Hockey Headlines

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Midweek Mentions

I received an email from a gentleman named Brandon earlier this week. He wanted to know if I'd be a contributor to a new website called Linfo. He was looking for a "hockey expert" so I have no idea how he found me, but he asked if I wanted to contribute to the site, and I accepted.

Linfo is a essentially a site for information on places all across the globe. People log in, add some information regarding a place that they like or visit, and it becomes public domain for others who might be looking for information on that type of place. Want sushi? Linfo has info on places you may want to try. Interested in finding a quiet coffee shop? Linfo can help you there as well.

As for what I'll be doing on there, I plan to add information for as many hockey venues as I can. These won't just be the big-name rinks, but community club rinks, small town arenas, and any others I come across. Personally, I think this will be a cool idea once it gets rolling simply due to the fact that people in Canada are always looking for the closest Tim Horton's to whatever far-off arena their children are playing in. Linfo is the place where you can find that information if it is entered.

And if it's not, you can add it yourself for others to use! It's kind of like a social-networking-meets-travel-guide site, and I think it has huge potential. Whether or not Linfo gains in popularity will obviously be a result of the work being done on the site, but I hope it grows. It's a great idea in theory.

I caught part of the TSN broadcast of the Wild-Flames game tonight, and I was intrigued by one of the questions asked to the panel during the NHL on TSN Quiz: Should the NHL set a deadline for signing unrestricted free agents as they do for restricted free agents?

Specifically, this is a question aimed at Brendan Shanahan, Peter Forsberg, and Mats Sundin this year, along with guys like Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer of years past. Here are the answers given by TSN's panel:

John Tortorella: Yes. I think it's wrong that players sit around waiting to see which team makes the playoffs and come into it. I don't blame the players - I blame the fact that it's allowed by the league.

Bob McKenzie: No. Restricted free agents have a deadline of Dec. 1, but unrestricted means you're unrestricted. That means teams are building up their lineups until the trade deadline and it doesn't just apply to superstars. It could be guys in the minors going up to the NHL just before the trade deadline, or a guy in Europe getting back into the NHL.

Pierre McGuire: A deadline on Nov. 1! If you're an unrestricted free agent and you have no documentation of any injuries, your cut-off date is Nov. 1. If you can't make it by then, you're not playing that year.

Personally, I think all of these answers have some validity to them. Tortorella makes a good point that free agents shouldn't be hired mercenaries for the playoffs only. McKenzie makes a very valid point in that unrestricted free agents can do whatever they like because they've earned that right. And McGuire, as much as it pains me to say it, makes a good point in that if you're not injured, you need to make a decision to play or not.

My personal preference is McGuire's "deadline with injury status" option. If you're not hurt and you want to play, you need to buckle down and choose the team you want to play with. As Tortorella said, I also think it's wrong for these players to "sit around waiting to see which team makes the playoffs", and no one is truly eliminated by November 1.

While the NHLPA might have something to say about how the deadline removes the "unrestricted" status from free agency, the NHLPA should also recognize that signing stars in January after some teams have struggled tips the playing field in the successful teams' favor. And that, of course, limits competition as the strong get stronger by signing these talented players.

This is something that needs to be resolved sooner rather than later for the sake of everyone - teams, players, and fans - involved.

It appeared that, for the morning skate, the Los Angeles Kings may have been following the Sharks' lead in bringing back an old name to help their AHL club. Jonathan Bernier missed the skate this morning due to illness, so the Kings' goaltending coach Bill Ranford suited up and did some work between the pipes for the Manchester Monarchs.

The last time I saw Bill Ranford playing in a real game was in Edmonton at Commonwealth Stadium. Of course, he and Grant Fuhr shared the win in that game, so it's not like he doesn't have the ability still.

However, it was not to be as Ranford took his seat in the press box as Jeff Zatkoff was flown in from Las Vegas after his game with the ECHL's Ontario Reign last night. Zatkoff played well, but the Manitoba Moose defeated the 21 year-old in his first AHL start by a 3-2 score tonight.

So there's some quirky news from the world of hockey today. I'd like to hear your thoughts on the free agency question that TSN asked, so gimme your take in the comments. There's no right or wrong answer, and you can certainly disagree with me. I simply want to see what everyone else thinks about those kinds of situations.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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