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Friday, April 6, 2012

Philadelphia Flyers: A Field Day for Freud

The theory of psychological projection was developed by Sigmund Freud, which involves subconsciously denying one's own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, and are then ascribed to the outside world, usually to other people. Therefore, projection involves imagining or "projecting" the belief that others originate those feelings.

As Frank Seravalli reported in the Daily News on Tuesday:
"Peter Laviolette was fined $10,000 on Monday for his on-ice antics with Penguins assistant Tony Granato and his subsequent comments for coach Dan Bylsma, whom he called 'gutless.' "

In psychoanalytic theory, when an individual is unable to accept an undesirable situation, defense mechanisms are employed to overcome what that individual perceives as an unacceptable situation. The defense utilized in this process is called splitting. Which is the tendency to view other individuals as either all bad or all good...When that tendency is used to view others as all bad, the individual employs devaluation: attributing exaggeratedly negative qualities to the self or others.

Let's say in this case, those others are personified by the individual that just knocked the interviewee into next week, and that same individual just happens to suit up for the interviewees primary rival.  Do you see what Siggy sees?

"Danny Briere said he would be the first to admit that Joe Vitale’s hit on Sunday in Pittsburgh, which sparked a near line brawl with just 1:03 left in a 6-3 game, was a clean hit.

But Briere certainly wasn’t willing to concede that Vitale’s intent was pure, searching for a hit that has ultimately ended his regular season prematurely.

Briere said on Tuesday morning that he believes Vitale was sent to the ice with the intent to injure.

'Look, everybody knows that (they) put the line that was on the ice, on the ice with a minute left in a game that was out of hand,” Briere said. 'Everybody knows the intent, what the intent was. Was it a bad hit? No. It was a clean hit. 'But obviously, you knew what he was doing. He was obviously trying to hurt me. We all know that.' "

Cognitive dissonance is characterized by the notion of holding conflicting cognitions (ideas, beliefs, values, emotional reactions) simultaneously.
As you can watch and listen on, Flyers assistant coach Craig Berube added to Briere's projection, devaluation and dissonance, calling Penguins centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin

"...the two dirtiest players on their hockey team."

"...They slash, they punch guys in the face they do all these little things," said Berube. "I got no problem with what Schenn does, and if somebody runs [Crosby] over, that's great, they should run him over. This guy gets away with too much in my opinion, whines to the refs all day and all night, it's a joke."
The Flyers won the game, but lost the ensuing shoving match, which to the Flyers organization is just as important... sadly, if not more so.  Berube's and Briere's comments are extremely transparent.

They know there was nothing to complain about, they are just complaining... and to the media.

Prior to his tantrum regarding Crosby and Malkin, Berube said:

"In my opinion, they were trying to send a message, and you don't see that too often anymore, but it happens, ya know, things happen out there and you just deal with them... the game was over and they put their five toughest guys on the ice.  I'm not saying that I've not been on the other side of that.  I have."
 Again, Berube and Briere acknowledge the legitimacy of Pittsburgh's actions, but make it clear that they don't like that it's part of the game... if it's a part of the game that didn't work out well for them.

Yes, the other guys are "dirty" and "whine all night," but they can snivel and complain in a peevish, self-pitying way to anyone who will listen... for days on end. And that's no joke.

Maybe Mr. Freud could have helped them deal with their feelings in a more constructive manner. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

2012 NHL Trade Deadline: What Every Team Should Do

Jeff Vinnick, Getty Images

Hockey Christmas is coming!

There is something in the bag for everyone, good or bad, rich or poor, US or Canadian based.
In 2012, there are many buyers and few sellers.  It could get real crazy, like a pair of 80's moms fighting over a cabbage patch doll!

Everyone has an opinion on what they should get... here is ours.

Anaheim Ducks

Potentially in Play: Jason Blake, Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, George Parros

What They Should Do: 
Trade everybody that they can get something for, and not even listen to offers for Getzlaf, Ryan and Perry. Blake holds value for a playoff bound team.  Never afraid to shoot, Blake puts pucks on net, something every postseason team can use.  Selanne would have to consent to a trade, we all know what he can do.  Trading one of the big three would be a huge mistake for the Ducks.  A down season should not induce that kind of panic if they expect to be a perennial contender.

Boston Bruins

Potentially in Play: Joe Corvo, Johnny Boychuk, Daniel Paille, Greg Campbell, Benoit Pouliot

What They Should Do:
Jack squat.  When a team is this strong offensively, defensively and in net, why mess with it? Some minor depth tinkering... maybe.  If it ain't broke...

P.S. Forget anything that you hear about the Bruins trading Tim Thomas.  Long after everyone has forgotten his White House snub, the Boston brass will remember Thomas' spectacular play in last season's Cup run.  After a goaltender puts together the greatest net minding show in NHL post season history, you don't go swapping him on a whim the next year.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pittsburgh Penguins, Making Hockey's Off-Ice Big Time?
When it comes to the National Hockey League, there is no more storied, more accomplished, nor more passionately followed franchise than the Montreal Canadiens.

The history, success and exposure the team enjoys brings attention, both good and bad.

For every one of their twenty four Stanley Cup banners hanging in the rafters, there are multitudes of stories, conspiracy theories, and flat-out ridiculous rumors that float around Le Bleu-Blanc et Rouge. 

Particularly when the team is facing challenging circumstances, as evidenced by the wild controversy surrounding their choice of a non-French speaking interim coach, or Mike Cammalleri's comments and subsequent trade.

By comparison, the Pittsburgh Penguins and their three Stanley Cup banners, have a long way to go before catching up with Les Canadiens' on-ice history.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bryan Murray warns Sidney Crosby and Pittsburgh. Really?

REUTERS/Jason Cohn
That ex-girlfriend, the one that is in fact an "ex" because she would never let anything go.  Although equally culpable, somehow her part in every disagreement was magically omitted in every loud, yet decreasingly plausible denial.

Yeah, THAT ex-girlfriend. Well, she is the Ottawa Senators.

After Nick Foligno declared that his version of hockey is the one played by ruddy, yet not foolhardy, gentlemen, with white gloves, educated young lads... of proper breeding, many of us were left scratching our heads.

Nick Foligno... with no stomach for a scrum?

Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Dan Bylsma, somewhat uncharacteristically, retorted... and it was done, right?

Not according to Ottawa GM Bryan Murray.

If Mt. Molehill wasn't already grossly embellished enough, Murray comments should make Seth Myers break off a special SNL Weekend Update segment of "Really?"

Really?  Really.

Just in case you've been living under a rock since Crosby's return, we will cut to the flashback segue, in a little He said/she he said segment.  Cue the video:

As TSN reported after the game:

Crosby mixed it up with Ottawa's Nick Foligno early in the third period, the start of a brief dust-up in which Crosby and Foligno exchanged cross-checks, before the Penguins star elbowed Foligno in the head.

Both players earned minor penalties -- Crosby for elbowing, Foligno for roughing -- and Foligno took exception with Crosby hitting him up high to clear space in front of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

"It's not a big deal, but it is something that he preached all summer about that we should limit that and then he goes and does it, so I was just a little disappointed," Foligno said. "But, you know, that's a small part of the game and it's over now."
Watch the video, apologies for the low def.  Upon the 20th viewing, I'm still not convinced Foligno was even struck by Crosby's elbow.  There is a whole lot of glove and forearm in there.  For further review, check this pic in the Ottawa Sun taken from the same angle.  Where's the elbow to the head?

Elbow or not, it's the context of the action that makes Foligno, who had just done a ridiculous solo flop over the top of Marc-Andre Fleury, for at least the second time in the game, seem downright whiny.

Crosby and Foligno had just exchanged cross checks for what Crosby clearly perceived as unnecessary contact with his goaltender. Crosby then threw his glove/forearm/elbow into Foligno's face as a little extra reminder that he didn't like him piling on Fleury.

This has never happened to an agitator type in a post action scrum before?  Again I say, "Really? Really."

When would Matt Cooke's protests be well received if he were to complain, post-game, of a player giving him a little of "the business" during a game?  Never.  And neither should anyone give credence to Foligno's complaint.

Crosby and Bylsma said as much when asked about Foligno's remark:
"We’re talking about a player that bumped into our goalie three times,” Bylsma said. “With the score 5-1 and intentionally going into our goalie, he can expect more than Sidney Crosby coming at him and talking to him during the game. That’s how we feel about those situations. He was in our net falling over our goalie, and I don’t think there was any question about the intent.”

Crosby, who received a minor for elbowing Foligno in the head, responded after beating the Habs.
“I don’t (know) what he’s talking about. I was preaching about the hits like (Max Pacioretty’s hit on Kris Letang (Saturday), not a scrum,” said Crosby when asked about Foligno’s comments after the game Saturday in Montreal. “I don’t know what he expects after he runs a goalie three times.

“He’s probably lucky it was me that was handling it and not someone else. I think if he’s going to do that, he should be ready to expect a response.”

Crosby claimed Foligno was trying to make a big deal out of nothing.

“I think he’s blowing it totally out of proportion,” said Crosby. “Two nights before that I go into a scrum and I get punched in the head. I accept that. I’m going into a scrum that’s part of playing the game.”
It was already too much at that point, but Senators' GM Bryan Murray had to embody the re-incarnated spirit of said evil ex with this gem:

“The rules are very clear now,” said Murray. “If you fall into a goaltender and touch a goaltender, an elbow to the head and a butt end to the head is fair game. Dan Bylsma said that’s OK for them. Sidney said Nick Foligno is that kind of player.

“I wish (Foligno) was that kind of player. I thought the referees in that game, watching it and hearing the comments, it was 2-on-2. He fell over the goaltender. He was cross-checked four times. There was no question, did he get pushed? I don’t know. He got cross-checked, I thought he got a butt end, but it might have been a full elbow. (Chris) Kunitz comes in with a cross-check and the penalties were even.

“So, (NHL disciplinarian Brendan) Shanahan said that’s a good play. That’s a hockey play. Dan Bylsma said it’s good for them and Pittsburgh were the biggest ones on the head injuries. I’m remiss. I made a mistake. We didn’t have (Chris) Neil and (Matt) Carkner play in the game. We didn’t have enough toughness, so when we play Pittsburgh that’s something you can bring up to me again.”
Murray could not even admit the obvious truth that Foligno was attempting to illicit a reaction from the Pens by running Fleury multiple times.

"Did he get pushed? I don't know." - Really?  Really.  So Murry didn't watch the game, or review the tape of the incident he was complaining about? 

Not likely.  Like your horrible ex, he was just simply omitting the truth that his player had a hand in causing the incident.

Then the topper.  Murray pulls the "next time I'll bring my goons" card at the end.  Clearly, we are all a bunch of grown ups here. 

How about we all accept that Foligno was looking for trouble and got himself a little boo boo as a result.  Really.  REALLY.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Maple Leafs Were Never In On Brad Richards

Think what you like about Brian Burke and his performance as GM of the Leafs.

As an outspoken opponent of cap-skirting, mega contracts, Burke has voiced his disapproval clearly and often. He even testified against the Devils/Kovalchuk contract last off season.

So what was Burke to do when a truly elite center-man, which held the primary spot on the Leafs' shopping list, hit the UFA market?

"... We made a very substantial offer to Brad Richards.  What we offered I don't think is material, but we lost out on the Brad Richards sweepstakes  for two reasons.

One, we didn't offer as much money as other teams, and more importantly, we didn't structure the contract like other teams did.

These deals that are front end loaded and have small amounts at the back end, in my opinion are designed to circumvent the salary cap.

I won't do them.  I never have.  I'm not going to, and that's why we were unable to sign Brad Richards.

I wish him well.  He's a good guy, but that's not a contract structure we are interested in."

Front loaded contracts are not Burke's only pet peeve when it comes to signing players.

Bad blood still exists between Burke and Kevin Lowe regarding Lowe's RFA offer sheet to Dustin Penner.

Recently, when asked if he would consider making an offer to a RFA "considering what was available," which was a thinly veiled question as to why Burke hasn't made a move to acquire Steven Stamkos, Drew Doughty or Shea Weber, Burke answered:

"An offer sheet?  I don't contemplate doing one right now."

When pushed again as to why... citing that the reporting was talking about "excellent" players, presumably just to make sure Burke was aware...

"Because I don't contemplate doing it at this time.  Offer sheets are part of our CBA, and if teams want to make them: fine.  I do not contemplate adding a player in that manner."

If Burke is to be an influence among his peers, he cannot spout off against the actions of other teams, which he hints at operating in an unscrupulous manner, and then participate in the same practices of which he is so critical.

Burke knew what it would take to land Brad Richards.

Yet, he wasn't willing to do it.

So tell me Leafs fans, is it better to have Burke keep his integrity and credibility, or to have the freedom to add any player of need, regardless of the consequences of doing so?

Furthermore, is the team better off not spending wildly in free agency or by chasing after expensive RFA acquisitions?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The New York Islanders: Poised To Make a Move?

In a dimly lit corner of his serenely quiet office, Garth Snow coolly flips to the B-side of an unlabeled vinyl 78.

The needle stirs with a slight pop, as the turntable begins to spin, a dulcet voice-over with Latin music undertones invites Snow to begin tapping his foot to the beat.

"They once won the Stanley Cup... Four times in a row."

"The team plays in a barn... under the banners of Bossy, Trottier and Potvin."

"A rival GM once remarked: 'I wish I had the Islanders' cap space.' "

"They are... the most interesting team in the NHL."

With approximately a bazillion dollars available under the salary cap, and supposedly no financial restrictions imposed by ownership, many have noticed that the Islanders are in a prime position to do something significant to bolster their lineup.

No, this isn't a frivolous speculation that the team will make an offer for Stamkos or Doughty. No team will. [*loud cough*, Philly Inquirer]

The UFA pool is all but dried up.

Yet, there are a number of teams, who for one reason or another, would like to clear a bit of space.  The Isles would be an ideal trading partner for any team wanting to get something back for their impending free agents.

They have the cap room, and prospect assets to get nearly any deal done.

The Islanders could be looking for anyone who can score: forwards, or defensemen to take pressure off of Mark Streit.  They could use some bottom six character forwards, or crease clearing bangers on the blueline.

So lets take a look at some scenarios.

The Capitals

With a slew of roster changes, Washington is currently over the cap max.  They will have to do something.

Trading Alex Semin, Mike Knuble or Mike Green in a contract year might be a risk, considering their personal motivations, but moving an asset now would give the team the most time to make adjustments.

Semin has been talked about for years.  He would clear the most room for the Caps and provide the Isles with a true sniper.

Green would have been unthinkable a few years ago, but due to fluke injuries, the Caps have thrived playing without him.  He would be a long-term hockey investment in Long Island and give the team a deadly powerplay pairing with Streit.

Knuble is a possibility here too, as he be lower risk for Washington, and provide the Isles with net presence, and move into a role similar to what they had in Doug Weight, only more productive on the ice.


The Jets have shown no loyalty to the old regime from Atlanta.  Surely that applies to the roster that was inherited as well.

While now in a healthy ownership situation, it doesn't mean that Winnipeg would shy away from shedding some bigger contracts to allow greater flexibility to shape the new Jets roster in a manner that suits the new coach's system.

Nik Antropov or Ron Hainsey are two players with a combined cap hit of $8.5 million. 

Additionally Zach Bogosian remains unsigned as a RFA.  Opinions vary on Bogosian's development thus far, and therefore there is some question on what is his true market value.

All three skaters represent an upgrade for the Isles, while only Bogosian would command a significant return in order to obtain.

Other Opportunities and Targets

Although a trade within the division is less likely, the Flyers may consider moving Matt Carle or Braydon Coburn while in the last year of their current deals.

Dustin Penner could be moved from Los Angeles to ease the cost of a new investment in Drew Doughty.

The re-signing of Eric Brewer could precipitate the exodus of Pavel Kubina from Tampa.

Even Patrick Sharp could be put in play as the cap will tighten up again for Chicago next season.

Carle, Coburn, Penner, Kubina and Sharp all offer an element of toughness and skill that could push the Isles forward.

Again, the team possesses the cap room and core to make a leap as soon as this season.

If past performance is any indication, Garth Snow will likely make the right decision, regardless of the move or lack of one.

Stay thirsty Isles fans.

*Salary Cap numbers provided by

Friday, July 8, 2011

NHL Free Agency: The 11 Teams Still With Significant Moves To Make

With the big names now off the UFA board, many teams are finished shopping, and are now working on the subtle nuances of rounding out their rosters.

Yet, there are some teams who have more pressing issues to deal with.

Some need to spend to get to the cap floor.  Some need to trim a little payroll.  While others have monster contracts to work out with big name RFAs.

Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks will operate on a budget this season, but they are already over the cap floor.

Their issues to deal with center around landing some forwards.  Teemu Selanne will play a gigantic role in how the team will proceed regarding filling their needs.

As it stands right now, Anaheim has 8 forwards on the NHL roster.

With roughly $12 million available, money won't be an issue, but what players they use it on will be.  Selanne showed last season that he still has much to offer, but what will Anaheim do if he retires?

Buffalo Sabres

Buffalo's new ownership wanted to make it clear to all their fans that they are invested in winning.

Spending freely to ink Ville Leino, Christian Ehrhoff, and trading for Robyn Regehr, while bold moves, left the team with about $350k under the cap.

The Sabres have just 6 defensemen on the NHL roster, 3 RFAs without contracts and only 1 goaltender at the moment.

In the end something has to give.  Could they bury Ales Kotalik in the minors, or loan him to Europe?

Possibly, but I'm sure that the NHLPA would frown upon the team trading for a player, then banishing him before he ever takes the ice.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avs have taken care of their roster needs quite nicely.

Perhaps too nicely, though.  With nearly a full roster, Colorado still is roughly $6 million under the cap floor.

The team does have a few unsigned RFAs to take care of, but I don't see the Avalache dishing out $6 million + to T.J. Galiardi, Kevin Porter and Cumiskey.

Not too long ago, there was talk of the team wanting to rid themselves of Paul Stastny's bloated contract.  Now, it appears they will hold on to it for dear life.

Los Angeles Kings 

The Kings would not even be mentioned here if not for Drew Doughty.

 But, it's Drew Doughty we are talking about.

Los Angeles made some big moves this off-season. They traded for Mike Richards, then signed his former Flyers teammate Simon Gagne, which should pay big dividends for the Kings next spring.

Yet, an even bigger story looms on the blueline.

L.A. has $11 million...ish under the cap.  Signing Doughty will happen, but when, and for how much remain questions.

The regular rounding out will happen too, but keeping the franchise defenseman long term is top priority.

Nashville Predators

What I just said about the Kings... just transpose Nashville and Shea Weber for Los Angeles and Doughty.

The Predators will use Weber's deal to push them past the cap floor.

It will be interesting to see how Nashville approaches signing their franchise and team captain.

Will they seek to keep a limited term, or a lifetime/Ovechkin type contract?

Either way, his deal won't throw the team budget off course.  The Preds will slink off into winter oblivion, then in April the rest of the Western Conference will pray not to be paired with Nashville in the first round of the playoffs.

Just imagine what a Nashville team could do under Barry Trotz if they could spend to the cap max!

New Jersey Devils 

Last year at this time the Devils were about to become the poster child for salary cap goofs.  Yet, after a rough beginning, ol' Lou began to right the ship, and now things don't seem so bad on the cap front.

New Jersey has yet to reach a deal with star winger Zach Parise.  The team has roughly $7.8 million available for Parise and a few spare parts.

Considering that Brian Rolston's bloated cap figure is gone after this season, it's seems likely that the team and Parise will get a long term contract done.

Throw in the fact that Parise missed nearly all of last season to injury, and you have a negotiation full of intrigue.

New York Islanders

With approximately a zillion dollars in cap space before the start of free agency, it was thought that the Islanders could be big players in the market.

Yet GM Garth Snow showed restraint in an inflated marketplace, signing only forward Marty Reasoner from the UFA pool.

The Isles remain a little more than $10 below the cap floor.  Keeping super prospect Nino Niederreiter with the big club would eat away $3 million.  Signing RFAs Blake Comeau, Josh Bailey, Michael Haley and Ty Wishart may take up the rest.

However, don't rule the Islanders out of the trade market either.  The best values of this off-season have often come via the swap meet.  A solid vet or two added to the talented young core could launch this team back into the playoffs again.

New York Rangers

The Rangers landed the UFA grand prize when they agreed to a new deal with center Brad Richards.  the team also added grinder Mike Rupp, but they are far from done this off-season.

New York has a premier crop of RFAs including heart and soul Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky and Brian Boyle, that they must sign, or move after the arbitration process. 

A pair of defensemen need to be added as well.

Though not in dire straights, the $12 million in cap space they current possess may not be enough to get the job done, forcing the Rangers to create additional space by, say... buying out the remainder of Wojtek Wolski's $3.8 million cap hit?

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay can complete it's NHL roster by signing RFAs Teddy Purcell, and some guy named Steven Stamkos.

They have $14 million available this season to do it.

Few players have created the stir that Stamkos' RFA status has this off-season.  Message board users, newspaper reporters, bloggers, fans and dreamers around the hockey world have imagined scenarios involving their team landing Stamkos.

That's all well and good, but a pipe dream.

Stamkos has scored 96 goals over the past two seasons.  Players of that caliber will invite all sorts of takers, but no one, and certainly not the Lightning are interested in giving them away.

One thing is certain, Stamkos will get big money.  The thing to watch will be how long the Lightning extend themselves for the budding superstar.

Washington Capitals

The Caps made a lot of moves to toughen up their lineup.  Bringing back Brooks Laich with a hefty pay raise was only the beginning of a free agency period that say the team haul in the likes of  Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer, Jeff Halpern, Roman Hamrlik, and the pièce de résistance, goaltender Tomas Vokoun.

All these moves come with a cost.  One of their best young talents, defenseman Karl Alzner, remains unsigned as a RFA.

To make room, as this article was being written, Washington traded forward Eric Fehr to Winnipeg, to clear cap room.

With a slew of top flight free agents looming next year, don't be surprised to see GM George McPhee make moves to secure the team's long term future.

Winnipeg Jets

The aforementioned Jets just traded to add feisty forward Eric Fehr.

But even with the new edition, the Jets remain under the cap floor.  Still the team must make a few decisions regarding some young RFA talent.

Once regarded a future franchise player, opinions now vary regarding defenseman Zach Bogosian.  It would not be a shock if management and Bogo's representatives were not close on a new contract at the moment.

Winnipeg must also decide what to pay Blake Wheeler, Ben Maxwell and Brett Festerling.

As Thrashers, those players would likely be moved over money concerns, but as Jets, they may be given the opportunity to grow in the system.

True North has shown little inclination to loyalty to the old regime, so it's tough to predict what will happen between now and the start of the season.

Yet, as this off-season has shown all of us, anything can happen.