Lets Get the Season Started Already!
Notable injuries have occurred during the preseason. Thoughts on Brady Tkachuk's holdout. A look at two new hockey books. Alex Galchenyuk's travels.
"Hey, Stan, what do you think of the exhibition season so far?"
I get that question all the time -- and why not?
My standard answer is simple:
1. In a few cases such as whether Josh Ho-Sang can make the Maple Leafs varsity or not, it's important. (P.S. He failed.)
2. The only other thing that matters to me --more than Ho-Sang, et. al. --
is injuries and related reasons for a sabbatical.
Exhibit A is Carey Price whose announced absence is a Habs stunner as well it should be. Jake Allen takes over with AHLer Cayden Primeau -- supposedly "technically strong" -- as Montreal's S.O.S. backup.
Already the Kings have lost prize rookie Quinton Byfield to a fractured ankle.
The Red Wings hotshot steal from Washington, Jakub Vrana, is gone indefinitely.
On Wednesday night the Rangers bruiser -- unofficial NHL Heavyweight champion -- Ryan Reaves limped off the ice with what could be a serious leg injury.
Then there was the "near thing" with Connor McDavid the other night getting sideswiped by Calgary's Chris Tanev before crashing into the Flames goalie. (McD claims Tanev should have been penalized.)
Doesn't matter; this is hockey and the team that escapes training camp without serious wounds is in almost as good shape as a healthy team before the playoffs.
Point is that injuries are inevitable in training camp and the avoidance of same is the most important aspect of pre-season.
Unless, of course, your name happens to be Ho-Sang looking to get back in The Show!
HEADLINE: THE MOST ANNOYING HOLDOUT OF PRE-SEASON
THE JIVE: Ottawa has one of the most gifted forwards in Brady Tkachuk. He knows it. His agent knows it and so does Senators g.m. Pierre Dorion.
Which explains why the Sens would love to sign the prodigy to a long, long contract. But The Kid -- getting advice from his big brother in Calgary -- doesn't want to go that route yet. Who knows? Maybe he'd rather be in New York rather than Canada's capital.
My point is that these holdouts become a constant annoyance to me, fans and especially the loyal Ottawa rooters. The simplistic answer is that you'd think that by now -- weeks of pre-season -- that a compromise could have been worked out, or do we have to wait until two hours before the season opens before pen is put to contract? Answer: More likely the latter. That's why aspirin was invented.
HEADLINE: GET THIS GUY A SUITCASE FOR CHRISTMAS
THE JIVE: Make that three carry-on bags for Alex Galchenyuk who has just landed on the Coyotes roster. How long the Canadiens third overall pick from 2012 will remain in Arizona is anyone's guess. Last season he touched base with the Senators, Maple Leafs and Canes. Like the Habs when they drafted him, the Yotes think they've struck gold. Well, at least g.m. Bill Armstrong does.
"We're pleased Alex is with us," grins Army. "He's versatile, skilled, works hard and earned a spot on our team. He's a good addition." Funny, that's what Pierre Dorion thought and that's what Kyle Dubas figured. What it all comes down to is that no one seems to fathom why Alex can't find a permanent home. Hopefully it'll work out for Armstrong who could use a talent in his prime. Army gets a sidebar prize. He signed one of the few NHLers who speaks Russian, Italian and English.
HEADLINE: NICE TO HEAR THAT OUR PAL ROBIN LEHNER IS HAPPY
THE JIVE: The voluble Knights goalie claims to be campaigning for a better hockey world. Both the American and Canadian Constitutions state that he's free to do so. And he has. The good news is that both the NHL high command and NHLPA leadership have given the goalie a good listen. What's more, Rapid Robin seems pleased about his conferences.
"I had a great talk with the league and the NHLPA," reported Robin. "Everything was brought to the table. The rest will be behind closed doors." Fair enough but I wonder why Robin originally felt obliged to go public rather than keep his issues "behind closed doors."
Funny thing is that I spent a whole season with Lehner on Long Island and not once was there a peep from him about any issues that he considered untoward.
HEADLINE: SNAIL-LIKE MOVEMENT IN THE GUESS-WHAT DRAMA
THE JIVE: Frankly, I'm embarrassed to bring it up but since super-duper
TSN "Insider," Darren Dreger did so, I might as well add another log on the Jack Eichel air conditioner. Okay -- maestro, are you ready? -- there's a new development in the Jack Eichel Snail Show.
According to Dauntless Darren, there's a "shifting" in the endless Eichel log jam. What DD means is that teams interested in dealing for Eichel are talking to Sabres boss Kevyn Adams. No matter that that bit of news is about as new as the Buffalo nickel. What matters -- as it always has mattered now for months -- is who'll give Adams what the Sabres need to justify the deal. That said, it's gratifying to know that the sands are "shifting." (Snails have been known to shift, too.) As for dear Dreger, the guy's just doing his job. No harm in that!
HEADLINE: LONG-TERM BREAD QUESTION ANSWERED.
THE JIVE: For years now, New York historians have debated which Rangers team boasted a "Bread Line." My research indicated that it was the 1928 and 1933 Blueshirts Stanley Cup-winners. The line was comprised of the brothers, Bill and Bun Cook, around center Frank Boucher.
Others have claimed that the 1940 New York titlists featured more Breads. The brothers Neil and Mac Colville with Alex Shibicky. Now at last I've found the answer, thanks to author Sean McCaffrey.
In his new book "The Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden,” Sean asserts that there was a Bread Line #1 and Bread Line #2. That, by the way, is similar to the Maple Leafs history.
Toronto's first Kid Line -- Joe Primeau, Busher Jackson, Charlie Conacher -- won a 1932 Cup. The Leafs post-World War II Kid Line -- Ted Kennedy, Vic Lynn,Howie Meeker -- played on three straight Cup teams from 1947 through 1949.
McCaffrey also notes that there's still bread in the Rangers lineup. None other than Artemi Panarin, The Bread Man!
HEADLINE: HOW ZAMBONI BECAME PART OF A BLUES BROADCAST
THE JIVE: I've heard some crazy play-by-play goal calls in my time. Pittsburgh's Mike Lange comes to mind with his "Elvis is leaving the building." Up until now I didn't know that a Zamboni could get into a play by play act.
It turns out that Blues radio guy Chris Kerber has been Zamboni-ing his calls going back to his minor league days. I just made this discovery reading Matthew Blittner's newest book, "Voices Of The NHL."
A the end of every Blues' win, Kerber, shouts "Bring On The Zamboni." He claims the four little words date back to his minor league broadcasting roots in Birmingham. It was an overtime game and Kerber's team was attacking the goal behind which was the ice-surfacer.
Kerber: "The Zamboni was parked behind the doors when Olaf Kjensta got the OT winner for us. I did 'He shoots; he scores -- and you can bring that Zamboni out and circle it all around the ice.'"
Eventually, Kerber moved on to Springfield where the owner cautioned him about the Zamboni call but he continued doing it anyway. Fans picked up on it and began carrying BRING OUT THE ZAMBONI signs to the rink.
"Now," Kerber concludes, "I've been doing it since Day One!"