Archive for the ‘KHL’ Category

Taking Stock of What’s Lost

Posted: September 7, 2011 by forever&staalways in KHL, NHL

This summer has been rough for any who are fans of the great sport of hockey. Derek Boogaard. Rick Rypien. Wade Belak. Tom Cavanagh. And now, hockey has suffered one of the greatest losses in our history; today, the entire Yaroslavl Lokomotiv team of the Kontinental Hockey League has been killed in a plane crash just outside of Yaroslavl. Forty three of the forty five people on board the plane have passed. Those on board who have spent time in the NHL included Pavol Demitra, Karel Rachunek, Josef Vasicek, Jan Marek, Ruslan Salei and Karlis Straskins. Take a second to think. What if one day you were sitting your home team’s arena and over the loudspeaker you hear “The Detroit Red Wings team has been in a plane crash. There were only two survivors.” Though it may be oceans away, they’re all hockey players. They’re our boys. We all love hockey.

Tonight, hug everyone in your family tighter. Next game, cheer a little louder. Always strive to remember those we’ve lost not only today, not only those in the hockey family, but in our own lives. We cannot take anything we have for granted. To all the men of Lokomotiv, Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, Tom Cavanagh, Wade Belak and all other men and boys who have died hockey players, Rest In Peace.

While few knew what the Flyers were going to do coming into July 1st’s free agent frenzy, Paul Holmgren had a plan. The rumors that were going around had Jaromir Jagr signing with Pittsburgh or Detroit, but both teams dropped out of the bidding this morning, leaving the Jagr Sweepstakes open for business.

With the biggest shocker of the day, Holmgren signed Jagr for $3.3 million, stunning the hockey world. The 39 year old future Hall of Famer has a career 1599 points in 1273 NHL games. He’s spent the last three years playing with Avangard Omsk of the KHL. The 1999 Hart Trophy winner has played for Pittsburgh, Washington and the Rangers in 17 NHL seasons. He’s 12th all time in goals (646) and 9th in points.

Speaking of former Penguins, the team also added C Max Talbot for 5 years, $9 million. Talbot had 21 points last year in 82 games with Pittsburgh, who he has played for the last six years. In an interview with TSN, he said, “I think it is [treason to go from Pittsburgh to Philly], but it’s the right thing to do.” He also added that players have told him “how great it is to play [in Philly]” and it’s a “great chance to win, with a great fit for me.” Talbot also said he believes in the changes the team has made over the last couple weeks. He should help the Flyers’ penalty kill, which took a few hits when the team traded both Mike Richards and Darroll Powe. The team views him as a replacement of Ian Laperriere.

The Flyers weren’t done (more…)

Blue Jackets and Rangers fans tried to warn me.  I wouldn’t listen.  I thought the Flyers picking up Nikolay Zherdev could be a solid signing; giving depth to their scoring, without tying too much into the future if it didn’t work out (1 year, $2 million deal).  They kept telling me that I was going to get aggravated with his one-dimensional play, and trying only when he felt like it.  I thought his stint in the KHL could have set him straight (as it did for former Flyer Ray Emery).  I thought he’d be motivated by playing on a Cup contender.

He started off pretty good, too. By Christmas he had 13 goals and Paul Holmgren looked like a genius.

Then he started playing like the Nikolay Zherdev that NHL fans knew. He wound up scratched for most February.  Flyers fans started to sour on him and realized a tiger never changes his stripes.  He only had three points in 13 games after the All-Star break.

In game in Carolina, Mike Richards fell ill after a ceremony for Rod Brind’Amour.  The team needed a replacement for Richards, and looked for Zherdev.  But he was nowhere to be found.  Jody Shelley eventually filled in for the Flyers’ captain in that game. Four days later, he was placed on waivers, but nobody picked him up.  It was rumored that the Flyers might try to dump him at the trade deadline.  Nobody bit and the Flyers were stuck with him for the remainder of the year.  He played a couple games before being scratched most of March.  When Jody Shelley got hurt, Zherdev got back into the lineup for the final five regular season games, and played seven out of the team’s nine playoff games.

He actually played decent in the playoffs, even though he only picked up three points.  The team as a whole failed, losing in the second round to the Bruins.  This led some fans to believe Holmgren might give him a second chance, but most felt he wouldn’t return.

The team seemed to play better when he was not in the lineup.  Without him in the lineup, the team went 18-4-2 (including playoffs).  When he played, the Flyers went 33-25-7, a winning percentage of .561.  To put that in perspective, the Rangers (who finished 8th in the East) had a winning percentage of .567.  The team scored a bit more goals (3.11 to 3.07) when he was dressed, but their defense suffered.  The Flyers had a goals against of 2.34 when he wasn’t in the lineup, as compared to a 3.02 GAA when he was.  His time on ice also seemed correlated to the team’s win-loss record.  When he played more than his average of ~13 minutes, the team was 12-11-3.  The Flyers record was 21-12-2 when he played less than his average.  However, his stats were about the same (14 points when playing 13+ minutes; 11 points when playing less).

Zherdev wasn’t likely to come back with the club next year, but new developments may have pushed those chances to zero.  Reports are surfacing that Zherdev attempted to beat his wife after an argument at a restaurant. The early reports are conflicting, but who will offer him a contract with his past attitude problems and any pending legal issues?

Philadelphia bids you adieu, Nik Zherdev.