Wow. Helene Elliott at the LA Times really came out swinging this morning, the day after Anaheim was bounced out of the first round of the playoffs:
When [Scott] Niedermayer returned and General Manager Brian Burke had to make salary-cap space for him this season and next, Burke had to choose between trading center Andy McDonald or defenseman Mathieu Schneider. He dealt McDonald, the team’s top playoff goal scorer last spring, so he could keep his defense intact.
That was the wrong decision, not only because the Ducks lost McDonald’s playmaking and scoring but because Schneider is incurably soft and untrustworthy defensively.
I see Elliott’s point about the Anaheim defense as a whole, but I’m not sure you can pin the whole collapse on Schneider. The guy won a Cup with Montreal. He must have done something right at some point. To me, the defensive breakdown(s) speak more to coaching than a specific player.
Also, over in Detroit, the Wings made it out of the first round. How did it happen? There were a lot of factors, but everyone pretty much seems to agree the Hasek-ectomy made the biggest difference.
Also, Larry Brooks reports the NHL is looking into eliminating the Gretzky-esque jersey tuck, and a bunch of other minor pieces of flair, as the league looks to completely standardize uniforms. I’m wondering if anyone running the NHL remembers Gretzky started tucking his jersey to keep players from grabbing it and bringing him down. Which is the same reason many current NHLers wear their jerseys the same way. Which is to say, the jersey tuck encourages offense, which the league is supposed to be interested in. It’s a strange move.