View my first video blog with the Cornwall River Kings!
View my first video blog with the Cornwall River Kings!
Sunday is my favourite day of the year: it’s Canada Day! Oh, and it also happens to be Day 1 of free agency in the NHL, so it’s the perfect day!
One team I think will be a huge player this July 1: the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Why else would they trade Jordan Staal and Zbynek Michalek, riding themselves of $4.5 million and $4 million in salary, respectively?
According to reports, they will be taking a stab at Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. They certainly have the money to spend now.
Suter makes perfect sense. Pittsburgh has plenty of offence and they’re focusing on their own end this off-season, after that collapse in the first round vs. the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Penguins already brought in a veteran backup in Tomas Vokoun. Now, I think they’ll turn their attention to the best defenceman available in Nashville’s Suter.
WIN-WIN DEAL: The Flyers and Maple Leafs trade is a perfect example of a deal that will work out nicely for both sides. Luke Schenn was nothing more than a pylon in Toronto, but he’ll fit in perfectly on the Flyers blueline. He should regain confidence and eventually turn into a solid punishing defenceman with a great work ethic. James van Riemsdyk was basically forgotten in Philadelphia with all of his injury problems over the past couple of seasons. With the Flyers depth, he was deemed expendable. But in Toronto, he too will get a second lease on life. JVR is a big forward with nice offensive potential. He is certainly going to get Top 6 minutes with the Maple Leafs, perhaps alongside fellow countryman Phil Kessel. This is a good deal for Philly and could possibly be a great deal for Toronto.
OH BROTHER PART 1: Jordan Staal, in the middle of his wedding reception last weekend, was told he was dealt from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Carolina Hurricanes. Talk about a big night with plenty of emotions. Jordan is obviously thrilled to join his brother Eric in Carolina, but it had to have been tough and awkward to face his Penguins buddies that night at the reception.
OH BROTHER PART DEUX: The Habs/Bruins rivalry just got a bit more interesting. P.K. Subban’s younger brother Malcolm was drafted in the first round by Boston. P.K. was at the draft to support his kid brother. Bruins fans booed the Canadiens defenceman every time he touched the puck last year in Boston.
BOBROVSKY! BOBROVSKY! BOBROVSKY!: How bad is your goaltending when you have to turn to the Philadelphia Flyers for help in the crease? Yet, that’s exactly what the Columbus Blue Jackets did last week, acquiring Flyers backup Sergei Bobrovsky for three draft picks. Jay Onrait’s favourite player will battle with Steve Mason for playing time.
BOBBY LOU TO T.O?: Roberto Luongo could very well become a Toronto Maple Leaf before July 1. Brian Burke insists he isn’t dealing Jake Gardiner however. And Mike Gillis maintains he isn’t just going to dump his world-class goalie, despite the fact that he has 10 years left on his 12-year $64 million deal. You’ve got two stubborn GM’s here. Both wouldn’t mind having something in place so not to miss out on the July 1 frenzy. If cooler heads do not prevail, Luongo could easily end up back with the Florida Panthers.
TOO MUCH HYPE: What’s with all the hype in Winnipeg this week after the Jets signed Ondrej Pavelec? Sure he’s their No. 1 man, but the guy has a career GAA of 2.99. Pavelec signed a $19.5 million deal over five years.
HALL OF A CLASS: Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin, Adam Oates and Pavel Bure are heading to the Hockey Hall of Fame this winter. Although I do believe he belongs there, I was really surprised to see Bure in there. His situation reminds me a lot of Eric Lindros, in that both players (even though they couldn’t be more opposite) had shortened careers. Bure had 779 points (437-342) in 702 games. He was a six-time all-star and won the Rocket Richards Trophy (most goals) twice. He also won both silver and bronze medals at the Olympics. Lindros had slightly better numbers. He had 865 points (372-493) in 760 games. He was a seven-time all-star and won the Hart Trophy (MVP) and Lester B. Pearson Award (player’s choice as MVP). He also won a gold medal at the Olympics. Both players were exciting to watch on the ice, for different reasons. But obviously Lindros’ actions off the ice separate him from a player like Bure.
JAYS DESPERATE: With four-of-five starters injured right now, the Toronto Blue Jays are so desperate for pitching that it becomes difficult to make a trade. Other teams know how desperate they are and will make them pay. So, the Jays took another route, signing 49-year-old Jamie Moyer to a minor-league deal. Moyer started the season 2-5 with Colorado but was designated for assignment by the Rockies a month ago. Moyer is only 106 days younger than Jays manager John Farrell.
LIND SURVIVES VEGAS: Adam Lind is hoping what happens in Vegas can continue on in Toronto. Lind was called back up by the Blue Jays this week after a month in Las Vegas (AAA). Hopefully Lind has regained some confidence after batting .395 with eight homeruns and 29 RBI in 31 games. Obviously those AAA numbers have to be put into perspective, but so does Lind’s attitude during this time. He was sent down after getting off to a horrible start to the season, batting .186 with 3 homers and 11 RBI in 34 games.
PIPER’S POINT: Soccer is a really tough sport to watch live on TV. But I did try last weekend, mainly because the Blue Jays were getting pounded by the Marlins on Sunday afternoon. So I switched over to TSN to watch Italy vs. England in a Euro 2012 quarter-final match, which went to penalties. The usual soccer game to me: very little offence and a few too many dives. But, it got me curious as to where Canada stood in the world rankings. Turns out, we come in at No. 77, one spot ahead of Cape Verde Islands and a few positions back of Iraq, ranked No. 74. Soccer may be Canada’s quickest growing sport, but we are a few years away from competing with the world’s best.
The Cornwall River Kings had the first overall pick at the LNAH draft last weekend, and as promised they selected former NHL first-round pick Sasha Pokulok.
The River Kings made a bigger splash later on in the day with a blockbuster trade, acquiring former NHLer Yves Sarault from Riviere-du-Loup. Sarault, who will be 40 in December, will be a great fit in Cornwall – he is a head coach at the Ontario Hockey Academy.
Cornwall would go on to select locals Jeff Legue (15th overall), Brennan Barker (25th), Ian Boots (46th) and Jonathon Jasper (67th). Not all of these players will be in the lineup this fall, but their rights belong to the River Kings nonetheless.
Jonquiere made a couple of interesting picks, selecting Ramzi Abid in the third round and Pierre-Luc Leblond-Letourneau in the eighth round. Abid is from Montreal and he played for Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Nashville in the NHL. He’s spent the last two seasons overseas in Austria. Leblond-Letourneau spent last season with the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat and also played three games with the Calgary Flames.
Saint-Georges drafted Cory Pecker in the fourth round. The former OHL sniper has spent the last four seasons in the Swiss league after two years with the AHL’s Binghamton Senators.
SPEAKING OF DRAFTS: I always look forward to watching the first round of the NHL Entry Draft. It’s going to be interesting this year with three Canadian teams picking in the Top 5. Edmonton, for the third straight year, gets the first pick. Montreal (third) and Toronto (fifth) will also draft high. Edmonton has to go with the best player available: Nail Yakupov. Montreal is in need of a big centre and they should select Alexander Galchenyuk. The Maple Leafs could use a talented centre themselves, but Brian Burke might opt for ‘want’ instead of ‘need’ and go for a big defencemen such as Griffin Reinhart if he’s still available. Filip (I’m not related to Peter) Forsberg would be a good option as well.
KOVY BACK IN MTL: Alex Kovalev was in Montreal this week for his annual golf tournament, and made it known that he’d love to wear a Habs jersey next season. Kovalev played in the KHL for part of last season. The enigmatic Russian will be 40 in February.
CURIOUS GEORGES: Meanwhile, Georges Laraque is also looking to get back to the NHL. The 35 year old played for Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien back in Junior for the Granby Bisons. Montreal brought back Therrien, who hadn’t coached in 3½ years, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they gave Laraque a look. The enforcer hasn’t played since 2009-10.
AGING POPULATION: Dominik Hasek (47) and Alex Kovalev (39) want back in the NHL and it appears Jaromir Jagr (40) and Teemu Selanne (41) will be coming back for more. Next, Daniel Alfredsson (39) and Martin Brodeur (40) are expected to decide if they’ll keep playing. Maybe Nick Lidstrom (42) should reconsider his retirement. Dwayne Roloson is currently the oldest player in the NHL at 42, but he is an unrestricted free agent.
BIG CAREER BREWING: Brett Lawrie finally got the opportunity to face the team that drafted him this week. On Monday night, Lawrie homered in his very first at bat vs. the Milwaukee Brewers, the team that dealt him to the Blue Jays back in December of 2010. The Langley, B.C. native couldn’t be happier in Toronto but it still has to be a good feeling sticking it to the team that gave up on you.
UP-HILL BATTLE: Former Blue Jays 2B Aaron Hill seems to be enjoying his first full season with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Hill hit for the cycle earlier this week, becoming only the fifth Diamondback to do so. Hill, who was dealt to Arizona last August along with John McDonald for Kelly Johnson, is having a decent rebound season; he is on pace for 20 home runs and 70 RBI and is hitting .284 through Monday. Hill batted .225 and .205 in his final two seasons in Toronto.
BLOW TO ROTATION: The Blue Jays starting rotation was dealt a huge blow this week when they heard the three most dreaded words in baseball: Tommy John surgery. Kyle Drabek underwent the surgery this week after feeling a popping sensation in his elbow last week in a start vs. Washington. Drabek, 24, is actually going through the procedure for the second time in his career. The first time around, he needed 13 months to recover. Starters Brandon Morrow (strained rib cage muscle) and Drew Hutchinson (elbow) are also out.
WIDE OPEN: With former champs Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell in the final pairing at last weekend’s U.S. Open, it seemed unlikely that anyone else would surpass them. But, for the ninth straight major, a first-time winner was crowned. Webb Simpson joined Bubba Watson (2012 Masters), Keegan Bradley (2011 PGA), Darren Clarke (2011 Open), Rory McIlroy (2011 U.S. Open), Charl Schwartzel (2011 Masters), Martin Kaymer (2010 PGA), Louis Oosthuizen (2010 Open) and McDowell (2010 U.S. Open) as recent first-time winners. With the win, Simpson moved up to No. 5 in the World Rankings, one spot behind Tiger Woods.
CASHING IN: Forbes released its list of Top 100 highest paid athletes this week and the man atop the list is Floyd “Money” Mayweather, who is in jail right now. Mayweather earned $85 million U.S. for his last two fights. Boxer Manny Pacquiao, who lost his WBO welterweight title earlier this month, was second with $62 million. Tiger Woods, who was No. 1 on the list since 2001, placed third this past year with $59.4 million in winnings and endorsements. NBA star Lebron James was next ($53 million) followed by tennis legend Roger Federer ($52.7 million). Two women made the Top 100: tennis players Maria Sharapova (26th at $27.9 million) and Li Na came (81st at $18.4 million). Football players dominated the list with 30 entries. Peyton Manning was the highest in 10th at $42.4 million. Athletes from 11 different sports made the Top 100, including two cricket players – not a single hockey player made the cut however.
PIPER’S POINT: There you have it; jurors decided Roger Clemens didn’t lie to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs. The Clemens ordeal seemed to last longer than his 24-year career in the majors, and frankly I misremember most of the details.
Two springs ago, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne – then with the Philadelphia Flyers –watched the Chicago Blackhawks parade around their rink with the Stanley Cup.
Through separate transactions – within the last 12 months – all three players ended up with the Los Angeles Kings, and now they are Stanley Cup champs.
The Philly connection doesn’t end there. Former Flyers goaltender Ron Hextall (assistant general manager) and former Flyers coach John Stevens (assistant coach) will also have their names engraved on the Cup.
Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren might not come out and say it, but he sure has to be second-guessing himself after letting go of Carter and Richards in particular.
Last June 23, the Flyers changed the entire face of their franchise, as they shipped the veteran Carter to Columbus for Jacob Voracek, a 1st round pick and a 3rd round pick, and their captain Richards to Los Angeles for Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds and a 2nd round pick.
Those deals were made to free up cash and sign goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who inked a 9-year $51-million deal. And we all know how that experiment is going so far in Philly.
Holmgren obviously didn’t think he could win the Cup with Richards and Carter, but Kings GM Dean Lombardi was willing to take his chances.
In February, Lombardi acquired Carter and his lengthy contract from the Blue Jackets. The move was risky because Carter was off to a horrible start with Columbus.
But in reuniting the former Flyer buddies, the Kings suddenly had very good depth and two motivated players who took being traded away from Philadelphia quite personal.
The Flyers loss was the Kings gain.
SUTTER REIGNS: When Darryl Sutter was named head coach of the Kings in December, many wondered how an Alberta farmer could possibly be a good fit in Hollywood. But Los Angeles would go on to win 41 of 69 games with the blue-collared Sutter behind the bench. The key to the clinching win vs. New Jersey was obviously the 5-minute power play. Sutter was quite animated on the bench before the PP started, making sure that his team would play with urgency – and not wait for the perfect opportunity. What resulted was an onslaught that produced three goals and ultimately won the Kings the Cup.
CUP DROUGHTS: Now that the Kings have finally won the Cup after 44 seasons, the St. Louis Blues (44 seasons), Buffalo Sabres (41 seasons), Vancouver Canucks (41 seasons) and Washington Capitals (37 seasons) have gone the longest without ever winning hockey’s ultimate prize. Each of the mentioned teams has never sipped for Lord Stanley. And of course, the Maple Leafs are at the top of the Cup drought list: Toronto last won the Cup 45 years ago.
DEVIL OF A DECISION: New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur appears to be set to return for at least one more season. I have loved watching Brodeur play over the past two decades, but just so I’m consistent and don’t annoy any more Sens fans, I really do hope Brodeur calls it a career – while he’s at (or near) the top of his game. I said the same thing about Daniel Alfredsson recently; I’d rather remember Brodeur at the age of 40, taking his team to the Cup final – there’s no way the Devils will be back in this position next season.
NEW JERSEY FOR PARISE?: The biggest question mark for the Devils isn’t Brodeur, but whether or not they can re-sign the heart and soul of their team in the coming weeks. Captain Zach Parise is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The list of possible free agents available this summer is slim, especially up front and Parise will receive plenty of attention. At this stage of his career, the Minneapolis native would have to at least consider signing with the Minnesota Wild.
OAKE MAKING FRIENDS: During a Game 6 interview with Matthew Perry, the CBC’s Scott Oake noted that there were many celebs at the Staples Center, including David ‘Beckman’. Oops. Within minutes, both Scott Oake and David Beckman were both trending worldwide on Twitter. Later on, Oake came back on the air to clear up that he of course meant soccer superstar David Beckham.
PRINCES OR KINGS?: A lot was made of how young the Kings are (Los Angeles has the fourth youngest team in the NHL). But they sure had some decent veterans up front that they added over the last couple of years, including: Richards, Carter, Gagne, Justin Williams and Dustin Penner (who easily wins for the biggest and ugliest beard of the post-season).
MOVES LIKE JAGR: Jaromir Jagr is apparently considering at least one more season with the Flyers. The 40-year-old ranks 8th in all-time points with 1,653 (665 goals, 988 assists) in 1,346 games. He passed Joe Sakic (1,641 points) last season but would need to have a big year (and stay healthy) to catch the next guy on the list: former teammate Mario Lemieux, who sits at 1,723 points.
NBA FINALS SET: So it’s the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Lebron James and the Miami Heat for the NBA title. Wait a minute; when did Oklahoma City get an NBA team?
D-DAY FOR R-KINGS: The Cornwall River Kings will look to make some noise at their first LNAH Draft this Saturday. With the first overall pick at the draft, the River Kings have already committed to taking former NHL first-round pick Sasha Pokulok. After that selection, you can bet Cornwall will be looking to pick up some local talent. Follow me on Twitter (@piperspoints) for updates.
SUPER SUNDAY: Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. Enjoy the U.S. Open this weekend!
PIPER’S POINT: Sure, the Kings have one of the youngest teams in the league and their key players are signed to long-term deals (Kopitar is signed through 2016, Doughty until 2019, Richards until 2020 and Carter until 2022). But, the reality of today’s NHL is that there are no more dynasties and the Stanley Cup is harder to win now than ever before. In fact, nine different teams have hoisted the Cup over the last nine seasons, which is an NHL record.
Good for Tim Thomas.
It’s hard not to like a guy who was a career minor leaguer, before finally getting his shot with the Boston Bruins in 2005-06.
Now, at the age of 38, he’s decided to take a year off. It’s safe to say he’ll never put on the Bruins uniform again and realistically, he may never play another NHL game.
But then again, how can you bet against a guy that has had stops in the IHL, ECHL, AHL as well as pro leagues in Finland and Sweden, before making the NHL for good in his early 30’s.
He defied all odds to win two Vezinas, and then last June he captured the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy at the age of 37.
This last season was particularly difficult for Thomas, a Republican, who decided not to accompany his teammates to the White House for a meet-and-greet with President Obama in January. That was the beginning of the end of Tim Thomas in Boston.
As far as his on-ice accomplishments, well he’s done it all. He’s also made some pretty good money and now, he can do what so many of us can’t – retire at a young age and spend quality time with his family.
Good on Tim Thomas.
VOKOUN TO PITTS: I love these pre-July 1 trades that NHL teams make to acquire a player’s negotiating rights. The teams that are creative and take risks are the most successful in the NHL. The Pittsburgh Penugins picked up Tomas Vokoun, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, for a draft pick. Vokoun was a bargain at $1.5 million last year in Washington and now, the Penguins have landed a solid veteran backup at $2 million per year over the next two seasons. Clearly, Marc-Andre Fleury’s work load will be lightened in the coming seasons. MAF averaged 66 games played and 38 wins over the last three seasons. But in the playoffs this spring, he was awful vs. the Philadelphia Flyers, giving up 26 goals in 6 games.
STAT DU JOUR: The Los Angeles Kings became the first team in Stanley Cup playoffs history to start all four best-of-seven series 3-0.
RIVER KINGS LOGO SEARCH: The Cornwall River Kings are very close to deciding on a new team logo. The deadline was last night and a new logo will be chosen today. At least 30 entries have been made.
TIGER TIGER TIGER WOODS YA’LL: Many fans haven’t forgiven Tiger Woods for his, uh, extra-curricular activities that became public a couple of years ago. For me though, I enjoy watching golf most when Woods is in the thick of things on Sunday. It was nice to see Tiger match Jack Nicklaus’ career wins total of 73 (second all-time behind only Sam Snead with 82) at the Memorial of all places. Nicklaus needed 25 years to win 73 times, while Woods has tied the mark after only 16½ seasons. Snead played for 30 years himself. It really does seem like Tiger has his ‘mojo’ back but he’s still got plenty of work to do to catch Nicklaus’ all-time record of 18 major victories (Tiger sits at 14).
LIDSTROM A PLUS FOR NHL: Nicklas Lidstrom will be remembered as one of the classiest NHLers of all time, with some incredible stats to boot. He finished his 20-year career an amazing +450 (8th all time) and he was a +61 in the playoffs (1st all time). What’s more amazing to me is the fact that the Detroit Red Wings made the playoffs in each of Lidstrom’s 20 seasons. In the 20 seasons before he arrived, Detroit missed the post-season 13 times. With 4 Stanley Cups, 7 Norris Trophy’s and 1 Conn Smythe, Lidstrom has to rank in the Top 5 d-men of all time.
JAYS STARTERS SOLID: Toronto Blue Jays ace Ricky Romero sure is hard on himself. Romero has been spotted a couple of times recently in the Jays dugout, throwing his glove during a temper tantrum. I’d hate to see him when he’s losing. Romero is among league leaders with a 7-1 record. He’s obviously been frustrated with a few extra runs he’s given up via the long ball. His earned run average sits at 4.02. Overall, Toronto has to be pleased with its starters, who have combined for a 26-18 record with a 4.03 ERA. Brandon Morrow (7-3) has been sensational of late, lowering his ERA to 2.90.
PIPER’S POINT: The Michel Therrien experiment didn’t work the first time around for the Montreal Canadiens, yet they’re giving him a very rare second chance nearly 10 years later. Only in Montreal, where they only have so many candidates because of the language issue. There is no way in the world that Therrien was the best coach NOT in the NHL. Therrien, who was fired by the Habs in 2003, coached 190 games in Montreal. His record was 77-77-36. He then moved on to coach the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team he took to the Stanley Cup final in 2008. The next year, with only 25 games to go in the regular season (the Pens were 27-25-5 at the time), he was fired by the Penguins, who went on to win the Cup that June. He hasn’t coached since. How can a guy who hasn’t coached in over three years be the best candidate for the job? He must have had one hell of an interview. I guess it could have been worse though Habs fans; Montreal could have brought Mario Tremblay back.
Former Cornwall Colts sniper Eric Meloche is coming home.
The Cornwall River Kings have acquired the right winger from St. Georges, in the LNAH team’s second trade of the day.
Meloche, of course, was a star power forward with the Jr. A Colts, guiding the team to the CJHL title in 1994-95 and 1995-96. In his final season with the Colts, Meloche scored 68 goals and 53 assists for 121 points in 64 games. That year, he also had 162 penalty minutes.
The 36-year-old will add some veteran presence to the River Kings, but Meloche is still an offensive force as well. He
scored 15 goals and added 26 assists last year for 41 points in 44 games. He spent the previous four seasons in Germany with the Straubing Tigers.
Meloche, a native of Lachute, QC was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the seventh round of the 1996 Entry Draft. He went on to play 74 games in the NHL, scoring 9 goals and 11 assists for 20 points with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
After graduating from the Colts in 1996, Meloche spent four seasons at Ohio State University. He also won the Calder Cup in the American Hockey League with the Philadelphia Phantoms in 2005.
Earlier in the day, Cornwall acquired Pierre-Luc Faubert from Trois-Rivieres. The 26-year-old played for the Chicago Express of the ECHL last year.