Hockey Blowhard Creates Fake Controversy of Hockey Star in Major Market

Leave it to Brian Burke angling for Don Cherry’s seat to create a controversy no one knew they needed.

Burke said on Toronto’s Fan590 that he’s confident that Auston Matthews will leave the Maple Leafs FIVE YEARS FROM NOW WHEN HIS CONTRACT IS UP. The fact that Burke is talking about this situation is peak Toronto sports fear mongering. Hell, the Leafs should be more worried about trying to get Mitch Marner signed than having to deal with these kinds of questions and “what-if” scenarios that a former executive has to say.

Yet, so it goes for this hockey media culture at this time. Clickbait titles, super-hot takes, wild future state scenarios all in vain to get eyes and ears onto their product. It’s a fast-paced world with a lot of content and something like this gets people to stop scrolling and read– which helps ad revenue, creates totally level-headed discussion about it on social media, and gets writers/hosts/whomever high praise from some and cyberbullying from others.

(For the record– I enjoy this kind of chaos, especially with a fan-base like the Leafs. This is second only to the whole Connor McDavid wanting to leave the Edmonton Oilers trope that has been out there in the past– which always triggers the Oilers fan-base. Also, in both cases I could see it being plausible– with Matthews and the Leafs going to need to a lot of more cap space to fit Matthews, Tavares, and maybe Marner or whatever other wunderkind they have signed to a huge deal. That could mean Matthews would get a better offer in the better spot elsewhere. When it comes to McDavid– it’s really all about the team around him that could make him want to stay or leave Edmonton, which maybe Ken Holland can fix in the short time he has to work with. That said, McDavid still has seven years on his deal and has no modifiers on his contract– which could be fun and interesting though nothing will happen and he’ll play it out because he’s a good Canadian boy.)

Back to the matter at hand– the way the Burke presented this and how people picked up on it is why hockey fans get aggravated about how the media puts things out there. It creates a buzz at first, but then they realize it’s just bullshit. Plus, a lot of these click-bait titles provide no detail in the meat of the story– TSN’s Bardown is very notorious for that whole thing where they put a click-baity title and there’s nothing in the actual article pertaining to the title; but it gets views and revenue so why not, huh??

At the end of the day, this is the way hockey (and really most of the) media goes these days– buzzworthy titles of articles with no real substance in said article, talking heads just saying anything to get people to listen to them and create fake debate, all the while– fans are going to believe what fits to their own personal beliefs about the players or teams regardless of what anyone is logically saying in the reality of the situation.

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.

TEPID TAKE: The Most Talked About Puck Pick-Up Ever

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After the game on Monday night, Erik Karlsson skated around the ice to find the puck. Was this to give to a teammate who scored their first goal or got their first win or shutout?? Was it because it was a memorable game for the Senators franchise?? Was it for a bargaining chip in negotiation with Ottawa coming up??

Of course, the obvious answer from observers were that it’s because it’s Karlsson’s last game as a Senator and he wanted to remember it. With all the odd personnel moves in Ottawa– that’s a pretty safe bet to believe. Though he said he wanted to stay in Ottawa for the long-term, but at the same time– who wants to keep treading water with a team that doesn’t seem to have much direction to a Stanley Cup, despite being a season removed from the Conference Finals.

There’s not much else for Karlsson to accomplish in Ottawa outside of winning a Stanley Cup. Two-time Norris Trophy winner, took over the leadership role from Daniel Alfredsson (less the one year with Jason Spezza as captain), as well as leading the team in points for the last four seasons and being tied for the lead with Mark Stone this season. It’s now to focus on winning a Cup.

Can you fault Karlsson though?? They were a win away from a Cup Final, but then regressed to where they’re at now. Whether it’s management not willing to spend the money for the top players or coaches not knowing what to do with the players they have in their line-up– a lot is left to be desired in Ottawa these days in a “What have you done for me lately” sort of way.

Like I linked before, there’s a chance that Karlsson stays in Ottawa. He said he’s willing if he’s a part of the team’s future– which a team would be stupid if they didn’t slot in Karlsson to their future plans. In all honesty, it’s really if Karlsson’s money slots into the Senators plans above all else. That’s really what the debate is, if you pay one guy a load of money– you’ll have to skimp elsewhere. Karlsson has even said the team is a budget team. It’s almost worth the risk for someone like Karlsson to be in your plans. Of course, for Karlsson– it’s taking that brunt of failure if the Sens miss out on playoffs because they “can’t” get players due to a self-imposed cap. Now, that could be changing since Melnyk went over $70M this year for the first time ever– but you can’t expect that trend to continue if he’s trying to fight for a downtown arena and all that jazz.

Yet, let’s be honest– there’s going to be a bidding war of biblical proportions if Karlsson does indeed hit the open market. Teams would love to have a right-handed shot the pedigree of Karlsson in their line-up. Money be damned– you can only get someone of this skill and quality just starting their prime. It’ll be Karlsson’s pick of the litter at that point and where he could be most successful both in the individual sense, but in a team sense, as well.

There’s gonna be a lot of eyes in Ottawa in the spring and it’s not going to be because of a miracle playoff run. It’s to see whether this franchise values a franchise player that they have or let him walk away due to whatever odd reason that may come out. If the latter happens– expect the Canadian Tire Centre to be even more vacant than it has been. May want to look at moving back to the Ottawa Civic Centre to make it look more full.

On the Topic Of Shipping Out Shipachyov

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I’m not trying to make this into a Golden Knights blog, but they’re just so new and shiny and so many moving parts– you just have to talk about them. And that’s the case now with Vadim Shipachyov and their turmoil with him.

Now, when the Golden Knights signed Shipachyov, he was the bonafide first player. All due respect to Reid Duke, but Shipachyov had some kind of foundation coming into the Vegas fold. Nine seasons in the KHL, multiple National team appearances in the World Championships, and one of those guys with the tag of “best not in the NHL.” There was some buzz around him and many thought he could be a big contributor to the team.

Then the expansion draft happened. And then training camp. And then the start of the season. And Shipachyov has only appeared in three of the eight games and now his agent has been told to seek a trade elsewhere since Shipachyov is not happy with a demotion to the Chicago Wolves in the AHL.

There is a sound reason for Shipachyov’s annoyance with the demotion, but there’s a sound reason for the Golden Knights want to have him in the AHL. Shipachyov is 30 years old and has accomplished a lot in the KHL, so why would he want to go ahead and play in the AHL when Vegas brought him over to play in the NHL…or so he thought.

When the blades hit the ice, the Golden Knights were much better than they could have thought. Not only that, but Shipachyov hasn’t taken to the North American game as they would have hope, so why not send him down to get used to it?? Well, because he’s a 30-year-old with a number of professional years under his belt– like I said in the previous paragraph.

Should the Knights find a suitor for Shipachyov, depending on the return, they should go ahead and grant him freedom. Look, he doesn’t do your organization any good being a bad apple in the development system you just started. It’s not like a Danny Cleary situation where he gets sent down to teach– Shipachyov wants a career and it’s obvious that the Knights don’t have him in the immediate plans, so he’s checked out. If they can get a solid return, it’d be great to have him elsewhere while not causing a headache for those involved. Plus, as a new team, you don’t want to have the history of being hardasses when it comes to trying to get out of there if you don’t fit in.

How To Solve A Problem Like Matt Duchene

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The ideas that are going around about what to do with Matt Duchene has taken a more vocal tone recently, especially after comments that former Avalanche star Peter Forsberg mad about the much maligned current Avalanche forward.

If you missed it, Forsberg told a Swedish publication that the Avalanche should bench and then trade Duchene. Now, I think think everyone is in agreement in the latter part in trading Duchene since he’s been on the rumor mill for the better part of two years now. To bench him, however, would be smart to keep him healthy, but silly because as a team in the condition the Avalanche is in; you can’t keep a top forward (at least for Colorado) on the sidelines when you’re trying to improve your team.

Of course, his coach backed Duchene up and Duchene brushed off the comments– so it’s not like there’s anymore internal drama than there needs to be. And there’s plenty.

Granted, another way to improve your team was to trade Duchene at the Draft or sometime during the summer in order to get a veteran defenseman, but who am I to say?? I’m sure the Colorado Avalanche front office has a handle on this, right?? Where’s Greg Sherman when you need him??┬áIf Duchene became a distraction in the locker room, that’s when you start to think about making him a healthy scratch and ramp up trade talks– which, when dealing with a disgruntled player, always gets the team trading said disgruntled player a great return.

This whole Duchene thing has been a calamity of errors for the Avalanche, which just adds to their laundry list of errors they have made in the past few seasons– like being the old boys club that ruined the Edmonton Oilers for years. It didn’t help that Duchene’s comments at training camp about “being here to honor my contract” came from his lips. It’s a craptastic situation on both sides, but neither did anything to make things better in the off-season.

Now, with all this said– the Avs aren’t playing terrible hockey…yet. Duchene has two points in three games, and things seem to be going contently enough. Maybe the winning and playing well with change Duchene’s mind. Maybe doing well enough will get a bigger return for Joe Sakic and the crew. Maybe it’s just going to be this merry-go-round again until the next Draft. The sky is the limit in the Mile-High City and to be honest, it’s just another added form of drama to this team who once was the class of the NHL.

At the end of the day, if the Avalanche are going to try a full rebuild, they need to do it like a band-aid and rip it off rather than being this cautious during it. They’ve had no plan with Duchene for the longest time and their best chance to land something of substance went bye-bye when Travis Hamonic was dealt to the Flames. The Duchene thing has the ability to get worse rather than get better. If things go south quickly, you have to wonder how much longer and how many teammates will become as disenchanted as Duchene.

Age of Superstar Trade Rumors

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Remember when the “Face of the Franchise” was untouchable and the only way you would get rid of him would be in a Ray Bourque kind of fashion?? Blame the salary cap, extremely long-term contracts, or just knee-jerk reactions, but the idea of teams trading away their most valuable asset has been a very vocal part of the off-season for some fans and pundits alike.

Firstly, the Alex Ovechkin rumors and the ideas of trading the face of the Capitals comes more and more to the forefront after the Caps still haven’t been able to get out of the second round in Ovechkin’s tenure. This is definitely a hard-sell now considering this past season, Ovechkin had a personal-worst season in goals and points for his career during a full-season. Of course, he had only 32 goals during the shortened season of 2012-13, but that was just one-less goal than he had last season. Ovechkin turn 32 when training camps open up and this past season, you could see he was a bit human as his breakaway speed seemed to not be as it once was. For a player who may be starting to trend downward, it’s obvious some people think the Caps would be best to cut their superstar and see what they can get for him.

Name value alone would intrigue some fan bases, sure, but when you look at the long and short of it– I don’t know how much Ovechkin to truly bring back from another team given that the Caps may know something in his attitude or what-have-you off the ice that would make some teams leary. Plus, in a salary cap world, would you want to trade away some of your blue-chip prospects for an aging superstar who could be bottoming out on his career and still has four years (at $9.5M per) on his contract?? Unless you need the boost at the box office, I don’t think it’d be a smart move for the long-term.

Another name that has come up is John Tavares. Granted, Tavares’ situation is much different than Ovechkin. Tavares is on a team that seems to be getting worse before getting better. Couple that with the front office not getting him much support on the ice and his contract coming up at the end of next season, the young sniper will have his name amongst the trade bait heading into next season if a deal is not done with the Islanders before then.

Not only that, but former Islanders star Mike Bossy said that he could see Tavares going to Montreal for a big bunch of young players going the other way to the Islanders. While it is a big lot to get rid of, especially when you look at what Alex Galchenyuk, Mikhail Sergachev and Charlie Lindgren could become; but it does fill the void that the Islanders need for their future. Yet, how productive could he be in the Montreal system and limelight. That said, he does have many years left, as Tavares is on the cusp of his 27th birthday and does have some years left to give.

It’s an interesting time we live in for hockey players being dealt. It used to be that if Wayne Gretzky could get traded, anyone could. However, that adage could morph into, if PK Subban can get traded for Shea Weber– no star player is safe….or something much less clunky.