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Stan’s Java Jive: 3/18/21
Who will be the next Sabres coach; The Rangers win big; Jimmy Vesey heads west, and Where is Paul MacLean?
HEADLINE: WHO'LL BE THE NEXT SABRES COACH?
THE JIVE: Sportsnet and about a thousand other outlets between here and Lake Erie are asking that question. Of course, the easy answer would be that they've got one right now. But, you and I know that "interim" is worth a stack of wooden nickels. Whoever makes the decision -- likely g.m. Kevyn Adams -- will have an experienced field to choose from that includes the very solid Claude Julien and Mike Babcock for starters. And if the Sabres high command waits until after the season -- why not; what's the rush?-- they might find that the itinerant salesman, John (Yeah You) Tortorella just might be job-hunting. As Gorgeous Gus Vic quickly points out, "Torts also started his NHL coaching career in the Sabres organization." (Forget the bluster, Torts is a wise, well-planned mentor.)
HEADLINE: MADCAP MANHATTAN, RANGERS, 9-0 OVER PHILLY
THE JIVE: Talk about crazy. The entire Blueshirts coaching staff was outed by protocols. AHL Hartford coach Kris Knoblach -- an ex-Flyers aide --replaced David Quinn and the super-blowout followed last night at MSG. How bad was Philly? Inquirer reporter Sam Carchidi writes, "The Flyers had more breakdowns than rush hour on the Schuykill (Highway)." Goalie Brian Elliott was yanked after five goals; pulled for the second straight game. "He should have sued for non-support," added Carchidi. Rangers goal explosion was ignited by the previously slumping Mika Zibanejad -- six points in the second period -- and Pavel Buchnevich with two goals. Pavel also won the Understatement of the Night award after being asked how it was playing under a completely new coaching staff. Buch's answer: "We handled the situation and played well!" (Good question Dep't: Does this avalanche of Blueshirt goals herald the Rangers second-half playoff push? Answer: Don't underestimate them?)
HEADLINE: DOUGIE HAMILTON FAN CLUB MEETS HERE
THE JIVE: You don't see much written about Dougie Hamilton outside of Raleigh but you should. The Hurricanes crack defenseman is en route to one heckuva season, along with his full-speed-ahead Carolina Express. Dangerous at the blue line -- and just about everywhere else -- the Toronto native is well on his way to a banner year, My ace North Carolina nabob, Joel Cohen, speaks highly of Hamilton. How high, you ask? "He's in the final year of his contract," Cohen informs, "and his bargaining value increases with each game. At 22 points in 28 games, it makes me wonder what's ahead in the Dougie deal department. Or to put it another way; from which team?" (And wouldn't you like to be Hamilton's agent right now? I would.)
HEADLINE: WAITING FOR THE NEXT SHOE TO FALL IN BUFFALO
THE JIVE: With robotic Ralph Krueger mercifully out of the Sabres picture, we can only wonder what owners Terry and Kim Pegula have in mind for their franchise. For now, at least, it appears that Don Granato will be interim coach with Dan Girardi and Matt Ellis as assistants. "The best thing for this team is to ride out for the rest of the season with this trio," is the tip I get from my V.P. In Charge of Tips, Gus Vic. "It isn't going to get any worse though the Sabres still have eight games with Boston remaining."
The Trade Sharks are moving in and that leaves the question of who -- if any Buff player -- will be traded? Vic cautions that the general staff should not move too many of their assets, except for Taylor Hall who's on a one-year deal. "The core is not awful," Vic concludes. As for one last word about the Sabres under Krueger, Gus adds, "Their structure has been awful." (Rebuild, Sabres rebuild. Buffalo deserves a winner.)
HEADLINE: CANUCKS CLAIM JIMMY VESEY ON WAIVERS
THE JIVE: I never could figure this kid out and I hope my buddy, Travis Green, can. When, a few years ago, the Rangers won the Vesey Derby, he arrived in the Big Apple like a Big Catch. Only the catch was that the kid from Beantown didn't have the goods. Changes of scenery haven't changed Joltin' Jimmy very much but perhaps, away from the New York and Toronto searchlights, he can connect as a Canuck. Meanwhile the Canucks continued their revival last night by beating Ottawa, 3-2. Adam Gaudette got the Shootout winner. Thatcher Demko's hot goaltending is another reason for the Van surge. (Personally, I'd like to see Vesey succeed because my favorite team in British Columbia still has a shot at the playoffs; albeit still a long one.)
HEADLINE: FIGHTING IS UP IN THE NHL
THE JIVE: That's just fine with the likes of Brian Burke, Ron Hextall and the so-called Old Guard. Burke goes out of his way to make that point in his book, "Burke's Law." Yet, the pre-Pandemic feeling was that fighting decreased over the past decade because of the accent on speed, artistry and other non-violent aspects of The Game. The issue recently was raised after Oilers Jujar Khaira was knocked out by Calgary's Brett Ritchie the other night. Yet, Edmonton coach Dave Tippett has no beef. "Fighting's been in the game a long time," says Tippett. "Intimidation is part of the game. I'd rather see two guys square off in a fair fight than have sticks and whacking. Players still have a responsibility to police the game a little bit."
(That's one side; there's another that argues fighting should be banned. Take your pick.)
HEADLINE: KYLE DUBAS NOT WORRIED ABOUT HIS LEAFS
THE JIVE: While his slumping club has lost five out of its last six games, Toronto's erudite g.m. offers a marvelous explanation for his team's underwhelming play -- "We hit hot goalies." Far enough, so perhaps Sir Dubas should go out and find a hot goalie since he doesn't seem to have one at hand. Dubie also had another gem for inclusion in the still unwritten best-seller, Familiar Hockey Quotations. "Good teams stop the bleeding and grow from it." Actually there's some truth to that. In 1966-67 the Leafs lost ten straight in the second half of the season, stopped the bleeding and won The Stanley Cup. (The difference was that Punch Imlach ran the Leafs then and already had won three Cups with the fourth coming up.)
HEADLINE: DARRYL SUTTER'S STREAK ENDS
THE JIVE: Nobody said that the Flames new coach would win forever and McDavid, Inc. had a lot to say about it last night. The 7-3 pasting Connor's club laid on Calgary was telling. Among other tales: The Flames also don't have Leon Draisaitl who, with his captain, totalled three points. The other telltale tale is that Darryl can't play goal. And if the Flames (14-13-3) plan to make the playoffs they'd better get better goaltending from high-priced Jacob Markstrom. (Only 23 saves on 30 shots is for cut-rate goalies not the elite.)
HEADLINE: ISLANDERS CAPTAIN FINISHED FOR THE SEASON.
THE JIVE: Anders Lee will undergo ACL surgery and Lou Lamoriello assures that the Isles captain will be ready to play next season. As the club's leader and MVP, Lee fits Lou's observation: "You don't simply replace Anders. Whatever we can do to make the team better," Lamoriello adds, "we'll do. Losing a player like that changes our focus. But we won't do something for the sake of just doing something." Russian prospect Anatoly Golyshev is in Lou's crosshairs. "There's a chance he'll be coming over," The Boss adds. Golyshev finished his KHL contract and is in talks with the Isles. Lou stresses that he's confident in his current group and its chemistry. The Lamoriello mantra remains: "Individuals win games; teams win championships." (A good test will be provided tonight when the Isles host Philly at The Coliseum.)
THE READERS WRITE: Sandy MacDonald wants to know "Where is Paul MacLean? And what's he doing with the Leafs?" My man in Toronto, Rob Del Mundo, answers: "Paul was imported as a vet bench boss to give Sheldon Keefe the benefit of his experience. Manny Malholtra coaches the forwards and Dave Hakstol the defense. MacLean now works upstairs." In other words he's the club's eyes from on high.
TRIVIA CORNER: DURING WHICH YEAR DID THE NHL BEGIN CREDITING PLAYERS WITH ASSISTS AS WELL AS GOALS?
SWEET LINES FROM YESTERYEAR: "HE WANTS A HAM SANDWICH FOR A COOKIE:"
Red Wings g.m. Jim Devellano on talking trade with Capitals g.m. David Poile.
ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION; At the start of the 1918-19 season tabulation of assists was begun. That same year the three playing zones and forward passing in the center area came into existence.