It was a struggle for the Habs this week, as
they managed just 1 of 4 points to cap off their road trip. The Bulldogs
weren’t able to capitalize on last week’s success either, although they did
manage to beat Toronto. This week, our grades, plus a closer look at the
last Swede to play for the Habs, while the Final Thought looks at the potential
sale of the Habs – are they for sale or not? This and more, in the Recap.
8.00 to 10.00:
I) Stars/Superstars playing at or above performance, salary, and role expectations.
II) Above average players producing beyond performance, salary, and role expectations.
III) Average/Role players delivering well beyond performance, salary, and role
7.00 to 7.75:
I) Stars/Superstars playing below performance, salary, and role expectations.
II) Above average players producing at performance, salary, and role expectations.
III) Average/Role players delivering beyond performance, salary, and role expectations.
I) Stars/Superstars playing far below performance, salary, and role expectations.
II) Above average players producing below performance, salary, and role expectations.
III) Average/Role players delivering at performance, salary, and role expectations.
I) Stars/Superstars playing outrageously below performance, salary, and role
II) Above average players producing far below performance, salary, and role expectations.
III) Average/Role players delivering below performance, salary, and role
Was fighting the puck most of the night in Columbus, and looked overmatched in
the shootout. (Previous: N/A Average:
Granted, the team didn’t show up, but he didn’t
make the key saves to give the team any sort of chance. (Previous:
Was really the only consistent d-man this week,
and even that may be a stretch. Still looks almost out of his element on
the PP. (Previous:
Had a quiet game vs Columbus, but boy, you really
notice when he’s not in the lineup. (Previous:
Decent, but not showing anywhere near the form that earned him a spot on the
All-Star ballot. (Previous:
Made a few positive plays that stood out this
week, and that’s even more impressive when you consider he was saddled with
O’Byrne as a partner for one of the games. (Previous:
Scored a big goal on Friday, and to me, he seemed like one of the better
defensemen this week…no wonder they lost both games. (Previous:
The defensive struggles hit most of the blueline this week, but I noticed him
making mistakes a lot more than most. (Previous:
Sat down in place of a forward – granted, it was a last ditch attempt at
offence, but still, that said volumes about the confidence the team has in him
(Previous: 5.75 Average:
8.00 The hard work is finally
paying off as we saw, at least for one week, the resuscitation of the Plekanec
we saw last season. (Previous:
7.75 Beauty goal vs Toronto,
and was one of the few consistent threats in both games this week. (Previous:
7.25 Another solid week for
him; sooner or later, his hard work will get him some points on the scoresheet. (Previous:
7.25 I’m a little baffled as to
the criticism he’s getting – 8 points in 12 games from the 3rd line (2 in 2 this
week). What more do people expect? (Previous:
7.25 Much better play, had
points in both games after going pointless for 3 weeks. Going after
Grabovski like that, as much as the fans may have enjoyed it, took away any sort
of chance the Habs had of coming back albeit as slim as it was. (Previous:
7.00 There were some glimpses
that suggest he’s getting some confidence after recovering from his concussion. (Previous:
7.00 It shouldn’t take a cut to
the face to motivate a player, but that was the last time we saw "good Kovalev,"
and that was over a week ago. (Previous:
7.00 He put up the points, but
costly turnovers and penalties hurt his grade badly this week. (Previous: 8.25 Average:
7.00 I liked the work on the PK,
but he was almost invisible in the offensive zone. (Previous:
6.75 Was mostly invisible, but
had less ice time than some of the other mostly invisible players…that should
count for something. (Previous:
6.25 Solid vs Columbus, but
that was an unacceptable penalty to take. When your team is lacking
energy, getting yourself kicked out of the game (handing the Leafs a 5 min PP in
the process) is the absolute worst thing possible. (Previous:
6.25 Brought very little to the
lineup, but didn’t hurt the team either…could be worse. (Previous:
It only took coach Don Lever 6 weeks to name a
captain this season (last year, it went towards the New Year to name one) – and
the newest captain is…Kyle Chipchura, who led the way in the lone ‘Dogs
victory this week.
3 Stars: 1) Hamilton – HOU 2) Brust – HOU 3) Lehoux – HAM
3 Stars: 1) Chipchura – HAM 2) Stewart – HAM 3) Pacioretty – HAM
3 Stars: 1) Stewart – LE 2) Cumiskey – LE 3) Dupuis – LE
Fresh off being named player of the week, Marc
Denis continued his strong play, although it wasn’t enough to carry the Bulldogs
Goals: D’Agostini (9)
Assists: Lehoux/Pacioretty (8)
Points: D’Agostini (16)
+/-: Belle (+8)
PIMS: Stewart (46)
Rochester vs Hamilton
Rochester vs Hamilton
This week, we turn our focus away from the
players who’ve bounced around from team to team on almost an annual basis to
look at a player that had a lot of promise but just didn’t pan out as many had
Niklas Sundstrom, selected 8th overall by the Rangers in 1993, had a solid, yet
unspectacular 10 year NHL career that ended with the Habs. A regular in
the Swedish league as an 18-year old, the Rangers were hoping he’d be able to
contribute as a core offensive player. It didn’t quite work out that way
in his 4 years in New York, as his highest point total was 52 (which ultimately
was his career high). In the summer of 1999, he was dealt twice – first to
Tampa Bay as part of a larger deal that saw the Rangers land mega-bust Pavel
Brendl, and then a month later to the Sharks for 4 NHL’ers. It was more of
the same in San Jose, although it was there that his defensive game really
improved, which drew the Habs’ attention in 2003.
The Habs, with a goalie controversy between the pipes (Jose Theodore, Jeff
Hackett, and Mathieu Garon), opted to move the middle man as part of a 3-way
deal (and don’t fool yourself, it wasn’t announced as such, but it was a 3-way
deal.) The Habs acquired Sundstrom with a 3rd rounder in exchange for
Hackett, who, after about a 20 minute stay with the Sharks, was flipped to
division rival Boston. Sundstrom played 2 full seasons with the Habs, plus
the abbreviated stint in 02-03, and by then, his offense was all but
non-existent (49 points in 154 games). After the 05-06 season, he returned
to Modo where his career started, and has been a fixture in their lineup ever
since. Last season, he displayed a newly found tough side, leading the
team in PIMS with 128 in only 45 games. This year, he is the team’s
leading point getter, with 25 in 19 games, playing alongside potential #1 pick
Another week, another controversy in Hab-land,
yet for some reason, I’m not surprised, nor do I think we’ve seen the last of
them. This week, are the Habs for sale or not? La Presse reported
that during an exclusive interview with Jim Balsillie, he leaked that the Habs
are currently for sale, which has set off an entertaining series of denials,
each with more useless jargon than the next. Personally, and although I
have no inside knowledge of the situation, I think Balsillie’s statement had a
small amount of truth to it, and here’s why.
Recently, Forbes magazine rated the Habs as the 3rd most valuable organization
in the NHL, at a little under $350 million US. When current owner George
Gillett bought the team, it was for almost half of that, a nice appreciation in
value over the past decade. Also, considering that it’s the team’s
centennial, the team may be at its highest value this season, at least it can be
argued as such. Selling the team now would only follow Gillett’s pattern
of buying low and selling high.
Also, word is beginning to spread that Gillett’s other major sports property,
Liverpool FC, is in some financial difficulty. Recently, he and co-owner
Tom Hicks scrapped plans for a new stadium, and the pair have a $350 million
pound loan (over $450 million US) that needs to be restructured at the start of
the new year. The Royal Bank of Scotland, who holds the loan, is currently
under public ownership due to the economic crisis worldwide and only
restructures loans in favourable conditions. Reports late this past week
suggested that the bank may be forced to call the loan outright, which would
place the pair in a very dangerous situation needing a large sum of money in a
short period of time. There was a reported deal that fell through for
around $1 billion US that would have enabled them to pay off the loan, further
adding to the situation.
Enter this week’s rumour that the team may be for sale. Considering the
above, is it really that unfeasible that in order to pay the loan, Gillett may
have to sell off the Habs, the only real property he owns with that much value?
I’m sure he’d love to get out of some other cheaper deals, but it’s a lot easier
trying to manage the sale of one economic property rather than 4 or 5. Do
I think he’s actively shopping the team and something could be imminent?
Not at all. Do I think he’s floated the idea out that if he needs the
influx of cash needed to repay the RBS loan that he’d listen to offers for the
team? That one, I say yes to, which makes Balsillie’s statement true to a
degree. Although all parties involved say nothing is happening, I don’t
think we’ve seen the last of this, especially as the New Year comes around.