Wednesday, 11 June 2008

The Big Picture

Occasionally, I throw up pictures that have little or nothing to do with hockey, and then stretch to bring hockey and the picture together. Today's picture is no different. I don't know if you'd recognize it right away, but it's the Sistine Chapel. Now, Michaelangelo had nothing to do with hockey whatsoever, but he did paint this big picture. And today's article is all about the recent news in hockey, thus providing you with the big picture. Get it? Big picture? Ok, good.

With that in mind, here is today’s big picture.

  • Ron Wilson officially takes over in Toronto. Not gigantic news, but it still matters, especially if you’re a Maple Leaf fan. Perhaps what comes as bigger news is the fact that the Maple Leafs signed him for four years, and still do not have a GM. The Brian-Burke-to-Toronto rumours will not stop for an entire year now. But if Burke and Wilson were so close, why did Burke never hire Wilson for a coaching position?
  • Marc Crawford is done in Los Angeles. I had been calling for his firing for almost a year now, as A Queen Among Kings can attest. Crawford is highly overrated as a coach. He was simply brutal in Vancouver, and how Los Angeles hired him is beyond me. I gave him an award during my mid-season mock awards for “The Best Job At Awarding A Pink Slip”, but his time finally ran out. In two seasons, Crawford ran up a record of 59-84-21 as the head coach. Yeah, he had a young team, but that is simply brutal. Good bye, Mr. Crawford, and hopefully good riddance.
  • Dominik Hasek retired from the NHL after 16 seasons. Hasek revolutionized the position with his unorthodox style while winning two Stanley Cups, back-to-back Hart Trophies, and six Vezina Trophies. The former Blackhawk, Sabre, Senator, and Red Wing finished his NHL career with a record of 389-223-95, a goals-against average of 2.20, and a save percentage of .920. Hall-of-Fame stats? I’d say so. His international efforts will not go unnoticed either, especially after winning a gold medal in the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998. Enjoy your summer and retirement, Mr. Hasek.
  • Defenceman Mattias Norstrom also hung up the skates yesterday. The veteran Swede played 14 season in the NHL with the New York Rangers, the Los Angeles Kings, and the Dallas Stars. Over his career, he scored 18 goals and 147 assists while spending 661 minutes in the sin bin. Norstrom was twice selected for the NHL All-Star game – in 1999, and 2004. Enjoy your retirement, Mr. Norstrom.
  • Another veteran of the game will announce his retirement today. Trevor Linden will call it a career after 18 seasons in the NHL. The veteran scored 375 goals and 492 assists in 1382 career games for the Canucks, Islanders, Canadiens, and Capitals. He was named captain of the Canucks at age 21, and helped lead Vancouver to the Stanley Cup Final in 1994 where they lost in seven games to the New York Rangers. Twice an NHL All-Star, the second overall pick of the 1988 NHL Entry Draft will always be one of the best Vancouver Canucks in team history. Linden also played a major role in the off-ice side of the game, serving as president of the National Hockey League Players' Association. Enjoy your time off, Mr. Linden.
  • The Detroit Red Wings retained another major piece of their Stanley Cup winning team by re-signing head coach Mike Babcock to a three-year extension. In his three seasons in Detroit, he has led the Wings to three straight seasons of 50-wins and two Presidents' Trophy awards. Having the majority of the players who won the Stanley Cup already under contract, the Red Wings will remain as one of the elite teams for the foreseeable future with Mr. Babcock’s new contract.
  • The Minnesota Wild and Anaheim Ducks completed a trade yesterday. Anaheim sent defenceman Marc-Andre Bergeron to the Wild for a third-round pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft. The puck-moving defenceman should help the Wild in moving the puck, as well as on the powerplay.
  • The Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars also made a swap. The Avalanche acquired forward Marty Sertich from the Stars for a 2009 Conditional Draft Pick. Sertich led the AHL Iowa Stars in scoring last season, posting 52 points in 79 games. Sertich is a former Hobey Baker Award winner with Colorado College, and signed with Dallas as a free agent on July 10, 2006.
  • The Buffalo Sabres, after announcing earlier this season that their 29-year affiliation with the Rochester Americans will end, announced yesterday that they will begin a new affiliation with the Portland Pirates based in Portland, Maine. The Pirates recently ended an affiliation with the Anaheim Ducks. Portland has had strong teams recently, and the Sabres look to continue this tradition of hockey in Maine.
  • There are rumblings coming from some owners about the salary cap, and this has to worry NHL Commish Gary Bettman. There is talk that the salary cap will increase again this season, the third season in a row that it has increased. The average NHL salary also increased this season by 11%, up from $1,708,607 to $1,906,793. The maximum cap has increased 28% since the return of hockey from the lockout. In 2005-06, teams were allowed to spend a maximum of $39 million. Last season, teams were allowed to spend $50.3 million. Teams in some of the smaller markets have begun to quietly complain that the salary cap is falling to the wayside, and that large market teams are opening up a gap in spending again. More teams are falling under the threshold limit for revenue sharing, and that has the large market teams grumbling as well. This appears to be a festering problem, so keep your eyes on this one.
  • It took a little longer than they would have liked, but the Chicago Wolves are the 2008 Calder Cup Champions. Jason Krog scored a hat trick in Game Six to pace the Wolves to a 5-2 win, and a 4-2 series win. The Wolves won their second Calder Cup in six years, the first coming in their inaugural AHL season. Krog took home the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as playoff MVP. The WBS Penguins came up a little short in their efforts, but should be proud of their accomplishment this season. Congratulations to the Chicago Wolves!
  • The 2010 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships will be awarded to one of four possible locations: Regina-Saskatoon, Toronto, Halifax-Moncton, or Winnipeg-Brandon. Personally, I’d like to see the World Juniors come back to Winnipeg-Brandon, but the Regina-Saskatoon bid is strong, and the Halifax-Moncton bid looks to build on their recent success as well. Hockey Canada will have to make a decision soon as the four venues have also shown interest in the 2012 Championships. Switzerland was supposed to hold the 2010 World Junior Championships, but they withdrew. The USA will host the 2011 World Juniors, and Canada hosts the Championship in 2012. Calgary-Edmonton has also shown significant interest in the 2012 World Juniors, making the decision a little tougher.
Ok, I think that’s everything for today. I’m going to be running around all day, so feel free to leave comments on these stories, or any others. I’ll get to them as soon as I can. Also, I’ll have another NHLPA-supported charitable organization to speak about tomorrow, so make sure you check tomorrow’s article.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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