Commentary

It's time for a little late-night hockey chat

Updated: March 11, 2008, 5:45 PM ET
By John Buccigross | ESPN.com

I don't think I've done my annual NHL chat this season.

Maybe that's because the Internet "chat" seems to have been replaced by the "comments" page often provided at the end of blogs and columns such as this one. The comments sometimes turn into another conversation and stray from the original thread.

Shot of the Week

You know how it works. We present an NHL photo, and Bucci provides a caption. E-mail him your suggestions (include your name and hometown/state), and we will use the best ones and provide a new photo the following week.

LAST WEEK:

Lock of the week: Coyotes fans 8, Steroids 0 (Getty Images)

Your captions:

"This would be so much cooler if we weren't at a Suns game. Nice job, Exclamation Point!"
-- Chris (Nashua, N.H.)

When we were hoping for a return of the "whiteout"; this wasn't what we had in mind.
-- Val Boyd

I know they say that the camera adds 15 pounds. I just didn't realize that exclamation points do, too.
-- James Whelan (Manhattan)

It was either buy hockey tickets or belts.
-- T.J. Zaremba

Marketing gurus everywhere revel in "shoe polish and deodorant night" at the Jobing.com Arena.
-- Howard Freedland

THIS WEEK:

Must. Find. French Fries. (Getty Images)

As a 12-handicap insomniac, I know, as I lie in bed, my hockey puck-sized brain can stray from a Subway chicken parmesan sub to the size of Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Henrik Lundqvist's goalie equipment to Salma Hayek in a kayak eating her curds and whey. So, let's see what's really on the minds of some of our favorite hockey characters. I'll get the ball rolling with my e-mail address.

LOOBJOB12@Flamesmail.Swe: OK, who's out there in NHL land?! Don't be shy. This is a place where you can get all of that stuff off your chest without any fear. Let 'er fly!

AverylovesmesomeAvery16
@Starlet.Cougar:
AHHHHHHHH!!! @%&# Sather and the Rangers! Scott Hartnell is making $5.2 million this year! You ever seen him with Elisha Cuthbert? Mary-Kate Olsen? Rachel Hunter? Charlotte Ronson? The girl who works at the local Abercrombie & Fitch ...

LOOBJOB12@Flamesmail.Swe: OK! I get it, Sean! You are collector of meaningless relationships that have the shelf life of a banana. Rooming with Brett Hull clearly has rubbed off on you. Get to your point.

AverylovesmesomeAvery16
@Starlet.Cougar:
I mean, I'm set to be an unrestricted free agent and I can't even get to $3 million a year with the Rangers! Hartnell gets 39 points last season, not even 100 penalty minutes, and he gets six years, $25 million from the Flyers? I'm better looking than Scott Hartnell, date hotter women than Scott Hartnell, would kick Scott Hartnell's @#& in a fight, and would have more points than Scott Hartnell if I didn't get hurt and have to carry Jaromir Jagr's butt around the ice every game. I will not accept Fedor Tyutin money! I don't even know who that guy is! Kristen Bell told me he plays on my team. I couldn't even pick him out of a lineup! The Rangers will rule or woo or whatever the word is the day they lose me to Edmonton. It will be the reverse Mark Messier move! There will be Rangerocumemtarys on MSG talking about it for years to come. Oilers GM Kevin Lowe already told me he is prepared to give me an 18-year, $90-million contract. They love me in Canada.

LOOBJOB12@Flamesmail.Swe: Ooooooo Kkkkkkkk ... Awkward.

OVIE8@MOMMY.com: Hi there everybody! Alex, not Alexander, here. Excuse my English. It is not the bestest.

LOOBJOB12@Flamesmail.Swe: No worries here, Alex. While all of your talents are breathtaking, the way you have learned English and embraced America and Canada is equally impressive. You are a ball of excitement and hope. An unique star. I think you and your contemporaries are the first group of Russians who love the NHL and look at the Stanley Cup as the ultimate prize. You don't look like a mercenary. Your personality reminds me of a young Tom Cruise back when he was broke and making "Risky Business." Please, don't let all of this money make you weird.

OVIE8@MOMMY.com: No worries! My momma would kick off my butt if I got weirdo.

[+] EnlargeSalma Hayek
Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage"How can you say the Penguins' acquisition of Marian Hossa was a bad move?!"

LOOBJOB12@Flamesmail.Swe: And the English is fine and getting better. Keep doing the interviews and keep watching Laguna Beach DVDs. You should hear your boy Evgeni Malkin. Isn't that right Geno?

71asin71millionfor71years@RFA.$$$: Ajrht kjsfg oier klsjn Afdlku, Jamie Foxx, ahhhh, "Booty Call"!! Jkgdk!

LOOBJOB12@Flamesmail.Swe: Ah, those Maxime Talbot English lessons are coming along just fine. Keep it up. It would take me three lifetimes to learn Russian.

BETTMANMAN@Nature.org: Ahhh, the great outdoors. Don't you just love the fresh air? Let's play every game outdoors!

LOOBJOB12@Flamesmail.Swe: Commish! Man, are you getting mileage out of the outdoor game thing. Keep milking it, babe! You'll have newspaper coverage for years! Whisper in the ear of every PR person in the NHL. Play all 1,230 games outdoors.

BETTMANMAN@Nature.org: You know, it sounds crazy, but it just might work.

KELLYSLANDING@NHLPA.com: Not without our approval!

LOOBJOB12@Flamesmail.Swe: Paul Kelly, executive director of the NHL Players Association! Nice to meet you. You sound angry. Actually, you sound like you are acting like you are angry.

KELLYSLANDING@NHLPA.com: We will not be hoodwinked into thinking that we are the little guy in this operation. We are a union and we will stick together until these unfair labor practices stop! DON'T GO OVER OUR HEADS!!

LOOBJOB12@Flamesmail.Swe: Paul, your "union" is signing 13-year contracts. I mean, Brad Boyes (former Erie Otter) makes $4 million a year. $4 million a year! And summers off!

JD@BLUESBRUTHA.com: Hey now, big boy! John Davidson here. I gave Brad that contract. Good guy, I tell ya!

LOOBJOB12@Flamesmail.Swe: JD! Boy, do I miss you in the broadcast booth. It has left a void. But if Brad Boyes ever matches his career numbers from this season, I will walk to St. Louis and shave ...

KELLYSLANDING@NHLPA.com: $4 million a year for Brad Boyes is an outrage! Outrage, I tell you!

LOOBJOB12@Flamesmail.Swe: Paul. Really. You are trying too hard. You now sound like Kevin Costner in "Thirteen Days" with his atrocious Boston accent. Don't overact. Your guys are fine.

KELLYSLANDING@NHLPA.com: Ah, sorry. Chris Chelios told me to act tough.

[+] EnlargeRyan Whitney
Scott Audette/NHLI/Getty ImagesRyan Whitney, the poster boy for Boston accents.

BETTMANMAN@Nature.org: How about a game in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart? What's more American than that? Think of the corporate synergy. Can we get bleachers in the Grand Canyon?

WHITNEYRYAN@19.ICLIGHT: How is my Boston accent?

LOOBJOB12@Flamesmail.Swe: Ryan Whitney! You have a solid South Shore-Boston accent, a la Ted Donato and Dave Silk. Not too harsh on the ears, just right, like a fine Cabernet. Robin Williams in "Good Will Hunting" and Jack Nicholson in "The Departed" are two more awful cinematic examples of Boston accents. Not everyone in Boston has an accent, anyway! Just don't do one if you can't! Or call Ryan Whitney, for the love of God!

KELLYSLANDING@NHLPA.com: You need to settle down.

LOOBJOB12@Flamesmail.Swe: You are right. I need the playoffs to start.

71asin71millionfor71years@RFA.$$$: Skgh iuajh aliiur, Hooters!

LOOBJOB12@Flamesmail.Swe: That's right, Geno. Winner, winner, chicken-wing dinner with a 12-iron and the best of Iron Maiden. Let the playoffs begin.

Mother of All Mailbags

Bucci,

[+] EnlargeAndrei Markov
Debora Robinson/NHLI/Getty ImagesCanadiens defenseman Andrei Markov is another one of Bucci's underrated players.
You wrote in your Ducks-Senators blog that Giguere was the most underrated player in the NHL; not goalie, player. I must say I was brimming with pride. So, I was wondering, who do you think are the five most-underrated players in the NHL, and alternatively, the five most-overrated players?

Stuart,
Oxford, England

Five most-overrated? That would be bad manners.

Five most-under-the-radar players this season? We could make a list of 50, but here are five:

1. Giguere
2. Patrick Sharp
3. Marc Savard
4. Andrei Markov
5. David Booth


John,

You wrote last week:

Dallas has one of the best in-game presentation maestros in the NHL. Other lines from "Caddyshack" they could use after a Stars goal or great save:

"Oh, Dolly, I'm hot today."
"That must be the tea."
"It's in the hole!"
"Pick up that blood!"
"Are you gonna eat your fat?"

Great suggestions! I'll load 'em into the system.

Jeff K
Entertainment Manager
Music Director/ Game Host
Dallas Stars Hockey Club

One more: "How 'bout a Fresca?"

NHL nation, we are making positive changes, one e-mail at a time.

Bucci,

When the ref is on the phone while a goal is being reviewed: "Well? ... We're waiting!"

Rob Selko
Moorestown, N.J.

Amen, brotha.


John,

Not that I'm saying Caps fans aren't great, but I'm assuming there was more to their enthusiasm that came across so clearly during Washington's game against the Penguins. What did NBC do to get the crowd level noise just right for that broadcast? It was great enough to have two teams going at it like they did in the third period, but between the crowd noise and the announcer, the whole broadcast came off like it was Game 7 of the finals. It was so easy to get excited along with that capacity crowd.

Matt Dixon
Loveland, Colo.

Good call, Matt! NBC got the audio perfect last Sunday. It is a major component to bringing the arena experience to television, audio that has the broadcasters just below a yell.


John,

Michigan recently awarded a co-state high school championship to Orchard Lake St. Mary's and Marquette after EIGHT overtimes!

Brandon
St. Clair, Mich.

It's true! It was the longest game in Michigan high school history and second-longest in U.S. high school history. St. Mary's coach Brian Klanow told the Detroit Free Press: "It's history, that's what it is. The kids -- hats off to all of them. What a tribute this is to high school hockey in Michigan."

I liked St. Mary's forward Shane Halaas' honesty: "I rather it go into a shootout, but in the end, it's all good."

I can tell you that would have been my response in high school as well. That being said, I love the photo that ran in The Free Press showing the two teams huddled on the ice around the championship trophy.

John,

Congratulations to Marquette Sr. High School and Orchard Lake St. Mary's on their co-state championships.

State directors called the game a draw (1-1) after the eighth overtime. The safety of the players had to be taken into consideration. By the end of the game, it was reported some of the players were no longer sweating because of dehydration.

Teams were told about the decision while in the locker rooms. After which, both squads came back out onto the ice to congratulate one another and take a picture -- together!

Hockey at its best.

Nick
MSHS alum


John,

Thought you might like this. I was at the Minnesota State High School hockey tourney all weekend. I know you agree with me that Minnesota is by far the best hockey state and St. Paul is the best hockey town. (That's right, Detroit.) Well, here is a fun fact to help prove this. The boys' high school hockey Class AA semifinals drew 19,559 spectators, which not only set a state tournament record for a single session, but also set an Xcel Energy Center attendance mark and, perhaps, a state record for any venue. I can say the only time it's been crazier is when the Gophs beat Maine for the national title in OT.

Andrew Longen
St. Paul, Minn.

"He loved the golden gophers, but he hated all the drawn-out winters." -- "Stuck Between Stations" by The Hold Steady

Hey John,

My cousin, Danny May, won the Massachusetts Division I Championship last year at the Garden (not the Super 8) for the Duxbury Dragons. After they won, some threw gloves and helmets off and charged toward the goalie to pile on and celebrate. My cousin was cut across the neck and severed tendons in his arm afterward. His celebration was cut short and he had to go to the hospital. On videotape, you could see him dive head first into the pile and, in slow motion, another player's skate was right in front of his face similar to [Richard] Zednik's incident. Very scary stuff. Good to see he ended up OK and is finishing up his senior year.

Greg from Mass

Good luck to Danny and all of the beautiful people from Duxbury. Coaches, tell your players to stay on their feet during this month's state championship celebrations. And congratulations to all of the winners already crowned.


Hi John,

I read your response to an e-mail from a fantasy hockey team owner who needed some guidance just after the beginning of the season. You told him that whenever in doubt, he should change the team name to "Hakan and the Loobs." I gave this advice to my friend, who was in last place. He took it, and uncannily, he now sits at second place with one week left in the regular season.

Jesse S.
Minnesota

When will they learn? When WILL they learn? I wonder if there is a Lubomir Loob somewhere in Sweden?


Hey Bucci,

Just wanted to share some love for the "Jonesy" book. It was one of the most entertaining hockey reads I've ever read. I finished it in three days. It was very inspirational and should be a must-read for all kids coming up in youth hockey today. Can you please pass along to Jonesy that your book really made me appreciate the sport of hockey even more, if that is even possible?

Matt Caddy
Johnstown, Pa.
"The Mecca of Minor League Hockey"

Geez, Matt, I'm not sure if your e-mail mentioning the book "Jonesy" will see the light of day in the column! I think it's only fair that I now add a hockey fact every time a blatant, self-indulgent "Jonesy" reference is made, a là the baby-name thing.

Hockey fact: The Bruins' Marc Savard has played in over 700 NHL games, but has yet to play any Stanley Cup playoff games.


Hey John,

What are your thoughts on these half-seasons (Scott Niedermayer, Teemu Selanne, Peter Forsberg) that are becoming more and more popular? I think it cheapens the game and is dangerous. Some might like the idea of seeing Chelios lacing them up for March and April every season through his 50s, but it's a bad precedent to start up a league of part-timers. Is there any way that it could be avoided? Answer my question and I swear I'll buy your book.

Bryan MacKinnon
Lincoln, R.I.

Yes, I am easy. You could put a date -- say Jan. 1 -- on when a player could be under contract. I, for one, don't mind the practice. The more better players, the better. Better Peter Forsberg coming back than Reijo Ruotsalainen.


Bucci,

I saw that Alex Ovechkin negotiated his own contract, and what a contract it was! Is it safe to assume that the young Ovechkin was accompanied by an empty, yet new, briefcase? Jonesy tutors so many young stars.

[+] EnlargeAlexander Ovechkin
Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty ImagesEndorsements? Bucci says Alex Ovechkin doesn't need them to pay the mortgage.
Kevin Fisher
Perrysburg, Ohio

For those of you who haven't read "Jonesy" yet, there is a chapter on Jonesy once negotiating his own contract in a pair of shorts while occasionally peering into an empty briefcase he brought for effect.

By doing the deal himself, Ovechkin saved millions because he didn't pay agent fees. Starting next season, Ovechkin's contract will pay $9 million a year for the first six years and $10 million for the following seven. He can now hire an agency for endorsements and pick and choose them as he wishes. With his salary alone, he could do zero outside work and probably avoid paying car payments and/or having a mortgage. Ovechkin did receive some counsel from his mother. Tatiana won Olympic gold medals in 1976 and 1980 as a member of the Soviet women's basketball team. Ovechkin's dad, Mikhail, was a pro soccer player.

And did you see this? Sport-Express reported:

"Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin broke the jaw of Evgeni Malkin's agent Gennady Ushakov. Once well-known keeper Gennady Ushakov came out to take part in a preseason match the other day with his jaw injured. It has become known that a conflict flared up between Alexander Ovechkin and Gennady Ushakov during a nightclub party. Ushakov is said to have insulted Ovechkin, which led to a fight in which Malkin's agent had his jaw broken."

Capitals beat writer Tarik El-Bashir of The Washington Post reported this in response on the newspaper's Web site:

"I talked to a Russian reporter who would know about this. He said details about the incident are sketchy, but he's pretty confident that it did happen. He also said it was a 'damaged' jaw, not a broken one."


Hey Booch,

Red Wings. What. The. Hell. Thoughts?

Matt
Eastern Michigan University

Injured. Bored. Should. Be. OK. Now.


John,

Well, here I go ... Another baby on the way and we can't decide on a name. So, I put forth to you for inspiration.

Facts:

Gender: Girl
Last name: Bump (yes, BUMP! LOL)
Dad's Fav Team: Colorado Avalanche
Big Sisters' Fav Team: San Jose Sharks
Sisters' names: Caitlyn Ronnette and Alexandra Michelle

Whatcha got for me?

Scott Bump
Salinas, Calif.

Jolene Angel Bump.

The Avs and Sharks fans should both happy with the name "Jo."

Hockey fact: Gordie Howe never scored 50 goals in a season.


Bucci,

Ever since the Pens dealt for Marian Hossa, we've been bombarded with commentators criticizing the move from the salary-cap standpoint and saying the Pens are going to become the next Tampa Bay with regard to paying top players too much and therefore leaving not enough money for everything else. So basically, my question is: What is your take on this?

In Shero We Trust,
Keith Dougall
Pittsburgh

I was, and am, in complete favor of the Hossa trade. It is sad Colby Armstrong won't be able to take part in the Penguins revival (he would be a compelling playoff figure who would not shrink from the intensity), but Pittsburgh traded two average players and a prospect who likely will be, at best, at second-line center, and who knows how long that will take? The first-round pick they gave up is in the 20th overall neighborhood. All that for a player who will amass 40 goals and 100 points a season if he stays in Pittsburgh and plays with Sidney Crosby. When Hossa returns from his knee injury, he will be the best winger on the Penguins. Whether it was Mario Lemieux/upper management or GM Ray Shero, the Penguins correctly identified two things:

The Penguins' window to become an Eastern Conference champion and Stanley Cup finalist is now open. The game is on. Hossa is a high-IQ player who can finish. He will be an instant success playing with Crosby. I guarantee it. The Penguins shouldn't hope to win the East this spring -- they should expect it. While they might not be the favorite because of the presence of Henrik Lundqvist (Rangers) and Martin Brodeur (Devils) in the conference, the Penguins are now good enough to win the East. They weren't before.

The pieces the Penguins traded away are easily replaceable. They traded three forwards and a low first-round pick, not young defensemen. Even if Hossa leaves for more money instead of playing with this generation's best player (Sound the stupid alarm!), the trade was a low-risk deal.

I am baffled why any hockey observer would say getting Hossa this spring was a negative.


Hey Bucci,

Considering the sizable gap between Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Pronger/Dion Phaneuf, how many games can he afford to miss before conceding the Norris?

Dennis

Lidstrom should still win his sixth Norris Trophy despite missing a handful of games.


John,

We start them early here in the State of Hockey. Gus(ter) is only 10 months old, but is enjoying watching the Wild make their playoff drive.

Kevin
Minneapolis

Minnesota Baby Fats.














John Buccigross is an anchorman for "SportsCenter" and ESPNEWS. For questions, comments or crosschecks, e-mail him at john.buccigross@espn.com. To check out his new book, "Jonesy: Put Your Head Down & Skate," click here.

John Buccigross | email

SportsCenter anchor
John Buccigross joined ESPN as an anchor in October 1996. He currently can be seen as an anchor on "SportsCenter." Buccigross frequently contributes to ESPN.com during the season.