With hockey season still a few months away, I thought I’d take a look at the current roster and what we can expect from it. General Manager Bob Murray made an unusual splash on July 1st this year, reeling in veteran defensemen Bryan Allen from Carolina and Sheldon Souray from Dallas. However, room was made for these two at the expense of Lubomir Visnovsky who was dealt to the New York Islanders and Sheldon Brookbank who agreed to a contract with the Chicago Blackhawks.
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What is a Ducks fan to do when the playoffs are a distant memory for his team? Opine on the fortunes of other teams, of course!
The Los Angeles Kings are knocking on the door of a Stanley Cup finals appearance after summarily taking the first three games of their series against the Phoenix Coyotes. It was only in game four that the desert dogs (is that really the best nickname they’ve been given in 16 years?) showed any signs of life and got up off the mat.
Holy hangover, Batman! We’re back after ringing in the new year, even if our favorite Orange County team appears to still be feeling the effects of the late-night champagne celebrations.
Right on schedule, 2012′s first big NHL headline is commensurate in both controversy and surprise: the NHLPA has effectively vetoed the NHL’s proposed — and Board of Governors-approved — plan to institute sweeping changes to the alignment of its teams.
There are several potential reasons why new NHLPA head Donald Fehr chose to mark his as-yet-brief tenure so boldly, but it appears the major sticking point was the NHL’s unilateral development of the restructuring. Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy has a few theories about why the NHLPA felt the chasm in opinion was simply too big to bridge.
The unbalanced conference format, with two divisions of eight teams and two divisions of seven teams. Combined with the return to a four-team “divisional” playoff format, the players felt there was an unfair advantage to teams in the smaller conferences.
For its part, the league feels that the players’ association is overstepping its bounds and in doing so has brought ruin to its carefully crafted scheme. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly weighs in:
“It is unfortunate that the NHLPA has unreasonably refused to approve a Plan that an overwhelming majority of our Clubs voted to support, and that has received such widespread support from our fans and other members of the hockey community, including Players[...]”
“We believe the Union acted unreasonably in violation of the League’s rights. We intend to evaluate all of our available legal options and to pursue adequate remedies, as appropriate.”
As this story develops, we will no doubt hear from all sides involved, including the teams who stood to benefit from a revised travel schedule.
What this means for the future of divisional alignment in the NHL or the looming labor negotiations between the league and players’ association is unclear, but the sense of foreboding is strong.
Good thing we pushed that feature on realignment out the door before 2011 concluded, isn’t it?
Imagine my annoyance at waking up at 4:45 a.m. after only getting to bed two hours earlier. Now imagine my surprise when I turned on the television and saw on Sportscentre (Sportscenter to you Americans) the late-breaking news that the Ducks had fired head coach Randy Carlyle — irony of all ironies — not even an hour after beating the Montreal Canadiens.
Jolted awake by the news, I was caught off guard again only a few seconds later when it was reported the team had hired ex-Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau to take over.
The team also fired assistant coaches Dave Farrish and Mike Foligno, and video coordinator Joe Trotta.
The firing comes on the heels of a wretched start to the season that has the Ducks languishing near the basement in the league standings. More interestingly, it comes after Carlyle had just signed a three-year extension this summer, meaning the Ducks are on the hook to pay the remainder of his salary in addition to whatever amount will be disbursed to Boudreau.
It appears that both the timing and content of our discussion yesterday was unexpectedly prescient. General manager Bob Murray stepped up and sacked Carlyle instead of blowing up the team (by dealing Bobby Ryan or worse).
The team has added Brad Lauer as an assistant coach, and will name an additional assistant at a later date.
What lies ahead for the Ducks is unknown, although December has certainly exploded out of the gate. Most importantly, there is finally reason for some newfound, albeit cautious, optimism in Anaheim.
SOURCE: Anaheim Ducks Official Site
I don’t make any secret of the fact that I’m a huge fan of Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Growing up in Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada, for the uninitiated), I had the chance to watch him play as a teenager. Since then, I’ve taken a keen interest in his career no matter where he has played.
A trademark Giguere trait — insofar as I’ve been able to gather from myriad interviews and first-hand accounts — is being a good teammate. Even at 34, now relegated to a backup role in Colorado, he seems comfortable in that role.
Coming off back-to-back starts in which he allowed just a single goal, the Avalanche brass are giving him a chance to start his third consecutive game tonight against the San Jose Sharks. Giguere will be spelling starter Semyon Varlamov, who has struggled of late.
Rick Sadowski of NHL.com has penned a brief story with a few quotes that illustrate what kind of support Giguere gives the Avs behind the scenes.
Giguere remarks how he empathizes with Varlamov in spite fo his own desire for more playing time:
“I’m here to be a good teammate, too,” Giguere said. “I’ve been through what he’s going through many times. If anybody in this room knows what he’s going through, it’s me. I talk to him as much as I can and try to keep him positive, try to keep him smiling. [...]“
Although salary cap concerns may have ultimately run Giguere out of Anaheim on a rail, there’s no doubt he has a special place in Ducks history — and in the hearts of many of the team’s diehard fans, too.
Whether his recent good fortune proves temporary or long-lasting, it certainly has been a pleasant diversion for fans like me during an otherwise dismal 2011-12 season for the Ducks.
In the pantheon of Ducks goaltenders, seldom has there been an individual among them whose mask wasn’t of the highest aesthetic calibre. Translation? When you play for a team whose nomenclature is derived from cartoon mallards, it’s virtually impossible NOT to have an awesome mask.
The latest to carry that torch is Dan Ellis, whose new cage was unveiled today. Its design is said to “honor the military”, and it’s not hard to see why. If these guys were taking care of business abroad, Osama would have been toast ten years ago.
The Ducks suck right now. There are no two ways about it. I could try to justify some of the lackluster aspects of the team’s play right now, but that would only be sugarcoating hell.
This post was supposed to take a simplistic satirical bent: pair a humorous headline with a photo of an unfortunate game situation, and poof! Instant linkbait.
But then I got to thinking, and that thinking made me angry. You see, not only are the Ducks underachieving relative to their collective talent level, they don’t even appear to have a collective pulse.
SOURCE: Anaheim Ducks Official Site