Off on a couple of week's holidays, Adam Proteau will return for his mailbag column on Aug. 3. In his absence several THN staffers have stepped up to answer your questions.
As a diehard and loyal NHL hockey fan I am very upset at the path that Gary Bettman has been leading us down. Now comes his terrible "uniform system" idea that is nothing more than a cash grab by the league on us fans.
My question for you is this: Has there been any negative feedback in regards to this "uniform system" by the players and if so, do you see the NHL at any time possibly ditching this new style and sticking with the traditional hockey sweater? I say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!
Thanks, David Zuba, Egg Harbor City, NJ
David, I think your point about the new uniforms being a "cash grab" is a valid one. As I pointed out when they unveiled the uniforms at the All-Star Game, I felt this was nothing more than a $10 million boondoggle. That's how much the league is getting from Reebok on this deal.
That said, the uniforms, at least in my opinion, are not quite the abomination I expected them to be. At least the integrity of the logo and the tradition of the team have remained intact in most cases.
I remember when they were unveiled, the people from Reebok threw all sorts of statistics at us about superior wind resistance and reduced moisture absorption, saying that this would be a boon to the players and they would love it. I countered that by telling them that I've been covering NHL hockey for almost 20 years and have interviewed thousands of players and not once, not even once, have I ever heard a player complain about wind resistance or moisture absorption in his sweater.
I agree with you that this has more to do with money than anything that's good for the players or the game, but I also think the new uniforms are here to stay. If you really want to make your feelings known, resist the temptation to buy one of the sweaters, which I believe retail for something like $350 a pop. - Ken Campbell
You can't really argue about the great job that's been done in L.A. (Kings) and Colorado.
This begs the question: If both those teams have improved enough to make the playoffs, which are the two teams that get bumped out?
Thanks, Chris Smith
Chris, While Los Angeles has certainly improved an already exciting forward and defense corps, they have quite possibly the worst goaltending in the league (arguments could also be made for Columbus, Tampa or Phoenix).
Signing Dan Cloutier has so far been a colossal disaster and Jason LaBarbera can't shoulder the load by himself. So I don't think you can count on L.A. making the playoffs this year. Once Cloutier's albatross contract ends after the 2008-09 season, look for the Kings to take off.
So really, only one team has to lose ground for Colorado to make the Elite Eight. I would tab Dallas as that team. The Stars struggled on offense last season and did nothing to improve themselves on that front. Adding Â“toughnessÂ” in Brad Winchester and Todd Fedoruk seems odd when the Stars already have Steve Ott and Krys Barch around and the team is really banking on prospects to pick up the slack, which is a dangerous proposition.
Less likely droppers would be Nashville and Minnesota Â– Nashville because St. Louis and Chicago will be better this year and Minnesota because Calgary and Vancouver are locks in the Northwest, meaning the Wild will need to outpace the Avs or hope their division sends four to the dance. - Ryan Kennedy
As an Oilers fan living in Texas I have absolutely no friggin' coverage down here to answer this myself. Who are the potential UFA guns that might be available next year? Restricted?
I'm just thinking who's wife we need to shower with gifts in advance!
Thanks, Jamieson Sylvester
Hey Jamieson, thanks for reading and taking the time to write in. Here are a few players set to become UFAs next summer, and whom the Oilers might be after:
GOALIES: Ilya Bryzgalov
D-MEN: Wade Redden; Dan Boyle; John-Michael Liles; Radek Martinek; Adam Foote; Mattias Norstrom; Dmitri Kalinin; Brian Campbell.
FORWARDS: Dany Heatley; Mike Fisher; Vaclav Prospal; Miroslav Satan; Kristian Huselius; Jason Williams; Pavol Demitra; Marian Hossa; David Legwand; J-P Dumont; Patrick Marleau; Jochen Hecht; Jay Pandolfo.
Have a great summer. - Sam McCaig
Ok, everyone knows the NHL now operates under a salary cap system. However, what I can't figure-out, or seem to find an answer to anywhere, is just how many players must a team have under the salary cap? Is it a standard number, like 20 or 22, for all teams or does a team have the option to carry more or less players as long as they stay under the salary cap? Do players on IR count against the cap, or are they temporarily excluded?
Thanks, I appreciate the insight you might have on this.
Kent, teams are permitted to have up to 23 active players (not including those on injured reserve) on their roster, although they are not required to carry that many players. The minimum roster size is 20, 18 skaters and two goalies.
The salaries of players who are on injured reserve do count against the salary cap, unless those injured players are placed on the Long Term Injury (LTI) list.
If that's the case, a player or players whose salaries don't exceed that of the player being replaced can replace the player. If, in replacing an LTI player, the team exceeds the salary cap, it is not penalized for doing so. However, if/when the player on LTI is cleared to play again, he must be activated immediately and the team must get back down to the salary cap.
I hope this helps. - KC
What does the TV contract look like for the 2007-08 season in the U.S.?
Best wishes, Tom Elgin, Illinois
Tom, how do you feel about the way last year unfolded on TV? Because that's what's in store again this year, with one wrinkle. NBC will once again broadcast nine games, but this time the scheduling will be flexible, with a Â“Game of the WeekÂ” being chosen 13 days prior to air.
That way, when a team falls apart (Philadelphia, Boston), valuable network time won't be wasted on what most likely be a blowout. Versus will continue airing at least 54 regular-season games next season, subject to blackouts and in your area and cable packages that don't go that high on the dial. - RK
Adam, Do you have any idea what happened to Antero Niittymaki last year? He went from being the MVP-star on the Calder-cup winning Phantoms in 2005 and MVP of the Olympics in 2006 for team Finland to looking like a sieve sometimes for the pitiful Flyers last year. Was it the hip he tore in the preseason? Did his D hang him out to dry too much? And is there any chance of him challenging Biron for the top job next year?
Thanks, from a hopeful (despite your column) Philly fan, Dave
David, As you said in your question, it was a combination of Niittymaki's injury problems and the woeful Flyer team that conspired to do him in last season.
Niittymaki looked really good early in training camp, then, as you probably know, he tore his left labrum, which is the opposite one to the one he had surgically repaired the previous summer. In retrospect, it probably would have been wise for him to get the surgery right away and shut it down for the season, but after consulting with specialists, it was decided he would take cortisone shots to get through the season. He finally had the surgery two days after the season ended.
Niittymaki was never comfortable all year and it didn't help that the team was abysmal in front of him. But he also didn't play well and after basically taking the No. 1 job away from Robert Esche. Niittymaki proved last season that he couldn't be the go-to guy and that's why the Flyers went out and got Martin Biron at the trade deadline.
For that reason, I don't think it's realistic to expect Niittymaki to challenge for the No. 1 job this season. Unless Biron is injured or plays extraordinarily badly, you can probably expect Niittymaki to be at the end of the Flyers bench for the majority of the games this season. - KC
The feeling out here in So Cal is that the Kings are looking pretty good with young forwards, but could use some experience on defense. I was surprised that Jaroslav Modry resigned with the team. I was wondering about Brent Sopel. I thought he played fairly well during his short stay. Have the Kings checked into bringing him back, or is there some reason on either side that his return won't happen?
Danny Lopez, Ventura, Ca. Danny, The issue with Sopel is consistency. He's had seasons in Vancouver where he looked like a solid, two-way contributor, but he's certainly not above the odd defensive-zone blunder. Some seasons he's appeared more prone to them than immune. GM Dean Lombardi probably also feels like he's got the elements Sopel brings covered. Brad Stuart and Tom Preissing are both capable of contributing offensively and Stuart plays with a physical edge. As for experience, Rob Blake still has enough to go around. The Kings may also be looking to create some ice time for in-coming blueline prospect Jack Johnson, who very shortly could represent a sublime mix of offense, defense and angriness.- Ryan DixonAsk Adam appears Fridays only on The Hockey News.com. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.