Some Hockey Talk after the Game 5 Classic
It’s June and after Monday night’s three overtime Stanley Cup Finals classic it is great to see so much excitement over the NHL today. Rob Long had Kevin Dupont of the Boston Globe on his show to talk hockey and even WNST bloggers Marc Unger and Gary Quill watched the game and commented on hockey blogs on the site despite admitting that they are not big hockey fans. With all of the excitement, here is some hockey news and tidbits for you fans to comment on:
Overnight ratings for Monday nights game earned a 4.3 overnight rating and an 8 share on NBC. That’s a 79 percent increase over last year’s 2.4 for Game 5 between Anaheim and Ottawa. It was the best Game 5 rating since the Carolina-Detroit matchup in 2002 drew a 4.5. Game 4 on Saturday earned a 2.3 national rating and 5 share, up 21 percent over last year’s 1.9.
Tiger Woods, in a press conference today, was quoted as saying “I don’t think anyone watches hockey anymore.” What a shame. I am a Tiger fan and he used to be a big fan of hockey taking in games himself. But last night’s ratings prove Tiger to be wrong. I’m thinking about wearing my Alexander Ovechkin jersey to his tourney down at Congressional in early July and will try to make sure he sees it.
The Tampa Bay Lightning fired Coach John Tortorella Tuesday. Tortorella won the Stanley Cup in 2004 beating Calgary in seven games but with a new ownership group coming in he is now out. Rumor has it that ESPN’s Barry Melrose, who is tight with incoming team owner Oren Koules, will get the job. All I can say is if that happens then this is good for the Caps.
There are rumors that Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray is interested in Tortorella to take over the coaching job there. Murray, who hired John Paddock to coach the Sens but then fired him mid-season, took over the bench but has said he wants to go back to being a full time GM this upcoming season. Hiring Tortorella would be a good move for Ottawa. Another possible destination for Tortorella is Atlanta because he is close with GM Don Waddell but that franchise is in trouble so Tortorella would be in a much better situation in Canada with the Senators.
I’m not sure who will get the job in Atlanta but here are a few names to consider: Joel Quennville (recently fired by the Colorado Avalanche), John Anderson (current coach of the Chicago Wolves in the American Hockey League), and Craig Hartsburg (coach of Sault Ste Marie in Ontario Hockey League).
Ron Wilson, fired by San Jose after the Sharks lost to Dallas in the second round of the playoffs this year, is apparently in line for the Toronto Maple Leafs job. This is no surprise given that it is very likely that Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke will become the new Leafs GM once the owner of the Ducks gets rid of Burke, who only has one year left on his contract. By the way, when Abe Pollin and Susan O’Malley fired David Poile and Jim Schoenfeld after the 1997 season, they along with Dick Patrick went to Brian Burke, who was working for the NHL office at the time, and asked for a recommendation on a new coach and GM. Wilson was the number one guy Burke recommended to the Caps so clearly Burke is getting a guy he will want as coach when he takes over in Toronto. The Leafs situation is an ugly one as they have no prospects and have salary cap issues.
Back to the Stanley Cup Final Series: I was talking with a Western Conference scout on Sunday night and he offered up a couple of interesting points on the difference between Detroit and Pittsburgh. Point 1: During the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia series the Red Wings sent front office personnel Scotty Bowman, Steve Yzerman, Mark Howe, and Pat Verbeek to scout the series in preparation for the Stanley Cup Finals. On the other side of the coin, the Penguins sent Dan MacKinnon and Derek Clancey to scout the Detroit-Dallas series. Point 2: We were talking about the struggles of Evgeni Malkin and the scout pointed out that if Malkin were having problems and he played for the Red Wings he could go see Bowman, Yzerman, or Verbeek for advice but playing for the Penguins he does not have those types of options. So I asked the scout, “What about Mario Lemieux? Isn’t he available for consultation?” The scout said that Mario is distanced from the day to day hockey side of the team and isn’t a resource. The point of all of this, the scout said, is that Detroit already had a huge organizational advantage on the Penguins before the series even began. Right now the only thing keeping the Pens alive has been the stellar play of goalie Marc Andre-Fleury.
I’m picking Detroit to win Game 6 in Pittsburgh and capture the Stanley Cup. Game 6 is on NBC at 8PM Wednesday in HD TV. If Detroit does not win then we’ll need a TV for the bus ride home from Belmont Park on Saturday night! Btw, in my series preview I picked the Wings in seven games.