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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Jagrgate and Other Free Agency Updates

Brian Fantana, utilizing the National Security Council's simplified alert system, has officially moved Jagr Watch to Jagrgate status.

Jaromir Jagr's North American based agent Petr Svoboda, declared that Jagr was headed to the States on Wednesday afternoon, and that we could expect a decision soon thereafter.

Following a turtle induced delay into New York, Svoboda at one point stated that he had lost contact with Jagr on Wednesday.

After contacting Pittsburgh, Detroit, Montreal and supposedly other mystery organizations, Svoboda mentioned that a decision could be forthcoming on Thursday... to no avail.

With fanbases becoming impatient, speculation regarding the involved teams ran rampant.

Whispers of dollar figures, and offers being pulled from the table began circulating.

Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero, however does not seem the least bit perturbed by the delays.

Shero said the Penguins' offer to Jagr remains "on the table," and that not hearing from Jagr tonight would not alter his hope of signing Jagr when the NHL free-agent period opens tomorrow.

"He's not holding us hostage or anything," Shero said, adding that he believes the Penguins can sign Jagr and keep right wing Tyler Kennedy given their salary-cap space.

Shero said he never set a deadline of Wednesday for Jagr to accept an offer presented Tuesday after Shero spoke with Svoboda and Jagr.

"Petr thought the decision would be made by Wednesday; I never put a deadline on it," Shero said. "I said that certainly us, and probably a lot of other teams, would want to know by the start of free agency — that I'd like to have an idea of what's going on."
While Hockey Plumber News reporter Brian Fantana grows ever more incensed by the Jagr camp shenanigans, he does have other free agency updates.

The St. Louis Blues have re-signed forward T.J. Oshie to a one-year, $2.35-million contract.

The Carolina Hurricanes have re-signed forward Jussi Jokinen to a three year contract worth $3 million per season.

After trading for negotiating rights, the Chicago Blackhawks agreed to a four-year contract with defenseman Steve Montador. Terms were undisclosed, but reports say the deal is worth $11 million.

Also following a trade for exclusive rights, the Buffalo Sabres have signed defenseman Christian Ehrhoff to 10-year, $40 million contract.

What's the point of  Hockey Christmas if the gifts are already opened?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Jagr Watch Update

Hockey Plumber News reporter Brian Fantana has learned that there will be no decision made tonight. 

Leading him to ask the question, "when does Jagr Watch turn into Jagrgate?"

Inside Pittsburgh Sports also reports:

Jaromir Jagr joining the Penguins is on hold.

Pensblog reported:

...Svoboda [Jagr's agent] broke the news that no decision about Jaromir Jagr's future would be announced tonight...
So it appears the Fantana, as well as the local sports media in Pittsburgh have another restless night on their hands.

In related news Pittsburgh did come to terms with Aaron Asham per @TSNBobMcKenzie.

One year deal worth $775k.

Jagr Watch: Decision Expected Today

Let's go to Brian Fantana who's live on the scene with a Hockey Plumber News exclusive. Brian?

Fantana begins, "Jagr Watch! The mood is tense; I have been on some serious, serious reports but nothing quite like this. I uh... Jarimor, uh.. Jah... Jagr is on his way here right now. I tried to get an interview with him, but they said no, you can't do that he's on a plane, and cell phone use is strictly forbidden." Fantana looks to the sky...

"Hey, you're making me look stupid. Get out here, Airplane Jerk!"

Great story. Compelling, and rich.

Per Rob Rossi  in the Tribune Review:

The agent for Jaromir Jagr said today that Jagr is en route to the United States and will inform of a decision on his NHL future late this afternoon.

"He is flying to New York (from the Czech Republic) right now," agent Petr Svoboda said. "He is coming this afternoon and will tell us his answer then."

Svoboda said he talked to Jagr last night about the Pens' offer, and that Detroit and Montreal are also known to have made offers.

Jagr is not expected to arrive in the U.S. until at least 3:30 p.m. Svoboda said he expects to know Jagr's decision within an hour of his arrival.
It's speculated that the Penguins' offer to Jagr is in the $2 million range for one season, although GM Ray Shero would not confirm the dollar amount.

"[Today] is decision day," Shero said. "We'll see what he does. ... He's got all the information he needs from us [to make up his mind]..."

"We feel he's a guy who can help us this year," Shero said. "And then retire as a Penguin."
Everyone is expecting a decision by 5pm today.  Jagr has never been one to give out just what is expected, so who knows how long this could all drag out.

The Red Wings are still in the mix, and it is assumed that Montreal or another team may still have some input regarding Jagr's decision making.

One thing is for sure though, Brian Fantana will be on top of this story until the very end!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Getting Busy: Pending Free Agents Reaching Deals To Resign

 A Lot To Laich

The Washington Capitals have signed Brooks Laich to 6-year deal worth $27 million.  Laich has been a core player with the Caps.  He is popular among teammates and fans alike.  Laich can battle on the boards, deliver a hit and score big goals.

He would have been a highly sought after player if he hit the open market, but it seems the Caps were willing to give him market value to stay right where he was.


Canucks Re-Up A Pair

Defenseman Kevin Bieksa has agreed to terms on a 5-year, $23 million deal with the Vancouver Canucks.  The team has also signed impending restricted free agent Maxim Lapierre to a two-year contract worth a total of $2 million.

Bieksa known for his shot and nasty streak, received a lot more exposure this post-season due to his fine play throughout the playoffs, which included a dramatic OT winning goal that sent Vancouver to the Finals.

Lapierre seemed to be a good fit with the Canucks after failed attempts with both Montreal and Anaheim. He provides an accompaniment to the antagonistic nature of Alex Burrows giving opponents reason to be wary of his antics as well as his ability to score.


Lightning Keep Specialist

The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed power-play specialist and defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron to a two-year contract.  Terms were not initially announced by the team.

TSN reports that RDS claimes it to be a two-year, $2 million deal. 


Pittsburgh Retains Not You, Not Me, but Dupuis

From Rob Rossi:

Dupuis has agreed to a two-year contract to remain with the Penguins, sources told the Tribune-Review. The deal, which will be announced this afternoon, is worth $3 million total — meaning Dupuis will count $1.5 million against the salary cap each of the next two seasons. 

Pascal Dupuis was considered a priority re-signing by the Penguins from the beginning. He is a tireless penalty killer and has the speed, grit and versatility to play on any of the four forward lines.  Something the Pittsburgh coaching staff prizes.

Moller Finds There is No Place Like Home

Bucking the trend of re-signings, CBS Sports reports that Los Angeles Kings center, Oscar Moller, who has shuttled between the Kings and their AHL club has decided to play in Sweden for the upcoming season. 

Moller, a native of Stockholm, was not mentioned in connection to a team in the SEL, but it is assumed that it is Skelleftea AIK.

We will continue to update this post as more happens.  Stay tuned. 


Pitkanen Back With the Canes

The Carolina Hurricanes have re-signed defenseman Joni Pitkanen to a 3-year, $13.5 million deal.

Pitkanen was thought to be out of Carolina's reach just a few weeks ago.  Carolina GM Jim Rutherford had  mentioned that he expected Pitkanen and others to test free agency, but later stated that he held hope to sign the team's top UFAs.

That hope became reality today. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

CKAC Sports Reports Jaromir Jagr Has Agreement With the Pittsburgh Penguins

This post was originally posted at The Hockey Writers

To answer Ricky Bobby's question: "What did French land give us?"

Premature news of Jaromir Jagr's return to Pittsburgh.

(Translated by Google Translate)

After weeks of speculation, forward Jaromir Jagr has made ​​his choice and he will sign a one year contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

So says Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune.

The team will confirm the news Friday, opening day of free agency.

Many rumors have circulated since Jagr has expressed interest to return to the NHL. Detroit, Montreal and Pittsburgh were (all) approached (as) destinations for (the) power forward.

Jagr, 39, was drafted by the Penguins in 1990, fifth overall. He won the Stanley Cup with the team in 1991.

He left the NHL in 2008, when he skated with the New York Rangers. He joined the Russian Continental League next year and has scored 66 goals in addition to recording 146 points in 155 games over the last three seasons there.

In the NHL, Jagr, the best European (player in NHL) history, played 1273 games, scoring 646 goals and 953 assists for 1,599 points.

From the report it seems likely that Penguins fans, Jagr, Mario, players and the coaching staff will get what they wanted: A goodwill/farewell tour for number 68.

However, a closer examination of Rossi's tweets reveals that he ambiguously referred to the Pens wanting to come to a handshake agreement.

In fact, the Tribine Review reported Tuesday that... "The Penguins will speak with Jaromir Jagr's agent about a contract this afternoon.

Petr Svoboda, Jagr's agent, confirmed that he is set to have a meeting with Penguins general manager Ray Shero today.

"We are meeting this afternoon to talk about a deal," Svoboda said. "Hopefully by tomorrow, we will know something.'"

Hardly official, since the scheduled Tuesday meeting is to talk about a deal, there can be no deal in place.

Yet, for optimists, it would seem more likely than ever before that Jagr and Crosby will doing their version of "shake 'n bake" on the NHL's other 29 teams.
"Doesn't that just blow yer mind? SHAKE 'N BAKE!"

Friday, June 24, 2011

Winnipeg Whatevers No More. The Jets Are Back

Both CBC and TSN have reported that True North, the ownership group for the new Winnipeg franchise, is expected to officially announce that the team will indeed be called the Jets.

Making use of the grand stage, both literally and figuratively, the group will unveil the franchise name just before making their 7th Overall selection at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

However, their selection will not pull on an old Jets sweater according to the CBC:
The player Winnipeg selects with its top draft pick on Friday night is not expected to don a Jets jersey. Instead, he'll put on a sweater bearing the black and grey colours of the NHL's logo, Winnipeg assistant general manager Craig Heisinger said Thursday.
We assume since they have just arrived at a name, they don't have the design of the logo and sweater together just yet.

The return of the Jets name was almost a necessity. The Moose or Falcons, etc... just wouldn't be the same.

Because of the sentiment of the fans, the Jets moniker was clearly favored.  After what just happened in Vancouver, no one wanted to see burning cars or Aussies making out in the street, so they got what they wanted!  (Pure speculation, of course!)

Some concept ideas below.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Philadelphia Signs Bryzgalov, Guts Team To Do It

Flyers no more
 As an update to our early post regarding the trade of Jeff Carter to Columbus, the Philadelphia Flyers also traded team captain, Mike Richards to Los Angeles for forward prospect Brayden Schenn, veteran forward, Wayne Simmonds and a second-round pick.

Um... wow!

The trades clearly were for cap clearing purposes to make the Ilya Bryzgalov signing possible.

Bryzgalov signed a reported $51-million, nine-year deal.

So let's look at what the total day meant to the Flyers.

Out: Mike Richards (LA), Jeff Carter (Columbus), Matt Clackson, 3rd round choice in the 2012 Draft, and future considerations (Phoenix).

In: Ilya Bryzgalov, Jakub Voracek, First- and Third-round picks from the Blue Jackets, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds and a second-round pick from the Kings.

Maybe we are missing something, but we don't like these moves for the Flyers.

As the AP put it:
This would be like the Phillies trading Ryan Howard and Chase Utley ... on the same day.
Teammates in Philly
Bryzgalov has proven himself as a top backstop. Brayden Schenn is a very nice prospect.  Wayne Simmonds has shown promise as a power forward, Voracek has shown flashes of his skill, and the Flyers will add top end talent with the #8 Overall selection this season. 

Yet Bryzgalov had a disastrous playoff against Detroit.  By the final game of the series, honestly he looked a bit disinterested.  It was that bad.

Simmonds and Voracek both have tantalized with their abilities, but both showed regression in their production last season.

In addition, look what they gave up. 

Carter was the team's best natural goal scorer.  Richards, the team's leader, is one of the games' premier two-way centers.

Comparing the last three seasons, the Flyers are subtracting 199 goals scored, while adding 78 back.  Are Schenn, the draft picks and Bryzgalov going to make up for that kind of production difference?


Time will tell if Ed Snider's mission to add a veteran goalie will get the Flyers over the hump, or whether he will resemble another Snyder, Daniel in the mold of meddling ownership wrecking their team's chances of success.

Philadelphia Flyers Deal Jeff Carter To Columbus Blue Jackets

No, no, no... it's not going to happen.  Jeff Carter will not be traded. So we have heard countless times from the Carter camp and even the Flyers.

Today, Jeff Carter was traded to the Jackets in return for Jakob Voracek, the 8th Overall selection of the 2011 NHL Draft, and a yet undetermined Third-round pick.

We will update the story as more info comes in.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The 2011 NHL Awards. An Annual Hockey Plumber Tradition Gone Wrong

LIVE from Las Vegas, Nevada it's Saaaaaturd... no wait.  Ok, it is NHL Awards time again.

Jay Mohr returns to host at the Palms Casino.  Mohr will doubtlessly remark on his lack of hockey knowledge, throw out a few quick one liners on Luongo's hair, etc... and intro a few puzzling music selections, in between the cavalcade of every celebrity that claims a connection to the game of hockey.

Sounds great, right?

So let's get right in to the bad jokes:  Our picks and predictions. 

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. Past Winners.

  Corey Perry- Ducks, Daniel Sedin - Canucks, Martin St. Louis - Lightning

If we had a vote: Crosby... but he's not a finalist. OK, Perry.  Without Perry absolutely lighting it up down the stretch, the Ducks would not even had a sniff of the post season.  The Ducks have their fair share of talented scorers, but Perry put the team on his back in crunch time.

Prediction: Daniel Sedin. The Writers love the Sedins for some reason, and he had the highest point total.  Leading scorer usually equals receiving the award.

Vezina Trophy
Given to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at this position as voted by the general managers of all NHL clubs. Past Winners.

  Roberto Luongo- Canucks, Pekka Rinne - Predators, Tim Thomas - Bruins

If we had a vote: Thomas.  His season was just off the charts.  It's a regular season award, but really all he did was carry his regular season into the playoffs and was equally impressive and deserving of the Playoff MVP.

Prediction: Tim Thomas.  Should be a slam dunk.

Calder Memorial Trophy
Given to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the end of the regular season. Past Winners.
 Logan Couture- Sharks, Michael Grabner - Islanders, Jeff Skinner - Hurricanes

If we had a vote: Grabner.  It's a close race.  All are deserving.  We just believe that Grabner accomplished what he did with the least amount of help.

Prediction: Jeff Skinner.  He received the most buzz all season.  With Couture playing on the west coast, and Grabner, well, on the Islanders, Skinner gets the default hype vote.

James Norris Memorial Trophy
Given to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the end of the regular season. Past Winners.

  Zdeno Chara- Bruins, Nicklas Lidstrom - Red Wings, Shea Weber - Predators

If we had a vote: Weber.  Just didn't feel the Chara regular season, and we don't like Lidstrom's sub par defensive season.  Weber had the best all-around play of any blueliner this season.

Prediction: Nicklas Lidstrom.  He put up phenomenal offensive numbers this year, and we bet the writers were banking on the fact that this season could have been his last.  Lidstrom has won the Norris so many times, it should be renamed after him.

Jack Adams Award
Presented by the National Hockey League Broadcasters' Association to the NHL coach judged to have contributed the most to his team's success. The winner is selected in a poll among members of the NHL Broadcasters' Association at the end of the regular season. Past Winners.

  Dan Bylsma- Penguins, Barry Trotz -Predators, Alain Vigneault - Canucks

If we had a vote: Bylsma.  No one had to do more "coaching" than the guy who lost his best two players, and at times during the second half was missing as many as twelve regulars from the line up at one time.  Through it all, the Penguins finished tied for the division lead in points, and third overall in the conference.

Prediction: Dan Bylsma.  The Jack Adams has become an adversity award lately.  Disco Dan "hustles" home with the win.

Frank J. SelkeTrophy
Given to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the end of the regular season. Past Winners.

Pavel Datsyuk - Red Wings, Ryan Kesler - Canucks, Jonathan Toews - Blackhawks

If we had a vote:
Kesler.  He was a dominating figure this season.  He was fearsome as a shutdown center-man when asked to be; and he scored fourty-one goals, too!

Prediction: Ryan Kesler.  He received much more national attention this year.  He will get the votes.

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
Given to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the end of the regular season. Past Winners.

  Nicklas Lidstrom- Red Wings, Loui Eriksson - Stars, Martin St. Louis - Lightning

If we had a vote: St. Louis. He's such a great player, but receives little recognition. He does it all on and off the ice.

Prediction: Martin St. Louis.  Like last year, the stats should give him the edge with voters.

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
Given to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. The winner is selected in a poll of all chapters of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the end of the regular season. Past Winners.

  Ray Emery- Ducks, Daymond Langkow - Flames, Ian Laperriere - Flyers

If we had a vote: Laperriere.  Another year, another gruesome injury for the guy.  Everywhere the guy goes he is beloved by teammates and fans alike for his guts and determination. After taking a slapper to the face in last years' playoffs, he had to be argued with by the training staff to keep him from returning with shattered skull bones.   

Prediction: Ian Laperriere.  He's a warrior.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2011 NHL Draft: The Atlantic Division's Ideal Draft Selections

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
 This story originally was posted on Bleacher Report

The Atlantic is one of the NHL's most fiercely contested divisions.
Until this season, the Atlantic was represented in the Stanley Cup Final three straight years.
There is no shortage of animosity between any of the clubs, and the draft provides yet another opportunity to get a leg up on hated rivals.
What's in store:
  • The Devils get a rare top five selection. 
  • The Islanders will try to build on their promising core.
  • The Rangers utilize their pivot slot smack dab in the middle.
  • The Penguins will look to add around their stars.
  • The Flyers will have to wait until Round 3 to make their selection...or will they?
Let's take a look at each team's best-case scenario when their turn comes around.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Correct Call: Vancouver’s Aaron Rome Suspended For Remainder of NHL Final

Cue the dated and cheesy game show music…

From the NHL offices on the Avenue of the Americas in New York City: It’s hockey’s favorite game show…


With your host(s) Colin Campbell/Brendan Shanahan.

“Hello and welcome Aaron Rome.  Please step up and give the wheel a spin.” Rome does step to the wheel and looks it over.

“On the wheel you will see your options: One Game, Two Games, Four Games, No Suspension, Lifetime Ban, and Just a Finger Bite.”

Rome spins the wheel with just a flick of the wrist.  The the click-clack of the pegs speeds up and then slows to a stop.

The Debbie Downer horns blow.  “Wuh-wuuuh!”

“Oh sorry Aaron looks like you are out for the remainder of the Finals for your late hit on Nathan Horton.”

Rome, looks to the sky, sighs and slunks his way off the stage to the Press Box back in Boston.

“Better luck next time Aaron and thanks for playing!”

The new vogue complaint has been  to bash the NHL’s disciplinary policies.  From an armchair, they appear to be rife with inconsistency and unnerving favoritism towards first time offenders.

To the critic, they are never harsh enough.  They never match the crime, and they rarely align with the “obvious” perceived intent of the infraction.

When Colin Campbell was dismissed of his duties as the league’s discipline czar. Many cheered.

Others remained skeptical that Brendan Shanahan would bring anything better to the post.

The truth is that the post is a mission impossible.

No one will be able to please the fans, media or teammates of the victim.  No one will be able to appease the masses and the perpetrators both.

In a game that moves as fast as the NHL.  A game that is home to the finest athletes on the planet, possessors of unrivaled speed, strength and stamina. The NHL will never be able to accurately judge intent, the true ability to avoid contact, etc… without margin for error.

Yet, despite all the critics, nay sayers and skeptics, the NHL does a fairly good job of policing itself.

Wheel of Justice be damned.

The NHL got it right concerning Aaron Rome.

Before anyone argues.  Take a look at the list of reasons he was NOT suspended.

1. A dirty hit? – No
2. A hit to the head? – No
3. A hit causing injury? – No
4. A hit on a defenseless player? – No

Rome’s hit on Horton was not dirty.  It was not to the head, nor was it judged to be intended to injure.
It would have been a clean hit provided Horton was playing the puck or had possession.

The suspension was for a late hit.  Horton had possession, passed the puck, took a few more strides and then suffered the impact of Rome’s blow.

Had Rome hit Horton a stride or two earlier, it’s clean… and a wallop that would have impressed even Scott Stevens… even if Horton had been injured as a result.

The hit was delivered late.  The late hit resulted in a serious injury, which directly affected the severity of the suspension.

Rome responded to the news in the right way:
“I want to express my concern for Nathan’s well-being and wish him a quick and full recovery,” Rome said. “I try to play this game honestly and with integrity. As someone who has experienced this type of injury, I am well aware of its serious nature and have no desire for another player to experience it. I will not take away my teammates’ focus on the task at hand and intend to speak at an appropriate time in (the) future.”
He knows his intent.  He likely feels he was not deserving of the punishment either.

Regardless, the suspension was for the timing of the hit and the resulting injury.  His intent had nothing to do with the decision to suspend.

The NHL deserves credit for making the call and a little leeway as well.