Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Southeast Division Breakdown

How much do fans in this division hate being called the 'SouthLeast'? Two back-to-back Cups in the last 5 seasons is hard to laugh at. But we'll try.

The story this season in Hotlanta will be 'Will He Stay or Will He Go?' Entering Ilya's final contract year, this will be debated all season long until he either re-signs, or gets dealt at the deadline because he won't re-sign. The fact that he hasn't signed before the season starts means that he is gone, but Kovy apparently likes in Atlanta. I really don't understand how Don Waddell keeps his job, this man must be asleep at the switch. This is a contract offer that must be made before the puck drops, and it must be made lucrative enough for him to stay on a crappy team that's poorly managed. Picked up Antropov to center Kovy for 4years at $16million (too much) and traded for Kubina sending young defensive stud Garnet Exelby to Toronto, (that will be lopsided in a short while). Donny re-signed Lehtonen and Thorburn because he doesn't have any choice. I don't know what to tell you folks down there, a part of me wants Kovalchuk to stay and be built around but its not happening. The other part of me wants a talent like him to be some where he can shine, and you tear down that team and either start over, or give up. I hate saying it, but that's what I think.

Offseason Grade: D, maybe a C if you hadn't overpaid for Nik and signed Kovalchuk for Christ's sake!

Regular Season Finish: 15th in East, 5th in Southeast

The Canes always seem to make something happen while no one is watching, kinda like the Eastern Conference's version of the Preds. Already with one of those aformentioned Cups in a 12year history in Raleigh, Rutherford seems to have some kind of magic touch, and I'm not talking about with referees. He managed to keep Cam Ward on signing him to a 6year ($6.3million avg.), that's the big news of the day for Carolina fans. Great move considering Cam doesn't garner as much attention as some other stoppers and yet has a Cup, a Conn, and backstopped two seasons to Conference Finals. But in the offseason they picked up D-man Andrew Alberts from Philly and forward Tom Kostopoulos from Montreal, and kept Chad LaRose and Erik Cole. The Hurricanes also brought back Aaron Ward from Boston in a trade for Patrick Eaves and a pick. Defenseman Seidenberg and Babchuk were asking for too much I think so Jimmy told them to take a hike, and didn't want forward Ryan Badya. I don't see anything much different from last year as far as offseason moves, another bubble team but I think they'll miss out on the dance this season.

Offseason Grade: B, Cam Ward's extention moves this grade up from a lateral C.

Regular Season Finish: 9th in the East, 2nd in the Southeast

Just like the strands in the ol' Dude'rs head, lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous. Seems like ages ago when rubber rats were raining down from the seats. This teams best move in the offseason, Jacques Martin quitting the GM position. The worst, losing timid Jay Bouwmeester. Throw a microphone in that guy's face and he becomes a pimply faced teenager who just found some hair growing on his balls. Enough of that. Malarchuk's buddy Zednik left for the KHL and took his neckguard with him, ass-saver Craig Anderson left for Colorado to try and take up a #1 position, defensemen Skrastins left for Dallas, and Boynton left for Anaheim. Winger Dave Booth signed on for another 6years, and that's probably the second best move for the franchise this summer, okay, maybe its the best. Radek Dvorak re-signed as well, and the picked up Koistenen from Nashville, Leopold in the lopsided J-Bou deal, and most importantly ass-saver Scott Clemmensen, who proved his worth in Jersey when Brodeur went down. They're not going to surprise and hold on to 9th this year, the back end is weak. Down year for a club without ownership.

Offseason Grade: C, if losing Bouwmeester was inevitable, not convinced it was.

Regular Season Finish: 13th in Conference, 4th in Division

I don't know, this team is so all over the place, who knows what to make of them. Management is the real problem, the owners are just about fucking retarded and need Bettman to mediate the divorce. So far they've kept Lecavalier, good move, that guy is lights out, and I don't know anyone who hustles like Martin St. Louis. The big pick-up this offseason was taking Victor Hedman #2 in the draft. He's a cocky son-of-a-bitch, but he's got Ohlund to watch, he's my pick for the Calder unless Varly qualifies, or the Monster backstops the Leafs to the post. As for other defensemen, they picked up Matt Walker from Chicago, Kurtis Foster out of Minnesota, and re-signed Krajicek and Lashoff. And they still have Meszaros, insert your Tampa Bay defenseman joke here. Otherwise they picked up Antero Nittymaki from the Flyers to push Mike Smith, and finally offered Alex Tanguay enough money to sign. Who did they lose, Vinny Prospal and a bunch of no name's, you could probably lump Prospal in latter category too. But for all my shit-talking, I think Tampa will do better than last year. I'm not saying they're going to make the playoffs, lets not get ahead of ourselves here, but they have an outside shot of being a bubble team. Highly unlikely.

Offseason Grade: C, they brought on better than they let go.

Regular Season Finish: 11th in East, 3rd in Southeast

Some idiot is going to do a re-make of Benny and the Jets, and call it Ovie and the Caps, just you wait. It'll make your ears bleed. But at least the new Caps make us feel good, and not dirty like the Dale Hunter years that made us feel like we had just come down from a bad hit of acid. In any case, defense is the problem and it really hasn't been fixed. They lost Kozlov and Federov to the KHL, Brashear to the Rangers, and backup Brent Johnson to the Penguins. If Varlamov didn't shock the hell out of everyone, we'd all be worrying, but if he falters, the scary comes with Theodore, who no doubt will have a head full of issues with the loss of a child in the offseason. Great pick-up by stealing Mike Knuble from Philly, but lose points for taking on Brendan Morrison even for a year, that guy is lost in the faster NHL. Re-signed forwards Boyd Gordon and Shaone Morrisonn and defenseman Milan Jurcina and Jeff Schultz. They'll need to add defense to get past the second round, and not suffer another embarrassment like that Game 7. Yikes.

Offseason Grade: C, Didn't address their real need.

Regular Season Finish: 4th in the East, 1st in the Southeast

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Now I Know...

... why ESPN doesn't give hockey any coverage. Because they fucking suck at it. Who writes for these idiots? Who pays those idiots?
I'm starting to think this should be a weekly feature.

Northwest Division Breakdown

Has anyone ever noticed that all the Canadian teams are corraled into one division in each of the conferences? Conspiracy.

No one can ever accuse Darryl Sutter of being an inactive GM. Perpetually wheeling and dealing in order to make his team better looks great to the fans, but when your ass is planted so firmly against the cap that you can't dress the necessary amount of defenseman for a game, maybe you should re-think making all those moves. In any case, Sutter's the winner of the J-Bouw sweepstakes, and all he had to do was offer up the rights to Jordan Leopold to Florida. I don't think there's anyone home, and the lights aren't on either down in Sunrise, but I digress. The Flames defense is now scary good with the pick-up of Jay, and the dropping of Adrian Aucoin who found work in Phoenix. Daz also let Cammalleri walk to the Canadiens and Bertuzzi back to Detroit via FA, those two were his big pick-ups last offseason. He picked up Freddy Shoes from the Rangers, but more importantly he swiped his brother Brent from Jersey Lou, that's definetely an upgrade from Iron Mike. The Flames always seem to be in it, but never true contenders, even in their run against Tampa. They'll be strong and in the post this year, but probably behind Vancouver.

Offseason Grade: B, Bouwmeester was the big FA signing of the summer, shit, we talked about it all season long.
Regular Season Finish: 5th in the West, 2nd in the Northwest

When the biggest event of the summer for your team is the retirement of the face of the franchise, you know you are bound for a re-build. And so with the third pick of the Entry Draft they took forward Matt Duchene, and began to clean house. Ian Laperriere, a heart and soul guy, left for a more natural fit with Philly, Ryan Smith got traded to LA, they finally got rid of perpetual suck Tyler Arnason, (who went to NYR, but got cut), Ben Guite went Honky Tonk, and Andrew Raycroft somehow found yet another job (VAN). They picked up too solid defensemen in the Smyth trade, Kyle Quincey and Tom Preissing, but the most curious addition with Craig Anderson from Florida. Andy showed signs of brilliance on a dismal Florida team, stringing together shutouts from time to time while filling in for an oft-injured Vokoun. He has yet to prove himself as a number one, but he will probably split time with Budaj unless he wins the spot with his play. Bottom line, there's not much to look forward to after Joe Sakic's jersey retirement until the next draft. Suck is the new black in Colorado.

Offseason Grade: D, this grade could be lowered if Anderson vanishes in a few months.
Regular Season Finish: 14th in West, 5th in Northwest

The only way to get players to come to this shithole is to throw ridiculous amounts of money at them. Pronger's wife demanded a trade, Dany wouldn't go even after he was shown the promotional video. But if your next destination is the KHL and someone's offering you the money, you'll take it right? Edmonton can't be that much different than Russia, can it? Khabby has grabbed a four year $15million deal at age 36, not bad for a guy who just gave up in the playoffs. Rolosson left the three-goalie rotation in Edmonton for one on the Island, Sabourin (BOS) left to make sure Rask doesn't freak out like last season, and Kotalik left so that Sather could overpay him. If you look at the D on paper, it doesn't read too bad, and with Nikky in back this could be a tough team to score against. The Oil have a bunch of talented young forwards that just can't seem to take that next step, they'll need a push via trade, if they can get anyone to go up there. A bubble team for sure, you could put them on either side of the line in the sand, but I have them on the wrong side.

Offseason Grade: D, help is needed on offense, and Comrie is not thy name.
Regular Season Finish: 9th in the West, 3rd in the Northwest

I get the feeling like the honeymoon with a new GM, coach, and team philosophy will not be as sweet as everyone is thinking. Yes its great to see that this team will actually start to play an offensive up-tempo type hockey, but I think the whole team in general is going to have a tough time adjusting to this new style after 10 years of dictatorship rule. The funny thing is that once the playing style changes, Gaborik is off to New York. Marian had to suffer through boring hockey while his play is electrifying. Definetely a big hit losing him, but they brought in Martin Havlat to make up the difference. Havlat (6 years $30million) is most definetely a difference-maker, he can score and set-up, so the swap out may pay off in the long run. Sheriff Shane Hnidy (BOS) was brought in to replace Kurtis Foster who left for Tampa, other than that, we're going to see if Backstrom's numbers are as good, and if they aren't if Harding can shine. Growing pains will be prevalent in Minnesota.

Offseason Grade: C, Havlat for Gaborik, only time will tell.
Regular Season Finish: 13th in West, 4th in Northwest. Sorry Minny.

I really believe that this team is built for the postseason and on the verge of success. I've been pleasantly surprised by GM Gillis's shrewd moves and outside-the-box thinking, that's allowed him to put together a solid team. You've got grit, you've got skill, you've got youth, you've got depth, and you've got probably the best goaltender in the league locked up for the rest of his career. Its hard to argue with. Getting the Sedin's re-signed was a major point in the direction of the franchise, if they didn't return to BC, this team would be a lot different, no question. Stealing Samuelsson (3 years, $7.5million) away from the big Red machine was huge, and I think that might be the most underrated pick-up in FA. Defecting from the KHL, Shirokov has been the surprise of the preseason and the jury's still out on Hodgson's development with a back injury at camp. Taylor Pyatt has found a new home in Phoenix as did backup LaBarbera, and Ohlund violated the NAFTA by signing with the Lightning 5 minutes before free agency started. Wellwood showed up to camp streamlined, but they later found a 40pack of Timbits in his locker. The Canucks are poised, otherwise we'll have Boberto crying in the locker room again, and no one wants to see Lu cry.

Offseason Grade: A, Great additions, good subtractions.
Regular Season Finish: 3rd in the West, 1st in the Northwest

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Northeast Division Breakdown

Adams thought he had a winner last year, I guess he'll have to wait. Until the Whale returns to the Mall.

I really thought the Hub had a good chance to take a swipe but they ran into relentless Hurricane. I foolishly picked the Bruins to roll over Carolina, but they went down in a heap. They had the second biggest offseason movement story with RFA Phil Kessel who was finally traded to Division rival Toronto. I think that will definetely come around to bite them in the ass, struggling to make up those tallies that Kessel netted. Phil wanted what he thought he was due, and as it appears had no interest in remaining a Bruin, but the bottom line is that it will come down to poor cap management. As far as the rest of the team, they attempted to cut a lot of the dead wood, they let Manny Fernandez walk who has yet to find a home (if ever), in order to let Tuukka Rask take over the backup roll behind re-signed Thomas. Defensemen Steve Montador (Buffalo), and Shane Hnidy (Minnesota) have left via FA, Aaron Ward was traded to Carolina, but FA Derek Morris was signed to an overpriced $3.3million, one year contract. Forwards P.J. Axelsson headed back home to Sweden, FA Stephane Yelle joined Aaron down in Carolina, Steve Begin was picked up from the Stars via FA, Recchi and Bitz were re-signed. Overall, the B's will once again make the post but as a weaker team than the previous year with the loss of character guys like Pebbie and Yelle, and of course Kessel.

Offseason Grade: C, couldn't keep last year's team together that was bound for success.

Regular Season Finish: 2nd in East, 1st in Northeast. I didn't say they wouldn't be good, just not as good.

Talk about cleaning house. Afinogenov, unwanted. Teppo Numminen, retired. Spacek, FA to Montreal. Tellqvist, KHL. Moore, unsigned. Picked up? Defenseman Steve Montador who's game has gone to shit, if he ever had one to begin with, and Joe DiPenta, both former Ducks D-men. And that's it. Oh, and Mike Grier. Wow. For a team that was in the hunt not all that long ago, that window of opportunity has vanished. Re-building is now the mind frame for the Slugs and I don't think Regier's got it in him to build a winner. Even with Vanek and Miller signed for the next five I don't know if that gives him enough time to resurrect the Bison.

Offseason Grade: F, Nothing was done to improve this team whatsoever.

Regular Season Finish: 12th in East, 5th in Northeast. Sorry Darcy.

I guess when you blow the 100th Anniversary Celebration by getting walloped in the 1st round of the playoffs you might as well throw a grenade into the locker room. Gainey kicked it off by taking on Gomez's somehow movable contract in a trade with the Rangers for Higgins and three other guys. Not a good start. Overpaid for offensive defenseman Spacek, ($11.5million, 3years), and two Napoleons' Brian Gionta ($25million, 5years) and Mike Cammalleri ($30million, 5years). Also picked up checking winger Travis Moen, defensemen Hal Gill and Paul Mara, and backup Curtis Sanford. Re-signed Latendresse and Plekanec. Waved goodbye to anybody on the roster who's name began with a K, Komisarek (Toronto), Koivu (Anaheim), and of course Kovalev (Ottawa). Left to blow in the wind are Chelios's brother Mathieu Schneider, indecisive Swede Alex Tanguay, Darcy Tucker's brother Robert Lang, and Bouillon, Dandenault, Brisebois, and D'Agostini. Its hard to know where they'll be by the All-Star or even Olympic break, let alone the end of the year. On paper, it looks like the upgraded, but I get the feeling they'll be no worse, no better. Well maybe a little better.

Offseason Grade: B, Bobby brought in marquee talent even if grossly overpaid.

Regular Season Finish: 5th in East, 2nd in Northeast

Well now that the elephant is out of the room, what do we do now? Our top goal scorer is gone, our goaltending looks like shit, oh no wait, its promising. Its somewhere in between shit and promising. Sounds awesome. Has anyone noticed that Bryan Murray has ssslowly, sssucked, sssome sssemblage of sssuccess out of this team? Oh, he's doing what he can? My mistake, I didn't realize he was up for Executive of the Year honors. Kovalev in for 2years at $10million, Brian Elliot and Chris Neil re-signed, and all they lost were Brendan Bell (St. Louis) and Duffrie (Edmonton). I guess they can't be any worse than last year, or can they?

Offseason Grade: C, this is a team that needs to be blown up.

Regular Season Finish: 10th in the East, 4th in Northeast

This is Brian Burke's world now, in fact it has been before he was even "officially" hired, putting in place his hand-picked coach and good buddy Ron Wilson. Those two have worked to change the attitude of that team to be feared instead of vanilla. Like Sundin's bald noggin. Burke snatched up Komisarek and Beauchemin off of FA, and then added Garnet Exelby to go with Kaberle and Schenn. Pretty impressive defensive corp, which is the way Burke builds out. But offensive spark is still in question even with the addition of Kessel. Toronto had an odd goaltending situation develop, Gerber, Kolzig, and CuJo all had deals expire this year. Kolzig just retired, CuJo's bound to, and Gerber ended up in the KHL. Toskala's supposed to be the #1 but hasn't proved worthy of the task. Burke went to Sweden over the summer in an attempt to land the Sedin's, but also to pick up Jonas "Monster" Gustavsson. He'll push Toskala to be better or take over the role, at least that's the idea. Most of my picks are pretty tame, but this is the one I'm going out on a limb for... I, for some reason, think the Leafs will eek into the postseason. Laughable I know, but lets just wait and see.

Offseason Grade: A, still needs offensive help, but added key players at all positions while changing the dynamic of the team for the better.
Regular Season Finish: 8th in East, 3rd in Northeast

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Don't Get Too Excited...

We're not posting anything substantial on our usual Thursday, just listing some things to note, things to read, things to make you go hmmm...

  • Well our big summer story is over. Last year it was Sundin. That bald bastard strung us along until December. Dany Heatley gave us the silent treatment so we had no choice but to speculate until he gave us a call and teased us with a little phone sex. But now he's left for California, San Jose to be more specific, his preferred destination. Who wins, Ottawa or San Jose? If they don't win it all does it matter? That's probably more relevant for San Jose, but isn't that why Dany wanted out of Ottawa and over to SJ so he had a better opportunity of winning it all?
  • By the way, doesn't Jonathan Cheechoo read like a character out of 'Mystery, Alaska'?
  • So now we move on to our less interesting story of the summer, Phil Kessel and that pesky salary cap. Kessel really wanted to be UNrestricted free agent, because then he could probably get a lot more loot than he's asking for. And put someone else's team over the cap. Burke peaked everyone's interest when he re-acquired his second round pick, making a hypocritical offer sheet possible. But for the first time in their history, the Predators are actually trying to go after someone who doesn't have a "wonky" foot. (Scott Burnside needs his wonky head looked at.) To me, out of those three teams, (throw the Rangers in if you want), Boston has the best chance to win.

I guess that's it. I'm not really into preseason games, they're meaningless. I've got some more posts planned... 'How You Get Your Hockey', and maybe some Top Ten lists, or five if I'm feeling lazy, and I usually am. And of course I've got to wrap up those division breakdowns before the season starts, Northeast Division up next.

Fuck, I better get crack-a-lackin'.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Central Division Breakdown

Central Division
Round 'em up Jimmie boy, we gotta get these ol' girls fed if we're going make it to the ranch by nightfall.
(If you can get that one, I'll buy beers for the night. Here's a hint...)
There is no theory of evolution, just a list of creatures Chuck Norris has allowed to live.

This may come as a surprise, but despite all their turmoil, I believe the Hawks are poised to make a big run. Maybe even THE run. Amidst the chaos, comes clarity, and the only way to save a tumultuous offseason is to make up for it in the postseason. I know, I know, they picked up 'the curse' of Marian Hossa to fill the void for Havlat, I still think they win out on that deal. Aside from that, who did they lose? Defenseman Matt Walker, but they've got a glut of defenseman, including a $7million one. The big loss is Khabibulin, and that creates a big question mark in going with Huet, who couldn't win out the #1 job last year. That's really the only soft spot on this team that I see, but it could be a gaping wound. I believe Huet is capable of carrying the load, whether he does or not will be the big question. As far as pick-ups, they got Kopecky and the aformentioned Hossa from the Wings, and Madden to fill Sami Pahlsson's departure as a shutdown centerman. With the offer sheet snafu they had to re-sign just about everyone planting them firmly against the cap, so if injuries hit or Huet falters, they're going to have to deal to shed salary for bottom of the barrel players. But they've got a ton of weapons, a young core, and a pretty solid defense to make something big happen. Besides, they've spent enough money to make it happen.
Offseason Grade: C, Aggressive moves by the faithfully departed (Tallon) have pulled a nice chunk of talent together. Unfortunately, that also requires a large chunk of money, cap issues will obviously be a problem as soon as next year.
Regular Season Finish: 3rd in West, 2nd in Central
Coming off their first postseason, the BJ's have created quite a buzz in Ohio. That hum was further amplified by their signing of franchise player Rick Nash to an 8year extension in the offseason. Aside from that, they let just about everybody walk, or at least haven't offered them anything. Christian Backman, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, Manny Malhotra, Jason Williams, Mike Peca, Chris Gratton, Jiri Novotny, all, gone, or just, not, there. The silence is defeaning. They did pick up Sami Pahlsson, and Mathieu Garon to backup Calder-winner Chris Mason, (excuse me, Steve Mason thanks to the homer below). Lighting the Lamp just put up a post about how the Jackets are the fourth cheapest team in the league, not the kind of fact you want your growing fanbase to be insulted by. I don't know, maybe Howson's got a trick up his sleeve, because the pockets don't seem to be deep enough.
Offseason Grade: C, I know its hard to draw players in, but sometimes you've got to spend money to make money.
Regular Season Finish: 11th in the West, 4th in the Central

Is the Kool-Aid that good in "Hockeytown"? Apparently not, at least for the guys playing under Zetterberg, Datysuk, and Franzen. They all took off for greener pastures, and get this, even the KHL! Looking to cash in on the free agency checkbook, Kopecky left for Chicago, Samuelsson left for Vancouver, and Hudler left for Dynamo Moscow. Oh and some guy named Hossa left too. Now its time for the kids who weren't getting the playing time to step it up, yeah that's you Abdelkader, Leino, and Helm. Lets see if you're as good as everyone thinks you are. Jimmy Howard will more than likely be finally coming up, as ConkBlock left (Blues) and Osgood's on his last legs. On paper the Wings lost a lot, but they always find a way to win, and by no means did they lose enough to miss out on the postseason. They've still got their marquee talent, and plenty of them. They'll be in it, as usual.

Offseason Grade: D, but who am I to question Mr. Holland.

Regular Season Finish: 1st in West, 1st in Central

All your pluckiness has come to an end my friend. Trotz and the Preds have always had success making something out of nothing, or at least not much. This is just a team of everyman, with no real standouts, and no real flash, just hard, disciplined work. Its kind of like the Devils, but in a city where rolled up jeans are cool and everyone thinks they can play the guitar. Boring? Well they got Ben Guite, eh, Eh, EH. Kept Steve Sullivan and Joel Ward, lost Fiddler (ironic), Koistinen, and Nichol. And they didn't re-sign Radek Bonk, and whenever you lose Bonk, you lose, period. I don't know, I think they fall farther off the wagon, and the City wonders why they kept them.

Offseason Grade: D, You didn't do anything this offseason, come to think of it, you never do.

Regular Season Finish: 12th in West, 5th in Central

The Notes shocked the shit out of everyone at the end of last season, and shot up to the sixth seed, when everyone expected another aborted season out of Missouri. They showed a lot of moxy (even though they were run over by the Canucks), and the team was really starting to gel with the young guys coming into their own, and the veterans quietly, but solidly supporting. What's even more surprising is that this team is bound to get better with additions of Kariya and Erik Johnson who were lost to season-ending injuries last year. They've re-signed winger Crombeen and defensemen Wagner and Polak, and lost McKee Woywitka. They told Manny to take a hike, he's trying out for the Thrashers. Sad, sad. John Davidson has really surprised me with the smart moves he's made since he moved to the front office, but I'm surprised they haven't picked up Dan Hinote yet. If for name alone.

Offseason Grade: B, Nothing lost but something gained.

Regular Season Finish: 7th in the West, 3rd in the Central

Hypocrite, I Think Not

'This is the mind through which all blessings flow.'

Just wanted to throw my 20cents in on this whole Burke offer sheet to Kessel thing, as if you gave a shit. But I'll be quick.

Here's the money quote from Burke, on Kevin Lowe's offer sheet to Dustin Penner...
"I have no problem with offer sheets, they are part of the CBA. I think it's a tool certainly a team is entitled to use. My issue here is this is the second time this year in my opinion Edmonton have offered a grossly inflated salary for a player, and it impacts on all 30 teams and I think it's an act of desperation by a general manager who is fighting to keep his job."

The offer sheet to Penner was five years for $21.25million. That's $4.25million a year for a guy who wasn't any more than checking line material, or at the very best, a big ass in front of the net. Sure he came off a Stanley Cup win, and was second on the team in goals, but he was playing with Getzlaf and Perry, two guys who are taking quality shots all game long, with plenty of rebounds for Penner to garbage pick. This was way too much for this type of player, which has become obvious since his time in Edmonton.

That same summer Lowe offered Thomas Vanek a seven year, $50million deal coming of his rookie contract. The question is still up in the air as to whether Vanek is worth this type of money, but in the end he probably will be, putting up points for a team that lacks offensive punch.

Burke's issue with Lowe was that he was offering too much to players who weren't worth that kind of money, it wasn't that he made offer sheets, it was that he offered too damn much.

I have to believe that if Burke extends an offer to Kessel it is going to be fair market value, but that's obviously more than what the Bruins can afford. So what the hell is Kessel supposed to do? Not play because his previous team can't afford to pay him? And Burke, and for that matter any other GM in the league (with available cap space), is just supposed to sit there with their hands folded and pretend not to steal glances at his cleavage? C'mon.

The move, in my opinion, is genious by Burke because it adds a top 6 forward which the Leafs so desperately need, and it takes it from the division rival Bruins. The same spit-in-the-face, kick-dirt-on-'em move as luring Komisarek away from the Habs.

Bottom line, if Burke offers more than Kessel's worth then you can call him a hypocrite.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Pondering Programming - How Do You Get Your Hockey?

Okay folks, here's the situation. Hockey is my haven, so the more that's available to me, the more I'm distracted and therefore happy. Work is what gets in the way when I'm thinking about hockey. Why are we talking about this?

Here's how it all started...

A little over a month ago, my 37" Sharp LCD up and quit on me. Keep in mind this fucker is only two and a half years old. So I take it in to get serviced and, get this, the part to fix it costs $2900. I only payed $1100 for the piece of shit, so I could splurge and buy three new ones for the same money it costs me to fix the old one. Okay so after jumping through all the hoops I got my money back, but not from Sharp, (fuck those fucking fucks).

Okay so new TV time right? I should be pissing my pants excited. Alright, so lets do some research because after all I'm not buying the same monkey shit as last time, I'm getting one that allows me to smell the hockey equipment. Sony's the big name out there, but ooooh, look at the Samsung's. So now I'm comparing specifications and reading reviews on, and up to my ass in model numbers. Okay so I finally find the one I want, (Samsung LN40B640), so now I start thinking, "what other kind of cutting edge TV-watching technology can I get to go with my smell-0-vision tube?"

So I start looking at Blu-Ray and start getting an erection from that, and then I think, "what about my connection?

I've got the local cable provider gouging my soft-earned cash, and I'm barely getting any channels in HD, not even Versus, (but I guess it could be worse). Now I'm a believer in anything worth doing, is worth doing right. So any, and every kind of sport should be broadcast in High Definition. No exceptions.

Alright so lets look at DirecTV with all its fancy satellites and what not. Then of course this horseshit chess match between DirecTV and Versus starts hitting the headlines, and Vs. is officially taken off DTV. Fuck.

So now what? I've got a shitty local cable provider over-charging me for half-assed technology, or all the technology in the world and they can't negotiate a deal with a shitty little network chockfull of infomercials.
Alright so let's look at what else is out there. They just recently started offering AT&T U-verse in my neighborhood, but these hockey-haters aren't offering Center Ice whatsoever, and have just moved the NHL Network to a more costly sports tier. Screw those assholes.

Dish Network seems like the retarded cousin of DirecTV that everyone just ignores. They offer the Center Ice Package, and with that comes free NHL Network, and they haven't got into a pissing contest with Versus as of yet. Well I've heard about a ton of problems with Dish Network in the past before, and I don't know anyone with it now, so I'm not about to jump in with those short busers.

So now we come around to GameCenter Live. I've been very skeptical of this service due to its dependence on the interwebs, and the amount of users on said service at the same time. We've all tried to buy very desired hockey or concert tickets online before, its a fucking pain in the ass, and your connection usually takes a shit right when you're about to buy. Even so, MotherPucker does a great breakdown of one of the free previews of GameCenter Live at the beginning of last season, assessing its limitations and its viagra-like advantages. I used to think I was Electrophile, but I've come to realize in the last few years that I don't know shit. I've flirted with the idea of hooking up the computer to the flatpanel, but I just don't think I know enough, and therefore wet my pants in fear thinking about it. I'm not about to watch those games on my computer screen in crappy resolution even with all the fancy, instantaneous stats.
So what's did I do? I told my cable company to go fuck themselves, and I signed on with DirecTV, figuring that this whole Versus mess would eventually get itself figured out, and back on the air. I've already called and complained to DirecTV, (which if you haven't I encourage you to do), and they've discounted some programming and given me other programming free. The Customer Service Representative said they've been getting flooded with calls about it, and all CSR's are aware of the situation and authorized to offer incentives without a supervisor. I've told everyone I know (even mouth-breathing non-hockey fans) to call and complain about Versus, if nothing else to get free programming.

I've got to tell you, I couldn't be happier. The picture is 100x better, the games that are actually promised in HD are shown in HD, not like cable's bait and switch, and that scoreboard bug that you can pull up and navigate to each game is killer. I won't be able to watch the massive tilt between Philly and Washington tonight, but hopefully soon we'll have some kind of resolution. Just as long as we all keep pissing off DirecTV to put Versus back on. We as the hockey viewing public are going to have fight this battle, because its pretty obvious Gary isn't going to get us out of this mess.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Emery's Back Bitches

Ray Emery's interview with Comcast SportsNet Philly has some interesting little tidbits in it, including new information (at least its new to me), and the always enjoyable shit-talking.
"I realize I'm fortunate to play a game for a living, but at the end of the day, it's just that. I don't take it too hard if I don't do well and I don't get too high if I succeed in the game."
Making it sound like he's a pretty humble guy, he does confirm what we originally thought, he likes hockey, he thinks he's fortunate to play hockey, but either way, he doesn't care that much about it. So much so that he's more of a glass half empty, non-chalant kind of guy...
"I don't think I enjoy winning that much, I think I detest losing so I'll do everything in my power to not lose."
As far as playing for Philly, and his options coming off his year in the KHL...
"I think there were other teams out there, other options out there, but I consider this team (even last year) to be a top-5 team, and there aren't many top-5 teams in the league that are looking for a goalie just to step in kinda out of nowhere, so that's a great opportunity."
After being compared to Michael Vick's situation in the NFL, he again plays the 'humble' card instead of the 'insensitive racial question' card, (which was within his right, and probably wouldv'e prompted a coffee table flip. Which may have happened but its a typed transcript, so...)
"I don't know. In all fairness to Michael Vick, that's one of the marquee players in the league so I think that's like Jaromir Jagr having a tough time or something. I think if you're a marquee player in the league someone is going to give you a shot. I think it's just my personal opinion that he's fortunate that the Eagles aren't a middle of the road team. Its a solid team he's getting a chance to play for. Like I said, I don't think there's that much comparison between the two."
But now I have a little more respect for Emery, after finding out that he's a Rage Against the Machine fan sporting a tattoo with the lyric "Anger is a gift," from the song 'Freedom' and explaining is his reason for getting it...
"It just means that if you're passionate enough about something to get some emotion out of then its important to you and it can be used in a good way."
And a KOL fan...
"I saw Kings of Leon when I was up there training in Calgary. That was a good show. They've got a good album out now."
But then loses it when we find out he might be opening a clothing line with Sean Avery...
"There's different things I'm interested in. My friends are in the restaurant and real estate business. I like fashion. So there's a few things. I would go to school. I wouldn't mind brushing up on one of those subjects and go from there."
But the most interesting part of the interview was when Assistant GM for Philadelphia, and former Ottawa head coach John Paddock got brought up,
"I felt real bad when things came down in Ottawa, and like I said he was a coach and a father figure. He had coached me when I was 19 years old and we went through a lot together. When he said that and felt that and when the team had a collapse midway through the year, it was a tough time for everybody. Its definitely something you look back on and its strange we end up in the same place again. If I get the chance to play for him again, he won't have to motivate me at all."
Pretty strong words, but maybe the real reason Emery was brought on by the Flyers brass, he had a lobbyist in Paddock. That places ol' Johnny's ass on the line should Emery implode.
But the strongest words were saved for Marty Biron, when asked if he was a better goaltender...
"I can't tell you that, but on any given night if we play them this year, we're going to win."
There we go.

Atlantic Division Breakdown

Patrick misses his Caps. Arguably, the toughest division in the whole league, with four potential playoff contenders, and the reigning Champs. With the exception of the SC champs these four teams are so close to one another in distance its like a house league.

Lou's biggest acquisition this summer was picking up Lemaire, and making Devils hockey mind-numbingly boring. A while back, I wrote that the regime change in Minnesota might finally end annoying hockey in the League for good. Well, thanks Lamoriello, thanks a fucking lot.
The Devils lost two key members to free agency in John Madden and Brian Gionta, and didn't really pick up anyone to fill those roles. But they've still got Marty Brodeur, and with Lemaire's system it will probably be enough to get them to the dance.
Off-Season Grade: C
Regular Season Finish: 6th in the East, 3rd in the Atlantic

I believe that Charles Wang fucked over a lot of people to get where he is, and karma is taking it out on him and his poor Islanders. After Garth Snow made the no-brainer by taking John Tavares #1 overall, he decided not to give him any offensive help. I'm sure JT will be paired up with Okposo, but who else? Why wouldn't you go out, and throw some money around to add some goal-scoring? There were plenty of guys waiting for phone calls out there, who would have been glad to play anywhere, there still are. But no Snow decided to go pick up some veteran goaltenders to back up his 15year franchise elephant. Its hard to get any worse than last, so lets be optimistic and say they'll finish... second to last.
Off-Season Grade: D
Regular Season Finish: 14th in the East, 5th in the Atlantic

Glen Sather was busy this summer. I guess if you look busy, people won't notice that you suck at your job. But you've got to give him credit, he somehow pulled off moving Gomez's overhyped contract, by getting nothing in return. But he was up to his old tricks again offering ridiculous contracts to players who won't live up to them, like paying for Marian Gaborik's groin to work for five years at $37.5million, or Ales Kotalik $9million for three years to win shootouts. He brought in Brashear, who maimed Blair Betts, to fill Colton Orr's spot as team enforcer. But I guess Sather's thinking was if you don't re-sign Betts it won't be awkward in the locker room. He brought in a couple of other players nobody wanted, (Arnason & Prospal), and told others to take a hike (Zherdev, Antropov). The head-scratcher, not bringing back Brandon Dubinsky, probably the hardest working and eager young kids on the team. He's still out there, waiting for a call, probably a numbers thing, but still, he made $635k last year, give him that last half million of Gaborik's money.
Off-Season Grade: C
Regular Season Finish: 7th in the East, 4th in the Atlantic

A fair amount of hockey fans are predicting that the Cup stays in Pennsyltucky, just not in Steel Town. I am not one of them, but it won't be for lack of trying. Paul Holmgren added a lot to the line-up, and tried to build a true contender almost overnight. The big move was adding Chris Pronger to the defense, and only losing Joffrey Lupul and Luca Sbisa in the process. The big question for the Flyers will be goaltending swapping out Biron and Nittymaki, (which wasn't working) for ticking timebomb Emery and Boucher (which may never work). They also swapped out heart-and-soul guys Mike Knuble for Ian Laperriere, losing a scoring touch for a chip on the shoulder. After pure exhaustion in their first round exit to the cross-state rivals, the front office has re-stocked nicely to go deep, but probably not all the way.
Off-Season Grade: B
Regular Season Finish: 3rd in the East, 2nd in the Atlantic

Pittsburgh Penguins - Its hard to argue with a winner, but no one's repeated in over 10 years. Now that's disparity. The Birds lost back-up netminder, I mean defenseman Rob 'The Piece' Scuderi to LA, and the speedy Hal Gill to Montreal. They did toss a few others to the curb, Satan, Sykora, and Phillippe Boucher, who are more than likely on their way out of the league anyway. Other than that, not a whole lot has changed, no earth-shattering acquisitions, but they did pick up (actual) back-up netminder Brent Johnson, and defenseman Jay McKee. The Pens still look very strong, and could very likely end up in the Finals once again, but I have a feeling that if they do make it that far they'll be losing out to their West counterpart. Who that is will have to wait until the next edition!
Off-Season Grade: B
Regular Season Finish: 1st in the East, and therefore 1st in the Atlantic.

Up next, we'll switch over to the Western Conference and breakdown the Central Division. But don't rush me, I pretend to work for a living.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Yap, Yap, Yap. Gab, Gab, Gab.

"He seems like an offensive-minded coach, obviously, though, we have to take care of things defensively. But I don’t have a problem with that since I played in Minnesota for nine years."
- Marian Gaborik, on Head Coach John Tortorella

Can't wait to see Torts benching Gabby for not backchecking in some meaningless game in December. If its against the Devils, the Tri-State area will reek of the irony.