It seems like only yesterday, I was scrambling to re-write my post-game reaction after the Bruins watched their ticket to another Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals get revoked blowing a late one-goal lead in 17 seconds and having to watch the Blackhawks hoist the Stanley Cup on TD Garden ice. That was June 24th and as I write here on September 12th, the weather feels very similar on a hot and humid September day in Beantown. But the offseason is over and training camp for the 2013-14 NHL season is underway!
Before we go on and just so Bruins fans know, Sportsnet.ca hockey scribe and Edmonton radio personality Mark Spector was responsible for that Bruins collapse if you’re superstitious. I kid you not that with about two minutes left – and I’m sure he wasn’t the only one – ‘Spec’ looks at the writers around him and says “Looks like we’re headed back to the ‘Windy City’ boys! Book those flights!” and within seconds, Bryan Bickell knocks in the game-tying goal and then 17 ticks later Dave Bolland wins it! The whole table just looked at ‘Spec’ and thanked him. Truth be told, regardless of what team you’re covering, at that point in the Playoffs, you’re just yearning for a well deserved break and to sleep in your bed for more than three nights straight! But don’t hate on ‘Spec’ Bruins fans! He’s one of the good guys in the biz and a friend of “Murphy’s Hockey Law”. Be sure to check out his writing and for you Blackhawks fans, if you ever meet him, buy him a pint!
So here we are gearing up for the 2013-14 season and I’ll be honest, I’m not quite ready to give my predictions for the season but I will give you some of my thoughts on the offseason and recent happenings around the league:
So Tim Thomas is still in his Colorado bunker pondering his next move and whether he should accept a PTO invite from the Panthers. Two thoughts on this: First off, why are the Panthers even contemplating bringing in Thomas or as reported, Ilya Bryzgalov? They have their starter of the future ready to be their starter of the present in Jacob Markstrom so why try and bring in two goalies with luggage and two goalies that likely won’t enjoy being a back-up? The other thought and more specific to Thomas is why have the Avalanche not extended an invite or tried to sign the two-time Vezina and Conn Smythe winner? He’s right in their backyard and last I checked, Seymon Varlamov and J-S Giguere aren’t exactly a formidable goaltending tandem. With one of the best goalies ever in Patrick Roy behind the bench now, one would imagine, goaltending would be the most important position for the Av’s now. Of course, both Thomas and Roy have strong personalities and that could backfire but both are proven clutch goalies and something tells me there would be a mutual respect there if Thomas came in and proved he was ready.
OK. So why exactly does the NHL allow offer sheets? Yes we’ve seen them laid down in recent years but not nearly enough in the eyes of this humble scribe. Let’s take for example the current standoff between the Rangers and restricted free agent holdout Derek Stepan who are reportedly far apart on the dollars. If you’re the Islanders – a team trying stay above the $44 million cap floor – why not throw an offer sheet down at Stepan and hamstring your rivals? And if the Rangers didn’t match, Stepan would just be another affordable (for the Isles) strong addition to an ever-improving and young Islanders squad.
Speaking of things that should be done more often, be sure to read Joe Haggerty’s NHL notebook at CSNNE.com. A friend of MHL and a dear friend of mine, it already is and will be a must read for every hockey fan!
Finally, Wednesday was the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States and Thursday marked ten years since my favorite musician Johnny Cash passed away. Here’s a link to a piece I wrote for NESN.com four years ago this week. There’s a great story in there on former Bruin Wayne Cashman and ‘The Man In Black’ as well as my memories of former Bruin Garnet “Ace” Bailey. RIP Ace and Johnny and all who lost their lives in the attacks. Never Forget!