Another in a series of weekly articles summarizing activity in Leafland
during the previous 7 days – with some personal observations,
commentary, prospect updates and fun thrown in for good measure.
Another Lindros Story: Apparently Mr. B. Clarke of Philadelphia is
ready to kiss and make up with the entire Lindros clan … its very
doubtful, though, that a proud man like Bobby would be willing to kiss
the particular part of Eric’s anatomy needed to bring that marriage back
off the rocks … there is a prevailing opinion out there that the Flyers
still effectively control Lindros’ destiny but I’m not really buying
into this view … Eric has no financial concerns (based on past earnings
and potential insurance income) and can basically refuse any trade
engineered by Clarke that is not to his liking … in the interim, he can
wait on the sidelines and regain his full health, knowing that
unrestricted free agency is now only approximately 1 ½ seasons away …
the law of diminishing returns is quickly coming into play here for his
former team … by the way, Eric is said to be still intent on playing for
the Maple Leafs and, given the situation outlined above, he’ll likely
get his wish if he simply remains patient and sticks to his guns …
incidently, I was very interested to note that the Flyers let Mark
Recchi play last week following a serious head injury … I suppose that
some things never change …
Keep The Faith: I have it on very good authority (and there is not a
greater Leafs’ expert in the world that my very goo Read more»
In most cases, attention tends to be focussed upon only the top draft
choices within any organization. Although this is also the case in
Toronto, I’d like to draw your attention to a couple of late round picks
that seem to be doing fairly well for the Maple Leafs.
2000 8th Round pick Lubos Velebny and 9th Round pick Jean-Philippe Cote
are both progressing nicely at this time. Both players have become
important defenders this season with Waterloo of the USHL and Cape
Breton of the QMJHL respectively.
Velebny, who many believed to be still playing in the Slovakian Jr.
League, has been placed with the USJHL team in Waterloo, IA by the Maple
Leafs. He had been reasonably impressive in limited duty at the team’s
Rookie Camp in September. Velebny has played in half of the (Waterloo)
Black Hawks’ games has one goal and one assist with 8 PIMs.
Cote, who was traded from Quebec last year to Cape Breton, is the (Cape
Breton) Eagle’s 2nd highest scoring defensemen after 16 games. He has
one goal and nine assists to go along with 15 PIMs. Like Velebny, Cote
possesses prototypical NHL size, plays a physical style and navigates
the ice fairly well.
With the recent success of other late round picks such as Kaberle,
Markov, and Berezin, the Maple Leafs will be well advised to remain
extremely patient with both of these youngsters.
It’s been a horrible week for the New York Rangers as they are currently in
the midst of a 4 game losing streak. However, their lack of good play has
caused head coach Ron Low and general manager Glen Sather to bring up some
rookies from the minors to get some NHL action.
The Rangers re-called 22 year old hotshot defenseman Mike Mottau on Wednesday
from Hartford of the AHL. Mottau played his first NHL game in Thursday’s 3-0
loss to the Flyers. I thought overall he played a strong game. He made the
smart first-pass out of the defensive zone, and saw time as the quarterback
on the 2nd power play unit. Although the Rangers did lose, Mottau had a great
game. But last night in the Rangers 4-1 loss to the Penguins, Mottau didn’t
play as well. He committed to soon on a 1-on-1 situation with Jaromir Jagr in
the first period, leading to the 1st goal of the game for the Penguins. The
next game for Mike will be against the Boston Bruins on Sunday, his hometown
In other news, Kirk McLean was listed as day-to-day with back spasms, causing
the Rangers to re-call goalies J-F Labbe and Johan Holmqvist from the minors.
Holmqvist, a 22 year old Swedish goalie who was drafted in the 7th Round of
the 1997 Draft, got his first NHL start last night against the Penguins. The
Rangers lost this game as well, but Holmqvist’s performance was outstanding
between the pipes. He let up 3 goals in the first period, but shut down the
Penguins throughout the 2nd period. He robbed the Penguins’ Alexei Kovalev
with his stick flat across Read more»
As the Sharks started their 10th season, there were areas that were unquestionably keys for the Sharks if they were to succeed. By far, the two most important areas were getting the free agents signed, and the improvement of young players such as Patrick Marleau, Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart and Scott Hannan. Of those two objectives, the first was accomplished successfully, with only Owen Nolan out opening night. However, the jury is still out on the development of the younger players.
The first two games of the year, Patrick Marleau looked more out of place than he did last year. There were times when he literally stood there and did practically nothing, while his opponents were whizzing past for scoring chances or turnovers. However, after those first couple games, Marleau has improved a great deal.
Since then, Marleau seems to have taken on a new attitude towards his game.
“The key is to keep the intensity up and play level high,” said Marleau after nearly connecting on several chances vs. Boston, and scoring once.
In that game he scored a bit of a fluke goal, but created many more chances that were either saved, shot wide, or hit the post. The biggest difference is that he’s creating chances that he wasn’t creating last year. He’s using his speed and natural ability to if nothing else, get the puck deep in the offensive zone. He may not get a point, but it’s often his work that is paying off in the long run of a 60-minute game.
One could make a case that Marco Sturm has been the unsung hero of this young season. While his numbers don’t j Read more»
The new USHL season has already begun and the early season action is as
action packed as ever. This season the league welcomes two new teams
although they are not new franchises to the league. The Chicago Steel
join play this year after playing in Fargo the past few seasons as the
Fargo-Moorhead Ice Sharks. The Tri-City Storm also debut this year.
The Storm were formerly known as the Twin Cities Vulcans. Last season
the Vulcans won the Junior A National Championship after finishing 2nd
in the playoffs to the Green Bay Gamblers. They will be out to defend
their title for sure. As will Green Bay who will look to add yet
another division title and playoff banner to their impressive history.
Several star players have left and several more have taken their
places. Below will be a look at each division, the team’s outlooks in
the order I predict they will finish and some of their rising stars who
will take them there.
1. Green Bay Gamblers –
The Gamblers are not as strong as they may have been in past years but
until someone knocks them off their roost, 1st place is theirs. The
Gamblers do have some major players returning this season. Gone are
offensive wizard Aaron Smith and defensive wild-man Jeff Finger but the
Gamblers still have plenty in the cupboard. Luke Stauffacher will lead
the way on the offense but Ryan Moderson and Alan Swanson bring USHL
experience and the offensive know-how the Gamblers will use. These
leaders will work their fresh faces into the offensive flow as was done
to th Read more»