What about Bob?
His name is
This is what we know about Bob:
He is 22 years old. He is 6'-2", weighs 190 pounds. He is from Russia, and a contemporary of the more highly touted
Now, this is what we know about Bob's coach,
The man has nerve. The easiest move -- the one that would not have been an engraved invitation to second-guessing -- would have been to start the seasoned Boucher in Pittsburgh, then come back with Bob against a moderately softer touch, the Blues. (Boucher played in St. Louis, making 23 saves in a 2-1 overtime loss.) For his fearlessness, Laviolette was duly rewarded by the spectacular play of the unknown goalie, whose career KHL record was a less than distinguished 16-42-5.
If you haven't noticed by now, Laviolette, behind his fourth NHL bench, has joined the upper echelon of coaches. Of course, he has the 2006 Stanley Cup with Carolina on his curriculum vitae. He also has the disappointing Team USA Olympic performance that same year on it, too, although given the American personnel in Turin, there probably wasn't too much more to squeeze from that group. But those are just headlines from a solid career. On a nightly basis, Laviolette runs a bench as intelligently as any coach this side of Detroit's
In the long, sorry and even sordid history of Flyers goaltending, there is no telling where Bob fits. He might be a curio. He might be a keeper. Certainly with Leighton, a journeyman, and Boucher, a star when he was young but a plugger now, the Flyers should give Bob every opportunity to develop into a frontliner. Since
So, we'll see about Bob in the next several weeks.
But right now, we know everything we need to about the coach that trusted him.
Let's go back to another opener last Thursday. Battle of Alberta. A little more than two minutes remain. The frisky Oilers lead the bedraggled Flames 4-0 -- can
Stop me if you've seen this before.
They drop their gloves, and MacIntyre drops Ivanans with two straight rights, leaving him bloodied and on some planet other than this one.
The larger issue, of course, is whether the 30-year-old MacIntyre (two goals, one assist and 69 penalty minutes in 45 games) and the 31-year-old Ivanans (12 goals, six assists and 569 PIMS in 281 games) should even be on NHL rosters, but it is too early in the season to get all existential about the place of fighting in the league.
Rather than look at the big picture, let's consider a smaller picture -- the so-called "staged fight."
First, two observations:
The issue of staged fights was the rage in March 2009 when general managers attempted to tackle what they perceived to be a growing problem. Even Ol' Mr. Truculence himself,
Where do things stand now?
Potential reforms were scrapped because the Players Association rebuffed overtures to tweak the rules. Among the vocal critics of changes that would have clamped down on staged fights was
In response to our e-mailed question about staged fights, Murphy wrote:
"Following the March 2009 meeting, the GMs identified two aspects of fighting that they wanted addressed:
At the time of those GM meetings in Florida 18 months ago, the NHL reported staged fights had increased by 30 percent in the preceding eight years. If that number isn't alarming, maybe the sight of Ivanans might have changed some hearts and minds of his association brothers.
If the PA ever does allow modification of fighting rules, maybe the one dimensional, four-minutes-a-game tough guys will be in jeopardy of losing their jobs. But unless the roster size is reduced, there will be no net loss of employment. No harm, no foul -- at least in terms of the global numbers. This really isn't about saving jobs; this is about whose jobs a union might be saving.
Playing short-handed in the third game of the season is hardly Armageddon. Indeed, three-line and two-defense pair hockey (with a rotating fifth blueliner) was the norm about 25 years ago, and players now are far better conditioned to handle extra ice time, even in a faster game. But any coach would want a full complement of players available to him. If the Devils' roster is compromised, Kovalchuk -- and the arbitrator's voiding of the original deal that carried a $6 million cap hit -- will be a weekly topic in Newark.
Small sample size, small mercies. After finishing 30th in both power play and penalty killing last season, the Maple Leafs have scored a goal with the man-advantage -- okay, it was a two-man advantage -- and not allowed any on seven penalty kills while winning their first two games. (Toronto started 0-7-1 last year.) Leafs special teams are the bellwether for what could be a breakthrough season.