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Quick Takes: Canes Previewed at PHT, "Grabo" The Perfect Fit in Washington

New division is too tough for Carolina? More Tolchinsky news and Grabovski signing different from Semin's last year.

Both Grabovski and Semin were late summer signings, one signing was generally praised, one was not.
Both Grabovski and Semin were late summer signings, one signing was generally praised, one was not.
John E. Sokolowski-US PRESSWIRE

Saturday was Carolina Hurricanes Day at Pro Hockey Talk and they had plenty of Hurricanes information to look over.

First up, James O'Brien looked at who the Canes will face in their new division and notes that things will be a bit different than they were in the Southeast. Can Canes weather the division change?

O'Brien also points out that this season is an important one for Kirk Muller. How long of a leash will the coach have if things start out slowly? This season pivotal for Muller.

Ryan Dadoun posted an article about the changes on the Carolina blueline. Komisarek and Sekera look to bolster Carolina defense.

Do Carolina's hopes rest on the shoulders of Cam Ward? Carolina's fate.

Dadoun brought up the importance of the long term signings of Alexander Semin, Jordan Staal, and Jeff Skinner. Three important signings for Carolina.


Tolchinsky overcomes adversity to earn his contract

There was a very interesting recent article on Backhand Shelf written by Cam Charron about some of the inner workings and background of Sergey Tolchinsky. (This article was already linked in the comments of the previous article, but it is worth another mention here. )

You would think that just playing hockey would be more than enough for 17 and 18 year-olds to worry about, but there is so much more to it than that. Players even have to worry about the location of their junior team.

The Canadian Hockey League circuit is difficult to understand for casual fans. It’s split up into the Western, Ontario, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey Leagues. Tolchinsky’s Greyhounds, in the OHL, are far up north, a long drive away from their nearest division rivals. It’s not uncommon for a big-name player to hold out and avoid committing to the organization that drafted them in an attempt to be traded to another team. First-round picks at the most recent NHL draft Nathan MacKinnon and Max Domi did exactly that, moving from Baie-Comeau to Halifax and Kingston to London respectively.

The author notes that Tolchinsky had to change agents, at least partly because of the above. Add this drama to the adversity faced after not being selected at the entry draft and the young Russian has already overcome a lot to get to where he is now.

Does anyone want to bet against him making it to the NHL?


Grabovski signing this year and Semin signing last summer are similar, but different

After reading all of the hoopla over the signing of Mikhail Grabovski by the Washington Capitals late last week, I could not help but remember the response when the Hurricanes signed Alex Semin last summer.

Both players signed after a long delay and much deliberation, but one signing was heralded as a "perfect fit" while the other was labeled as anything from a pending disaster to a huge gamble.

Grabovski is an excellent hockey player and he fits a need for the Capitals. On paper, it looks like a win.

But the center comes with a bit of baggage.

He is not necessarily known for being a great teammate, has been sued for assault after being involved in a fight in Vancouver, and has burned bridges with his previous team after making detrimental comments during an interview over the offseason after the Leafs bought him out.

He left Montreal with plenty of drama as well.

The fun would soon end. On March 7, 2008, Guy Carbonneau changed everything. He benched Grabovski against the Phoenix Coyotes. Grabovski went ballistic and refused to get on the team bus after the game. When his teammates pleaded with him to get on for fear of missing their flight, Grabovski walked past Carbonneau and gave him a nasty stare, then suddenly turned sharply towards team president Pierre Boivin and told him "This was my last flight with the Canadiens." And with that, Grabovski missed the flight, forever changing Canadiens’ history.

Read more at Habs Inside Out.

Alexander Semin is also an excellent hockey player and he came with a lot less baggage than Grabovski. Yet pundits, both mainstream and otherwise, were tripping over each other to take potshots at the Russian and the Canes.

From Jeremy Roenick calling him a "locker room cancer" to Damien Cox stating that the Canes had blown any chance to make the playoffs with the signing, critics had plenty to say. You would think the Hurricanes had just signed public enemy number one in the NHL.

But Semin has always been quiet compared to Grabovski, even as many put the blame of the Caps repeated postseason failures on his shoulders.

Grabovski blamed a poor season on the fact that he was put on lower lines and called his former coach a "fucking idiot". A coach, who by the way, led the Anaheim Ducks to a franchise record number of wins one season, as well as a Stanley Cup Championship.

Despite his excuses, Grabovski had the third highest amount of playing time on the Leafs among forwards during the playoffs last year yet finished with just two assists and had a team worst (+/-)-10.

How long before teammate extraordinaire, Troy Brouwer calls him out?

Yes indeed, "Grabo" is probably a perfect fit for the Caps.