Sunday 12 April 2015

The Storms During The Calm

Everyone can breathe deeply tonight after being under the gun for the last couple of weeks. See what I did there? Anyway, the match-ups are set for the opening round of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs and they'll kick off on Wednesday with the first games. Lots of predictions are being thrown around by pundits of all skills and abilities, but I'm not going to do that because I don't want to influence anyone who might be thinking about hopping into the pool!

The annual HBIC Playoff Pool will go live tomorrow at noon and I've added a few twists this year. The pool will still be free to enter and there are still prizes to be won, but there will be chances to earn massive points if you're willing to put your money where your predictions are. Lots of fun will be had tomorrow, and I want to let everyone know that the basis for the pool will remain the same. The new twists, though, could change everything if you're predicting well.

Please note that due to restrictions outside my control, the 2015 HBIC Playoff Pool will go live at 5:00pm CT tonight. Sorry, folks!

On to other topics...

The mass firings began early today as Brendan Shanahan axed everyone in Toronto who had anything to do with the on-ice product. Gone are GM Dave Nonis, interim head coach Peter Horachek, assistant coaches Steve Spott, Chris Dennis and Rick St. Croix, director of pro scouting Steve Kasper, and director of player development Jim Hughes. Steve Staios was sent back to the front office as manager of player development while assistant general manager Kyle Dubas and director of player personnel Mark Hunter will assume the role of GM until a new person can be hired.

If anyone thinks the changes end at the men behind the bench, you probably didn't watch much hockey this season. Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul are all reportedly on the trading block, and it will be up to the new management to either find them new homes or motivate them enough to return to form. The latter will be more difficult than the prior, I'd assume.

In any case, there are a lot of empty offices at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment right now, so get your resum├ęs ready, readers. If you wnted to work for the Maple Leafs, now might be your best chance to get in. Just don't get settled if the Leafs bomb again next season.

That, readers, is a tank on fire. As you know, Buffalo was all-in on one of the best tank jobs in recent memory, but one man continually tried to set those plans on fire. See what I did there? Anyway, I find it to be classless that the Buffalo Sabres fired head coach Ted Nolan despite him doing his best to keep fans interested in the team by winning a few games. If there is one guy who did everything he could to keep the Sabres respectable, Ted Nolan was that guy.

I understand that GM Tim Murray and Nolan had a less-than-amicable relationship, Nolan signed a three-year deal last season despite Murray deciding to tank after the season started poorly, but Nolan always maintained an air of professionalism in asking the best from his players. Unfortunately, management didn't feel the same way.

Assistant coaches Bryan Trottier and Tom Coolen did not have their contracts renewed while Danny Flynn was fired along with Nolan. Nolan went 40-87-17 with mostly AHL-caliber players in less than two seasons, and he reportedly will evaluate his next options. I doubt he'll be back with Buffalo for a third head coaching stint.

Deep breaths, Ted. Deep breaths.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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