Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tanguay to Tampa


RDS.ca reports that Alex Tanguay has agreed to a one-year deal with Tampa Bay.

"Selon ce que RDS a appris, Tanguay s'est entendu sur les termes d'un contrat d'un an avec le Lightning de Tampa Bay.

La formation de Tampa négocie depuis le début du mois de juillet pour tenter d'en arriver à une entente. Vincent Lecavalier et Martin St-Louis l'ont même contacté il ya deux semaines pour le convaincre de se joindre au Lightning.

Tanguay a récolté 16 buts et 25 aides en 50 rencontres avec le Canadien l'an dernier. L'attaquant de 29 ans en sera à sa quatrième équipe dans la LNH. Il a également joué pour l'Avalanche du Colorado et les Flames de Calgary."

Ok, just kidding... roughly translated:

"Done, Alex Tanguay has found a new line. Depending on what RDS has learned, Tanguay has agreed terms on a one-year contract with Tampa Bay.

Tampa had been negotiating since early July to try to reach an agreement. Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis contacted (Tanguay) two weeks ago to convince him to join the Lightning.

Tanguay collected 16 goals and 25 assists in 50 games with the Canadiens last year. The 29 year old sniper will be his fourth team in the NHL. He also played for the Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames."

Tanguay is a bit over-hyped. Once a consistent point-per-game producer, his supporters contend that his decline was due to missing more than thirty games last season and cumbersome defensive responsibilities under Mike Keenan in Calgary. Maybe his game is not in decline, and playing with high calibre line mates may revive his scoring touch in Tampa, but don't count on it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Vancouver Adds to Blueline, Beefs Up Bottomline.

From TSN.

"The Vancouver Canucks have added a lot of depth to their blueline in a short period of time. The team has acquired defencemen Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for defenceman Daniel Rahimi and forward Patrick White. Vancouver also announced on Friday that they have inked veteran defenceman Mathieu Schneider to a contract."

The Sharks have been in desperate need to clear cap space. With little room under the cap and many roster spots to fill a deal was inevitable. However, with the trade it is the Canucks that are now pressed to the cap taking on more than $4.6 million in salary in the trade and adding Schneider as well.

Erhoff will help offset the loss of Mattias Ohlund and will help on the powerplay. Lukowich provides the Canucks with another steady veteran blueliner who has won a Stanley Cup.

"In exchange, the Canucks give up a pair of recent draft picks. Rahimi was selected in the third round in 2006, and played the last two seasons with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL. White was Vancouver's first round pick (25th overall) in 2007, and played last season for the University of Minnesota."



Schneider, now 40, still plays as if he were years younger. He possesses all-around skills and leadership qualities that many teams would love to have.


Vancouver in one felled swoop have turned a potential team weakness into a strength, but with a cap cost that may push some younger players out. San Jose clears the cap room they had to and now have more than $5 million to round out their roster. Everyone wins here folks.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The +/- of the NHL's off-season.

With only a handful of potentially impactful free agents remaining, it seems safe to analyze the franchises that have helped or hurt themselves this off-season. Most teams fall into an incomplete category due to many unknown variables involved. Therefore, we will grade each team by whether they have left us with reason to be enthusiastic about (+) or to question (-) their moves.

We will begin with the Atlantic Division.

Devils:
(+)
New Jersey re-signed their best young centerman, Travis Zajac, and best over-all defenseman, Johnny Oduya, and also kept strong, veteran leader Shanahan. They have maintained plenty of available cap space to add at the trade deadline and in the years to come.

(-) The Devils lost mainstay winger Brian Gionta, and it remains to be seen if Nicklas Bergfors is up to the task of replacing his production. The team also waived goodbye to backup goaltenders Kevin Weekes and Scott Clemmensen, who carried the team last year in Brodeur’s absence. Should Brodeur fall victim to injury again, will Jeff Frazee be ready?

Flyers:
(+) Philadelphia traded for the much hyped blueliner, Chris Pronger. Pronger does improve their defensive core, but at what cost? Philly was unhappy with their goalie performance last season and replaced them with the enigmatic Ray Emery and Brian Boucher.

(-) The cost for Pronger was trading winger Joffrey Lupul and top defensive prospect Luca Sbisa. Pronger is still a good defenseman, but is not the player he was just a few years ago. The Flyers also parted ways with consistent winger Mike Knuble. Adding an aging, declining, suspension magnet in Pronger to a team with a penchant for the untimely penalty may not prove to be wise. To make matters worse, Philly signed Pronger to a long term extension that goes in effect after he turns 35, which means they will be responsible for the full term of the contract when he will be 42 years old. The team will also miss the 50+ goals of Lupul and Knuble, and could suffer a major headache with the explosive Emery should things no go well for him. Although there has been much ado over the addition of Pronger, the Flyers have hurt themselves more than any other team in the Atlantic.

Islanders:
(+) The Isles used the number one overall draft choice to stir excitement in their fan base and reel in ultra-talented center John Tavares. Tavares will be given a shot to play right away with their other young guns Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey. Since their star goalie Rick DiPietro’s health is still in question, the Isles secured the position by adding two potential starters in net with Dwayne Roloson and Marty Biron. Should DiPietro return to form, the team has excellent trade value on their hands come deadline time. Off the ice, the Isles have made positive strides securing a new arena which would stabilize the franchise and provide much needed new revenue streams.

(-) The team has lots of young talent, but the Isles would have benefited by adding a few more veterans to show the young guys how to get it done. With three of their best skaters all under the age of 21, it may take longer than Islander fans would like for this team to make progress in the standings.

Penguins:
(+) The reigning Stanley Cup Champions re-signed the popular, gritty, leader it needed in Bill Guerin and also brought back playoff performer, Ruslan Fedotenko at reduced costs. The team has few holes and has already shifted its off-season focus to re-signing next year’s potential free agents Sergei Gonchar and Kris Letang.

(-) Pittsburgh lost defensemen Rob Scuderi and Hal Gill. Scuderi made the hockey world take notice with his spectacular play in last years playoffs. Scuderi and Gill were paired together as the Pens shutdown tandem. It will vital for newcomer Jay McKee to pick up the slack defensively.

Rangers:
(+) New York made a big splash trading away cap albatross Scott Gomez and prospects for Chris Higgins and prospects. Not only did the Rangers clear cap space, but also received a consistently productive forward in Higgins at a fraction of the cost. In addition they signed uber UFA Marian Gaborik and picked up the versatile Vinny Prospal who can fill a number of roles.

(-) In losing Gomez, Nikolai Zherdev, Nik Antropov and Colton Orr the Rangers begin the new season without their top three scorers and an enforcer skilled enough to play all 82 games. Gaborik is a deadly sniper when healthy, but has been extremely fragile. If he cannot stay in the lineup, the Blueshirts have another bad contract to add to the pile. New York signed Donald Brashear to fill the void left by Orr’s departure, but paid too much for a guy who just won’t be up to the job. The team also has to decide what to do with talented forward Brandon Dubinsky. He has shown flashes of talent, but is looking to get paid as if he has arrived. Higgins, Prospal and Gaborik are a boom or bust trio. Gaborik is the lynchpin. If he cannot get it done, it will be a major setback to the organization.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Jim Balsillie, I'd like to introduce you to Patience. Patience, this is Jim Balsillie"...


Had that introduction been made just a few years ago, Mr. James Laurence Balsillie just might be the owner of a NHL franchise. Let's rewind.

On October 5, 2006, Balsillie made a bid to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins for $185 million from Mario Lemieux and his partners. On December 15, 2006, He withdrew his bid to buy the team after receiving notice from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman that the league would not approve the deal unless he agreed to keep the team in Pittsburgh. Although he did not divulge a plan to move the team, it was widely speculated that Balsillie planned to move the team to Canada. His sudden withdrawal left Lemieux angered and many of the other 29 owners suspicious.

Wasting no time... On May 23, 2007 it was announced that Balsillie had reached an agreement to buy the Nashville Predators from Craig Leipold. In a familiar sounding tone, Balsillie had stated that he would move the Predators to Hamilton, Ontario as soon as the 2007-08 season.

Balsillie questioned Nashville's viability as a hockey market and cited the team's relatively poor attendance record despite their on-ice success. Again acting swiftly, on June 14, 2007 Balsillie started to accept season ticket deposits for the Hamilton Predators through Ticketmaster. By June 19, he was believed to have 12,000 deposits for season tickets in Hamilton, far exceeding the Predators' current season ticket base. His intention was to show the NHL Board of Governors that Hamilton is a more viable NHL market. What Balsillie did show was that he had a lack of respect for the NHL property and trademark by selling tickets for a team he did not own, and in a city in which the franchise did not reside. Needless to say, neither the Commissioner nor the Board of Governors were impressed. Obviously, the attempt to purchase the Predators fell through.

On May 5, 2009, Balsillie made an offer of $212.5 million to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes, conditional on relocation to Hamilton as soon as the 2009-2010 season. Pending bankruptcy proceedings, the Board of Governors unanimously rejected his ownership application.

Since then, Balsillie has called for a probe of his rejection, and most recently, asked the bankruptcy court to to rule his bid valid, essentially requesting the court to overturn the NHL's rejection of his as an owner. He also has set a deadline for the expiration of his bid. Should he face any further delay after September 14, 2009 in his ownership attempt, he will again withdraw...blah, blah, blah...

As each entanglement and argument expands, Balsille further distances himself from the Jeremy Jacobs' and the Ed Snider's and increases his ever growing perception of being the NHL's own version of Al Davis.

In each of the aforementioned ownership bids, Balsillie could have won control of a NHL franchise if he would have applied just a smattering of commitment to "attempting" to make a go of things in their current market. Then, when proved over time, that his franchise could not survive without a change in market, he, in conjunction with the league, could find a suitable alternative... but, then again Jim Balsille had yet to make the acquaintance of patience.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bertuzzi Returns To the Motor City


The Detroit Red Wings added some depth signing forward Todd Bertuzzi to a one-year, $1.5 million contract.

There were a few years, while playing with Markus Naslund in Vancouver, that Bertuzzi was an elite power forward. There were even songs written about him! Then the Steve Moore incident wrecked both Moore and Bertuzzi's careers.

Since then he has floated from team to team, chipping in a few goals, skating with the top lines, but has been a mere shell of his former, raging bull, self.

Detroit, like Montreal, has not had a stellar off-season losing Marian Hossa, Jiri Hudler, Tomas Kopecky and Mikael Samuelsson, replacing them with the likes of Patrick Eaves, Jason Williams and Bertuzzi. Unlike Montreal, the Wings can count on Datsyuk, Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Franzen... the list goes on and on, to pick up the slack!

Bertuzzi, 34, scored 15 goals with the Calgary Flames last season. He played in eight games with the Red Wings in 2006-07. He has played for the New York Islanders, Vancouver Canucks, Florida Panthers, Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames and now the Red Wings twice.
He is a nice addition for the Wings and the right price. He's no Dino Ciccarelli though, I tell ya!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ok, Not Yet!

Well it seems that we may have jumped the gun a bit. Evidently, the NHL's announcement today regarding the Winter Classic was that you can sign up for email *information alerts. You know what happens when one assumes... *INFORMATION INCLUDES - EVENT, MERCHANDISE AND OTHER PROMOTIONAL ACTIVITIES AND OFFERS.

However, we were informed that the Winter Classic Ticket Drawing Registration opens September 15 at 12 noon ET to the general public.

Lloyd: ...What are my chances?
Mary: Not good.
Lloyd: You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?
Mary: I'd say more like one out of a million. [pause]
Lloyd: So you're telling me there's a chance... *YEAH!*

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Les Canadiens: Je suis désolé très!


As a guest on Blueshirt Banter Radio last week, I was asked what team I thought had the best off-season to date. I could not narrow it down to one team. (In fact I don't think I answered at all.)

However, immediately I could name the team that has had the worst off-season. In one of Hockey Plumber's June "NHL Monopoly" segments, I mentioned that Les Canadiens would have to overpay free agents to play in the pressurized, tax-heavy Quebec province, but which players they chose to do so would be vital to the franchises future.

Therefore, if we are to point out a problem, we better have a solution, no? Below is a breakdown, player for player, who was added, and who should have been:

Added: (via trade) A NHL veteran of 9 seasons, Scott Gomez, 29, has never scored 20 goals in one any season, aside from the one year aberration of '05-'06 when he had 33. Incidentally, it was also the only season which he cracked the point-per-game barrier. In addition to taking on Gomez' $7,357,143 salary for the next 5 years, the Habs included forward, Chris Higgins in the deal, who has broken the 20-goal mark every season in the NHL until last year when he played in only 57 games. Who should have been added instead: Marian Hossa, 30, $5,166,666. Hossa was the premier offensive force available on July 1. He is also an elite defensive forward. Even if Montreal would not have been willing to be as financially "creative" with Hossa's 12-year deal as Chicago was, he still would have been less expensive than Gomez; is practically the same age; has been vastly more productive throughout his career and would not have costs Montreal Higgins and prospects.

Added: Mike Cammalleri, 27, has played 4 full seasons in the NHL. He has score more than 30 goals twice and was a point-per-game producer those same two seasons. He will make $6 million per season for the next 5 years. Cammalleri is their least offensive signing, but Montreal paid too much for another smallish forward that was not much of a factor in his only career playoff appearance with Calgary last season. Who should have been added instead: Martin Havlat, 27, $5,000,000. Havlat proved last season that he could stay healthy. He would have given the team a much greater size advantage (6'2", 217 to Cammalleri's 5'9", 185). Havlat is a proven playoff performer and would have saved the Habs $1 million per season.

Added: Brian Gionta, 30, is a consistent 20-goal scorer. He, while playing on a line with Gomez had the one magic season when he scored 48 goals and also was the only year where he score more than (or has even come close to) 80 points. Gionta will make $5 million per for the next 5 seasons... waaay to much for a pint size winger (5'7", 175) now three seasons removed from his one impressive season. Who should have been added instead: Mike Knuble, 37, $2,800,000. Knuble offered consistent production with more goal scoring ability, is an imposing 6'2", 235; defensively responsible and nearly half the cost of Gionta.

Added: The Canadiens also invested more than $3.8 million per for 35 -year old, Jaroslav Spacek, a solid offensive minded blueliner. Spacek is solid... but that is it. The Canadiens again paid too much and received an aging player who aside from one good run in Edmonton, has completely disappeared in the postseason. Who should have been added instead: Jay Bouwmeester, 25, $6,680,000. This is a no-brainer. Bouwmeester was the elite blueliner available and is ten years younger than Spacek. If Montreal was going to make a trade, it should have been for the rights to JayBo.

Added: $2.25 million for 34-year old defenseman Hal Gill. Gill is another solid defender. He is huge at 6'7", 250, but is now 34 and has always limited in mobility. Who should have been added instead: Rob Scuderi, 30, 3,400,000. The Canadiens simply chose to sign the wrong blueliner from Pittsburgh. Scuderi is a selfless, tireless defender who seems to get better each year. His game 6 "save" in this past years' Final was proof of his unyielding style.

All five of Montreal's additions are good players. None of the five can be expected to be elite producers, yet all of them can, for certain, be expected to cost a total of $24,407,143 against the cap for the next 5 seasons.
Conversely, the alternative, bigger, better, younger and more productive lineup including Hossa, Havlat, Knuble, Bouwmeester and Scuderi would represent a total of $23,046,666 against the cap. I do realize that had all of the aforementioned been signed, Montreal would probably had to pay them more... but even so, I would be much more impressed with the latter investment.

Friday, August 14, 2009

2010 Winter Classic Ticket Lottery?


"The National Hockey League will make an announcement regarding important information for all fans interested in the 2010 Bridgestone/NHL Winter Classic® on Monday, Aug. 17 approximately at Noon ET. The announcement will be posted at www.nhl.com/winterclassic.

The NHL's annual outdoor game will return on New Year's Day with the Boston Bruins hosting the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park -- home of the Boston Red Sox -- in the 2010 Bridgestone/NHL Winter Classic®. The Eastern Conference rivals will face-off at 1 p.m., ET in the Classic, which received the SportsBusiness Journal "Sports Event of the Year" award for its inaugural edition in 2008.

...Last season's 2009 Bridgestone/NHL Winter Classic attracted 5.6 million North American TV viewers and gathered more than 750,000 visitors on NHL.com. The 2009 event at Chicago's Wrigley Field drew 41,818 to the historic ballpark, with demand for tickets exceeding 240,000." nhl.com

Undoubtedly, the announcement will be pertaining a ticket lottery. Bruins fans, get your lucky Wacey Rabbit's foot!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Plumber on Blueshirt Banter Radio Tonight


The Hockey Plumber will be a guest tonight on Blueshirt Banter Radio, home of the only weekly radio show about the New York Rangers.


The show begins at 7 pm EST. I will be on about 7:30 pm to talk a little bit about what is going on around the rest of the NHL.


To listen click on the link below:




The number to call is 646-478-4692.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Zherdev To KHL

The KHL has found a new niche player.

Not that long ago, the KHL was a great option for those not yet ready or able to play in the NHL. The now deceased, New York Rangers draft pick Alexei Cherepanov was a prime example. It also has served as a nearer-to-home, big money, farewell tour for overage stars like Jaromir Jagr and more recently, Sergei Fedorov.

Yet the lure of tax free, high dollar, fringe benefit-laden contracts for Viktor Kozlov, Jiri Hudler and now Nikolai Zherdev has seen the KHL not only compete, but win battles for still emerging talent.

In the salary cap era NHL, 20-goal scorers are nice, but are not worth breaking the bank for... particularly if said players do not possess a complete game. The KHL will continue to win bids for the services of these players as long as they pay what amounts to Alex Ovechkin money, but in return receive the play of, well, Nik Zherdev.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Someone Else Has Already Said it Best


As Derek was quoted through Danny in American History X: "...someone else has already said it best. So if you can't top it, steal from them and go out strong. So I picked a guy I thought you'd like..."

Damian Cristodero of the St. Pete Times updates us on the Tampa Bay Lightning's ownership battle. No matter how much we all enjoy criticizing Commissioner Bettman, he has handled this situation with a firm and decisive hand.

James Mirtle, who is always fantastic with breaking down the business side of hockey, wrote two pieces on our other favorite ongoing ownership mess. First, regarding Jim Balsillie's improbable purchase bid, and then how Glendale may be better off if the Coyotes leave town.

Attention all cabbies: If your fare is Patrick Kane do not, I repeat, DO NOT mess with his change!

Sources tell TSN the Toronto Maple Leafs are about to deal goaltender Justin Pogge to the Anaheim Ducks.

It was finally Sidney Crosby's time with the Cup. Seth Rorabaugh of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Empty Netters chronicles Sid's visit with the Navy and local hospital as well as some footage when "the Kid" played some road hockey goaltender.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Coyotes Kool-Aid?


The Phoenix Coyotes will be put up for auction on September 10th and then we will have a new ownership group to settle this mess, right? OH, NO!

Let's take a look at the score card.


  1. The current ownership cannot get anything right.

  2. The NHL has approved only one of the three bids by new ownership groups.

  3. Creditors favor a bid that the NHL unanimously rejected.

The current ownership cannot get anything right. U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Redfield T. Baum must conduct a contempt hearing for current Coyotes "owner" Jerry Moyes, his wife, and their attorneys for “willfully violating” a confidentiality order.

Why? "Attorneys for Moyes posted confidential documents to the public docket last week. The documents were later removed, but Glendale sought the contempt order on Monday, saying the city was “absolutely outraged” by the release of the information." -AP

Why is this a big deal to the city of Glendale where the Coyotes play? The documents showed that the bid submitted by Jerry Reinsdorf had included a negotiated special taxing district to be created near the arena that would pay the new owners as much as $23 million next year. Additionally, if after five years, the team was still losing money, Glendale would have to pay $15 million for each year of losses or allow the team to be sold and moved without penalty. The Arizona Cardinals, for one, are opposed to this special taxing district, citing it "as an unfair and improper transfer of funds from the Cardinals' fans to Mr. Reinsdorf's group" ... clearly the release of these documents is an unending headache.


The NHL has approved one of the three bids by new ownership groups. Reinsdorf's bid was the only one to gain approval by the NHL's Board of Governors. The Board, most certainly, finds this bid most appealing because Reinsdorf has a proven, successful track record as owner of Chicago's Bulls and White Sox, and was the only bid to focus keeping the franchise solely in Arizona. Thanks to Moyes' attorneys, we are all "magically" privy to how Reinsdorf is attempting to make it happen in Glendale.


Creditors favor a bid that the NHL unanimously rejected. Team owner Jerry Moyes opposes the Reinsdorf deal, which would give him little or no money. (duh) He supports a proposal by Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie to buy the team for $212.5 million and move it to Hamilton, Ontario. That deal would give Moyes about $100 million. The NHL has unanimously rejected Balsillie as an owner. Creditors like Balsillies group, as the most lucrative bid means more debt settled!

The AP reports that Judge Baum "ruled Wednesday that all bids for the financially ailing Coyotes, those to keep the team in Arizona or to move it elsewhere, would be accepted for the Sept. 10 auction. He specifically said the US$212.5-million offer from Balsillie, the Canadian billionaire who twice before tried to move an American team to Canada, would be considered."

Basillie's "Make it 7" group (if you have not been following along, moving the team to Hamilton would make 7 teams in Canada) is already celebrating:

"Balsillie spokesman Bill Walker praised the judge's for creating a "fair and transparent" sales process. 'It's the best outcome for creditors and for the future of the franchise,' Walker said. 'We think Jim Balsillie's bid will emerge the winner because it offers the best financial terms and the best market in Hamilton, where hockey fans are thirsting for this team.'

However (this is the part where I give my "all-important" opinion), regardless of the outcome of the auction, this court does not have the authority to force the NHL's Board of Governors to accept the "winning" bidder as owners.

The third bidding group has a hybrid scheme to keep the team in Glendale, but they propose to play some "home games" in Canada... and their bid amount is low, so we give them no chance in this.

If Reinsdorf is awarded the franchise, Glendale is forced to take it on the chin and faces community backlash to the nth degree. If Balsillie wins, the court must invalidate the team's arena lease. Glendale, therefore, takes it on the chin again and Balsillie must gain NHL BoG approval.

The League may or may not be opposed to Balsillie as an owner himself, despite his checkered and somewhat shady past with prior ventures. Yet, I believe the bigger hurdle is the location, or in this case, relocation itself.

If by some miracle, Balsillie wins at auction, gets the judge to release them from the arena lease obligations and gains approval from the league... there is still a little matter of pacifying, not 1, but 2 existing franchises in Buffalo and Toronto who would suffer market infringement from a Hamilton team. A whole new battle begins.

To appease both markets, most likely a relocation fee would be paid to both franchises, which would then be expected to be distributed, proportionately, with the other 27 league franchises. A fee large enough to satisfy all interested parties probably would be too costly, when added to the purchase price, for Hamilton to be profitable for quite some time and the league has another Phoenix on its hands.

If hockey fans in Hamilton are "thirsting for this team," as Bill Walker claims, they better enjoy "drinkin' the Kool-Aid" now because its not gonna happen. There are no winners here. Oh nooo, indeed!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Russia Announces 2010 Olympic Camp Roster


The pregame locker room pep talk goes something like this: "...ok boys, you better lace 'em up extra tight, because we are playin' Russia tonight.

Back in my day, when we played the USSR squads, these boys were a mystery. An enigma. Now you guys have played with or against most of 'em... and that, well, you know what a nightmare they are. They are gonna come at you hard, and fast. They zip around the rink like machines... cycling, spinning, passing the puck twice before you can even find it..."

Owen Wilson pops his head in the door, interjecting: "Okay, so the scariest environment imaginable. Thanks. That’s all you gotta say, scariest environment imaginable."

"Well... um... yeah, ok... keep yer head up and let's hope for the best!"

Seriously what could be more terrifying to a goaltender than watching a breakout by Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk speed toward you? Pinching in behind them from the blueline are Sergei Gonchar and Andrei Markov for support!

Better yet, when the aforementioned line's shift is over, Pavel Datsyuk, Alexander Semin and Alexei Kovalev hop over the boards! Ouch!

The Russian Olympic hockey team should consider the opening ceremonies as a coronation. If Canada, the US, Sweeden or another team take gold from this squad, it will be Miracle on Ice II.

Canada and the US announced their camp invitees about a month ago. Although they will send out formidable teams, there just won't be a collection of names, from either squad, out on the ice, who will strike fear and trepidation into the hearts and minds of opponents that Russia certainly will. They won the last World tourney... this team will be even more talented.

It will be Armageddon out there, with Alexander the Gr8 riding the pale horse straight to the top of the medal stand.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Will Heatley finally get shipped?


Agent Kujan once said: "A rumor is not a rumor that doesn't die."

Bruce Garrioch writes in the Ottawa Sun that it "isn't dead yet." Sun Media sources claim that the Senators have had talks with San Jose regarding Heatley. The Sharks reportedly would like to move forward Jonathan Cheechoo, and has been offered as part of a package, along with defenseman Christian Erhoff and a first-round selection.

Yet the Senators are not interested in Cheechoo, so there would require a third team in the deal to complete the trade. "A source said that a third team could be the Habs, but wasn’t sure what San Jose could acquire from Montreal to satisfy the Senators’ needs to deal Heatley.

It should be noted the Habs, Sharks and Senators are all up against the $56.8-million US salary cap." Well, yeah... Which would lead me to ask:

Just why would the Sharks want to acquire Heatley?

The Sharks are strapped by the cap as it is. They have less than $600k available and are in need of adding a few more players just to fill out a full roster. Even if they unload Cheechoo and Erhoff as reported, they are still taking on an additional $1.4 million with Heatley's cap hit.

Even if the cap wasn't such an issue, do the Sharks really need another forward with a questionable commitment to backchecking? Do they really want to take on a guy that has demanded a trade now from 2 franchises? ... and be on the hook for $7.5 million for the next 5 years ... and worry about his production declining as it has the past two seasons ... and have to cut more payroll and other productive players?

But, that's just me thinking aloud. Have at it San Jose!

Nothing would kill all of the Heatley hype faster than a deal actually getting done. Nothing perhaps aside from Keyser Söze.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bobby Clarke: Revisionist History

Bobby Clarke hopes you forget.

He hopes you forget his childish, public, diatribe against Eric Lindros and his parents. He hopes you forget how he handled replacing former Flyer coach Roger Neilson while on medical leave. “Roger got cancer - that wasn't our fault. We didn't tell him to go get cancer. It's too bad that he did. We feel sorry for him, but then he went goofy on us.” (Yeah, I know what you are thinking, that IS an actual quote.)

…and now he hopes you forget the state of the NHL before the lockout.

Alan Bass of the Hockey News recently published an article entitled, "Backchecking: Clarke continues legacy in front office", in which Clarke, commenting on how his team approaches staying competitive, was quoted:

“ ‘We were allowed to spend the money, we always tried to win,’ Clarke said. ‘We didn’t do what Pittsburgh did; lose seven years in a row so they could get good. They did it twice, in fact. They went through six or seven different owners. We’ve had one owner.’

Clarke finds the strategies of some current teams appalling when considering the way other organizations have built competitive teams. ’It’s somewhat embarrassing that three of the last teams (in the 2009 playoffs) missed the playoffs six or seven years in a row; Washington, Chicago, and Pittsburgh,’ he said. ‘Now they’re good and the teams that try to win all the time get penalized. Our philosophy has never changed since 1967.’ ”

Don’t get me wrong, rivalries are great for any game, but the facts, like many of Clarke’s antics, make Bobby look ridiculous.

Prior to the ’04-’05 lockout, the NHL had clearly divided into the haves and the have-nots. Never was this more evident than the ’03-’04 season when 7 of the NHL’s 30 teams had payrolls in excess of $60 million (Flyers $65.1m) and 11 had payrolls of less than $35 million (Penguins $26.6m). In fact, had it not been for the complete ineptitude of the NY Rangers that season, the Atlantic Division standings would have read as a straight roll call of descending payrolls.

The losing “seven years in a row so they (Pittsburgh) could get good” Clarke must have been referring to, are the ’99-’00 to ’06-’07 seasons, when the Flyers nearly doubled the payroll of the Penguins in that span.

Typical of the situation for many teams in the former, dichotomous structure, Philadelphia enjoyed massive revenue advantages in the form of favorable local television and arena deals. Owner Ed Snider is also the Chairman of Comcast Spectacor, a Philadelphia-based sports and entertainment company which owns the Philadelphia Flyers, the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA, the Philadelphia Phantoms of the minor AHL, the Wachovia Center, the Wachovia Spectrum, the regional sports network Comcast SportsNet and Global Spectrum, an international facilities management company.

Pittsburgh meanwhile, was mired in a financial disaster, created by the former ownership group, who had tried to spend like Ed Snider, but lacked the one important commodity, known as cash to do it successfully. The Penguins also toiled in the oldest arena in the league, with no promise of a new one.

Clarke was only echoing the sentiments of the aforementioned Flyers owner, Ed Snider. In 2008, after being eliminated by the Penguins in the Conference Final, Snider was quoted:

"Let's face it, you get rewarded for being the worst team in the league, so Pittsburgh has all these great players for being lousy for so many years," Snider said Monday during a rare locker-room visit. "That part I don't like so much. I've never been in favor of the draft the way it is."

Honestly, what team hopes to lose, nevermind struggle for survival for multiple years?

Did the Steinbrenner’s ever attack the Tampa Bay Rays for “tanking it to get better”? No, because even they are not that ridiculous.

It was MLB-like, situational differences between the franchises like the Flyers and Penguins that made the lockout necessary. Bobby Clarke (and Ed Snider too) just hopes you forget the details.