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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blackhawk Purge Continues: Kris Versteeg To the Leafs

The reigning Cup champs got some much needed cap relief when they traded with Atlanta a few weeks ago, but they weren't done. TSN is reporting the Kris Versteeg has been sent to Toronto:
The Chicago Blackhawks are sending forward Kris Versteeg to Toronto in a five-player deal.

He had 44 points in 79 regular-season games last season.

Versteeg added 14 points in the post-season for the Stanley Cup champions.

The Maple Leafs give up forwards Viktor Stalberg, Chris DiDomenico and Philippe Paradis in the deal.
Toronto also gets the rights to left-winger Bill Sweatt.
 Chicago is now more than $8 million under the cap, but with only 13 players signed to the active roster.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

From Russia With... Reservations

The Russian scare.  It was talked about more at this year's NHL Entry Draft than any before it.  There were a miriad of high end Russian players available with inarguable first round talent, but many teams passed them over, or at least, bumped them down on their boards due to uncertainty regarding thier availability or desire to play in North America.

Then, after the draft came this little nugget via twitter from Rogers Sportsnet:
Maxim Afinogenov turns down contract offer from Thrashers; word is he's leaning toward going to the KHL.
Despite growing financial troubles, and a competition level that is recognized as inferior to that of the NHL, the Russian based KHL is a very real threat to the NHL in luring many European players, particularly Russians because of their willingness to grossly overpay for their services.

Consider Afinogenov's situation.  He basically bombed in Buffalo, and only landed his gig with Atlanta last season via a training camp tryout.  The Thrashers offered him a one-year, bargain rate, no risk deal and he responded with maybe his best season to date.  Afinogenov becomes a UFA on July 1, and he should be set to strike a big money deal, right?  Well, maybe not so fast.  A NHL club would look at his history with the Sabres and factor that in negotiations.

Conversely, in the KHL, he will be viewed as an opportunity to bring "home" a well known name, and Afinogenov will be offered what will easily amount to 3x what he would make staying in North America...if not more... AND it's all tax free.  It would be tough to find fault in his reasoning, if Afinogenov were to chose to bolt for the money, no?

It is equally difficult to find fault in the reasoning of any GM who is hesitant to select Stanislav Galiev over Quinten Howden, as playing for Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg may not have the same appeal to the Oak Bank, Manitoba native... even if it is for a zillion tax-free rubels.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

2010 NHL Draft. Picks and Trades of Note

Everyone knew who the top two selections of the draft would be.  The mystery was in what order that Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin would be taken. We all expected trade activty, and there were moves made... just not as many as were rumored.

Once Hall was selected, the draft went on auto-pilot for exactly one pick.  The story the rest of the way unfolded as highly ranked prospects began to slip and the trades began to happen.

Prince George RW, Brett Connolly "fell" a bit to number six, making GM Steve Yzerman happy.

Defenseman Cam Fowler, once thought to be a contender for a top three selection wasn't taken until twelth by Anaheim.

Upon the completion of the first round, the Kirill Kabanov watch began. Kabanov was considered by many to be as talented as any player in the draft.  However, teams began to consider him a major risk after he appeared to fall in to disfavor with both his QMJHL team and the Russian National team.  Rumors began to circulate about his commintment to playing in North America and that his agent had dropped him.  Kabanov was taken 65th overall by the Islanders.  They may have ended up with one of the best players in the draft or a simple head case, but the Isles have little to lose.

The trades began with Ottawa sending the 16th overall selection to St. Louis in exchange for defenseman David Rundblad, the Blues' first-round pick in 2009 (17th overall).

The Pittsburgh Penguins made a splash when they acquired the rights to defenseman Dan Hamhuis from the Philadelphia Flyers for a 2011 third-round pick.

The Florida Panthers traded defenseman Keith Ballard to Vancouver in a four-player deal that included the Canucks’ first-round pick. Ballard and forward Victor Oreskovich were sent to the Canucks for forwards Steve Bernier, Michael Grabner and the 25th overall selection.

The Anaheim Ducks traded right wing Mike Brown to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a fifth-round draft pick.

The Carolina Hurricanes made two second day deals acquiring center Riley Nash from Edmonton and defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti from the New York Rangers.

... and finally, CSN Philly reported: "According to league sources, the Flyers have a verbal agreement in place with the San Jose Sharks to fork over a seventh-round pick next season if they can sign San Jose’s Evgeni Nabokov before July 1, when he becomes an unrestricted free agent."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bird Swap: Dustin Byfuglien Going From Hawks to Thrashers

The Chicago Blackhawks were/are in a serious bind with regard to the salary cap.  It was a certainty that they had to move players... and it appears that the dealing has begun.  TSN reports:
Dustin Byfuglien, one of the breakout players for the Stanley Cup-winning Blackhawks last season, is in the process of being traded to the Thrashers, pending a trade call.

Byfuglien, along with Brent Sopel, Ben Eager and Akim Aliu, will be headed to Atlanta in exchange for the 24th overall pick at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the 54th pick, Marty Reasoner and Jeremy Morin.

The 25-year-old forward had 17 goals and 17 assists in 82 games with the Hawks last season.
At 6'4, 257 pounds, the Minnesota native will bring his thunderous size and strength to the struggling Thrashers franchise.
 So the Blackhawks unload a total of $5,333,333 in cap money (Byfuglien and Sopel), a pending RFA (Eager), and a prospect who was sent down to the ECHL (Aliu).

In return, they take back $1,150,000 in Reasoners's cap figure; which becomes a net cap savings of $4, 183,333.  In addition, they acquire one of Atlanta's top prospects, if not their top prospect in Morin (pictured) and a first and second round pick.

After the trade, and today's announcement of the cap increase to $59,400,000, the Blackhawks now have $5,985,330 in cap space to do what ever they like with...

After his playoff performance, Dustin Byfuglien's value was at an all-time high.  This trade clearly reflects that the Hawks were getting big value in return for their big body.  We say the recent champions did very well.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Off-Season of Surprises Continues: Sharks Say Goodbye to Nabokov

In our off-season overview of the San Jose Sharks we wondered if the team was ready to move on from long-time goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.  It looks like we got our answer today.

The San Jose Sharks will have another starting goaltender next season.

San Jose Executive VP and General Manager Doug Wilson met with longtime starter
Evgeni Nabokov on Tuesday and told him the team will not offer a contract when the soon-to-be 35-year-old goaltender becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Wilson said the decision to look elsewhere for goaltending was simply a matter of allocating money under the salary cap.

"We would like to thank Nabby for the time he has spent in San Jose," Wilson said during a news conference. "Nabby has been a big part of this team for the past 10 seasons and played an important role is our successes. This decision boils down to a dedication of dollars in a salary cap system and under this system, teams can't keep everyone. We are excited about the goaltenders coming up through our system and we will also keep an eye on assets that may become available in the coming weeks." -
The Sharks may rely on Thomas Greiss, or one of the many goalies stockpiled in their system including their top AHL backstop Alex Stalock, or Tyson Sexsmith... or Harri Sateri... or Carter Hutton... or Thomas Heemskerk.  San Jose has been a virtual goaltending factory with Nabokov, Miikka Kiprusoff and Vesa Toskala all spending time in the Sharks crease. 

If their latest crop only is a collection of cool names, San Jose also has the opportunity to pursue other free agent options like Chris Mason, Dan Ellis, Jose Theodore, Ray Emery, Marty Turco, Marty Biron, the aforemention, former Shark Toskala, among others.

In short, it probably signals that Wilson would like to retain some, if not all of their other pending free agents like Patrick Marleau, Patrick Marleau, RFAs Joe Pavelski, Devin Setoguchi, face off gurus, Scott Nichol and Manny Malhotra, as well as stay at home blueliner Niclas Wallin; and that bringing back Nabokov would have hindered that project.

Montreal Retains Tomas Plekanec

The Habs avoid becoming the Hab-nots today after inking their 2009-'10 scoring leader to a new deal.

CBC Sports -

Pierre Gauthier re-signed centre Tomas Plekanec Tuesday, less than a week after the Montreal Canadiens general manager infuriated some of the team's fanbase by trading playoff hero Jaroslav Halak.

Plekanec, who would have been one of the more sought-after unrestricted free agents come July 1, agreed to a deal believed to be six years and $30 million US.

The 27-year-old Czech led the Canadiens in regular-season scoring in 2009-10 with 70 points on 25 goals and 45 assists.
This deal was a must for the Canadiens.  After moving Halak, the Habs had plenty of cap space to bring back their top centre.  There just would be no explaining it if they didn't... so, just sign right here Tomas. And here, and here... and initial here.  Done deal.

Next up for Montreal.  Call Lou Lamoriello to see if he would like to continue his "Back to the Future" movement with taking Scott Gomez and his awful contract off their hands.

Big Deal For Boston: How You Like Them Apples Nathan Horton?

The Boston Bruins have acquired former Florida Panthers forward Nathan Horton according to Hockey Insider Darren Dreger of TSN.
General Manager Dale Tallon has begun his rebuilding of the Florida Panthers.

The club sent forwards Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell to the Boston Bruins for defenceman Dennis Wideman, the 15th overall pick in this year's NHL Entry Draft and a third round pick in 2011.
At the top of his game, Horton is a big-bodied, 30+ goal scorer with an attitude.  Other times he is categorized as an underachiever with a questionable work ethic.  Which Horton will the Bruins get?

Florida acquires a solid, if not unspectacular, puck moving blueliner in Wideman; and now has 5 selections in the first 50 picks of this years' Entry Draft.  (Numbers 3, 15, 33, 36 and 50 overall)

Public Enemy #1 Re-signs With Pittsburgh

Matt Cooke is "that guy".  You know, that guy on the team that you are glad to have because it means he won't be injuring any of your team's top players!

At least that is how he is perceived by many fans around the league... but not in Pittsburgh.  To Penguins fans, Cooke is a hard charging, energy player that can do it all.  He scores 15 goals per season, kills penalties as well as anyone, gets some power play time, is a furious fore and back-checker, will sacrifice his body to block shots, throw a few hits; and, on occasion, maybe kinda-sorta will cross the line on a blind side hit in the heat of the moment.

Today, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported:

Left winger Matt Cooke has agreed to a three-year contract with the Penguins.

His annual salary-cap hit will be $1.8 million.

Cooke, a fixture on the Penguins' third line and their penalty-killing unit, would have become an unrestricted free agent if not re-signed by July 1.
 It appears that Penguins management views Cooke much like their fanbase does. The Pittsburgh front office stated that Cooke was a priority re-signing for them and they treated it that way.  Thusfar, he is the first of the Penguins' roster players to agree to a new deal.

Crosby may have been a driving force to get this deal done.  I can't imaging how Mario Lemieux would react to seeing his franchise lying on the ice after Matt Cooke of the Columbus Blue Jackets just nailed him along the dasher...

Monday, June 21, 2010

The 2010 NHL Awards. Presented by Hockey Plumber!

It's that time of year again.  the NHL Awards... from Las Vegas, Nevada.  It's only a matter of time until the Hockey Plumber gets to actually vote on these things (the Professional Hockey Writers' Association has been pounding on our door all season to join them!), but we figured we'd jump the gun and give our vote this season anyway!

Hart Memorial Trophy
Given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association in all NHL cities at the end of the regular season.

Sidney Crosby - Penguins, Alexander Ovechkin - Capitals, Henrik Sedin - Canucks

If we had a vote: Crosby. Sid the Kid shared the League lead in goals, was tied for second overall in scoring and did it in a season where he absolutely had to deliver.  Malkin had an "off year" and the Pens were defending Cup champions.  Probably Crosby's best season to date.

Prediction: Sidney Crosby.  We believe that the PHWA sees it the same way we do.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Countdown to July 1: NHL Salary Cap Numbers- Detroit Red Wings

As the July 1 Free Agency period is quickly approaching, we continue our look at the current cap status of each team, and breakdown what they have, or don't have in terms of room to maneuver this off-season.

Next up: the 2008 Cup Champions.

Detroit Red Wings
Roster players under contract for 2010-2011*

Pavel Datsyuk $6.7m, Henrik Zetterberg $6.083m, Johan Franzen $3.954m, Valterri Filppula, $3.0m, Jiri Hudler $2.875m, Daniel Cleary $2.8m, Todd Bertuzzi, $1.937m, Tomas Holmstrom $1.875m, Kris Draper $1.583m, Mattias Ritola $516k

Niklas Lidstrom $6.2m, Brian Rafalski $6.0m, Brad Stuart $3.75m, Niklas Kronwall $3.0m, Jonathan Ericsson $900k, Jakub Kindl $883k

Chris Osgood $1.416m, Jimmy Howard $716k

Roster Players Under Contract: 18
2010-2011 Cap: $56,800,000
2010-2011 Payroll: $

Cap Space:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Busy Day In Nashville: Predators Trade Captain Jason Arnott

As reported by CBC
The Nashville Predators are in need of a new captain.

General manager David Poile on Saturday dealt Jason Arnott to New Jersey, where the veteran centre played from 1998 to 2002. Forward Matt Halischuk is heading to Nashville along with the Devils' second-round pick in the upcoming draft in Los Angeles.

Earlier Saturday, the Predators sent Dan Hamhuis and a 2011 conditional draft pick to the Philadelphia Flyers for fellow defenceman Ryan Parent.
Arnott heads back to New Jersey where he enjoyed some of the best seasons of his career.  This Devils pick up a player they enjoyed success with and his $4.5 million cap number.  This move is similar to when they brought back Brian Rolston last season.

Halischuk was a 4th-round draft pick of the Devils in 2007, and has spent most of his professional career playing with the Devil's AHL affiliate.  He played in 20 games with New Jersey last season scoring a goal and an assist in limited action.
It's tough to get a good read on this transaction. The Devils pick up an expensive retread for another season, while the Preds get cap room, but they had just traded their highest profile impending free agent in Hamhuis.
This move might indicate that Hamhuis was looking for a significant pay hike that Nashville was just not willing to offer even if they had the cap room.

UFA-To-Be Dan Hamuis Traded to Flyers

The Predators traded pending UFA defenseman Dan Hamhuis and a conditional 7th round pick in the 2011 Draft, to the Philadelphia Flyers for defenseman Ryan Parent.

Hamhuis will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. According to TSN:

"If Philadelphia does not sign him prior to the 2010-11 season, Nashville will transfer its own 7th round pick in 2011 to Philadelphia. Also, if Philadelphia trades the rights to Hamhuis prior to July 1, the conditional pick will not be transferred."
"Our intention is to get him signed prior to [July 1], and that is what our aim is at this point in time," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said. "The sooner that we get going on trying to get this done, the better."
Hamhuis played at least 80 regular-season games in each of his first five seasons.

"Dan Hamhuis is a good all-around defenseman," Holmgren said to "He's a guy who can play lots of minutes and he can play in a lot of different situations, from power play to killing penalties. He is another athlete we'd like to add to our team to continue to improve our defense."
Philadelphia and Nashville have become preferred trading partners (which have mostly benefited the Flyers), as evidenced by the fact that Parent was originally drafted by, you guessed it... the Nashville Predators in 2005.  He was shipped to the Flyers in the infamous Peter Forsberg trade.

In 2007, Nashville traded pending UFA's Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell to the Flyers for their own 1st-round pick (No. 23 overall) that came to the Flyers as part of the aforementioned Peter Forsberg deal.

This one seems to be a great deal for both teams.  Nashville gets someone they value for a player they were not going to be able to re-sign.  Philadelphia gets a shot to sign someone who will upgrade their defensive corps.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Countdown to July 1: NHL Salary Cap Numbers- Pittsburgh Penguins

As the July 1 Free Agency period is quickly approaching, we continue our look at the current cap status of each team, and breakdown what they have, or don't have in terms of room to maneuver this off-season.

Next up: the 2009 Cup Champions.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Roster players under contract for 2010-2011*

Sidney Crosby $8.7m, Evgeni Malkin $8.7m, Jordan Staal $4.0m, Chris Kunitz $3.725m, Pascal Dupuis $1.4m, Max Talbot $1.05m, Eric Tangradi $845k, Michael Rupp $825k, Eric Godard $750, Tyler Kennedy $725k, Craig Adams $550k 

Brooks Orpik $3.75m, Kris Letang $3.5m, Alex Goligoski $1.833m

Marc-Andre Fleury $5.0m, Brent Johnson $600k

Roster Players Under Contract: 16
2010-2011 Cap: $56,800,000
2010-2011 Payroll: $

Cap Space:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Jaroslav Halak Traded to St. Louis

Did you feel that?  The earth shook, didn't it? - The Montreal Canadiens dealt the goaltender who led them through their incredible postseason run, as the club has traded Jaroslav Halak to the St. Louis Blues.
In return, the Habs receive forward Lars Eller and forward Ian Schultz.
Any time one gets the idea in their head that they know what the Canadiens are going to do... in comes the curveball!  After Carey Price's very underwhelming performance last season, Halak rode in to save the season and then went onto help stone both the Capitals and Penguins.

With both goaltenders as RFAs, the Habs had to keep Halak, right?  Wrong.

The return for Halak:

Lars Eller, forward, 6'1" 192lbs., was drafted 13th overall by the Blues in 2007.  He played in seven games last season for the Blues and scored twice.  He was named to the AHL All-Rookie team last season while playing for Peoria.

Ian Schultz, forward, 6'2" 205lbs., was drafted 87th overall by St. Louis in 2008.  He played his fourth season in Junior with Calgary of the WHL last season, scoring twenty-four goals in seventy games, and collected one hundred-fifty penalty minutes.

It is speculated that Halak's salary demands were in the $5 million range, but it is now clear that Montreal did not see him as valuable as Price... for the price.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Gary Bettman's Expansion Dream Come True: Blake Geoffrion

The story begins interestingly enough:
(AP)—The Nashville Predators have tapped into one of the NHL’s legendary families, signing the grandson of Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion to an entry-level contract.
Blake Geoffrion, son of former NHLer Danny Geoffrion, grandson of the aforementioned Hall of Famer, Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion, and great-grandson of another Hall of Famer, Howie Morenz, was signed by Nashville.  Fantastic bloodlines, no?

Yet, the most amazing part of this story...

Blake Geoffrion signed his deal Tuesday at the elementary school he attended in Nashville...
He is a hometown product!  A Nashville Predator FROM Nashville, Tennessee!  You better believe that the Commissioner will point to the NHL's expansion as a contributing factor to the homegrown products skating in the NHL.

This Geoffrion was born in Plantation, Florida, in Broward County... just north of Miami... home of the expansion Panthers, and later moved to Nashville. Regardless of the family ties, the NHL can boast of next generation players born in Florida, high schooling in Tennessee and making it to the League.  So what if it isn't a Nashville kid who entered into a Predators' sponsored youth program, blah, blah, blah... it counts as a statistic, right?

Take it from the Commish.  Expansion works! You see young Panthers and Predators fans... you too can make it to the big time!  Hall of Fame DNA is optional.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Countdown to July 1: NHL Salary Cap Numbers- Washington Capitals

As the July 1 Free Agency period is quickly approaching, let's take a look at the current cap status of each team, and breakdown what they have, or don't have in terms of room to maneuver this off-season.

We continue with the Presidents Trophy winners.

Washington Capitals

Roster players under contract for 2010-2011*

Alexander Ovechkin $9.538m, Nicklas Backstrom $6.7m, Alexander Semin $6.0m, Mike Knuble $2.8m, Brooks Laich $2.066m, Jason Chimera $1.875m, Dave Steckel $1.1m, Matt Bradley $1.0m

Mike Green $5.25m, Tom Poti $3.5m, John Erskine $1.25m, John Carlson $845k, Tyler Sloan $700k

Simeon Varlamov $821k

Roster Players Under Contract: 14
2010-2011 Cap: $56,800,000
2010-2011 Payroll: $43,447,628

Cap Space: $13,352,372

Countdown to July 1: NHL Salary Cap Numbers- Montreal Canadiens

As the July 1 Free Agency period is quickly approaching, we continue our look at the current cap status of each team, and breakdown what they have, or don't have in terms of room to maneuver this off-season.

Next up: the Eastern Conference finalists.

Montreal Canadiens

Roster players under contract for 2010-2011*

Scott Gomez $7.357m, Mike Cammalleri $6.0m, Brian Gionta $5.0m, Andrei Kostitsyn $3.25m, Travis Moen $1.5m, Georges Laraque $1.5m, Ben Maxwell $850k


Andrei Markov $5.75m, Roman Hamrlik $5.5m, Jaroslav Spacek $3.833m, Hal Gill $2.25m, Josh Gorges $1.1m, Ryan O'Byrne $941k, P.K. Subban $875k


Roster Players Under Contract: 14
2010-2011 Cap: $56,800,000
2010-2011 Payroll: $

Cap Space: $

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Countdown to July 1: NHL Salary Cap Numbers- San Jose Sharks

As the July 1 Free Agency period is quickly approaching, we continue our look at the current cap status of each team, and breakdown what they have, or don't have in terms of room to maneuver this off-season.

Next up: the Western Conference finalists.

San Jose Sharks

Roster players under contract for 2010-2011*


Dany Heatley $7.5m, Joe Thornton $7.2m, Ryane Clowe $3.625m, Torrey Mitchell $1.366m, Logan Couture $1.241m, Jamie McGinn $996k


Dan Boyle $6.666m, Marc-Edouard Vlasic $3.1m, Douglas Murray $2.5m, Kent Huskins $1.7m, Jason Demers $543k


Thomas Greiss $550k

Roster Players Under Contract:
2010-2011 Cap: $56,800,000
2010-2011 Payroll:

Cap Space:

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Countdown to July 1: NHL Salary Cap Numbers- Philadelphia Flyers

As the July 1 Free Agency period is quickly approaching, we continue our look at the current cap status of each team, and breakdown what they have, or don't have in terms of room to maneuver this off-season.

Next up: the Cup runner-up .

Philadelphia Flyers

Roster players under contract for 2010-2011*

Daniel Briere $6.5m, Mike Richards $5.75m, Simon Gagne $5.25m, Jeff Carter $5.0m, Scott Hartnell $4.2m, James Van Riemsdyk $1.654m, Ian Laperriere $1.166m, Claude Giroux $821k, Ville Leino $800k, Blair Betts $700k, Riley Cote $550k

Kimmo Timonen $6.333m, Chris Pronger $4.921m, Matt Carle $3.437m, Oskars Bartulis $600k

Brian Boucher $925k

Roster Players Under Contract: 16
2010-2011 Cap: $56,800,000
2010-2011 Payroll: $48,609,762

Cap Space: $8,827,738

Countdown to July 1: NHL Salary Cap Numbers- Chicago Blackhawks

As the July 1 Free Agency period is quickly approaching, let's take a look at the current cap status of each team, and breakdown what they have, or don't have in terms of room to maneuver this off-season.

We will begin with the Cup Champs.

Chicago Blackhawks

Roster players under contract for 2010-2011*

Jonathan Toews $6.3m, Patrick Kane $6.3m, Marian Hossa $5.275m, Patrick Sharp $3.9m, Dave Bolland $3.375m, Kris Versteeg $3.083m, Dustin Byfuglien $3.0m, Tomas Kopecky $1.2m, Troy Brouwer $1.025m

Brian Campbell $7.142m, Duncan Keith $5.538m, Brent Seabrook $3.5m, Brent Sopel $2.333m

Cristobal Huet $5.625

Roster Players Under Contract: 14
2010-2011 Cap: $56,800,000
2010-2011 Payroll: $57,598,003

Cap Space: -$798,003

Friday, June 11, 2010

Adam Burish: Chris Pronger Is The Biggest Idiot In The League

In the afterglow of winning the Cup, some of the best and most candid interviews take place.  Drunk on pure
euphoric bliss, often times players will say whatever they are feeling in the moment.

Think back to 1992.  Clearly still bitter over how his tenure with the Flyers ended, Rick Tocchet exclaimed in a post-Cup winning celebration with the Penguins: "Pittsburgh is the best city in Pennsylvania, man... it's the best city in the world, but it's the best city in Pennsylvania! I think you know what I mean." 

Now 2010... Enter Adam Burish.  "Can you tell us what you really think about Chris Pronger now?"

Naturally Philly fans are up in arms over the comments of a scratched player harshly criticizing a decorated opponent after a win.  Check the comments on this video link, and any other place discussing Burish's comments, and you will find many references to the word "classless" from Flyers fans.

However, was Burish any less classy with his unkind words than the player who nabbed the game winning goal pucks, not once, but twice, while skating for the losing team?

Let us not forget that Pronger was lauded in the press for being "a leader" by putting the focus on himself after losses.  Succinctly: he "asked for it."  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that when his attention seeking tactics end in failure, that the victims of his gimmickry have little respect for him.

In Games 5 and 6, Pronger functioned as little more than a pylon for Chicago's scorers.

Did Burish answer the question with a measured response in a true sense of class and sportsmanship? No

Was he incorrect in his assessment of Pronger's antics and most recent performance? Absolutely not.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

2010 Finals Observations

Chris Pronger is the Teflon Don.  He can be as cheap, unsportsmanlike and as big a defensive liability as anyone in hockey... but then, he cracks a joke in the post game  presser, and the media declares him an "intimidating leader" and "top contender for the Playoff MVP".  John Gotti and Bill Clinton have nothing on Pronger's spin machine.

Dustin Byfuglien can play.  He proved that he is not just a linebacker on skates. Byfuglien used his surprising speed, and nose for the net, to his and the Hawks best advantage.  He was a major factor in nearly every game, every round.  As "Buff" went, so did the Hawks.

Who said you need elite goaltending to win the Cup?  The winning team scored four or more goals in five of the six Final contests.  If you would have told hockey fans that the trio of Antti Niemi, Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher would be battling for the Cup at the beginning of the season, some guy wearing a Cam Ward jersey would have laughed aloud!

The Philadelphia Flyers showed serious guts and resolve... all season.  Their big goaltending acquisition, Ray Emery, never could stay healthy.  By December, they were in shambles.  They had to scramble to even make the playoffs.  After a very favorable Round One matchup against a team they own, New Jersey, they pulled off a huge comeback against Boston, out played a rouge-hot Montreal goaltender and continually came back against a powerful Blackhawks team.

Marian Hossa sacrificed a virgin octopus and appeased the hockey gods.

Daniel Briere played the best hockey of his entire career in this series.  How good was he?  His Finals scoring totals were Wayne Gretzky/Mario Lemieux level. Twelve points!

What can be done about some officiating consistency.  A year ago, only a near decapitation got you two minutes.  This year, staring too long at an opponent was a double minor... in the first two periods.

Mike Emrick is simply the finest broadcaster on the national stage in all of sports.  He just compliments every game perfectly.  Not too much, not too little.

The Flyers fans showed an uncharacteristic level of class after witnessing their team elimination is bizarre style.  No chanting obscenities, no booing, no throwing of beer cups, no alcohol guzzling by children... here's to you Flyer fan.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chicago Wins the Cup

After forty-nine years, the Stanley Cup returns to Chicago.  In bizarre fashion, Patrick Kane scored the game winner in OT.  Watching the game, Kane's shot appeared to go in. It happened so quickly, and the puck became instantly wedged underneath the interior goal padding.  No goal light was lit, no signal was given by the referees.  Yet, a delayed celebration ensued when the Hawks players realized that there was no puck to play on a rebound!

Chicago's off-season acquisitions paid off.  Philadelphia, who's season could have been a complete disaster showed tremendous resolve in the regular season, and throughout the playoffs, battled to the very end.

Jonathan Toews was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the playoff MVP.

Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks and to all of their long-suffering fans.

Ice Edge To Land Coyotes? First To Make a Profit In the Desert?

No matter which way you slice it, something is just amiss about the Coyotes ownership saga.

From the AP

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Glendale City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve a memorandum of understanding from Ice Edge Holdings toward purchasing the Phoenix Coyotes and keeping the NHL team at Arena.

The memorandum gives Ice Edge, a group of Canadian and American investors, exclusive negotiating rights for a new arena lease over the next 60 days. A new lease is a necessary step toward buying the team from the NHL. Glendale officials say the memorandum will be forwarded to league officials for a final decision...

The memorandum outlines terms of the proposed lease, with the hockey team owners getting revenue from parking and from a special taxing district to be formed in the immediate vicinity of Arena...

The Coyotes haven't turned a profit since moving from Winnipeg in 1996. The Glendale council recently pledged US$25 million to cover anticipated losses in the coming season if a sale doesn't go through before then.
Ice Edge, if you will remember, was the group that initially proposed a plan to play a number of regular season games in Canada.  Luckily that idea was shot down... it was not a good one.

Yet, whatever happens to the franchise from here, losses abound.  Most disturbingly, the team braces for financial losses in Arizona for the 15th consecutive season!

To keep the team there, the city of Glendale loses revenues that they previously controlled.  In the new agreement, they absorb up to an additional $25 million in team financial losses.  If they continue down the financial road to ruin, the Phoenix area supporters will lose the team, just like Winnipeg did fourteen years ago.

If Bettman can convince Miracle Max that if the Coyotes turn a profit, Prince Humperdinck will suffer "humiliations galore", he will whip up a chocolate coated pill that will make it happen.

However, unless that miracle happens, and Ice Edge can actually become profitable in Glendale, something that no one has yet been able to do, the NHL will lose face, yet again, in the form of another costly, failed market experiment.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

School On Saturday II: Why Pronger Gets A Free Pass

He is a cheap shot artist and a suspension magnet.  He is known league-wide as one of the dirtiest players in the game.  Matt Cooke?  No.  Jarko Ruutu? Nope. Sean Avery? Wrong again.  We don't think of him like that at the moment.

We are talking about Chris Pronger.  Classless Chris P. 

Why do the other names pop into mind though?  Because they have run afoul of the NHL code of conduct more famously?  Actually, just more recently.  Additionally guys like Cooke, Ruutu and Avery play a nasty game and make no bones about their intent.  Yet, they will apologize when someone gets injured.  No fun for the guys who write the stories.  It's much more exciting to perpetuate controversy. 

Then you have guys like Pronger.  They are guilty of the same kind of reckless goonery as the other guys we just mentioned, but they divert the media circus with a quick quip, or one-liner that the writers can publish.  That makes him a sweetheart...

In case you have only a media member memory, hit up YouTube using the search words "Pronger" and "elbows" and you will find a long list of videos.  Better yet, "Pronger Stomps on Ryan Kesler". 

A classic example was delivered this past week when Pronger decided to deny the Blackhawks of both Game 1 and Game 2 game-winning goal pucks.

Yahoo proclaimed  "With stealing and taunting, Chris Pronger leads by example"...

Part of Pronger's makeup as a leader is being the agitator-in-chief for his team, and the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals are no exception. Witness Pronger here after Monday night's 2-1 Game 2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, repeating his violation of hockey protocol from Game 1 in which he collected the game puck in defeat to keep this one-of-a-kind memento away from his rivals:

Where's the puck, Pronger was asked.
"It's in the garbage," Pronger replied. "Where it belongs."
Ahhh, what a leader indeed!  After taking the Game 1 puck, the Flyers lost... again!  The Hawks must have really been intimidated by Pronger's sore loser act. used a headline "Method to madness of Pronger swiping pucks".

"It is the Finals," Pronger said. "There are an awful lot of you guys and it's an awful lot of questions. Some of them can be monotonous. You know what, you have to enjoy the moment. It's not every day you have the opportunity to be here at the Stanley Cup Final. You have to relish it."

And while Pronger is clearly having fun with it, there is a definite method behind the silliness.
Yes, hes just so silly... and fun... and a childish chump.  Being cheap is not being a leader.  Repeating the same pathetic act after failure is not intimidating or creating a psychological war with the other team. It just creates any easy story for the media to run with.

Sorry Chris, there are no free passes here.