Coaches Hot-Seat SZN

We’re at the point in the season where the crappy teams that aren’t supposed to be crappy teams need to make a decision when it comes to their coaching. There’s already been a hoax of John Hynes’ firing in New Jersey…though it may have been more foreshadowing that hoax. But is Hynes really the first guy to get sacked??

Sure, the look isn’t great when Tom Fitzgerald comes down from this AHL GM duties to be an assistant coach, but more over than that– the team isn’t great. We knew that they would have talent in Taylor Hall and the new blood of PK Subban on the blueline, not to mention rookie Jack Hughes there and Nico Hischier. The goaltending is suspect, but for some reason this team isn’t gelling as much as people had hoped. Is Hynes to blame?? Maybe, only based on last season’s lackluster performance and the start of the season– which is probably enough to shitcan him. With only one playoff appearance in his four-year (now fifth) tenure isn’t enough to cut it in a “what have you done for me lately” kind of business.

The Devils could be waiting for Minnesota to fire Bruce Boudreau so they have someone from the recycle heap to replace Hynes. Now, I can’t blame Boudreau for having around $41.5M tied up in seven contracts with some kind of no-move or no-trade in their deal. Who knows who would want those contracts– though maybe someone would take a flier on Devan Dubnyk at the price tag and capability. That said, it’s a common theme for Bruce– team has some semblance of success, then something just doesn’t click. Hell, he’s been fired for less in Washington and Anaheim– so I wouldn’t be shocked if he gets the boot in the next few games.

Now, Jim Montgomery is in a bit of a pickle with a 3-7-1 record as of this writing and he’s in his second season. I don’t know if he’s in trouble, but we’ve seen coaches get fired as a knee-jerk reaction regardless of length of tenure and if they should be given some time with their players. A very longshot could be Jon Cooper– only in that you look at coaches who have had success prior and then the team plateaus before getting a new voice in the room to carry them further– like the Penguins with Mike Sullivan and Dan Bylsma. You could lump Boudreau with the Caps being fired midseason as a reference, too. That said, should the Bolts do something odd or not be able to pick up the pace– Cooper would be fired, but not out of the job for long.

Coaches are hired to be fired and with the way the NHL goes– a lot of these guys will be rinsed, washed, and repeated for another club. It’s how the NHL works with coaches because people don’t seem to have patience for new voices when a known commodity is out there– shoutout Dave Hakstol. Four coaches were fired by November 21th of last year. We have a chance for at least two by that time span if things don’t straighten up. But you know we’re going to see those fired again and those who are out of work get the vacancies these jobs have created. Sunrise, sunset.

Who’s Identity is it Anyway??

Infograph by 16Wins.com

Okay, so the Winnipeg Jets are paying homage to the WHA’s Jets for their blue Heritage Classic. Kind of a cop-out to just change the color of the jerseys from 2016 and not really pay heritage to say the Falcons that won an Olympic gold, but whatever sells merch, right??

But it brings up an interesting point about the lineage of hockey. Twitter pal Mitch brings up a good point in that– doesn’t all the original Jets’ identity– including the WHA– belong to the Coyotes?? I mean, the Jets as we know them now started off as the Atlanta Thrashers and as far as I know ( I found out in research of this– the Thrashers name and logo are still owned by the people in Atlanta for some ungodly reason); it’s not like the Cleveland Browns in that when they left for Baltimore they got a settlement to keep the original Cleveland Browns stats and history, leaving the Ravens with a clean sheet.

Yet, it also goes to show how little teams care about their actual lineage. The Coyotes used to do a lot of things with Winnipeg Jets’ legends and legacy, but they rarely do that anymore with a new Winnipeg Jets in the league. The Avalanche left all of the Nordiques’ records and such in Quebec City, while the Devils sometimes give a nod to the Kansas City Scouts and Colorado Rockies through Easter Eggs in their jersey– but it’s nothing outward. The Hurricanes are finally starting to rekindle their heritage with their Whalers’ nights– which is a nice thing to see.

So, who owns the rights to teams identities when they leave for another market?? The Coyotes have Bobby Hull, Dale Hawerchuk, and Thomas Steen’s jerseys retired; so they must own the records, right?? Rick Ley and John McKenzie’s numbers have been used by the Hurricanes (which Jack Edwards will let you know about), though the #2 of Ley is retired under Glen Wesley’s name.

To the victors go the spoils and they can do with it what they want. The sad fact is that most teams don’t utilize this enough. People clamor for nostalgia, people want the merch that comes with those old gaudy logos and jerseys (read: St. Louis Blues’ new throwback/alternative), and if you’re going to know where you’re going as a hockey fans– you’ve got to know where you’ve been. Not enough teams realize that with their old guards moving forward into the next realm of being, their stories and history goes with them if it’s not properly preserved or used. It’ll be a faded memory of another time.

While the Surviving….errr….”Original” Six teams do a decent job at honoring them– it needs to be more widespread through the league. While it’s great to make new memories and great that we’re seeing probably the best caliber of players in the history of the game…it’s best not to forget those that were before it– whether it was great or not. More over, teams need to remember where they came from– not in a get-famous-and-forget-your-roots movie tropes; but literally need to hash out where their heritage lies. If they moved and they’re not going to recognize where they moved from– give those records back to the NHL or the city they came from and move on. If they’re going to use that history of where they moved from– then use it and don’t let it rot.

Though, I will say I haven’t seen an area be this hungry for their former glory that Winnipeg and the Jets. I don’t remember this kind of uproar about the Minnesota Wild coming back and the fans wanting the North Stars records and logos and such. That either makes them really hardcore or just overly fanatical.

Wild Think Outside the Box with Guerin

Please to be welcoming Bill Guerin as the new GM of the Minnesota Wild. Finally, someone who is not part of the rinse-wash-repeat cycle of coaches and GMs over the past eternity of the National Hockey League. More over than this is the fact that Guerin really has no ties to Minnesota at all and a very limited amount of time in a higher management role…which is why the fans and ownership of the Wild should be patient with Guerin’s process.

Guerin is coming into the Wild with a lot of money on the books with a lot of term left on the hefty contracts– including Mats Zuccarello’s new contract that was Paul Fenton’s last. In all honesty, the fruits of Guerin’s labor won’t be a quick turnaround and shouldn’t be seen as such either. He’s had a keen role in Pittsburgh’s two Cup runs as the assistant GM, while also trying to build up the younger players when he was in his player development role.

With a solid young core– like Ryan Donato, Joel Eriksson-Ek, Jordan Greenway, and Luke Kunin– there’s plenty to build off of and could create a helluva battle for a roster spot going into training camp. The youth needs to be served, as the Wild are the third oldest team in the league (29.3 years) and may need a shot in the arm from the younger players to get the team back on the playoff track.

That brings up what’s going to happen with Bruce Boudreau behind the bench. Many times, the GMs like to put their own people in the coaching spot and with one more year on Boudreau’s deal— he could pretty much be a lame duck coach this year and any kind of slip early in the season could see him moved along quicker than many may expect.

The biggest takeaway from all of this is new blood into the GM pool, though many may wonder why a guy with no experience and no direct ties to the area or organization would be put in that spot. Well, it’s simple– it’s something new. It’ll scare some people, sure, but at the same time– a fresh look is something that some teams (and in this case, the Wild ESPECIALLY) need moving forward.

It’s all about being patient. Most fans and team owners don’t know what that is anymore and are always in the “win now” kind of mindset. That’s fine for the start of it, but if there’s huge problems and the “win now” is not happening– it’s a good idea to step back, bring a fresher face into the fold, and let things happen as they will. Granted, Fenton was a fresh face from outside the organization with a solid reputation in the league for his role in Nashville and that turned out like garbage…but second time’s a charm, right??

While it might be a bit of a risk– it’s much better to go with this new face and see what they can do, than to hire the same old horses that were put out to pasture elsewhere and hope their kind of style fits in with the team.

On the Topic Of the Wild and Jason Zucker

You’ve got to feel bad for Jason Zucker. First, he was on his way to Calgary before the deal fell through at the last second. Now, he’s the center of deals that didn’t happen and aren’t going to happen. It seems that Zucker is the new guy perpetually on the trade block until someone actually feels the need to have Zucker on their roster.

According to Michael Russo of The Athletic, Zucker’s name was in the middle of trade proposals for Phil Kessel, Sam Bennett, Michael Frolik, Christian Dvorak, Jonathan Marchessault, and Brock Boeser. The first and last being very laughable that they would have been considered with reports saying Vancouver laughed at Paul Fenton and hung up the phone.

Look, Zucker is a solid player with three-straight 20-goal seasons– but you can’t think he’d be an equal return for the likes of Boeser and Kessel especially. And maybe, it’s the system that he’s in that’s not really bringing the best out of him like when he was a Denver University or playing with the US Development Program. That said, it’s less a Zucker issue and more of an issue of what is wrong as a whole with the Wild.

It’s almost as if they need to blow the team completely up from top to bottom and start fresh. It’s not a new coach or new GM situation– that’s been done and the team still seems to be spinning their wheels; a deadly happening for a team in the Central Division. Paul Fenton needs to make moves, but trying to attract any kind of big name players are futile because those players don’t want to go there because of the lack of playmakers around them– as was the reported case with Kessel vetoing the deal to Minnesota.

This is a team that, for some reason, doesn’t move forward. Since that gonzo run in 2003, they’ve made it to the playoffs eight times in the last 15 seasons and have only made it out of the first round twice to lose to the Blackhawks both times. With their core getting older, you have to wonder how many chances Jordan Greenway and Luke Kunin will be given in a bigger role and how much they’ll be able to step up in that role. There’s plenty of potential in both of them, don’t get me wrong, but will they be able to thrive in the Wild system and given a chance to show off their style of play.

For someone like Zucker, you have to wonder how much this is going to affect his psyche and what he might do in the future with this team. He’s a professional and probably gets that this game is a business, thus why he protected his own by getting a modified no-trade in his contract for ten teams NOT to be traded to and this could be Fenton doing his due-diligence to see what they could get…but he’s taking the whole “you never know if you don’t ask” credo too far. This could be another Matt Duchene in Colorado situation for Zucker and the Wild– which, if true, could be damning for the Wild and extremely positive for Zucker.

2018-19 Season Preview….Kind Of: Western Conference Edition

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Half-assed part 2, let’s go.

The Central Division is an interesting one. For the longest time, it was the Chicago Blackhawks’ playground, but now– it’s almost kind of wide open. The Winnipeg Jets have seemingly found their formula with Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele, and friends. Their march to the Western Conference finals could have been the coming out party they need. So long as Connor Hellebuyck can keep the good time rolling– maybe this is now a division that belongs to North of the Border for a couple of season.

For the Blackhawks– we’re in the downturn of the dynasty. Despite of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane being there and being in their prime ages– the fact their goaltending in Corey Crawford isn’t always healthy and the depth is suspect at best; the former Dynasty could be in the start of their stagnation moving ahead.

Hard to forget about the Nashville Predators, who are in all-in mode this year as much as they have been. This is pivotal year for the team, especially when they look at what to do with impending UFA Pekka Rinne and how they’ll juggle his time with Juuse Saros’ time in net. Aside from that, they have a defensive corp that one of, if not the tops in the league; their offense is full of top tier talent, and overall– this is a team that’s ready to go and make another big push for the Conference final again this year.

The rest of the division is suspect at best, starting the with Minnesota Wild– who seem to be more of the same. Bruce Boudreau could be on a short leash with new GM Paul Fenton, and with the team in place– I don’t know if that leash could get shorter. Sure, Devan Dubnyk is back, but he can only do so much. The offense is really hit and miss, the star players being in the line-up is hit and miss, and there’s plenty of question marks in the State of Hockey.

Add the St. Louis Blues to that mix, only because of Jake Allen. There’s no Carter Hutton to bail him out anymore and he’ll have to actually show he’s a top goalie in this league. He’ll have a lot of tools in front of him with Vlad Tarasenko, Ryan O’Reilly, Jaden Schwartz with Alex Pieterangelo and Colton Parayko on his defense…there’s no reason why Allen shouldn’t be successful in spite of himself and his own short-comings.

I don’t know what to think of the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars. The Stars could be a little easier to explain and deal with, as Ben Bishop– if he’s healthy all season– could help them steal a few games here and there. The offense is steady with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn up there, the defense however, is the question. Stephen Johns is out to start the season, which means Marc Methot and John Klingberg are going to have to shoulder a lot of the load– which could lead to easy burn out. The Avalanche now have Philipp Grubauer as the potential replacement for Semyon Varlamov when he should get injured or have his stats drop off, the team was able to rally around Matt Duchene getting traded, and might have an underrated defense against the rest of the league. The offense is one line, which means they’ll need to find some kind of secondary scoring to actually be across the board successful and get back to the playoffs once again.


Will anyone discount the Vegas Golden Knights this year?? Most likely, yes. The whole “Bet you can’t do it again” crowd will be out, but with the additions of Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny; the depth of offense is much better. While there will be doubters of M-A Fleury’s heroics and William Karlsson’s scoring prowess, the Knights are making sure they aren’t just a one-hit wonder.

Their toughest challenge will probably come from the San Jose Sharks, who have their best shot at getting into the Stanley Cup Finals with the addition of Erik Karlsson. The former Ottawa defenseman bolsters a blue line with Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, while Joe Thornton is back on the ice and probably much quicker without his beard anymore. Martin Jones has seen his win number decline over the past three seasons, but with an upgrade in front of him, you can bet he’ll have another 30+ win season.

With a healthy Jonathan Quick, the LA Kings were a solid team despite getting bounced in the first round again. Anze Kopitar was far and away the best player and may need to be so again to get the Kings back to the playoffs and maybe advance past the first match-up. That 70s Line will have to be a little be more prominent, though to be honest– losing Jeff Carter most of the season didn’t help things as much.

The Anaheim Ducks are going to have to get all they can out of their depth if they want to make the playoffs again. While John Gibson hasn’t been the best at keeping pucks out, the offense didn’t give him much to work with, as they had to lowest goals-for total of any playoff team last season. With Corey Perry out to start the season, as well; old man Getzlaf will have to rally the troops and hope they don’t get run over.

Of the Canadian teams in this division, the one with the most hope could be from Alberta. Whether it’s the Flames or the Oilers is yet to be seen. The Oilers need to figure out which team was the mirage– was it the team who made the playoffs in 2017 or the team that really stunk up the joint last season. Aside from Connor McDavid, there wasn’t much to write home about. However, the hard-on people have for Ty Rattie with McDavid is almost insane levels of silly– it’s almost a Sedins or Crosby situation with how people are infatuated with his play.

The Flames are an odd duck. They have the talent up front to get into the playoffs with Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and to a lesser extend Sam Bennett. However, with Bill Peters now at the helm, who knows what can happen. If they’re going to sink to a Carolina level, then it’ll happen quick, but the additions of James Neal and Elias Lindholm up front could bring more attention, while Noah Hanifin could help Mark Giordano on the blue line. If only Mike Smith can get back to some kind of non-sieve form, then they could surprise people.

Not a surprise is the Vancouver Canucks, who really….I don’t know. They have some top-end young talent in Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, and others, but the real key is waiting for offensive defenseman Quinn Hughes to come from Michigan to Vancouver. If the rebuild is going to happen– it will be around Boeser and Hughes, maybe even Thatcher Demko when he gets the go-ahead to be the Canucks starter. It’s a waiting game for this team.

That leaves us with Arizona. The trade for Alex Galchenyuk is going to help them a whole lot, it’s a matter of managing injuries. Antti Raanta going down early last year hurt and it seems like there’s not much for goalie depth just yet for the Coyotes who could come in and stop the bleeding. Michael Grabner will add speed and a forechecking threat, Clayton Keller continues to grow, and Mario Kempe could surprise people if given the chance. The Coyotes may even push for a wild card…if they can stay healthy.

Summer Reading: Barracuda Nostalgia Sparks Idea For Other Retro Nights

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With the announcement of the San Jose Barracuda having jersey/theme nights to honor the affiliates of the San Jose Sharks past, it made me wonder if more teams should go and do it. Nostalgia is a helluva selling point for people, both in-arena and online. A gimmick like this creates a lot of buzz and could move a lot of tickets and a lot of merchandise to help out a team.

On the flip side, it’s a bit morbid. It’s a showing of failed teams, possibly failed markets, and while it’s nice– could rub some people the wrong way if they are bitter enough about losing their team.

Regardless of that, however, and regardless if you asked my opinion or not– but here’s some teams who I’d enjoy seeing honor their old affiliates. Of course, my top pick would be the Capitals to show off the old Richmond Robins, Baltimore Skipjacks, and Portland Pirates jerseys….but a team like the Hershey Bears wouldn’t give up their tradition to honor someone else’s– especially since they have outlasted those teams.

So– in no particular order:

ANAHEIM DUCKS: First in the alphabet, first one on this list. The Ducks have had some great affiliates– the short-lived Baltimore Bandits and Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, but they weaved their way through some solidly established teams, like the Syracuse Crunch and Norfolk Admirals. However, if there’s one team I want to see again, it’s the Iowa Chops. One season wasn’t enough and if the San Diego Gulls wanted to move merch, that’s the way to do it. Of course, the Gulls are at the top of attendance and probably merch, so they don’t need that big of a boost.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS: While the Bridgeport Sound Tigers are the longest affiliate the Islanders have had, the stops they’ve had along the way has been great and aesthetically amazing. The Thoroughblades are represented again (as seen above), but also the gaudy Salt Lake Golden Eagles jerseys, the early Lowell Lock Monsters jerseys, and the Utah Grizzlies‘ jerseys with a giant shoulder patch would really steer the memories, especially from the IHL fans.

CAROLINA HURRICANES: Including the Charlotte Checkers, the Hurricanes have only had five affiliates– but what affiliates they have been. The Beast of New Haven could have the worst logo of all time, the Cincinnati Cyclones, Lowell Lock Monsters, and Albany River Rats add to the memorable logos of affiliates past for the Hurricanes.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS: What’s not to like about the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins as the Muskegon Lumberjacks, the Baltimore Skipjacks, or the Broome Dusters….jacks. While the motif is pretty much the same in the black and gold, the older logos would be solid in a modern setting.

MINNESOTA WILD: While the Iowa Wild is the third of the AAA-affiliates for the Wild, the Houston Aeros look would be nice– but why not add some ECHL flavor?? The Louisiana IceGators looks would be solid, same with the Texas Wildcatters, Mississippi Sea Wolves, and Johnstown Chiefs; though it seems like a better option for the Allen Americans to do with their new ECHL affiliation with the Wild.

There’s plenty to go around. Minor league teams change like the tide, though thanks to teams owning their affiliates and markets being very solid in the industry– that’s slowed down a bit. Maybe there’s entire weekends that could be “Turn Back the Clock” weekends to bring back a little retro flavor and put some much needed attention onto the minor leagues. Anything in the name of a good gimmick.

TEPID TAKE: 2018 NHL Free Agency Edition

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The first day of open market in the NHL pretty much brought us everyone waiting for John Tavares to finally decide where he was going. The other signings meant nothing until he signed– it was all about JT today.

-So, JT did sign with his hometown team, the Toronto Maple Leafs– making their fanbase even more insufferable when it comes to players who were born in the GTA coming to their Cup-drought filled team. Good on JT for making this decision, though– to walk into the lion’s den freely to achieve a goal to play in your hometown. It’s a comfort for him…for now. Ultimately– he makes the Leafs that much better despite the lack of defense for now.  Maybe this will take some of the pressure of Auston Matthews of being the first-line center and perhaps help him get out of whatever doghouse Mike Babcock has Matthews in.

-When it comes to Islanders fans, though, it’s natural to feel pissed at this– especially with JT dragging this process on and really making people wait. The problem is that JT doesn’t owe the fans anything and you should really be mad at the dysfunction in the front office for years rather than the player who wanted to play on a contender. The legacy Garth Snow left is being barely mediocre while not really getting Tavares the support he needed. With Lou Lamoriello being at the helm, we’ll see if he’ll build around Mat Barzal or some other wacky stuff to keep the Islanders middling for years to come.

-The move I liked the least had to be Petr Mrazek going to Carolina. We all are aware that the Scott Darling project hasn’t worked out after the first year, but to get a guy who will be a challenger to Darling’s starting spot could go one of two ways– really good by pushing him and making him better or really bad by having two goalies too tense to make a mistake that their nerves get shot. With two goalies who are better off as a back-up coming in to start a string of games rather than be a starter– the Canes are playing with fire in hopes this will really work out this time.

-Bruce Boudreau really loves former Capitals and grit guys that the Wild signed a lot of them. Matt Hendricks, Eric Fehr, JT Brown, and Greg Pateryn are joining Minnesota for the next season. For what reason….character?? I really don’t know what these moves are about, but if grit is the one thing the Wild thing was missing– then they are sure to get further now.

-Most people hate the Jack Johnson deal. I think the tenure of the deal is what gets me, but overall– it’s not HORRIBLY BAD. Especially in Pittsburgh, Johnson could get back into the groove of things with his boy Sidney Crosby around and Mike Sullivan working him until turns it around in a big way. It could turn out to be a very big value deal if Johnson can actually get his game back.

-Speaking of tenure deals I don’t like– Jay Beagle to Vancouver. I’m glad Beagle got paid somewhere. He was a folk-hero in Washington for years, but he couldn’t have been expecting that money in DC. Four years for Beagle at $12M is something I shook my head at for Vancouver. Good on Beagle to get his money, Jim Benning better hope it pans out for the team and gets them closer to another level.

-One of the busiest teams was the Dallas Stars. They picked up Anton Khudobin, Blake Comeau, Roman Polak, and Val Nichushkin. A decent amount of depth there– Khudobin hoping not to be another in the junkyard that is goalies of Stars past, while Nichushkin comes back after a two-season hiatus in the KHL putting up 27 goals and 51 points in 86 games. Polak will be another veteran presence on the blueline next to Marc Methot and help tutor the younger defensemen in the Stars line-up.

That’s the moves that stand-out to me that need talking about. We’ll cover more of these on Face Off Hockey Show Wednesday night live and on podcast that weekend. After Tavares, things kind of cooled down. Which is fine for a holiday week and reporters wanting to actually enjoy it for a change. That said, there’s probably going to be small moves here and there as teams address their depth needs and wants.

TEPID TAKE: Jerseys Aren’t THAT Bad

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Look– the Nashville Predators jerseys are bad. Like…Sears Christmas Catalog looking bad. But, for me, it’s really the only one that stood out as truly awful in the new Adidas Adizero jersey reveal. The rest of the looks are pretty much the same, but the design of them brought about pretty big reactions. Of course, the Vegas Golden Knights finally getting an identity was a huge get, too.

There are some things I’m annoyed by already by Adidas, one of which is the designers calling them “tops” instead of jerseys. I know it’s just a lingo thing, but if we’re going to try to keep some tradition, let’s keep it at jerseys. Also, some teams stealing the NBA gimmick and putting the Stanley Cup years into the collar just doesn’t sit right– looking at you, New Jersey.

However, there were improvement to me. The Avalanche going back to their old design is a massive upgrade over the tripe they’ve had to deal with the past couple of years. Only when the third jerseys are back will they have a chance to ruin their identity again– but for now, they get a nice pass. The Hurricanes also reverting back to the old school and reintroducing the storm flags is a nice touch.

The biggest thing going in was the Vegas Golden Knights uniforms. Overall, they look like something the German National Team would wear. It’s a nice look, don’t get me wrong, but doesn’t scream Vegas to me. The white gloves with gold cuff and fingers does scream Vegas to me, which I’m glad they were brave enough to make that change and make white gloves not just for All-Star Games anymore.

Overall, the jerseys are kind of buy the book, with the exception of the Minnesota Wild hacking onto the Canadiens mid-stripe look. The biggest thing to overcome for me is going to be collar area, which everyone got a preview to in the World Cup of Hockey. I’m sure they’ll look better on the ice and grow on me as the Reebok Edge eventually did.