Coaches get hired and fired. Players being signed on both sides of the pond. Can someone tell me when the offseason is supposed to start?
With so many issues to touch on, let's take a dip into the mailbag.
Going by the amount of mail I received in the aftermath of Monday's firing, you're not alone. I'm guessing a number of Islanders fans are completely fed up after years of abuse from Wang the Merciless. They may not seek out another club to root for, but they're at the point where they simply tune this team out. And who can blame them?
Your use of the word sideshow is close, but I think the term you're looking for is three-ring circus. There was plenty of blame to go around on this decision, and no one walks away without some blood on their hands, not even Nolan.
The lion's share belongs to owner
In this case, Wang's decision to hire Nolan in 2006 wasn't a bad one in and of itself, but choosing a coach himself instead of hiring a GM first and allowing him to make the call set the stage for this failure.
Wang's second kick at the GM can,
And while Nolan deserves credit for those efforts, he also has to realize we all have to answer to someone. If the boss asks you to work in the kids as part of the organizational plan, you work in the kids. Losing is tough, but for Nolan this job was about more than just wins and losses. This was a second chance, an opportunity to prove he could be a team player and maybe, just maybe, ditch the reputation as someone who can't get along with his GM. Safe to say that tag is tattooed onto him now, making it unlikely he'll be given another NHL gig anytime soon ... if ever.
Maybe the only surprising element of Monday's dismissal is the timing. Clearly this rift had been deemed irreparable during the season, and only Wang's loyalty to Nolan prevented an earlier dismissal. At this point, Snow's basically choosing from the leftovers after the teams who were more resolute had their pick of the coaching litter. But at least he'll be able to pick his own man this time around.
Well, if you spent that much time at camp, you've seen more of them lately than I have. But from what I was told by someone who was there every day, the duo clearly stood out from the pack (other than the rehabbing duo of
Marchand, a 20-year-old right winger, is a nasty pet who'll do whatever it takes to win. He already has NHL speed and the courage to go into the hard areas, but he's also a player who needs to prove to the organization that he can keep his head on straight after incidents with Team Canada and Halifax of the QMJHL. Wheeler, the Phoenix Coyotes first rounder-turned-UFA who was snagged earlier this summer by the Bruins, caught everyone's attention with his speed and shot but also gave the impression that he needs time to fill out his big frame.
The best guess though is that both will start the season with Providence of the AHL, and acclimate to the pro game with the chance to earn significant ice time with the Baby B's. Then maybe if things go well, both could get a shot in Boston later in the year.
That's just a guess, though. After seeing
At this point, I think it's pessimistic, given that the NHL and KHL agreed to a deal last week that would see each league recognizing/respecting the contracts of the other. The Radulov deal reportedly was consummated two days before this agreement, and so it managed to skirt the issue. Of course, nothing's been signed yet between the two leagues, so even if the deal had transpired afterward, there's probably nothing the NHL could do about it. All that said, odds are you won't see any more players following Radulov's lead and jumping leagues with a valid contract in hand.
Personally, I feel bad for Nashville -- Radulov is a major loss for a team shy of young scoring talent -- but I got a kick out of Salavat Yulaev, the team he signed with, offering the Preds a $200,000 transfer fee. That's the same amount the NHL offers to European clubs who lose a player to North America. I wrote last year that there needed to be a more equitable transfer system, similar to the one in place for soccer. If Nashville fans are angered by that pittance, they'll get a good sense of how Europeans have felt for years after seeing their top talent bolting to the NHL for the same amount.
Word out of L.A. Tuesday night suggests the Kings are set to go with
You can be forgiven for failing to stifle a yawn. On the surface it's a left-field choice, and certainly not a sexy one. Murray's name wasn't on the radar of any other team that was looking to hire a new man this summer, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's a poor choice. He has a reputation for being a skilled teacher, something that will be critical for a team committed to a youth movement, and he's extremely well prepared. Consider him a custodial coach, someone who'll be in place while the team endures some growing pains, but who'll likely be replaced when they are ready to take a step into serious contention.
An interesting side note to all this is that the delay in making the choice may have been attributable to the potential sale of a minority share in the team to
The salary cap issue isn't really as much of an issue as some are making it. With just over $29 million committed in salaries and buyouts (
At the moment, they have just 10 forwards and four defenders signed.