- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
No team is better coached than ST. LOUIS , where Jacques Demers always does wonders with little talent and a minuscule budget. Bernie Federko, the Blues' leading scorer for seven straight years, Brian Sutter and sharpshooter Joe Mullen supply the offense, and Demers uses all his other players in clearly defined defensive roles.
That new fellow behind the MINNESOTA bench is not Herb Brooks, who was fired by the Rangers last January and subsequently was thought to be a lock for his hometown coaching job, then held on an interim basis by Glen Sonmor. But Herbie wanted too much money and too much of the authority held by general manager Lou Nanne, so now he's selling college and high school rings. The new coach is Lorne Henning, age 33, a former Islander center and assistant to Al Arbour. He inherits a team long on talent but short on direction; for years the Stars have gone their separate ways on the ice, with predictably negative results. Henning will force the Stars to play a sound and unified system in front of goaltenders Don Beaupre and Rollie Melanson.
Detroit won't buy the Stanley Cup, not this year, but the Red Wings should own fourth place—and a playoff berth—come April (page 40).
As for TORONTO , 19-year-old defenseman Al Iafrate showed up for training camp at 241 pounds, or 23 more than coach Dan Maloney had expected him to weigh, and could spend the season in the doghouse. The Leafs can forget the playoffs, as usual. And they should do defenseman Borje Salming a favor and trade him to a contender so he can conclude his distinguished career on a winning note.
While the Smythe and Norris divisions have clear class distinctions, the ADAMS offers parity. Don't laugh. Any of the five teams could finish first—yes, even longtime doormat Hartford.
Quebec won the division playoff last spring by beating hated Montreal on an overtime goal by Peter Stastny in the seventh game. The young and feisty Nordiques get their scoring punch from Michel Goulet (168 goals and 321 points in the last three seasons) and Stastny (an average of 118 points the last five years) and their leadership from gritty Dale Hunter.
In MONTREAL , the coach never sleeps, as Jacques Lemaire discovered last season. So, one day this summer Lemaire shocked the Canadiens by resigning as coach after only one full season. He said the job was too hazardous to his health. So was losing to Quebec in the playoffs. The new coach is Jean Perron, who is going to find the best Canadiens are a Swede (forward Mats Naslund, who had a team-high 42 goals last season) and an American (defenseman Chris Chelios of Chicago, a superior puck handler). But Montreal's hopes revolve around two Canadians: goaltender Steve Penney, who seemed to be more lucky than good in his first full season a year ago, and defenseman Larry Robinson, 34, who recovered from two bad seasons to be a dominant force again in '84-85.
Boston and Buffalo both made the same risky move, promoting one of last season's players to head coach, BOSTON'S Butch Goring will look like a genius if center Barry Pederson (tumor on his right arm) and defenseman Gord Kluzak (shattered knee) stay healthy, if wing Rick Middleton plays with the verve that was missing last season and if moody goaltender Pete Peeters recovers the form that made him the NHL's best just three years ago.
Buffalo's new coach, Jim Schoenfeld, inherits a team that could use a young Gilbert Perreault to pep up a plodding, unimaginative attack and a young Jim Schoenfeld to add some fire and experience to a slow, error-prone defense. The old Perreault (he's 34) scored 30 goals last season but didn't take too well to the Schoenfeld program during training camp. If Schoenfeld's smart, he'll play flashy Phil Housley strictly at right defense—Scotty Bowman used Housley everywhere—and let him run the offense, and he'll keep goalie Tom Barrasso happier than Bowman did.
Hartford could well be this year's Philadelphia story. The goaltending is solid with ex-Blue Mike Liut, and top draft choice Dana Murzyn, who goes 6'2" and 200 pounds, strengthens an already tough defense that keyed the Whalers' 9-3-2 finish in 1984-85. And up front the Whalers have plenty of goal scorers—Sylvain Turgeon had 31 goals last year; Ray Neufeld, 27; Kevin Dineen, 25; Jorgen Pettersson, 23 (with St. Louis); and Ron Francis, 24, along with 57 assists—and plenty of muscle. A trip to Hartford used to be an automatic two points. No more.