blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: May 2009

Sunday, May 31, 2009

NHL Goalie Hank Bassen Called Up

On the eve of this year's Stanley Cup rematch between the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins, both teams lost one of their own.

Born on December 6th in 1932, Hank Bassen spent 19 years between the pipes in the AHL (Buffalo, Springfield, Pittsburgh), WHL (Calgary, Seattle, Vancouver, Edmonton), EPHL (Sudbury), CHL (Indianapolis/ Cincinnati), and NHL (Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh).

Described as a "top-flight NHL goalie" and "perhaps the greatest standby" in the league, Mr. Emergency backed up some of the game's greats in Al Rollins, Terry Sawchuk, Roger Crozier, and Les Binkley. The Calgary native completed his NHL career with a 46-66-31 record, including a 2.97 GAA and 5 shutouts.

The red-headed puck stopper was 76.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Markus Does What Mark Should Have

Twice in 12 years two thirty-something captains traveled from one coast to the other in hopes of reviving their once glorious past. The results of their respective journeys speak to the character of each.

The first ventured West in 1997, demanded the use of an unofficially retired number, saw his goal production drop from 36 to 22, and soaked the team for $18m over three years accepting $2m to avoid another $12m, while failing to lead his club to the playoffs leaving the locals livid.

The second traveled East in 2008, inverted his number in deference to a player six years his junior, scored one less goal (from 25 to 24) leading his team in the category, made the playoffs, and retired after one year sparing his team a costly cap hit and leaving with his integrity intact.

Neither Mark Messier nor Markus Naslund found their former selves on the opposite coast but both distinctly impressed upon their new constituents. While Messier's play paid in millions, Naslund's perception yielded a prize incapable of appraisal. A reputation as a true class act.

Bravo Markus for knowing when to say when. Your wealth is in judgment.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

NHL's Evolving Position On Phoenix

1/23/09: “There are some issues out there. They are not, I repeat not, on life support." Gary Bettman

2/4/09: "The reports of the franchise's demise are just ridiculous. All of this blanket characterization of 'hockey doesn't work in the Sun Belt' is just hogwash." Gary Bettman

3/26/09: "We're looking for an infusion of capital and thinking about nothing else. We're talking to a number of people, but there's no sense of urgency." Gary Bettman

5/5/09: "We have just become aware of today's Bankruptcy Court filing purportedly made on behalf of the Phoenix Coyotes." Bill Daly

5/6/09: "We fix the problems. We don’t run out on cities.” Gary Bettman

5/7/09: "We don't usually like to pick fights, but we end them." Bill Daly

5/9/09: "People deserve a team in that building and a team in Glendale. I think it's a good market." Bill Daly

5/15/09: "I believe that all of our franchises can be successful where they are currently." Gary Bettman

Bettman recently lengthened the league record at WSJ's Future of Sports.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Pork Chop Turned PiƱata Turned Playmaker

Kyle Wellwood's five stiches, fattened lip, and missing tooth said it all. He'd played the best game of his short stint as a Vancouver Canuck.

Dubbed Wellfed for his mismanaged waistline, the twice waived oft denounced doughy centerman earned a little respect last night drawing eight minutes in illegal lumber and setting up three goals, including Sami Salo's winner with 1:13 to play, en route to a 5-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of their second round series.

Set to become a restricted free agent when his one year $998,000 deal expires on July 1st, Wellwood is building a case for another year. "It takes a long time to get to know a player and to trust him and that's what I'm still trying to earn, I guess."

Keep it up Pork Chop and one day we'll be calling you Prime Rib.