Thoughts on Tootoo and Realignment
Before I get into Tootoo and Realignment I want to make a few comments on the Sabres vs Preds game Saturday night. It's good to see Leino start to get going and be rewarded for his hard work. He is starting get point and be a difference make on this team, I hope he can stay on track. Kassian continues to impress using his size and strength to keep the puck away from defenders he is going to be a stud. Ehrhoff is a horse. The line of Stafford, Roy, and Ennis did it's best to try to get Nashville back into the game Saturday. Stafford took 1 dumb penalty and after Nashville didn't score decided to take another which they did capitalize on. Roy and Ennis gave the puck away numerous times and overhandled the puck late. The irony however is Ennis did get the game winning 3rd goal. Good for Ennis not so good for Roy and Stafford as they continue to struggle. Ryan Miller was back in net and looked to be back in Vezina form, including a few highlight reel saves. If he can keep that up the Sabres will be up in the running for the NE division. Not a great win Saturday but a W is a W and this team needed one badly.
Now to the meat of this blog first I want to touch on Tootoo. He has a hearing today with Brendan Shannahan for his hit to Ryan Miller Saturday that got him a 5 charging penalty and a game misconduct (yet Buffalo received only a 1 min PP when all was said a done). A few angles to look at here on this one. Tootoo was driving to the net with Ehrhoff in pursuit pushing Tootoo right towards the near post. That's all the credit Tootoo gets from me, Tootoo then loses the puck looks up to see he is near Miller and continues to drive the net without the puck and leap into Miller. When he leaps his elbows and hands are at Miller's head level. Ehrhoff and Tootoo were on the same path and Ehrhoff ended up behind the net, so this hit was more than avoidable. From there mayhem breaks loose with the Lucic hit coming to mind of all Sabres players and fans. Tootoo should receive a suspension for this act in the 3-5 game range. The problem here is that Shanny has a bigger issue on his hands. Like Lucic, Tootoo is a repeat offender which could be the result in getting the 5 game penalty in this situation. However the difference is Lucic plays for the Boston Bruins and Tootoo plays for Nashville. Shanny isn't going to win in this situation and that's his own fault when he wiffed on Lucic. If he doesn't give a suspension the Sabres and GM's will go nuts and it may really be open season on goaltenders. However if you do give a suspension the NHL fans of 29 teams are going to go nuts and wonder why the Nashville guy got a suspension and not the Boston player who leveled a far worse hit. Shannahan has nobody but himself to blame for that one, this is worst case scenerio for him especially with it being Miller's first game back from the Lucic hit. Either way get your popcorn out this is going to be interesting.
Also today NHL realignment is being discussed at the owners meeting and a decision could be announced today. I don't think it really needs to be that complicated here's how I see (with current teams I'm not predicting relocation).
Northeast: Buffalo, Detroit, Toronto, Montreal, Rangers, Islanders, Boston, Ottawa
Southeast: Pittsburgh, Philidelphia, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Florida, Washington, New Jersey, Columbus
Northwest: Vancouver, San Jose, LA, Anaheim, Edmonton, Calgary, Phoenix
Central: Dallas, Chicago, Colorado, Winnipeg, St. Louis, Minnesota, Nashville
Ok I'll admit that took me a little longer than I thought it would. I put NJ in the Southeast because I don't see the need for basically 3 NY teams anyways so I moved one. I did this on the belief that the NHL will want to try to save a dying franchise in Columbus. It may be unfair having 16 teams in the east and 14 in the west, but it's best for the NHL. If Phoenix was to move out next season the NHL will need a plan B. I think to avoid the NHL becoming a heavy east coast league they may look at KC and Seattle as new destinations. If KC is the choice the Avs and new KC franchise can switch divisions. Quebec will have to hold out hope for Isles, Panthers, or Jackets. Sorry. Let me know what you think.