Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Larionov gives McLellan seal of approval

In a rather blatant attempt at expunging myself from culpability for failing to opine on the Sharks' hiring of one Todd McLellan, I'll settle for referencing San Jose's latest head coach with a somewhat fresher story. In case you missed it, Igor Larionov, once tabbed the Russian Wayne Gretzky (actually I kind of just made that up), was announced yesterday as one of four 2008 inductees into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Joining him at the November induction ceremony will be former Edmonton Oilers star Glenn Anderson, the late Ed Chynoweth in the builder category and ex-ref Ray Scapinello.

But perhaps more intriguing than Larionov's status as the first ever former Shark to have his likeness etched in the vaunted Hall were "The Professor"'s comments regarding McLellan. From today's Merc: "I like Todd," said Larionov. "He's like a calm and steady guy, and likes hockey that's very close to me -- more offense, an entertaining style of hockey." In addition to being an offensive wizard of sorts, Larionov has always been a renowned hockey mind, so when he endorses a newly-hired coach, you not only know the franchise has done something right but also that you can expect a decidedly more offensive approach from McLellan than Ron Wilson's containment-oriented defensive stylings.


The NHL Draft begins Friday in Ottawa, but don't get too excited -- barring trades, the Sharks won't be venturing to the podium until the fourth round. Of course, the rumormongers are running rampant once again, deeming Patrick Marleau's banishment to hockey hell (aka Columbus, Ohio) imminent. Reports have Marleau being shipped to the Blue Jackets for everything from the 6th overall pick and Nikolai Zherdev to an advance copy of NHL 2K9 for the Nintendo Wii with Rick Nash gracing the cover.

Speaking of the Blue Jackets, Doug MacLean may have skipped town, but it appears that incompetence continues to reign supreme in the team's front office. With a justifiably restless fanbase still waiting on the franchise's first ever appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, someone in the organization apparently thought it was a good idea to not only offer Pittsburgh forward and impending UFA Ryan "I spent a contract year playing on Sidney Crosby's wing and have just 27 goals to show for it" Malone a long-term deal averaging as much as $5.5 million (!) a year, but trade either draft picks or a roster player for the right to do so a few days early. Luckily, Malone put an end to that by explicitly and publicly stating his intent to test the free agent waters regardless of whether or not his rights are traded.


Like any self-respecting Sharks fan, I possess a deeply ingrained hatred for all things Anaheim. However, with Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer likely to throw in the proverbial towel on his distinguished career with an announcement pending prior to Friday's draft, I feel it's appropriate to recognize one of the greatest defensemen it has ever been my privilege to watch. His unparalleled skating ability, his off-the-charts hockey IQ, his unmatched offensive instincts and his friendship with Good Riddance frontman Russ Rankin (had to throw that in there) have easily made him my favorite non-Shark. A shoe-in for the Hall of Fame, Niedermayer is, plain and simple, a winner. Hats off to one of the greatest.

Oh, but if he decides to pull that "I'm retiring haha no I'm not actually I'm not sure I think I'll take half the season off and thereby jeopardize my team's chances at developing the requisite chemistry for repeating as Cup champs" bullshit for a second year in a row, I might seriously have to reconsider my stance on him. As in, I'll respect him even more for screwing over the Ducks two years in a row.

No comments: