Happy Friday. Want to celebrate it as dozens of hockey fans do every week? All you have to do is send me a question - or, if you insist, a letter and include a self-addressed stamped envelope if you want it returned - and I’ll do my best to answer it here, in the magazine or on THN Radio.
Now, on to this week’s batch:
Adam, why has Kevin Shattenkirk continuously been overlooked with respect to the Calder Trophy debate? He missed much of the first half of the year and still has put up 26 points - very solid numbers for a rookie defenseman. He plays almost 20 minutes a night and yet I don’t hear a word from him because of Taylor Hall, Jeff Skinner and Logan Couture. Can't someone at least recognize him?
Nathan Robbins-Kanter, Toronto
There definitely are people in the hockey world who have sat up and taken notice of Shattenkirk this season; had they not, I’m sure the league wouldn’t have invited him to participate in the rookie skills competition during all-star weekend.
In any case, a cursory scan of Calder Trophy winners from the past decade shows Shattenkirk would either need a dominant year (as Tyler Myers had when he won it in Buffalo last season) or a weak class of rookies (as Barret Jackman benefited from in 2002-03). Otherwise, you need to be the caliber of a Ray Bourque (who won it in 1979-80), Gary Suter (1985-86), or Brian Leetch (1988-89) to stand out above forwards and goalies.
That’s not to say Shattenkirk won’t eventually prove himself worthy of league-wide acclaim. But the position he plays, combined with the fact he’s still only 22 years old, means he’ll have to be satisfied with his own growth pattern and helping the Avs to improve collectively. Most players I know prefer that reward over fair-weather praise monkeys.
Greetings Adam. With the decline of the Senators team the past two seasons, it is very clear management and coaching changes will be made. I thought Bryan Murray should have been let go after the firing of John Paddock and Craig Hartsburg. It’s time for Murray to take responsibility.
It may sound crazy, but I think Darryl Sutter would benefit the Senators behind the bench. He has always been a good, successful coach who demands the best of his players. His last years behind Calgary's bench were the last time they have been considered successful. Maybe even keeping Cory Clouston as an assistant to offset personalities.
Would you think Sutter could get more from the players? Would this be in the better interest of the Senators to have a personality like him running the bench?
Anthony Kelly, Whitby, Ont.
Looks like you’ve pondered the heck out of the Sens’ dire situation. And I was with you right up until you suggested Darryl Sutter as the solution to it.
If there’s one guy who needs an extended break from the everyday pressures of an NHL coaching/management job, it’s Sutter. He never was the friendliest guy to begin with and by the end of his time with the Flames, if he wasn’t already over the edge, he was as close to it as this guy.
Once Chris Phillips and others are traded by Murray and once the entire management team is re-jigged, it will be up to owner Eugene Melnyk to decide the type of personality he wants in charge of the players. It isn’t as if Clouston is the player-friendliest coach in the game, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Melnyk hire someone with a little more of the approach taken by, for instance, Dan Bylsma.
Or perhaps the rumblings of Canadian junior team coach Dave Cameron taking over will come true. In any case, don’t be fooled into thinking any coach will be able to come in and quickly turn the Senators back into contenders. They’ve got some components for the future, but arguably as many, if not more, holes to fill.
Adam, how can The Hockey News put Carey Price on the cover of your magazine when you discuss goalie wars when Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins has the best all-around game going? That’s the problem with a biased magazine - maybe you should put on the cover the player(s) who deserve it, especially when he is almost twice his age.
Jeffrey Thomas, Cambridge, Mass.
Let me see if I understand you: we should’ve selected Thomas because (a) he’s significantly older than Price and (b) he “deserves” it? I hope you’re not on any debating teams.
You may have missed it the past couple years, but we have had Thomas on the cover (and devoted a cover story to him). Our editorial decisions may seem like “bias” to the average fan, but we are constantly debating our choices before we follow through with them. And just because you don’t agree with them doesn’t mean we’re in the wrong.
Hey Adam, if the NHL wants to send a team to Quebec City, what is their best option - take a struggling sunbelt team or expand the league? I could easily see the addition of one or two teams in each conference, but is one going to bring the NHL money more than another?
Nik Paquin, Ottawa
There’s no font size large enough for me to type “NO!” to adequately express my hatred for even the possibility of expansion. The game will be even more watered-down and over-coached with more teams and players - and for what? A blatant money grab that benefits owners more than anyone else? It isn’t to laugh - it is to spit in disgust.
Without a doubt, Gary Bettman wants to play the expansion card - particularly when it comes to the rumored second team for Southern Ontario - because it will make him more of a hero to his employers than he already is. But, for the good of the game, I’ve got my fingers crossed that a team currently in existence that can’t make it work in their market will be relocated to Quebec City, Winnipeg or the Toronto area.
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays and his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays.
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