Archive for September 12, 2006

Speculation Over – Linden Signs

September 12, 2006

The craziest thing I read about Trevor Linden signing a one year deal with the Canucks was that he should be made captain again. 

Fans need to stop living in the past glory of Linden.  It’s true that if Keenan never showed up in Vancouver and Mark Messier decided to stay in NY where he belonged, Linden could very well still have been captain of this team. 

But that’s not what happened, and life moved on.  After letting Messier return to the Rangers after 3 dismal seasons in a Canuck uniform, it was clear this was now Naslunds team.

If you recall, that was the year the team held their training camp in Sweden and Naslund felt right at home showing his teammates around and leading them. He was announced as captain shortly thereafter and the team propelled forward as an offensive threat night after night.

And a few years later, Linden was brought back to Vancouver where he always belonged. 

But the fact that this is Naslunds team doesn’t mean Linden can’t be or isn’t a leader on the team.  In a room filled with new players, Linden’s support of Markus Naslund, and the experiences he can share with the younger players will be invaluable in creating a new and positive environment in the dressing room.

And that’s what this team needs.  A new slate.  A postive environment.  Leadership.  Hard work. 

This is still Naslunds team, and this year will tell you what kind of leader he really his.  And Linden can help with all of that whether or not he has the C. 

The Chief Canuck

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The Bottom 7 (Western Conference)

September 12, 2006

I’m going to make some predictions prior to the start of training camp on the 7 teams in the Western Conference that will not make the playoffs.

I’ve mentioned this before, but the parity in the Western Conference is even greater this year that it was last year.  The NHL ‘have nots’ have again taken more from the NHL ‘had some’.  Note the losses of Tanguay & Blake in Colorado and Shanahan in Detroit.

First, let’s look at the incremental value each team’s off-season moves has made (I won’t list them here, go to www.hockeyanalysis.com if you want the ins and outs of each team) and if it was an improvement or not.  Management and coaching changes are included as part of this overall assessment.

2006 W. Conference Standings (with off-season assessment)

1. Detroit (negative)

2. Dallas (negative)

3. Calgary (positive)

4. Nashville (positive)

5. San Jose (positive)

6. Anaheim (positive)

7. Colorado (negative)

8. Edmonton (negative)

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9. Vancouver (positive)

10. Los Angeles (positive)

11. Minnesota (positive)

12 Phoenix (even)

13. Columbus (even)

14. Chicago (negative)

15. St. Louis (positive)

So, here is the list of NHL Western Conference teams you should not be suprised to see out of the playoffs by the end of the season:

Colorado | Columbus | Chicago | Dallas | Edmonton | St. Louis | Phoenix

Colorado:  They will not be able to recover from the loss of Tanguay & Blake one season after also losing Foote & Forsberg.  This dynasty is officially over.

Columbus:  Their hopes are pinned on a young inexperienced goalie, and their top winger, Zherdev, won’t sign.  Add to that Columbus horrible history with injuries mades me believe tells me there is more of this to come.  Despite McLeans best efforts to build a contender, something bad always happens in Ohio.

Chicago: Bill Wirtz.  Need I say more?

Dallas: Dallas lost Jason Arnott who played 81 games last season with Lindros, who has never played a full NHL season and has hit 81 games only once in his career.  Add to that the increased competition in the Pacific division (SJ, Anahiem, LA) tells me they are in for a rough year.

Edmonton: Of all the teams I put on the outside, this is the one with the best chance of pushing for a spot.  They are just fiesty and young enough not to know any better.  The loss of Pronger, and a Stanley Cup final playoff run will give them a hangover that will be tough to overcome though.

St. Louis:  With guys like Guerin, Weight, Tkachuk, Legace, Drake the roster sounds like a great team…. from 1999.  This is a group of guys that would have had a chance for a cup had they had been put together 7 years ago.  As it stands, they can probably cut their scouting staff back because the #1 entry draft pick usually gets pushed out on it’s own by the media

Phoenix:  While Jovanovski can be a game breaker, he’s not going to play enough of them to make the impact Phoenix needs in an otherwise tough division. 

The Chief Canuck