Even though the NHL gets out of the way of the Super Bowl, that doesn't stop readers from expressing their opinions. You've got to love the passion of hockey fans, there's nothing else like them anywhere in sports.
A sampling of those emails follow along with my comments in italics.
NO RAY OF SUNSHINE ("Emery a distraction Sens can't afford" Jan. 31, 2008)
Ray Emery has been a distraction since his days in the American Hockey League with the Binghamton Senators. He was the "can't miss" kid coming out of the OHL, but due to his attitude in the AHL, he spent probably two seasons more than he should have spent. I think it is in the best interest to trade him to another team.
Other teams see what he's doing, too, so they have to be willing to take on a questionable character.
Ray Emery is a huge distraction and the Senators should get a good goalie. Martin Gerber is good, but they need another goalie who shows up on time for practice.
Goaltending has always been an issue for Ottawa. I do not trust either Martin Gerber or especially Ray Emery to bring the Sens to the promised land. With Ottawa a legitimate contender, I ask why can they not land a No. 1 starter, and who might be available as the trade deadline looms?
If Bryan Murray thought that Martin Gerber could get him to the Stanley Cup Finals, Ray Emery would have been gone long ago. A "backup" goalie is not worth the distraction.
PETER THE GREAT ("Forsberg ready to get feet back in NHL" Jan. 31, 2008)
The article about Peter Forsberg was great, but there was one thing that puzzled me: "It may be as simple as the fact he and the Wings were bitter rivals when Forsberg was a member of the Avalanche, and those feelings just haven't dissipated." Do not forget Chris Chelios was the most hated man in Hockeytown when he played for the Blackhawks. Now he is loved by all. Tell Forsberg we are very forgiving. Just don't bring Claude Lemieux, too.
Wings fans may be ready and willing to forget, but it doesn't sound like Forsberg is ready.
And here I thought Peter Forsberg's absence from the NHL was due to a commitment to the Swedish diving team. That is what his Olympic medals are for, diving, right? Don't get me wrong. I agree that Forsberg has skill. It just seems that diving is his best skill and doesn't get the attention it deserves.
Rancho Margarita, Calif.
Why would the great Peter Forsberg return to Philadelphia when his No. 21 was given to Jason Smith, who took his captain designation as well? It is obvious Forsberg won't go to the Senators because of his feud with Daniel Alfredsson. If the Rangers land Forsberg they will be serious contenders for the Cup.
I don't think a uniform number or leadership designation is going to have any affect on Forsberg's decision.
Why doesn't the league close this silly loophole. Teams with players who are "undecided" should have to pay them and count the salary against the current season cap until a decision is made. That would change the complexion of things now wouldn't it?
It's not fair, and there's a groundswell that a deadline has to be put in place – I'd say Dec. 1 – and, yes, if the player is under contract their salary should count against the cap.
The Ducks aren't going to make the playoffs this year? This team is better on paper than 2007.
The game is played on a sheet of ice, not a sheet of paper. While I agree the Ducks are formidable, especially on defense, through 56 games they were on pace for 89 points and that's not going to get them into the playoffs. Anaheim has to earn at least 34 of an available 52 remaining points to get it, and that will not be easy.
I know that a number of fans don't like the idea of the NHL season going from 82 games to 84. In fact many, including myself, would like to see a reduction in games. However, beyond the boredom of further games, I also happen to like the preseason very much, and would hate to see a reduction in games from a maximum of nine to possibly as few as five, as the players' association has proposed. It allows fans to see young and unknown talent vying for a roster spot. Furthermore, it is a great way to boost the AHL affiliate.
Commissioners from every league get booed when introduced in front of its fans. But in the NHL, the fans boo Gary Bettman for a reason. They know that he's running the league into the ground, and they dislike him intensely and respect him the least.
What ever happened to the five-second faceoff rule? And is there an increase in being tossed from the faceoff circle?
The rule didn't go anywhere, and I haven't noticed any great delays in dropping the puck. I think everyone's adjusted to the fast faceoff. I agree with tossing players out, many try to get an advantage and they should get bounced for that.
Do you get emails mostly from Americans? The reason I ask is that most of the letters in your mailbag are from the U.S. and not Canada. This would seem to disprove the stereotype that there is little interest in hockey south of the border. As a spectator sport, I think the NHL does very well in a number of American cities. Twelve American cities play to at least 90 percent capacity. That compares favorably to the NBA where 15 teams fit that description. So why does the NHL always get a bad rap in the U.S.?
Moose Jaw, Saskachewan
I get a proportionate number of emails from Canada and the U.S. The league gets a bad rap for a variety of reasons, but low television ratings is one reason.
When will Alexander Ovechkin get the credit he deserves? While he's not the playmaker Sidney Crosby is, Ovechkin is a much better goal scorer. Ovechkin is the most complete player in the NHL, but the focus is always on Crosby.
I'd suggest that Ovechkin is the favorite to win the Hart Trophy as league MVP, especially if he finishes tops in goals, is close in points and leads the Caps to a division title.
Do you think there's any validity to the NHL adopting a MLB-like policy making the winner of the All-Star Game the home team for the Stanley Cup Finals? Would that make the All-Star Game more competitive?
No, the league will not adopt a similar scenario that baseball has in place. Offering a large cash award to the winning side – and nothing to the losers – might encourage a more competitive contest.