J.R.’s Rink Rants
In this edition of Rink Rants: A Fasth Start, Hart Trophy Finalists and a letter to Eugene Melnyk
This is one of those stories that gets made into a movie that inspires us all to dig deep within ourselves to find greatness.
Meet Viktor Fasth, a 30-year-old rookie goaltender for the Anaheim Ducks who started his NHL career 7-0-0.
If you don’t know who Viktor Fasth is then let me give you the short version.
On May 21, 2012 Fasth, who was never drafted, signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Anaheim Ducks, a team off to their best start since their Stanley Cup winning 2006-7 season.
Fasth had a decent career in his native Sweden but it wasn’t until his breakout performance at the 2011 World Championships that he gained much attention in North America. The only reason Fasth got the job with the national team is that goalie Stefan Liv declined to play for his country.
Fasth led Sweden to the Gold Medal game with a 94.57 SP, 1.71 GAA, three shutouts and was named tournament MVP. Fasth has certainly been a steal for the Ducks.
How big a deal is it to start your career 7-0-0? Martin Brodeur didn’t do it. Nor did Jacques Plante, Patrick Roy, Tony Esposito, Ed Belfour or Glenn Hall. I’m not going to compare Fasth to any of these elite goaltenders after only seven games, but it’s impressive nonetheless.
Just how long this Fasth start will last has yet to be determined but Ducks fans aren’t complaining.
NHL First Quarter Award Winners
Now that we’re twenty-five percent of the way through the NHL season I figured it was time to look at who my Hart finalists would be if the already shortened season was shortened again and ended today.
Left wing Thomas Vanek of the Sabres would be my front runner. He’s amassed an amazing 11-12-23 in fifteen games and he’s doing it on a team currently eleventh in the Eastern Conference.
Outside of Vanek, Jason Pominville (6-8-14), Cody Hodgson (6-7-13) and Tyler Ennis (5-7-12), the Sabres have a collection of guys each with only a few points. If Vanek does win the Hart he will have to carry Buffalo on his back.
You may think I’m a little off with this one but defenseman Sheldon Souray of the Anaheim Ducks is certainly grabbing my attention over the usual front-running defenseman like Ryan Suter of the Minnesota wild (0-8-8, -4) or Shea Weber of Nashville (0-2-2, +1).
What are Souray’s numbers? Well for starters he’s a +13 and at 4-3-7 he’s way ahead of Weber. Souray (and fellow Duck Francois Beauchemin, +13, 2-4-6) are my top defenders now that Erik Karlsson is out for the season (see below for more on that).
My final finalist is Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks. Not only is he 9-12-21, +7 through fourteen games but he’s nine points ahead of Chicago’s second leading scorer, Jonathan Toews.
Just with Vanek in Buffalo, Once you go beyond Kane, his linemates Jonathan Toews (6-7-13) and Patrick Sharp (2-10-12) along with Marian Hossa (6-6-12) the Hawks lack scoring and that could hurt Kane’s chances.
The reality is that there is still a lot of hockey to be played and anyone can get hot just like anyone can go cold so check back again at the halfway point and we’ll do this again.
A Letter to Eugene Melnyk, owner of the Ottawa Senators
I recently watched the video of the incidental contact between Matt Cooke of the Penguins and Erik Karlsson of your Ottawa Senators and I was wondering what you were watching when you said this to TSN.ca
“To have him taken out by a goon is unconscionable,” Melnyk began. “Whether it was accidental, or whether it was reckless, or whether it was intentional, to me it doesn’t matter.
“It’s something that never should have happened. This player should never be playing in this league. It’s a league for elite players,” said Melnyk.
Again I politely ask, “What were you watching?” I watched the clip on NHL Tonight and Mark Rowe, alongside Kevin Weekes, broke it down from several angles, none of which showed any intent from Matt Cooke to hit Karlsson with his skate.
If indeed we were watching the same clip then I have to say that your statement that you don’t care if the contact was accidental makes you seem like you don’t know much about hockey. I do know that you lost all credibility with me when you said that.
The next time two players collide in a clean and legal manner and one gets hurt I wonder if the owner will pull a Melnyk and cry for a suspension. I kind of hope so because quite frankly your tirade is pretty funny.
Karlsson’s injury is horrible and the Senators will certainly miss his skill and leadership on the ice and I hope he has a speedy and full recovery but please stop using your player to grind an ax with a player you obviously detest.
The truth is, it’s disrespectful to Karlsson to use him so you can grab the spotlight for a few minutes.
I have one final question for you Mr. Melnyk and that is, when did you become the go-to guy on who is and isn’t an elite player? Is there a Melnyk standard to stay in the NHL or is this once again proof that you don’t have any credibility when it comes to the sport of hockey.
I will close with one piece of advice. Think before you speak. Do that and you may find that people will take what you say seriously.
I apologize if this sounded harsh but it needed to be said.