Jun 272011

Sunday was Bob Probert Day in his hometown Windsor, Ontario.  800 motorcyclists turned out for a memorial charity ride supporting a local hospital’s angioplasty program.  Chris Chelios was there and served as honorary “captain” for the ride.  July 5th is the one-year anniversary of Probert’s death.

Later on Sunday, Chelios was on hand at Detroit’s Fox Theatre for his buddy Eddie Vedder’s solo show.  Vedder is at the Chicago Theatre tomorrow and Wednesday night.  This was a big thrill for Chelios.  I guess he kind of had to be there.  During Vedder’s two and a half hour set Sunday, he dedicated his version of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” to Chelios.  Detroit wasn’t a scheduled stop on Vedder’s current U.S. tour until Chelios did some persuading on his friend and Pearl Jam frontman.  To oblige, Vedder cancelled an additional planned show in Philadelphia.

Chelios and Vedder met in San Diego in 1980-81 in that beach community’s surfing scene, in the summer months where the Chelios clan lived.  They also worked for a time at opposite gas stations across the street from each other.  The pair didn’t keep in touch and Chelios never put two and two together even after Pearl Jam burst onto the scene ten years later and Chelios became a fan.  Back in San Diego, Eddie Vedder was actually Eddie Mueller.  But one night in 1997, Vedder was out with Dennis Rodman in Chicago and happened to be at the same bar as Chelios.  Vedder recognized Chelios, but as he put it (Vedder wasn’t a hockey fan), not from being a star NHL player, but from their old haunts on the surf.  Vedder recounted to Chelios how the two knew each other from San Diego, but didn’t introduce himself as the famous rock singer and Chelios still didn’t put that together on his own.  Vedder walked away realizing Chelios hadn’t the faintest recollection or idea who Vedder was.  Shortly after, one of Vedder’s bodyguards (he is legitimately 5’4”) walked over and clued Chelios in and the two exchanged phone numbers. At times Chelios has arranged his summer schedule around Pearl Jam and Vedder shows in Chicago and Detroit.  In 2008, Chelios planned his two days with the Stanley Cup around a Cubs game and a Vedder show at the Auditorium Theatre.  A night John Cusak, John C McGinley (Scrubs) and Sean Penn were also on hand for.  Chelios got a mixed reaction from the Chicago crowd when he raised the Stanley Cup under a spotlight from a balcony box in a planned spot to start Vedder’s set.

Brian Campbell says ex-teammates of his want to join him in Florida.  NHL.com

–If you stopped by over the past few days you probably experienced or noticed some site issues.  We had to make some changes and deletions on our server and of course it didn’t go as smoothly, or at all, as I thought it would. In separate posts today and in the coming days, we’ll cover the Brian Campbell and Troy Brouwer trades and all the Blackhawks activity over the Draft weekend.

I would say though, its probably best to wait and see what Stan Bowman’s follow up to those deals are before you can analyze them one way or another.  Without question the Hawks are much worse off on the ice and in the dressing room today than they were five days ago.  But a lot can change over the next week.

Un-restricted free agency opens on Friday.  Restricted free agents must have qualifying offers in their hands today.

–I can say the podcast over at BlogTalkRadio will return at some point this week.

–Former Blackhawk Bruce Cassidy has been promoted to head coach of the Providence Bruins (AHL).  Its been a turbulent journey back to pro head coaching for Cassidy.  Chicago took the 5-11 puck-rushing defenseman #18th overall in the 1983 draft.  He battled serious knee issues and never stuck permanently in the NHL.  Cassidy led the Washington Capitals to the playoffs during the 2002-03 season but was fired after a poor start the following year.  Overall his NHL coaching record stands at 47-45-9-6.

–Detroit Red Wings have two assistant coaching positions to fill.  Paul MacLean left to become the new head coach in Ottawa and Brad McCrimmon resigned (his contract was expiring and the Red Wings reportedly were planning on going in a different direction anyhow) to take a head coaching position with Lokomotiv in Russia’s KHL.  One of the names popping up as rumored candidates for those positions is Rockford head coach Bill Peters, who had his contract renewed by the Hawks in May (ten days before it was formerly announced on June 1st).  Peters got his start in coaching under Babcock in Spokane.  Down the line, Steve Poapst is thought to be the guy the Hawks’ have in mind to be the next head coach in Rockford, but after just one season as an assistant at the pro level (Poapst was the head coach and GM of the Chicago Steel in the USHL junior hockey league from Dec 26, 2006 through August of 2010) now may not be the right time.  Poapst was the 2008 USHL coach of the year.  If Peters were to leave, another possible candidate would be Trent Yawney, who left his assistant’s job with the Sharks last week to pursue an AHL head coaching job.  Yawney is reportedly up for the vacant Houston Aeros position, as is 1987 Blackhawks draft pick Ryan McGill.  Yawney is looking to make a big splash as a coach again at the AHL level as a stepping stone to a NHL head coaching position, so hiring Yawney would likely be seen on both sides as a short-term move.  In that sense, and it may not have been wise on Yawney’s part to disclose that intention so publicly to the San Jose Mercury News last week, Yawney would be a good fit were the IceHogs’ position happen to open up.  Chris Chelios, who is working in the Detroit Red Wings as a roving instructor and advisor to general manager Ken Holland, has said he is not interested (if he were to be asked) in that kind of position and is happy in his current role at this point.

Bill Peters took over the IceHogs from Mike Haviland when the Hawks promoted Haviland to be Denis Savard’s assistant out of fear another team was going to take the rising NHL coaching prospect off their hands had they not.  In the process, Mark Hardy was pushed out.  In three AHL season, Peters, who arrived off a 50-15-7 ’07-08 season and 2008 WHL championship leading the Spokane Chiefs, has amassed a respectable regular season record of 122-97-21 (.550) with the IceHogs.  In the playoffs though, Peters is 0-8 as Rockford’s bench boss, and coming off a season in which the IceHogs missed postseason and were never really in contention from around mid-January.  A late season resurgence that saw Rockford finish 17-5-1-1 over their final twenty-four games probably saved Peters’ spot.

Chicago Wolves are expected to announce their new affiliation with the Vancouver Canucks at a press conference today.  The Wolves are also looking for a new head coach and that announcement could also come today.  That will add another element to an already intense IceHogs-Wolves rivalry.  Elburn natives Billy and Lee Sweatt are Canucks’ prospects and both could on the Wolves come October.  Lee is set to become a restricted free agent on Friday.  Bill was a Blackhawks 2nd round draft pick in 2007.  They chose not to sign Bill after graduating at Colorado College and traded him to Toronto at last year’s draft.  Toronto didn’t sign him and he would up inking with the Canucks.  Bill had 19 goals and 47 points in 80 games with Manitoba but had a disappointing playoff for the Moose.

–Sunday was the 12-year anniversary of the day the Blackhawks traded their first round pick in the 1999 Entry Draft to the Vancouver Canucks for defenseman Bryan McCabe.  I think there’s some misconception that Bob Murray (who was fired six months after the trade) gave up the opportunity to draft one of the Sedins (Daniel went 2nd overall, Henrik 3rd).  In reality, the Hawks had the 4th overall pick.  Brian Burke, then Vancouver’s GM, swapped the Hawks’ pick with Tampa Bay’s and Tampa traded out of the pick sending it to the Rangers.  The Hawks #4 pick wound up being Pavel Brendl of the Calgary Hitmen – to the Rangers.  Atlanta took Patrick Stefan first overall.  Tim Connolly went fifth to the Islanders and the next selection who turned out worth a damn was Barret Jackman at #17.  The McCabe acquisition was one in a long line of attempts to replace the void left in trading Chris Chelios to Detroit (Steve McCarthy, Anders Eriksson, Adam Munro) three months prior.  In theory, trading for McCabe and out of the #4 pick turned out to be the right move.  In execution, it couldn’t have had a worse result.  Mike Smith traded McCabe to the Maple Leafs fifteen months later.  He got Alexander Karpovtsev in return.  Karpovtsev was a complete dog in his four seasons with the Hawks and did almost as much in that period to turn off Chicago hockey fans as Bill Wirtz did.  The Hawks also received Vancouver’s first round pick in 2000 in the deal Murray struck in ’99.  Mike Smith used that pick to select Pavel Vorobiev 11th overall.

–This Wednesday is Theo Fleury’s 43rd birthday.

Boston Titles mean more drinks, not fights Boston Herald

Video: Big Buff was interviewed at the Draft this weekend. He’s excited about Winnipeg.  “There’s not much we can do about it.  We have to go.  All we have to do is play hockey,” Byfuglien said.  “I think everyone will appreciate it after awhile.”

–The Winnipeg Jets’ MTS Centre doesn’t have enough bathrooms for the “bums” in the MTS 300 level.  Winnipeg Sun

Edmonton Oilers traded Colin Fraser to Los Angeles on Sunday in exchange for former Oiler captain Ryan Smyth.  A 7th round pick in next summer’s Entry Draft was also sent to the Kings in the deal.  Smyth requested the trade, saying it was a “lifestyle” decision for him and his wife.  You might recall Smyth’s tearful goodbye press conference after getting traded to the Islanders in 2007 by then GM Kevin Lowe.  Smyth was to be a UFA that summer and wanted a long term extension to the tune of $5M per season but Oilers balked.  Smyth said he never wanted to leave Edmonton, however, reportedly the difference between the two sides in negotiations was a little as $300k per season.  He was traded to Long Island at the 2007 trade deadline.  In return, the Oilers received Robert Nilsson, Ryan O’Marra and the Isles’ 2007 1st rounder (they selected defenseman Alex Plante).  Ouch babe.  That summer, Smyth turned around a got big money from Colorado (5 years $31.25M).  The Oilers pick up the final year on that deal ($4.5M salary) and the cap hit of $6.25M.  Smyth, 35, stayed healthy this season for the first time since 03-04 posting 23 goals and 47 points in 82 games, then 2 goals and 5 points in 7 playoff contests.  Back into the now, there’s speculation that Colin Fraser could be bought out by the Kings.  After being traded to Edmonton on June 24th of 2010, the Oilers signed the former Hawk to a 2-year $1.65m contract.  Fraser was shocked by the trade.  Oilers’ GM Steve Tambellini said dealing Fraser was a tough decision and his team will miss the 26-year old center’s character.  A buyout of the final year of Fraser’s contract ($825,000) would result in a cap hit of $275,000 to the Oilers for each of the next two seasons.

Dale Tallon was willing to take one “bad” contract, but he won’t bite on Sheldon Souray’s.  Souray has one year left on his contract.  He’s due $4.5 million in 2011-12, but he comes with a $5.4M cap hit.  Souray spent last year as a $4.5M minor leaguer (with the Hersey Bears) because the Oilers decided they would be better off without him around and apparently the rest of the NHL agreed with that notion.  Souray had made some negative comments about the Oilers’ organization the year prior and requested a trade.  More than that though, Souray’s game has never been the same after a 2009 concussion.

Another interesting Tallon move from over the weekend:  Tallon chose not to tender a qualifying offer to 24-year old Swedish winger Nicklas Bergfors, making the 2005 1st round pick (Devils #23 overall) an un-restricted free agent on July 1st.

This is another bold Tallon move.  Bergfors was a key component coming from New Jersey in the 2010 Ilya Kovalchuk trade.  Bergfors didn’t mesh well with coach Craig Ramsey in Atlanta so they moved him to their division rival Panthers on 2011 trade deadline day with minor leaguer Patrick Rissmiller for Radek Dvorak and a 5th round pick (originally Carolina’s pick, Jets moved it to San Jose who took Indiana’s (USHL) Sean Kuraly.  Kuraly is a big center and a prospect I liked a lot having seen play a couple times. The Hawks took another center, Andrew Shaw, six picks after Kuraly went to the Sharks.)

The Bergfors decision here on Tallon’s end is one to keep an eye on.  Remember, it was Tallon who put Austrian Michael Grabner on waivers after he apparently failed to make the Panthers’ opening night roster in Tallon’s eyes.  Three months earlier Tallon acquired Grabner, Steve Bernier and the Canucks’ first round pick in 2010 (turned out to be Quinton Howden who’s a solid B prospect) from Vancouver in the deal that sent defenseman Keith Ballard and Viktor Oreskovich to Vancouver.  Grabner was claimed off waivers by the Islanders, went on to score 34 goals in 72 games for the lowly Isles and finished 3rd in the rookie of the year voting.  Grabner, 23, considered one of the fastest skaters in the NHL, signed a 5-year $15M contract extension last month and was the 14th overall pick of the Canucks in the 2006 Entry Draft.  There’s a lot of good and a lot of bad on Tallon’s GM resume.  We’ll wait and see how his most recent decision turns out.

–The Flyers’ made a little news on Thursday.  The trade sending Jeff Carter to Columbus in the end netted Philadelphia winger Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier (CBJ’s #8th overall pick at Friday night’s draft) and Nick Cousins (3rd round pick from CBJ on Saturday).  Couturier is considered a “steal” as he slid after at one time being considered the top player in the 2011 draft).  The Blue Jackets pick up Carter’s $5.272M cap hit on the player’s 11-year $58M contract extension that starts with the 2011-12 season.  Carter is 26 and the money on the contract tapers off in the final three years when he’ll be paid $3M, $2M and $2M from ages 34 to 36.  That’s a ways down the road, but if Carter can maintain his health and ability to that point, odds are he’ll be one disgruntled hockey player making that kind of money in the tail end of his prime.

Paul Holmgren also moved Flyers’ captain Mike Richards and forward prospect Rob Bordson to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Wayne Simmonds, top prospect Brayden Schenn and the Kings’ 2nd round pick in 2012.  Mike Richards has 9 years left on the 12-year $69M contract he brings with.

Richards and Carter both have no-trade clauses kicking in next summer.  Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek are both RFAs and will likely get deals in the vicinity of $2 to $2.5M.  Assuming Schenn makes the team, the Flyers would thus be gaining a body and saving roughly $3.4M in cap space in the process with these two trades.  There’s a decent chance those three wind up being a line when the Flyers open their season in Boston on October 6th.

The Hockey News: Getting to know – Bernie Nicholls Regards Chelios and Gary Suter as closest “hockey” friends.


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  5 Responses to “Bob Probert Day, Interesting Tallon weekend, Campbell speaks, Chelios, Peters and more”

  1. that was a mouthful. Great info, can’t wait to read your perspective on #51 and #22. Right now, there’s some serious holes to patch.

    in my mind, the biggest issue is a #4 defenseman. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the best defensemen in the league have some experience under their belt. Not often that a rookie steps in and dominates. seems like there isn’t an overabundance of “Soupy” type defensmen out there in the Free Agent world.

    Great story on Chelios and Vedder.

    Say what you want about Tallon, but he’s a mover and a shaker. Did anyone realize Grabner’s ability before this season?

    • Grabner was highly-touted for a couple of years while a Vancouver product. Then got classified as all wheels, no finish. I guess you could make a comparison to Viktor Stalberg. A guy who had a history of scoring but couldn’t do it (at least at first) once getting to the pros. Grabner didn’t do anything in preseason with the Panthers and got waived; them probably hoping he’d clear so Tallon could send him to Rochester. Though he probably realized teams like NYI or PHX would swoop Grabner up. Also remember, Florida also had Frolik (who started the season as FLA’s 1st line rw, left as a 4th liner), Olesz, Stillman, Higgins, Booth, Bernier, all ahead of of Grabner on the depth chart at wing by the time they waived him. I watched him play a bunch for the Isles. He did a lot of his damage against weak teams. He can fly. Had many breakaways and he did show good hands with them. Numbers looked impressive but it was still a crime Grabner finished ahead of Corey Crawford in the Calder voting. There’s no comparing the two seasons. Crawford carried the Hawks through tough stretches and, if you had to single out one guy, was primarily responsible for keeping the Hawks in that fight. Grabner didn’t get going until the Isles were well out of the postseason picture.

  2. If you are saying the jury is still out on Grabner, I would agree. How can you say anything about a guy after one good season? I rarely saw him play, but I would agree with your assessment on him.

  3. just my numbskull opinion, but outside or Corey, who really did do some amazing things when you think about it, I’d take taylor Hall over Skinner, Couture or Grabner. Hopefully he recovers from the stupid knee injury resulting from trying to prove his manhood in a meaningless game.

  4. […] “Shortly after, one of Vedder’s bodyguards (he is legitimately 5’4”) walked over and clued Chelios in and the two exchanged phone numbers,” The Third Man In blog relates. […]

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