Commentary

Gonchar no one-show pony; Toronto brain trust strikes again

Updated: May 14, 2008, 1:11 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

Five things we've learned from Tuesday:

1. There are still those who like to pigeonhole Pittsburgh defenseman Sergei Gonchar as one-dimensional. They might like to refer to Gonchar's spectacular defensive play to thwart Mike Richards' short-handed effort in the second period of Game 3 in Philadelphia as proof to the contrary. With the Pens holding a 2-1 lead, Richards, who had scored on a short-handed breakaway in Game 2, forced a turnover by Ryan Whitney at the Philadelphia blue line and was bearing down on the Pittsburgh goal. Then, out of nowhere, Gonchar slid in and deftly hooked the puck away without tripping Richards.

2. Wonder how many names will get thrown against the wall in Toronto before a GM, coach and possible new president will be hired? Scratch Wayne Gretzky off that long list of names rumored to be interested in a post in hockey's epicenter. Wait for Ray Bourque, Larry Murphy, Larry, Moe, Curly, Lassie, Fonzie and that guy from the Molson Canadian ads to also deny they are interested in taking over at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

3. Speaking of the search for the Holy Grail, it once again seems the big brains at MLSE haven't got their eye on the ball. They have essentially announced their hire will be a home run, a GM with a fat résumé dotted with playoff wins and Stanley Cup rings. But what they fail to see is that almost every successful team, a team that is a perennial playoff team, a team that can legitimately lay claim to the Cup every season even if it doesn't get there, is led by a team. Red Wings GM Ken Holland doesn't get up every morning and take a plane to the deepest, darkest parts of Sweden to find the next Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg. He has super scout Hakan Andersson for that. And Jim Nill and Scotty Bowman and the rest of the Red Wings brain trust. Anaheim GM Brian Burke has consistently given credit for his team's success to David McNab, Bob Murray and others.

4. The Philadelphia Flyers produced a moving tribute to a Philadelphia police officer who was shot and killed during a robbery attempt May 3 in the city before Game 3. Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski was a huge Flyers fan and reports from his funeral noted that his son urged mourners for a "Let's Go Flyers" chant before the start of the Eastern Conference finals against Pittsburgh. Tuesday night, a video montage featuring the slain officer appeared before the singing of "God Bless America," including shots of Liczbinski on a Zamboni. It was a poignant reminder of the symbiotic relationship between a team and its fans. One local report had Mayor Michael Nutter donating his private box at Wachovia Center to police officers from Liczbinski's division. Kudos to him and the Flyers for getting it right.

5. Not to put the heebie jeebies on the Penguins, who are now 11-1 this spring, but their only injuries have been to Max Talbot and Gary Roberts, two members of their fourth line. Roberts was sick and missed Game 3. Talbot missed three games with a foot injury and Roberts has now missed time with both a groin injury and illness.

Scott Burnside is the NHL writer for ESPN.com.