The Maven's Haven

  • Saturday, August 04, 2012

    Devils Crash Line, Spotlight on Sabres, and a Bargain Blueshirt

    • Once the labor-management war ends, the NHL will start thinking seriously about expansion.  Seattle and Quebec City are virtually guaranteed as the 31st and 32nd teams. Some wise insiders predict that if Seattle joins the Bettman club, it will instantly become one of the "five best franchises" in America. Others believe that Quebec City looms as a Winnipeg-like success story, only with a French accent.

    • Reader Daniel Friedman on “Bang-For-Your-Bucks” players: “Even when players have been vastly overpaid, there have also been quite a few bargains as well. The Rangers are paying Jeff Halpern$700,000 while the Isles gave Brad Boyes a one-year, one-million dollar contract. Others, such as Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais, Nikita Nikitin, Vinny Prospal, Peter Mueller, Shane O’Brien, Viktor Stalberg, Jimmy Howard and Jose Theodore are all making $2.5 million or less (and most are making in the $1.25-$2 million range). Those are pretty good contracts for the respective g.m.s.”

    • Fighting in hockey is an issue that’s debated endlessly. One executive who makes no bones about his affection for fisticuffs on ice is Long Island native Howard Dolgon. Owner of the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch, Dolgon offers the following rationale: “There are two times when people stand up at a hockey game: It’s either an unbelievable goal, or there’s a fight. I’m not ashamed to say I have [used fighting as a sales tool]. We had a team a couple years ago that was the ‘baddest teams' in hockey. It was led by Zenon Konopka, our captain. We had John Mirasty, who was probably the toughest guy in the league. Our fans would come to warm-ups because something would happen. You couldn’t get a ticket to the games; people loved it here. The building was called “The House of Pain,” and teams didn’t want to come here. Our coaches said to us that they knew teams who didn’t want to be here, because they knew that when they came to Syracuse, there would be hell to pay.”

    • Spearheading the drive for a new Nassau Coliseum is Long Island developer Donald Monti.  In an interview with Kevin Schultz of Islanders Point Blank, Monti said, "There's no other (developer) team but us." Translated, Monti means that others of his ilk seeking to develop the 77 prime acres have no interest in the arena part of the plans. Monti rejects the idea of renovating the current Coliseum. "I don't see renovation working," he told Schultz. "New is the way to go."

    • Nobody is certain that the Devils trio of Stephen GiontaRyan Carter and Steve Bernier is another Crash Line, but Peter DeBoer is hopeful. "I like the fact that we've got a lot of guys," says DeBoer. "It allows us to hit the ground running, whereas last year we were implementing new systems, style of play and expectations. Let's be honest, those guys deserve to return and deserve the contracts they got for what they did."

    • The Sabres may have missed the playoffs last season, but interest in Buffalo is at an all-time high. There’s no better proof than season ticket sales, where the 2012-13 season ticket renewal rate reached 99%. The club capped the season tickets at 15,400. The season ticket waiting list—known as the Blue & Gold club—has grown to include over 3,000 members.

    • One of the best profiles ever written about John Tortorella was penned by Craig Wolff. In his piece, Wolff recounts how Torts—ever since he began coaching in the NHL—“scorned enlarged egos in his own players.” Calgary Flames g.m. Jay Feaster was Tortorella’s boss when Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup in 2004. Feaster tells the story about the day Tortorella discovered Lightning superstar Vincent Lecavalier’s car in a choice parking spot next to the arena. “Torts told him, ‘I’m the coach. This is my spot,’” said Feaster.

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