Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Life, Hockey And Ticket Prices!

So its been a while since we have posted - so many things happening around here its incredible. Where to start ... Clint landed a sweet job and moved to the snowy area of the US (does that narrow it down a bit?) ... Me, I have been getting use to my new job in corporate america! Well - for the past 5 months I have been working at a technology company that is moving at the speed of light and I have quickly had to play catch up since day 1.

So - enough with the crying! HOCKEY has started - this season has had its ups and downs. Will start posting about games and players soon. The Sharks are looking strong, Nabby is kicking ass and taking names. My fantasy team is tied for 1st with Clint (which is a pretty amazing feat if you ask me!)

One thing I would like to complain about - did anyone tell Tampa Bay that they dont have the Stanley Cup anymore? It appears they think since they won the cup 3 years ago they can still sell tickets at UNGODLY prices!!! Is that just with Tampa Bay - or is that league wide?

OK - back to work ... hopefully I can bug Clint enough to put up some good thought provoking posts!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How Bout An Endorsement From The Great One?

NHL players are going to start a trial run during practices of a new heated skate blade. Thermablades use a rechargeable battery and a microprocessor within each skate blade to maintain a temperature of 41 degrees. The warm blade increases the thickness of the water layer between the blade and the ice surface, and the company said its tests have shown this reduces gliding friction and starting resistance for skaters.

"The NHL is very interested in confirming the data provided by Therma Blade Inc. to establish the safety and reliability of the blade under NHL game conditions and we have agreed to allow a small group of players to test these blades in practices over the next few weeks," said Kris King, the NHL's senior manager of hockey operations.
The charged battery in each blade will last for about two games. Fingers placed on sensors on either side of the rear of the plastic blade holder for three seconds activates the battery to warm the blade. The system automatically turns off when a player is idle on the bench, and the energy of returning to the ice reactivates the system. The system is turned off by repeating the process used to turn it on.

Wayne Gretzky was so impressed with Thermablades when he tried them more than three years ago that he invested in the company. "I should still be playing," a smiling Gretzky said while skating on the blades for a video shown during the product launch at the Hockey Hall of Fame on Tuesday. The Phoenix Coyotes coach said he wishes his players could get them first because Thermablades will "revolutionize the game of hockey."

Not to bad of an endorsement if you ask me!!!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

So Close You Can Smell It

The trades and negotiations are over (for now) ... the teams are in camp preparing themselves for the kick off of the 07/08 NHL Season. The fantasy teams have been selected and the Smack Talk has begun.

I am heading to Italy for 2 weeks - I am not sure if Clint or Brian are going to be updating the blog while I am gone ... if they dont, there will be PLENTY to talk about when I return on Sept 29th.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Ducks Fall Back Option

Forsberg could be in the crosshairs. With Penner gone, Selanne retireing and Neids taking his sweet time to decide it looks like Peter might be on the menu. If Neids does hang up his skates then Anaheim will have tons of cash under the salary cap, according to Burke they have approved a $45 Million payroll for this coming season. Allready $5 Million under the cap with Neids gone (he will be suspended without pay if he does not show up for camp - which he probably wont show up for) that will free up another $6+ Million - More than enough room to attract a strong forward like Pedro!

Keep an eye on this rumor ...

Sharks Locker Room - 2003

Just rummaging through my picture file and I found a picture I took when I started working with the San Jose Sharks ... *smile*

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Thats right friends - the same guy who retired by SMS during the break has been picked by the Sharks for one year. My heart dropped when I read this ... $500,000 for Jeremy to play in Teal for one year! I dont know what to say. Doug was not at a loss for words -

"Jeremy Roenick is a tremendous competitor and he has a great love for the game of hockey, we feel he can add something to the talented group of players on our club and we feel that this is an environment where Jeremy can be successful."

Well, JR spent last season racking up a whopping 28 points in 70 games with the Coyotes. Over his career Roenick has 495 career goals, 675 assists and 1,413 penalty minutes. In 136 playoff games, he scored 51 goals and added 65 assists. In 19 years he has played in 9 All Star games and helped win the Silver Medal with the 2002 USA Olympic Hockey Team.

Doug Wilson and Roenick were together when Jeremy was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1988. Talking to Evan Grossman with JR said
“That was a very, very true feeling in my body and soul about retiring,” Roenick said. “I kind of lost a little luster for the game the last couple of years. And then I got a phone call from Doug Wilson. Immediately, from a phone call from a team like San Jose and a guy that I respect -- probably one of the most respected guys I ever played with -- in Doug Wilson, my electricity and my energy immediately came back. When you love to play the game and you’ve loved to play the game for so long, when a team comes along of this nature, this kind of opportunity, it’s very, very easy to get excited and motivated. That’s pretty much how it went. I kind of feel like I’ve gotten a second chance at life on a team where I can fit in and go along with the flow and try to help as much as I can.”

Older, wiser, and maybe even a little quieter than we’re used to Roenick being, he’s back for at least one more season. Not quite one of the out-of-focus guys in the back of the team photo, he says he’s going to be a role player and Roenick has pledged his allegiance to the San Jose Sharks, really the only team that called him this summer. “It’s going to be a quiet year in terms of the verbal side of me,” Roenick said. “I’m going to go in there and really just enjoy being on a team that’s run by probably two of the great players in the League in Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton. I’m going to really love watching them play every single night. It’s an exciting time for me and my family, that’s for sure.”

Friday, August 31, 2007

Give Me Marleau and Two for $12.6 Million Please

The Sharks announced today the 2 year extension for the teams most senior player. Patrick Marleau has been with the franchise for over 10 years ... he has set the clubs records in Goals, Points, Assists and Games played. Patty was 18 years old when he was drafted as a rookie in 97/98 and has been with the team since. After months of negotiations and public speculation on his future, he finalized a deal two weeks before training camp opens to stay with the club. Patrick has played more games in teal than anyone, and he was relieved to head into camp with his future resolved.

"I put a lot of thought into it, but what it came down to is I've been here the longest, I'm the last guy standing. I've come up with the team, and now that we've got what I think is a Stanley Cup-calibre team, I thought it wouldn't be the best time to leave. It was important to me to stay with the team, to stay in the Bay Area." Marleau said in a phone interview

Marleau's new deal will pay him $6.3 million each season, a healthy raise for the Sharks' second-line centre. Thornton, the Sharks' top-line centre and the league's second-leading scorer, will average $7.2 million per year in his three-year extension, which also begins in 2008.
This looks like the final move from Doug Wilson who has been busy courting Thornton, Michalek and Rivet this off season ...
"A group of our guys understand we're coming in to the prime of where our team is at, it's an exciting time for us, for this number of players to step up and want to be a part of it. I think they sense there's something good in place. He's got that balance. He understands that there's nobody bigger than the game, and nobody bigger than the team. The relationships that players have with fans are based on that premise. He gives back, and he's very involved in the community.”

When asked about the rumors that have surrounded Patrick for the past couple months Doug said “You learn from listening and taking all these calls, but there really was only one priority, and that was to re-sign Patrick. Did teams call as recently as the last couple of days? Yes, they did, but the response was always that we're trying to re-sign Patty.”

We will have to wait all season to see if Patrick will show up to next years playoff games - just a short 3 months ago Doug Wilson was singing a different tune criticizing Patrick for his weak showing in the playoffs leading up to their enormous choke against Detroit.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Taking It Outdoors

According to the Canadian Press the NHL could be going outdoors this season in Buffalo. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sabres will play at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the NFL's Buffalo Bills, on Jan. 1, 2008. The made-for-television event would air across the U.S. on NBC, in what the league hopes will attract the largest audience ever to watch an NHL game in the United States. Neither the league nor NBC would officially confirm the tentatively titled "Ice Bowl," which is scheduled to be played at 1 p.m. An official announcement is expected on Sept. 10, prior to the start of training camp.

This would b the NHL's second attempt an outdoor game. The Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers played in "The Heritage Classic" at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium on Nov. 22, 2003. That contest was played in sub-freezing temperatures before a crowd of more than 52,000 people. The game marked the first time two NHL clubs met outdoors for an official game. In 2001, the University of Michigan played outdoors at arch-rival Michigan State in a game dubbed the "Cold Wars" before 74,554 fans.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Found - One Stanley Cup Ring!

This is a straight cut and paste from TSN ... I was so touched by this story.

Stanley Cup ring found in Gulf of Mexico

A treasure hunter searching in Florida waters came across a true Canadian find - a Stanley Cup ring marking the last time Toronto's Maple Leafs were able to clinch the hockey championship. The ring has been missing for some thirty years. It belonged to former Maple Leaf right-winger Jim Pappin, the player who led his team during the 1967-68 season playoffs with seven goals and 15 points.

Pappin was so disillusioned with the Leafs after they traded him to the Chicago Blackhawks, he gave his ring to his father-in-law. "I didn't want anything to do with the Toronto Maple Leafs," he told CTV's Naomi Parness. His father in law, Peter Kyrzakos, wore the ring faithfully until he lost it sometime in the 1970s during a stay at his vacation home in Vero Beach, Fla.

Kyrzakos was so distressed, he hired people and divers to look for the ring, but to no avail. Too upset to tell Pappin, he asked former teammate Eddie Shack for his ring so that he could have it replicated. Kyrzakos only told Pappin about the lost ring in 1982 when his daughter and the hockey player divorced. He gave Pappin the replica and the two remained close until Kyrzakos died in 2004.

Pappin never thought about the ring again until the treasure hunter gave him a call from Florida. Early in August, Mark DesErmia was in the Gulf of Mexico, off the shores of Clearwater Pass, Fla. with an underwater metal detector when it detected the missing treasure with Pappin's name inscribed on the inside. DesErmia said he's been offered $20,000 for the ring but that he would gladly give it back to Pappin for a reward.

"What's amazing is that the guy wants to give it back to me," he said. Pappin said he hopes to sell the replica and give DesErmia that money as his reward. The ring also has special meaning for Pappin's daughter, who is getting married next week. She was very close to her grandfather and having the possession he treasured would be just like having him there with her, Pappin said.

One Less RFA ... Next Year!

Ron Wilson secured Milan Michalek for $26 Million over 6 years ... starting NEXT year! After making $471,000 last season - Milan has done quite nicely almost doubling his salary for this season bringing in $942,000. After that though, look out ... he will be averaging $4.3 Million a year! Michalek was the 6th overall draft pick in 2003, and according to Ron Wilson, is on track to becoming one of the elite forwards in the NHL, which will solidify his spot on the Thornton / Cheechoo line.

According to TSN

''I think we knew this was an element of the new CBA the day it was signed,'' said Wilson. ''When you drop down the age of eligibility of UFA and the accrued seasons, you have to make decisions on players obviously much younger. For us, Milan falls into that age group. He's certainly a multi-situational player who is very mature in his game with certainly a great upside. We think he's going to be a dominant player for many years. You have to understand how this CBA works on a daily basis, you have to make decisions much earlier and much quicker than you did in the past. It's also one of the reasons why we feel that the players we know the best are the ones we've drafted, developed and had a lot of time with.''
Keep in mind that another factor is players hit unrestricted free agency sooner under the current CBA, at age 28 this summer or after seven years of NHL service. With the salary cap to consider as well, teams seem inclined to lock-in their young players earlier to gain cost-certainty.

''I think it gives me more security and I don't have to worry about anything else than just hockey, that's good for me,'' said Michalek. ''I think nothing is going to change in my play, I'm still going to play the same game like I played. It was great to play with those two great players (Thornton and Cheechoo), they're (among) the best players in the NHL and I'm sure it helped me a lot in my career. I'm very happy to stay in San Jose, I think we have a great team for many years to come and I think we can win many Stanley Cups.''
That would be fine with the Sharks, who watched Michalek record 66 points (26-40) with a plus-17 rating in 78 games in 2006-07, his second full NHL campaign. He tied for fourth in the NHL with nine game-winning goals. The Czech native picked up 35 points (17-18) in 81 games as a rookie. Michalek finished the year skating alongside Thornton and Cheechoo, forming a talented and physically imposing first line. Not surprisingly, that helped the six-foot-two, 225-pound winger step his game up.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Ricci - Back In Teal

Today the San Jose Sharks announced that Mike Ricci is coming back to The Shark Tank - this time in a suit and tie. Ricci will serve as Advisor to Hockey Operations. Bryan Marchment was also brought into the Sharks organization working on scouting and player development.

According to -
Ricci, in his new role, will serve as a consultant to the club's hockey
operations department and assist in player development. He will also serve
various roles within the organization, including marketing, promotions and
community relations.
He notched 605 points (243 goals, 362 assists) and 979
penalty minutes in 1,099 NHL games with Philadelphia, Quebec/Colorado, San Jose
and Phoenix. He also added 66 points (23 goals, 43 assists) in 110 playoff

I love this announcement and to have Ricci's passion and leadership back in the locker room at the Tank will show next season. Anyone care to wager if he grows his hair out again?

Bryan Marchment's duties will include working with players in San Jose and Worcester, as well as scouting Sharks prospects at the college and Canadian major junior levels. He will also serve as an advisor to the hockey operations department. Bryan played in 926 NHL games over 17 seasons with Winnipeg, Chicago, Hartford, Edmonton, Tampa Bay, San Jose, Colorado, Toronto and Calgary and posted 182 points (40 goals, 142 assists) and 2,307 penalty minutes.

I will give Clint a few moments to gather his thoughts regarding this announcement ...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Buffalo And Ticket Prices

According to Phil Mushnick @ the NY Post - his article yesterday says it all.

"The Buffalo Sabres this season will switch to variable ticket pricing based on the date and opponent, similar to what the Mets do with their gold, silver and bronze designations.

Thus, the same cheapest Sabres seat that costs $20 for some games will cost $68 for others; the better seats that cost $90 for certain games will cost $203 for others. Because it's impossible to predetermine the value of games, the plan is a cosmetically beautified exercise in price gouging.

Whatever became of the NHL's on-ice "Thank You, Fans" campaign? Must've melted away."

Relly nothing more to say to that ... I am not going to cast stones quite yet seeing how the season has not started quite yet, but seriously, Buffalo ... Now that you have gone and canibalized your roster, dont get all greedy with ticket pricing!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

How Do You Say Goaltender In Swedish?

Ed Belfour is about to find out - The 17 year NHL veteran appears to be heading across the pond to Sweden. Word on the street has him close to signing with Leksand of the Swedish League. Evidently Ed has not been able to land a job with an NHL team since becomeing an Unrestricted Free Agent, however, the veteran goaltender is looking to continue his career overseas.

From Yahoo Sports - "According to a report in Swedish sports publication Expressen, Belfour is "very close" to signing a contract with second-division Leksand of the Swedish League. Belfour became an unrestricted free agent in July after spending last season with the Florida Panthers.

Belfour, 42, went 27-17-10 with a 2.77 goals-against average for the Panthers last season. The two-time Vezina Trophy winner has 484 career wins in 17 seasons with Chicago, San Jose, Dallas, Toronto and Florida."

On the list of All Time Wins - Ed holds the third spot behind Brodeur and Roy. He is also a 5 time All Star. Belfour and Auld were allowed to hit the UFA market after the Panthers acquired Vokoun from Nashville.

Just to help Ed out a bit ... Goalkeeper is spelled - mål|vakt in swedish. Just please dont ask me to pronounce that!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Is It Really The Jersey?

I ran across a snippet on Tom Benjamin's blog "Sad But True" - Here is a story that has probably the most rediculous quote I have ever read. This story reports on the new jersey that will debut in the NHL next season. Granted - new jerseys happen, Koho use to make them and now Reebock does - there is always some type of change year after year. According to this article they are revamping the entire look, fit and feel of the sweaters worn by these ice warriors.

Here is a link to the story on

So - the quote I am refering to was made by Keith Leach, director of NHL Uniforms for Reebok (the company responsible for the overhaul) ...

"The League sat down and brainstormed about what would be the biggest improvement for the game and the uniform was first and foremost"

When I read this at first I laughed thinking this guy has to be kidding ... I honestly continued reading waiting patiently for the punchline. Then I began thinking - If I were the NHL and I sat down with the Director of NHL Uniforms for Reebock ... am I going to talk to him about my consessions margin, my ticket sales or fan penetration in specific markets, my very pitiful and weak marketing program and branding issues ... probably not. I am going to talk to him about ..... *drum roll please* ... The uniforms Reebock manufactures for me! I think the reason the uniforms were "First and Foremost" the biggest improvement in Keith's eyes is because the ONLY piece of the NHL that he controls is the uniform - and he really doesnt control that ... he is basically the Admin Assistant for the NHL at Reebock headquarters. The NHL says "We are changing our uniforms" ... are we to believe that Keith is going to turn around and say WHOAAAH NHL ... are you sure you want to do that ... think about tradition, the fan reactions, the players reactions ... Absolutely not! Keith turns around runs to his boss and says "The NHL wants to change their uniforms!" - Let the negotiations and presentations begin!

"Reportedly, the result of two years of Reebok research it incorporates the company's "Edge" system, which offers lighter, more breathable fabric that allows for a greater range of movement, and two new technologies -- Bead Away and Playdry -- which wick away moisture, providing for a significantly drier jersey over 60 sweaty minutes."

This I can understand - this quote from the article makes perfect sense, and I think this is a GREAT step forward for the NHL. One that will afford the players a more comfortable experience on the ice - which, in turn, will allow them to focus on other areas of their game and improve the overall play on the ice. I think the tighter fit will help in offensive attacks also - since the players wont have the loose sweaters which hides holds and hooks ... as with all changes in anything there is the adjustment period.

Lastly - the best part of the article is at the end where they actually ask the fasion industry their thoughts ... excuse me, arnt we talking about Hockey???

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Follow Up - Retiring By Text Message!

Jeremy Roenick sent a text message to a reporter earlier this off season announcing his retirement. I am now wondering if he either A. Lost a bet or B. Had a little to much to drink ... seeing how he is now returning from his retirement (all 2 months of it) and is shopping around. According to Eklund today -

"JR is looking likely to return to a team...As many as three teams, Toronto,
Calgary, and Columbus and Boston have some interest. And don't count out the
Islanders as well. JR will come in and play for the league min with
I am sure Clint will have 2 cents worth of comments to make regarding Mr Roenick. I just find it amusing when mediocre (at best) players make so much noise making bad decisions, and then wonder why they are so criticized.

Back to you Clint ...

Mike Ricci - Hanging Up The Skates!

Mike Ricci - The man Lindley named his cat after has called it quits. I remember watching Ricci play in San Jose and how he made the game look easy. The 16-year NHL veteran announced his retirement during the Peterborough Professional Hockey Alumni charity golf tournament at the Kawartha Golf and Country Club. Ricci underwent neck surgery last year and told the Peterborough Examiner that he has not recovered like he had hoped. He missed all but seven games last season due to his injured neck. In 1099 NHL games with the Coyotes, Sharks, Avalanche, Nordiques and Flyers, Ricci's record is 243 goals, 362 assists and 974 penalty minutes.

Mike's toothless smile and energetic personality will be missed. Whenever I saw Mike he was always either smiling or laughing. On the ice Mike is known for being a premier face-off man, very responsible in the defensive zone and one of the best back-checking forwards in the NHL.

Mike's name is on the Stanley Cup for the 95-96 Colorado Avalanche.

Here is Lindley with Ricci - (The Cat)

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Islanders Add Another One

Big six-foot-six 245 lb defenseman Andy Sutton was signed by the Islanders to a three year contract late last week as the Islanders continue to add talent from the second-rung of the free agent pool. Sutton, 32, spent last season in Atlanta where he put up 16 points with a +6 rating in 55 games. These numbers don't give you the full picture of Sutton's contributions though as he is a big, stay at home defenseman with a strong point shot who is flat out nasty to play against. Last year, also in Atlanta, he scored 25 points with a +13 rating and added an impressive 144 penalty minutes. Sutton adds grit and size to a developing team that was looking to replace the minutes previously occupied by the recently departed, and suspended, Sean Hill.

Youthful Potential for Aging Experience?

The Chicago Blackhawks made a strange trade over the weekend when they sent Radim Vrbata to the Coyotes for Kevyn Adams. Vrbata, the number two scorer on the team, is 26 years old and posted 41 points (14 goals and 27 assists) in 77 games last season. It was the best season of his underachieving, yet young, career. Kevyn Adams, at the ripe age of 32, put up a whopping 3 goals and 9 assists in 68 games last season evenly splitting his time between Phoenix and Carolina.

While I'm the first one to point out that hockey is about more than putting up points and one should never overlook the value of experience and leadership, I do wonder why a young team would trade away their second leading scorer for a checking line center. While Adams is a solid face-off man with a Stanley Cup to his name, won with Carolina two seasons ago, his plus/minus leaves much to be desired (-20 last season and only an even rating on the run to the Stanley Cup the previous year) and he's prone to injuries. It saves Chicago money since Vrbata stood to make $1.255 million while Adams is only going to make $650k, but it still looks to be a typical Chicago move of sending away talent and getting very little in return.

While many may see Patrick Kane, the first overall pick in this year's draft, as the justification for Vrbata's departure, I see it as the opposite. I think we may have seen Vrbata continue to increase his production if he were given the chance to play with another talented, speedy forward. Instead, he'll be out in the desert, most likely playing with Shane Doan, putting up a career best 50+ points and playing in a place where at least people will come to watch him play.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

What a Steal

So the ruling on Mike Cammalleri finally came down and it's actually a bit shocking. After all of the bloated contracts handed out this year a young player who leads his team with 80 points gets a two year deal worth only $3.1 the first season and $3.6 the second. To put that into perspective Cammalleri was reportedly looking for around $6 million PER YEAR. TSN reports that the team was only looking to pay him $2.6 million, only a $900,000 increase over his contract from last season, which is completely asinine. This is going to be a situation to watch, Mike can not be happy about this.

Absolute Hockey - WHO?

Link to the story - Former Coach Buys Lightning
Did anyone know the Tampa Bay Lightning were up for sale? Evidently Absolute Hockey did ... 'cause they just purchased the franchise, leasing rights to the St Pete Times Forum and "ajacent properties." Here is a short on the topic -
"The NHL team says a group called Absolute Hockey Enterprises has signed a
purchase agreement with current owner Palace Sports and Entertainment."
Sources tell TSN Doug MacLean will be the Chairman and CEO of the Lightning while Jay Feaster will stay on as GM and John Tortorella will remain as head coach. Absolute Hockey also includes Jeff Sherrin and Oren Koules. Team spokesman Jay Preble said Jeff Sherrin is a Coral Springs real estate developer and Koules a TV and movie producer mostly knows for the Saw trilogy and the sitcom 2 and a half men. Doug MacLean coached the Florida Panthers to the Stanley Cup final in 1996. He was fired in April as the Columbus Blue Jackets president and GM.

The Lightning won the Stanley Cup in 2004.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Are We There Yet?

The award for the longest delay in the history of arbitration goes to Mike Cammalleri. Mike, the Kings and the NHL all wait patiently for the ruling on his case and the longer it goes, the more it looks like the ruling will be significant. Apparently the Kings requested a two-year ruling, which seems rare but well within their rights, so we'll have to see how it all plays out. In doing so, the Kings removed their ability to "walk away" from Mike after the ruling. They can walk away from the second year of the contract, something they will need to decide within 48 hours of the announcement, but he is guaranteed to be a King at least for a little longer. The ruling should come down tomorrow, it should have come down days ago in fact, but who knows at this point. Regardless, I still think that Cammalleri won't be King next year.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Working Overtime At The Rumor Mill

Accroding to Eklund @ Hockey Buzz

1. Oilers are NOT being sold - as said from one of the Oilers owners "It is just too much fun to own this team. The Cup run was worth every penny."
2. Patrice Brisebois went from Colorado to Montreal - according to the Mill in Montreal the player who is in the line of fire for the Habs is Patrick Marleau from San Jose! *I'll get back to this later*
3. The Caps will be the surprise team in the East this season ... there are some behind the scene's talk going on regarding Ovechkin. I'll keep my ear on this line of interest! I am excited to watch the Caps play the Bolts (Tampa Bay Lightning) here this coming season. Ovechkin is a solid player who last year was the ONLY Cap to appear in all 81 games. Third in the league in goals (46) and 12th in points (92), tied for eighth in power-play goals (16), tied for seventh in game-winning goals (8) and first in shots (384). He is only the second Cap to post back-to-back 90-point seasons (Dennis Maruk in '80-81 and '81-82) He had a point in the first 13 games of 2007, his career-best point streak, all that added up to him ticking the points column in 57 of 81 games, including 27 multiple-point games. AO leads the team with 179 hits. He was voted in as a starter in the 2007 NHL All-Star Game in Dallas, which makes him the first Cap in the starting lineup since Rod Langway in 1986. There are a few teams that I am excited about seeing this season in Tampa (I dont really have MUCH to choose from, but I am sure Clint and I will catch one or two of the GOOD ones!)
4. Keep an eye on the Penguins ... watch for Jovo or Morris to come into view. Either one will make the team that much stronger!

Now - regarding Marleau ... It appears that San Jose might (remember, these are just rumors) lose their captain. I think Patrick is an amazing player and a solid leader for the team. If he leaves, there will be good and bad in it, however - there is a pool full of leaders on the Sharks team, leaders who need the opportunity to step up and show their worth. The young players will still have the solid veterans to lead them out onto the ice with the orders to wreak havoc on whoever is standing across the blue line from them (hopefully this will happen often)! With this said - I feel that it is time for Patrick to move on. His calm demeanor and his maturity has reinforced the foundation of the Sharks organization and his legacy will not leave if he is to go to another team. Along with Montreal, Boston also has an interest in Patrick ... if I were the one making the decision, watching Boston last year I would say they need him more than Montreal! *My 2 cents!*

So if you like the Hockey rumors I suggest to check out Ecklund's site. He is very close to the NHL knowledge base and he has connections EVERYWHERE! His rumors are pretty much spot on when he says they are ... his latest juicy one ... Neidermayer is indeed retiring! We will see how that plays out ... looks like the MIGHTY Ducks are going to need a little Pixie Dust to help them this season, however, with Bertuzzi skating for them - they just might fight their way to the playoffs!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Mike Cammalleri and Arbitration

Mike Cammalleri and the Los Angeles Kings had their arbitration hearing yesterday. Cammalleri is an excellent skater and playmaker. He scored 34 goals and 46 assists last season with a +5 rating on an otherwise lackluster team. At 5'9 180 lbs he's not the biggest forward but he is fast, agile and has great vision, all valuable attributes in today's NHL. Cammalleri also scored 55 points, including 26 goals, last season, his first as a full-time NHL player. The Kings apparently have made him a few offers but they were nowhere near what he was wanting. Considering his performance over the last two seasons, I expect the ruling to be high with a possible salary somewhere in the $4.5-5 million range. That kind of ruling could have him leaving the town I like to call HeLL-A and even at that price there will be no shortage of interested parties willing to take him.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Oilers Get Their Man

While they certainly overpaid for him at $21.25 million for 5 years, the Oilers have taken Dustin Penner from the Anaheim Ducks today as Brian Burke, Anaheim's GM, decided not to match the inflated offer sheet. I'm sure Burke isn't happy about it, but he had little choice in the matter considering the players he needs to resign next year.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Rangers are Now On the Clock (UPDATED 3:03 PM EST)

The arbitrator has made his ruling on the Sean Avery case and has awarded him a one-year deal worth $1.9 million. It's not quite the $2.6 million that he wanted, but it's more than the $1.3 million that the Rangers were offering. The Rangers have 48 hours to decide whether or not to accept the deal and will most likely have to move around some salary in the near future if they choose to keep him. Teams can be 10% over the salary cap up until the first game of the season. At that point, if they are above the cap they forfeit the game.


The Rangers have accepted the ruling and signed Avery to the one-year deal. However, they will now most likely need to move some salary around to be under the cap. Could this be a sign and trade situation? I certainly hope so.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Follow-up on Sean Avery

According to the New York Post, the arbitration hearing for Sean Avery was a little more brutal than Avery had anticipated. Prior to the hearing it was reported that the team intended to say that he was a "reasonably effective player as well as a detriment to the team." However, the hits didn't stop there as the team apparently dropped this bomb on him as well:

"Avery is not a mature player. He plays, at times, like an individual rather than a member of a team. This is sometimes referred to as an inability to see the ice, and in Avery's case this seems to fit with his overall approach to the game."

This is how the team justifies their desire to only give him a $200,000 raise over the $1.1 million he made last year despite the fact that he had the best season of his career. It's clearly a strategy to tear him down in order to remain under the salary cap but I think it's going to have disastrous results. Avery is exactly the kind of player that the Rangers needed to bolster an otherwise somewhat whiny and soft crew, led by the erratic and weak-hearted Jaromir Jagr. As the Post points out, this is counter to what the team was claiming last spring when they consistently and repeatedly praised him for what he brought to the team both on and off the ice. In fact, his teammates Brendan Shanahan and Jaromir Jagr used to echoe the team's commending sentiments. Avery had "no idea what to say" other that to say he was "shocked."

The ruling should come down today or tomorrow morning but, regardless of the ruling, I would be surprised to see Avery even want to play for the Rangers again. I would also expect him to play with a massive chip on his shoulder this season which could lead him to his best performance yet, making whichever team is lucky enough to benefit from the Rangers' idiocy all the more grateful for Rangers' GM Glen Sather's ill-advised strategy.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Habs, Ducks and the Quintessential Pest


The Habs were able to narrowly avoid arbitration with Michael Ryder by signing him to a one-year deal worth $2.95 million just one day before his hearing was scheduled. The 27 year-old winger scored 30 goals and added 28 assists in 82 games last season with an abysmal -25 plus/minus rating. It was his second season in a row scoring 30 goals.

The Ducks

Just a quick update on the offer sheet that the Edmonton Oilers signed Dustin Penner to last week. Burke and the Ducks will have until Thursday, one week from when the offer was given, to decide whether or not they will match the inflated deal. Either way, no one will be happy.

A Pest's Arbitration Day

I actually use the word "pest" in a complimentary way. Every hockey team has to have a pest. In many ways, they are the spark plug of the NHL team. However, very few of these players have the skills to benefit their team in ways outside of irritating opposing players, which is why the salary cap has killed off a lot of these role players. When a player can function as a pest but also help the team in other ways, you have a rare combination that should be valued in the new NHL. The Rangers experienced this firsthand when they acquired Sean Avery at the deadline from the LA Kings. Avery, known for his big hits and even bigger mouth, played a huge role in the Rangers success throughout the playoffs. He often spent time on the top line with Jagr and showed the ability to play in any role or situation. In fact, being a Ranger ignited Avery as he scored 20 points, including 8 goals, in only 29 games with the blue shirts. In the 55 games prior to the trade, Avery only put up 28 points. Avery also ignited New York as they went 17-6-6 with him in the lineup.

His success prompted the 27 year-old restricted free agent to file for arbitration against the cap-stricken Rangers. With his hearing set for today, Avery should be in for a decent raise over his $1.1 million from last season. However, New York's GM is seeing it differently. The NY Post ran an article Sunday morning that included statements to be made in the arbitration hearing, including one that says Avery is "a reasonably effective player as well as a detriment to the team." A detriment to the team? He averages almost a point-per-game and the team only loses 6 games out of 29 with him in the lineup and he's a detriment? Avery responded with less emotion than would be expected of a player known for troublesome outbursts when he said "It's hard not to take something like that personally and not to be emotional about it. I know this is part of the business, I know this is part of the process, but it's extremely disappointing to read something like that coming from Slats [GM Glen Sather] and not to be offended by it. I certainly don't think I was a detriment to the team."

Personally, I hope this means that Avery won't be playing for the Rangers next season. If you listen closely you can hear saliva slapping the floor as a number of teams salivate over the prospect of the Rangers not agreeing to the arbitrators ruling. Teams like the Penguins and the Sabres showed a desperate need for someone with Avery's unique skill set in the playoffs and even in the regular season. He's exactly the kind of player that no one wants to play against and everyone wants a teammate. Avery is an emotional player and if he does end up playing elsewhere, his first game back in New York or against the Ranger will certainly be a good one. We'll know the outcome within 24 hours.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Anaheim GM Verbally Assaults the Edmonton Oilers

Per TSN: Article Quoted Below

The Anaheim Ducks GM didn't mince words in his first public comments on the US$21.25-million, five-year offer sheet the Edmonton Oilers tabled to the 24-year-old forward on Thursday.

Burke said he wasn't actually angry at the fact there was an offer sheet, but rather the amount of money offered - Penner will go from making $450,000 a season to $4.25 million a year.

"I have no problem with offer sheets, they are part of the CBA," Burke said on a conference call. "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 way it all came down also bothered Burke.

"I was not notified of this until an agent faxed it into us," he said. "I thought Kevin would have called me and told me it was coming. I thought that was gutless."

Oilers spokesman J.J. Hebert said Friday night that Lowe was aware of Burke's comments but would not respond. Lowe will wait to comment after the Ducks decide whether or not to match.

Burke was also disappointed with the timing of it _ Burke was entering the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame in Penticton, B.C., on Friday night.

"Kevin Lowe has been in Penticton this week," Burke said. "Tonight is the induction ceremony for the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame and I certainly think this could have waited until Monday. I don't think it shows a lot of respect for the B.C Hockey Hall of Fame.

"I think it's a classless move timing-wise."

Friday, July 27, 2007

Edmonton Strikes Again and Arbitration News (Updated 7/27 at 11:48 PM)

Edmonton and Anaheim
For the second time this off-season, the Oilers have tendered an offer sheet to a restricted free agent. Last night, their target was Dustin Penner of the Anaheim Ducks. The offer wasn't quite as large as their sheet for Vanek (7-years at $50 million), but it's still pretty large at $21.25 million over 5 years. If the Ducks choose not to match the deal then the Oilers must give the Ducks a first, second and third round draft pick.

In his first full NHL season, 24-year-old Penner put up 45 points including 29 goals in 82 games. This offer puts Anaheim in a tough position. Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer have done the team a great disservice by not making their decision regarding retirement by now. If Nieds does decide to come back and the Ducks match the Oilers offer, then the Ducks would be over the cap and would need to get back under it before the start of the season. If the Ducks do match the deal, however, it all but guarantees that either Niedermayer or Selanne will NOT be playing for them this season. Also, by matching this deal the Ducks put themselves in a tough position next summer when it comes time to re-sign Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, who are certainly worth more than Penner and will demand as much in response.

Frankly, the Oilers are getting desperate and taking wild stabs at players. Penner, though talented, is inconsistent at best. While his size makes him an asset, and even dominant when he's on, Edmonton is taking a big chance trying to sign him for that much money since he'll have a lot of developing to do in order to justify that contract. Burke, Anaheim's GM, was put in a tough position by two of his star players and dug an even deeper hole by over-paying for Bertuzzi. With that in mind, I can't see him matching the offer for Penner. Instead, he should take the draft picks and go give Bertuzzi's problematic back a good rub, he'll need it stay injury free so Big Bert can play as their main power-forward.

Blues Avoid Arbitration

The St Louis Blues avoided arbitration with one of their best young players by re-signing 24-year old Lee Stempniak to a 3-year deal worth $7.5 million. In his second NHL season, Stempniak scored 27 goals and added 25 assists and should be on the Blues' top scorers next season.

Buffalo Still Trying to Do the Same

The Buffalo Sabres' woes continue as they head to arbitration today with Derek Roy. Roy scored 63 points in 75 games with an impressive +37 plus/minus rating. While Roy is small at only 5-9, he's one of the fastest players on the team, a very good defender, plays on both special teams, and is a big part of their offense. Roy is in position to receive a substantial raise over his $627,000 earned last season likely using Nathan Horton's contract and Dustin Penner's offer sheet as leverage. The Panthers re-signed Nathan Horton to a $24 million dollar deal for 6 years after he scored 62 points in 2006. Frankly, he's better than both of those players simply because of his speed and ability to play on both sides of the ice. However, expect Buffalo to announce a significant deal with him prior to arbitration beginning this morning. If not, I'm guessing the arbitrator will award Roy a deal worth around $4.5 million for next season.


As predicted, the Buffalo Sabres have avoided arbitration with Derek Roy by signing him to a 6 year deal worth $24 million.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Latest Transactions

Bruins and Blues Swap Prospects

The Boston Bruins traded young goaltending prospect Hannu Toivonen to the Blues in exchange for Carl Soderberg. Toivonen was a first round draft pick, 29th overall, in 2002 but has yet to live up to his expectations and has split time between the NHL and the AHL. He's projected to eventually be a number one goaltender, but the acquisition of Manny Fernandez made him expendable. He still has a tremendous upside so this trade could, eventually, come back to haunt the Bruins. Soderberg, on the other hand, is more of a wild card. He has great size at 6-3 198 lbs and it very developed for a 21 year old. He as yet, however, to play a single game in the NHL but has averaged roughly a point-per-game in the Swedish Elite Leagues and showed tremendous potential in the Under-18 division.

Senators Keep Their Man

Ray Emery, who led the Senators to the Stanley Cup finals, was the biggest name in arbitration. It was rumored that he wanted somewhere around $4 million per year while the club wanted to sign him to a deal similar to that of Ryan Miller in Buffalo or Cam Ward in Carolina, which would put him at around $2-2.5 million. It looked like the 24-year-old was going to head into arbitration and most likely receive a substantial raise but at the last minute, the two sides found some middle ground. He signed a three-year deal worth $9.5 million. This is a substantial raise over the $925,000 he made last season but I'm guessing that the arbitrator would have awarded him an even larger payday simply for making the finals.

I was a doubter of Ray Emery early on but he showed some poise in the playoffs. He's still very young and has a lot of developing to do, but I think this is a great sign by the Senators who have always struggled at the goaltending position. Now if they could just unload Martin Gerber's salary.....

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Its The Players Stupid!

Why am I an NHL Hockey fan ... because of passion, because of honor, because of commitment. I recently read a post on why being a Hockey fan "matters." Here is an extremely well written account of what true hockey fans worship ... to read the story go to this link -

What this story shows me is what I already knew, but what many in our country have NO clue about ... that Hockey is a LIFESTYLE! This sport is for the ones who think there are not enough hours in the day to work on their Hockey skills. For the kids growing up in Canada towns like Moosefactory, Ontario (the home town of Jonathan Cheechoo) and others places where any surface covered by ice is considered a place to practice. For them to dream about NHL fame and winning the Stanley Cup is ingrained into their genetic structure ... now, take a look at this story -

Here is a story about 2 kids who played Jr Hockey at 8 years old when the Phoenix Coyotes were introduced to Phoenix, AZ ... from the beginning, they had dreams about representing their city in the NHL - they would tell family and friends about playing in the NHL for the Coyotes.

This story is inspiring to say the least. I am going to look forward to watching their NHL careers over time and I hope they are given that chance to live their dreams. Which leads me to something I have been thinking about for a couple days. The players in the NHL have to be the most humble and honorable athletes in professional sports. I do not understand people when they argue over "Which is the better sport" - I usually let the conversation go until the "Big 3 - NFL, MLB, NBA have been brought into the mix" ... that is when I chime in "What about the NHL?" Most times I am met with statements like the game is boring, you cant see the puck, not enough scoring, and my favorite - it is to violent!

Like lambs to the slaughter - I start asking them questions ... "How many touchdowns are there in a 21 - 28 football game?" They normally answer with "Hello - 3 and 4!" Which I then say, so how is a 3 - 4 hockey game "not enough scoring?" That is where that argument normally ends and I move on to the next excuse.

I ask them what is exciting about football - they play for the same amount of time hockey does (1 hour), however, in football their "plays" last for 8 to 10 seconds then they get a break, most of the time the clock continues to count down, which tells me that as a fan - you are paying to watch grass grow. In Hockey - if the clock is counting, they are playing! I have had people try to tell me that Baseball is NOT boring, however, normally less than 25 seconds into their "reasoning" they, themselves, lose the point they were making and give up trying to make baseball un-boring. Don't get me wrong - Baseball is an amazing sport to go watch with a group of friends - a couple beers, bag of peanuts, nice sunny day, a live baseball game in front of you ... I agree baseball is a great sport to watch. But as athletes? The physical aspect of baseball I don't get. Moving on!

Basketball - you either love it or hate it. I can not stand the NBA, not because they are strong athletes, not because they are very talented (I cant sink a free throw to save my life!) ... my issue with the NBA has to do with attitude and character (this bleeds over into the NFL also - but it is more blatant in the NBA). The type of players who represent the NBA are not men I want my children looking up to. Most of the time - when interviewed after a game I will be lucky if I can understand 2 out of 10 words that the players use to convey their thoughts on the game. I believe that with the level of talent that are blessed enough to be in professional sports ... you should be respectful and honorable.

Now - I am not saying NHL players do not get into trouble. My post here is about the leagues and how they represent themselves. MLB with the Steroids scandal, NFL with Michael Vick and Terrell Owens, the NBA with their officiants working for the mob and calling fouls to affect the point spread!!! ARE YOU KIDDING??? The "you cant touch me" attitude that infect allot of these very talented athletes is going to be the undoing of many careers and possibly leagues and franchises.

However - the NHL is a league that is full of passion, honor, integrity, character ... sure they have their inner struggles and anomalies, but what they don't have is arrogance! They play the sport because that is what they were put here on earth to do. Hockey is their life - Hockey is their definition ... in order to break out of that mold, one has to set himself apart.

I may be biased on the NHL - but the record speaks for itself ... jump back a few postings and look at my thoughts on the NHL drug use policy!!! You want to completely unravel the NBA ... implement that policy and watch the rats abandon the sinking ship!!!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Quick Hits

The Phoenix Coyotes signed former Montreal and Colorado goaltender David Aebischer to a one year deal yesterday.

Aebischer was involved in one of the weirdest trades I can remember in which he was traded by Colorado to Montreal for the unstable Jose Theodore. It looked like Aebischer was on his way to being a solid number one in Colorado until the trade, which is why I thought the trade seem odd. It was more of a lateral move than anything else, a lateral move that added salary no less. Theodore did, however, eventually play pretty well but it looks like Peter Budaj is going to be the starter in Colorado very soon regardless.

The Pittsburgh Penguins signed Ty Conklin to back-up Marc-Andre Fleury.

The journeyman Conklin has proven to be a bit inconsistent in the past, which means he should fit in perfectly with the Pens.

Matthew Barnaby retires.

The fan favorite tough guy with the huge personality is finally calling it quits. He finished with 300 points and a whopping 2,562 penalty minutes in 834 games.

Eric Lindros pondering retirement.

Captain concussion is focusing on his work with the NHLPA and has yet to decide whether he'd like to come back and get knocked unconscious a few more times.

Rangers traded Matt Cullen back to his former team, the Carolina Hurricanes, for Andrew Hutchinson, Joe Barnes and a third round pick in 2008.

The Rangers had vehemently denied rumors that there were going to trade Cullen, only to turn around and do just that. However, it did open up cap space for them and if they demote Kasparaitis and his inflated salary to the minors they may create enough room to re-sign Sean Avery and Marcel Hossa. They should at least be able to retain one of them.

And now for the big one....

A few sites have reported that ESPN wants to get back into hockey

Eklund at HockeyBuzz even used the word "desperate" to describe ESPN's desire to re-enter the hockey game. While VERSUS is a moving disaster in many ways, they do have a deal for the coming season with an option for the following 3 seasons. It sounds like they may be willing to take a smaller number of games and allow ESPN and ESPN2 to carry the majority of the season. Not only would this give the NHL their largest potential audience in history, it would also help pull the sport out of network obscurity and put them back on the major sports map. You simply can't compete with ESPN's exposure and the NHL made a huge mistake going with VERSUS in the first place. Now, it looks like they may be in a position to make up for that mistake.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Par for the Course and Today's Trade


In typical fashion Jeremy Roenick is going back on his retirement claims, saying that he isn't sure whether or not he's going to hang up the skates. I'm guessing he looked at his gambling debts and thought "hmmm, I bet I can sucker some team into signing me for another year at a couple million.....that should at least cover my super bowl losses." If you're unaware of Roenick's previous transgression look no further than this article:

If you're looking for additional reasons to hold little respect for Roenick, refer to this article where he claims that "It would be a travesty" if he wasn't on the USA hockey team and threatens that if he fails to make the cut Team USA "better hope that I don't get a job as a commentator on NBC for [the Games], or it'd be 'Go Canada' all the way, and I don't want that."

Here's the article:

Of course, they left the old, withered man off the roster and he had this to say about it: "I know nobody on that team has more points in the National Hockey League than me. So if they want to go that way, good luck," Roenick said.

Considering that Mike Modano was on the USA hockey team, that's a pretty stupid claim....even for Roenick. Frankly, the man is totally devoid of class. The only reason I'd like to see him come back is so I watch him suffer through another 20 point season and punctuate his career with a massive, vomit-inducing concussion at the hands of Chris Pronger, Chris Neil or any other player in the NHL. It's over, it was over a long time ago, let it go and please, for the love of everything holy, don't go into broadcasting.

Ottawa and Boston

Now, on to more interesting news and better players, the Ottawa Senators cut salary today by trading Peter Schaefer to the Bruins in exchange for Shean Donovan. Schaefer is definitely a more talented player but this was done to create cap space in order to accommodate what will be a substantial raise for their number one goaltender Ray Emery.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Lemme Break It Down For Ya!

Last year San Jose played Tampa Bay IN Tampa, about 1 hour from me. I missed that game for one reason or another and thought to myself - I'll just catch them next year. Not sure if you looked at their schedule this year but you probably guessed - NO SHARKS IN FLORIDA!!! I mean come on ... at least the NHL could have had fun marketing those games! "Sharks arrive in Florida looking to tame the Lightning" or "Panthers and Sharks - Florida's 2 arch rivals face off in Sunrise"

Of course that would mean in this $4.9 Billion league someone would have to focus on the whole "how does the rest of the world view our sport." The NHL is by far the most UNDER valued league in the U.S. - I don't want to chase this rabbit anymore ... the main reason for this post is to talk about the whole NHL schedule creation process and the algorithm they use to set the game schedule for the coming season.

Here is the information -


Each club will play eight games against each of its four division rivals (32 total).

Each club will play four games against each of the 10 non-division clubs in its conference (40 total).

Each club will play 10 inter-conference games, hosting one game each against all five clubs from a designated division and traveling for one game each against all five clubs from a different division. For the 2005-06 season, Northeast Division clubs will host the Pacific Division and visit the Northwest; Atlantic Division clubs will host the Northwest and visit the Central; and Southeast Division clubs will host the Central and visit the Pacific. Division vs. division assignments will rotate annually.


The new schedule strengthens division rivalries; division rivals played each other six times under the previous schedule.

The new schedule maintains integrity of the conference-based playoff format; each club continues to play 40 games against non-division, intra-conference opponents.

The new schedule allows for continued exposure of teams and star players from the other conference.

The new schedule allows for more compelling television matchups, thanks to the combination of stronger division rivalries with continued intra- and inter-conference play.

As everything, I think there is room for improvement - I don't know if playing 8 games against each team in your division is to much or just right? I like the idea of having outside conference matchups, get the super stars in the league traveling around and visiting more teams. If you weigh the divisional games to heavy you will have (as you had last year) the super strong divisions and on division that is the ADHD division - which like it or not will have its 1st place team in the top 3 for the conference. I would like to see the NHL take a more inner-conference look at the league and then branch it out to the whole league. If each team could play in each arena ONCE a year that would be Very cool (Yes, I know San Jose would have to host 29 different teams and Visit 29 different arenas) that would leave us at 58 games played ... we still have 24 games left in the season that could be used for Conf/Div play. Maybe 16 division games (you can still get the 4 games per division team here) and 8 Conf games.

OR maybe I just don't have a CLUE as to what this schedule is all about - I just woke up this morning thinking about "what formula does the NHL use to create the game schedule" ... did a little reading, and here I am!!!

So - what are your thoughts on this? Use the comment feature on this post, I would like to see if there could be some discussion on how the NHL picks the games. Next time I'll talk about the lack of attention and the absolute amazing opportunity the NHL has just sitting right in front of them and yet - they will not pay attention!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

New Sharks Logo.....Maybe

Here is a leaked image of the new Sharks logo, I will let Bill comment on its quality.

Bill here - with my quick opinion.

Here is the New Logo!

Here is the Old Logo!

Now - it seems to me like San Jose has not really changed their logo much, they have gone and adjusted its orientation, added some details and deepend the Black and Teal colors. The new logo does nothing for me ... what I want to talk about is the "new look" of the Sharks territory happening in 11 days (according to their website).

Speaking of - The San Jose Sharks have the WORST website on the Internet. It loads sooooo slow and I am on DSL (even my direct connection at work crawls on the Sharks website) I think that if there is going to be ONE NHL team in the league that would have a handle on this whole "Internet" thing goin on ... it would be the team that is based in Silicon Valley - not sure if anyone told them ... there are some tallented people around that area that know a little about websites and how to make them fancy and fast.

I am crossing my fingers and hoping that in 12 days I will log onto and have the page fully loaded within 10 seconds. I dont think that is to much to ask. Just for fun I did a quick test of a few NHL team sites and how long it took them to load.

Colorado Avalanche - 5 seconds
Anaheim Ducks - 5 seconds
Detroit Red Wings - 6 seconds
San Jose Sharks - 19 seconds (and once it loaded it froze my window for over a minute and still will not close)

So - 19 seconds ... I think is far to long! Well, after you wait the eternity for the page to load - it is so full of "functionality" that it is not even navigable.

In closing - ha ha - I think the "new" logo looks cool, I like the colors and I hope they darken the Teal on their home sweaters next season too. However, I think that if they are doing a re-vamp ... my prayers are for a website that is at least enjoyable to look at.

Edmonton Gets the Consolation Prize and RFA News

According to TSN, the Oilers have landed one of the last major free agents available by agreeing to a deal with former Montreal defenseman Sheldon Souray. The deal is apparently worth $27 million and is heavily front-loaded with Souray making over $6 million in the first couple of years. The Oilers were desperate to make a splash in free agency and despite this deal they've still only made a ripple.

Also, the Dallas Stars have avoided arbitration and re-signed both Mike Ribiero and Joel Lundqvist. Ribiero signed a one year deal worth $2.8 million while Lundqvist signed a two year deal for $1.45 million. Lundqvist isn't a huge signing though he did show some ability in his rookie season. Ribiero, however, is exactly the kind of playmaking forward that the offensively-handicapped Stars desperately need.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Another Interesting Draft Story and the NHL Schedule

The NHL released the 06-07 schedule today. The season will kick off on Saturday September 29th with a game between two California rivals, the Stanley Cup winning Ducks and the new-look Kings. Those two teams will also play the next day. The kicker is that both of those games will happen in London. The NHL is trying to spread it's influence, much like the NFL was doing last season, so it should be interesting to see what kind of attendance these two games draw.

You can view the rest of the schedule here:

I posted a draft story about Angelo Esposito a few days ago and now ESPN has posted one about another player. The story is that of Akim Aliu, a 6-3 209 lb power forward from Nigeria who's only been playing hockey for 6 years. Despite his very late start, most players his age have been playing for 12-14 years, he was still ranked by some as a potential first round prospect. However, feuds with his teammates, one dramatic publicized spectacle and a history of drama sunk him to the Blackhawks with the 56th pick overall.

It's always nice to see ESPN covering unique, non-mainstream hockey stories and the story itself is quite interesting. You can read the story here:

Rangers, Old Men and RFAs Oh My

The New York Ranger have somehow managed to sign both Brendan Shanahan and their number one goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, to one-year deals.

25-year-old Lundqvist, who was a restricted free agent (RFA), signed a deal that will pay him $4.25 million next season. He made $817,000 last season where he won 37 games, which tied him for eight in the league. Of course, after next season he will become an unresticted free agent unless New York is able to work out a new deal during the season. However, it's important to remember that the Rangers really signed this deal in order to keep teams like the Oilers from stealing him while they work on a long-term contract.

Shanny, on the other hand, will make $2.5 million this season with easily attainable bonuses, which don't count towards the salary cap, that could bring his total salary up to around $5.3 million. The 38-year-old winger's showed last season that he could still score putting up 62 points and 29 goals in 67 games. While this was a little off of his previous year's pace where he played every game and scored 40 goals and added 41 assists, it was still a good season for an aging player and earned him a spot in the 06-07 All Star game. His season was shortened when he inadvertently slammed face first into the Flyer's Mike Knuble, fracturing Knuble's orbital bone and giving Shanahan a pretty serious concussion. This was a scary moment:

These two signings, coupled with the monster deals handed out to Gomez and Drury, put the Rangers right up against the cap. This means that Marcel Hossa and Sean Avery, the other two RFAs, will most likely find themselves on new teams next season. While Hossa won't have a great immediate impact on a roster, though he does have potential, Avery is the kind of player that many teams need.

The 5-10, 185 lb winger is a nasty, physical agitator with an underrated amount of offensive ability. He put up 10 goals and 28 points in 55 games with the Kings, which isn't bad for an agitator. However, his production increased dramatically when he was moved to New York at the deadline where in 29 games he scored 8 goals and added 12 assists. He also found himself playing on the top two lines with players like Jaromir Jagr and Shanahan. This also improved his plus/minus from a -10 rating with the Kings to a +11 with the Rangers. He showed in New York that he could handle additional resposibility and not put his team in tough situations by taking ill-advised penalties, a knock against him in previous years. His physical nature and offensive potential alone should guarantee him a raise and a healthy number of interested teams. A few of the teams that showed a serious lack of toughness in the playoffs (I'm talking to you Pittsburgh and Buffalo) would help themselves out by taking a look at the tough guy that has shown an ability to play on the top scoring line.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Horse Wasn't Quite Dead

I wanted to share this video as a follow-up to a post I made late last month about public perception of the Bertuzzi event. I discussed how I felt that Bertuzzi's punishment was deserved but also how I felt that the public had quickly disowned him based on the result of the act and not the act itself. The video below is a perfect example of how public perception is based on the outcome of a cheap shot and not the intent or danger of the act itself.

Bill mentioned that Bertuzzi's shot ended a player's career and thus needs to be judged accordingly. My only issue with that is that we punish and judge much like our broken law system. If someone drinks a fifth of Jack, jumps behind the wheel of a car and crashes into a family of four they can have two very different outcomes in terms of punishment. If anyone dies, then chances are they're going to prison. However, if they only shatter a few pelvises and possibly make it difficult for them to walk for the rest of their life then their punishment is much less severe. My question is, what role did they play in the outcome of that crash? If no one died, they got lucky and get a lighter punishment which makes no sense to me. By no fault of their own did someone NOT die. This applies directly to the NHL.

The video I included above shows exactly what I'm talking about. If I remember correctly, Bure was fined for this and not suspended. In today's NHL, he would definitely be suspended. He would most likely be suspended for both the elbow and the very high slash he delivers early in the video but that's not the point. The point is that this had a very serious impact on Shane Churla's career costing him a lot of games that season. Frankly, he was never quite the same for the Stars afterwards. However, this event was never on the TV, never on the radio and no one cared simply because Bure got lucky that Churla didn't break his neck or suffer a career ending injury. There are a million of these instances where players got lucky not to cause the same kind of injury that Bertuzzi did but that one moment sticks out in everyone's head and I can't help but comment on the fact that he ends up being the whipping boy. The fact of the matter is that Bure continued to be a celebrated player, and still is today, despite an action that was, frankly, more dangerous and nastier than Bertuzzi's punch. Of course, sports are all about judging for yourself.

Oh, and I promise that this will be my last post on the topic. I simply couldn't help but share the video. The horse is officially glue.

A 1025% Raise for Crosby

According to various sites, Sidney Crosby has been signed to a five-year extension worth somewhere in the $43 million range which breaks down to about $8.7 million per year. Crosby, who chose not to ask for the maximum salary allowed by the CBA, will play on the last year of his entry level contract this coming season and make $850,000 in base salary. Not a bad raise or pay day for a soon-to-be 20 year old kid. However, unlike many of the free agent contracts, this pay raise is well deserved.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Fall from Grace and Land Softly in Pittsburgh

Most of us are aware of the incredible string of draft picks earned by the Penguins over the last few years, and of course by earned I mean received as a consolation prize after being flat-out, bottom of the barrel awful. Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin, Ryan Whitney, Jordan Staal will all be future stars in this league. Of course, the most famous pick of all was their first overall pick in 2005 of Sidney Crosby. After one of the best single season turnarounds in NHL history, due in large part to those aforementioned youngsters, the Penguins, who were used to drafting in the top three, had the 20th pick overall. To Pittsburgh officials, it must have been like not having a pick until the end of the 5th round. They were primarily passengers for much of the early draft excitement as they simply waited to see who they might be able to snag that slipped through the cracks....nineteen cracks to be exact. However, it appears that the Penguins may have lucked out yet again at the draft.

A year ago Angelo Esposito was considered by many to be a shoe-in for the first overall pick of the draft. The 17 year old was coming off of a stellar 2005-2006 season in Quebec scoring 98 points with 39 goals in just 57 games with a +42 rating. Afterwards, he was quickly appointed the next first overall pick. Angelo himself is the first to admit that the draft pressure impacted him as he cooled off considerably in his next season, and his last prior to the draft, scoring 79 points with 27 goals and a +9 rating in 60 games. This fall off in production sent him tumbling down the prospect rankings. He was quickly stripped of the first overall pick expectation and generally fell somewhere in the latter half of the top 10 on most lists. Scouts claimed that he showed a lack of physical play, often choosing to play on the outside and avoid high traffic areas. They were also concerned with his consistency and play without the puck. Now, of course, it's important to note that he still averaged well over a point-per-game and ended up with a positive plus/minus but he had set an enormous expectation with his performance during the 05-06 season and he simply failed to repeat that same level of success. Fast forward to the draft and the Penguins waiting patiently in the 20th spot.

Player after player is marked off the board and Esposito still sits, waiting to hear his name called. Cameramen frequently frame Angelo's face after each pick is announced. It's tough to watch and I felt for the kid. He plays two major seasons upon which he was judged. The first was astronomical and put him at the top and the second, while seemingly solid according to the statistics, had him free falling through the first round. The same scouts that were once singing his praises had now kicked him down the proverbial stairs.

After 19 other picks, the Penguins management staff, who seemed as surprised as anyone, was able to step to the podium and unveil a black and gold jersey with Angelo's name on it. So now, the team that has all the high first round picks in the world, is able to have a great season and with the 20th pick in the draft still grab a guy who could have possibly been first overall. In interviews, you could tell that the Penguins and Esposito felt as if they'd hit the jackpot. For him, the act of falling so far just to land on Crosby's team was the peak of what had otherwise been a very uncomfortable roller coaster ride. Esposito earned a lot of respect for how he handled the situation and his fall from grace. He spoke openly about how he knew that he hadn't played his best. And now, because of that, he'll most likely get to play with Sidney Crosby and the other wonder-kids in the next few years. Just think, he could have ended up in hockey hell: aka Chicago.

This is one of those draft stories that make sports and the draft so interesting. Historically, the best players in the NFL draft usually get taken in the 2nd round or even later. Tom Brady is a great example of this. You'd think that football would be easier to predict since the young men being drafted are generally in their prime and are expected to play, and play well, immediately. In hockey, we're drafting kids prior to college. We're scouting them at 14, 15 and 16 years old and then trying to predict how they'll perform a handful of years later against people more than a decade older than them. It may be a while before we find out if the Penguins hit the lottery or whether those other teams saw something that the Penguins missed but in Esposito, the Penguins have a player who's proven he can play the game at very high level. He's shown creativity with the puck, a nose for the net and now he has something else...a chip on his shoulder and sometimes that can make all the difference in the world.

They made WHO the Captain???

Today - in NY, Garth Snow introduced Bill Guerin as the new captain of the Isle's for next season. WHAT???

Here is his comment from the announcement - "I'm completely surprised, but thrilled about this tremendous honor," said Guerin. "I want to thank the organization for the vote of confidence and I will not take this captaincy lightly. Thank you Garth. Thank you, Charles. I'm excited about joining a team with such a wonderful history. I speak for all four of us when I say this is a group of players that wants to be here and play as team."

I can say from seeing his preformance from the last half of last season with the Sharks that Bill Gurein should be shown the DOOR instead of the letter "C" he will be wearing on his jersey next year.

We'll see what Snow has up his sleeve ... is it something in Guerin we dont see, or is it the copius amount of BS the Guerin has been able to slather on about during his one on one's with Snow!

A True Grind Line

Former St. Louis fan-favorite Dallas Drake has signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings, the team that originally drafted him in 1989. If Drake joins Maltby and Draper on the checking line, it could make for one of the nastiest, kamikaze-style grind lines in hockey.

A great example of what he'll bring to a team that needs a little more toughness:

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Sid the Kid and the Desire to Win

Sidney Crosby is in the last year of his NHL entry-level deal. Now, he's not eligible as an unrestricted free agent in 2012 but the Penguins still have sign him to a new deal. This means that he's about to get paid handsomely. Most would just assume that the Penguins would just sign him to a 10-year deal at the maximum allowable amount which is just over $10 million per year and be done with it. His statistics, contributions and accolades easily call for a maximum salary. Frankly, he's the best forward in the league right now.

However, information coming out of the negotiations says that Sidney Crosby doesn't want a max-salary deal like that. He obviously wants to get paid, who doesn't, and he clearly deserves it but he wants team assurances before signing such a deal. He wants to win, plain and simple. He wants to be a part of a team and is willing to take less salary in order to do it. Specifically, he wants to make sure that they are going to keep that young and talented nucleus of Whitney, Crosby, Malkin, Staal and Fleury together for a long time to come. They already inked Whitney to a 6 years deal so that's one player down. Malkin and Staal are still on their entry-level contracts and will be for the next couple of years. After that, they'll want to get paid too and in today's day and age it's incredibly difficult to retain all of your young talent. All it takes is one of those players on the list to have different priorities and the nucleus is broken. Regardless of how it turns out, it's refreshing to see a professional athlete who's desire to win exceeds his desire for a few extra million dollars.

A great example of the opposite mentality, and a player whom I never thought I would say this about, is Paul Kariya. I'm shocked that the 32 year old winger signed with the St. Louis Blues. He was being courted by teams that have the ability to win now and, instead, he took a big contract with a team that hasn't made the playoffs in what seems like an eternity. Maybe there is more to this story. Maybe he loves St. Louis. Maybe he loves the uniforms. Regardless, I was surprised that at his age he didn't want to play in Pittsburgh, who reportedly was offering $750k or $1 million less than St. Louis, Dallas or any of the other teams that were courting him, teams that will be playing for the cup next season. Oh well, at least he'll be a cheap veteran addition at the trade deadline when the Blues are looking up from well below the eighth playoff spot in the west.

Post-Vanek Fallout

In what can only be described as a quick, defensive reaction to the massive offer sheet Edmonton gave Thomas Vanek yesterday, the New York Rangers have decided to take their number one goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, to arbitration. This was done because once a player is signed up for arbitration, either by their own doing or that of their team, no other team can make them an offer. This was a way for the Rangers to protect themselves as they continue to negotiate a long-term deal with their netminder.

This also means that the Oilers cannot pursue Lee Stempniak in St. Louis or Cammalleri in Los Angeles, both of whom have already filed for arbitration. Of course, if either of those teams didn't want to pay the salary awarded to them by the arbitrator then they become free game. Kevin Lowe and the Oilers can, however, go after the Devil's Zach Parise who has not filed for arbitration. To make matters worse, the Devils are rumoured to be pursuing Sheldon Souray as well. Souray is looking for a monster contract and if they were to sign Souray to such a deal it would put them in serious danger of losing their future NHL star. The Oilers are simply waiting for them to make that mistake.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Walking The Walk - Drug Use in the NHL

Sean Hill was signed by the Wild today ... this signing would have been lost in a sea of transactions if it was not for Sean Hill being suspended for using the anabolic steroid boldenone. Last year he was popped ... one game left in the NY Islanders playoff future and Sean Hill was busted using performance enhancing drugs.

If you are not aware of the NHL's stance on illegal drug use here is the breakdown:
1st offense - 20 game suspension
2nd offense - 60 game suspension
3rd offense - League expulsion (player can request to be readmitted after waiting 2 years)

I wish more sports leagues would follow this rule ... the NFL, the NBA, what about Major League Baseball ... its a joke! You'll NEVER see an asterisk (*) by any NHL players records.

Sean Hill thought his career was over - he missed the last game of the playoffs for the Islanders 2 months ago because of drug use, and he did not know what his future held. He became the first NHL player to be suspended for violating the league's drug policy. He received a 20-game suspension and will miss the first 19 games of this season because yesterday the Minnesota Wild called him up ...

"For the Wild to come out and tell me they wanted me, I can't tell you the feelings I had," Hill said in a telephone interview Friday, hours after finalizing a one-year deal with the Wild worth $475,000. "I've played a lot of years in this league, and that wasn't the way I wanted to go out."

Under the new collective bargaining agreement, a player receives a 20-game suspension for a first positive test and is subject to a mandatory referral to the league's substance abuse-behavioral health program for evaluation, education and possible treatment. Every NHL player can be given up to two tests without notice every year, at any time. This is a sure way to guarantee that your league and your team is playing ethically.

In this day and age when Role Models in sports are few and far between, its the players in the NHL that are hardly in the negative spotlight. Sean Hill is the FIRST NHL player to be suspended for this activity (Foot note - he says he does not know how the steroid was ingested). I think the NHL should be used as the example for all franchises and sporting leagues when it comes to drug use policy. However, I find it hard to believe that the NFL, NBA or MLB would ever want to cannibalize itself that way. This story breaks close to the same time when Michael Vick is busted housing Pitt Bull dogs on his property, dogs that are used for dog fights and gambling - isnt Michael Vick the same NFL player that tried to conceal his pot in a water bottle while trying to board a flight in Miami last season? He is not one of the smart ones.

Did you ever see the SNL skit regarding this incident ... REALLY!?!?

To add insult to injury ... Sean Hill took a $200,000 + pay cut from last year to go to the Wild. That is the commitment these players have to the sport, the league and the team. Its the passion that drives them to play, the passion to lift the Stanley Cup!!!

Last year Hill had one goal and 24 assists in 81 games for the Islanders. The hard-nosed native of Duluth ranked third in the NHL in hits and sixth in blocked shots. Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro called Hill "one of our most consistent defensemen all season, and an unbelievable character guy."