My heart is with the Avalanche

It’s rare for the top two teams in the National League to clash in the Grand Finals and that’s what’s on our menu starting tomorrow. We are blessed and should see a great Stanley Cup series.

Personally, my heart goes out to the Colorado Avalanche, one of my former teams, and especially since I played with Joe Sakic, the general manager. I also texted him to congratulate him and wish him luck. I’ll definitely be watching a game or two in Tampa.

I admire Sakic’s work and wish him victory, but my head tells me the Lightning will win their third straight Stanley Cup. This is a feat once thought impossible in modern hockey due to the salary cap and the fact that the NHL now consists of 32 teams.

Models for the Canadian

It also pays homage to the work of Lightning GM Julien BriseBois, as well as his predecessor Steve Yzerman and the guidance of veteran trainer Jon Cooper. The Lightning could win three trophies in a row and maybe even four as the team will be very competitive next season as well.

I think Lightning and Avalanche are the paragon teams and Canadians should take inspiration from them. The good news in Montreal is that new hockey vice president Jeff Gorton was the architect of the New York Rangers’ impressive rebuild announced in a February 2018 letter to fans.

In just four seasons

Four years later, Rangers were runners-up in the Eastern Conference and they’ve built on thriving through multiple campaigns with a good youth team and a superb goaltender in Igor Shesterkin. He has nothing to envy to his predecessor Henrik Lundqvist, one of the best of his generation and whom I consider the equivalent of Carey Price.

The progress made by the Avalanche and the Rangers is particularly encouraging for the CH. We see that with the right direction we can move forward quickly.

Rangers finished the 2017–18 season bottom in the Metropolitan Division with 77 points. The Avalanche narrowly qualified for the playoffs with 95 points, one point more than the St. Louis Blues, before losing to the Nashville Predators in the first round.

Sakic did a great job. He was particularly patient with Matt Duchene, which enabled him to bring in a superb young defender in Samuel Girard, who is unfortunately injured at the moment. He hired an unknown but competent trainer in Jared Bednar. He did not overpay his former goalkeeper Philipp Grubauer and resorted to an effective Darcy Kümper.

Kümper may not be Andrei Vasilevskiy, but if he makes it to the final healthy, he should give his excellent team a chance, otherwise the mission for the cup will go to assistant Pavel Francouz.

The Lightning’s experience and the superiority of their goaltender make the difference for Tampa. In short, my heart is with Avalanche but my head is with Lightning.

Sakic vs Bergevin

To return to the Canadian there are encouraging signs from Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield in particular, but it will be necessary to avoid mistakes such as drafting a Jesperi Kotkaniemi instead of a Brady Tkachuk or even swapping a Mikhail Sergachev for a Jonathan Drouin.

It’s the difference between a Joe Sakic and a Marc Bergevin, a bit like the difference between a 50-goal scorer and another 20-goal scorer. Still, the two had an equal opportunity to build an NHL powerhouse.

Happy finale!

Interview by Gilles Moffet

excerpts

Rangers not ready yet

The Rangers’ inexperience played a nasty trick on them in the Eastern finals. Nothing should be taken for granted against an experienced team like Tampa Bay. However, Gerard Gallant’s side led the series 2-0 and with a 2-0 score in the second period in the third game. The Flash never panicked and came from behind to win four straight games. Igor Shesterkin— should have saved the first goal, a disappointing and half-missed shot by Nikita Kucherov. Ondrej Palat scored the winning goal (3:2) in the last minute of the game and thus the turning point of the series. In general, I liked Alexis Lafrenière’s play during the playoffs, but when the Lightning got going, he, like all his teammates, was blown away. It’s still a big step in his career.

Vasilevskiy, a great of the great


SPO FUNERAL GUY LAFLEUR

You have to be clear about that Andrei Vasilyevsky is a goalkeeper of the caliber of Dominik Hasek, Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy. He wasn’t always perfect throughout the series, but in the important moments he knew how to close the door. I can’t wait to see him against the fearsome Colorado offense.

The future of Evander Kane


SPO FUNERAL GUY LAFLEUR

I can’t wait to see what happens with the Oilers going forward Evander Kane. He only had good words for his teammates, the Edmonton organization and the fans. He has made amends for his off-ice mistakes and confirmed general manager Ken Holland. We all want perfect players and we’re a bit cautious in the NHL. We should take inspiration from the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball and not hesitate to hire rowdy players like Kane as long as they perform. Talent is talent.

Bruce Cassidy

I was really surprised when Bruce Cassidy was fired from the Boston Bruins. I think he was able to get the best out of his team, but that’s an indicator that this team has reached a crossroads.

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