I don't know why, but men with beards sure get a lot of mail this time of year. Having dispensed with the duties of Dec. 25, we see no better time to reach into the old mail bag and answer some of your more pressing questions.
I've heard or read these kinds of complaints every year since I've been covering this sport, Ken, and though there have been times when I too thought that the "ghosts" of Montreal hockey often wore striped shirts, it just isn't so. The Sabres lost that game because they weren't smart; especially in regards to not taking chances on marginal calls late in a road game. It's a hallmark of Sabres teams in recent years to blame everything and everyone but themselves for the tight games they lose. They need not to look at the refs, but in a mirror.
In a word, Walter, not yet. Okay, that's two words, but the view from scouts I've talked to is that the quality of competition there has improved, but it's not yet at the elite level of Sweden, Finland and other European programs. The Swiss are certainly moving past the likes of Germany and some of the old Soviet Bloc countries, but they aren't yet on a par with the Czechs, Slovaks, Swedes and Finns. The biggest problem is the Swiss players' consistency over an 82-game NHL schedule plus the playoffs.
Look at it this way: The Red Wings didn't get to championship level just by drafting and developing
I think every kid coming out of junior is too young for the NHL, Grant, and I would have put
From a person who didn't have the courage to sign his name regarding a note on the Lightning considering a lawsuit vs. Melrose for his constant criticisms, but the writer of this note did claim to be a solicitor and agent for NHL coaches. Reprinted as written:
Dear G: I normally don't respond to unsigned letters largely because if you don't have the courage to sign your name, you don't have the courage to stand by your claim. Still, readers deserve to know that coach contracts are written much like personal service contracts -- at least according to the lawyers I've spoken to who actually work in this area -- and almost always contain specific requirements regarding conduct deemed detrimental to the organization during employment and afterward. Heck, I had to sign such an agreement while working for a major sports television network that I can't name even now because it would violate my separation agreement.
Perhaps you should pretend to be something else in your remaining years.