By Michael Russo
First, sorry about the delay. I’ll tell you though, if you’re a hockey geek like me, Canada is the place to be on trade deadline day. Three all-sports stations. Nonstop hockey/trade talk. I wouldn’t even know the Wolves got annihilated if it were not for Kent Youngblood’s phone call.
Congrats to the Florida Panthers tonight, who won their first shootout. As they say, even a blind squirrel … whatever, whatever, something about an acorn.
I got a funny text message from a buddy/colleague with this idea, but if I were still a Panthers’ beat writer, tonight would be a good night to write a tongue and cheek column on Todd Bertuzzi’s 10 best moments as a Panther, starting, well, with his ONE GOAL! Roberto Luongo for Todd Bertuzzi. Good move.
As for the Wild’s trade of a third-round pick for Dominic Moore, first, I have not had a chance to skim through your comments today. I promise to do so tomorrow, and I’ll be throwing up another Q&A opportunity at the end of the week.
But Jacques Lemaire didn’t seem very ecstatic. Jacques was in some kind of mood today. He said he knew “nothing” about Moore. He said, “He’ll be a good guy if we get any injuries.” He noted (referring to all the big names moving to Western Contenders), “Good players have moved to our side. Could make it tough.”
Excited, Wild fans?
From talking to Joe Starkey today, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review columnist, it’s clear Michel Therien was not a fan of Moore. Jacques Lemaire and Michel Therien are friends. It’d be a shame if Lemaire’s made a preconceived notion about Moore from a conversation with Therien.
Jacques said he didn’t know if Moore would debut against the Flames Wednesday. Incidentally, I got some emails today asking about the status of Wyatt Smith. Regardless of this acquisition, Smith will be here as rosters were expanded today.
My opinion: Yanic Perreault, the guy the Wild really targeted, was too expensive. I agree that a second-round pick and a prospect was too much (what Toronto gave up for the vet faceoff star). So the Wild went with Moore, a quality defensive forward, who is also above-average in the faceoff circle.
At the very least, he should be an upgrade and add depth in case of injury. I talked to three sports writers, three scouts and one exec from another team today. All had flattering things to say about Moore. The common denominators: terrific work ethic, outstanding penalty killer, great skater, VERY little finishing touch, although he goes to the areas you need to score.
But I have to tell you, I think there needs to be some perspective here.
The Wild is in Year 6 of its organization. That is infancy stage compared to everybody else. I know everybody always wants a blockbuster. But the goal here should be to build a quality winner for years to come. The way to do that is to give pieces of the future one heck of an experience, both in getting to the playoffs and the playoffs itself. That means quality ice time and responsibility for guys like Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Mikko Koivu and Brent Burns.
To overspend for Billy Guerin or Keith Tkachuk or Todd Bertuzzi or Peter Forsberg or Mattias Norstrom makes little sense, to me. First of all, there’s no assurances. As Wes Walz says in tomorrow’s article, the Wild upset a pair of “All-Star teams” in Colorado and Vancouver in 2003. And as I wrote in last Sunday’s column, there’s no such thing as a playoff upset anymore. Other than Detroit, which beats the Wild easily every time they meet, I think the Wild could match up vs. virtually every playoff contender in the West. (Maybe not Calgary on the road)
I say, give the kids the experience and let them get better for it.
Also, if you think everybody steps up but the Wild, remember, the Wild did more last offseason than most teams in the NHL. It rebuilt its team with guys like Pavol Demitra, Kim Johnsson, Mark Parrish, Keith Carney, Niklas Backstrom, etc.
Gaborik was hurt most this season. If he’s healthy, the Wild conceivably could be leading the Northwest Division by 10 points. Gaborik and Demitra (33 points in the last 12 games) are almost an acquisition in itself.
Gaborik said today, “Look at the team we had when we went to the conference finals [in 2003], and this is a better team. There’s a lot of good things happening in this group right now. Hopefully we can push it forward and carry it to another level.”
Anyways, I’ll write tomorrow. Have to hit the sack. I’ll be putting up a Q&A any day.