NHL notes (cont.)
Havlat takes a hack
Traditionally players do a duck-and-cover routine whenever someone in the hockey department is shown the door (or in the case of the Blackhawks, a "reassignment", but not Marty Havlat. In a series of "tweets," postings on websites and even a few radio interviews, the former Hawk (and one Tallon was said to be interested in retaining), blasted McDonough and the Hawks organization.
''My negotiation with Chicago was not between Dale and my agent, it was between Dale and McDonough,'' Havlat told Canadian website TSN.ca. ''Why? Because McDonough couldn't stand that Dale was so successful and getting the credit for building the Hawks from a last-place team to making the conference final in three short years. Remember, we were also the youngest team in the NHL last year.''
Havlat eventually signed with Minnesota and admits that Tallon was "like a father to me," so it's difficult not to assign his rants to the family matters bin when he went on to say: "'I was too closely identified with Dale. McDonough knew long ago he was going to fire Dale. He wanted someone he could claim as his own. He wanted to stand up at the convention and claim credit for signing this guy or that guy.''
He also said: "'The players loved Dale, and they are with him. Every single player on that team is with Dale. I still talk to the guys all the time. Hockey players know a phony when they see one. ... I am really disappointed Rocky Wirtz would let something like this happen.''
That alone provides more than your usual "all we can do is play" response.
For the record, McDonough, who does deserve major kudos for his marketing and fan base-building success, acknowledged that Tallon was a popular figure with the players and the city of Chicago and that Havlat is entitled to his opinion. He did say in a radio interview on WSCR AM670 that the player "may be misinformed."
Bolts bill comes due
Tomorrow is the stated deadline for Tampa Bay Lightning co-owner Len Barrie to come up with commissioner Gary Bettman's order of $10 million to cover his perceived share of the debt charged to the team for the just-completed season. That Bettman imposed a gag order on the proceeding and gave no indication of what or even if there would be a penalty should Barrie fail to comply indicates that this likely will be resolved in relatively short order.
Barrie, a former hockey player who also developed and mostly owns a major golf resort on Canada's west coast, is reportedly able to secure a substantial amount by putting the Great Bear Resort up for sale. Barrie is said to be on the cusp of closing a deal for $350 million in securities for parts of the Victoria, British Columbia property and that money acquired from it will be instrumental in covering the Lightning's cash call.
The money is said to be coming from a Dubai investment firm that is raising cash to buy into the resort. The deal won't be done until sometime in the fall, but it's expected that Barrie will get a letter of commitment from the firm and use it to solicit credit for the funds necessary to make his payment on the Lightning. The NHL will lilely accept it.
Barrie has run afoul of both his partner, Oren Koules, and the league regarding what his managerial rights are, especially since he appears to be shy on funds. Koules has reportedly funded much of the team's losses, but a dispute regarding who is responsible landed both men in the commissioner's office earlier this year. Both owners have also had difficulty repaying the team's previous ownership, which still provided much of the funding in the original sale.
D is for Devils
The choice of Jacques Lemaire to coach the New Jersey Devils may be regarded as a "back to the future" move by GM Lou Lamoriello. It also looks like a slap in the face to longtime presumed coach-in-waiting John MacLean.
MacLean, a former Devils standout, has been their No.1 assistant for seven seasons and been bypassed as a head-coaching candidate three times. But Lamoriello never lets personal relationships get in the way of team decisions. Hee's betting that former Devils bench boss Lemaire is the right coach for the right time for a team that has struggled to get out of the first round of late.
Lamoriello is often accused of going to often with "gut" decisions, especially regarding coaching, but in defending the choice of Lemaire. he pointed out that the wildly successful head coach is a renowned teacher who works well with veterans.
Given that the Devils' roster is going to change significantly next season, with an influx of youth replacing the veterans who left via trade, free agency or age limitations, Lemaire does appear to be a good fit. He's a defense-first coach, something the Devils got away from in their two years with Brent Sutter at the helm, and that cost them dearly in their recent back-to-back first-round losses.
Lemaire can help fix that, and not necessarily at the expense of offense. He's labeled as a defensive specialist, but as a player and coach, he showed both talent and innovation regarding offense. It's just that offense can't come at the expense of taking care of one's one end first.
Despite all the talk of The New NHL, teams that are devoid of the talent of say the Penguins and Red Wings have been making the move back to defensive hockey the past few seasons. With no red flags from the league or the largely neutered Competition Committee, that trend is likely to continue and Lamoriello knows it.
As for MacLean stepping down to coach the Devils' AHL affiliate, well, Lamoriello's history is one of taking care of those loyal to the organization. MacLean has shown that he's willing to accept that and stay with long-range goals rather than move to another organization.
In Lamoriello's world, loyalty has its rewards and they are more than just frequent bussing points. Look for MacLean to get his chance to coach the Devils at a later date after he's polished himself in Lowell.
NHL Truth & Rumors