Tretiak's Olympic intrigue, best first-passers, more notes
Tretiak, president of the Russian ice hockey federation, was named Monday as his country's GM for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. While this clearly is an upgrade over
On one of those Red Army tours in the early 1980s, Tretiak shut out the Montreal Canadiens and received perhaps the longest standing ovation at the Forum afforded a player not named
A former member of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and a Montreal journalist who covers about security issues write in a new book that CSIS suspected Tretiak of recruiting Russian sympathizers in Canada to provide intelligence during his frequent visits to the country in the 1990s.
This isn't as sexy as the revelations that figure skater
(The second question for the three-time Olympic gold medal champion: why did coach
Five of the top seven NHL, through Monday, were Europeans. Last season Europeans finished 1-2 (
Pittsburgh assistant GM
"What you are seeing, I think, is the great communication skills of some of the younger coaches in the league," says Botterill, mentioning the Penguins'
There is, however, a new European coach in the league this season: Capitals goalie coach
The standard question from hockey players when they are being interviewed for an SI story: "Am I going to be on the cover?"
The standard answer from On The Fly: "Maybe, as soon as you learn to throw a tight spiral."
This is football season in Pigskin Nation, and the odds of the late
Anyway, our standard flip answer about tight spirals got us thinking about passes. Sure, praise is ladled out to some of the leading assist men in the game, invariably centers such as San Jose's
With the focus for defensemen on hits, blocked shots and yes, points, the first pass -- smartly clearing the zone and starting an attack -- is the least appreciated art in the sport.
"If your (defenseman) isn't making that first pass, putting the puck on the tape," says Flyers' fourth-liner
"If the first pass is bad, in a guy's skates or whatever, the chances are the second one will be, too," adds Flyers defenseman
In compiling a list of the defensemen who make the best first pass in the game, it is no shock that they generally are the top blueliners. Indeed, perhaps the only elite defenseman not noted for a superb first pass is Calgary's
Pronger is on the list. "Prongs never makes a pass that puts a forward in trouble, and it's always a laser on the stick," says the Flames'
The first pass is really an exercise in applied mathematics. "You've got to be aware of the defenders around the guy you want to pass it to, how he opens his blade for the pass, how quickly he's skating, where the puck needs to be," Pronger says. "Really, it's just like a quarterback."
So without hope of a cover, here's a working list (in no particular order) of the best first-passers in the NHL:
What do the two have in common, other than -- at the moment -- indifferent play?
Well, Komisarek played with Markov in Montreal and Beauchemin played with Niedermayer in Anaheim -- brilliant defensemen who took the pressure off their partners and camouflaged their shortcomings. True, Toronto signed two first-pair blueliners, but got the B-side.
My mistake: Last week On the Fly congratulated the Minnesota Wild on ending their dopey captaincy rotation and awarding the C to
Their mistake: The Wild has yet to hand the C to Koivu permanently.