• WHITHER ZACH PARISE: Not even Albert Einstein, if he had produced a hockey Theory of Relativity, could have figured the future of Zach Parise. Which means neither The Maven, nor you, nor your Uncle Dudley knows how the Devils captain’s gyroscope is working. With Free Agency arriving on the weekend, ongoing talks between Parise’s main rep — Don Meehan — and Lou Lamoriello conceivably could produce a deal by Saturday night. But that’s the best-case scenario for New Jersey.
While Zach has uttered many cheery homilies about how much he loves the Devils and the Garden State ambience, agents have a habit of reducing reality to dollars and cents; and that doesn’t always equate with hockey common sense. Meanwhile, this much is certain; right now Parise is acting and talking like a Devil. When former assistant coach Adam Oates was named Washington’s head coach, Parise observed, “That’s a big loss for us. But we’ll be all right.”
The words “us” and “we” mean Devils. The unresolved question is whether or not they will remain operative next week? I say the odds are even-money, which is another way of reiterating that I haven’t a clue. Do you?
• DUMB AND DUMBER: Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini had an excellent coach in Tom Renney who followed the club’s game plan; which meant slowly developing top Draft picks into a winner. Unfortunately, Tamby never provided Renney with an adequate defense nor A-1 goaltending. That adds up to a D-minus team which is the manager’s fault, so don’t blame the coach.
But you know what happened; Renney got canned and Tambellini’s newly-minted mentor is Ralph Krueger. Now that might have made sense if Krueger had not been Renney’s personal hire and Renney clone. But since Krueger equals Renney, why fire the good coach in the first place?
Answer; Hockey logic!
• SNUBBING SHANNY AND SHERO: The fact that both Brendan Shanahan and Fred Shero were snubbed by the Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee inspires a simple question: do those Hall voters know what they’re doing? The way The Maven sees it there’s no way that Mats Sundin gets in and Shanny not; unless, of course, having played for the Toronto Maple Leafs invariably gives one an edge. (Hey the Shrine is in Toronto, is it not?)
There’s a very simple way to define IN or OUT when comparing Shanahan with Sundin. All things considered, Sundin was a good player who never skated for a Cup-winner. Period! By stark contrast, Shanny skated for not one, not two but THREE Stanley Champs (1997, 1998, 2002) with Detroit. Case closed!
As for Shero, it may be difficult for the young set to comprehend the monumental coaching job pulled off by the onetime Rangers defenseman in 1973-1974. At that point NHL expansion from six to twelve teams was only seven years old and few expected a newer team like the Flyers to challenge for the Stanley Cup.
But Freddie The Fog not only guided Philly to a Cup in 1974 — beating Bobby Orr and the Big, Bad Bruins — but repeated the Cup-winning feat in 1975. What’s more it’s entirely possible that the Flyers could have made it three in a row had Hall of Fame goalie Bernie Parent not been injured in the Drive for Three. Even without Parent, Shero piloted the Flyers to the 1976 Final round as he later did with the overachieving Blueshirts in 1979.
And this genius is not in the Hall of Fame? Who’s kidding whom??
• WHO’S THE NEXT MIKE SMITH? The sweetest goaltending story in 2012, this side of Jonathan Quick, was told in Phoenix where Mike Smith evolved from the netminding version of Clark Kent into a goalie Superman. If nothing else, Smith’s supersonic rise to marquee status proves that you can never tell from where the next crease wizard will emerge. However, I do have a potential site on the subject. The place is Winnipeg and The Maven predicts that the Jets will turn Jonas (The Beast) Gustavsson into the ace that he was not in Toronto. And to think that The Beast was acquired for only a conditional seventh round pick in the 2013 Draft.
• AN ALEXANDER SEMINAR: Of all the Free Agents-to-be the one who most fascinates me is Alex Semin because he’s in his playing prime and — more important — there seems to be an invisible “DO NOT TOUCH” sign next to his name. Nonetheless, there’s a coach out there who could tighten the Semin focus and turn him into a significant asset. Am I talking about John Tortorella? Why not?
• THIS PENGUIN WON’T FLY: Unlike others who believe that Pittsburgh has dynastic possibilities, I say Nay, Nay, Nay. For starters, Jordan Stall — now with Carolina — is irreplaceable. Believe me, Staal won’t be replaced by a very average Brandon Sutter.
Think about it, the Penguins downfall began with GM Ray Shero mistaking Paul Martin for Scott Niedermayer. It was then hastened by the move of vastly underrated — Syosset, Long Island native — Rob Scuderi to Los Angeles. Pitt’s defense — or whatever you want to call it — has never been as good.
On top of all that, there’s no guarantee that Sidney Crosby will be fit enough to play a concussion-free 82-game season. Last but certainly not least has been the decline and fall of Marc-Andre Fleury who — if this is possible — was worse even than Ilya Bryzgalov in the first playoff round. Based on what we saw last season, Fleury, at age 27, has had his best seasons behind him.