Tag Archives: Wayne Gretzky

JOVO: THE RAINMAN FROM THE DESERT

by Ron Spence

I watched Eddie prowling the Canucks’ blue line for 6 1/2 seasons, and thought that he was Bobby Orr on one shift, and Rory Fitzpatrick on another. His play ranged from brilliant to terrible, and I just watched him – my stomach in a knot, and my mouth open.

He was the Rainman.

A half a decade ago, I was sitting in the media room – in the bowels of GM Place – talking to an executive in the Stars’ hierarchy. He told me that every team in the league was talking about Ed Jovonovski – they all coveted him.

I explained to him that you don’t know a player from watching his highlight tapes. You have to watch him play game in and game out.

The Phoenix Coyotes liked Ed and signed him to the big contract, making him the NHL’s 25th highest paid player at $6.5 million per year – with two years remaining on his contract after this season.

This is Ed’s third season in Arizona, and he played well his first two years in the desert, having a career-high 51 points (12-39) last season.

This year, however, he has started off poorly. In his first 9 games, he had neither a goal nor an assist.

“It’s really frustrating,” Jovanovski told Jim Gintonio of The Arizona Republic a few days ago. “I’ve never played like this before, but I don’t have any excuses for it. I’m working hard, I feel like I’m competing out there. It’s gonna fall. Right now, I’m squeezing the pain out of my stick, but it’s going to come.”

His coach was also frustrated and paired him with his former partner.

“We feel that maybe Eddie can take off, knowing [Zbynek] Michalek’s so defensive-minded,” Wayne Gretzky said. “That may get Eddie more involved in the play offensively.”

“I know he’s got good skills,” Michalek added. “He proved last year how good and valuable he is to the team, and we need him to get going. I think he’s playing well, just wasn’t getting bounces. I think it’s a matter of time, and I hope this helps him get there.”

Jovo got a bounce a couple of days later, and broke a 2-2 tie against Calgary, with a low slapshot from the blueline.

This didn’t impress all of the Yotes’ faithful, however.

Following the Phoenix win in Calgary, Gintonio’s readers wrote:

James1234: “If Jovo wouldn’t have played tonight the score would have been Yotes 3 – Flames 1. Other than the goal he was awful. He cost us 2 goals on 2 awful giveaways! PUT HIM ON THE BENCH OR USE HIM AS A FORWARD!”

nativedevil49 responded: “James….sounds like the usual night for Jovo…2 turnovers and weak play are pretty much his game and have been for the last 2 years…Jovo was a monster with the Canucks but has been less effective here as he seems to get worse every game…he’s a liability for sure…he will not get moved easily with his inflated salary and it’s probably too late this year….at least they won….”

Hockey247 didn’t agree: “I love how you pathetic people love to criticize jovo… Yet when he scores you cheer for him and when he is one of the few players that goes out in the community you show up to get autographs.. You people make me sick.. Last season he might give the puck up but he ended up creating offensive chances to make up for it.. This season he said it himself I’m off to a slow start…I have an idea why dont all you bandwagon jumping fans go over to the SUNS section because we all know how pathetic their fans are.”

yotesfan25 agreed with the first two: “JOVO is garbage. His turnovers kill this team and demoralize our goaltenders. The only thing going for him last year was his offensive production – now without any offensive production and still the continous turnovers in our own end makes him a huge liability on the ice. We need people in there who can move the puck responsibly.
On another note the guys played a gritty game last night.”

A fifth writer, Yotelover wrote: “I can’t believe anyone is sticking up for Jovo. He is so old NHL! Too slow to play defense and an absolute plus for any opposing forward. Anyone can catch him and he’s a terrible passer. The only thing in his favor is he can shoot the puck and he’s big enough to play power forward. I think James has a great Idea on how to make him earn his keep. It won’t be the first time a defenseman turned winger.”

These comments echo what many of us heard, and read, during Ed’s days in Vancouver.

The Canucks – under Dave Nonis – were wise to let Jovo and his $6.5 million fly south. They have both Willie Mitchell and Mattias Ohlund – at $3.5 million each – for roughly the same salary.

The Canucks have been slagged throughout the years, but they sometimes make the right decisions.

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TRIVIA – TROPHIES

by Ron Spence

There are four people in the picture below. How many Stanley Cups did they win between them? How many Hart Trophies? How many scoring trophies?

courtesy of blog.mlive.com

This group have won 15 Hart Trophies (NHL MVP), 16 Art Ross Trophies (NHL’s leading scorer), and 10 Stanley Cups.

Gordie Howe won 6 Hart Trophies, 6 Art Rosses, and 4 Stanley Cups.

Wayne Gretzky won 9 Hart Trophies, 10 Art Rosses, and 4 Stanley Cups.

And, the man in the middle, Ulfie Sammuelson, the former Pittsurgh Penguin, and now Wayne’s Assistant Coach, won two Stanley Cups.

The fourth man – in profile – is Gordie’s grandson, and Mark’s son – Travis, who runs Gordie’s business, Power Play International.

Gordie and Wayne appeared in a total of 38 All-star games.

Both Gordie and Ulf played for the Hartford Whalers. Gordie’s last season in Connecticut was 1979-80, and Ulf’s first was 1984-85. Wayne and Ulf were teammates, and became good friends in New York.

Although, Ulf bodied a rival and knocked out a pane of glass which in turn concussed Janet Gretzky.

The Final Prediction Blog

by desertdawg

A few years ago, back in the mid-eighties the Edmonton Oilers were heading into playoff overtime. Jim Robson began to speculate with the coverage crew, who might be the overtime hero when Howie Meeker interrupted with a shout of “I think Gretzky will score.”
Robson couldn’t contain his snort. “Yeah, you and 50 million others, Howie.”
The point was obvious, but worth exploring. Yes, Howie made a wise choice in Gretzky (I think it was Peter Klima that scored, by the way) but that’s no fun. Predictions aren’t supposed to be so obvious. The tradition holds that the overtime scorer will be some hard working fourth line plugger whom the hockey Gods reward with a brief moment of glory.
Okay, so Klima wasn’t a fourth line plugger. But later, the pundits crowed that Slats had made another brilliant move in his long line of brilliant moves (like saying “Wayne, get out there…”) by holding Klima off until everyone else was dog tired before throwing the enigmatic sniper out on the ice. A quick snap shot from the slot and it was over. Boston was done.

The truth is, Slather hated the way Klima dogged it and he could not trust his defensive responsibility in a close checking Stanley Cup match. He threw Klima out there because he had no choice. His young Oilers were all bent over on the bench. Klima for forty seconds might give someone else time to recover.
No one had predicted Klima…but every pundit tried to take a little credit in the post game analysis.
So now, everyone is predicting the Wings will win the Cup.
What a cheesy choice. Yeah, I know they have added Hossa so if anything they are stronger. And they have the best coach, the best management, blah, blah blah. The truth is, a lot of the same people picking the Wings, picked the Ducks at the beginning of the season. Some backed away when Neids and Selanne played their coy little game for half a season, but again, most stayed with heir selection when the guys returned to the fold for the playoff run.
But the Ducks got knocked off by a suddenly competent Dallas squad.
The truth is, picking a Stanley Cup winner before the season even starts doesn’t take into consideration the ebbs and flows of the regular season that leads to the marathon that is the Stanley Cup playoffs. Injuries to key players, especially at the end of the season, the hot goaltender syndrome (or lack of a hot goaltender), the right matchups at every stage… and everyone knows the first rounds are the hardest to get past when all 16 teams are fresh and motivated to fever pitch. Just ask those same Wings who had so many other early exits over the years, very powerful Red Wing teams by the way, what can happen in the first couple of rounds. And goaltending? If Osgood falters, the stampede of the “I told you so” crowd will indeed be life threatening.
“Never liked that guy…always knew he was a dog…”
So will the Wings repeat they way the experts tell us? Or will Sid the Kid lead the charge and take the Cup back east? The truth is, there’s a one in sixteen chance. And a lot can happen in two months, not to mention the nearly seven months leading up to the playoffs.
So stick with your home team, mates. Anything can happen when the Hockey Gods start to smile.
But here are some predictions you can count on.

Number One: Fans in almost hald the NHL cities will be clammering for their coach or GM to be fired by Xmas. The exception to this is Edmonton where the lynch mob will form in early November.
Number Two:
There will be a breakout player that almost all of us missed in picking our pool team(s). The lucky suckers who do manage to select this player will claim to have mysterious inside information.
Number Three
: For half of the pool players, their pool team will be a bitter substitute for their failing home team, who for some reason, are just once again falling apart. Of course, we will still lose to to the poolies who got luckier than us.
Number Four
: Canadian Fans will spend much of the year arguing with other team fans why their Defenceman, Winger, Centre or Goalie should be given great consideration for the 2010 Winter Olympics. American fans will scratch their heads and exclaim “there’s a Winter Olympics in 2010?”
Number Five: A number of teams will trade their immediate future for help in the Cup run. All will be bitterly disappointed when the rental player (a) does not help them win the Cup and (b) departs for greener pastures in the off season.
Like I said, some predictions you can count on.

TRIVIA – BEST TEAM

by Ron Spence

In 1999, ESPN.com compiled a list of the Top Ten Sports Teams from the Twentieth Century.

In the eras of Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Joe Namath, etc., which teams did ESPN choose as the best overall?

And, if a hockey team made the list, which team and season would it be?

ESPN selected the 1927 New York Yankees as the best team of the Twentieth Century.

They believed that the 1985 Chicago Bears were number 3, the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers number 4, the 1972 L.A. Lakers number 5, the 1996 Chicago Bulls number 9, and the 1972 Miami Dolphins number 10.

ESPN.com argued that the 1977 Montreal Canadiens were the second best sports team in the Twentieth Century:

“The second of four straight Stanley Cup champions from 1976-79, the ’77 Canadiens went 60-8-12 to finish with a record 132 points. They went 12-2 in the playoffs, sweeping the Boston Bruins for the title. Montreal dominated both phases of the game as Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt ranked first and third in points and Michel Larocque and Ken Dryden ranked first and second in goaltending. Dryden had 41 wins and 10 shutouts. Eight members of the team are in the Hockey Hall of Fame as is coach Scotty Bowman.”

The readers didn’t agree with the panel, however, voting the ’77 Habs sixth out of the Top Ten. They agreed with ESPN’S 1st and 3rd choices, but thought that the 1996 Chicago Bulls should be 2nd.

Had ESPN done a Top 15, they would have included the 1956 Montreal Canadiens as well (“Won league by 24 points. So potent on offense, NHL changed power play rule.”).

HOCKEY SALARIES: 1987 1988 1989 1990

by Ron Spence

When Bob Goodenough took over the NHLPA in February, 1990, he introduced salary disclosure. It’s something that’s taken for granted today.

How important was it?

Wayne Greztky’s father, Walter admitted to Terry Jones: “I knew Wayne was getting traded days before he did because Nelson Skalbania phoned me and asked, ‘How much does Wayne make?’

I said ‘Why?’

He said ‘Because Peter’s shopping him to the highest bidder.’

I said ‘No he’s not.’

He said ‘Yes he is.’

That was during the 1988 Stanley Cup finals – a year and a half before salary disclosure.

Of course Pocklington knew how much his star was making, as did Wayne and his father, but it wasn’t public knowledge like it is today.

Hockey Zone Plus has compiled a comprehensive database of some 2500 players who’ve played in the NHL from 1989 until the present.

Also, a hockey fan, who calls himself Ogopogo, has located copies of Sport magazine, which ceased publishing in 2000. In his issues were the: 1987, 1990, and 1991 NHL salaries.

I have included the Hockey Zone’s 1990 salaries, along with those listed by Sport.

I would note, however, that the two lists for 1990 aren’t always the same – some are calculated in American funds, some Canadian. But, I am including both, as they provide a good idea of NHL salaries at that time.

I would ask the reader to also note, that the years from 1987 until 1990, was the time in which Offer Sheets were first being presented.


SPORT – June, 1987

1. Wayne Gretzky – Oilers – $950,000 CDN – (converted to $717,250 USD)
2. Marcel Dionne – Rangers – $700,000
3. Mike Bossy – Islanders – $650,000
4. Bryan Trottier – Islanders – $625,000
5. Dave Taylor – Kings – $600,000
6. Mario Lemieux – Penguins – $550,000
5. Denis Potvin – Islanders – $550,000
8. Mike Liut – Whalers – $450,000
9. Rod Langway – Capitals – $400,000
10. Barry Pederson – Canucks – $350,000

SPORT – June, 1989

1. Gretzky – Kings – $2 million
2. Lemieux – Penguins – $1.5 million
3. Trottier – Islanders – $950,000
4. Taylor – Kings – $700,000
5. Dionne – Rangers – $600,000
6. Liut – Whalers – $550,000
7. Goulet – Nordiques – $510,000
8. Messier – Oilers – $510,000
9. Savard – Blackhawks – $500,000
10. Coffey – Penguins – $485,000
11. Duguay – Kings – $475,000
12. Hawerchuk – Jets – $467,500
13. Stastny – Nordiques – $446,250
14. Carpenter – Bruins – $425,000
15. LaFontaine – Islanders – $425,000
16. Gustafsson – Capitals – $410,000
17. Stevens -Capitals – $400,000
18. Pederson – Canucks – $400,000
19. Bourque – Bruins – $380,000
20. Fuhr – Oilers – $340,000
20. Robinson – Canadiens – $340,000

SPORT – June, 1990

1. Gretzky – Kings – $2.72 milion
2. Lemieux – Penguins – $2.15 million
3. Chelios – Canadiens – $1 million
4. Trottier – Islanders – $975,000
5. Taylor – Kings – $950,000
6. Bourque – Bruins – $925,000
7. Messier – Oilers – $875,000
8. Nicholls – Rangers – $725,000
9. Yzerman – Red Wings – $700,000
10. Goulet – Nordiques/Blackhawks – $600,000
11. Carson – Oilers – $585,000
12. Robinson – Kings – 550,000
13. Savard – Blackhawks – $525,000
14. Dineen – Whalers – $510,000
15. Wilson – Blackhawks – $500,000
16. Hextall – Flyers – $500,000
17. Kerr – Flyers – $500,000
18. Coffey – Penguins – $485,000
19. Stastny – Nordiques – $480,000
20. Hawerchuk – Jets – $462,000

HOCKEY ZONE PLUS – 1989-90 (U.S. Dollars)

1. Lemieux – Penguins – $2,000,000

2. Gretzky – Kings – $1,720,000

3. Messier – Oilers – $855,271

4. Yzerman – Red Wings – $700,000

5. Trottier – Islanders – $ 575,000

6. Robinson – Kings – $550,000

7. Savard – Blackhawks – $525,000

8. Goulet – Nordiques/Blackhawks – $517,980

9. Bourque – Bruins – $500,000

10. Hextall – Flyers – $500,000

11. Wilson – Blackhawks – $500,000

12. Taylor – Kings- $500,000

13. Kerr – Flyers – $500,000

14. Chelios – Canadiens – $496,398

15. Coffey – Penguins – $450,000

16. Liut – Capitals – $445,000

17. Salming – Maple Leafs – $435,000

18. Kurri – Oilers – $431,650

19. Howe – Flyers – $425,000

20. Stastny – Nordiques – $414,384

21. MacInnis – Flames – $410,068

22. Sandstrom – Kings – $410,000

23. LaFontaine – Islanders – $400,000

24. Nicholls – Rangers – $400,000

25. Gartner – Capitals – $400,000

25. Carson – Oilers – $400,000