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News, Notes and Hockey Insights - 2/27/2013

by Frank Albin / San Jose Sharks

This and that…

Reports are out there that the NHL will announce a realignment plan very soon. We are hearing 4 conferences, 2 with 8 teams and 2 with 7 teams. This makes me think expanding by 2 teams is in the league’s future. It appears that the Sharks would be Pacific Conference along with Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Phoenix. The present Phoenix club could move to Seattle with little disruption.

It appears that Detroit and Columbus would go to the east while Winnipeg would move west. Best expansion sites (in my opinion) Seattle, Quebec, a 2nd Toronto team, Kansas City and Portland.

The NHL has never been afraid of shaking up the alignment. Remember the Patrick, Norris, Adams et al?

I watch lots of hockey…and I’m getting very frustrated that the puck is always bouncing or rolling. It’s hard to display the talent of the world’s greatest players when the ice is bad and the puck is always on edge. It frustrates the players to no end. But what can be done? How about working with some experts to develop a puck with Teflon (other slippery substance) coating? How about a puck with a cartridge insert that freezes the puck to point where the puck can’t bounce? I wonder if there is a way one could redesign the puck with an uneven weight distribution, making the puck always ‘wanting’ to sit flat. Edmonton seems to be the only building in the league with excellent ice conditions.

You’ve got to give the Chicago Blackhawks full marks for their incredible unbeaten in regulation streak. They are getting solid, consistent performances from every man on the roster. Is there a better captain in the league than the Hawks’ Jonathan Toews? Watch for a bit of a letdown when they drop their first game. No team can stay hot all season, especially one with 48 games.

The GMs will be talking about a coaches challenge rule during their next league meetings. I like the idea. Refs do make mistakes, but the real mistake is not doing everything possible to make the right call.

Funny thing about hockey, it is very common to call players out in public. You don’t see much of that in the other big 3. NHL clubs also fire coaches and GMs at the first signs of a performance slide. With Lindy Ruff’s dismissal in Buffalo last week Nashville’s Barry Trotz is the NHL most tenured on the job (1997). Behind Trotz is Mike Babcock (Det-2005), Alain Vigneault (Van-2006), Claude Julien (Bos-2007) and Todd McLellan (Sharks-2008). 19 NHL bench bosses were hired in 2010 or later.

Travelling with the Sharks we rarely have time in a city to be a tourist. On a routine trip usually it’s plane, hotel, cab, arena, then off to the next stop. Twice on the last road trip the team enjoyed 2 days off in Chicago. I visited a few favorite restaurants, went to the Natural History museum, stopped by the famous “Bean” sculpture and saw a performance by the Blue Man Group. Good times, but it is nice to be home for a week. There is no place better to live than the Bay Area.

For I’m Frank Albin.

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