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Let's talk rookies

by Phil Coffey /

Eric Staal and rest of the Hurricanes must be quite happy to have versatile center Jeff Hamilton in the fold with them this season.

OK folks, here is our first topic of the season. Tell me which rookies have impressed you so far this season.

With Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in Chicago, Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano in Edmonton, Nicklas Backstrom in Washington and Jack Johnson in Los Angeles, there figures to be plenty to talk about.

Now, on to this week’s letters.


Hello again,

By the looks of the last mailbag, it seems as though people are afraid to write in!

Can’t disagree that Martin Gerber is playing well. After seeing him in Raleigh for a season, I got a little too used to his solid play, night in and night out. You’re absolutely right that John Paddock has some important decisions to make. You don’t want to bench a hot goalie. At the same time, you don’t want to bench Ray Emery.

Another guy that has flown under the radar a bit is Jeff Hamilton. I don’t know if you’ve seen much of him, but he was brought to Carolina for two things: power plays and shoot-outs. What a signing by Jim Rutherford! Hamilton has been able to fill in for guys like Cory Stillman and Erik Cole with their injuries. He’s been fun to watch out there. Have any underrated guys off the top of your head that we should look for?

And what a great Hurricanes and Sabres game on Wednesday!

-- Matt, Raleigh

Hey Matt, hope you are building a trend with notes two weeks in a row. Some of the mailbag regulars seem to have taken some time off!

Agreed that Jeff Hamilton was a very under-the-radar move by the 'Canes that is paying off. You can never have enough depth and if that depth can be made to fit in the salary-cap structure, all the better.

As for more underrated guys, the Rangers’ Nigel Dawes stepped up Thursday night with two goals against the Devils. He was highly regarded coming out of junior, but has had a hard time breaking into the New York lineup. He’s fast and pretty shifty with the puck.

Another young guy who has opened eyes is Boston’s Milan Lucic, who looks like he is going to stick around Boston past the 10-game junior deadline.



Is it safe to assume that Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne are retired? I haven’t seen any official announcements or anything. Maybe I just missed them.

-- Dave, Moose Jaw, SK

Hey Dave. You know what happens when you assume …

Niedermayer and Selanne have not announced their retirements. They are still deciding if they want to return. Selanne is a free agent and Niedermayer is on the Ducks’ suspended list because he is still under a contract.


I'm trying desperately to find someone at the NHL who will listen to me.

I recently came across this quote by P. Coffey: "Sorry to disappoint you, but the NHL won't be dropping off the sports landscape anytime soon."

As a huge hockey fan (I did NOT say NHL fan) I have to say ... Uh ok. Right ....

I love watching hockey on ESPN.. oops - wrong.

ESPN2... oops - wrong.

I love all the coverage in the mainstream media... oops - wrong.

I love the changes in the game where 5-on-5 and a flowing, emotional, hitting game rules... oops - wrong again!

I love what Bettman and knuckleheads like you have done by assuring the true hockey fan that the garbage they are watching is actually good hockey, although nobody likes to watch it (but what do we know?)... OOOPS - wrong again!!!

I love canceling my Center Ice contract and finally severing all my ties to the NHL. DING DING DING - RIGHT!!!!

As I sit here I see the third penalty in a game within the first 10 minutes. This time a guy took his hand off a stick to swat the puck and the opposing player fell over the blue line. That's it - I'm turning it off.

I've watched hundreds of NHL games over the last 20 years. Bought merchandise, jerseys, cards, etc. The last two years have been a complete joke. I've lost professional hockey and my heart is broke over it. Obviously no one cares about the current hockey fan - good luck with the new ones (if you ever find them). Thank God for college hockey - goodbye NHL.

-- Kevin Welsch

True hockey fan my fat fannie Kevin. You are a contrarian, a professional complainer. You wake up every morning complaining that it’s raining or the sun is in your eyes.

According to your view of things, there should be more clutching and grabbing, because that was better, etc. etc. Frankly I’m tired of this attitude. You knock the TV coverage, but then say you canceled Center Ice where you can watch virtually all the games. Define that logic for me.

You’re in the minority my friend. I know because I see the number of people that come to on a daily basis and the numbers keep growing.


Hey Phil,

I just wanted to say thank you for getting the Jonathan Bernier situation correct. All I've seen so far is stuff like "the Beriner experiment failed" or "after a good first game Bernier got himself sent down to juniors," which is completely false. It wasn't Bernier, it was the team sucking around him. Bernier was fantastic, he always seems to be in position before a shot comes and has great economy of movement; he's going to incredible for us in a couple years. As for the rest of the Kings, despite the slow start after London, I have some optimism. Kopitar and Cammalleri have come storming out of the gate clicking incredibly well together. Cammy apparently has no ill will toward the Kings after the contract junk in the off-season, and comes out proving he's an elite sniper. Kopi is just Kopi, not really much to say, he is awesome. Brown adds some physicality to that line and looks to be developing into the player we all know he can be. His stutter step to get around the defenseman in the Wild game was great, plus the hustle to get the penalty-shot empty netter against the 'Nucks. O'Sullivan has been a monster on the PK. He has started the season with tons of energy, and who thought Sully would ever get time on the PK? He's developing into a great all-around player. Calder was a great pickup and is filling a need the Kings have had for a long time, someone to go to the front of the net. Our defense has been lackluster, but Jack Johnson has been getting great. His play in the defensive zone has been coming along really well, plus congrats to him on his first NHL goal! The first of many to be sure. Stuart has been disappointing, with some horrible turnovers that went in our net. So much of our D changed that I think they just need time to gel and get together. Frolov and Vishnovsky have gotten off to slow starts, but a slow start is normal for Fro and Lubo is a pro, he'll get it together. If LaBarbara and Aubin can manage some solid goaltending this will be a tough team to play against.

Not really any questions for you to answer here, but that's my thoughts on the Kings so far, what do you think of them?

Thanks for reading,

-- Jeremiah

Hi Jeremiah. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will the Kings. That’s not criticism, but a statement of fact. It takes time for so many new pieces to come together and perhaps a little longer with so many young guys. But the Kings have a lot of talented kids who figures to get better and better. But the decision to send Bernier back to junior makes sense as well, since you don’t want a young goalie’s confidence shattered by the growing pains of a young team. He’ll be back.

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