Not a lot of news to gather on New Year's Day, so I'm including a few off-topic bits, like this one: the New York Observer reports that the day after Brendan Shanahan scored the OT winner against Montreal (i.e., yesterday), he closed the deal on a 13.5 MILLION dollar Park Avenue condo. Okay, I know hockey salaries are insane, but has it actually reached the point where players are buying Park Avenue condos that cost in the double-digit millions of dollars?
In the Hockey News, Lyle Richardson (aka Spector) suggests that the New York Rangers might be interested in getting Michael Ryder from the Canadiens. The Rangers don't score a lot of goals, despite having big-name players like Shanahan, Jagr, Gomez, and Drury - and despite scoring four on the Habs the other night! - and could certainly use some added fire-power, though lack of offense is precisely the reason the Canadiens want to get rid of him.
On Fox Sports, and now writing as Spector, the same Mr. Richardson makes his 2008 predictions. Among them are the possible trading of Ryder, a lack of "blockbuster" trades on the horizon, and an increase in the salary cap. The Canadiens, he says, will have tons of cap space, but will "once again be unable to entice the top UFA players." He doesn't say why, but I assume it's the usual combination of taxes, cold weather, French language laws, tough fans, and constant media scrutiny. Richardson also predicts that Cristobal Huet won't be traded, even though Bob Gainey likes Carey Price, and that's a prediction I hope is accurate. There could never be a really good reason to trade a goalie who leads the league in save percentage, as far as I'm concerned. The question then becomes this: will the Canadiens resign the soon-to-be UFA to a contract extension before he hits the open market?
Sergei Samsonov cleared waivers last night and will be assigned to the Rockford Ice Hogs of the AHL, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The Hawks could then try calling him up to see if anyone wants him on reentry waivers, but they will probably put out feelers to other teams to ensure interest before making that move. I'm betting they find that few teams will bite. The Hawks are the second team that Samsonov has failed to catch on with - the first being the Habs, of course - and his attitude hasn't helped, which makes it hard to feel sorry for him, as we perhaps should. When he was with the Canadiens, he pinned the blame for his lack of performance on everyone but himself, and complained loudly to anyone who would listen that he'd made a mistake coming to Montreal. I wonder whose fault it is now? Coach Denis Savard calls this a "business decision," meaning, I surmise, that the Hawks made the "decision" to give Samsonov the "business".
Yahoo! Sports has their weekly power rankings, where you will find the Canadiens ranked 7th, up from 12th last time. They've bounced around the rankings this year, which in the age of "manufactured parity" (Bob McKenzie's term) must be difficult to compile. Seems like just about every team in the NHL is over .500, thanks to the extra point awarded for an OT or shoot-out win. In fact, the term ".500" no longer really means anything: it is still being used as though an OT loss is a tie, when it is, in fact, clearly a loss. With a record of 19-13-7, the Montreal Canadiens are said to be six games over .500, when in fact they've lost one more game than they've won. This mighty accomplishment has them, amazingly, at 4th place in the Eastern conference. It even puts them slightly ahead of the New York Rangers, who've won one more and lost one fewer games than the Habs. Yahoo also throws in some New Year's resolutions for each team, and the Habs' is to "Start attracting talent again because it's a lot harder to recruit top free-agents to this passionate hockey hotbed than most think." Yeah, that'd be nice.
Ryan McDonagh seems to be coming along nicely: Twin Cities.com notes his thus-far successful freshman year: 3 goals, six assists, +8 in 18 games.
La Presse has nothing new, but you could read this report on today's outdoor game, the NHL Winter Classic, to be played in Buffalo in front of - wow - 74,000 fans.
The Bulldogs shut out Grand Rapids last night, 1-0. Jaroslav Halak made 22 saves for the shutout, while Janne Lahti picked up the goal. With a record 11-14-6, the Dogs are 5th in their division, and not looking good to repeat last year's championship, to say the least. Their loss is the Habs' gain: Andrei Kostitsyn, Tomas Plecanek, Kyle Chipchura, Maxim Lapierre, Ryan O'Byrne, and Carey Price all spent a significant amount of time with the farm team last year.