I'm back from chronicling Sidney Crosby’s tour through western Canada for the first time and there is a full mailbag. A sampling of emails received so far follow with my comments in italics.
Will the Penguins grant Sidney Crosby a superstar bonus contract and admit him as a partner in the organization?
Crosby signed a five-year, $43.5 million extension in July, but the question for Pittsburgh is how can they get everyone else signed to keep the young group together for more than a couple years?
Sidney Crosby a leader? He's only wearing the C because of his name recognition. If the Penguins had any real leadership they wouldn't be hanging Marc-Andre Fleury out to dry and blaming scoring depth problems on guys who have been there like Gary Roberts and (ex-Pen) Mark Recchi. Anyone can spit out the hockey clichs, but a real leader would have stood up for what his team did to a great player this week.
Sidney Crosby is not the youngest captain in NHL history. Brian Bellows was actually 5 months younger when he was named captain of the North Stars in 1984.
Bellows was only named interim captain and served that designation only during the latter portion of the 1983-84 season because Minnesotas team captain Craig Hartsburg got injured.
Just want you to know that after Sidney Crosby did his little spiel at the Sportschek in Mississauga to announce the Reebok clothing line, he ditched 15 fans waiting for autographs. None of his teammates were there, there was no craziness; he just ditched us, didn't even say hi. So he's been ditching his fans long before his teammates were his excuse.
Can the Penguins win the Atlantic Division, and do they need Crosby to win the scoring title to do so?
Yes, they can with the division, but Id say that about any of the five teams this season, its just that close. And no, Crosby does not need to win the scoring title for Pittsburgh to finish on top. Goals-against will be the deciding factor in this race, and the Pens are currently running fifth.
Isn't it sad that three years have passed, and in Gary Bettman's new NHL Sid the Kid finally comes to Vancouver. When Wayne Gretzky broke into the old NHL with the Edmonton Oilers, every city in the league saw him at least once a year. Could you imagine how much of an uproar there would have been if the same situation happened to the eastern teams? This certainly wouldn't have happened. Shame on you Gary Bettman! It's time for a new commissioner, before it's too late.
Burnaby, British Columbia
LETS HEAR IT FOR VINNY
Where is the love for Vinny Lecavalier. He is only 28 and is in the prime of his career. Sidney Crosby is a hell of a player, do not get me wrong, but he is not nearly the two-way player Vinny is. Also, Lecavalier is more physical and does not flop like Crosby. Vinny is leading the league in points and is single-handedly keeping the Lightning afloat.
PARITY IS THY NAME
I believe parity in the NHL is a result of the salary cap. By spreading the talent, better players are no longer going only to bigger market teams, but to the teams that have more cap space. We're not going to see a dynasty again unless it's done through draft and and/or pay cuts.
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Who do you like for the final four for the Stanley Cup?
Moncton, New Brunswick
Without knowing what will happen with second-half injuries and moves made at the trade deadline, Ill say Ottawa, N.Y. Rangers, Anaheim and San Jose.
How will Scott Niedermayer help Anaheim? He is out of shape, he'll disrupt the present lineup and how long will he take to start producing results?
He will provide the Ducks with the best defense corps in the league, he wont disrupt one thing and he will produce by making Anaheim a tougher team to score against immediately.
Why have no European coaches been given a chance in the NHL? With players like Lubomir Visnovsky, Michal Handzus, Jaroslav Modry, Alexander Frolov and especially Anze Kopitar, perhaps it is time for the Kings to hire a foreign coach. I hear Igor Larionov is in Los Angeles quite a bit, and considering his intelligence on the ice as a player it couldn't set a team like the Kings back much to give him a chance.
Thousand Oaks, California
There have been three European coaches in the NHL that I recall: Johnny Gottselig (Russian) with Chicago from 1944-48, Alpo Suhonen (Finnish) in 2000-01, also with Chicago, and the late Ivan Hlinka (Czech) in Pittsburgh from 2000-02. Larionov might be too smart to take this thankless job, but he does have history with Kings GM Dean Lombardi, who dealt for him in San Jose 14 years ago.
What is happening with Curtis Joseph? Is he retired or should a team in need go get him?
Cujo is an unrestricted free agent available for any team to pursue. To the best of our knowledge, he has not filed retirement papers with the league, so there is always a possibility for a comeback.