Joe LaPointe of the New York Times has this to say about who is the best power center in the league:
The popular notion from the third round of the Stanley Cup playoffs is that a transition of power is taking place, that Eric Lindros of Philadelphia is surpassing Mark Messier of the New York Rangers as the premier power center in the National Hockey League.
It is true that Big 88 has more goals than Messier, leading him 4-1 in this playoff round and by 10-3 for the tournament. True, Lindros delivers more hard body checks than Messier. True, Lindros attracts more defensive coverage than Messier because his shooting and passing skills are more dangerous.
But it is also true that Lindros overtook Messier at least two years ago, maybe even before that, in individual talent if not in charisma and leadership skills.
Only because their teams are playing against each other so late in a four-round tournament is the shift so apparent to more people who don’t watch the sport on a regular basis.
Habs eye Vigneault
The Montreal Canadiens reportedly have offered their coaching job to Alain Vigneault, most recently coach of the Beaufort Harfangs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Radiomedia, a Quebec radio chain, reported that Vigneault was expected to sign a contract over the weekend with a news conference to be held Monday. Vigneault resigned as coach of the Harfangs last week.
However, a spokesman for the Canadiens said there was nothing to report.
Leafs fire president/GM
The Toronto Maple Leafs, frustrated by another failed attempt at rebuilding, fired president and general manager Cliff Fletcher.
Assistant general manager Bill Watters was moved up to interim GM. Former Buffalo general manager John Muckler was being mentioned as possible full-time replacement.
The club said Fletcher, who had two years left on his contract, was stepping down and that the ownership was “seeking new directions to reposition the Maple Leafs for future success.”
“This has been an amicable resolution and I wish the Maple Leafs every success in the future,” Fletcher said in a statement.
The 61-year-old hockey executive led the Leafs for six years but has watched his club’s record fall in each of the last four seasons.
Coffey is key
Playoff observations from Terry Egan of the Dallas Morning News:
Philadelphia defenseman Janne Niinimaa, just 22, is the next great offensive defenseman in the NHL. … Paul Coffey has been a great offensive defenseman in his career. He’s a certain Hall of Famer. But his career has also been blessed by his association with three men considered to be among the greatest to ever play the game. Coffey played with Wayne Gretzky in Edmonton and won it all. He played with Mario Lemieux in Pittsburgh and won it all. He now plays with Eric Lindros in Philadelphia. Will they win it all?. … Most players, no matter what team, will tell you they wouldn’t mind seeing Detroit captain Steve Yzerman win the Stanley Cup. He is that respected around the league.