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EJ mailbag: Isles arena, Red Wings and Emery

Tuesday, 08.02.2011 / 9:48 AM / E.J. Hradek's Analysis

By EJ Hradek - NHL.com Analyst

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EJ mailbag: Isles arena, Red Wings and Emery
Hradek dishes on Isles arena, Red Wings and Emery in latest mailbag
You guys and gals sent me so many good questions via Twitter last week, I thought I'd answer a few more of them in the second installment of my weekly mailbag. I did, however, decide to start with a question I received late Monday evening concerning the future of the Islanders.
 
If the Isles move when their lease expires in 2015, where do you see them going? Quebec? – @w_snyder_jr
 
While Monday night's Nassau County vote against a proposed plan to build a new arena is a clear setback for the franchise's long-term future on Long Island, I suspect we'll see some other plan surface in the near future.
 
Beyond that, I think it's pretty difficult to speculate where a team might move four years from now. In Quebec City they are planning to build a new arena and it's no secret they want to attract an NHL franchise. So at this point I'd say it's a possibility the Islanders could move there in 2015, but just one of many different possibilities for the franchise.
 
Why did the League help Phoenix but has allowed other smaller market teams to deal with their financial troubles on their own? -- @philkeenan
 
The Phoenix situation is unique and dramatically different than the plight of "other smaller-market teams." The Coyotes franchise was placed into bankruptcy by its previous owner, Jerry Moyes. The League took control of the franchise out of that public proceeding and has been running the team while they pursue a new owner. I think that pursuit has been pretty well documented during the past few years.
 
The NHL can offer advice to its franchises, but League executive aren't in a position to overrule individual club ownership. It's up to ownership in each of the League's 30 markets to run its business -- within League rules and market circumstances -- in the best way it sees fit.
 
How do you like the Devils' hiring of Peter DeBoer? -- @glenayrfarm
 
Personally, I think Ken Hitchcock would have been a better fit for their current roster of players. That said, DeBoer is a solid young coach who will benefit greatly from the three years of NHL experience that he gained in Florida.
 
In the short term, I think DeBoer will have to sell Ilya Kovalchuk on his plan. If the club's superstar player -- with 14 years remaining on his contract -- isn't on board, that's a big problem. DeBoer also will have to find common ground with franchise icon Martin Brodeur. If he can forge relationships with those two guys, he'll have a chance for success. If he can't, he'll end up as the latest in a long line of Jersey coaching casualties.
 
Where do you see Ray Emery ending up? He was great in Anaheim and I'm a little shocked they didn't re-sign him. -- @thollenback15
 
Emery will be going to Blackhawks camp on a tryout. I think he's got a chance of securing the back-up job behind starter Corey Crawford.
 
Emery's main competition will be 24-year-old Alexander Salak. Acquired from the Panthers last season, Salak enjoyed a stellar season in the Swedish Elite League, compiling a 1.97 goals-against average, a .926 save percentage and seven shutouts in 32 games.
 
The Hawks signed the Czech-born Salak to a two-year deal in May. The contract is a one-way arrangement, meaning he'll get the same salary whether he plays in the NHL or the American Hockey League. That kind of commitment usually means the team believes the player will be able to stick on the big-league roster.
 
Salak, however, brings just two games of previous NHL experience (with the Panthers during the 2009-10 season). That's likely why the club wanted to cover its crease by inviting the more experienced Emery to camp.
 
In Anaheim, I think it was more of a numbers game. The club is planning on the return of Jonas Hiller, who, if healthy, will get the lion's share of the playing time. Dan Ellis, meanwhile, has another year left on his contract. He fits as the No. 2 behind Hiller.
 
By keeping cap room open, is Detroit going to make a big splash during the 2012 Trade Deadline? -- @bertlen19
 
I don't know about a "big splash," but Wings GM Ken Holland will be better positioned to improve his club with a deal in the weeks prior to the trade deadline. In fact, in a recent conversation, he admitted that he could see himself being much more active at the deadline than he's been able to be in recent seasons.
 
I don't think Holland will do something for the sake of doing something -- he's too smart for that. Rather, he'll only act if something makes sense for the Wings. If the right player or players are available, Holland will take his best shot at making something happen without quite as much worry about cap problems.
 
Why does the NHL continue to market the dark-colored jerseys at home? White jerseys = home team. -- @raycon44
 
According to top League executive, the governors and managers have no appetite to change the current system that sees home teams wear dark jerseys or sweaters (if you appreciate that term). So I don't see it changing anytime soon.
 
Prior to the 1970-71 season, the NHL instituted a rule change that called for home teams to wear "basic white uniforms." That rule remained in place until the 2003-04 season, when home teams were required to wear "basic colored uniforms."
 
I believe the latter change was born out of a desire for the individual clubs to wear their "third" jerseys at home. In most, if not all cases, those "third" jerseys would fit under the heading of "basic colored uniforms."
 
I'd like to see a return of the "home whites," if for no other reason than fans in each market can get a look at each of their opponents' more colorful uniforms. A parade of visiting teams coming through a city wearing "road whites" means each game looks nearly identical to the fans in the stands.
Quote of the Day

Great players need great players to play with. That's why we'll have a training camp and we'll find who the best two guys are suited to play with Stamkos.

— Tampa Bay Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness on Steven Stamkos' potential linemates for the 2014-15 season