Buffalo-flavored series, Roy's offer, Coyotes fallout, more
A surprising number of Buffalo folk and ex-Sabres are making good and bad in these playoffs.
Its a little thinner on the Carolina side, but
Conversely, that was former Sabre
Hockey is indeed a small world.
There's an ages-old adage that you're not in trouble in a playoff series until you lose a home game. The Blackhawks, down two-games-to-none in their Western Conference Final with the defending Stanley Cup champions, play their first game at home in this series on Friday night in Chicago's United Center. One could argue with the finality of doom itself that this is a big game for them.
Now, it's not like the Blackhawks haven't been in this situation. They opened with a pair of wins over Calgary, lost the next two in the Flames' barn, and came back to win the series. They rallied throughout their series with Vancouver. So they lost the first two at the Joe in Detroit. If they win two at home, they're back to even, right?
Mathematically, yes, but there's a big difference between being up two before dropping a pair on the road and coming home down two to defending champs who have pretty much had your franchise's number since before most of your current players were born. This is where Chicago's fans throw in hopeful statements like, "Yeah, but the Hawks have an all-time record of 125-86 in home playoff games and are 5-1 there this season and (fill in the numbers and blanks you think work).
My answer: It's the here-and-now that matters, and the Hawks looked weak, careless and overmatched in Detroit. For the record, these Red Wings aren't the Flames or even the self-destruct Canucks. These Wings know how to beat you any way you want to play, and they take advantage of your mistakes. They did it in Detroit and will do it in Chicago no matter how loud the crowd, how well the anthems are sung, or whether the games are on home TV (an old
If the Hawks want to win Game 3, they must play not just better, but smarter. Not giving the puck away at Detroit's blueline would be a good place to start. Campbell's costly gaffe in overtime of Game 2 is an obvious example, but there have been others. Too many times when the Hawks have the puck, they make a poor decision and the Wings are off on an odd-man rush. The Wings tend to convert odd-man rushes into odd game-winning goals.
Getting a pretty good power play back on track would also help.
The odd thing about this series is that the Ducks showed that the Wings have enough flaws, especially on the back end, to occasionally get beat. If the Hawks are serious about beating them, they'll have to stop beating themselves, get the puck into Detroit's zone and keep it there. It's not impossible, it's just that the Wings and Hawks are making it look that way.
Look for the Bruins to say goodbye to backup goaltender
So why isn't a deal done? Well, for one thing, the NHL has rules about teams making news that might take away from the main focus at this time of the year: the playoffs. The Avs don't need to go afoul of the rules, especially when current head coach
It's important to note here that the initial
Another likely sticking point is that the Avs have problems that won't be fixed simply by hiring a new coach. Roy knows that and should wisely weigh the pros and cons of taking on his first NHL coaching assignment in a place where he'll be expected to work the same kind of miracles he executed as the all-world goaltender who brought the franchise its only two Stanley Cups.
Even the greatest players know that success with a franchise as far down as the Avs is not always possible, at least not right away. The question for Roy will be whether he wants the challenge and will get enough time to succeed at it.
It's still too early to determine who has the upper hand in the battle for control of the Coyotes, but if we've learned anything from the early going in bankruptcy court it's that the NHL and especially Commissioner
You could argue that few people except hockey fans (and there are precious few in Phoenix) should even care. The commissioner seems to have brought this throwdown with BlackBerry-maker
But what has lifted this matter to national and even international interest is that Bettman is now battling an issue that impacts Major League Baseball, the NBA and even the mighty NFL. All three
Balsillie's argument -- and it's compelling according to those experienced in bankruptcy law -- is that the judge is obligated to take the best bid (Balsillie's is head of the class) even if it comes with relocation conditions, and to make a ruling that does what's best for creditors. That concept has sent shock waves through the other pro sports. But no matter how it's resolved, Bettman is going to take a hit. There's an argument that no forward-thinking commissioner would ever have allowed this issue to get into court and Bettman was either foolish or completely outmaneuvered in allowing that to happen.
It wasn't three years ago that Balsillie was the darling NHL suitor, a billionaire with a love of hockey who was willing to buy seemingly any franchise as long as he could move it to or near his hometown. He was so favored by the NHL establishment that the owners voted unanimously to allow him to purchase the Penguins when that team seemed headed for financial failure.
True, Balsillie wanted to move the Pens, and Bettman thwarted him with a post-sale addendum that would have locked Balsillie into Pittsburgh even if a new arena went unfinanced. But that after-the-sale move and Balsillie's subsequent failed bid to buy the Nashville Predators have set these current events in motion. They've made enemies of men who should be friends. Balsillie has now managed to get Bettman and the NHL -- and, by extension, the other major pro leagues -- into court to defend territorial rights that they may not legally have.
What the judge decides could impact owners in all sports. Bettman may win, but it will be a costly victory in terms of dollars and the already-great public relations damage that Balsillie has inflicted regarding discrepancies between what Bettman has said about the fiscal health of the Coyotes and what's been provided to the court. Commissioners routinely paint a rosy picture of even troubled franchises, and though they are not always truthful, rarely are they proven to be liars in open court.