21 May 2009

BREAKING: Strib Reports Wild to announce Penguins' assistant GM Fletcher as new GM on Friday

http://www.startribune.com/sports/wild/45746452.html?page=2&c=y

So it seems Mr. Fletcher won the job in the new era of the State of Hockey. I think clearly he's going to handle player negotiations and injuries better than Riseborough (not that's terribly difficult).

The BIG concern I have is his first duty is to hire a new head coach to replace the (at least presently) retired Jacques Lemaire. Since Firing Eddie Olcyzk all they've done in Pittsburgh is promote whoever is coaching their Wilkes-Barre/Scranton affiliate and then fire that person before the end of a season. Frankly no coaches in Pittsburgh have been impressive for many seasons now.

I know fans had a love/hate with Lemaire, but I think there's some consensus that the stability was good, and Lemaire probably left at the right time. I don't know how Wild would handle going from coaching stability if Fletcher brings a "revolving door" mentality to the coaching position here. I guess this decision will decide whether I'm getting on board with this or not.

And unfortunatly unless someone else hires McGuire, it seems we get to suffer through another year of him on NBC.

17 May 2009

Conference Finals Picks

I got two right (Detroit, Chicago), And two wrong (bye bye Boston and Washington) in the last round.  Though I did say I wouldn't be shocked if Carolina got through, I still took Boston.  Overall I'm 6-6, here are my next round selections....

Western Conference Finals
#1) Detroit v. #4) Chicago

In the last round I was more impressed with Chicago beating a very stingy Canucks team, than the Red Wings struggling with a very poor Anaheim Ducks team.  I thought the way was paved for the Red Wings, but they played nowhere near their ablility in the last round.  They need to do that to beat this flying high Hawks team.  I want to pick the Wings to win it all, but they're poor effort in the last round really says they can't be trusted...

Chicago in 6.

Eastern Conference Finals
#4) Pittsburgh v. #6) Carolina

The Hurricanes are way better than they got credit for in the regular season.  The Pens finally solved Varmalov in game 7 in their series against the Caps.  Still, I smell upset here...

Carolina in 6.


12 May 2009

Playoffs, Wild GM hunt, Balsillie...

Playoffs...

Two great game 6's last night. Two high-scoring games, one game 7 forced (Pit at Was, Wed), and one of my second round picks are through to the next round (Chicago over Vancouver, 4 to 2).

Two more good ones to night as Carolina and Detroit both seek to vanquish there opponents in game 6's. I know the Pittsburgh-Washington series has got all the hype, but every series has been great to watch, and full of passion. These 8 teams are all playing very hard.

I know I picked the Bruins, and I know many people we're mean to me for simply being a northerner when I lived in North Carolina, but I still find myself pulling for the Hurricanes tonight. And of course I'm pulling for the bouncing of the evil, unholy Ducks.

Wild GM Hunt...

http://www.twincities.com/wild/ci_12298629?nclick_check=1

Accoring to the above article the frontrunners for the Wild's GM position are Penguin's assistant GM Chuck Fletcher, and NBC Analyst Pierre McGuire.

I find myself underimpressed. The Penguins have not hired a decent coach in the last several years and I'm not confident in Fletcher's ability to pick a good candidate to replace Lemaire if he's going by his experiences with the Penguins.

I find McGuire and old school retread based on his attitudes on NBC (but if he's hired here at least I won't have to watch him on TV anymore). I think old school attitude is what really hurt the Wild under Riseborough (not to mention all the injuries that came up suddenly after the season). Maybe he's smarter in the front office than I think, but I don't really see this as a change.

I suppose either of the above most likley represent an improvement over Riseborough, and maybe Fletcher can prove me wrong on the coach thing. Ideally, I can think of better front offices from which to look for candidates. But hopefully we'll find out soon.

Balsillie's back....

With the Coyotes' seeking bankruptcy Canadian Research in Motion executive Jim Balsillie is seeking to purchase the Coyotes for $212.5M with the stipulation that he be able to move the team to Southern Ontario.

Balsille has made similar attempts at the Nashville Predators (2007) and Pittsbrugh Penguins (2005).

Here are the details: http://www.canada.com/Business/Balsillie+bids+bankrupt+Phoenix+Coyotes/1566656/story.html

The NHL is challening Coyotes' owner Jerry Moyes' ability to declare bankruptcy after accepting financing from the leauge last October to stay afloat. The league is claming that Moyes' surrendered the right to sell the team. This court case will prove very interesting. Did Moyes' surrender his position to the rest of the league? If the court rules he did the Coyote's are probably safe in Phoenix for now. If the court rules otherwise, and rules that the court can compel the league to allow the relocation of the franchise because bankruptcy requires the team be sold to the highest bidder, then it seems the team is heading north.

I speculate the plan is probably to park the team at Copps' Coliseum in Hamilton, ON (40 mi from Toronto) until Balsille can build a new arena. The problem is Hamilton lies within a 70mi radius of both Toronto and Buffalo, where they would have to waive their rights to that territory. If Balsille builds a new arena near Kitchener, ON (where Research in Motion is headquartered) he finds himself out of both trade areas, but still within 40mi of nearby Hamilton.

But for now we're waiting to hear how the judge rules on who has the right to sell the Coyotes.

From a good for the NHL standpoint I'm pretty torn on this one. The attendance in Phoenix is third worst in the league this season. Still Phoenix is the 12th largest US television markets which helps me see why the NHL wants to hold on here (as opposed to Nashville being the 33rd and pretty easy to give up in my opinion). I think it's ultimatly good for the league if the Coyotes were somewhere they could make a profit, and Southern Ontario seems to be a safe bet, however, when they negotiate TV deals in a copule years, it would probably look better if they still had Phoenix in their list of US cities.

In general the comeptition for the entertainment dollar is growing in the US. And markets the size of Phoenix, and for that matter Minneapolis/St. Paul are going to have trouble supporting franchises in all 4 major sports (Seattle is of a similar size and couldn't support 3). Maybe the NHL needs to look for more US markets that currently have only one or two teams (Seattle, Kansas City) even if their smaller. Instead of trying to take gate in mid-sized markets from 3 better established franchises.