Good morning one and all! 36 days till puck drop.
Team USA kicked off their Olympic orientation camp in Arlington on Monday. By all accounts, they do not feel the pressure of great expectations. Their chances would be aided greatly by excellent goaltending they hope to receive from Jonathan Quick, who had a first taste of the Olympics as a backup in Vancouver, and is now eager to build on that experience as the starter. Of all American Olympic hopefuls, including young players like John Gibson, who's already represented USA numerous times on international ice, and Beau Bennett, who was a revelation in his first NHL season, there is one guy I'm rooting for to make the team - our very own Paul Martin. Here's the story on his Olympic dream.
Meanwhile, the Canadian team has gathered in Calgary. Facing the same restrictions as other teams in being unable to put the players on ice due to high insurance costs, head coach Mike Babcock has nevertheless found a way to engage his players by having them take the field for ball hockey. Babcock has consulted Detroit Lions quarterback coach Todd Downey about how football teams conduct walkthroughs, and also learned from the Spartans basketball coach Tom Izzo about his methods for preparing his players by running de facto walkthroughs in hotel ballrooms. The approach seemed to work well for his players, who were engaged and attentive. Crosby ran with Kunitz and Sharp. That could be a great line for Canada. Unlike the United States, Canada won't have anyone as good as Jonathan Quick in goal. Just who will be in goal for Canada appears to be completely up in the air. We know it won't be Marc-Andre Fleury, for reasons that are both numerous and painful. This summer, Flower has met with a sports psychologist and considers it another tool to have in one's armamentarium.
The Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves in the territory they've explored before: all that money and nowhere to go in order to fit under the cap. One watches and wonders. Part of their problem is they have Dave Nonis pretending to be Lou Lamoriello.
The real Lou Lamoriello shows them how the pros do it. The New Jersey Devils have agreed to a 6-year extension with one of their most important players, restricted free agent Adam Henrique. The deal is significantly backloaded and breaks down as follows: $2M, $3M, $4M, $4.5M, $5M, and $5.5M. This is a terrific deal for the Devils, who lock up a tremendous young player (who by the way I view as their captain and leader of the future). Also works for me because I go to a lot of Devils games and I enjoy watching him play.
Faceoff Factor is wondering what the Pens' plan is in regards to Harrison Zolnierczyk. I confess I don't have the foggiest idea, and hope Ray Shero does. Currently busy in Arlington as the associate GM for Team USA, Shero is excited for the Penguins to be hosting the CCM/USA Hockey top prospects game at CEC on September 26.
And from my favorite twitter feed of the summer (@keeperofthecup), with the Stanley Cup yet again in his backyard, we also get to admire the greatest collection of hockey jewelry ever assembled - that belonging to Scotty Bowman.