The fight is over and a childhood hero is enshrined for eternity. Bias accepted here, there’s never been a doubt as to Oates’ career being Hall-worthy.
I am as happy as a hockey fan can be. The complaining, the indignant stat-prattling, the case-making, the whining about it all… It’s over. I don’t have to crow about an open-and-shut case anymore.
There’s no need to talk about the injustice of it all and continue alternating between banging my head against the wall and shouting from the mountain tops. Adam Oates: Hall of Famer.
Back in late September during the preseason, I wanted to interview Oates about being snubbed by the Hall. With him being the Devils assistant coach and it also being the team’s first preseason game of the year, the Hall was the last thing on his mind. All business, all the time. That’s part of what got the Washington Capitals to hire Oates as their head coach today on top of it all.
It feels a bit silly to feel as happy for what someone else accomplished, but that’s part of being a fan, right? Embracing those that helped bring the love of the game to you. Oates is the key figure on my personal “Mount Rushmore” of hockey. Oates, Wayne Gretzky, Steve Yzerman, and Teemu Selanne. There are plenty other players I have a great appreciation for, but those four? They turned hockey from something I watched and enjoyed into something I obsess over and love dearly, maybe a bit too much if you ask some of my friends.
But Oates? He was the guy who sparked it all for me. Seeing a guy like that play live in person when you’re a kid leaves an impression on you. Seeing him win your favorite local team a championship hammers it home even more. Watching him excel as a professional for nearly 20 years is icing on the cake.
Adam Oates is a Hockey Hall of Famer. What a great day.
Big thanks to Matt and Jeff on The Weekend Warmup at 96.3 the Big Jab in Portland, Maine for having me on the show with them this morning talking about hockey. Being a one-time radio producer, it was fun to be on the other end of the phone this time.
We talked Bruins failure, Bruins future and whether or not Joe Thornton is finally being Chokie Chokerson or not in the playoffs.
I know I’m woefully lacking in updates but forgive me, things are a little busy personally.
Instead of begging forgiveness, I’ll just show you how spanking pretty Phil Kessel looks in a Toronto Maple Leafs uniform in video game splendor.
Not a bad look for the kid.
Will it work out though? We’ll see how well he handles the hockey insane fans of Toronto. Then again, maybe Ron Wilson won’t bench the guy for just wanting to play offense while giving the finger to back-checking.
As an added bonus to trying to buy your love, here’s a video of virtual Phil batting home a rebound goal.
A big week lays ahead as five teams will get euthanized by yours truly as the season looms closer. Stay tuned.
Bend over everyone, it’s time to take the temperature of the playoffs.
The Playoff Doctor will see you now.
I see the Canadiens, Blues and Sharks are already in position. How nice of you to be so helpful to myself and your opponents.
I know that Bruins fans want to think that they’re exorcising playoff demons here, but considering how schizophrenic the Habs were all season long, how awful they played leading up to the playoffs and how beat up they were… Is this really a surprise at all?
Yeah, yeah I know – rivalries, history, magic, aura… All that crap gets brought up and its stupid. None of that has anything to do with how horribly overmatched the Canadiens were going into this series and now that they’re on the brink of being shown the broom there’s nothing incredible nor overwhelming about it.
The Bruins weren’t the underdogs in this battle and they’re certainly not a rag-tag bunch of kids going up against Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson and Ken Dryden Canadiens either.
If the Bruins struggled at all in this series I would’ve been at a loss for words and then if you twisted my arm I might buy into that nonsense about never getting by the Canadiens ever.
Things change and this year things got a lot better for the Bruins and a lot worse for the Canadiens and its more than evident in this series.
The Bruins will get their first actual test in the next round…unless they face Carolina (trailing New Jersey 2 games to 1) or Philadelphia (trailing Pittsburgh 2-1), then forget it it’s a walk to the Eastern Conference Finals in that case.
If they get either the Rangers or the Penguins in the second round, things get shaky for the B’s since the Rangers (leading Washington 2-1) would have a goalie that can carry them far and steal games and the Penguins have offense to burn and give Tim Thomas fits.
In the Western Conference, I want to say that there’s rhyme or reason for why the Sharks are failing so hard, but I can’t even begin to imagine what the hell their problem is.
Presidents Trophy jinx? Get lost and stop reading my website.
Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau aren’t clutch enough in the playoffs? If you believe that kind of nonsense I’m going to find you and fire you into the sun.
Demotivated team whose boredom carried over into the opening round? Ehh…
That would make sense if they weren’t playing a team they hate in the first round, and let’s face it, San Jose hates Anaheim and there’s no way around that.
You want the truth of the matter? Here it comes:
San Jose went sputtering into the playoffs and then got the worst possible opponent they could draw in Anaheim – a team that was on fire since the trade deadline, a team that didn’t have a favorable schedule to close out the year when it came to making the playoffs.
Yet, here they are and they’re on fire and they’ve got that savvy veteran leadership that the playoffs was meant for.
Oh yeah, and they’ve got a team that plays sick defense. Remember the 2007 team that won the Cup much to everyone’s chagrin? Yeah, they’re just like that team was only this time they’ve got a lot of younger guys up front, a lot of whom came up in the Ducks system and they know it backwards and forwards.
The Niedermayer brothers are still there. Teemu Selanne is still there. Physics egalitarian Chris Pronger is still there. Hell, even Jean-Sebastian Giguere is still there and he looks dashing in a baseball cap while Swiss freak Jonas Hiller backstops the Water Fowl.
They’re not your normal eighth seed – these guys are good and they’re happy staying under the radar. They’re also still douchebags – so they got that going for them.
Should the Ducks move on, and with the way San Jose is playing it seems foolish to think that it won’t, a potential match-up with Detroit (who is busy schooling Columbus on the finer points of how to play hockey) in the second round will go down as the best series in the entire playoffs.
Bank on it.
Then you’ve got the St. Louis Blues…
Let’s face it, I got Andy Murray’s team all sorts of wrong here back in October when I said that they didn’t need to even show up this year because they weren’t going to make the playoffs.
What I didn’t get wrong though was about Andy Murray himself. Let me cite noted hockey blogger Hockey Joe, author of Gross Misconduct about what he had to say about Andy Murray:
The best part of this team, however, is the head coach Andy Murray. Murray is a smart enough guy and is always able to get the best out of his teams. He did very solid work with the L.A. Kings until things turned horribly southward there and it’s that experience Murray will have to draw on for handling this Blues team.
Such grace in those words – someone should give that guy a pat on the back. Of course, the next phrase after that was:
The Blues will have a spurt or two in them where they’re able to man-up and pull a few surprises out and goaltender Manny Legace, or presumptive backup from Nashville Chris Mason, are more than capable of stealing a couple games throughout the season, but don’t buy what they’re selling. This team is bad.
Damn it all.
I should’ve been wiser to Manny Legace having a meltdown at some point this season and I should’ve stuck to my guns about Murray as a coach. I also should have been smarter about the youth on the Blues roster and respecting what they could bring to the table right away in a situation that would demand they do it sooner than later.
Some how, some way the Blues managed to end up sixth in the Western Conference and their reward for that was Roberto Luongo and the Freaky Swedes with their Bore You Into Submission brand of hockey.
Any other time in my hockey life I’d be openly rooting against Vancouver because they’re like ether on ice.
Not this time.
I’m vengeful with my words and my middle fingers.
The Blues screwed me out of going five for five on my pre-season prediction and now they’re paying for it.
Hey St. Louis! I got two words for ya!
As for Vancouver, a tune up agains the Blues in what basically boils down to a rough scrimmage is just what they needed. Hell, the Canucks are even getting over on trashing the Blues verbally too:
Embarrassing – glad to have the Canucks on my side in this one.
The Canucks are getting hot and they’re destined for a second round match-up with either Chicago or Calgary (Chicago leads the series 2-1) and that works out just fine since those two teams are going to beat each others brains in for a while, or at least be cheap-shotting pricks:
I know that I promised to not get sucked into talking about Sean Avery and his media circus anymore, but I heard a loud cry go up from Boston this afternoon and you-know-who was the source of the uprorar. Take a look with Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley’s commentary:
Now, don’t get me wrong here, if you look at this for what it looks like on the surface, this looks like the same old Sean Avery antics where he’s a reckless, out of control hooligan making a mockery of the game of hockey and taking a piss on Toe Blake’s grave.
I don’t condone what Avery does, but what Brickley takes issue with here is that it is apparently Avery reverting to his old, reckless ways of playing hockey.
Sure, that’s one way to look at it and for what it’s worth, Brickley could be correct… But I don’t buy it for a second.
Believe it or not, Avery’s a smart guy and he knows exactly what he’s doing at all times. He is always looking to give himself and his team an edge. Sure, he goes over the top and creates more problems than not at times, but what went down today wasn’t one of those moments.
For the game itself today, Avery didn’t create a disadvantage for the Rangers, he got himself and another Bruin player taken off the ice on matching minors for nonsense. More room to skate for a couple of minutes helps out against a team like the Bruins that are very defense-minded.
I’m sure everyone noticed how calm and reasonable Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas reacted to this situation as well as he was the player that got booked for the retaliatory minor for roughing. Thomas went out of his mind bonkers going after Avery and ended up blasting Ranger Fredrik Sjostrom in the face with his blocker as Sjostrom skated in to intervene.
This is where Avery’s evil genius comes into play.
He’s the kind of genius that Lanny Poffo would be proud of.
Avery and just about everyone else around the NHL by now knows that Tim Thomas has a bit of a short fuse. He’s shown it off on a couple of other occasions this season and Avery had the opportunity to light a fire today and certainly did that. The worst that happens? He gets sent off on a two-minute penalty and looks like a complete jerk for short-changing his team while they’re down 1-0.
The best that happens? Thomas gets thrown off of his game, gives up a goal or two and allows the Rangers to get back in the game. Avery then proudly wears the bulls-eye the rest of the game and allows Bruins players to retaliate at him at will. At worst, Avery gets a matching minor for being involved in these shenanigans but at best, his team gains a power play giving the Rangers a final window of opportunity to get back into a game they have to earn points in.
There is a bigger picture to be seen here, however. Avery wasn’t working just to make this game closer, he was sending a message that won’t be forgotten.
Remember the uproar over Avery’s antics in front of Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur last season? Sure you do…
The Devils certainly didn’t forget and that annoyance carried over into this season as well, so when the Devils and Rangers met up last week, the Devils players went out of their way to send a message to Avery that his antics wouldn’t be tolerated. The Devils lost that game 3-0, much in part to their obsession with taking shots at Avery who did everything in his ability to both resist retaliation and bring it out of the Devils even more.
Sean Avery is the Petulant Cerebral Assassin of the NHL and it’s a role he plays perfect. Yes, he’s got skill. Yes, he plays a physical game. Yes, he’s a trash-talker with the best and worst of them.
Yes, he plays on the edge – but that’s his world and he’s set up the Boston Bruins in his way. I’m not saying that it’s how the Rangers will find a way to beat Boston in the future, but if you think that today’s incident will be forgotten… Well, you’re crazy.
What makes this even better still?
These two teams might just meet up in the first round of the playoffs. Avery’s tactics have managed to make him Public Enemy #1 in New Jersey and the Devils can’t help but run around and try to kill him whenever they meet up and that’s all because he made their legendary keeper look like a jerk by embarrassing him in the playoffs.
Will there be another round with the Bruins and Rangers? We don’t know yet, even with just the handful of games remaining in the season. You better believe Sean Avery’s shadow has been cast for any meetings in the future, however and it’s up to the Bruins to stop themselves from trying to even up the score with him because in doing so, they might find themselves getting behind the 8-ball with the rest of the Rangers.
Since I’m here to mouth off and that’s my job, one of the worst deals made during my time here on Earth would be the deal that sent Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks for a package of players consisting of forwards Wayne Primeau and Marco Sturm and defenseman Brad Stuart.
The Boston fans and media were relentless on Thornton in the off-season. Thornton was held to no points in the series against Montreal and shouldered the blame for the team not getting that fourth win needed to wrap up the series.
When the NHL returned from the Season Herr Bettman Deemed Not Needed, Thornton was still playing with the black cloud of playoff failure hanging over his head and then Bruins general manager Mike O’Connell pulled the trigger on one of the most lopsided and awful trades the NHL has ever seen.
This man routinely falls for the “Give me two tens for a five” gag.
Quoting from Kevin Paul Dupont’s story on boston.com :
Some three-plus years later, O’Connell figures the trade was justified, and it is one that he would make again, given the same circumstances. As for what he got in return, said O’Connell, there will always be those who say he should have received more.
“That’s always the case, even if it’s your best trade,” said the former Bruins general manager, these days overseeing pro development for the Los Angeles Kings. “But it was like any trade: You take in, rely on what everyone in the organization says – scouts, everyone – and let’s not forget there was a money issue here, too, moving Joe with his high [$6.6 million] salary. This wasn’t the pre-salary-cap NHL. Like all these deals, the money had to work, too.”
I smell backpedaling… Well, backpedaling that smells like a befouled barnyard – is that what we have here?
“What frustrated me was, again, there just seemed to be so much more there,” said O’Connell. “How he fit in with our team, the city, the overall picture . . . and in the end, like I say, we thought there were leadership issues. So here he is, the captain, making that money . . . all of that went into our decision to move him.”
When asked if he felt he was being labeled the scapegoat for the organization, Thornton said, ”You could say that.
”Who knows? Hindsight is 20-20. I don’t know what to say about that. I came here to win and we haven’t been winning. Whose fault is that? I’m not sure. Obviously, I’m out of here so it must be mine.”
Sure, time heals all wounds and all that crap, but O’Connell spreading the blame for making the deal is as cowardly as it gets. Thornton won the MVP in 2005-2006, the same season he was traded by the Bruins. Motivation? Absolutely. Shoving it in O’Connell’s, Sinden’s and Jacob’s collective faces? Hell yes he did.
Just for retrospect sake, let’s take a look at how the main components of that deal have done since then (stats accurate as of 12:30 p.m. 2/9/09).
Keep in mind that Marco Sturm is the only one of the three still playing for Boston but is out for the rest of the season with an injury. Primeau and Stuart have both since moved on, Stuart winning the Stanley Cup last season with Detroit after coming over from Los Angeles in a deadline deal with the Kings.
Joe Thornton: 272 GP | 83 G | 276 A | 359 PTS | 198 PIM
Brad Stuart: 247 GP | 24 G | 60 A | 84 PTS | 169 PIM
Wayne Primeau: 195 GP | 19 G | 31 A | 50 PTS | 191 PIM
Marco Sturm: 226 GP | 84 G | 72 A | 156 PTS | 126 PIM
Now here’s my favorite part of this exercise:
All Three Players: 668 GP | 127 G | 163 A | 290 PTS
Thornton managed to out-point three players by 69 points since the trade. Apparently O’Connell feels that getting 30 cents on the dollar for a trade is what works best since both teams are now doing great now.
Never mind that new general manager Peter Chiarelli has had to do his best to help cater to the needs of new coach Claude Julien as well as trying to live under the rule of the Stickler’s Regime that is life with Jeremy Jacobs – it’s a minor miracle the Bruins are doing as well as they are – whether it lasts is another question, of course.
I also ask that you not buy into the spitballing comparison that Dupont makes in his story that dumping Thornton was done in favor of getting Marc Savard and Zdeno Chara. This wasn’t O’Connell’s grand design and neither Savard nor Chara will be winning an MVP award, they’ve both also had as much post-season success as Thornton has had in their career.
What folks in Boston (sycophantic media and fans alike) are doing, or at least are attempting to do to stay in favor with the front office (if you’re a reporter that is), is to shine up the turd that was the Joe Thornton trade.
It’s an easy formula: You take some shots at Thornton, spruce things up by saying getting rid of him helped build the team the way it is today and call it a day. Dupont going to talk with Mike O’Connell to get his take is a welcome twist on a, now, very tired story and it’s just as rewarding to see O’Connell continuing to try and save face for making one of the worst trades in NHL history.