Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Fillers

  • This is good news! Grant Potulny will be a great assistant coach for the Gophers and I think he's a natural leader who will be an up-and-comer in the coaching ranks as he gains experience. Also, former U of M goaltender Justin Johnson will be the volunteer goalie coach. The Gophs never found anyone to replace Robb Stauber, who left at the beginning of last season. Johnson had been at St. Cloud for the past three seasons. Gopher fans won't forget the work Johnson did in an emergency starter role in the 2003 WCHA Final Five, when he led the Gophers to a tournament victory, and was in the nets for one of the regionals in route to a second-consecutive NCAA title.
  • Jacques Lemaire is back in the NHL as coach of the New Jersey Devils. He spent five years in Jersey during the 90's, leading them to the 1995 Stanley Cup championship. We walked away from the Wild after 9 seasons in April. GM Lou Lamoriello likes to recycle coaches, and Lemaire fits the bill. It will be interesting to see how his style fits guys like Zach Parise. Although Lemaire will take some heat for playing a defense-first style, the Brent Sutter-coached Devils ranked 15th in goals per game, despite 45 goals from Parise, 31 from Patrik Elias, and 29 from Jamie Langenbrunner.
  • The Wild's regular season schedule was released this week. The team opens with 9 of its first 15 games on the road, including games in Chicago and Pittsburgh. Marian Gaborik returns with the New York Rangers on October 30, while Lemaire comes in with the Devils on January 2.
  • The Chicago Blackhawks fired GM Dale Tallon this week and replaced him with Stan Bowman - Scotty's son. The team has had political issues for a while now, and Tallon was believed to have been forced out by president John McDonough, formerly of the Chicago Cubs. New Wild signee and former Blackhawk Martin Havlat gained some noteriety on this story this week via his Twitter account (thanks to Michael Russo of the Strib) and an article by's Darren Dreger, where Havlat sounds off on the firing. Keep an eye on this story.
  • More academic issues for the Gopher football team, as two expected contributors were booted from the team this week due to grades. Somewhere, Sid Hartman is stewing about kids "not getting any breaks at the U."
  • The Timberwolves' coaching search continues, and four names are mentioned in this ESPN piece: NBA assistants Terry Stotts (Dallas), Elston Turner (Houston), and Kurt Rambis (LA). NBA TV analyst Mark Jackson is also mentioned. Basketball chief David Kahn reportedly wants an up-and-coming coach, which will eliminate Stotts, since he has had head coaching stints in Milwaukee and Atlanta, and has a career record of 115-168. This piece has the Wolves talking to U. of Colorado coach (and former Denver Nuggets' coach) Jeff Bzdelik, but he doesn't fit the "up-and-comer" mold, although his fine college record has helped rehabilitate his NBA image. Sam Mitchell is apparently not a candidate. It seems hard to believe that Rambis would leave LA for the Wolves, since Phil Jackson's long-term status is not defined, and Rambis would seemingly get a good look to take over that team when the "Zen Master" departs to contemplate his own genius. I can't get excited about any of these choices.
  • The Wolves also met with Ricky Rubio's representatives this week and the issue is the buyout of Rubio's Spanish league contract, which sources stated was around $6.6M (the Wolves could only pay $500k per league rules). It would be nice to see Rubio in uniform next season, but, as I stated earlier, having him develop in Europe for two more seasons and join the Wolves as a 20-year-old would be fine as well.
  • Jacko fix of the week.

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