James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Another round of bad news

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Boy, the Daily Dose might need to be called the Bearer of Bad News or Daily Beatdown if the last few entries are any indication. I promise there will be some utterances of optimism and pleasant surprises, but the biggest stories from Monday were glum enough to match the mood of Dallas Cowboys fans after that stunning last-minute loss to the New York Giants.


(By the way, If the Daily Dose has a Pee-Wee Herman-esque word of the day, then this edition’s might be “indefinitely.” Don't scream out loud whenever you come across that word if you're reading this in a cubicle right now, though.)



Let’s start the double-header of downers off with the unavoidable headline, even if it was an update more than breaking news on Dec. 12. Sidney Crosby will be out “indefinitely,” which is a terrifying description that doesn’t lose all of its fear-inducing qualities even when Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ brass indicate that the situation is nowhere near as bad as it was in January 2010.


Claims that he isn't back to square 1 won't necessarily ease the anxieties of Penguins fans and Crosby’s fantasy owners (and one can only imagine what Penguins fans who happen to be Crosby owners are thinking, although they already in some ways they were asking for it*).


If “out indefinitely” sounds as scary as it seems, it might not be crazy to say that Crosby’s over/under for games played rests at 50 now. After all, he already missed 20 and should miss at least a week or two if he’s suffering from post-concussion syndrome again. By that metric, let’s grade out the craziness of drafting Crosby by the round he may have been drafted:


Round 1: Gary Busey crazy.

Round 2: Christopher Walken nutty.

Round 3: Howard Hughes savant-type move: could be genius, could be locked up in a hotel room wearing a space suit for final years.

Round 4-6: Respectable gamble.

Round 7 and on: Probably still worth it if he’s out for most of this season, even if it was just to hear others gasp in displeasure that you drafted him this late.


Feel free to dispute my scale, but I feel strongly that Busey crazy > Walken nutty because I’d guess people feel terrified with Busey as opposed to gently bemused by Walken’s zaniness. Feel free to substitute Nick Nolte for Busey if you’d like, though.


* - My general policy is that you shouldn’t pick players from your favorite teams with your first few draft choices. Of course, there are exceptions; I recall scooping Hakeem Nicks in the fourth round of my football drafts because it was a stupidly obvious value.



I’m far from a soothsayer, but it was a little weird that Terry Murray got canned on the same day that the Daily Dose brought up the possibility. I also brought up Joe Sacco as another coach on the hot seat. He is still employed, but faces a game with the struggling-but-super-dangerous San Jose Sharks team who could push him closer to his coaching grave.


That’s for a potential future DD, though. Shifting back to the Los Angeles Kings, they’ll roll with former Philadelphia Flyers boss John Stevens during an indefinite (OK, interim) period. The word is that Stevens’ system is remarkably similar to Murray’s, so the only thing that would likely spur change is the guilt of getting a flavorless but sharp coach fired.



Word is that Dean Lombardi won’t stick with Stevens over the long haul and the initial gossip is that he might go with his old pal Darryl Sutter. That possibility has become a punch line among many Kings fans, but if you’re one of those types who doesn’t take a lot of humor from the thought of failure, let me try to walk you off the ledge a bit.


Sutter was one of the worst GMs in the NHL during his time in Calgary, no doubt; I’ve probably made fun of his moves almost as often as I giggled at the work of Dale Tallon and Glen Sather. That being said, that was Sutter as a GM. Perhaps the taskmaster is better at cooking with someone else’s ingredients than he is with buying the groceries. He did, after all, take that remarkably limited Calgary Flames team to within one game of a Stanley Cup victory as a head coach.


In a dream world, the Kings would hire a guy who could maintain most of the team’s impressive defensive mastery while boosting their tepid offense. I’m not sure Sutter would be the man to do a whole lot about the latter, to be honest, so fantasy owners probably share many skeptical Kings’ fans hopes that the coach behind Lombardi’s mystery door happens to be someone with a fresher approach.

After the jump: some actual good news, thoughts from Monday’s only game and more injury bits.

continue story »
James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
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