• Considering that they were starting goaltenders in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo have seen their stars plummet off the "Leading Man" doors. The Conn Smythe Trophy-winner when his Bruins won the mug, Thomas has turned into a more confusing enigma than Sean Avery; and that's no small feat. Right now, Un-Timid Timmy is playing the "Maybe I Will And Maybe I Won't" game, leaving his Boston employers confused and other general managers more puzzled than a Sunday Crossword.
Meanwhile, Too Full Of Himself Roberto made it seem as if he simply could choose his next place of business since he expects to leave Vancouver before simply being run out of town. Trouble is, Luongo's view of himself appears much larger than general managers such as Stan Bowman and Dale Tallon may share. The fact is, Luongo may have no takers and wouldn't it be something if nobody takes him, forcing a return to the place he does not want to be.
• Analysts left and right are reading into the labor-management discussions as well they should. But the reality is that nothing substantive will be learned until the Players' Association digests all of the material submitted by ownership and then offers its counter-proposal. So far the only elements clear so far -- beyond the owners' submissions -- are as follows: 1. Teams are proceeding under the soon-to-end CBA, paying big money when necessary; 2. The NHLPA quietly is taking due notice; 3. An air of civility has permeated the press releases and public comments from Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr; 4. Comments from player spokesmen have been remarkably temperate.
• Every so often a player comes along whose size and style are reminiscent of a favorite from yesteryear. In the case of Dylan McIlrath, (drafted 10th overall in 2010) there happens to be a remarkable coincidence. That is, his next coach – with the Connecticut Whale – could very well be former Rangers defenseman Jeff Beukeboom. Beuk was recently named an assistant coach of the Whale by Rangers g.m. Glen Sather. That means that he will be tutoring potential Rangers defensemen, which is where McIlrath fits in perfectly. This much is certain; the Blueshirts couldn’t have picked a better mentor for Dylan than Jeff.
• That Scott Stevens has been appointed as Devils assistant coach hardly is a surprise to those who know the game. As Hall of Famer Scott tells me, he has quietly been working -- mostly in the background -- with New Jersey. "The time had come for me to get behind the bench," as the Stevens tells me. Going from Larry Robinson to Scott Stevens is as good a segue as it gets in the NHL. Young defensemen such as Mark Fayne and Adam Larsson will benefit significantly from Stevens’ tutelage.
• With Martin Brodeur, 40, and Johan Hedberg, 39, entering their twilight years as NHL netminders, Lou Lamoriello must don his thinking cap. The New Jersey g.m. can make a deal, or one of his younger prospects might be ready. I like Keith Kinkaid. My intern Allyson Gronowitz spoke to Kinkaid at Devils prospect camp about his game plan to succeed his idol, Brodeur, with the Big Club: “Everyone wants to be that Next Guy after Brodeur. Right now I’m training hard and trying to make the best impression I can on the organization. I’m looking to have a great year next year to hopefully open some eyes; and maybe something will happen.
• Mike Modano's comeback talk should at least produce a training camp audition similar to the one granted to Petr Sykora last September. Remember, the odds were stacked against Pistol ”Pete but he gained a varsity spot in New Jersey and delivered 20 goals.
• The Barclays Center on Flatbush Avenue is getting plenty of attention these days. It's primary tenant, the NBA's Brooklyn Nets have been signing players, holding press conferences and even getting the Borough President into the act. No matter how you shake it, the arena’s 14,500 seats is below NHL standards and there appears to be no way that more chairs can be added without significant expense.That, however, has failed to dissuade NHL theorists from wondering whether Barclays could, perhaps, wind up as the Islanders home if the latest campaign for a new Coliseum fails to jell. If nothing else, the more talk about Barclays as a possible Isles' new home, the more pressure will be applied to Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and his fellow politicos to keep Charles Wang's team in Uniondale. The trick is that Wang won't be persuaded unless the four-decade-old Coliseum is replaced with a state of the art structure. In the meantime, Barclays arena will get ink and Mangano will be spurred to action as never before.
• Forward Steve Ott recently met the Buffalo media for the first time, and displayed his enthusiasm for being a Sabre. After spending the first nine seasons of his career with the Stars, Ott moved on to Buffalo in exchange for forward Derek Roy. Ott’s style enthuses Sabres’ head coach Lindy Ruff. "He is a prototypical style Buffalo player,” Ruff said. “He brings his work ethic and his tremendous attitude with him".