BUTT ENDS # 3








Some interesting opinions courtesy of Stan Fischler's "Drop A Dime" column in the New England sports journal this week concerning the Habs and Canadiens.

First the Habs:

Last time we saw Robbie DiMaio he was traveling with the Tampa Bay Lightning with no idea whether he’d ever play again.

The former Boston Bruins forward is still suffering post-concussion syndrome from the pre-season from-behind hit delivered by Guillaume Latendresse. The Habs rookie never bothered to phone with apologies and that still irks Robbie.

"A phone call," DiMaio told the St. Petersburg Times Damian Cristodero, "He could say, ‘I didn’t mean for it to happen’ and it’s over. If it had been me, I would have tried to make some kind of contact."

(RC Note - The Montreal media reported weeks back that Latendresse had attempted calls and could not reach the player. When Tampa played the Canadiens a little over a week ago, Latendresse was told by Lightening players upon inquiry that Di Maio holds no ill will for the hit. Guillaume apparently told players he felt badly about the injury, explained himself and offered his words of encouragement. He has yet to get to speak to DiMaio by phone.)

On Leafs coaching and management, Fischler had these to say:

John Ferguson’s contract re-up proves that the Leafs’ ownership is wise not to heed media advice. Fergie took an unconscionable, unfair – and just plain wrong – beating from Toronto columnists since his hiring in August 2003. In another town, ownership might have read that crap and dumped the GM. Fortunately, it didn’t happen with the Leafs brass. The renaissance of Ferguson’s Blue-and-Whiters is one of the season’s best tales. A story that should be told in the T.O. papers is the classy manner in which Fergie turned the cheek on his tormentors. Or, as the song goes, "Who’s Got The Last Laugh Now?" .

(RC Note - What Fischler fails to detail here is that the Leafs simply took the option on the contract. It is not the vote of confidence that a new prolonged deal would have suggested. Point blank - the jury is still sitting on Ferguson. That is what is wise about the move!)

There’s a lot to like about the Paul Maurice regime but one of the least-mentioned sidebars happens to be the availability of previously-unavailable Leaf players after practices or games. Our man in T.O., Rob Del Mundo, writes:

"Under the Pat Quinn era, players were often withheld from reporters, or delayed from speaking to the media by as much as 30 or 40 minutes after a game. Last season, when Mats Sundin played his first game after returning from his orbital bone injury (Nov. 12, 2005 vs. Montreal), several reporters attended the game-day skate, only to be left hanging when it was discovered that the captain had been permitted to leave the dressing room via a back-door entrance without speaking to the media. Players now are generally immediately available to the media, following games and morning skates. This past Saturday, Sundin did not leave by the back door following the morning skate for his game-day return. This is a strong measurement of how the player accessibility has vastly improved."

(RC Note - It should also be mentioned that the Leafs were mired in a losing streak at that point last season. This year things are slightly different.)

Enough with Fischler's spins! Check him out at his site, and read between the lines for yourself.

Why isn't Cristobal Huet on the All-Star ballot? After posting great numbers last season, why were M.A. Fleury and Andrew Raycroft preferred? Prediction, he'll get there on write- ins!... The rot at the core of the Black Hawks woes goes by the name of Wirtz. When will Chicago go out and get a proven GM or coach with a track record of success and stop retreating unsuitable candidates from their own organization. I like Denis Savard, but with the behind the scenes buffoons, he's as doomed as perdecessors....About Savard and numbers. It was surely not his # 18 he wore in Montreal that was retired last week, but a funny coincidence nonetheless. While playing hockey at the age of 8 Savard formed a line with two players also named Denis, Cyr and Tremblay. They remained together until their final year of junior, a good ten years! They all were from the same neighbourhood streets, and here's the topper: all three were born on Febuary 2, 1961. Cyr was drafted by Buffalo, and received a tryout with Chicago at one point. Tremblay went undrafted, but was also sent a ticket for the Windy City....Brendan Shanahan was offered a million more, 5 that is, over two years and not one, to sign with the Canadiens. Given a helicopter ride over the city with Habs GM Gainey, Shanahan was ready to ink the deal and conferred with his wife. Shanny admitted she chose New York. He left it in her hands due to family raising responsabilities. His better half felt there would be a rough adjustment in school systems for the kids. That tilted the deal. A shame!....Darcy Tucker, also off the All-Star ballot, is on target for a 50 goal season. Can Toronto afford 6 players near the 5 million tag?... Hey did I predict that Habs loss to the Flyers or what? It was a given as soon as Aebischer was named the starter. Players on the team lack confidence in him and play on the their heels....Another ten day slice of comparing back to back games is coming soon. I should do the whole damn season and mail it to the NHL offices to make my point!....If Hitchcock had waited a week, could he be in Chicago? Did he pass, or was it even offered?....Talk of changes have somewhat subsided in Ottawa. Only in a government city do troubles get swept under the rug so quickly. Nice move by Murray in one game, he benched Spezza for all but two minutes of the 3rd period to help preserves the win!.... A local scribe in town came up with a new angle solving the Sens issues. Switch Muckler and Murray's positions. Each has clearly had more success in the opposite roles. Funny when you think about it?

SIDELINE SCRIBBLES

Has the NHL ever thought of polling fans, writers, and broadcasters, on what areas of the game need the most fixing? There are dozens of issues ostriches named Bettman, Campbell, and Daly seem to shrug off at every suggestion. The fact they keep coming up ought to be a clue. Along with that brutal schedule of back to backs, issues such as imbalanced meetings, inconsistant calls, crashing goalies at will, mounting injuries, and immovable roster players, are frustrating fans league wide. Get on it guys! Fans in certain cities are missing in droves!

PARTING SHOT

Why on God's Earth doesn't the NHL expand the 5 minute sudden death OT to 10 minutes. Contrary to the shootout, this IS the most exciting hockey played. Several games I have seen lately have been total thrillers and I was completely let down when the shootouts began. I still say, settle the game in ten, then live with the few ties remaining. Presently, out of 30 teams, 22 have a .500 record - which is nuts! Three other teams are one game under. The five remaining are virtually eliminated from the playoffs before December - how smart is that. Blame it all on those extra shootout and overtime points handed out like candy. It's a mess!


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