Larry Brooks says there’s a rumor the Thrashers might be low-balling Ilya Kovalchuk at the suggestion of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (login info.).
I really do love the idea of a sport where the commissioner chases his best players overseas, but I find that idea a little hard to believe. There are some contracts that are a lot more ill-conceived than whatever Kovalchuk wants from Atlanta. I can’t believe the league would be that silly.
Although I sort of said all of that right before the lockout, so don’t go by me.
* * *
Over in Philly, Peter Forsberg and Derian Hatcher will miss the start of training camp (login info.).
Hatcher and Forsberg injured? I’m not saying that’s a common thing. I’m just saying I have a macro that typed this sentence for me.
Also out of Philly, Tim Panaccio coins the term ‘shootist’ to define a player whose specialty is the shootout after ties.
I’m telling you. You’re really going to see hockey turn into baseball, with really specialized roles for players. I guarantee there will be a team with one guy whose only role is to shoot in the shootout. Teams don’t need to roll four lines, so why not use the three extra spots for special teams?
It’s going to happen.
* * *
ESPN re-signed Barry Melrose to be a hockey analyst across the network. That network’s love of Melrose always kind of defined the reason hockey didn’t totally work on ESPN. It’s almost like they saw hockey as something goofy — all mullets and silly suits — rather than a serious sport. If they had treated the NHL like less of a silly sideshow, people might have even tuned in once in a while.
Obviously, hockey has a lot of problems, and it’s absurd to blame Melrose for its awful ratings. But it sure didn’t help having a caricature be the sport’s face on a major sports network.
* * *
Finally, the Boston Herald’s Stephen Harris says teams will continue to trap — even with the red line gone. He then has a really scary quote from Bruin Shawn McEachern: “Talented teams will still try to attack. But other teams that play more defensive, they just trap on the other side of the blue line, more towards the red line. So it becomes even more defensive. We’ll see what happens here.”
More trapping, more defense, and less stars? I think I just wrote the tagline for OLN’s NHL package.