Gross Misconduct Hockey Thoughts from a drifter on the hockey landscape

07/24/2009

The Most Interesting Free Agent In The World

Filed under: Alex Tanguay,Florida Panthers,Phoenix Coyotes,Tampa Bay Lightning — Joe Yerdon @ 6:11 PM

Free agency season has died down and while there are still quite a few intriguing names left floating about while teams figure their cap situations out, there’s one man out there who remains and his legend now grows as the pickings get slimmer.

His reputation is expanding faster than the universe you might say.

He’s a man who has played in the NHL for nine seasons, almost all of them healthy… Except for his most recent when he got injured more seriously just to see how it felt.

He’s never scored more than 30 goals in a season but passes with the greatest of ease despite being a left wing.

His blood smells just like cologne.

Darryl Sutter once traded for him because he was intrigued by how he might work with Jarome Iginla.

His hairless face has experienced more playoff success than the San Jose Sharks.

He’s been known to cure a struggling offense just by walking into the room.

If you’re the GM of the Coyotes, Panthers, or a host of other NHL teams perhaps you too would be interested in the most interesting free agent in the world.


When Alex Tanguay drinks, he prefers something with an umbrella in it.

Or perhaps you’d just rather have a shitty Mexican beer.

Alex Tanguay is certainly getting a lot of attention and sure, much of it is deserved. He played 50 games for the Canadiens last year and scored 40 points. Not bad. Not great, but not bad either. Teams that are in the hunt for him, the aforementioned Panthers and Coyotes could sure use a big point producer to help out. Florida in particular would make for a great destination with the emerging David Booth and the host of snipers situated in Miami right now.

These teams in the hunt for Alex Tanguay had better know what they’re getting though.

They’re not getting a big goal scoring winger.

Tanguay is a set-up guy and would fit in ideally on a team that has a center that likes to score goals (well hello Tampa Bay) or on a line with enough offensive talent to make sure that Tanguay’s short comings (doesn’t play physical at all) don’t short-circuit the entire line (Ottawa, Dallas, even Phoenix perhaps).

Alex Tanguay is the ideal support piece for a team’s offense but he’s not the main event scorer. Of course, now that just about every main event scorer is off the market, Alex Tanguay is the last guy out there who has put up big offensive numbers in the past and will, likely, be able to get (over) paid by someone desperate.

Buyer beware because the Most Interesting Free Agent In The World is a lover not a fighter… But he’s also a fighter so don’t get any ideas He’s a total pansy, have at it.

Stay thirsty, GMs.

07/16/2009

New Faces In New Places: Washington vs. Tampa Bay

Yesterday we debuted, with great help from EA Sports and XBox 360, a fun summer series to help us kill time and show off what all of the new free agent acquisitions and top draft picks will look like in their new duds.

Speaking of duds, today’s photo shoot features one team who played like duds all regular season and another one that played like duds, eventually, in the playoffs.

That’s right it’s time for the, perhaps, much improved Tampa Bay Lightning and the happy-to-stand-pat Washington Capitals.


Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman excuses himself away from new Capitals forward Brendan Morrison.


Kurtis Foster unleashes the beast towards goaltender Simeon Varlamov.


New Capitals forward Mike Knuble dares to deke past Vincent Lecavalier.


Mattias Ohlund tries to escape the pursuit of Alexander Ovechkin.


Stephane Veilleux shows how to celebrate best on an empty net.

Now here’s where you folks come in. Who do you want to see next? Red Wings exiles donning the Indian in Chicago? Marian Gaborik in Ranger blues? Ryan Smyth and his mullet in Los Angeles?

You make the call and the top two choices get featured next – just make sure the teams you select have, you know, actually made a move or two. Leave your suggestions in the comments or find your way to Twitter to let me know. I’m pretty easy to find there.

06/26/2009

Bienvenue à Montréal

The Gross Misconduct Hockey Road Trip extravaganza gets to close out the 2008-2009 season as well as get you prepared for the 2009-2010 season all at once by visiting one of my most favorite cities in the world:

Montréal, Québec, Canada

Those accents are very important.

Tomorrow morning I’ll hit the road, the illustrious I-87, to attend the NHL Entry Draft. No, I won’t be giving you a mock draft since that would be amateurish of me to do and would likely end up sounding really freaking stupid because, honestly, what am I going to tell you that you’re not going to find more well informed elsewhere? Hell, just hit up the links on the sidebar and you’ll find something you’ll enjoy – it’s out there and other folks are busting their ass a lot more on this than yours truly.

That’s just how I roll. I guess.

The one bit of insight I’ll give you is this, and these are the things I’ll be keeping an eye out for.

Thankfully, one of them focuses in on the first two picks. I’m curious to see if Garth Snow and the Islanders have just been jerking all of us around for weeks and he’s going to run to the podium and make it official that the Islanders give a crap about the team’s future and select John Tavares first.

Not selecting Tavares would be damn near criminal and that’s not a slight on Victor Hedman or Matt Duchene but Tavares was virtually NHL-ready last year. Hell, they tried to bend the rules to allow him to be drafted last year.

Tavares is the real deal and he’ll be the guy to resurrect the Islanders back into relevancy, which is good since both Hedman and Duchene are pretty fantastic booby prizes for the Lightning and Avalanche who select after the Isles.

Provided the Lightning don’t do something thoroughly insane they should take Hedman and have him starting on the blueline for the Lightning come September. He’s big, he’s Swedish, he plays defense. That’s a pretty good pedigree to have coming to the NHL.

Then again, this is the Tampa Bay Lightning. The team owned by the wackiest pair of terrible owners in the league, a couple of guys in Oren Koules and Len Barrie who were brought into Little Gary’s office this week to get their problems figured out. Of course Gary sided with Oren Koules and hey, why not, he deals in real estate that’s a really solid industry lately. No problems there at all.

Oh and Koules wants to pare down the payroll and get rid of Vincent Lecavalier. That ought to go over really well for the fans in Tampa who have already had these two jackals ruin what was once the crown jewel of how to be a non-traditional market and thrive.

This is also the team with the general manager Brian Lawton who said in an e-mail to other teams that if you want to talk about the Lightning that you talk to him and him alone.


“Please be advised that in order to avoid any confusion over the next couple of weeks, as GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning Organization I am the only person authorized to speak on behalf of the team with regard to player transactions,” the email read.

“No other person is authorized to negotiate player transactions. Any questions, feel free to call.”

Oh good.

Of course with the flux in Tampa Bay and not knowing just what they’ll do, Lawton has felt it necessary that Tampa will hang on to their pick which would be pretty wise considering a guy like Hedman would help sure up their defense for a good long while.

Then again, if Koules is getting the bigger share of the decisions on what to do, perhaps trading out of the spot will seem more appealing.

Sure it would. Then again, if the Islanders do go against the grain and do something unbelievably foolish like skipping over Tavares in favor Hedman then the power is in Tampa’s hands. And if that happens? Hang on to your freakin’ pants because Toronto general manager Brian Burke might actually start table dancing like the fine ladies at Club Super Sexe, full-frontal and everything.

Go ahead, go puke. I’ll wait.

Feel better? Good.

If Tampa gets themselves into a position where they can use their #2 spot to leverage whatever they want to out of anyone, then perhaps even Burke might feel compelled to give up his BFF defenseman Luke Schenn in order to land John Tavares. Then again, who knows what other teams might want to throw at Tampa in order to get a crack at Tavares.

If, and these are HUGE ifs, the Islanders take Hedman or anyone else not named John Tavares the NHL Draft officially becomes a circus and the time allotted to Tampa at pick #2 becomes the most exciting time of the Draft as the Lightning phones will not stop ringing the whole time and with Lawton having to handle things with Koules and Barrie also calling to get their say in…

Well for chaos purposes alone I pray for this to happen. Then again, for the Islanders to become a relevant franchise again sometime before I’m dead, I hope they take Tavares. The Isles lack a lot but Tavares gives them the guy to build the franchise around and gives Kyle Okposo someone to have fun with out there.

The other things I’ll be looking for this weekend come from a sheerly selfish standpoint in being an RPI Engineers hockey watcher and there’s as many as four players with RPI connections who may get their names called this Saturday during the 2nd through 7th rounds.

Three of these players haven’t suited up for the Engineers yet but two of them will in the 09-10 season in Jerry D’Amigo and Brandon Pirri. D’Amigo is getting a lot of press of late and could find himself getting called late in the second round or early in the third.

Christopher Ralph at HockeySpy has this scouting report on D’Amigo who he lists at #50 on his Top 60 list which includes some pretty high praise:


Scouting Combine Performance: Eug Sorokin observed: “Good looking guy, heard some chatter amongst the GMs and some teams like him a lot.” Sorokin was reminded of Zach Parise with respect to D’Amigo.

If RPI can bring in a guy who is anything like Zach Parise, head coach Seth Appert will do back-flips to celebrate because RPI will improve instantly from his presence.

Brandon Pirri comes into the draft having some questions over his defensive skills, but his offensive talents are unquestionably noticeable. His stats from this season playing for two different junior squads in Streetsville and Georgetown:

44 GP 46 G 48 A 94 PTS

For an RPI team that severely lacked scoring, Pirri will be a God-send for the program and any defensive shortcomings he may have will be picked up by his teammates. After all, when you’re showing up as a sniper, worrying about backchecking probably doesn’t rank out too high. Pirri also claims to have added 20 pounds of muscle to his frame bringing him up to 180 pounds, he’ll need that to deal with some of the bruisers he’ll line up against in the NCAA, most notably those at Cornell.

Pirri projects to be potentially anywhere from late third round to early fifth round for the 2009 NHL Draft.

The other players on the potential draft radar are 2010 recruit Jacob Laliberté and current Engineer forward Patrick Cullen. If either or both of them are selected, count on it being in the sixth or seventh round. Laliberté is a small sized forward but worked as a power play maven in the CJHL last year putting up astounding point totals. Cullen was a rookie sensation for the low-scoring Engineers and figures to build strongly on his freshman success getting teammates like D’Amigo and Pirri (among others) to join him in Troy this season.

One other quick note on this weekend. I’ll be reaching out from the basement with a host of other tremendous bloggers from across the Internet this weekend at the official NHL Draft Tweet Up.

Yeah, I know, the Twitter name makes it sound sort of lame – deal with it, Twitter has taken over the world.

Nearly 100 folks from across the NHL blogging spectrum are taking part in this in some ways and even some of the big shots (Wyshynski from Puck Daddy, the folks from Pension Plan Puppets, even Eklund) are going to be there. I’d tell folks in Montreal to hide the beer and their daughters but it’s too late to hide the beer and, well, who knows who’s going to think it’s a good idea to hit the “fun” parts of St. Catherine’s Street on Saturday.

I kid.

I think.

Either way, this event, something as simple and kind of under the radar like the NHL Entry Draft has evolved into a blogger summit, and even the folks at All Habs have extended a special invitation to everyone’s favorite diminutive analyst, Pierre McGuire, to make an appearance and shake hands with some of the folks who enjoy needling him the most.

If he shows up somehow, this turns into an epic gathering of MONSTER proportions.

As if it wasn’t going to be already.

Stay tuned to my own page at Twitter
for draft observations, pictures, and other assorted nonsense. Hell, there’s even a chance you’ll get to see me suited up in my own zebra stripes.

06/10/2008

Looking Ahead — Also, What It Takes to Upset John Tortorella

Fools! The whole lot of you! Hockey does not rest – in fact, outside of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the week or two leading up to the trading deadline, the start of the NHL offseason is wrought with drama.

First of all, some coaches are finding homes while others are righteously being shown the door. There are rumors abounding that Barry Melrose will return to coaching in Tampa Bay after being away from it for nearly 15 years after being let go by the Los Angeles Kings, just go visit ESPN.com’s NHL section to see evidence of that.

One guy I’m keeping my eye on, and for purely selfish reasons, is John Tortorella. Back in late September of 2001, I was able to cover a pre-season matchup between the Lightning and Blue Jackets in Syracuse, NY and one of the guys we were able to get an interview with was Coach Tortorella. My partner in crime on this broadcast, Dom, and I were thrilled to get this opportunity and Torts was a guy that we were excited to talk to.

At the time, Vinny Lecavalier was mired in a contract squabble with the front office and it was looking like he was going to miss the beginning of the season. Not good if you’re a young and ready to move team like the Lightning. They’d just acquired Nikolai Khabibulin and Martin St. Louis was just about to break out after coming to Tampa from Calgary.

What transpires during our pre-game interview goes down in the annals of time as being perhaps the most uncomfortable couple of minutes ever. As you know, Tortorella is intense – in a big way – just ask anyone who’s played goal for him. After a couple of light introductory questions, I fire away asking about their first round draft pick. After all, it’s pre-season and this is the place where you would see a highly-touted kid. Problem was, the highly-touted kid they picked was Russian centerman Alexander Svitov…who was still in Russia. Torts set me straight and said he’d only seen the kid on tape but they’re high on him and hope to see him next season.

Oops.

Dom, being the ever diligent friend, ends up bailing me out by asking Torts about Lecavalier and his holdout. Visibly bothered by the question, Torts gruffly answers stating that he’s not in camp where he should be and that he only cares about the guys that bothered to come to camp in the first place.

Suffice to say, the interview was wrapped up quickly after that doubleheader of d’oh. Dom and I tag-teamed to put John Tortorella in a bad mood before the game even started. Awesome.

I’ve been a Tortorella fan before getting to talk to him and I greatly enjoyed seeing him win the Stanley Cup in 2004 as well as getting the nod to coach Team USA this year for the World Championships. He’ll get another job, he’ll go somewhere where there’s no questions about goaltending. He’ll go somewhere with a wily pack of veterans with a ton of talent. There’s only one team that fits that bill right now – and that is San Jose.

The convenience of the Internet and being able to tack onto what you’ve already written allows me to link you to a story out of Tampa and Vinny Lecavalier reflecting upon his years under John Tortorella and speaking a lot about that tumultuous start to the 2001-2002 season to which Dom and I paid witness to firsthand. Who doesn’t love the Internet?!

Elsewhere, older players are hanging it up.

Among them, Dominik Hasek, Mattias Norstrom and apparently Trevor Linden as well. One guy not hanging them up is Mats Sundin – and you better believe that with the Toronto Maple Leafs at the center of any action around him, especially with Mats as an unrestricted free agent, that all the cameras will be trained on what Sundin decides to do.

Of course, the early rumors surround Team Sweden of North America in Detroit lurking waiting to give Mats the shot at a Cup he so desires. While Sundin would no doubt fit in goldenly with the Red Wings, the big question is what kind of deal will Sundin ask for and how bad does he want to win. He could surely command a fat contract out of someone with the space, but a team like Detroit will not dump a ton of money on Sundin for a year or two.

Toronto will be hot on his case and expect a public relations fiasco if Sundin signs elsewhere. After all, it was Sundin who asked to not be traded at the deadline last year and most of the Maple Leafs fans lauded him endlessly for sticking with the team. Trick now is that if Sundin bolts elsewhere now, Toronto gets nothing in return for him whereas at the deadline, a lofty sum could’ve been brought in return. Either Mats ends up an idiotic saint or he’ll be the pariah of Toronto (wrongly) for going somewhere else – especially if it ends up being Detroit.

We’re also just a week or two away from the NHL Entry Draft where Steven Stamkos will be the top pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Lightning GM Jay Feaster dealt away Brad Richards to Dallas at the trade deadline this past season, and by winning the NHL Draft Lottery, he gets to draft his replacement in Stamkos. Stamkos is the real deal and he’ll get to score a ton in the NHL when he arrives – and given the situation the Lightning find themselves in, crippled by bad cap management and huge contracts, Stamkos may get the opportunity to jump into the lineup right away. He’ll make a great addition to a team starving for scoring talent beyond their first line.

The Los Angeles Kings pick second, and they really ought to feel a sense of relief that they’re not in the position to pick Stamkos or not because this team is loaded with young forward talent already and have goaltending on the way in Stephen Bernier but their defensive corps are severely lacking and after Stamkos, this is a defensemen draft.

The Kings and GM Dean Lombardi will have their choice of any of these Canadian junior defensemen: Drew Doughty, Zach Bogosian, Tyler Myers, Luke Schenn and Alex Pietrangelo who happens to be the son of former Whalers and Penguins goaltender Frank Pietrangelo. All of these guys rank out high on the NHL Central Scouting Board and all of them would be welcome in Los Angeles. Remember, the Kings were starting retreads like Jon Klemm for better parts of the season – and they desperately need other defensemen to surround young blue-chip stud Jack Johnson.

There’s so much going on and so much left to happen – it’s just funny to think that some people actually put hockey out of sight and out of mind once summer is underway.

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