Thursday, November 29, 2007

One old foot out the door?

Stop me if you've heard this before: Penguins sign an aging skilled player. Player shows no skill. Player loses spot in lineup. Player sulks/gets upset.

Next step: player taken off team.

It happened to John LeClair last season, and by all indications it's about to happen again to Mark Recchi.


"Faizal" sends in the following on Mark Recchi:
Pierre Maguire was on the TEAM1040 this morning (Wednesday)in Vancouver and he was talking about the Recchi situation. Him and Recchi were texting each other last night before the Canucks/Ducks game and Maguire says that Recchi will
likely be traded by Friday. Pittsburgh apparently wants to hand over the reigns of the team to the younger players and they feel that with the presence of such veterans as Recchi, Roberts and Sydor, its hard for those younger players to be that voice in the dressing room. I don't know what that means for Roberts or Sydor, but so far only Recchi has been told to call up other clubs and work out a trade for himself."

Whispers have teams like Columbus (who's coach, Ken Hitchcock has connections with Recchi dating back to Kamloops) or Phoenix as interested in Rex.

Some team that needs a top 6 forward will take the bait on this. And maybe a change of scenery and a fresh lockeroom would do Recchi well. He didn't so much look as if there's nothing left in the tank just as much as he wasn't finishing opportunities. Unlike LeClair last season, where it was quite clear he was done, Recchi probably would have something to contribute to a NHL team. Although in a huge shell of his former self.

And for the Penguins, any return at all to shed Recchi's salary and sulking aura will be an improvement. I do not suspect they will be bringing to much back, probably a low draft pick if possible.
McGuire mentions Darryl Sydor and Gary Roberts as possibly the next in line out the door. While both of these vets have been relatively under-performing and disappointing, I see this as unlikely, for many reasons.
  • Depth of defensemen. If Sydor is jettison, one injury to the defense (a matter of when, not if) means that Alain Nasreddine is back in the NHL lineup. I still would argue might be a steal candidate on re-entry waivers for a team that would only have to pay 50% his salary, so it's no guarantee he'd be there. Then who comes into the lineup, Ryan Lannon?
  • Unlike LeClair and Recchi, Gary Roberts game is built around checking, hitting, menacing, intimidating and the like. Last I checked, you can still do that without scoring. Roberts needs to produce more, but his icetime has been adjusted. In the past 6 games Mr. Gary is getting less than 13 minutes a night. Unlike Recchi, he wasn't chewing up 20 minutes a night and still not scoring.
  • Veteran leadership. The team needs someone who's done it before, and only Recchi, Sydor and Roberts have won Stanley Cups. Get rid of all of these guys and there would be only 3 players on the whole roster over the age of 30 (Sergei Gonchar 33, Petr Sykora 31 and Georges Laraque 31 next week). That's obviously not going to cut it for a potential playoff push.

We'll have to see what happens, but short-term it definitely seems like Recchi is going to get a new team, if one will take him. After that the next movement shouldn't be paring more vets from the roster, it should be to bring in a player the team needs; like a goal-scoring winger or a defensive-defenseman.


Doc Nagel said...

I wasn't bothered by the way the Pens handled LeClair last season. It must have been tough for all concerned, and it seems to me they found a way to let him leave with some dignity at least.

The only thing that would bother me about Recchi leaving is if it wasn't handled with at least that much class. In any case, I haven't seen the team live this season (living in California makes that understandably difficult), but from watching broadcasts, it sure seems like he's doing worse than not finishing. He's losing pucks, passing to nowhere in particular without any real purpose.

What's your take on who would be the next alternate cap'n? I'm a Brooks Orpik man, myself.

Hooks Orpik said...

doc--Yeah I don't disagree with the LeClair situation either. It was obvious he had nothing left to offer, so they sent him on his way. He might have been a little less than happy about it, but I thought, all things considered, LeClair acted like a pro. Even in bad moments when he got his A taken away or had to face the sad reality his days as an athlete at the highest level were over.

I think the Pens will just let Roberts and Gonchar wear the A's this year.

Personally, I'd love to see them break it up a little more. Let the vets wear the A on the road and let Orpik (you know I'm an Orpik guy) and another forward wear them at home. The other forward? I would choose Talbot, he's everything you'd want in a player or leader. But I could see giving consideration to a more estabished guy like Sykora or even Malkin.