A collection of unrelated hockey thoughts for a cold and wet Saturday morning:

The Tampa Bay Lightning fired Head Coach Barry Melrose yesterday and named Rick Tocchet as his interim replacement. What the heck is plan over there? I’m sure many of you have heard this analogy before, but I certainly think it holds true. It’s like they’re playing NHL ’09 on XBOX: knee jerk reactions galore. They start their offseason by convincing Dan Boyle to stay on a last place team and providing him with an NTC, but then ship him out of town a few days before it kicks in. Not exactly top notch player relations there. They spend the entire summer hyping up their top prospect with the “Seen Stamkos?” campaign, and proceed to have him play less than 12 minutes/game (9th among Tampa forwards). 12 games into the season, they ship out Matt Carle, the player they just acquired as part of a package for Dan Boyle. At the 16 game mark, they decide to fire their newly hired head coach as well. Oh well, at least it gives the rest of us something to talk about. For the sake of Lightning fans, I hope someone takes away management’s controller soon.

Wow, is that Semin kid special or what? 5 point game the other night, and sits at the top of the scoring race with a ridiculous 27 points in 16 games played. Do you take Crosby/Malkin/Staal/Whitney/Fleury or Ovechkin/Semin/Backstrom/Green/Alzner? Pretty tough call. Nonetheless, it looks like those two squads, spurred on by the Malkin/Ovechkin hate, is going to make for one heckuva rivalry over the next few years.

There is some serious beef going on between Mikhail Grabovski and the rest of the Canadiens squad, and it was evident in last week’s game against the Habs when Grabovski even butt ended Price a bit with his stick in front of the net. Pierre Mcguire speculated the other day on the FAN that it started last season when Sergei Kostitsyn was called up and took Grabovski’s spot in the lineup. Grabovski wasn’t too happy about it and let them know about it. At one point during the season, he left the team to fly to Los Angeles to speak with his agent, sparking even more controversy. Mikhail does seem to be in check now under Ron Wilson, and the added animosity makes for an even more interesting Habs/Leafs rivalry.

Toronto prospect Christopher Didomenico, who plays for the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL, hurt himself in a game on Wednesday and is expected be out 2-3 weeks. As such, Halifax Moosehead’s forward Steven Anthony will replace Saint John Sea Dogs teammate Chris DiDomenico on the QMJHL roster for the upcoming ADT Canada-Russia Challenge. This is a big blow to Dido’s chances of making Team Canada’s WJC squad.

Anyone else starting to get a little bored with the song they always play when the Leafs score at the ACC? I’ve always felt they could use something a little different; something that still pumps you up, but really resounded “Toronto”. For one of the most international and multicultural cities in the world, I really liked one of the ideas tossed forth by a Leaf fan at hfboards: Bellini – Samba De Janeiro. You soccer fans know what I’m talking about!


Lastly, don’t forget to vote for your Leafs into the 2009 All-Star Game in Montreal.

Here’s how the leaderboards currently look:

Leading Forwards
RIBEIRO, Mike–68312
ZETTERBERG, Henrik–61872
IGINLA, Jarome–61446
DATSYUK, Pavel–61027
HOSSA, Marian–59750
MORROW, Brenden–55784
KOIVU, Mikko–53292
KANE, Patrick–36230
MODANO, Mike–33183
GETZLAF, Ryan–31607

Leading Defensemen
LIDSTROM, Nicklas–100843
PHANEUF, Dion–92759
SOURAY, Sheldon–42184
RAFALSKI, Brian–39018
ROBIDAS, Stéphane–38407
BOYLE, Dan–37495
CAMPBELL, Brian–27125
BURNS, Brent–20186
NIEDERMAYER, Scott–19912
WEBER, Shea–19505

Leading Goalie
LUONGO, Roberto–111375
TURCO, Marty–40562
NABOKOV, Evgeni–32708
OSGOOD, Chris–23340
BACKSTROM, Niklas–19748

Leading Forwards
KOIVU, Saku–194474
KOVALEV, Alex–193769
TANGUAY, Alex–191603
SEMIN, Alexander–74623
OVECHKIN, Alex–58861
CROSBY, Sidney–57625
MALKIN, Evgeni–41337
LECAVALIER, Vincent–33956
GAGNE, Simon–31560
SAVARD, Marc–20536

Leading Defensemen
MARKOV, Andrei–208334
KOMISAREK, Mike–193621
GREEN, Mike–51152
CHARA, Zdeno–45653
TIMONEN, Kimmo–34217
KABERLE, Tomas==27734
HAMRLIK, Roman–18195
GONCHAR, Sergei–18187
NUMMINEN, Teppo–15558
WHITNEY, Ryan–12663

Leading Goalie
PRICE, Carey–209705
LUNDQVIST, Henrik–54086
FLEURY, Marc-Andre –23082
THOMAS, Tim– 23042
MILLER, Ryan –18142

I can understand the intrigue and sentiment of icing an all-Canadiens starting lineup for the all-star game during their 100th anniversary, and that’s exactly what the promotional campaigns in Montreal are getting at, but Mike Komisarek as your Eastern starting all-star defenseman is just wrong.

But hey, vote for whomever you want and up to twenty times I think. Kaberle definitely deserves a spot, and perhaps even Stajan or Antropov as well.


Don’t forget! The Kyle Wellwood Showdown: Tonight at 7pm ET in Vancouver on HNIC. Hope to see everyone join Alec and I in the Game Day Thread for some discussion and in-game fun!

Always a pleasure,

Alex Tran

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