NHL Week in Review (December 8-14)

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The NHL season is fast approaching the halfway point of the season and in some cities decisions are being made to try to turn the tide before it is too late. Buffalo would be the first as they would fire their general manager and coach. For the Sabres it was less an attempt to right the ship and more of an attempt to plan for the future and restart the rebuild. This week the Calgary Flames would become the second team to make a big move in their management. The Flames would fire general manager Jay Feaster this week but this move felt very different. Calgary would not completely change their organization instead choosing to fire one piece of their management team. Keeping head coach Bob Hartley behind the bench and having Brian Burke as a player personnel man to help the transition has made the Flames move a very different one. Brian Burke is currently looking for the replacement in Calgary and does not plan on having a long search. That is different from Buffalo where they are looking to take the long road to find their new GM. The approach that the Flames are taking is all about trying to get back on track before it is too late. The Sabres have essentially thrown in the towel for the 2013-14 season but in Calgary they are making one last-ditch effort at bringing their team back to the playoffs. The firing of Feaster seemed to be a long time coming as he would take over the Flames in 2010 and would never help his team to the playoffs. He would have plenty of mistakes along the way including last year when he attempted to submit an offer sheet to Ryan O’Reilly. O’Reilly was a restricted free agent from Colorado that had played in Europe throughout the lockout. The Flames attempted to sign him by submitting an offer sheet but the rules would have made that a massive mistake. If Colorado had not matched the offer sheet O’Reilly would have had to pass through waivers before he could be officially signed by the Flames. The rule came about because he had played too long in Europe and was required to go through waivers which he would not have cleared. In the end if Calgary had not been matched they would have given Colorado two first round picks, coast of signing a restricted free agent, and likely never have seen O’Reilly in a Flames jersey. It was a big miscalculation by Jay Feaster that worked out after Colorado matched his offer of ended any threat. The mistake last year was just one of a few for Feaster and the build up would eventually cost him his job. Now the Flames look for a new GM to help them get back to winning. For years the Flames have been in need of a rebuild as many have believed they should have sold off their top veterans and bring in a number of younger stars. The new GM may very well look to do this as he will likely be in the GM seat before the trade deadline and will have the chance to make his mark. Above all though, this new GM will have to impress Brian Burke to earn the job which means agreeing with Burke on how to build a team. Feaster did not have the same vision as Burke did for the team and it was a factor in the decision to fire the GM. Burke has done these rebuilds before in Anaheim, Vancouver, and even in Toronto where all teams have gotten better after he has had his time. Now he holds a different position but will be influential in decision-making which means that he cannot disagree too often with his GM. The search has started for the new GM in Calgary and it will not take long as the Flames are looking to reload for this season rather than rebuild with another big change for a team midseason.

 

Overtime:
(Thoughts on the past week in the NHL)

A Win for the Fans
NHL fans can complain about ticket prices and getting tickets but Flyers fans would take it a step further when they sued the Philadelphia Flyers for excluding the outdoor game in 2012 from season ticket packages and they won the suit earning game vouchers worth $625,500

Pure Class
Jarome Iginla would come back to the only city he knew until last year as he would play in Calgary wearing a Boston uniform and in his return the fans would give him the welcome he deserved

ACC Workers striking
The Air Canada Centre in Toronto had a different group of people outside when a group of workers from the ACC would strike outside of the arena after the union rejected a deal with the MLSE making a very public display in the biggest hockey city in the world

 

NHL Standings

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division:
1. Boston Bruins (46)
2. Montreal Canadiens (43)
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (39)
4. Detroit Red Wings (39)
5. Toronto Maple Leafs (37)
6. Ottawa Senators (32)
7. Florida Panthers (27)
8. Buffalo Sabres (17)
Metropolitan Division:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (47)
2. Washington Capitals (37)
3. Carolina Hurricanes (35)
4. Columbus Blue Jackets (32)
5. New Jersey Devils (32)
6. Philadelphia Flyers (31)
7. New York Rangers (31)
8. New York Islanders (24)

Western Conference
Central Division:
1. Chicago Blackhawks (51)
2. St. Louis Blues (47)
3. Colorado Avalanche (43)
4. Minnesota Wild (43)
5. Dallas Stars (35)
6. Nashville Predators (35)
7. Winnipeg Jets (33)
Pacific Division:
1. Anaheim Ducks (49)
2. Los Angeles Kings (48)
3. San Jose Sharks (46)
4. Vancouver Canucks (45)
5. Phoenix Coyotes (41)
6. Calgary Flames (30)
7. Edmonton Oilers (25)

 

Key Scores:
Ottawa Senators 5 – 4 Philadelphia Flyers (SO)
– The Sens and the Flyers have struggled all year and they are both looking to the future to see if they can come back and fight for the top of their division as they slowly climb back but this time it was the Sens that would get the important 2-points

Boston Bruins 2 – 1 Calgary Flames
– The Calgary Flames would welcome back their longtime captain Jarome Iginla with style making sure to honour his time there and Iginla would get an extra bonus when the Bruins took the win and he was named 2nd star

Philadelphia Flyers 2 – 1 Montreal Canadiens
– The Flyers are trying to climb back into the race and they would do what they could in beating the Canadiens as they spoilt Daniel Briere’s return to Philadelphia after he was bought out this past offseason

Pittsburgh Penguins 4 – 1 Detroit Red Wings
– Both teams used to be the powerhouses of the NHL but now only Pittsburgh can claim that title as Detroit has struggled in their move to the Eastern Conference and they continued to struggle losing to the Pens

 

Next Week:
Los Angeles Kings vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Sunday December 15th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Blackhawks are once again at the top of their division and the Kings are not that far back as two Western conference powerhouses face off with the Blackhawks looking to stay at the top of the division and the Kings try to get to the top

Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers (Tuesday December 17th; 7:30 pm ET)
– The Flyers continue their climb up the standings as they continue to take on top teams in the Eastern Conference and they do it once again as they try to take out the Capitals and earn a more points towards the top of the division

Edmonton Oilers vs. Colorado Avalanche (Thursday December 19th; 9:30 pm ET)
– The last time these two teams faced off the Edmonton Oilers would explode for 8 goals against the Avalanche and now the Avs are looking for revenge and trying to stay at the top of the division

New York Islanders vs. New York Rangers (Friday December 20th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The battle of New York goes again as both teams are staying at the bottom of the division and looking to get to back into the fight and trying to get a win over their rivals as two very important points are on the line for each team

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