Third annual wheels off predictions
With the ol' crystal ball warmed up and finely calibrated after
Granted, some of these may shock and startle you -- especially if you count yourself a Thrashers fan -- but these events are guaranteed to play out exactly as I describe them (legal disclaimer: not guaranteed to play out exactly as described).
Ready to be astounded? I know I am.
Last year, we called the
Hard to believe in a sport where bench bosses are cashiered more frequently than a celebrity or politician gets caught in an affair? Maybe...but consider that 20 of the league's 30 bench bosses have been on the job less than 24 months. In most cases -- basically, those that involve anyone not rockin' a mullet -- that time frame falls within the grace period a coach is allowed to knock his charges into line. Of those in place prior to last season, just two -- Buffalo's
Prepare the pink slips for: the deep thinkers behind the
Atlanta fans clutch desperately to the notion that a loaded Brink's truck and the love of a good city will convince Kovalchuk to re-sign with the team that drafted him. But in their hearts, they know that all he cares about is winning...and that's a caveat the promising Thrashers aren't quite ready to deliver on. Not yet, anyway.
But wait, you say. What if Atlanta makes the playoffs? Wouldn't that be enough to secure his long-term future in Blueland?
Maybe...but probably not. Here's the thing: Say the Thrashers sneak in and lock down the eighth spot in the final week of the season. Kovy's as good as inked, right? Not necessarily. They might make the playoffs, but what it really comes down to is whether they feel secure in their positioning by the trade deadline. GM
Not many game-changers there, which suggests the demand for Kovalchuk will be fierce. Still there are some good soldiers who can make a difference in a depth role.
In theory, preventing a netminder from corralling dump-ins creates more opportunities on the forecheck. In reality, most dumped pucks enter the zone with sufficient momentum to eventually make their way behind the net, where the goalie can legally handle it, or they are intercepted by him before they cross the end line. As a result, a puck blasted toward the corners generates less excitement than the Kiss Cam and diminishes the potential impact of a skill set mastered by few and desired by all. Goalies have given up a lot over the past few years. Time to give something back.
Granted, he's not one to bolt out of the starting blocks (just five goals in his first 15 games last season, for instance) but Nash finally has a legitimate playmaking center in
It's been a slow process for the 26-year-old whose speed and offensive skill were muted by
The Count carried the day in court and managed to protect the league's right to determine where and with whom it would do business. But that business will not suffer for long as millions of dollars are burned in the desert. So as soon as the NHL amends its bid and is awarded control of the 'Yotes, the commish will start looking for someone else to hold the bag. Problem is, Glendale is a no-win proposition and the list of cities clamoring for the team is shorter than the line for
You didn't really think he'd slink away quietly, did you? With the Panthers ownership situation in flux, this will serve as the front door that all those harumphing owners claimed they'd be willing to let him use.
Hope fans DVR'ed that
Despite his prodigious talent, Frolov's always starred in his own movie: The Fast and the Frustrating. With unrestricted free agency looming, GM
Shortly after being introduced as Toronto's new GM last November,
With the Flyers poised to challenge the Pens for supremacy in the East, the most vitriolic feud since
The crystal ball is still a little cloudy on this one, but it looks like pre-tournament injuries and a disappointing performance from the goaltenders will conspire to ruin Canada's Olympic homecoming. Malkin's Russians, loose, arrogant and determined, will send Crosby's Canucks to their most emotionally destabilizing loss since the finals of the 1981 Canada Cup and allow
A spate of injuries that limited him to just 81 games over the past two seasons lowered his pre-draft stock, but Williams is in position to return to the form that saw him score 30 goals in back-to-back seasons with the Hurricanes. He'll be playing on L.A.'s top line (and first power play) alongside
So I don't get called on it later by one of my colleagues, I'll admit to being highly skeptical of Benn's chances when camp started. But the smooth-skating, hard-shooting winger showed he could handle the physical demands (he enjoyed a nice tussle with Florida's
If he'd remained in Washington, Brashear wouldn't have given another thought to last season's despicable mugging of Rangers forward
Yeah, this one sure seems like an odd match, but my usually reliable crystal ball assures me that old Foppa will perform a passionate, tumultuous tango with former House Majority leader