August 11th, 2013

Dobber Sports

2013-08-11

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I absolutely love the Jacques Martin hire for the Pittsburgh Penguins. And I’m not buying for a minute the notion that Martin is there to hold Bylsma’s feet to the fire, in the event that the Penguins don’t come out of the East once again next season…

 

I think part of what’s going on is that Bylsma, who will be coaching the US Olympic Team in Sochi this February, can probably use every bit of additional support he can get this upcoming season (as Greg Wyshynski suggested).

 

But I also think the Penguins were pretty woeful, frankly, at playing without the puck last season. Their defensive short comings were often masked by their complete offensive dominance, but yeah, anyone who was paying attention knew that was Pittsburgh’s Achillies heel last season. I tend to think Martin can help.

 

Martin coached teams don’t play the most entertaining hockey (though his reputation as a defence only coach is overstated in my view) but they usually execute a detailed defensive game plan. Having another voice to help with the defensive gameplan and to correct some of the issues the Penguins had on D last season can’t be a bad thing I figure.

 

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Whenever I covered Penguins games and asked Dan Bylsma questions last season (primarily during Pittsburgh’s second round series against the Senators) I was blown away by his hockey intelligence. In particular, Bylsma loves to talk about “entering the zone with speed” (or clean zone entries, in fancy stats speak). 

 

Another feature of Jacques Martin coached teams: crisp 200 foot set plays designed to gain the blue-line with possession. It’ll be damn fun to watch what the Penguins can do with Letang, Crosby and Malkin executing those sets…

 

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On the financial woes of the New Jersey Devils: the comparison between Glendale, Arizona and Newark, New Jersey as hockey markets is flimsy. In fact it’s non-existent. After all the Devils fill the Prudential Center on a regular basis while charging a non-embarrassing price for tickets. You just can’t say that about the ‘Yotes…

 

Essentially what’s happening with the Devils of late has very little to do with the team itself or the Newark hockey market. It has everything to do instead with Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek’s particular, personal financial issues.

 

So yeah I don’t think these latest issues tell us anything about Newark as a hockey market at all, and indeed I’d expect the Devils to be among the NHL’s more stable franchises if the sale of the club to a group led by Josh Harris goes through as expected.

 

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Bettman and Daly both rejected the Forbes report this week, which claimed that the NHL has a plan in place to takeover the Devils if a buyer can’t be found before September.

 

For what it’s worth Daly also told Vancouver reporters that the NHL never had a plan B in place for the Coyotes when that sale seemed to be totally up in the air. Of co