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airborne_cane

Defense...Offense....Have we addressed the right issue?

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As a full season ticket holder over the past few years I have seen a decline in the level of effort on the ice and the mental preparation of the team resulting in long lackluster periods of play that you allude to above. My keys to this years season are as follows:

1. Staal- Took over and did a great job once the captain went down. He has to bring that same consistency he showed at the end of the year right from the start through the year. I think it will help that Cole is no longer around for that intensity to be consistent.

2. Rod- Welcome back. Hope the knee gave you some time to reflect on the past two years. When the slump hits the team I hope you thought of some new approaches to leading the team.

2. W1. It is time for Walker to take over some of the veteran leadership responsibilities. Walker played a quiet tough guy role with Wes and Hed around but now is the time for this former capt. to use his experience with some of these young guys in the mental toughness night in and night out.

3. W3. Whitney needs to look in the mirror. He threw out some comments at the end of the season yet his play was less than stellar. He was playing injured so I know this played a role. He needs to be more vocal with the team and back it up with his play. No more joking around we miss the playoffs.

4. Rats- Your in the show don't lose the focus you brought with you last year. Rowe will make sure of this.

5. Coaching- New blood. When the slump hits and it will my advice is to hot seat Lavy is to get some new ideas from Rowe. No more wake up team Craig Adams trades and playing time limits.

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I'm afraid this issue has been beaten to death as well. I think we're all very ready for the season to start; to see just what we have. Talking about it gets tiring for a lot of people, including myself. There's nothing new to bring to the table; nothing that hasn't been asked or inspected sometime before.

The season just can't start soon enough.

I'll answer your prompt though. I think Rod has looked tired over the last two seasons, and along with that the team itself has looked physically and mentally out of it at times. He needs to find more energy to last an entire season, and thus be able to lead the team down the stretch.

As for our offense and defence, I think both pieces should be better overall than the maddeningly inconsistent groups we've seen over the past two seasons. The real question is, can everybody gel together well-enough to make a strong playoff run? Or even reach their proper potential? Or the team's potential? We could be very good in an open Eastern Conference if the team puts everything together and plays hard almost every night. On the flip side, we could be terribly disappointing if the team doesn't gel together well and/or Cam Ward doesn't keep improving and/or the team continues to go on awful cold stretches throughout the season.

I don't think any of us really know what to expect; the best we can do is hope for another strong start followed by a strong season, rather than a strong flameout.

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I'm afraid this issue has been beaten to death as well. I think we're all very ready for the season to start; to see just what we have. Talking about it gets tiring for a lot of people, including myself. There's nothing new to bring to the table; nothing that hasn't been asked or inspected sometime before.

The season just can't start soon enough.

I'll answer your prompt though. I think Rod has looked tired over the last two seasons, and along with that the team itself has looked physically and mentally out of it at times. He needs to find more energy to last an entire season, and thus be able to lead the team down the stretch.

As for our offense and defence, I think both pieces should be better overall than the maddeningly inconsistent groups we've seen over the past two seasons. The real question is, can everybody gel together well-enough to make a strong playoff run? Or even reach their proper potential? Or the team's potential? We could be very good in an open Eastern Conference if the team puts everything together and plays hard almost every night. On the flip side, we could be terribly disappointing if the team doesn't gel together well and/or Cam Ward doesn't keep improving and/or the team continues to go on awful cold stretches throughout the season.

I don't think any of us really know what to expect; the best we can do is hope for another strong start followed by a strong season, rather than a strong flameout.

I agree, these are indeed the dog days of the full year in hockey. No real hockey. No drafting. No trades. Just a lot of nothing.

The questions for this team IMHO:

1. Cam Ward. No matter what happens, and no matter what is politically correct, it all starts and ends with him. If he plays average or better for an NHL starter, we make the playoffs.

2. How does the new defense come together? How improved is the blueline? How much does the improved puckmoving point scoring of Corvo-Pitkanen improve the team? One more trade or aquisition for that #4 defensive guy would really solidify things here, along with a salary dump of Kaberle. But, if the defense gells early and Cam is on his game, we will be solid, or even better.

3. How well do our injured forwards come back? Most concerning here is Cullen, since all indications are that Williams and Brindy are good. Cullen was an animal in assists when he was healthy and keeps the team speed up. He wins face offs, he is worth more than his points. He is elite as a third line center. We are a better team with him.

4. How does the team respond to a coach on the hot seat? Do they want to play for Lavi? I think that they do, and that the movement of a few veterans and addition of new blood will fire up the remaining vets. Brind'Amour has had some time to rest and think. They will come out hard. Hopefully any lulls are short.

5. How do they handle the brutal first 10 games of the year? That schedlule could start a very good team out 3-7. This may not be ideal for a coach on the hot seat. Can they at least break-even, or even better over those first 10 games?

Well those are the keys in my opinion, but my 3 training came questions are 1. Other than the top 3 defensemen, who makes the team and plays on defense? 2. What does the 4th line end up looking like? 3. What further trades might happen?

As a Caniac optimist, I think that Ward will improve and have a very solid year, Babchuk will suprise and solidfy that 4th spot on denfense, Kabs will move on in a salary dump, Seidenberg and Wallin will be 5-6, with Melichar the occasional 7th defenseman. Pitkanen and Corvo and an ever improving Gleason and Babchuk will actually move that puck up and we will put up tons of points. Sampsonov will continue his stellar play of late last year, Williams and Brind'Amour will be on top of their games, as will Staal. Whitney will continue to score points. Eaves will emerge as will Ruutu. Walker will continue to be

Walker, bringing it every shift, good for 20 goals. The fourth line, well, if all of those things above happen, who cares, we will be winning the President's Cup.

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I think Samsonov's ability to sustain his production from last season will be a major question mark. Now that he has a little contractual stability, will he lose motivation like he did in Montreal? Will he decide to just not play at all like he did in Chicago? He'll have to prove himself to the Hurricanes' fans as well as hockey fans around the NHL.

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I think Samsonov's ability to sustain his production from last season will be a major question mark. Now that he has a little contractual stability, will he lose motivation like he did in Montreal? Will he decide to just not play at all like he did in Chicago? He'll have to prove himself to the Hurricanes' fans as well as hockey fans around the NHL.

I agree that this is a question, but I think it is a low risk that he will slide. He fell pretty far and then got it back. I have to think that he got a bit of a scare there. He doesn't want to go there again. Watching him play last year was amazing. He was one of those guys that just looked better than just about everyone out there. Watching him baffles the mind as to how he could have struggled so badly before that, he's just too good. He is now with a system that suites him and a team that is looking to him for major contributions. It's all good. He slid back before, so one has to be honest and say that it could happen, but personally I don't see it.

He may not convert the points at quite the pace of the end of last year, but I think he will be close. He was on a 30 goal pace with us. I think he will be a mid 20's goal scorer for us. Also, he was on a near 40 assist pace, which he has done in his prime. This from a guy aquired on waivers! Aquiring Samposov was the steal of the year.

Here's an amazing point: Sampsonov could continue his great production from his Cane's time last year and end with 25 goals, 38 assist, and still be #6 on the team in points. Staal, Whitney, Williams, Brind'Amour, and Cullen could all very realistically outdo that.

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can eaves and ruutu live up to their potential in order to make up for coles absence? can the offense control the play enough to limit the pressure put on the below average defensive defensemen? can cam ward, with the offense controlling the play most of the game, stay focused enough to make the saves when the play shifts to his end? can all of this be done on a consistent basis? and maybe a question for later in teh season, will JR be willing to trade any of the recently developing prospect pool in order to acquire a player to make a run in the playoffs?

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I think his value to the team is that he can actually skate with the puck into the zone and limits our turnovers from dump/chase. The goals maybe down but plenty of assists.

The dump and chase really gets old to watch. It seemed last year that we spent about 1/2 of our PP time trying to get the puck after we dumped it in or chasing it back down the ice. It is hard to sustain pressure on the PP doing that. I'm hoping the recent additions and healthier players will limit somewhat the dumping. It has a place, but somebody on the team needs to be able to skate the puck in.

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Problems:

1. Last year we got pushed around and beat up. The NY game right around XMas is the best example.

2. We were one of the oldest teams in the league and it showed

3. Backup goalie inconsistent

4. D was concerning

All of these were addressed. We got Brookbank to punch people. We got a lot younger, especially in D, which by the way was completely overhauled. New backup goalie. Also got a new assistant coach to help drive the boys hard (Walker said in an interview that the team didnt push themselves hard enough at times cus they thought winning games was going to be easy and in the same interview said Rowe is a demanding coach). I expect Rowe to help keep the boys motivated this year. We will surprise everyone I guarantee.

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Sort of an off comment here but there is concern that maybe Brookbank isnt a tough enough enforcer. Management echoed this by trying to sign Hordichuk. But if you go to hockeyfights.com, out of Brookbanks 12 fights in the NHL last season he either had a draw or won most of the fight based on viewer votes. We could do better but I'm glad we've got the guy. I think I should get a Brookbank jersey...

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I think Samsonov's ability to sustain his production from last season will be a major question mark. Now that he has a little contractual stability, will he lose motivation like he did in Montreal? Will he decide to just not play at all like he did in Chicago? He'll have to prove himself to the Hurricanes' fans as well as hockey fans around the NHL.

I don't have an issue with your thinking that Samsonov is a major question mark. I am, however, put off by your nasty cuts at his character. It never occurred to me that character was the problem with Samsonov in Montreal and Chicago. What makes you think Samsonov has to "prove himself" anymore than any other player lacing up skates and pulling on a sweater. I tire of "fans" engaging in character assasintion of players traded for whatever reason. Fans such as yourself in Montreal made his life miserable there -- not the best environment to play exceptional hockey.

I suspect that Samsonov's style of play was higher risk than his coaches wanted him to play in Chicago and he was asked to be the kind of player he wasn't. In my mind the only question about Samsonov is will Lavi continue to give him the green light to "do his thing." Sammy doesn't have to prove a thing with me. I love watching the high level of skill and technique he brings to the game.

Are there any other Hurricane players who you have questions about their character?

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I don't have an issue with your thinking that Samsonov is a major question mark. I am, however, put off by your nasty cuts at his character. It never occurred to me that character was the problem with Samsonov in Montreal and Chicago. What makes you think Samsonov has to "prove himself" anymore than any other player lacing up skates and pulling on a sweater. I tire of "fans" engaging in character assasintion of players traded for whatever reason. Fans such as yourself in Montreal made his life miserable there -- not the best environment to play exceptional hockey.

I suspect that Samsonov's style of play was higher risk than his coaches wanted him to play in Chicago and he was asked to be the kind of player he wasn't. In my mind the only question about Samsonov is will Lavi continue to give him the green light to "do his thing." Sammy doesn't have to prove a thing with me. I love watching the high level of skill and technique he brings to the game.

Are there any other Hurricane players who you have questions about their character?

There's just far too smoke around the NHL for there not to be fire when it comes to Samsonov's reputation for laziness. I will say, however, that it's an attribute far too common around the NHL. It's the drop-off that is seen in production from a player's contract year to the next year where they have contract stability. Some players don't have it happen, but another example of it could be former Hurricane Erik Cole. After a contract year in '05-'06 in which he registered 59 points in 60 games-played, he would only reach 61 and 51 points in the next two years when he played about 70 games each year.

For Samsonov:

-16 points in 19 games-played for the Oilers in '05-'06. 26 points in 61 games-played for the Canadiens the next year.

-4 points in 23 games-played for the Blackhawks in '07-'08. 32 points in 38 games-played for the Hurricanes in what most considered to be his last opportunity to play in the NHL.

With that recent track record, he definitely has to prove that he can still produce at a consistent level in a situation where his future isn't on the line.

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There's just far too smoke around the NHL for there not to be fire when it comes to Samsonov's reputation for laziness. I will say, however, that it's an attribute far too common around the NHL. It's the drop-off that is seen in production from a player's contract year to the next year where they have contract stability. Some players don't have it happen, but another example of it could be former Hurricane Erik Cole. After a contract year in '05-'06 in which he registered 59 points in 60 games-played, he would only reach 61 and 51 points in the next two years when he played about 70 games each year.

For Samsonov:

-16 points in 19 games-played for the Oilers in '05-'06. 26 points in 61 games-played for the Canadiens the next year.

-4 points in 23 games-played for the Blackhawks in '07-'08. 32 points in 38 games-played for the Hurricanes in what most considered to be his last opportunity to play in the NHL.

With that recent track record, he definitely has to prove that he can still produce at a consistent level in a situation where his future isn't on the line.

Wasn't the 23 games in Chicago the same contract year as his 38 games here? Was he playing 15 to 18 minutes on the 1 or 2 lines those 23 games? Using stats to make your point is a cool thing to do, especially if you don't take into account the minutes played and the lines he played on.

I don't appreciate the accusation that Samsonov is lazy and dogging it except in contract years. We see the world through our own eyes. To be clear what I mean, I think that those who see lazy and poor character (in lieu of lack of talent or other circumstances), are lazy and have poor character.

The *edit* about Erik Cole not having the character to play hard when he has contract stability is over the line. You don't suppose the broken neck could have affected Cole's ability to produce up to previous years do you? Want to contend that Colesy didn't play as well after his injury or contend that his injury made him more tentative, no problem with that speculation -- and that's all it would be is specualtion.

Suggestion: Take your Samsonov character assasination comments to the Montreal boards. The lazy, lack of character fans there might appreciate them. I doubt you will get much agreement in Edmonton, Boston or even Chicago.

I do agree with the "prove himself" comments just as EVERY player has to prove himself EVERY year.

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Montreal fans didn't always have it out for Samsonov. When he was initially signed there was excitement in their fanbase, similar to the excitement people have around here for Samsonov's potential to produce this year. It was Samsonov's play that caused the fanbase to change their tune. From what I've read, he displayed his laziness when he was forced to play where he didn't want to play. From what I've seen out of Laviolette this past couple of years, it is very likely that Samsonov could find himself on the third-line if he is ineffective for a stretch of games. Now, if Samsonov was to suffer that type of demotion, will he continue to hustle and play with the same type of spark he played with last year or will he revert back to the same player that Chicago gave up on last season? I think that's a valid question that Samsonov will have to answer this season.

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Montreal fans didn't always have it out for Samsonov. When he was initially signed there was excitement in their fanbase, similar to the excitement people have around here for Samsonov's potential to produce this year. It was Samsonov's play that caused the fanbase to change their tune. From what I've read, he displayed his laziness when he was forced to play where he didn't want to play. From what I've seen out of Laviolette this past couple of years, it is very likely that Samsonov could find himself on the third-line if he is ineffective for a stretch of games. Now, if Samsonov was to suffer that type of demotion, will he continue to hustle and play with the same type of spark he played with last year or will he revert back to the same player that Chicago gave up on last season? I think that's a valid question that Samsonov will have to answer this season.

Interestingly enough, most non-Habs fans who watched Samsonov while he was playing with Montreal said that he didn't appear lazy at all. He didn't start the season on the top line or getting power play time because Kovalev has the exact same role on the team, and when he didn't produce for a couple of games on the second line, he got moved down to the fourth, and we all know he's not a grinder. Habs fans (and hockey fans in general) can be a fickle bunch, and they started ragging on him, giving a reputation that most non-biased people were able to see through. Most Chicago fans seem to echo these sentiments, 'cause they say that he played with intensity, but just wasn't seeing ice time with people who were able to set him up or capitalize off of his feeds. Therefore, he didn't produce, and he got scratched, continuing his undeserved reputation.

I'm not worried about Samsonov at all. He and Brindy clicked, he and Staal clicked, he and Cullen clicked. As long as he's paired with one of those centers and not on the fourth line, I think he'll put up points.

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There's just far too smoke around the NHL for there not to be fire when it comes to Samsonov's reputation for laziness. I will say, however, that it's an attribute far too common around the NHL. It's the drop-off that is seen in production from a player's contract year to the next year where they have contract stability. Some players don't have it happen, but another example of it could be former Hurricane Erik Cole. After a contract year in '05-'06 in which he registered 59 points in 60 games-played, he would only reach 61 and 51 points in the next two years when he played about 70 games each year.

For Samsonov:

-16 points in 19 games-played for the Oilers in '05-'06. 26 points in 61 games-played for the Canadiens the next year.

-4 points in 23 games-played for the Blackhawks in '07-'08. 32 points in 38 games-played for the Hurricanes in what most considered to be his last opportunity to play in the NHL.

With that recent track record, he definitely has to prove that he can still produce at a consistent level in a situation where his future isn't on the line.

Lavi is a big reason Sammy got traded to us if I remember correctly. They worked together in Boston. Do you think he would want to go after a lazy forward? And then sign him? I don't think so. If he doesnt produce this year its not because of laziness. I just dont buy it.

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We didn't trade for Samsonov, he was acquired through re-entry waivers. What that meant is that every team in the NHL, including the Hurricanes, passed on Samsonov and it was only when he was available at half of his salary that the Hurricanes picked him up. Even then, nearly half the NHL passed on Samsonov at half-price before the Hurricanes had the opportunity to acquire him. That included teams that were and still are starved for top-six offensive talent like the Lightning and the Thrashers. Why would those teams pass on him?

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We didn't trade for Samsonov, he was acquired through re-entry waivers. What that meant is that every team in the NHL, including the Hurricanes, passed on Samsonov and it was only when he was available at half of his salary that the Hurricanes picked him up. Even then, nearly half the NHL passed on Samsonov at half-price before the Hurricanes had the opportunity to acquire him. That included teams that were and still are starved for top-six offensive talent like the Lightning and the Thrashers. Why would those teams pass on him?

I bet those teams are all asking themselves that now.

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Another thing is that aquiring Sammy generally allowed us to go out and get Pitkanen. JR brilliantly picked him up on waivers, low risk, potentially high reward. Turned out to be high reward. We were then able to sign Sammy, thus giving us 10 top 9 forwards. Emotional ties to Cole aside, we were able to replace most of Cole's production with Sammy and aquire Pitkanen, another potentially huge reward.

I understand the apprehension about Sammy's previous drop off in production, and if it happened once it could happen again, but I really think that this is very unlikely. He is not THE question mark this year (not to open a can of worms, but THE question mark is Cam Ward). I for one would gladly take a bet that Sammy comes back strong this year.

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Another thing is that aquiring Sammy generally allowed us to go out and get Pitkanen. JR brilliantly picked him up on waivers, low risk, potentially high reward. Turned out to be high reward. We were then able to sign Sammy, thus giving us 10 top 9 forwards. Emotional ties to Cole aside, we were able to replace most of Cole's production with Sammy and aquire Pitkanen, another potentially huge reward.

I understand the apprehension about Sammy's previous drop off in production, and if it happened once it could happen again, but I really think that this is very unlikely. He is not THE question mark this year (not to open a can of worms, but THE question mark is Cam Ward). I for one would gladly take a bet that Sammy comes back strong this year.

He happens to remind me alot of another player known as Sami who played for the Canes in his prime.... Though Kapanen didn't have the hands that Samsonov does... and was more gritty...

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I understand the apprehension about Sammy's previous drop off in production, and if it happened once it could happen again, but I really think that this is very unlikely. He is not THE question mark this year (not to open a can of worms, but THE question mark is Cam Ward). I for one would gladly take a bet that Sammy comes back strong this year.

Cam Ward is certainly another question mark. If he suffers another middle-of-the-year slump like he did last year, it won't matter how many points this team can score. I would also include Michael Leighton into that "question mark" category. Most people seem to assume that he'll be better than John Grahame, but it is very possible that he'll be the same if not worse. Dominance in the AHL does not translate into dominance in the NHL, sometimes it doesn't even translate into solid play at the NHL level. If that were to happen, the team would be right back in the situation that hurt it last year and Ward will need to be relied upon more than he should.

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Cam Ward is certainly another question mark. If he suffers another middle-of-the-year slump like he did last year, it won't matter how many points this team can score. I would also include Michael Leighton into that "question mark" category. Most people seem to assume that he'll be better than John Grahame, but it is very possible that he'll be the same if not worse. Dominance in the AHL does not translate into dominance in the NHL, sometimes it doesn't even translate into solid play at the NHL level. If that were to happen, the team would be right back in the situation that hurt it last year and Ward will need to be relied upon more than he should.

Personally I think Cam is thequestion mark. Yes, how the defense gells is a significant one, but if we can get more consistant play out of Cam this team will shock the hockey world.

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