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Maven's Ravin': Bruins' Goalie Troubles, Saskatoon Wants Team



* PETER-PETER, PUMPKIN-EATER: When Peter Chiarelli signed Marty Turco to replace injured Tuukka Rask, did the Bruins general manager believe that he was getting the reincarnation of Georges Vezina or even The Poor Man's Tim Thomas? If Turco continues to be the biggest crease-disaster since Steve Mason, it only means that Thomas will be overworked by playoff time. And you know what that means; Bruins over and out in the first round!

* CAN SASKATOON BE AN NHL CITY?
With all the talk about Phoenix possibly losing the Coyotes to either Seattle or Quebec City, another possible venue has emerged. It happens to be Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, birthplace of Gordie Howe and home to a 15,000-seat arena, the Credit Union Centre. Toronto-based businessman John Graham is leading a group hoping to persuade Bettman, Inc. that an NHL team in Saskatoon could sell out every game.

Well, it's happening in Winnipeg so let's not reject the Saskatoonians so quickly -- as the NHL did in 1983. Nevertheless, the sanest comment comes from Jack Brodsky, owner of Saskatoon's Junior team, the Blades. "I don't think Saskatoon is ready for it yet," says Brodsky and The Maven is sure that Gary Bettman would second the motion.
 
* UNSUNG HEROES OF ST. LOUIS:
When in 1983 a Saskatoon group thought it had bought the Blues from Ralston-Purina and was ready to ship the franchise to Canada, the NHL said, "Not so fast." Then league President John Ziegler was smart enough to keep the Blues in St. Louis and the hero who made it possible was the late Harry Ornest who bought the club from R-P. Ornest brought in g.m. Ron Caron and coach Jacques Demers and they revived hockey in The Mound City. The latest heroes are President John Davidson and g.m. Doug Armstrong who have built the most-underrated potential Stanley Cup-winner of 2012. Tom Stillman, who appears to be the new Blues owner, had better not let either JD nor Armstrong leave the club if he wants to own a winner.
 
* WHOA, EUGENE! Hockey owners have every right to blow their horn when they have a prodigy on their roster but Ottawa Senators boss Eugene Melnyk went a bit too far in assessing his baby-faced defenseman Erik Karlsson. According to Melnyk, "Karlsson will go down as one of the greatest defensemen of all-time." Which prompts The Maven to say, PUH-LEEZE! Greatest defensemen? Try Eddie Shore, Red Kelly, Bobby Orr, Paul Coffey and Denis Potvin, to name a few. Karlsson is a legit candidate for the Norris Trophy along with Shea Weber and Ryan Suter in Nashville, Zdeno Chara in Boston and a few other worthies. The difference is that they can play DEFENSE; Karlsson is still learning how to spell it!
 
* THE FUNNY RUSSIAN: Devils players will tell you that one of the funniest fellows on their team is husky defenseman Anton Volchenkov, never known as Kid Lightning nor for his scoring prowess. Which explains why Ilya Kovalchuk surprised many onlookers last Sunday at The Rock when he broke away on a two-on-one with Volchie. Instead of shooting, Kovy -- one of the NHL's hardest shooters -- passed to Volchenkov who then cleanly beat goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. Ilya explained that he passed the puck because "Volchie was skating like the wind." When apprised of Kovy's "wind" comment, Volchie shot back: "That's pretty funny. No more questions!"
 
* DION OVERRATED? YESSS: A few months ago a poll of NHL players focused on The Most Overrated players in the league. To the surprise of many -- The Maven included -- Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf topped the list. Just to double-check for an update, I phoned one of my Toronto buddies who follows the Leafs with an Argus eye. While blame for the Leafs plummet out of playoff contention has been distributed among goalies James Reimer and Jonas (The Monster) Gustavsson -- not to mention Ron Wilson and Randy Cartlyle -- my buddy fingers Captain Phaneuf as a prime culprit.  "In plain English," the Maple Leaf man tells me, "Phaneuf is playing as if he doesn't care!"
 
* RANGERS SECRET WEAPON: Two good reasons why Glen Sather did not have to unload any player from his solid nucleus are: 1. The current roster's chemistry has kept the club in first place; 2. Boston College center, Chris Kreider -- according to my close-to-the-kid sources -- is ready to move right on to the New York roster when his junior year is over and become a STAR!
 
* HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE: Keep your eyes on Brad (St. Louis) Shaw and Dallas (Toronto) Eakins for future NHL head-coaching jobs. Eakins is in the AHL with the Leafs farm team, the Marlies. Shaw -- briefly Islanders head coach in 2005-2006 -- is regarded in the Dan Bylsma "can't-miss" category. 

- Speaking of A-1 coaches, how about the manner in which Dave Tippett has kept the endangered Coyotes competitive? Defenseman Keith Yandle credits Tippett's personality as one of the coach's prime assets. "Dave is a player's coach," explains Yandle. "He's a guy that you want to win for; I'd go through the wall for him." (Well, Keith, you don't have to go that far.)  

- Tom Renney's contract is up at the end of the season and he'd like a multi-year extension. I hope he gets it.

- Sidney Crosby's anticipated return on Thursday night at The Garden will be momentous no matter how you shake it. And if I'm Dan Bylsma, I ease The Not So Kid in as gently as possible. At the speed that Dan's Penguins are swimming, what's the rush with Crosby? 

- Didja know that after 14 years as a pro, Wade Redden finally became a team captain. He's now wearing the "C" for the Connecticut Whale. The ex-Ranger, 35, hopes to sign with an NHL club next Summer.

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