Work in Sports
The 2005 All-Stars
Fuzzy crystal ball reveals a look at the future
Click here to send an NHL question to Kostya Kennedy.
Thanks, ice folks, for your responses to last week's six-man all-star team. This week was an especially good batch, which is why, with absolutely zero ado, we move on to the mailbag:
I recently saw your picks for a one-line all-star team and I wanted to know
who you thought would be on this team five years from now (i.e. the younger
players you feel have the most promise at each position).
Nice question, Richard; this should generate some more debate. Five years is a long time, and there are dozens of very talented teenagers whom I haven't seen play. I'm keeping my choices to those I have seen in person -- and I reserve the right to change my mind at any moment and for any reason -- but here's a stab at it:
I agree with almost all of your picks except for a couple. One, I believe
Paul Kariya is the best player no one sees. He is really hurt by playing in
Anaheim. And Cujo has been a better goalie than Dominik Hasek the last couple of
Kariya's excellent right now, and I also nearly included him above in my picks for the NHL all-star team five years hence. Even his defensive is underrated, as he can be pretty tenacious for a small guy. The one drawback is his consistency. Because of injuries and other factors, he hasn't really exploded the way many of us thought he would. That's true even though he's played with Teemu Selanne much of the time. Kariya's very good; just not quite good enough to crack the top five.
Cujo's a phenomenal playoff goalie who can win a series by himself. He's particularly cool facing all the shots that Toronto surrenders in its offense-first system. But he's not as good Hasek by any measure.
The best two-way center in the league has to be Steve Yzerman. The problem
with Peter Forsberg is that he sometimes lets his emotions get the better of
him. Moreover, he is injured a lot more often than Yzerman, and I would say that
Yzerman's consistency puts him in a class beyond (but only slightly beyond) that
of Forsberg. My pick would have been Stevie Y. for center on your
That's a good two cents, John. At this late stage in Stevie's marvelous, Hall of Fame career, he's my No. 3 center behind Forsberg and Mike Modano. We'll just agree to disagree.
Is there another team that can match Colorado's talent on the first two
lines? With Forsberg, Joe Sakic, Adam Deadmarsh, Chris Drury, Milan Hejduk and
Alex Tanguay as their top six forwards, the Avs are loaded. With the exception
of Sakic, all these players are in their mid-20s or younger. The future looks
bright in Colorado.
Detroit's aging bunch -- Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, Sergei Fedorov, Slava Kozlov, Darren McCarty and Pat Verbeek -- is nearly as skilled and definitely grittier. In the playoffs, the Wings' and Avs' respective top six are a wash. Over the long haul, though, Colorado's group wins out on its sheer ability.
Do you think they should have a set price for box seats around the league? I
think it should be $75, and the maximum upstairs ticket should cost $40.
That will never happen. As much as the league wants to be unified in its marketing purposes, it's not going to start meddling that directly in team's finances. You're also forgetting that money means different things in different parts of the country. Things cost more in big cities such as New York and Los Angeles -- and that goes for hockey tickets, too.
Do you think Lou Lamoriello plays hardball too often? It's hard to argue
with his results, but it seems we start every year with one or two contract
issues or key players holding out.
You've pretty much answered your own question, Bill. Lamoriello consistently turns out a team that contends for the Presidents' Trophy, and he has won two Cups in six years while turning over the roster considerably. Simply put, those results render his negotiating tactics beyond reproach. Devils fans -- and I'm assuming you're one -- should feel lucky that they needn't waste their time worrying about Lamoriello's annual hard-line stance.
Why on earth does Flyers GM Bobby Clarke still have a job? He lashes out at
his players in the press, has failed to get a top-flight defenseman despite many
chances, can't get along with the star players (Eric Lindros, John LeClair) and
chose John Vanbiesbrouck over Curtis Joseph. He has done some good things, but
obviously he isn't good enough to get the Flyers over the hump. Isn't it time
for a change?
I'm no fan of Clarke's abrasive m.o., and he has definitely made some blunders (e.g. Chris Gratton) in recent years. Last season though, was one of Clarke's finest. He stood by his conviction in the Roger Neilson-Craig Ramsay coaching controversy and his late-season acquisition of Rick Tocchet was a big reason the Flyers took New Jersey to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. Given that showing and the fact Ed Snider is in his corner, Clarke's not going anywhere anytime soon.
Sports Illustrated staff writer Kostya Kennedy covers the NHL and is a regular contributor to CNNSI.com. To send a question to his mailbag, which appears every Thursday during the regular season, click here.