FINDING A HABS GM
The Montreal Canadiens’ GM search looks as though it will be thorough and organized, with any number of candidates – from player agent Pat Brisson to former Colorado Avalanche general manager François Giguère – all under consideration. Good. The worst thing the Canadiens can do is to hand the job to Patrick Roy without talking to all the available choices, and sometimes, looking beyond the obvious unearths a qualified candidate. The question for the Canadiens will be, do they require experience in the job, in which case Giguère looks as though he’s the only candidate to meet the criteria. Giguère took the fall for the Avalanche’s 69-point disaster in 2008-09 season, but his staff unearthed Chris Stewart 18th overall in the ’06 draft and Kevin Shattenkirk 14th overall in the ’07 draft and handed over a team to Greg Sherman that needed only one year at the bottom before bouncing back into contention. Brisson represents the most intriguing gamble, given that his experience is limited to representing some of the NHL’s biggest names, including the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby. But player agents have made the transition before (Pierre Lacroix, Brian Burke, Michael Barnett, Mike Gillis, Peter Chiarelli to name but five). Brisson is both an able negotiator and a good communicator, two important skills that the Canadiens say they want in their next GM.
SELANNE’S SWAN SONG?
Nothing says meaningless game like a match-up between the No. 11 and 12 teams in the Western Conference on the final day of the regular season – except that Saturday’s matinee between the Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks could also mark Teemu Selanne’s NHL swan song. That would represent a massive loss to the league. Although Selanne has had another exceptional season at the age of 41, leads the Ducks in scoring (with 66 points), and has had everyone from opponents to teammates lobbying to play another year, Selanne won’t commit to another year. He wants to think it over in the summer and determine if he still has the will to train as hard as he needs to, to play in the NHL. Going into Thursday’s game against Edmonton, Selanne had 663 career goals (12th all-time, passing Brendan Shanahan and Dave Andreychuk this season) and 1,406 career points (19th all-time). Dale Hawerchuk is next to pass at 1,409; this year, Selanne leapfrogged – among others – Guy Lafleur, Mats Sundin, Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille and Jari Kurri.
THE CROSBY EFFECT
Mike Milbury’s thoughts on his concussion history notwithstanding, how much did the NHL miss Sidney Crosby during his lengthy absences over the past two seasons? Even if you just look at it from a statistical perspective, Crosby’s impact is astonishing. Last year, he played only 47 games, but scored 66 points for a per-game average of 1.40. (The scoring champion, Daniel Sedin, averaged 1.26). This year, he had 12 points in eight games (1.5 average) before being sidelined by those collisions with teammate Chris Kunitz and Boston’s David Krejci. In 12 games since his mid-March return, Crosby has 22 points, eight multipoint games and a per-game average of 1.83. Add it all up and his two-season total comes to exactly 100 points in 67 games, a per-game average that would give him the scoring title by a nose over teammate Evgeni Malkin, but would be well ahead of the rest of the pack. Just why it is open season on Crosby is unclear, although you’d have to think Craig Berube’s little diatribe other day (“this guy gets away with too much, whines to the refs all day and night, it’s a joke”) is all about gamesmanship. Berube is an assistant coach on the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh’s likely first-round opponent.
BY THE NUMBERS
Points for the Detroit Red Wings this season, through Thursday, marking the 12th consecutive season (and 13th time in 14 years) they’ve reached the 100-point plateau. Though 100 points may be devalued somewhat by shootout and overtime points, it still represents a remarkable record of consistency.
Saves made by Phoenix Coyotes’ goaltender Mike Smith in a 2-0 shutout victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, most in history, eclipsing the mark of 53 set by Craig Anderson, then with the Florida Panthers, in a 2008 victory over the New York Islanders. Smith’s shutout streak going into Friday’s game against the St. Louis Blues was 219:59, which is second in team history, behind Brian Boucher, who holds the NHL record of 332:01.
THEY SAID IT
“I walked the dogs a lot.” ~ Duncan Keith
The Chicago Blackhawks’ defenceman, on how he kept busy during his five-game suspension for elbowing the Vancouver Canucks’ Daniel Sedin, an infraction that cost him a cool $149,688.15 (U.S.) in lost salary.
“He’s getting better. They’re not going to amputate, I don’t think, or anything like that.” ~ Darryl Sutter
The Los Angeles Kings’ coach, on when injured forward Jeff Carter (deep bone bruise in his ankle) may return to the lineup.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Someone is playing a vicious April Fools joke on me. ... Apparently I posted an ad on Craigslist for Madonna tickets #iwillfindyou
St. Louis Blues defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk pleads with fans that he has more refined musical tastes than that.