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Tom Kostopoulos Jersey Penguins

WILKES-BARRE — With the professional hockey season about to start, Steve Oleksy went from being at home to playing in a place where he can feel at home.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were in the middle of the AHL exhibition season when they signed Olesky to a professional tryout agreement.

Oleksy returns to a team where he played during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons and served as alternate captain.

After passing on other options, Oleksy decided “to come back to the organization that did a lot for me, invested a lot in me and did a lot for my career,” he said during an interview following a practice at Toyota SportsPlex last week. “To come back and get back to an organization like that was very attractive to me.”

When he joined the team, the 33-year-old Oleksy became the oldest player on a young roster. He realizes that comes with a responsibility.

Oleksy hopes to have learned from watching how Tom Kostopoulos handled helping young players while serving as the team’s captain and most experienced player.

“Guys who came through like Bryan Rust and Jake Guentzel, a large part of that success has to do with a guy like Tom Kostopoulos,” said Oleksy, who also played 11 games with the parent Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016-17. “I got to learn from him a little bit earlier in my career and see the role he played in development. Back then, I was learning. Now, I’m trying to translate what I learned into real life and teach the younger guys what I watched him teach.”

Closer to the end of his career than the beginning, Oleksy said his role “has changed a lot,” accordingly.

Oleksy has three goals and 17 assists in 73 career NHL games. He has 22 goals and 92 assists while going plus-52 with 784 penalty minutes in 411 AHL games.

Whether he would have a chance to add to those totals was put in doubt with an off-ice health issue.

“I was enjoying my summer, taking care of myself with skating and workouts,” Oleksy said. “A little over a month and a half ago, I had my appendix removed, so I was laid up.”

Oleksy had gotten back on the ice, skating and “getting ready to go” when he heard from the Penguins.

One way or another, he was going to be involved in the sport.

Preparing from life after his playing days, Oleksy has been helping train younger players and running a summer league that includes several of his current teammates.

“One of my big things throughout my playing career, whether it was my first year or my ninth or 10th year, was getting ready for life after hockey,” he said.

That can wait.

Oleksy joined the Penguins for the end of the exhibition season. He did not dress in the regular-season opener, but is available as the Penguins schedule heats up with three games in three nights beginning Friday at Lehigh Valley.

The Penguins play their home opener Saturday at 7:05 p.m. against the Utica Comets.

Sergei Zubov Jersey Penguins

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — No Dallas Star ever wore No. 56 before Sergei Zubov. Now, no Dallas Star will ever wear No. 56 after Zubov.

On Monday morning, the Stars announced the franchise will retire Zubov’s number next season, making him the sixth number to hang in the rafters at the American Airlines Center. Zubov played the final 12 seasons of his career in Dallas and was a key member of the 1998-99 Stanley Cup championship team.

Zubov finished his career as the franchise’s all-time leader among defensemen in games played, goals, assists, points, plus-minus, power-play goals, game-winning goals, shots on goal and time on ice. He will be the first defenseman in franchise history to have his number retired.

Zubov will also be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Nov. 18 in Toronto, one of two former Stars who will be enshrined.

“There was nothing easier than making this decision,” Stars CEO Jim Lites said. “It’s simple enough.”

Zubov joins Neal Broten (No. 7), Bill Goldsworthy (No. 8), Mike Modano (No. 9), Bill Masterton (No. 19) and Jere Lehtinen (No. 26) as the only retired numbers in Stars franchise history. Zubov is the third member of the Cup-winning team to have his number retired, joining Modano (ceremony in March 2014) and Lehtinen (ceremony in November 2017).

Lites said the franchise always intended to retire Zubov’s number, but waited to give him the proper time and circumstances to be recognized.

“And then with Zubie getting inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, it seemed kind of crazy that we hadn’t done it yet,” Lites said. “Once that happened, we said ‘We’ve got to do this right away,’ because Zubie should be honored effectively with our team as well as internationally.”

The Stars are expected to pick a date for the ceremony when next season’s schedule is released in June.

Zubov was not only the best defensemen in franchise history, but also one of the league’s best of all time despite never winning a Norris Trophy. No Russian defenseman has more NHL assists than Zubov. Among all defensemen, Zubov ranked 19th in league history in points and 16th in assists. Of the 15 players in front of him, only one (Gary Suter) is not in the Hall of Fame.

“He was always a really dynamic offensive player, but over the years, he just became this consummate professional, did things the right way, became a great defender, penalty killer,” Lites said. “He wasn’t a heavy player, but he was always in the right spot, never in the wrong spot.”

Zubov was a wizard on the power play, piloting three different teams (Rangers in 1993-94, Penguins in 1995-96 and Stars in 1997-98) that finished the season with the best power play in the league. In those three seasons, Zubov had 98 combined assists on the power play alone.

The Stars acquired Zubov in one of the best trades in franchise history, sending Kevin Hatcher to Pittsburgh at the 1996 draft for Zubov. The trade was one for one. Hatcher played five more seasons in the league for three different teams, while a 26-year-old Zubov began his decade of dominance in Dallas.

“We were worried he didn’t want to come and we had heard that, that he wanted to go back to New York and he was pretty Russian, he enjoyed the Russian community in New York City,” Lites said. “When we acquired him in ’96, I remember Bob Gainey worked really hard to get Sergei comfortable about coming to Dallas. We were a relatively new market at the time.”

Zubov is back with the organization, helping general manager Jim Nill in a consulting role. He watched last week’s win over Colorado in the Stars’ management suite and attended the team’s practice two days later with Nill. Zubov was available after he was let go by HC Sochi in the KHL in October.

“Whatever role that Jim and Sergei work out that’s right for Sergei and for the team is great by us,” Lites said. “I think he’s terrific. Sees the game, understands it, relates well to players. With our really significant young defensemen, Sergei is going to be great for John Klingberg, great for Miro Heiskanen, great for Esa Lindell and hopefully Thomas Harley. He can grow with the team and help us in an area that’s really significant.”

Whatever comes of Zubov’s career in management, his playing career will be immortalized at American Airlines Center.

Matthew DeFranks. Matt covers the Stars for SportsDay, and previously covered the Florida Panthers for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. He’s also covered college football, the Miami Marlins, the Kansas City Royals and the Los Angeles Angels for a variety of outlets. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame.

[email protected] /mdefranks @MDeFranks
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Ron Stackhouse Jersey Penguins

As the Pittsburgh Penguins tried to grapple with a quick playoff exit this season, Kris Letang and Mike Sullivan became entrenched on opposite sides of a divide that seemed new, dramatic and important.

Sullivan stood at a podium after his team was swept by the New York Islanders and declared high-risk teams can’t win in the playoffs. Letang stood in front of his locker and insisted he wouldn’t neuter his game in an effort to stamp out mistakes.

How will this chasm ever be bridged?

The answer: Like it always has.

The push and pull between coaches insisting on steady, responsible play on the blue line and offensive defensemen preferring a more aggressive approach is as old as Ron Stackhouse in Pittsburgh and even older elsewhere.

In most cases, compromises are made, and the disagreement is worked out. There’s a good chance that could happen with Letang and the Penguins.

Letang’s borderline-petulant stance that he won’t change his game was well reported on the day the Penguins cleaned out their lockers, but in a less headline-grabbing remark, the 31-year-old defenseman also said he’s committed to offseason improvement.

“I’m just going to go back and try to improve my game by training and getting better in certain areas,” he said. “That’s how I approach every summer, trying to fix little things and trying to improve them.”

In some cases, of course, there can be no meeting of the minds. Teams decide the bad now outweighs the good and move on. There’s a more-than-zero chance that’s the way the Letang situation plays out this summer.

As Penguins management mulls that possibility, there is an interesting set of pros and cons that must be considered.

Criticism of Letang is valid.

Did his turnover cost the Penguins Game 1 against the Islanders in overtime? Yes. Did his ineffective handling of a loose-puck situation near the offensive blue line give the Islanders an important goal in Game 4? Absolutely.

But that criticism is also very anecdotal.

A data-driven look at the larger sample size of the entire season paints a fuller picture of the impact he makes.

When it comes to preventing goals, Letang’s presence didn’t make much of a difference for the Penguins this season. The team’s goals-against rate per 60 minutes at five on five was practically identical, right around 2.25, whether he was on the ice or not.

The team’s goals-for rate was a different story. When Letang was on the ice, it was 3.55. When he wasn’t, it plummeted to 2.29. It’s no exaggeration to suggest that when it comes to creating offense, Letang is the straw that stirs the drink for the Penguins.

For the first five months of this season, Letang was showing that routinely as he wrote a fairly remarkable comeback story.

In April of 2017, he had serious neck surgery. The recovery was longer and more arduous than he expected, and a subpar season followed. This year, Letang put those memories behind him. He tied a career high with 16 goals, recorded 56 points and will appear on more than a few Norris Trophy ballots.

The story was ruined by two developments, though.

First, he suffered an upper-body injury when he was tackled to the ice by Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere during the Feb. 23 outdoor game and missed 15 of the last 20 games of the regular season.

“That was pretty bad timing for an injury,” Letang said. “I felt I was having a great year. But these things happen. You have to keep your head up and keep working and try to get better. Personally, I think it was a pretty down moment in my year when I got that injury.”

Second, there was the ugly, abrupt ending provided by the Islanders that kick-started all this risk-management discussion in the first place.

“I think you learn from everything. You win or you lose, there’s always something to be learned,” Letang said. “It was an up-and-down season. It was not a smooth ride. But we’re pretty disappointed with the end result.”

Rod Buskas Jersey Penguins

Eyes were fixated on Feb. 19, 1988, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, as Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers entered the game tied with Gordie Howe for the league record in assists (1,049) and looked to the game versus the Pittsburgh Penguins to surpass his hero.

Given the perceived rivalry between Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky and Mario “Le Magnifique” Lemieux, breaking the assist record in front of an Edmonton crowd and “adversary” at the same time would be a nice addition to capturing the record.

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On the other side of the ice, Mario Lemieux was having a career year and looked to widen the point gap between him and Gretzky in the NHL’s scoring race.

It appeared that Lemieux was going to dethrone the reigning seven-season champion. Lemieux held a 15-point lead heading into the game and used a 12 game stretch where Gretzky was on the shelf with a sprained knee, to bolster his lead in the standings.

Lemieux, who was not immune to injuries, hoped an annual bout with bronchitis didn’t derail his attempt to win the title. He had faced the illness the previous two seasons (1986 and 1987) but quit smoking in the summer of 1987 and hoped it would increase his chances of keeping himself healthy.

Paul Coffey was facing his old team for the first time since he was traded to Pittsburgh in a seven-player deal on Nov. 24, 1987. Coffey won three Stanley Cups with the Oilers and was a key figure in helping Gretzky maintain his vice-like grip to the scoring title. The Penguins looked to the future hall of fame Defenceman to lead them to the postseason and provide Lemieux with more opportunities to create offensive output.

With all the makings of a classic contest, what was the eventual outcome of the game?

The Results
The Penguins lost the game 7-3 and both Lemieux and Gretzky left game in the 1st period with injuries.

Gretzky took an errant Rod Buskas stick to the face, which caused a scratch to his left eye and some bleeding to develop behind the eye.

Lemieux took a puck to the face from a shot that deflected off Oilers goaltender Grant Fuhr’s stick and cut his nose. Unlike Gretzky, Lemieux did not miss any games and managed to register an assist in the game.

Coffey failed to earn any points but managed to take 8 PIM (holding, tripping, high-sticking, cross-checking) and registered two shots on goal.

The Conclusion
The injury delayed Gretzky’s capture of the Howe record for 13 days. He broke the record on March 1, 1988, in a game versus the Los Angeles Kings. It took Howe 1,767 games to set the record and Gretzky (in his ninth season) just 678 games to tie the record and 680 games to break it. Gretzky also achieved the feat in 17 fewer seasons then it took Howe to set the record.

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Lemieux claimed his first of six Art Ross Trophies with 168 points (70 goals and 98 assists) in 77 games played and finished 19 points ahead of Gretzky and his 149 points (40 goals and 109 assists) in 64 games played. Lemieux also added his first Hart Trophy and earned his second All-Star Game MVP of his career.

Rob Scuderi Jersey Penguins

Here are three things we learned Friday during Blackhawks practice in advance of Saturday’s game against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

1. Olli Maatta and Adam Boqvist have a lot in common.
Olli Maatta may not be an expert on Adam Boqvist, but their striking similarities give Maatta valuable insight into what it’s like to be a teenager trying to make it in the NHL.

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Both are defensemen — that’s the obvious one. There are many more, though. Both were first-round draft picks. Both played junior hockey for the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights, and both made their NHL debuts at age 19.

Their birthdays are even a week apart, though Maatta is six years older. Boqvist was born on Aug. 15, 2000, and Maatta on Aug. 22, 1994.

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“No wonder he’s such a good guy,” Maatta cracked.

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While Boqvist spent a month in the American Hockey League before joining the Hawks on Oct. 31, Maatta made the Penguins out of training camp in 2013.

“Every day was a new day,” Maatta recalled. “You walk into it not really knowing what to expect. A little excited, a little nervous coming into training camp. Then you have the rookie tournament, now you have the best players from juniors. (Asking yourself) am I good enough now? How am I going to do now?”

Blackhawks 5, Canucks 2
Blackhawks 5, Canucks 2
Blackhawks right wing Alex DeBrincat and teammate Dylan Strome celebrate after DeBrincat scored in the first period against the Canucks. (Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune)

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Maatta said the key to competing against men almost twice his age who often had 30 to 40 pounds on him was confidence. That isn’t something Boqvist lacks, but doubt can creep in when bad games inevitably follow good ones.

“He’s good enough to play in the league,” Maatta said. “It’s just mentally he has to have the confidence to (overcome) that. That’s the thing every day. You go through ups and downs. I found that you can’t get too low when you go through those bad games and you can’t get too high when you have the good games. Hockey’s most importantly a mental game. You have to have the confidence to play the game at this level.”

Just as Boqvist has veterans Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Calvin de Haan and Maatta to show him the ropes, Maatta had Kris Letang, Rob Scuderi and Brooks Orpik to help him understand he wasn’t the first to make mistakes, to struggle during his first season and to fight through uncertainty that he belonged in the NHL.

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“I had a bunch of older guys around me who had been around the league for a long time,” Maatta said. “You think you’re the only one going through it at that point, but everybody goes through it. It’s just having that confidence. It happens. You’ve just got to park it and leave it behind and get on with your game.”

2. Connor Murphy is getting closer to returning.
Defenseman Connor Murphy, who has been out since Oct. 22 with a groin injury, began skating this week and could be ready when he’s eligible to come off long-term injured reserve Nov. 16 against the Predators.

It’s apparent the Hawks miss Murphy, who has had trouble staying healthy the last two seasons. Since the start of last season, the Hawks are 29-20-9 with Murphy in the lineup and 12-21-6 without him.

“He got a couple days of skating in, but we want to make sure that he’s ready to go,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “We haven’t had much of him this year. It’s (only been) like five or six games, so he’s a pretty big piece of our team and our (defensive) corps. Our team performance is correlated to when he’s in the lineup, so we want to get him in and get him in for the rest of the year.”

3. Dominik Kubalik won’t be a healthy scratch against the Penguins.
Colliton didn’t announce his lineup for Saturday’s game against the Penguins in Pittsburgh, but it sounds like Dominik Kubalik will return from a one-game absence as a healthy scratch.

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Colliton said Friday that if the Hawks had been in a playoff game Thursday night against the Canucks, Kubalik probably would have been in the lineup. With a long season ahead and Kubalik’s play dipping, Colliton felt it was a good time to give him a break.

“He probably wasn’t surprised,” Colliton said. “But my pitch to him was: ‘Hey, you were one of our best players in the first 10 games. Let’s get you back to that as quick as we can because we could use the help.’ We need everyone.”

Dominik Kubalik dreamed of reaching the NHL. Little did he know his dream would come true in his native Czech Republic. »
Kubalik, who has six points (three goals, three assists) in 14 games, never played more than 57 regular-season games while playing professionally in Europe, which was a factor in Colliton’s decision to sit him. But the physical part is just one aspect.

“It’s probably more mental,” Colliton said. “It’s new to be in an 80-game season. We’re not that deep into it yet, but just the load of games. We finally had that road trip and a cluster of games, and that can wear on young guys who aren’t used to that.

“First of all, it’s the best league in the world, so you’re under stress all the time. And certainly the team not having success, that wears on young players. So we want to take that off him a little bit and remind him what a good player he is and what he needs to do to help us. And I think he will.”

Rob Brown Jersey Penguins

Throughout the 2019-20 NHL season will take an occasional look at some stunning numbers around the NHL. Today we look at Connor McDavid‘s incredible start for the Edmonton Oilers.

Connor McDavid single handedly destroyed the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night, tallying five points in the Oilers’ 6-3 win to continue their surprising start, improving their record to 6-1-0.

It is one of the best starts in franchise history and, to the surprise of exactly no one, is being almost completely driven by the team’s two-headed monster of McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

Both players are great, but McDavid is the one we are going to focus on here because, well, he just continues to be a real life cheat code on the ice when it comes to producing offense.

Just seven games into the season he is already well on his way to a fourth consecutive 100-point season, something that only 13 players in the history of the league have done. No one has done it since 1993, and the majority of the instances came during the 1980s. McDavid, truly, is a player from another time.

With his five points on Wednesday (in only 18 minutes of ice time!) he is already up to 17 points in the Oilers’ first seven games of the season. The only player in the league within two points of him is Draisaitl as the two continue to dunk all over their opponents.

Let’s put this start into some perspective with some stunning numbers.

[Related: Another 100-point season would put McDavid in exclusive club]

• He is the first player since Mario Lemieux during the 1995-96 season to record at least 17 points in the first seven games of a season. Before that, you have to go back to Wayne Gretzky during the 1993-94 season. The only players to do it dating back to the 1979-80 season are McDavid, Lemieux, Gretzky, Bernie Nicholls (while playing alongside Gretzky), Kevin Stevens, Rob Brown (the latter two while playing next to Lemieux), Peter Stastny, Marcel Dionne, Brent Sutter, and Mike Bossy.

To add to that, just look at how this start compares to some of Gretzky’s best seasons in Edmonton…

Sportsnet Stats

Most Points in #LetsGoOilers History Through First 7 Games of a Season:

Gretzky (1984-85) – 21
Gretzky (1986-87) – 21
Gretzky (1983-84) – 20
McDavid (2019-20) – 17
Gretzky (1982-83) – 17
Gretzky (1987-88) – 17

12:37 AM – Oct 18, 2019
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When you are doing something in 2019 that Gretzky used to do in the 80s you are doing something truly spectacular.

• McDavid has 17 points. The Oilers have 29 goals. That means McDavid has scored or assisted on 59 percent of the team’s goals, an absurd number even for McDavid (who is usually around 50 percent for the Oilers throughout his career). He has also been on the ice for 21 of the team’s goals (72 percent!) while the Oilers have only surrendered seven (all situations). When he is NOT on the ice the Oilers have been outscored 12-8 by their opponents. The only game he did not record a point in so far this season was the Oilers’ only loss (3-1 in against Chicago on Tuesday night).

• Just for reference, here is how McDavid has started each season in his career through seven games.

2015-16: 6 points — finished with 48 points in 45 games
2016-17: 12 points — finished with 100 points in 82 games
2017-18: 8 points — finished with 108 points in 82 games
2018-19: 13 points — finished with 116 points in 78 games

• He is currently on a 199-point pace for the season, a mark that only Gretzky and Lemieux and have ever reached in NHL history. Let’s be honest, he is not going to maintain that pace over a full season, simply because this isn’t 1985 anymore and the NHL just isn’t built for those sort of numbers. But with 17 points in seven games, if he simply maintained a 1.32 point per game average over the remaining 75 games that would still put him at 116 points again. If he scored at the 1.48 pace he played at a year ago that would put him at 128 points this season. Assuming he stays healthy, somewhere in the neighborhood of 116 and 128 points seems like a realistic possibility.

Lamar Odom Jersey Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers have had some big names throughout their franchise history, guys like Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and Kobe Bryant. One player who will go under-appreciated in Lakers history is Lamar Odom.

Odom is not only one of the more gifted power forwards the Lakers have ever had, but one of the best role players in league history. While it seems a bit strange to call Odom a “role player” due to his ability to change the game, that’s what he was. The difference being that he was so great at being one that he played at a star level many nights.
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Odom came to the Lakers in the huge Shaq trade alongside Caron Butler and Brian Grant.

LO was simply a mismatch and one of the first true ones. Nowadays we have 6″10-6″11 forwards like KD and Giannis who can handle the ball like guards. When Odom was playing he was one of the only 6″10 forwards playing point while playing power forward. He was the true meaning of versatility. Odom was able to handle it, pass it, shoot it, and go to the basket.

His numbers don’t tell the story. He was a huge reason the Lakers had success. Odom was a key component to two NBA championships for Los Angeles. The Lakers had a dominant three-year run, winning two titles in that stretch, and Odom was in the center of it.

Odom was never an All-Star, strangely enough, but played like one many nights. In those two championship seasons he averaged roughly 11 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists. He did this while coming off the bench in most of those games.

Without his big play in some series like the 2009 quarterfinals against Utah who knows if the Lakers would’ve had enough to win it all. In that series he averaged 17.8 points and 11 rebounds. His play gave Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur trouble all series.

Sure Odom could’ve averaged closer to 20 points throughout his career if he really wanted to, but he sacrificed for the greater of his team. He did that even with the Clippers and the Heat.

Before joining the Lakers he averaged 17 points multiple times cause he had to. When he got to the Lakers he didn’t need to. He had Kobe taking over the scoring each night, and they had Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum down the road also.

Odom was rewarded for his stellar bench play in 2011 when he won Sixth Man of the Year. That season he averaged 14.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 3 assists.

That award was the only individual one of his career in the NBA but it signifies everything he was. A team player that contributed in every way possible despite being better than most of the starters. (He also got All-Rookie First Team, but you get the point).
Next: 4 Bold takes for the Lakers this season

Lamar Odom will go down as one of the most beloved players in Lakers history and he’s as talented as any non Hall-of-Famer that they’ve had.

Pau Gasol Jersey Lakers

Depois de ser eliminado na segunda rodada dos playoffs, pelo segundo ano seguido, o Los Angeles Lakers deve promover algumas mudanças no elenco para a próxima temporada. A primeira delas deverá ser a saída do ala-pivô espanhol Pau Gasol, que chegou ao time angelino há quatro anos.

O jogador, que já teve desentendimentos com o astro do Lakers, Kobe Bryant, e que não repete na pós-temporada o mesmo desempenho da temporada regular, caiu em desgraça com os fãs do time angelino. A gota d’ água foi no jogo 5 contra o Oklahoma City Thunder, em que cometeu um erro decisivo no final do duelo.

Neste artigo vou mostrar o que o Lakers pode conseguir em troca de Gasol e quais os times que mais se interessariam pelo jogador. Antes, vou fazer um retrospecto da trajetória do espanhol no time angelino. A saída dele da equipe parece mesmo uma questão de tempo…

A chegada de Gasol ao Lakers

No dia 1º de fevereiro de 2008, Los Angeles Lakers e Memphis Grizzlies fizeram uma das trocas mais controversas da história da NBA. O time angelino recebeu o ala-pivô espanhol Pau Gasol e uma escolha de segunda rodada do draft de 2010 e cedeu ao Grizzlies o pivô Kwame Brown, os armadores Javaris Crittenton e Aaron McKie, os direitos sobre o pivô espanhol Marc Gasol (irmão mais novo de Pau) e duas escolhas de primeira rodada (2008 e 2010).

Na época, o GM do Grizzlies, Chris Wallace, foi duramente criticado por todos que acompanham a NBA (exceto os admiradores do Lakers). Ele entregou de bandeja o melhor jogador da equipe e o time de Los Angeles voltou a ter um esquadrão. Então, a chegada de Pau Gasol era o que faltava para o time comandado por Phil Jackson se tornar um contender. O resultado da troca foi imediato. O time angelino chegou à final daquele ano, mas foi derrotado pelo Boston Celtics. Nas duas temporadas seguintes, não deu outra: o Lakers foi bicampeão.

Os problemas extra-quadra e o fraco desempenho nos playoffs de 2011

De 2009 a 2011, Gasol foi selecionado para o All-Star Game. Em 2009 e 2010, ele fez parte do terceiro time ideal da temporada. Em 2011 foi escolhido para o segundo time ideal daquele ano. Tudo corria bem em Los Angeles, até começarem os playoffs da última temporada, quando começaram a pipocar rumores sobre problemas extra-quadra envolvendo Gasol, e que estariam causando uma crise no elenco. Separação da namorada, briga com Kobe Bryant. E saiu na imprensa também que o então companheiro de Gasol, o ala-armador Shannon Brown, teria passado uma noite com a namorada do espanhol. Que baixaria…

As fofocas acabaram atrapalhando o desempenho do ala-pivô, que foi muito mal na série contra o Dallas Mavericks. O Lakers foi varrido e Gasol duramente criticado por suas fracas atuações no confronto. Na temporada regular, ele teve médias de 18.8 pontos, 10.2 rebotes e 53% de aproveitamento nos arremessos de quadra. Nos playoffs, elas caíram para 13.1 pontos, 7.8 rebotes e 42% de aproveitamento nos arremessos de quadra.
Fim do namoro de Pau Gasol com Sylvia López Castro teria causado crise no Lakers em 2011

Suposto fim do namoro de Pau Gasol com Sylvia López Castro teria causado crise no Lakers em 2011

A quase ida para o Houston Rockets

Na offseason, Gasol esteve perto de deixar a equipe angelina. O Lakers fechou uma troca tripla com New Orleans Hornets e Houston Rockets para receber o armador Chris Paul. Na negociação, o jogador espanhol iria para o time texano. No entanto, o comissário David Stern foi pressionado pelos donos das outras equipes, furiosos com a negociação, e cancelou a troca. A justificativa dos cartolas foi que a NBA, como proprietária do Hornets, não poderia autorizar uma troca que favorecesse um grande mercado como Los Angeles. Dias depois, Paul foi negociado com o Clippers…

No decorrer da temporada, a imprensa norte-americana divulgou alguns rumores envolvendo a saída de Gasol do Lakers. O Chicago Bulls foi apontado como um provável interessado no jogador. Em fevereiro, Gasol reconheceu que sua saída do Lakers parecia inevitável. “Há rumores todos os dias. Vários times estão ligando e parece que só estão esperando chegar a proposta certa para fechar a troca”, afirmou o jogador, na época. Veio a trade deadline e nada. Ficou confirmado que o espanhol seguiria no Lakers até o fim da temporada.

Novo fracasso nos playoffs

Na pós-temporada deste ano, o Lakers foi novamente eliminado na segunda rodada. Caiu em uma série de cinco jogo contra o jovem time do Oklahoma City Thunder. A torcida do time angelino, que ainda não se esqueceu da varrida para o Mavs, voltou a criticar Gasol. A principal queixa é quanto à falta de gana do jogador. O apelido de “Gasoft” entrou em cena novamente. E as médias dele voltaram a cair. Na temporada regular, suas médias de 17.4 pontos, 10.4 rebotes e 50.1% de aproveitamento nos arremessos de quadra caíram para 12.5 pontos, 9.5 rebotes e 43.4% de aproveitamento nos arremessos de quadra.

Possíveis cenários de troca

Com o fim da temporada do Lakers, a saída de Gasol voltou a ser comentada. É consenso entre aqueles que acompanham a NBA que ele não tem mais clima para continuar no time angelino por tudo que foi citado acima. O melhor garrafão da Liga (na minha opinião) está perto de ser desfeito, o ciclo do espanhol em Los Angeles está chegando ao fim… Acredito que a direção da franquia também esteja pensando assim.

O desafio agora vai ser trocar o jogador, prestes a completar 32 anos, e seu contrato de 38,3 milhões de dólares válido pelas próximas duas temporadas. Para onde será que vai o espanhol? Muito provavelmente o Lakers vai querer, entre outras coisas, um jogador da mesma posição. Rockets, Bulls, Hawks, Magic ou Knicks? Algum outro time?

Trade 1 – Lakers e Rockets

Los Angeles Lakers cede Pau Gasol (19 milhões de dólares) + Steve Blake (4 milhões de dólares)
Houston Rockets cede Luis Scola (9,4 milhões de dólares) + Kyle Lowry (5,75 milhões de dólares) + escolha de primeira rodada no draft + considerações em dinheiro

Trade 2 – Lakers e Bulls

Los Angeles Lakers cede Pau Gasol (19 milhões de dólares)
Chicago Bulls cede Carlos Boozer (15 milhões de dólares) + Kyle Korver (5 milhões de dólares)

Trade 3 – Lakers e Hawks

Los Angeles Lakers cede Pau Gasol (19 milhões de dólares) + Josh McRoberts (3,1 milhões de dólares)
Atlanta Hawks cede Josh Smith (13,2 milhões de dólares) + Marvin Williams (8,3 milhões de dólares)

Trade 4 – Lakers e Magic

Los Angeles Lakers cede Pau Gasol (19 milhões de dólares) + Andrew Bynum (16,5 milhões de dólares) + Steve Blake (4 milhões de dólares)
Orlando Magic cede Dwight Howard (19,2 milhões de dólares) + Hedo Turkoglu (11,4 milhões de dólares) + Jameer Nelson (7,8 milhões de dólares) + considerações em dinheiro

Trade 5 – Lakers e Knicks

Los Angeles Lakers cede Pau Gasol (19 milhões de dólares)
New York Knicks cede Amare Stoudemire (19,9 milhões de dólares) + considerações em dinheiro

Zelmo Beaty Jersey Lakers

An ABA pioneer and Lakers alumnus, Zelmo Beaty was posthumously recognized for his playing career on Sept. 9, 2016, when he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

At 6-foot-9 and 225 pounds, Beaty may have been undersized at the center spot, but he was one of the most successful players in basketball at the time, earning five All-Star honors in both the NBA and ABA.

Drafted third overall in 1962 out Prairie View A&M, Beaty made an immediate impact for the St. Louis Hawks, which earned him an All-Rookie selection.

After seven years with the Hawks, including the last in Atlanta, “Big Z” decided to cross over to the ABA and sat the 1969-70 season due to league rules at the time.

Planning to play for the Los Angeles Stars, Beaty spent the time working at a bank in Southern California before the team was moved to Utah for his first season in the ABA.

The Stars had gone just 43-41 the previous season, but under the direction of Beaty and head coach Bill Sharman — a fellow Hall of Famer who went on to guide the Lakers the 1972 NBA championship — Utah ended up winning the ABA title in Beaty’s first year.

Beaty averaged 23.2 points and 14.6 rebounds that postseason, earning himself the honor of ABA Playoffs MVP.

The Hillister, Tex., native wrapped up his ABA career after four seasons in Utah, which also saw him serve as President of the league’s Players Association. He claimed at the time that ABA players were talented enough to compete in the NBA, and the leagues merged on Aug. 5, 1976 — just one year after his retirement.

After not getting the opportunity to play in L.A. with the Stars, he was finally able to with the Lakers in 1974-75, where he was reunited with Sharman.

Despite a roster that featured fellow Hall of Famer Gail Goodrich, as well as future head coach Pat Riley and future Lakers broadcaster Stu Lantz, that team went just 30-52. Beaty, who averaged 5.5 points and 4.7 rebounds in his lone season in purple and gold, retired shortly after.

He averaged 17.1 points and 10.9 rebounds while shooting 49.4 percent in his 12-year career in both the ABA and NBA, while earning the distinction of being one of the first centers to implement a face-up game. A physical player down low, he led the ABA in fouls in both 1962-63 and ’65-66.

He also led the ABA in field goal percentage in ’70-71 (55.4) and ranks fourth in league history for his career (53.6). He placed among the ABA or NBA’s top 10 in scoring three times and in rebounding four times.

“Zelmo should be included when we talk about great centers,” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said in a recorded segment at Beaty’s Hall of Fame induction. “He was a star.”

Shortly after retirement, he briefly coached the ABA’s Virginia Squires in 1976, but they went just 9-33.

Beaty was joined in the 2016 Hall of Fame class by Shaquille O’Neal, giving the Lakers 30 alums enshrined in Springfield, Mass.

Beaty — who was also inducted in the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014 — died on Aug. 27, 2013 at the age of 73.

Gary Payton Jersey Lakers

For as much success the Lakers have seen over their long and storied existence, they’ve also seen plenty of failures.

The 2004 L.A. squad is considered one of the franchise’s greatest disappointments. Former Laker Gary Payton went on to explain on Fox Sport’s The Herd why that team just never worked:

“The big reason was Karl Malone got hurt. We were [18-3] and everybody was talking about we were going to get the Bulls’ record and stuff like that. But then people don’t get it. We had a kid, Kobe Bryant, he was a kid. He had just gotten in trouble. He had a mindset of, ‘I think I’m going to jail. I don’t know what’s going to happen.’ He was going back and forth to Denver, we didn’t have him a lot. Then, all of a sudden, Shaq and the organization were having problems.”

For those that remember, the Lakers won a whopping 56 games that year, before being absolutely destroyed by the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals… in just five games.

“Karl Malone missed [40] games, Shaquille O’Neal missed [15], and then we had Kobe who missed [17].” Payton continued. “I’m the only guy there who plays the whole 82, and we’ve got a group of guys coming off the bench who didn’t know who they were. We had Fisher, we had Fox, we had Horace Grant, and we put it together. So when we put it together and got to the playoffs, we made a run. San Antonio was the [No. 3] team in the league that year; we beat them in [six] games. And then we got to the Finals and everything didn’t click after that. Karl tried to come back, blew up the knee, and then Kobe and everybody went on to their own thing. We let a good team in Detroit, who was rolling at the time, beat us 4-1.”

As it would turn out, that run would be the Lakers’ last. Shaq was traded to Miami that summer and Payton was evidently traded before the end of the next season.

Dynasties never last, as we’ve seen throughout the course of NBA History. While they had their run, the Shaq & Kobe Laker era came to an abrupt end. Still, had they won those Finals, things might’ve played out very differently for the rest of the league.