1) Happy Anniversary. You know the one. Nineteen years ago today.
2) I was thinking about another anniversary while watching the U.S. Open this week. Because 20 years ago this very week, U.S. Open week at Baltusrol, on Father’s Day Sunday, is when Mike Keenan made official his decision. We all knew that Iron Mike always had one very clear-cut No. 1 goalie and one backup, and that he’d ride (in more ways than one) his No. 1. And that the Rangers had two. Well, I was at Baltusrol when the Rangers traded 1A John Vanbiesbrouck and made Mike Richter their No. 1 for 1993-94. And I had to speak to Vanbiesbrouck, from the golf course, on Father’s Day, after he was dealt to Vancouver for Doug Lidster, en route to being claimed (as the Canucks knew he would; every team had to leave unprotected a goalie and that’s why the Canucks wanted him) by Florida.
3) And it’s kind of ironic that 20 years after the coach picked his goalie, maybe the current goalie has a lot to do with picking the new coach. Wonder if that will work out as well.
4) Another thing that took me back to 1993 and the Canucks and Rangers was Kevin Bieksa saying the Canucks didn’t need somebody to “crack the whip” in terms of Vancouver interviewing John Tortorella. Back in ’93, when it became apparent that Keenan was on the Rangers radar, a Newsday reporter asked Neil Smith if he felt the Rangers needed to “hire a dictator.” Smith said no. The story came out that Smith had called Keenan a dictator and Keenan was furious. Of course, Smith then sold his soul to the devil and hired Keenan to amazing results.
5) In a copy-cat league, the Rangers of 2011-12 were a team that played just like the Bruins play, and now they have gone anti-copy-cat before seeing what Boston really is about. They are going away from what Boston is. And they are going to go more offensive minus their best offensive players from 2011-12. Makes no sense to me.
6) Spoke with Brian Leetch briefly last week. I asked him if he’d come aboard as a full-time assistant coach as has been speculated. He said he wasn’t sure he wanted to leave his family life and be a full-timer at this point, but the feeling I got is that he would be interested in being involved to some lesser degree depending on whom (ahem) was named coach.
7) Gregory Campbell, big as the building.
8) Chris Letang was so god-awful in that ECF series, Norris finalist, worse than Rick Nash the series before.
9) These playoffs have taught us that, no, riding into the playoffs on a hot streak is not necessarily a key to success (Capitals), that having a great power play is not necessarily a key to success.
10) Indeed, if you look back to early in the season, many of us here looked at Boston and saw a team that could win the Stanley Cup, a team that looked a lot like the team that won a couple of years earlier but now had last year’s stinging loss as a driving force. So Boston fell off a bit late, and was probably affected to some degree by the Boston Marathon tragedy and the subsequent postponements.
11) But as we look back, we were right. These B’s are pretty awesome, a pretty legit prototype of what a Stanley Cup team is. Though Chicago has more skill and might well win this thing.
12) Matt Cooke really is a piece of carcillo. Have I said that before?
13) One thing I don’t get, and it seems simple to me, is why the NHL doesn’t make two amendments to its playoff overtime procedure. First, why do the team switch sides? What is the point of forcing both teams to make the long change in the first (and third) OT? I know, the long change sometimes results in a bad change and an offensive chance. I think it also results in more careful play, more dump-and-changes, and probably results in more too-many-men penalties (or missed penalties). I just don’t see why teams can’t defend on the side of their bench for the entire overtime. I think it would improve the OTs.
14) The other thing is, there are no TV timeouts during overtime, which is good for us, but not necessarily good for the game. We heard all about how tired the players were in Game 1’s triple-OT (partly, I’m going to repeat, due to the long change). Part of that is because there are no breaks for all the players to get a breather and for the ice to be shoveled, as there are in every period all season long, and the first three periods of every playoff game. Why not just schedule a quick timeout, instead of once after the 10:00 mark, but also after the 5:00 mark and the 15:00 mark? Would add two or three minutes to the OT, total, and make for a better OT, just as not switching sides would. I think players would be fresher, more chances would be taken, maybe the OTs would even end more quickly.
15) We should have a Johnny Oduya Playoff Beard Contest next year.
16) Torey Krug is this year’s Chris Kreider. Has made some enormous offensive plays, some huge contributions to his team. Also has had some nightmare shifts. And when he committed that turnover that led to the goal in Game 1, he found himself nailed to the bench by Claude Julien, who by the way, demoted Milan Lucic to the fourth line late in the season. Come to think of it, Julien’s system is very similar to Tortorella’s. He’s a fatter, funnier, nicer Tortorella.
17) I’ve got some guest blogs in the hopper. If anybody’s interested in doing one during this long summer, drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Getty Images.