Sunday, April 12, 2009

Laugh or Your Money Back

3 Things here as we exist without playoff hockey around here:

1) Read Jeff Miller's great stuff right below, please, on the season in review.

2) Read all about the Stars pursuit of a another sparkling Swede after the jump.

And 3) Steve Ott is about to sell a few more jerseys (sweaters).

If last time I wrote about our favorite hockey team it appeared to be an homage to Mike Ribeiro, than allow some equal time to the other strong candidate for the Dallas Stars MVP of 2008-09, our lovable hero: Steve Ott.

Ott has been awesome this season, taking a gigantic step forward for this team, and if the Stars already didn’t have a near-perfect captain, then I would campaign for #29 to eventually wear the “C”. But, since the captain is ready to return the next time this team is ready to play a game, I guess we will all have to live with Ott being a fabulous 2nd in command.

Anyway, If Ott ever was captain, it might make him more boring. You know, more responsibility leads one to “lead by example” so he might feel compelled to “tone it down”. And if there is one thing we don’t want Ott to do – it is to change his game and tone it down. It is too much fun to see Ott being Ott.
If this gem doesn’t crack you up, I will stop trying:

Just brilliant. And the giggling of Ralph and Razor almost was as good as Ott. Love it.

Another One of the big stories in the NHL right now (not anywhere near as big as the playoffs, mind you) is the pursuit of Jonas Gustavsson, a Swedish goalie talent. And, you know that the Stars need a goalie talent. And, you know that last year, the Stars signed a Swede in the spring time.
So, does 1 + 1 = 2? Not if Toronto can help it. But here is some reading for you on that front:

From the Toronto Star :
It's Fabian Brunnstrom all over again.

Well, not quite. But the pursuit of Farjestad goalie Jonas Gustavsson is causing quite the stir in NHL circles, with a host of clubs attracted by the 6-foot-3 goaltender's terrific play both this season and in the Swedish elite league playoffs.

Dallas, looking for a successor to Marty Turco, is right there, with Swedish scout Johan Garpenlov and goaltending coach Andy Moog having been in contract. The Stars won the Brunnstrom lottery last summer, so clearly the Les Jackson/Brett Hull duo has some expertise when it comes to luring Swedish free agents.
The pitch from the Stars will be that Turco, 34, has one more year left on his contract, and that Gustavsson will have a chance to be the club's No. 2 goalie next season and a shot at being the starter the following year.

The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, are in this game as well, and possibly with a better pitch.

See, with the club having all but given up on Justin Pogge, they can offer the 24-year-old Gustavsson a shot at competing with Vesa Toskala next season. In theory, he could be the Leafs' starter if Toskala doesn't bounce back after hip surgery. Leaf goalie coach Corey Hirsch played in Sweden and has scouted Gustavsson extensively.

And from the Boston Globe today …
The two hottest non-NHL free agents in the market last spring/summer were wingers Fabian Brunnstrom, who was nabbed by the Stars, and Blake Wheeler, Boston's resident rookie 20-goal scorer.

Brunnstrom finished a lackluster 17-12 -29 after potting a hat trick in his debut. However, with the Stars now postseason DNQs (first time since '02), Brunnstrom was at his best at season's end (five-game point streak, 4-2 -6).

As for this spring's hottest non-NHL free agent, expect a lot of talk about Swedish goalie Jonas Gustavsson, believed to be high on the shopping list of both the Maple Leafs and Stars, among others.
A Tuukka Rask-like 6 feet 3 inches, 180 pounds, Gustavsson blocked Farjestad to the SEL championship this season with a league-leading 1.96 goals-against average and .932 save percentage.

Ex-Bruins netminder Andy Moog, now the Stars goalie consultant, has made the trip to Sweden to see the 24-year-old stopper. Ditto for Leafs goalie coach Corey Hirsch, who is a lasting part of Swedish folklore, if somewhat by unfortunate circumstance.

Hirsch was in the Canadian net when Peter Forsberg potted his gold-medal-winning goal in the '94 Olympic Games at Lillehammer, and both Hirsch and Foppa were immortalized on a Swedish postage stamp commemorating the shootout.

How many letters from Stockholm do you suppose were mailed to Hirsch's house? Answer: the same number that were stamped "return to sender." The US missed its chance in 1980 when it won the gold at Lake Placid. Imagine that stunned look on CCCP coach Viktor Tikhonov's face preserved for the ages on a first-class stamp?

Gustavsson reportedly is excited to continue his career over here next season, but is said to be looking for real playing time off the hop (similar to Brunnstrom's '08 demands).

If that's the case, he could have a better shot of getting that in Toronto, where Vesa Toskala struggled this season, than in Dallas, where Marty Turco had only five wins by Thanksgiving but again cracked the 30-win plateau before fizzling out in his last seven outings (1-6-0).

And, thanks to our good friends at youtube, here is a Gustavsson highlight film or two:

Let’s get him.

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