NHL analyst and former All-Star Jeremy Roenick will be penning a weekly blog for NHL.com this season. Look for new entries from, "World According to JR," every Wednesday. Roenick will offer sharp, can't-miss opinions on What's Clicking and What's Missing in the National Hockey League.
There are a lot of guys making a lot of money in the NHL. One of them once again started to earn every penny of his salary on Monday night, but there are others that I believe just aren't pulling their weight. It's all below in this week's blog entry:
We absolutely have to talk about Sidney Crosby and the much, much, much anticipated return of No. 87 to the Penguins lineup.
It was well worth the wait.
Nobody knew what we were going to get from him, and I think everybody was astounded by the level of play that Sidney showed against the Islanders.
If there was any question, any doubt who the best player in the world was before, I don't think there should be now after Sidney Crosby dominated from start to finish in his first game back in more than 10 months. To be out for more than 10 months and stay dedicated to his conditioning and dedicated to his recovery, and to come back with that confidence and in that good of shape is a remarkable feat.
I loved the way the Pittsburgh fans embraced him. The emotion and the adrenaline in that building was as good as I've ever seen it in Pittsburgh, and that's a team that has won multiple Stanley Cups. That building was electric as any time I have ever seen it in Pittsburgh, and that shows me how much the fans love hockey in that city.
The amount of attention Sidney got from the media was all deserved. His teammates were so excited for him to be back, which shows how important he is and how beloved he is. The respect factor that the organization showed and the respect factor that coach Dan Bylsma showed toward Sidney was exactly what a megastar deserves.
Sidney returned the respect back by giving us a dazzling show of talent and emotion. It was worth the wait.
He went into the danger areas. He initiated the play. He made great passes. He showed moments of brilliance. He does things better on his backhand than I did on my forehand.
I think I speak for everybody when I say that I'm very happy that Sidney Crosby is back playing. The game is better with him and the Pittsburgh Penguins are better with him, and that means a lot of trouble for a lot of teams playing a team as deep and as well coached as they are.
He blew away my expectations.
We have to talk about a few high-priced players that aren't pulling their weight. They're already making an impact on their hockey club by the amount of money they're making and the salary cap hit, and to go without being criticized and ridiculed for being thieves, for lack of a better word, would be unjust.
Let's start in Washington, where Alex Semin has to start playing every single day, every single game like he cares about the Capitals. For coach Bruce Boudreau to make Alex Semin a healthy scratch at $6.7 million is unacceptable. A player has to start looking in the mirror when that starts happening.
You have Ville Leino in Buffalo. He signed a massive deal, one that made everybody lift their eyebrow. He didn't have any major success in the NHL that made him worthy of attaining such a lucrative contract, and now he's been invisible for the Sabres. They need more goal scoring, more wins, and Leino has not helped them at all. He has to get going.
And, as much as I hate to say it because he's a friend of mine, Scott Gomez up in Montreal is again struggling to score goals at a very hefty salary of more than $7.5 million this season.
He finished with only 7 goals last season and he's struggling to score again this season. Scotty has to find a way to get more involved with the offense. The only way to get out of a scoring slump is to go into those high-traffic areas and get them the ugly way.
He's a very talented player but he has to find a way to score goals for the Canadiens because that team struggles to win games due to such a lack of scoring. That's what Scotty is there to do, set up goals or score goals.
With these guys, there is just too much money being spent and the teams are not getting enough production in return.