Stan's Java Jive: 1/29/21
Fight for NHL tv rights; What's next for Rutherford and Pens?; Texier shines in shootout win and Jimmy Howard retires
HEADLINE: BIG INTEREST IN NHL TV RIGHTS.
THE JIVE: The NHL's decade-long deal with NBC ends after this season and the bidding race is on for futures. While NBC still has an edge in terms of keeping the whole package, there's keen competition. ESPN and Fox are expected to slug it out with the possibility that one or the other could come away with a separate, smaller -- say 20-30 regular season games -- package. "The NHL fits a special niche for Fox," one network expert avers. On the other hand, ESPN also has much to offer. Front Office Sports, which has analyzed the competition, reports that Commissioner Bettman will lead the negotiations and he's a tough hombre when it comes to deal-making. "The league," says Front Office Sports, "is poised to get a windfall." Many observers of the sports tv scene believe that the NHL rights in the past have been undervalued.
HEADLINE: WHAT'S NEXT FOR JIM RUTHERFORD -- AND PENS?
THE JIVE: Now that he's freed himself from his Penguins entanglements ex-g.m. Jim Rutherford insists that he's nowhere near finalizing any decision about his future. Why should he? Now Gentleman Jim can sit back and harvest all the offers that are sure to come and simply pick out the best. He claims to be iffy about another NHL gig but after a respite, chances are the juices will flow and he'll want to do what gives him the most fun -- not to mention dough -- get back into active hockey work. It would not be surprising if Jim and his Seattle buddy, Ron Francis, have a chat. Kraken is loading up on talent in every area. There's nothing better than being a "consultant." (Meanwhile, the Pens must decide if a rebuild is in the cards. And whether Ev Malkin and/or Kris Letang should be dealt.
HEADLINE: OTTAWA'S D.J. SMITH QUESTIONS MORNING SKATES
THE JIVE: The Senators head coach points out that "Science says not to have a skate the day of a game," Based on the way his team is nosediving, it might be best to have a skate the night of a game!
HEADLINE: TORTS -- NO SPECIAL TREATMENT FOR LAINE
THE JIVE: One could argue that a special player such as Patrik Laine rates special treatment. No? The answer from the Blue Jackets head coach is not a "no," it's an "ABSOLUTELY NOT!" In the democracy that rules the Blue Jackets dressing room, all Columbus players get equal treatment because that's. the first rule of The Torts Law. (There is one exception based on last night's Columbus win. Hint: His first name is Alex. See below.)
HEADLINE: JIMMY HOWARD RETIRES
THE JIVE: The goalie's parting words were "It was an honor of a lifetime to play in the NHL." I say it was an honor to watch this three-time All-Star. Jimmy was a runner-up for the Calder Memorial Trophy and made the All-Rookie Team in 2000. He played more than a decade in Detroit and celebrated with The Stanley Cup. (Can't ask for anything more.)
HEADLINE: HOCKEY WRITER SPURS CANUCKS COMEBACK; OR DID HE?
THE JIVE: Prior to their three-game home stand with Ottawa, Travis Green's Vancouver sextet was going nowhere fast in a hurry. All looked bleak; so bleak that Vancouver Province columnist Ben Kuzma virtually demanded in a pre-series story that the Canucks "must" win three out of the three games. This put enormous pressure on the coach, not to mention the players; and just might have been the catalyst to turn the season around for The Slumpers. Whatever the reason, Kuzma, Green and the B.C. Boys did what they were told. Last night's 4-1 victory, completed the three-sweep!
HEADLINE: WHO IS THIS GUY ALEX TEXIER?
THE JIVE: He just has to be the "Under The Radar" player of the season so far. In delivering the Shootout win for Columbus last night, the sophomore forward applied a one-hander -- some would call it a pokecheck -- through the legs of Florida goalie Chris Driedger. My favorite South Florida reporter, Alan Greenberg, calls it, "A daring maneuver for someone taking his first Shootout." Able Alex leads the BJ's with four goals. In a weak moment after the win, John Tortorella broke from his policy and actually singled out a player for praise. Torts: "Alex is probably our most consistent guy." (My comment: Who needs the "Probably."
* BRUINS OVER PENGUINS, 4-1. Patrice Bergeron's pair made the difference. (Pens may need a real g.m. -- fast!)
* RANGERS OVER SABRES, 3-2. Alexis Lafreniere scores his first NHL goal at 2:47 of OT. Blueshirts now can exhale.
* FLYERS OVER DEVILS, 3-1. Carter Hart re-finds his game with 33 saves while out-goaling Scott Wedgewood.
* CAPITALS OVER ISLANDERS, 6-3. Zdeno Chara scores first for Wash after Isles blow a 3-0 first period lead. (That's the "dreaded" 3 goal lead.)
* HURRICANES OVER LIGHTNING, 1-0. Petr Mrazek's 31 saves again confirm that he's one of the most underrated of NHL goalies.
* BLUE JACKETS OVER PANTHERS, 3-2. Who needs a Laine? Alex Texier's 4th round, poke-check Shootout goal has to be seen to be believed.
* CANADIENS OVER CALGARY, 4-2. Tyler Toffoli -- another goal --continues to prove that g.m. Marc Bergevin made a genius move bringing TT to Habtown.
* WILD OVER KINGS, 5-3. There was nothing wrong with Minny's three goals in the first frame. Marcus Johansson delivered a goal and assist.
* STARS OVER RED WINGS: 7-3. Jake Oettinger wins his first start for still unbeaten Dallas.
* AVALANCHE OVER SAN JOSE, 3-0. Nazem Kadri's two goals were all Colorado needed.
* ARIZONA OVER ANAHEIM, 3-2. Christian Dvorak delivered the winner in the third period.
* MAPLE LEAFS OVER OILERS, 4-3. Austen Matthews' power play goal was the third period clincher.
* CANUCKS OVER SENATORS, 4-1. Brock Boeser steps up with two goals and an assist. Elias Pettersson is moving full speed ahead.
QUICK QUIZ: Who was the young reporter who got the scoop on Wayne Gretzky's move from Edmonton to Los Angeles? (Hint: He has since become a leading hockey broadcaster.) Answer below:
YAY TO JACK ROSLOVIC: The forgotten man in the much-ballyhoed Laine-Dubois deal is doing better than the other pair. Roslovic not only is playing for the Blue Jackets but in his own home town. Can you think of another Columbus native who graduated to the NHL? I can't.
GREAT QUOTE FROM THE PAST:
Larry Robinson said the following after being named NHL Player of the Week: "Was Wayne Gretzky sick?"
ANSWER TO QUICK QUIZ: Gord Miller. (Brian Burke had tipped him off. It's all on page 89 of "Burke's Law," Brian's autobiography.)