• IS GOMER A GONER? Once upon a time Scotty Gomez was a prized playmaker and then he got rich and traded and traded again. At last look the Canadiens high command still was kicking itself for the deal that dispatched defense-wonder Ryan McDonagh to New York. What new Habs boss Marc Bergevin now must determine is whether Gomer is a goner or if there’s still some worthwhile hockey in his body — and head.
The Maven believes that Scotty has value but not at the crazy money Montreal is reluctantly paying him. Granted, the possibilities are endless — including the minors — but I see a Gomez comeback in 2012-2013 and with the bleu, blanc et rouge of the Canadiens. Scotty has the skill — but does he have the will?
• THE MARTY-MOOSE EQUATION: While most citizens of Devils Country are pleased that both Martin Brodeur, 40, and Johan (Moose) Hedberg, 39, are returning to New Jersey, coach Peter DeBoer must don his thinking cap. Remember, it was DeBoer who became the first Devils mentor to dictate how many games Brodeur would play whether Mister Goalie liked it or not. Pistol Pete’s edict was accepted by Brodeur and the results were just two wins short of a Stanley Cup.
It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if DeBoer trims Marty again to something like a 52-30 equation, especially since Brodeur’s regular-plus-playoffs campaign in 2011-2012 lasted well into June. The coach will have no compunctions giving Moose the extra work. If The Sweet Swede isn’t the best back-up in the league, he’s among the top five, minimum.
• NHL vs. NHLPA — WHAT GIVES? WHO GIVES? If you’re wondering why a union vs. management war appears to be erupting between players and owners, you have to turn back the clock to the Summer of 2010. Labor peace existed between then union leader Paul Kelly and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. What’s more, the amicable relationship appeared enduring to the point of a reasonable CBA exchange as we speak.
Although Kelly was hired after a long union search, a tiny — but powerful — collection of players plotted behind the scenes to oust him. On a Summer night in a hotel room the putsch was completed and Kelly was outed while the rank-and-file players were away on vacation. (A post-ouster NHLPA probe was conducted at considerable expense but details were never made public.)
Despite the fact that players never were better paid nor better treated, the plotters wanted what amounted to a union warlord and they got him in Donald Fehr, a baseball man with no hockey experience. Why players — check out Zach Parise, Sid Crosby, even fourth-liners — who’ve never done better want a war can be easily explained. A tiny minority dumped the man who would have maintained peace.
Bottom Line: Hockey life for everybody would have been a lot less turbulent and uncertain these days had Paul Kelly not been unfairly canned by a canny few!
• JONATHAN VS. JONATHAN — A QUICK IRONY: During the 2006 Entry Draft Los Angeles Kings personnel could hardly contain handstands of joy when their first choice (11th overall) emerged and they chose Jonathan Bernier on the assumption that he would be LA’s goalie-of-the-future; say 2011-2012.
At that same time another Jonathan — this one from Connecticut named Quick — had played his last game of the season for U-Mass in Hockey East with another collegiate season ahead. The Kings thought so little of Kid Quick that he’d been LA’s fourth pick (72nd overall) in 2005 and had been as memorable as the Brooklyn Americans.
So, what’s the moral? What a difference a half-dozen years can make! Quick not only won a Stanley Cup, he’s LA’s goalie-forever. Meanwhile, Bernier sees a wall with handwriting on it: GET ME OUTA HERE!
Young — he’ll be 24 next season — healthy and ready to be a Number One, Bernier would be an ideal acquisition for a goalie-desperate team and if you’ve been in Toronto lately, you know what I mean.
Sooner or later either Brian Burke or some other g.m. will come calling and Bernier will wind up where the Kings thought he would a half-dozen years ago — as big-time starter. Just goes to show you what Quick hands can do to a Bad Luck Bernier.
• RE-BRANDING SEMIN: The latest buzzword in the marketing-p.r. world is “branding.” There actually are “branding” specialists out there on Madison Avenue who do nothing but work at creating images — or brands — on everything from people to companies to hockey clubs. For example, the Philadelphia Flyers were branded “The Broad Street Bullies” decades before branding came along.
If there’s one fee-agent who could use a new “brand” it would be Alex Semin but the re-brand won’t be simple. I’m talking about a seven-year NHL veteran who still treats the media as if all reporters are descendants of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. Plus, the Russian’s work habits are considered as far from blue-collar as — say — orange.
And while that may not be the real, behind-the-jersey Semin, it sure is the way he’s viewed by much of the hockey community. My buddy, Mark Gandler of New Jersey is his agent. The Maven says that it’s about time savvy Mark re-branded his client as an affable, tenacious, team-oriented sharpshooter.
If only such a feat were possible!
• 10 THINGS I LIKE ON A SUMMER DAY:
- Tom (Terrific) Renney landing on his feet as Mike Babcock’s aide-de-camp on the Red Wings bench
- Scott Stevens replacing Larry Robinson as Devils defensive coach. A Hall of Famer for a Hall of Famer
- Teemu Selanne signing for another year. The NHL always needs class guys with skill and media-savvy
- Willie Mitchell; he makes me smile twelve months of the year just because he’s Willie
- Keith Yandle; because of his handle!
- Brian Gionta; Ryan Callahan; Stephen Gionta; because they’re all from Rochester. (Yeah, Greece, New York, is just a Rochester suburb.)
- Just thinking about how good John Tavares will be in 2012-2013
- Eric and Jordan Stall on the Hurricanes because two Stalls do make a playoff team
- Colby Armstrong; because I still believe in him
- Jamie Benn; because my older son’s name is Ben!
• 10 THINGS I DON’T LIKE ON A SUMMER EVENING:
- The possibility of a work stoppage
- My buddy Brian Burke’s inability to find a Jonathan Quick clone for his Maple Leafs
- Loui Eriksson; because I can never spell his first name on the first try
- That Nick Lidstrom no longer is around to be graceful on the ice and gracious off the pond
- That Tim Thomas has walked out on the NHL; even temporarily
- That Marc-Andre Fleury has flipped from a Cup-winner to back-up for Tomas Vokoun
- That Roberto Luongo is better at big-time poker than big-time puck-stopping
- Zach Parise’s exit from Newark despite a very take-able Devils offer and after only a year of captaincy
- Just the thought of officiating in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final
- The Oilers because of their dime-store-looking uniforms. Leaky oil bothers The Maven.