove, leading to a Canada-wide search and a $10,000 reward.

The equipment was eventually found, and the hockey world breathed a sigh of relief. But not so fast. It turns out that Crosby's gear was only one example of a growing problem. NHL-related items have been going missing for years, and there are currently several ongoing investigations.

Here are ten example of high-profile ongoing investigations into NHL items that seem to have disappeared.

The item: Daniel Alfredsson's Stanley Cup ring
Missing since: 2004
Case details: Alfredsson famously guaranteed that the Senators would win at least one Stanley Cup. However, there is no evidence that the ring from that championship is currently in his possession.
Investigation status: Progress has proven difficult, as every time the victim is questioned about it he gets upset and storms away.

The item: The Toronto Maple Leafs' first round draft picks
Missing since: September 18, 2009
Case details: A review of the NHL's draft list shows that the Leafs do not have either of their next two first round picks, despite those picks being critical to their rebuilding effort.
Investigation status: While Leafs GM Brian Burke has denied that a crime took place, every Leafs' home game this year has produced 18,800 new eyewitnesses who confirm that a robbery was pulled off.

The item: Brian Campbell's clavicle
Missing since: March 14, 2010
Case details: The clavicle, last seen Sunday morning, has since been replaced by a loose pile of jagged shards and bone-colored dust.
Investigation status: While investigators are said to have a suspect in the case, a thorough sweep of the crime scene failed to uncover any evidence such as DNA, fingerprints, or Olympic medals.

The item: Sean Avery's medication
Missing since: About two weeks ago
Case details: Avery appears to have recently gone off the medication which had prevented him from acting like an attention-starved sideshow, saying ridiculous things, having any discernible personality, responding to outside stimuli in any way, and being an effective player.
Investigation status: No firm leads, but authorities strongly suspect that Larry Flynt is involved.

The item: A Philadelphia Flyers playoff-caliber goaltender
Missing since: 1996
Case details: Oddly enough, the team's front office seems completely unaware that anything is missing.
Investigation status: If we can't solve it now, there's always next year. And the next. And the next...

The item: The piano on Lee Stempniak's back
Missing since: March 3, 2010
Case details: The item apparently holds great sentimental value to Stempniak, since he hadn't been seen without it since November 2008.
Investigation status: Let's just say everyone's pretty sure it will turn up on its own.

The item: Scott Gomez
Missing since: 2007
Case details: Gomez signed an enormous free agent deal with the New York Rangers. He's never been heard from since.
Investigation status: Prime suspect Glen Sather claims to have an alibi, insisting that Gomez was traded to another team in the off-season. But a brief examination of the player's stats and the NHL's salary cap rules reveals that to be clearly impossible.

The item: Tomas Kaberle's copy of the NHL standings
Missing since: 2008
Case details: It's really the only possible explanation for the whole NTC thing, right?
Investigation status: Authorities are anxious to locate the item prior to this year's draft, since it will give Tomas plenty to think about when he's traded to the Oilers.

The item: Personal items from several Montreal Canadiens
Missing since: March 11, 2010
Case details: Various players reported the recent theft of several cans of shoe polish.
Investigation status: It's the strangest thing, they were right here until those two fans walked by and... oh good God, they couldn't have.

The item: Matt Cooke's karma
Missing since: 1999
Case details: Philosophers believe that the karmic effects of one's deeds will actively impact present and future experiences. However, this delicate universal balance seems to have been mysteriously absent during Cooke's NHL career.
Investigation status: Good news! The Boston Bruins have located the missing item, and have promised to personally return it to Cooke this Thursday.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Awesome Leafs Club

By now, you've probably seen Jimmy Kimmel's "Handsome Men Club" video. It's been all over the web this week, and for good reason: it's slickly produced, packed with superstar cameos, and completely hilarious.

Too bad the whole thing was ripped off from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Yes, the Leafs have had their own very similar private club for decades. But few people know about it, so apparently Kimmel thought he could steal the concept, tweak it slightly, and pass it off as original work.

Nice try Jimmy. Unfortunately for you, Bloge Salming has top secret footage of the most recent meeting. And now we're posting it for the world to see.

(Special thanks to Vintage Leafs for helping us track down all the photos.)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

No suspension for Cooke: Pathetically, the NHL gets it right

Matt Cooke's hit on Marc Savard was a vicious cheapshot. It wasn't a case of "finishing a check", it was an intent to seriously injure a defenseless opponent by targeting his head.

The league announced today that they won't suspend Cooke. They made the right call. And they should be embarrassed by that.

As sickening as Cooke's hit was, he didn't do anything that's against the rules. He didn't leave his feet. It wasn't an elbow. It wasn't a charge. You can watch the replay as many times as your stomach can stand, and you won't see anything illegal. Put simply, there's nothing in the NHL rule book today that says Cooke did anything wrong.

There should be. Even among NHL fans, there seems to be a growing consensus on that point. But right now the league doesn't have a rule against blindsiding a defenseless opponent with a direct hit to the head. If you want to scramble a guy's brains, you can. Just make sure you use your shoulder, and it's case closed.

Was it intent to injure? Sure. But there's nothing in the rule book that says you can't try to hurt someone with a legal hit. Wendel Clark tried to hurt guys with his hits. So did Scott Stevens. So did plenty of guys.

(Update: As commenters point out, there are match penalties for "attempts to injure an opponent in any manner". So it's wrong to say there's nothing in the rulebook on this. That said, I can't remember ever seeing a match penalty called on a hit that didn't violate any other rule.)

Long-time readers know that I'm a Don Cherry acolyte. I love fighting and I'm not embarrassed to say so. And I love hitting, and celebrate it every chance I get. There's room for big hits in this league, even ones that hurt somebody.

But there has to be line, and Cooke crossed it. We know too much about concussions now to celebrate that sort of hit anymore.

Here's the problem: The solution isn't to invent a reason to suspend Cooke. The solution is to fix the rule book. Now.

I don't know about you, but I don't trust this league to start handing out suspensions based on intent. They have enough trouble handing out suspensions for obvious violations -- imagine what they'd do with some room for interpretation. I'd rather see them have clear rules with clear consequences. When it comes to head shots, they don't have that today.

They should. They've had years to get this right. They could have done it last year. In fact, they could have done it this year, effective immediately, if they wanted to (remember when they invented the Avery rule in the middle of a playoff series?). Real leagues, with real leadership, make tough decisions like this all the time. The NHL could have done it too.

They just didn't. That's where the outrage should be. Not that they didn't find a reason to suspend Matt Cooke for a hit that was clean according to the rules; but because they have a set of rules that actually allow blindside hits aimed directly to the head in the first place.

The league got it right this time. Let's hope that next year, when somebody throws the same hit, they get it right again: with a double-digit suspension.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Caption This

This seems like it needs a caption contest, no?

Down Goes Brown in Hockey Night in Canada

(Glove tap to @mserven for the image.)

Update: I think these are the leaders heading into the clubhouse:

"As you can see, Down Goes Brown has just set a new record, going 5 tweets without making a 'Wellwood is fat' joke." - lordosis

"Thank you Ron Maclean, for pointing out for the 437th time that Toronto has traded their first round, lottery bound pick. Now, in keeping with our night's theme of pissing off Brian Burke, we would like to introduce all of you to..." - BetterThanBester

"Maybe it's time CBC reviewed its internet use policy." - DeanoTPS

"Wait, is this the real Down Goes Brown? I need conformation from Dave Shoalts." - Space Weed

Friday, March 5, 2010

Signs your GM had a bad deadline day

Luca Caputi
Apparently somebody tampered
with his rolodex.
Another trade deadline has come and gone. And in between reporting on 30 different trades involving players you'd never heard of just a few days ago, the hockey media is rushing to declare winners and losers from around the league.

But of course, you don't care about the entire league. You care about your favorite team, and just how badly they managed to screw up this time around. So I've assembled a handy list of a dozen signs that your favorite team's GM had a bad deadline day:

  • On deadline day, Twitter's top local trending topic for your city was the word "Fergusonesque".

  • Instead of listening to his scouting staff or consulting his front office assistants, he came up with all his trade ideas by reading threads at hfboards.com.

  • He explains to the media that he was under the mistaken impression that his contract included a no-trade clause.

  • He keeps complaining that over the past two weeks Brian Burke never got back to him about any of his offers for Ryan Miller, Patrick Kane and Zach Parise.

  • Everyone at your office who followed the deadline on the web has a call into the helpdesk because their keyboards have worn out "f" and "u" keys.

  • Every time one of your team's trades was announced on TSN, Pierre McGuire stopped yelling at Darren Pang and just stared into the camera like the guy from Munch's The Scream.

  • The guy who programs the trade AI for NHL 10 called your team's trades "laughably unrealistic".

  • He explained that his entire strategy is to acquire enough expiring contracts to free up cap room to sign Lebron James.

  • That cell phone he spent all day screaming offers into turned out to be a Game Boy.

  • The plan: Address a need for toughness and experience by trading for Raffi Torres. The result: Addressed a need for catchy children's music by trading for Raffi Cavoukian.

  • You saw a guy in line for a cab at the airport arrivals gate who looked suspiciously like Vesa Toskala.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Trade Deadline 2010 Liveblog

4:00 p.m. - Burke's presser has wrapped up. No real news, although he reiterated that he'd do the Kessel deal again, that the current roster should be fearing for their jobs after last night's effort, and that Caputi will be in the Leafs lineup tomorrow.

(Update: One more minor Leafs deal: a sixth to the Penguins for prospect Chris "Nephew of Mike" Peluso.)

"Being a seller sucks," Burke says. And with that, he's done for the day and so am I. Thanks to everyone who dropped in during the day.

3:40 p.m. - Funny moment on TSN, as Bryan Murray is doing his post-deadline press conference but the network cuts away immediately as soon as Burke gets near the podium.

Burke isn't saying much of interest. He gives a heartfelt thanks to Ponikoravsky for his time in Toronto, followed by a somewhat muted goodbye to Stempniak and MacDonald. There are no other deals in the works.

Burke is now doing his well-rehearsed "Tomas Kaberle has a no-trade clause" answer. I honestly think it's word-for-word what he said earlier in the year. The news is that Kaberle's agent apparently gave a list of two teams to Burke today, but there was no deal to be made.

3:15 p.m. - Joey MacDonald, who I'd forgetten existed, has been dealt to the Ducks for a seventh-round pick. The Stempniak deal was for a 4th and 7th.

Unless there's more to come, it looks like the Leafs' haul for today is a 4th, a 5th, two 7ths, and a decent prospect.

Is that enough?

3:10 p.m. - Kaberle's agent has apparently told ESPN that he's going nowhere. That's probably a disappointment, but without knowing what teams were in play and what was offered it's hard to call it a disaster.

3:05 p.m - And the NHL deadline has passed. Deals can still come in, of course, but as of right now this has to go down as one of the dullest deadline in recent memory.

2:55 p.m. - Stempniak deal is done, but no word on for who or what. Man, even on deadline day this guy is invisible.

2:40 p.m. - TSN says Stempniak "is going to go". I think a third-round pick or similar prospect would be more than enough.

2:25 p.m. - Really glad I'm still wearing the Z-Shock helmet. It made clean-up a lot easier after the Toskala trade broke and my brain exploded.

2:05 - Nick Kypreos is reporting that the Flames have acquired Vesa Toskala.

Elliote Friedman: "Were the Maple Leafs blacked out in Calgary this year?"

1:40 p.m. - Tomas Kaberle has made it official. He will waive, if the right deal comes along. Stay tuned.

1:35 p.m. - Mathieu Schneider was just traded. Hey, remember when the Leafs acquired him and everyone agreed it was a bad deal because he was so old and you can't give up young players like Kenny Jonsson for a veteran? That was in 1996. Jonsson's been out of the NHL since before the lockout.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, do we know if Chris Chelios ever bit Mathieu Schneider?

1:00 p.m. - We have our first kind-of, sort-of blockbuster of the day: Wolski for Mueller. Prelude of things to come? Let's hope so.

12:30 p.m. - There's a good discussion on twitter right now about Tomas Kaberle's apparent reluctance to be dealt. Some are defending him, but generally the consensus is that he doesn't seem interested in winning.

Here's my thoughts: I don't know yet. And I won't know until July 1, which is the first day the Leafs and Kaberle can negotiate an extension to his current deal. If Kaberle really does love playing in Toronto, and wants to finish his career here, then we should find out during those first conversations.

If he signs a reasonable long-term, then we'll know he was sincere about loving Toronto and his NTC stance will make sense. If he starts playing hardball and muttering about leaving as a UFA, we'll know he was just a guy who got way too comfortable with losing.

I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt right now.

12:05 p.m. - James Mirtle just tweeted: "The Leafs are practising at noon today and will fly to Boston after the trade deadline. We don't know who won't be on that flight yet."

Look, MLSE has a lot of money. Just this one time, wouldn't it be cool if they gave each player his own individual plane? I'm picturing 20 CF-18s all flying in formation. Then, if a player is traded, his plane peels off from the group and reroutes to his new destination. You're telling me that wouldn't make for great TV?

Do it, Peddie!

11:50 a.m. - The Ducks have just acquired Aaron Ward in exchange for a pick and Justin Pogge. That should be the domino that gets the "really terrible goaltender" market moving.

11:35 a.m. - Good point by DP in the comments: "Skoula's steadiness is going to be a big loss. His +/- of 0 as a Leaf ranked 2nd on the team."

11:15 a.m. - A few days ago, the nice folks at Easton sent me one of the new lightweight S19 Z-Shock helmets that just launched during the Olympics. The idea was that I should test it out... but I'm not playing in any leagues right now.

So I've decided to put it to an even tougher test today: I'm going to wear the helmet every time I check twitter. After all, at least half the rumors, speculation and "sources tell me" reports are ridiculous enough to make you want to slam your head into a wall. I'll let you know how the helmet holds up.

11:00 a.m. - TSN says Martin Skoula is going to the Devils. And so once again, we lose out on the dream of him winding up in San Jose so we could all make "Skoula The Gentle Shark" jokes.

10:40 a.m. - TSN is interviewing Sidney Crosby. He just described the acquisition of Alexei Ponikarovsky as "the absolute best thing that's happened to me all week".

10:30 a.m. - We have our first deal of the day. Derek Morris has been dealt to Phoenix, in a move that will no doubt be shocking for the majority of hockey fans who thought Derek Morris already played for Phoenix.

10:05 a.m. - TSN just interviewed Luca Caputi, who told them he was a diehard Leaf fan growing up and still has a framed painting of Doug Gilmour hanging over his old bed at his parents' house. Let's just say he's growing on me.

10:00 a.m. - Here's an update on where we're at as far as Kaberle goes. All updates via twitter.

Bruce Garrioch: "Tomas Kaberle is definitely in play."

Elliotte Friedman: Kaberle agent, Rick Curran: no list submitted, BUT if Toronto comes to him with offer -- will at least consider it.

Nick Kypreos: Toronto is aware of teams Thomas Kaberle will waive his no trade to go. Now likely he will be gone.

Steve Simmons: Kaberle is NOT repeat NOT in play, despite what is being said elsewhere. That could change as day progresses but Im assured there is no list

We will see...

8:30 a.m. - Welcome to the 2010 NHL trade deadline.

If you're just waking up to the news of last night's Ponikarovsky-to-Pittsburgh trade, my reaction and a scouting report from The Pensblog can be found here.

Meanwhile, there are breaking reports on twitter that Tomas Kaberle may be in play after all. If so, the day just got a lot more interesting.

Typically these days start off slow, then build to a flurry towards the 3:00 deadline and beyond. I'll be posting thoughts, links and breaking news, and will also be posting the best of the comments section so let me know what's on your mind.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Who is Luca Caputi? The Pensblog explains

Luca Caputi
Probably the last ever photo
of Luca Caputi smiling.
News is breaking tonight that the Leafs have dealt Alexei Ponikarovsky to the Penguins for prospect Luca Caputi. The Leafs also take on the salary of veteran defenceman Martin Skoula, who will immediately be taken out behind the ACC and shot.

I have no idea who Luca Caputi is.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, since as a longtime Leafs fan I'm pretty fuzzy on the whole concept of a "prospects". But with all the talk of a possible Ponikarovsky bidding war and most rumors pegging the price at a pick and a prospect, it seems like a disappointment to get back a guy whose name only sounds familiar to me because I'm pretty sure it's how the Iron Shiek used to end all his promos.

Or is it? To find out, I asked for a Caputi scouting report from the folks from arguably the world's great hockey blog, The Pensblog. Here's what they had to say:

The Good: Caputi has a cool name. And he has some skill. We've seen him play for a grand total of less than 10 NHL games, but he made somewhat of an impact when he was up. He isn't overly big, or overly fast, but no reason he can't develop into a solid NHL top six player

The Bad: There really is no bad. Just don't know enough about him. The only thing we do know is that he just got surpassed by some other prospects in the Penguin organization, hence he was the odd man out. Burke knows how to develop players so he couldn't be going to a better place. You'll hear about some story about how he was demoted to the ECHL a few years ago, but look if you were stuck in Wilkes Barre you'd cause trouble too. Just tell people he beat up a stripper or something to help his street cred.

Summary: Luca Caputi is officially a part of one of the best "cool name for cool name" trades in NHL history. It's been so hard for Pens prospects to crack the lineup over the last three years that Caputi has got to be pumped to be coming to Toronto.

Anything could happen. He could be a 60+ point guy a year for the next five years, or he will be serving you pizza.

Prediction: Caputi scores the game winning goal in the 2017 eastern conference finals sending the Leafs to the dance.

P.S. If you want to know about Martin Skoula, take the wheels off your car and try to drive to work every morning.
So there you have it. Trade Deadline 2010 has officially arrived for the Leafs. Let me know what you think about the deal in the comments. And don't forget that I'll be liveblogging all-day on Wednesday.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Deadline online: NHL GMs hit the web to look for deals

With the trade deadline now just 48 hours away, NHL GMs are scrambling to work out deals. But it's not easy. As everyone knows, the CBA has made it much more difficult than ever to close a deal. Mix in the continuing economic uncertainty and a league in which virtually every team is still in the playoff hunt, and it's never been harder to pull the trigger on a trade.

So what's an NHL GM to do? Simple. Get creative.

It turns out that NHL GMs are using every tool at their disposal to try to create a market for the players they want to move. And after spending some time today searching some popular web sites, I can report that a few NHL GMs are getting active online.

For example, new management in Montreal wants to move a goaltender, and they're working hard to start a bidding war -- literally.

Meanwhile, this Craigslist ad was posted anonymously. But something about it seems vaguely familiar.

And finally, Glen Sather wants to dump some bad contracts and has his work cut out for him. I don't think he'll have much luck, but you can't say he's not trying.