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Maven's Ravin': Impertinent Thoughts On Pertinent Subjects

By Stan Fischler
January 31, 2012

• THOMAS' TAILSPIN:
Whether you agree with his politics or not, Tim Thomas has diminished the Bruins chances of winning a second straight Stanley Cup. His White House snub became a bigger story than he ever imagined. No matter how Talkative Timmy attempts to douse the fire, the embers of discussion will follow him around the league. The cumulative effect will be many distractions and those distractions will only diminish Thomas' focus; not to mention the attention of his team. Beantown fans can start preparing to kiss The Cup goodbye.

• UNSUNG HOLLAND:
Belatedly, Pavel Datsyuk is getting the credit he deserves as the National Hockey League's best all-round forward if not the league's best player; defense or offense. Ironically, the man behind Detroit's perennial contenders gets no attention whatsoever. That's because Ken Holland is the anti-hero among major league managers. Or, to put it another way, the Red Wings' boss lacks the decibel count of a Brian Burke. When you consider the Red Wings' continuous standard of excellence, you have to give Quiet Kenny a standing O.

• BURKE VS. CHERRY:
If ever there was a fair fight among hockey heavyweights -- marquee level -- the running gun battle between Maple Leafs' boss Burke and Don (Grapes) Cherry is as good as they come. Burke has been volcanic lately because of Grapes' verbal machine-gunning of Toronto's ascerbic coach Ron Wilson. Since Cherry mounts Canada's most visible soap box -- "Coach's Corner" -- on CBC Television, Grapes has a distinct advantage. One thing about Don, if he gets a bee in his bonnet -- in this case the bee is named Ron -- his stinging never abates. But if Cherry thinks he can get Wilson fired, he's sadly mistaken. Wilson is too good a coach to get canned and, besides, Burke acknowledged that by giving Wilson a formidable contract extension.

• SUTER SUITORS:
Ryan Suter, who just happens to be the best defenseman in Nashville -- give or take Shea Weber -- becomes an unrestricted free agent this Summer. A minimum of a dozen teams would love to have Suter permanently emigrate from Tennessee and line up on their blue line. Which is all very nice for clubs such as the Red Wings, among the teams coveting Suter. But The Maven unabashedly predicts that Suter will re-sign with the Predators. (My other noteworthy prediction is Giants, 27, Patriots, 17.)

• HANDICAPPING THE CALDER:
Prior to the All-Star break, New Jersey's Adam Henrique had a good shot at beating Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the rookie of the year award. But while playing against the Oilers, Henrique pulled his groin and is out of the Devils' lineup indefinitely. All of which means that the rookie race is up for grabs. Everything hinges on how quickly Nugent-Hopkins returns to action. Meanwhile Matt Read (Philadelphia), Cody Hodgson (Vancouver), and Craig Smith (Nashville) remain Calder contenders depending, of course, on the injury equation.

• MORE MOORE:

It seems as if not a season goes by without yet another club pursuing the ubitquitious Dominick Moore, now with his eighth NHL club. As the trade deadline approaches, we can expect more Moore movement. The Lightning's utility forward becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent which means that Tampa Bay's GM Steve Yzerman will be listening to offers; very likely as we speak.

• SPOTLIGHT ON THE SABRES:

Buffalo's GM Darcy Regier is not one for the spotlight but his Sabres' challenges have put the strong-beams on him and his struggling team. In any other year this would be a less riveting story. But the fact that Terry Pegula has become such an up-front hands-on owner drastically changes the situation. Or, to be more specific, any one of the following Sabres -- Paul Gaustad, Drew Stafford, and Derek Roy -- could be dealt. Then again, the blockbuster of all blockbusters -- trading Ryan Miller -- is not out of the realm of possibility.
 

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