How the Bolts Bolted Down Their Second Cup
Detroit GM Steve Yzerman nets the Deal of the Day; Lundqvist will not return this season; The Hart race heats up.
Tampa Bay's esteemed general manager Julien BriseBois may never had heard of Mike McEwen but that's okay.
Because by "Doing The McEwen" the Lightning's boss has preserved his team's chances to win a second Stanley Cup better than ever.
In other words, by trading for old-school, hurts-to-play-against shutdown defenseman David Savard, the Bayman g.m. has every gap closed for a march to a playoff final. Here's the why and how.
1. He followed the Bill Torrey Route of 1981 when Bow Tie Bill's Islanders were searching for one last "missing piece."
2. The previous "missing piece," Butch Goring, already had secured Cup One, but the Isles still were weak in one key area.
3. They relied on Denis Potvin to anchor their power play but the Hall of Fame D-man couldn't do it alone.
4. In search of that second PP QB, on Deadline Day, Torrey traded goalie Glenn Resch to Colorado and, in return, he obtained the key to the Cup, Mike McEwen.
The MME Man not only was the perfect PP reliever he also was heroic on defense not to mention offense. With McEwen playing a major role, the Islanders won three more Cups.
Julien BriseBois sure is on the right track for his second in a row. The new McMcEwen is named David Savard!
HEADLINE: THE UNSUNG TRADE DEADLINE HERO
THE JIVE: How do you acquire a major piece for a Stanley Cup run when you have near zero cap space? Lightning g.m. Julien BriseBois proved that it could be done with ingenuity and perseverance. This from our man in Florida, Al Greenberg:
Following the David Savard acquisition he admitted “I didn’t really expect to pull this off.” Although Savard, a right shot defenseman was targeted by BriseBois, the immediate obstacles were a lack of cap space and the uncertainty as to whether Columbus would trade him.
To make this happen, Brisebois needed the cooperation of current Detroit and former Tampa g.m. Steve Yzerman. As he explained it, because of Tampa Bay’s tight cap situation “we needed teams to eat money.” Needing two teams made it even more complicated.
When all was said and done Tampa Bay received Savard from Columbus and Brian Lashoff from Detroit. The Blue Jackets received two draft picks from the Lightning and the Red Wings one draft pick. The key was that Savard was initially traded to Detroit with Columbus retaining 50% of his remaining salary this season. Detroit then traded him to Tampa Bay and retained another 25% of his salary, allowing Tampa Bay to acquire him for 25% of the total cap hit.
From the Columbus and Detroit standpoint, they bought draft picks for a modest price. Columbus would have likely lost Savard to free agency anyway so this was a deal which made everybody happy.
As BriseBois explained, “It’s not the type of deal you can pull off in 30 minutes.”
The Lightning paid a premium for a player who may be no more than a rental. On the other hand it may be the piece required for a repeat championship.
HEADLINE: STEVE YZERMAN HITS A TRADING HOME RUN
THE JIVE: It's hard to believe what the Red Wings boss got for the pseudo-power-forward-too-often-loafer, Anthony Mantha. Had Detroit merely obtained Jakub Vrana even up for Mantha, it would have been a fair deal. Instead -- and incredibly -- Caps g.m. Brian MacLellan added right wing Richard Panik, PLUS, a first and second-rounder. The massive Motor City haul is getting raves from tough analysts. Helen St. James of the Detroit Free Press says, "Yzerman gets a top grade (for) unloading an underachiever. (One scout describes Mantha as a "loafer." The Athletic required not one but two smart fellows to write, "That Washington added a first and second round pick seems almost absurd, given how even the two players are in value."
St. James accurately notes that Stevie Y scored a double-dip, adding to the team's short-term and longer term needs "without sacrificing flexibility."
(The home run Yzerman hit -- just so you know -- was with bases loaded; with Caps!)
HEADLINE: TRADE WINDS AND TRADE WINNERS ALL OVER THE PLACE
THE JIVE: Wherever you look, the local (homer) tub-thumpers believe their club's deal is an entree to the Cup Final. Kyle Dubas in Toronto pickd up so many bodies the Leafs nut-cases figure that Hogtown now has a dynasty. But KB doesn't have is what the defending Champs do have, guaranteed goaltending. Carolina can't match the Bolts in goal but g.m. Don Waddell has built a mini-juggernaut while Lou Lamoriello's addition of Travis Zajac and Kyle Palmieri could equate into a pair of tickets well into the post-season. The Hockey News named Colorado as the best NHL team and Nathan MacKinnon the league's best player. If any team can knock off the Champs, I'd go with the Avs, closely followed by Vegas. Each powerhouse benefitted by trades but the Knights have a goaltending edge.
And, in case you're wondering about Connor McDavid's outfit, his g.m. Ken Holland did what he could to insure a second round entry but not enough beyond that. Not to be forgotten are the well-fortified Panthers and Pitt mostly because of Sidney Crosby and a couple of decent trade adds. (Bottom Line: There's a surplus of quality clubs which can knock off Tampa Bay. And, yeah, it's possible that -- in this case -- quantity will top quality!)
HEADLINE: BAD NEWS ON THE GOALIE FRONT:
THE JIVE: Henrik Lundqvist's revelation that he won't be able to play this season -- doctor's orders -- is tough news for a top goalie and a top guy. "There's still some inflammation around the heart," Hank disclosed. "I'll need a few months more of rest for a steady recovery. It's not what I had hoped for but it's all part of the process to get to 100 percent." Let's hope and pray that all goes well for this fine fellow in the recuperation ahead.
HEADLINE: BUFFALO FINDS THE RIGHT COACH
THE JIVE: William Shakespeare's line, "Sweet are the uses of adversity" fits the Sabres. The Swords are emerging from the downtrodden, playing like the team projected on opening night when Taylor Hall and Jack Eichel were teammates. Except Eichel is out indefinitely and Hall definitely is in Boston.
Yet, the Swords now are winning games and battling. Their dramatic come-from-behind win over Philly Sunday night was just the latest example. Credit Don (Interim Or Not) Granato for that. The plug-in-coach when Ralph Krueger got canned has a revived team playing with gusto. "Progressively, the last couple of weeks, we've had a much better relief system," Granato explains, "and it's getting stronger. I can feel it up and down the bench. There's more 'confident speak' than 'emotional speak.'" (That speaks to my point; look no more owners Terry and Kim Pegula, you have your coach for now and next year!)
HEADLINE: HAS TORTS KISSED HIS BJ JOB GOOD-BYE?
JAVA JIVE: John Tortorella almost sounded like General Robert E. Lee surrendering to Ulysses S. Grant recently when he effectively gave up on the Blue Jackets playoff hopes. It was a realistic assessment, to be sure, but there were unenough realistic explanations in it -- players wanting out of Columbus was a biggie -- to perturb his boss and ownership. G.m. Jarmo Kekalainen was the not-so-subtle target of Torts "We need a do-over" diatribe. And when General John talks about players leaving for greener pastures; as least some of them were looking for a different fellow behind the bench. (Could an ESPN gig be in Torts crystal ball?)
HEADLINE: THE HART RACE HEATS UP
THE JIVE: Connor McDavid is one of the best things to happen to the NHL since Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and -- oh, yes -- Patrick Kane. Not to mention a dozen other worthies.
As far as I can tell there's absolutely nothing to not-like about the Oilers captain and everything to like.
That said, his prolific performances so far this season do not make him an automatic Hart Trophy-winner as many in and out of the media business seem to think.
I've said it before and I'll say it again; Patrick Kane is more valuable to the Blackhawks than McDavid is to Edmonton.
Canny Connor has a guy named Leon to help him look good. Kane doesn't even have Jonathan Toews.
There's nobody remotely like superstar Leon Draisaitl on Chicago. And that's particularly pertinent since captain Toews has been absent all season.
As a matter of fact, I enthusiastically rate Auston Matthews ahead of McDavid in the Hart discussion. Thanks to leading goal-scorer Matthews, the Leafs are a much better team than the Oilers.
Isn't that reason enough to put Auston ahead of Connor? I think so.
1. TAYLOR HALL TO BOSTON: From the Devils side, George Falkowski: "Great for him. I found him super-accountable in Jersey. His Hart Trophy season was the best I've ever seen from a Devil." From neutral Gus Vic: "Bruins need to see way more from Hall. Save for Hart year, his rep as a winner stinks."
2. MCDAVID'S TEAM: The Oilers went into Trade Deadline Day short on secondary scoring. G.m. Ken Holland had to make a significant move in order to have realistic playoff aspirations. All Ken did was obtain adequate D-man Dmitry Kulikov from New Jersey. But it did nothing significant to bolster secondary scoring. That could bite Edmonton's chances in the playoffs.
3. GOALIE ISSUES: Toronto's acquisition of David Rittich from Calgary means that g.m. Kyle Dubas has doubts about Fred Andersen's availability even by playoff time. Avs had to wonder whether Devan Dubnyk is the Avs answer behind Philipp Grubauer. (Very chancy, I think.)
Scotty Bowman was offered a fabulous sum to take over the Vancouver Canucks but rejected the bid. What was the legendary put-down he used for turning down the offer?
(See Answer Below)
FUNNY COMMENTS FROM YESTERYEAR:
This from the late Bob Plager about his St.Louis Blues defense partner Noel Picard:
Every time Noel hears a certain song, he just knows he's gonna have a bad game. That song is "The National Anthem!"
"The trouble with Vancouver," Bowman explained, "is that when you wake up at nine, it's Noon everywhere else in the world!"