Saturday, July 25, 2009

DP Stands for Disabled Person

I'm going to start the history of mistakes at a time not too long ago. Sure there were plenty before then, and there most certainly were some excluded, but those don't pertain to my particular yarn here.

Before 1995-96 season - Mike Milbury hired as head coach.

During the same 1995-96 season - Don Maloney fired by "team management," Milbury given total control as GM and coach.

2000 - Charles Wang co-purchases franchise, and would later take over complete ownership in 2004.

2000 Entry Draft - Milbury selects goaltender Rick DiPietro over Dany Heatley and Marian Gaborik.

May 2007 - Milbury resigns as GM. (Not a mistake, just a relevant event in this brief history.)

Summer 2007 - Wang hires Neil Smith as GM and then fires him a month later, before the season starts.

Still in the 2007 off-season - Wang somehow convinces back-up goaltender at the time, Garth Snow to accept position of GM. Snow retires from playing professional hockey to become GM.

STILL, in the off-season - Wang and Snow collaborate to offer DiPietro an unheard of, 15-year contract worth $67.5 million.

For half of the 2007-08 season, and pretty much all of 2008-09 - DiPietro strains his uterus, his left hip, his right hip, his left boob, and one of his knees, and sits out many, many games.

July 1, 2009 - Dwayne Roloson, goaltender, signed to a 2-year $5 million contract.

July 22, 2009 - Marty Biron, goaltender, signed to a one-year $1.4 million contract.

That's not even that long a history of idiocy, and I'm about spent from typing it all out.

Many hockey insiders are looking at that last item of history and calling it genious. I am not one of them. Maybe I am just too small minded to see the bigger picture, but this just reeks of yet another peculiar move by one of the red-headed stepchildren of the NHL.

Being a goaltender himself, maybe Snow just has a thing for other goaltenders that gets him so hot under all that sweaty manliness. Maybe its something similar to my 'Michael Jackson theory' as to why Snow surrounds himself with goaltenders, and for long periods of time. For those of you who don't know, my 'Michael Jackson theory' goes something like this... Michael Jackson touched little kids in some twisted attempt to regain that innocence of childhood that he lost when he became a star at the age of 5. The way it relates to Snow is that he signs number one goaltenders with reasonable success in the NHL, unlike his, and offers them ridiculous lucrative contracts, that he never got, in an attempt to give away the success for goaltenders that he never achieved as a player. Bit of a stretch? Most conspiracy theories are.

Bringing in Roloson made sense to an extent, in order to give Ricky some support, and maybe teach him a trick or two on the way out. Signing Biron, even for a year, says 'the goaltender we signed to a lifetime contract is still a little wobbly.'

Okay fine, let say best case scenario DiPietro comes back to action halfway through the season, what the hell do you do then, with three NHL goaltenders in the stable? 'Oh well, with the shrewd signing of Marty Biron to a cap friendly $1.4 for the remainder of the season, there will be plenty of teams looking for that a quality #2 for their goaltending tandem.'

So the rationalization is that, hypothetically, some team loses their goaltender to injury, say, for example, Martin Brodeur, then Lou is going to scramble to plug that hole with a goalie on the chopping block at mid-season? Didn't happen last year. Granted Mr. Lamoriello is one of the smarter GM's out there, but pulling the trigger for a goaltender in that position is not going to make a whole lot of sense for a lot of GM's out there.

In any case, the Isles are still at the cap floor, and spending money, any money on contracts at this point is a good idea, even though a smarter one would have been to add some defense, or get someone who can play with Tavares besides Okposo. And not re-signing someone that reminds us of Yashin.

But as far as Snow doing a 'heck-of-a-job', I'm not convinced. Picking Tavares was a no-brainer, and he's done virtually nothing since then, other than pick up one too many goalies. The one thing that's going to stick out in my mind that Snow did in his GM career, was sign a Rick-ety goaltender to a ridiculous contract.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

You Really Got a Hold on Me

"I don't like you, but I love you."

Doesn't that just nail it for how Dale Tallon is feeling right now, or what? Pissed off they canned him after an incredible turnaround for a team that hasn't seen success since EA Sports was rocking Sega Genesis. Yet having to smile through his teeth, retain some bullshit position within the organization, and tell everyone, 'Whatever's best for the team.' That Smokey Robinson was really on to something there.

"I wanna leave you,
don't wanna stay here,
don't wanna spend another day here,
oh ho ho I wanna split now,
I just can't quit now."

I think its pretty obvious what has happened in Chicago, Tallon, nice guy of the hockey world, has become a casulty of a regime change. The Bowman clan, led by patriarch Scotty Bowman, one of the greatest hockey minds to ever grace the world, has staged a coup d'etat of the Chicago front office. They had their loyalists (John McDonough) and their insiders (Stan Bowman) placed to plant the seeds of destruction (the late RFA QO's), and poised to pounce when the balance of power shifted.

'Welcome new General Manager Stan Bowman, you may have heard of him, he is the son of Scotty.'

'What happened to Dale Tallon?'

'We're going to keep Dale on as an advisor, locked up in the basement of the United Center.'

How's that for a conspiracy theory?

Marty Havlat and his Twitter fetish has pretty much spelled out the sinister plot. Havlat doesn't strike me as a guy who would lie, if anything McDonough is the shining example of a two-faced politician. Not to mention the fact that Marty pretty much let slip that he has a heavy man-crush for Dale. Whether that qualifies his opinion or makes him look biased, the picture he paints of McDonough as a jealous bitch has the smell of a shoe that fits.

As for this RFA QO snafu, its really a bunch of bullshit. In the places you work, does the boss ever do any real work, or does he decide the numbers that will go in the blanks, have you type it all up, sign the document, and hand it back to you to deliver? I don't know about your boss, but mine loses his shit when he can't get Outlook to work. Using the copier/fax? Ha! That's what he pays people for. Tallon's a nice guy and all, but delegation is part of the hierarchy of the work place. No matter how important the document to be sent, its another day to day task that the boss doesn't do and doesn't know how to do. I'd put more stock in the theory that it got fucked up because Dale tried to do it himself.

Dale didn't do anything wrong, in fact he did a hell of job returning the team to relevancy. He simply wasn't their guy. This was a convenient excuse to use for dismissal. Remember Coach Denis Savard? He wasn't their guy either. I've already forgotten what the excuse was for giving Saavy the axe.

Tallon may have been guilty of being a little too generous, cue the Brian Campbell and Cristo "No" Huet jokes. And then of course there was the long-term deal offered to Marian Hossa, with threats of the Cap lowering as the economy sucks a fart out of (your favorite fat fuck)'s ass, all while the signings of Kane and Toews and Keith loom out there. But isn't that why you hire a "Cap-ologist"?

Wait, who's the number-crunching "Cap-ologist" for the Hawks? Oh that's newly elected mayor Stan Bowman.

So, now you have the one team in the league that's really fucked when it comes to salary against the cap, and you put the guy who's supposed to be watching the numbers in charge? The guy who already fucked it all up? Maybe this guy is the second coming if he gets the Blackhawks out of this mess.

He better be, otherwise a lot of top people in the organization are going to look foolish, including Scotty Bowman.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Stalking the Remaining Free Agents

Quietly. Quietly teams are picking up the last few quality free agents.

Quality. Quality is being used leniently here.
After re-examing Mirtle's Top 100 Unrestricted Free Agent list posted at the beginning of the week, there were quite a few names that hadn't been signed as of yet that jumped off the page. Maybe not jumped, hopped? Skipped? Scampered. Okay they crawled off the page. But now that we've hit the afternoon here on the left coast, a few of those names have actually left the vacuum of nothingness and signed with some poor schmucks, I mean new teams.

If you go down the list from the top, the first name you'll hit is Alex Tanguay at #10. So what's up with him? Well Kukla's has an excerpt of Pierre LeBrun's blog for ESPN that basically tells you that they're reviewing several offers. Whether that's agent speak for "We got nothing," or Alex is just being really choosy, who knows.

Next up is veteran defenseman, and the owner of a brand new plastic hip is Sergei "Blue" Zubov. There's a few posts on the 'sphere that have Zubov mentioned with several teams. Pagnotta has him talking to the Jackets, re-kindling the love affair with portly Ken Hitchcock. Gulitti's Fire & Ice blog has him associated with both the Devils and a possible Rangers re-uniting, excerpt from KK. And my boy Tom over at Here Come the Bruins floats the idea of him coming to Boston with the unknown of Phil Kessel's situation looming out there. In his prime, Zubov was a dangerous offensive defenseman with good wheels and crisp passes, but those days are long behind him as he seeks one more year in the League, so he can then move on to the other league.

Marty Biron. Poor, poor Marty Biron. Philadelphia would rather have ticking timebomb, locker room killer Ray Emery instead. And it appears as though everyone else is satisfied with their goaltending situation to leave him be as well. Seth Rorabaugh nails it with his "Curious Case of Martin Biron" article on Empty Netters. The Kings and Lightning seem like the most viable opportunities, yet still highly unlikely. Maybe he'll take Emery's spot in the KHL.

Robert Lang was having one hell of season in his late 30's, (38 to be exact), until he went down with a torn achilles tendon. Shit don't heal that quick when you're old kids. There's been no word from any of the media on his status, and whether or not he's fielding offers, or if teams in the league are just scared off altogether.

Another goaltender, Manny Fernandez is still on the market, or is he? Reports from way back when had stated that Manny was seriously considering retirement due to lingering back problems. While he's still open to the idea of continuing his playing career, those comments may have been enough to chase any potential suitors away.

As for the rest, I'll break 'em up into categories since I'm feeling lazy.

Just signed, as of today...
Paul Mara and Travis Moen heading to Montreal. Moen is a head scratcher for me with Wyshynski saying it best, "'s sort of amazing he's a Hab and not a Leaf ... was it the money or the term?" Moen's one of Burke's boys from Anaheim, for those of you who don't give a rat's ass about Southern California hockey.

Kurtis Foster and Antero Niittymaki heading to Tampa. Eh, whatevs.

Brendan Morrisson to Washington. I was planning to put him in the retirement pile.

Yann Danis heads across the river, and maybe the sound too, on his way to New Jersey.

And apparently its official that Jay McKee has been picked up by Pittsburgh for a bargain of $800K. McKee was bought out of his last year of a rather sizable contract with the Blues just last week.

Probably KHL bound...
Petr Sykora, Miroslav Satan, Maxim Afinogenov, and the "Can't Miss" prospect Radek Bonk.
Probably headed for Senior Housing, hopefully...
Mathieu Schneider, Michael Peca, Brendan Shanahan and Bret Hedican, (again).

Of course there's always...
Mats Sundin. Let's not talk about that.
P.J. Axelsson
Jason Williams
Taylor Pyatt
Manny Malhotra
Dominic Moore
Mike Comrie, anyone?
Mike Grier
Blair Betts
Rob Niedermayer, how did he get into the league anyway? Oh yeah, that's right.
Todd Bertuzzi

Derek Morris
Dennis Seidenberg, with eyes bigger than his playing ability.
Jassen Cullimore
Andrew Alberts
Martin Skoula
Marc-Andre Bergeron
Francis Bouillon
Phillippe Boucher
Christian Backman
The only other goaltender I see is Martin Gerber.

Sorry Martin.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tommy Tell It Like It Is!

I'm hot on quotes today and I came across Tom Benjamin's NHL Blog on Canucks Corner detailing the intricacies of Mr. Andrew Raycroft's skill set and what it brings to the table for an NHL team, specifically the Vancouver Canucks.

"Raycroft is really cheap and he really sucks and that’s exactly what the Canucks need this year."

Now I've called Andy out before, but lets be honest, no one is reading my blog. Tom is a respected blogger, who's blog is read by plenty of Canuck fans, not to mention hockey fans in general, and other respected writers as well, as noted further down in his comment section. He and Mirtle begin to banter back and forth on the choice to take Raycroft or another available goaltender as the backup, or the backup's backup.

"Maybe I am giving Gillis too much credit here, but I think it is a good explanation for an otherwise inexplicable move. The Canucks will need that roster spot at some point and the best answer is a goalie who is so shitty teams will pass on him even at half price. There may be others who fit that bill, but I can’t think of a better than Raycroft goalie who is that shitty."

Talk about a warm welcome to 'Beautiful' British Columbia.

Slow News Summer

Well, the season is over, the Pittsburgh Penguins have won the Stanley Cup, Ovie got a shit ton of awards at the "show" in Vegas, Tavares went #1, and a bunch of players had to file a change of address.

So now what do we turn to in the hockey world?


It works for everything else, so why not give it a try. No, it doesn't have the newsworthyness of a Pop Star's death due to an addiction to pain killers and plastic surgery. Or the heartbreak of an investment scheme that sends the culprit to 150 years of house arrest in his mansion while the people that paid for it are still left broke and hopeless. Or the hilarity of marijuana usage before holding office, only to get busted for the waste of a good cigar on female anatomy.

No this only has to do with Free Agents, both restricted and unrestricted. Ooh, the suspense.

The first whistle to blow was on Dale Tallon in Chicago, the man who landed Marian Hossa, for whatever that's worth. Mr. Tallon, the General Manager notorious for overpaying players (can't wait to see what the Toews and Kane deals look like) has misplayed his qualifying offers, (QO is the term for the supercool in the front offices). Apparently, players such as Kris Versteeg, Cam Barker, Ben Eager, and their respective agents, never received the QO's before the end of their Restricted Free Agency period. I don't even feel like getting into it, read this if you actually give a shit. From what I've read, this kind of clerical fuck-up happens all the time, but no one makes it public, so someone is probably trying to kick Tallon in the balls a bit. Aaron Johnson's agent, Allan Walsh, the man who brought Twitter to the NHL, was quick to kick the sand. Could this have possibly been the overflowing of emotion from the Hawks handling of Havlat?

And then these two notorious jackasses Tony and Larry call out Mattias Ohlund for his relatively quick, and complexity of structure in his deal with regards to money per year. Free agency tampering by the Tampa Bay organization?! Never! No doubt J.P. Barry, agent for all things indecisively Swedish, had his hands full with the pair and his other clients, but does anybody really care? I'm betting that this one actually turns out to be true, but what's going to happen? A slap on M.O.'s wrist, the stripping of a seventh round draft pick from a team that so desperately needs draft picks. C'mon get over it.

And now, out today on, the Leafs to be investigated for Ron Wilson's completely benign comments made on the radio on June 30th about Toronto going after the Sedins'. Read the quote, its fucking ridiculous.

"You're hearing right now, and this sounds very contradictory but, there's a real possibility, I would think, that we would be going after the Sedins. Let's just speculate there."
- Ron Wilson, on a Toronto radio station

Does that state anything about already signing the twins, or even talking to them before the deadline? To me, all that states is an intent of the Toronto Maple Leafs organization to actively pursue the Sedins' on July 1st. Bottom line, it didn't even get to that point, D & H re-signed before the bell rang.

I know it gets slow in the off-season, especially after Canada Day but do they really have to resort to this crap? And moreso, do we have to be subject to it?