Finns won't miss this Flame, NCAA talent drain, NHL deal of the year
The thoughts that drifted through my head as the tryptophan kicked in:
Was it the heavy hand of
There's also been criticism of Kipper's apparent sense of entitlement, and it suggests that he should be left at home if he thinks he's bigger than the team.
Fair enough, but I think both of those views miss the point. Here's the more likely reality that Team Finland has to face: Kiprusoff is just not that into you.
There's a perception that the Olympics are more important to foreign-born players, and it's been by declarations like
So maybe you can question the integrity of his avoidance techniques -- a sketchy injury claim in 2006 that resulted in zero NHL games missed, and now this petulant-sounding ultimatum -- but by stating his position early, he's actually done
Even if Kiprusoff prefers to watch the Games on TV, Team Finland won't exactly struggle to fill the position. Minnesota's
Kiprusoff will have to deal with the fallout from his declaration, but the Finns won't. Whatever his reasons, he won't be missed.
This space has fired more than a few well-deserved broadsides at
How's it working out so far? The gritty, if sparsely-talented Exelby has played in just 12 of the Maple Leafs' first 23 games, and with only one fight and a -6 rating to his credit, he's likely to become a near permanent resident of the
And Kubina? The fleece is evident in the numbers. He's eating up more than 22 minutes a night as part of Atlanta's second pairing and playing a significant role on both special teams. He's on pace for 40 points, is tied for the team lead with a +11 rating and willing to sacrifice the body (a team-best 38 blocks).
All the pieces are coming together for the 32-year-old veteran because Waddell recognized that he was the right fit for this organization. As surely as they needed someone with his 6-4, 250 frame to keep the sight lines clear for
The trick now for Waddell is selling Kubina on a pay cut because, for all he's done for the team, Atlanta can't afford to maintain his current $5 million rate when he becomes eligible for free agency this summer. The Thrashers won't spend to the cap (Waddell has said their limit is $47 million) and he has a couple of core players to address first in
Will Kubina accept a sizable pay cut to stay in an ideal situation? Tough to say at this point, but this much is clear: He's played a key role in making the Thrashers a competitive squad in 2009-10, and that's the element that's likely to keep Kovalchuk in the fold. For that reason alone, the deal that brought him to Atlanta is a winner.
Nice to see that
The Hockey Commissioners Association announced on Tuesday that the deposed NHLPA executive director had been hired to helm College Hockey Inc., the newly-minted marketing arm of NCAA Division I men's hockey. His task? Selling the benefits of the college game to top prospects from both the United States and Canada.
It didn't take long before the challenge that Kelly will face became obvious.
Just one day after the Kelly announcement,
That's a major defection from the NCAA path...and hardly an isolated case. The defending Memorial Cup champs have become a particularly irresistible alternative for college-bound players since being taken over by
And it's not just the deep-pocketed organizations like the Spitfires, London Knights and Kitchener Rangers that are wooing top American talent. The Medicine Hat Tigers won over
The lure of the CHL for these kids is obvious: NHL-style programs that promise more games, more practice time, more exposure to scouts and the opportunity to focus their full attention on their development. And if playing hockey doesn't pan out? They can fall back on full-ride college scholarships provided by the team whenever they're ready.
It's not a knock on the NCAA to say that's a tough hand to beat. The college game worked out just fine for
But the Kelly hiring finally recognizes the frustrating reality that the NCAA is losing ground in the battle for the country's top talent. Considering the inexplicable arrogance that the NCAA has long held about what it offers a prospect, acknowledging the problem is itself a significant and positive step for the development of the game in the States.