The NHL’s Entry draft is right around the corner. With only 30 general manager positions in the NHL there’s always four guys and gals waiting to take advantage of a failure. For some general managers the way to keep themselves employed is to get it right, Peter Chiarelli and Ken Holland are currently on that path. For others, like Glen Sather and Mike Gillis, simply filling the seats most nights appears to be enough. For others a constant coaching carousel is the ticket to maintaining a Teflon exterior. For still others a perpetual chain of blockbuster trades that serve as a reset button for bad drafting or non-development.

But the gentlemen in this list are all on the hot seat, having dodge enough bullets to level a small arena.

George McPhee – Washington Capitals.

Personally I’m baffled as to how GMGM is still employed. He’s iced a team that’s consistently near or at the cap, that can’t seem to get out of first gear in the post season. With the amount of talent on the rosters there should be at least one or two Stanley Cup Finals appearances. Since 1997 when McPhee took over the Capitals, the team has failed to make the playoffs in one third of the seasons played. They failed to make it out of the first round in three additional years. The sixth coach patrols the bench under McPhee’s tenure, and yet the team still can’t go anywhere. The 2009-10 season saw the Capitals rack up 121 points in the regular season and get stomped out of the playoffs in the first round by the eighth place Montreal Canadians. If draft doesn’t yield one or two players that make an impact next season, one has to wonder how much longer Ted Leonis will tolerated flashy mediocrity. With the leagues realignment slotting them into an eight team division with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the New York Rangers, the resurgent New York Islanders, and the plucky Columbus Blue Jackets for the next three season or more easy victories against the former Southeast division paper tigers will be a much rarer thing.

Doug Wilson – San Jose Sharks

The Sharks seem to have been on the cusp of greatness for a decade. Yet they can’t seem to get it done in the post season. Patrick Marleau holds nearly every regular season record on the teams books, and in the post season becomes the living example of “hockey isn’t played on paper”. Joe Thornton has won major awards, continues to be one of the NHL’s best faceoff men, and has only begun to figure out the post season in the last two or maybe three trips.

In the ten years since Wilson was hired, what has the team done? In the regular season everything, in the post season not a damn thing. They’ve been sliding slowly down the division rankings each season. In the three conference final appearances (the last three years ago) they have a total of three wins. Two of those wins came with a largely inherited roster back in the 2003-2004 season, and one appearance they were swept, and a single win in the most recent. Only one of those three conference finals defeats came at the hands of the eventual Stanley Cup Champions.

With an aging and expensive core of players, and a declining salary cap, it is likely that without scoring big in the draft or at the latest free agency, the chum used to get this school in order will be Doug Wilson.

Paul Holmgren – Philadelphia Flyers

While Holmgren has been one of the most exciting general managers to watch in the way he maneuvers the trade market, his success rate is a bit iffy in all other regards. Several of the big free agents and trade pieces have failed to deliver in any meaningful way. Pronger was signed to a long term deal despite a history of injuries and suspension and is retired in all but name. Ilya Bryzgalov and just about every other goalie to land in the Flyers crease under Holmgren can be grade downwards from really bad to unspeakable. The only real exception to that is the 2012-13 Vezina trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky, who was traded away for the 4th round pic that turned into Anthony Stolarz, the 2nd round pick that was used for Taylor Leier, and one more fourth rounder in the 2013 draft. As a goalie, Stolarz is likely 3-4 years from the NHL, and Leier had a solid but unspectacular season for the Winterhawks playing with likely top pick Seth Jones.

The health disaster that has been the Flyers blueline in recent years has been compounded by the addition of questionably talented blueliners like Schenn, and the doubts reinforced by the acquisition of Streit for both a high dollar amount and long term for a 35+ contract. The 11th pick is unlikely to get an impact defenseman, unless it is used to trade for someone, and while other teams struggle with the salary cap, the Flyers even after buying out Briere seem to have built themselves a whole prison planet for their cap situation.

Darcy Regier – Buffalo Sabres

When Terry Pegula bought the Buffalo Sabres he promised a change in the status quo. In that time, things have changed. The team has spent more money and gotten worse. Last season we saw the end of the NHL’s longest running coaches tenure as Lindy Ruff was banished from The Isle of Misfit Toys. NHL newcomer Ron Rolston was brought up from the AHL to coach the team. Wilson isn’t just short on NHL experience as he never played above the ECHL, he’s short on head coaching experience of any kind. In 2009-10 the US National Under 17 roster was under his stewardship, and they failed to make the playoffs. The next year he took over the Rochester Americans who bowed out in the first round of the AHL playoffs. With less than two hundred games as a head coach of any kind he was dropped into the NHL, and failed to spin straw into gold.

The rosters that Regier has assembled don’t bear up under much scrutiny either, nor does the inability to land free agents. John Scott, Steve Ott and Ville Leino were three of last years additions to the team, and just from looking at them it is hard to imagine what he was trying to accomplish. To the best anyone can remember the biggest accomplishment for each was Ott: limiting himself to two game misconducts, Scott: concussing another player and playing three games were he hit double digits in minutes, Leino; playing more games than Rick Dipietro.

Most damning of all is the fact that in the last six season, four times the team failed to qualify for the post season, and the other two times the team lost in the first round. In that time the teams scoring has eroded and the defense has gone south. With two first rounders and two second rounders and a top ten pick, the teams fortunes can change, if Regier and company can manage to draft well he might retain his job.

He didn’t help his creditability much by failing to move more than two name players at the deadline after just short of calling it a firesale. He had to keep part of Pominville’s salary, and the players he got back in these transactions include a goalie who couldn’t steal a roster spot from the chronically injured netminders in Minnesota, and an unexciting Johan Larsson.

It’s time for the last drinking game of the season (unless I do one for the draft) time to empty out the closet, and make sure you remember the results of the drinking game and possibly the series until fall when hockey starts up again.

Take One Drink:

You wish your local announce team were doing the game.

More than two players go crashing into the net.

Someone finishes a game with more than five shots and no goals.

Gary Bettman is shown and booed.

In game interview questions are answered with a cliche.

The hometown of a player is mentioned.

When asked about scoring a goal or making a save a player references a teammate.

The Junior or College team of a player is mentioned.

An exterior shot of the arena is shown and it includes people who are clearly chemically altered.

At each mention of “Original Six” in game one or two.

Someone mentions the department of player safety.

Whenever Pierre or another talking head says something that makes people just a bit uncomfortable. s/t @ChrisWasselTHW #HockeyPorn

If a fight breaks out with more than 4 million dollars in salary involved.

Take Two Drinks

The Bochenski-Versteeg trade is brought up.

Every time someone is mentioned as a Conn-Smythe candidate. s/t @HockeyMand

A team scores two unanswered goals.

At any mention of someone named Espisito or Orr.

A save is called “brilliant”, “spectacular” or “larceny” when in fact it was pretty routine.

Special teams stats are mentioned.

Highlights from the teams past Cup wins are shown not counting the last one.

A former player for either team is shown.

The other teams goal song sucks.

Someone scoring drought is mentioned.

An exterior shot of an arena is shown and no one (except maybe the commentators) is

You’re so mad at your team you want them to win only so you don’t have to read their Puck Daddy Eulogy.

A ny time a side by side comparison of Tuukka and Corey Crawford is shown. s/t @RJGreenWood

An announce uses the words “good clean hit” to describe something that turned most of one fan base into frothing mouth breathers that sound like Foamy (NSFW) :

Take Three Drinks

Every time one of the keystone players is mentioned.

The officials call one side of an altercation that should be a both or neither situation.

Someone “speculates” about the NHL awards for this season.

A player is asked about their previous playoff experience.

Two players on the same team skate into each other.

Anytime the word “momentum” is used.

At any puck over the glass delay of game.

The past awards of a player are mentioned.

Someone discusses rule changes.

The captains not having touched the conference title trophies is shown.

Any top six forward finishes a game with zero shots.

At any too many men penalty.

Take Four Drinks

If there is a post whistle scrum that does not involve Marchand or Shaw.

If NHL.com fails to make a punny headline for their update in game.

Gary Bettman is shown and not booed.

Someone says the referees have “swallowed the whistles” or otherwise won’t be calling much.

A coach or player says “we just need to be better in our own end” after a bad period or game.

At each mention of Original Six in game three or later.

A faceoff is missed for yet more advertising.

You can hold your breath between the bad call and the makeup call.

The fourth lines are mentioned.

If the career records of either coach are mentioned.

Whenever a clip of a game winning or cup clinching goal is shown.

The handshake line in mentioned and it is not a close out game.

Chug

Either team goes more than four minutes without a shot on goal.

Either team is called for three or unmatched penalties in a row.

Each time an owner is shown or mentioned before the Cup is awarded.

A player gets a short handed shot on goal.

Someone specifically highlights one of the matchups in the Keystone Players article.

Either team scores two powerplay goals in the same game.

A player argues with a call that was clearly a penalty.

 

For maximum fun, enjoy a different beverage each period. Calling in sick for work for the next day is advisable in some cases. It might not hurt to have a handy bucket and or a pre arranged ride to the hospital. Maybe you can even pin a “please take me to the hospital, and put on the hockey game” note on your shirt ahead of time.

 

Disclaimer:

No one is responsible for the stupid act you commit in any chemical state. Nor is anyone but you responsible for the permanent damage you’re likely to do to your body if you follow this game faithfully.  This game might just be a spectacular way to end up on Tosh.O, Intervention or at least Texts From Last Night. If you really must blame someone, blame your parents they should have known better anyways. PuckSage, the NHL, NHLPA, The Bruins and Blackhawks take no responsibility for your actions, have a nice day.

This lockout is a farce. There are two reasons for this. Collectively, you’d be hard pressed to find 30 worse businessmen who somehow remain mega rich is the first. The second is that for these folks the world is not enough. As a whole the league has grown its revenue hand over fist for the last seven years. Some teams are struggling now that were struggling the last time there was a lockout. Mostly these are the teams in non traditional markets who have never been run well enough to win. In the last twenty years the Owners have taken each CBA expiration as a  licence to kill the PA.

Was there cause? Yes. Last time the league was loosing money even in markets like Pittsburgh where however ignorant the fans are, they will at least show up if there is a good product on the ice. This time? Please. Just please. In a seven year stretch in which the American economy took such a nose dive that not only did the housing market die, but unemployment hit 20%+ in some major hockey markets. NHL revenues grew anyway. Record setting growth.

The ownership collective seems to have a mentality of get richer, and for everyone else; live and let die. All the businesses in the arena district are suffering because the team owners can only think of how diamonds are forever. Looking at the NHL owners I have to wonder where there Bob Kraft is in this group. Who’s the man who will stand up and say ‘we have too much to lose”, rally both sides and throw a thunderball at the people keeping games from being played?

The last lockout almost killed the league. Even teams like Boston struggled with attendance coming out of it. The faith in the ever returning fan is baseless. Fans walked away forever and it took years for new ones to arrive. Part of this was the revival of original six teams and big market teams like Boston, Chicago, and New York, another part was the emergence of stars like Shea Weber on a team that had to fight their way to relevance in market with strong football, and basketball at all levels. The owners didn’t dodge a bullet, last time, they lost a lot of money. The league died and you only live twice.

One of the other factors that has to be considered this time around that didn’t have nearly the impact seven years ago is the KHL. The league has had nearly a decade to get its feet under it. More and more Russian and European players go to or stay in that league. At the casino royale that is the negotiating table the Owners have traditionally held the “highest level of competition” card. How much longer until that is no longer true and the heart of the hockey world waves to all of us in north america from Russia with love?

At this point fan support is squarely in the players corner. Every time the owners, or Gary Bettman is mentioned all fans see and hear is the man with the golden gun weeping about poverty. Could this change? Sure it is possible, and not much less likely than skyfall, but the owners need to be smarter than that, they need to react before the lack of the game beats the living daylights out of the love of the game.

With the first game of the new season against a division rival comes the need for a new drinking game. Break out the funnels, hide the smart-phone to prevent drunk dialing, and warn your boss you’ll be getting your stomach pumped and liver refurbished tomorrow.

Take One Drink:

If someone gets their first goal of the season.

At the mention of “Original Six”.

Tomas Kaberle is mentioned.

Someone refers to Gustavsson as “the Monster”.

The Kessel trade is brought up.

Take two drinks:

If at any point Bruins fans begin chanting “Thank You Kessel”

If at any point Leafs fans begin chanting “Thank You Kessel”

The fact that Kessel is leading the league in scoring is mentioned.

Any mention is made of the Bruins losing their cool against the Canes.

Whenever special teams stats are brought up and there is no special teams play.

Take three drinks:

If any mention of “The kids” of  the Edmonton Oilers are mentioned. (Nugent-Hopkins, Hall, Eberle, or the rest of the players old enough to vote, own property or go to war.)

If Kessel touches the puck twice in a row without being booed.

Any reference is made to “Cup Hangover”.

Take four drinks:

If a Canadian broadcaster fails to tell you where a player is from at least twice.

If Jack Edwards seems calm.

If Rene Rancourt performs the anthems and fails to perform at least two fist pumps.

If someone not named Lucic or Phanuef throws a hit that can legitimately be described as bone crunching.

Skip a drink:

There is a “fight”.

Tyler Bozak wins a faceoff.

 

Please remember PuckSage, PuckSage.com its domain host, contributors, or the voices in our heads are not responsible for your actions, please drink responsibly (or at least send us the youtube videos of fun irresponsible stuff) and make sure you have a good lie ready if the cops show up.

 

Take 1 drink if/when:

PK Subban and or Brad Marchand are locked up with someone and jawing after a whistle.

The word “rivalry” is used by any announcer or commentator.

A comparison is made between the teams speed.

Composure is used to describe any player, line or team.

Dryden, Moog, Roy, Halak or any other goalie not on either roster is mentioned.

Take 2 drinks if/when:

Mention is made of the Chara-Pacioretty incident

The words “Original Six” are used.

Any player scores a hat trick.

The word “clutch” is used twice in the same breath by anyone.

Someone snarks about the shootout if a game goes to overtime.

A pink hat around you asks a question confirming their status.

If another pink hat responds and gets the answer wrong.

Take 3 drinks if/when:

An announcer says a team came out flat.

Milan Lucic is suspended for a game for hitting someone.

Sidney Crosby is mentioned in anyway not relating to something he has done during a post season game this season.

Any amplifier such as: storied, historic, bitter or intense is used with the word “rivalry”.

 

Skip your next drink if:

You think you here any player in their second season or later respond to the media in anyway that doesn’t sound scripted or cliched.

You think you here anyone refer to the incident between Carey Price and Tim Thomas as a serious fight.

You find yourself agreeing with a pink hat.

You start to believe the series will be easy for either team.

 

As pointed out earlier, the Bruins moves today are useful for next season since it will provide a bit more depth on the blueline. It also clears a superfluous forward from the organization.

The Habs started the period on a carryover power play and did little with it. Over all the Bruins played better in the second than in the first (a rarity this season) and helped themselves out by keeping the puck in the offensive zone more and outshooting their opponents on the period.

Sobotka had a good period with a couple nice defensive plays, a scrum along the net and a quality shot on net from the slot.

The Garden is still packed and unlike in certain arenas it should be noted that the fans here stood, sang and cheered both anthems.