Things Coming Soon

I was away for a few days and looks like there’s some good stuff going on.  Look for posts on the following over the next day or two:

– Redden buyout

– Rangers season prediction

– why I think the Hockey News needs to do a better job

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Lockout Breaker: Shane Doan?

Extremely interesting tidbit toward the end of this column from the NY Post’s Larry Brooks:

The Post has learned that Bettman’s ultimate willingness to listen on the final day of the lockout was the key to ending the stalemate.

Sources report it was a one-hour meeting last Saturday attended by only Bettman, NHL attorney Bob Batterman and the Coyotes’ universally respected Shane Doan that broke the logjam over the critical issue regarding the 2013-14 cap number.

Doan, who left money on the table as a free agent this summer to remain in Phoenix, explained that the league’s proposed $62.5M — increased at that point from the original $60M — would disrupt the lives of players and their families who would be forced to move because of trades and buyouts that would not otherwise take place under the union’s more forgiving $64.3M transition number.

The column is primarily about how cowardly and ridiculous Bettman sounded at his press conference yesterday, a press conference at which he took no questions.  And I agree with all of that.

However, if it’s really the case that the lockout was basically settled because of a short conversation between Bettman and Shane Doan about basically nothing, I’m not sure that I have anything intelligent to say about that.  I think I might even have less respect for Bettman than I did 5 minutes ago.  What kind of a megalomanical asshole has to have a player basically come and plead to him to listen, before he’s willing to budge on something so trivial that’s holding the entire process hostage.  Is this really what took so long?  I’ve been arguing for weeks that this is billionaires and millionaires arguing over the fringes, a rounding error to both parties.  If this was really the last big thing, then I was right all along.  If it’s truly that the last major stumbling block was $1.8 million and Doan had to sit down and walk Bettman through how unbelievably shortsighted and selfish it is to hold up the whole process over that number, then Bettman is truly a bigger jerk than I thought.

We’ve Got A Season

As I do every year, I’m planning on firing up the blog again.  I thought I’d hit on the right recipe for something that would keep me posting last season, and I still believe that.  The larger issue for me, typically, is my work schedule.  However, we’ll not worry ourselves about such things right now.

The good news:  there’s hockey again.  What does this mean?  Well, with all the reading that I’ve done on the topic, I’ve pulled out essentially 4 major points.  Let’s take them one by one, and I’ll throw in my analysis as we go.  If you’re inclined, first take a moment to review something that I wrote back when the lockout got settled in ’05.  It’s amusing that the owners did just about as well this time through:

1)  There will be a 48 or 50-game season, played entirely intraconference.

Analysis: Well, it’s hockey.  But it also means that the Rangers won’t be able to measure themselves against certain clubs during the season.  I’m not sure this is tragic, for a couple of reasons, but not seeing the defending Stanley Cup Champions come into the building is a bit of a bummer.   However, given the style of hockey the Rangers play, the short season and relatively light travel schedule may benefit them big time.  Net-net, I think this is a good thing for the Rangers, despite being a net loss for the fans.

2)  Contracts are now capped at 7 years max (8 if you’re resigning your own player)

Analysis:  It’s so funny.  The owners beg for a salary cap in the 04-05 lockout.  They get it, then give their GMs carte blanche to go insane with long contracts and backloaded deals to try to avoid the real implications of the salary cap.  Now, in this lockout, they’re crying about deal length is killing their business.  It’s unbelievable just how much these guys talk out of both sides of their mouth.

3)  Revenue split 50/50 between owners and players (was at 57/43 players/owners for 2011-12

Analysis:  It may not seem like it, but this is more about billionaires and millionaires arguing over what’s essentially a rounding error for both of them, when you look at the specifics.  I just think this happens to be a huge loss for the players, even if it isn’t in real dollars.  Never lower your price, guys.

4)  Pension stuff:

Analysis: Some of what they lost in HRR, they gained here, but this would be more cool if this had anything to do older hockey players that played for next to nothing for all those years, while taking pucks to the helmetless head.

One conspicuous absence here that I don’t see a lot of people talking about is conference/division realignment.  In light of all the other things that there were to discuss, it’s not too surprising, but this is going to come up again with the NHL’s ridiculous proposal that the players basically said, to a man, that they hated.  That’s still out there.

Mike Milbury: Sideline Enforcer

Here’s a good one for you.  From Pat Leonard at the Daily News:

Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo retaliated after a hit by Red Wings forward Darren Helm on a St. Louis teammate, grabbing and wrestling with Helm. But Milbury said it was a weak retaliation penalty.

“If you’re gonna get angry, hit the guy in the head or something,” Milbury said.

Liam McHugh, the show’s host, immediately began shaking his head and hands while silently mouthing words to Milbury, trying to cut him off.

Leonard refers to this incident in the article, but let’s not forget that Mike Milbury is the same guy that allegedly physically and verbally assaulted a 12-year old at a pee-wee hockey game last fall.

I don’t have a whole lot to add here.  This one pretty much speaks for itself.

Thomas A No-Show; Cites ‘Threatened Liberties’ And Constitutional Scholarship

The Bruins were honored at the White House for their Stanley Cup victory yesterday, with one very notable no-show:  Conn-Smythe winner Tim Thomas.  Thomas posted the following on his Facebook page around 6pm yesterday:

“I believe the federal government has grown out of control, threatening the rights, liberties and property of the people. This is being done at the executive, legislative and judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the founding fathers vision for the federal government. Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a free citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an individual. This is the only public statement I will be making on this topic.”

The president, because he strikes me as a classy guy, still made mention of Thomas and his contribution and spoke highly of it:

“This Stanley Cup was won by defense as much as by offense,” Obama said. “Tim Thomas posted two shutouts in the Stanley Cup Finals and set an all-time record for saves in the postseason and he also earned the honor being only the second American ever to be recognized as the Stanley Cup playoff’s MVP.”

I’ll start by saying this: this is 100% totally within his right as a citizen to skip this for whatever reason he likes.  Even if he had no political opinion whatsoever and simply wanted a few hours to psych himself up for his start tomorrow or just wanted to walk around and do some sightseeing, whatever.  He’s got that right completely.  This is America.  This isn’t Russia.  Is this Russia?  I didn’t think so.

But I have to tell you:  I can’t think anything more apolitical than a president honoring a Stanley Cup winning team.  If there’s one single time in our lives where we should be able to put aside politics and just enjoy a moment, that should be it.  We all have political opinions.  Some may feel more strongly than others.  I remember Mark Chmura of the Green Bay Packers skipping their ceremony back in the 1990s because he didn’t agree with President Clinton’s personal conduct.  I get it.  Things and people aren’t always what we want them to be.  People are complex.

I’m not going to wax philosophical on the Tea Party or their principles or my personal feelings about them.   I’ve got a different blog for that.  This wasn’t about politics or big or small government or spending or beliefs of any kind at all.  This was about the team.  The team that won the Stanley Cup last year being honored by the President of the United States.  In that context, put aside your personal stuff and join your team in being honored for the collective accomplishment.  And then, an hour later, go back to protesting government spending.

Ference Gets 3 Games; NHL Gets “Serious”

Saturday’s game with the Bruins, to me, was one of the best of the season.  It’s a real shame that it had to be ruined with that absolutely disgraceful cheap shot in OT.

I heard a Bruins fan somewhere say that he “wasn’t hit from behind” and then proceeded to spew some nonsense about looking at the angle.   Um, huh?  No, McD wasn’t exactly parallel to the boards when he was hit, but watch the video.  Ference dumps the puck, then chases it in. McD goes to play the puck, turns his back to the boards.  Ference takes a minute, measures him up, has a cup of coffee, and then levels him from behind.  I mean, you don’t get more time to make those decisions.  This wasn’t heat of the moment.  He made a conscious decision to hit him AND he went right behind him to do it, whether McD was 100% parallel to the boards or not.  He was completely defenseless.  And Ference didn’t care.

Now, let’s talk about the NHL and Brendan Shanahan, a guy that I’ve always admired for the way he played and his great talent.  From Shanahan, he takes great length to go through an explanation of the play.  It’s a slightly wordier version of what I posted above.  He says (as Ference did) that there was no malicious intent, which I believe is true also.  He didn’t want to hurt him badly, I’m sure.  But he did want to take him out of the play.  Well within the rules, of course, but Ference had options here, regardless of the speed of the play.  Shanahan then levies the 3 game suspension.  At that point, my vision went white hot and I missed the rest of the explanation.  I’m sure it was the same nonsense that Shanny says every time one of these videos come out.

I’ve obviously put the word serious in quotes up there in the title.  Not because Shanahan said it, necessarily, but because I’m attempting sarcasm.  There is absolutely no place for that kind of crap in the NHL.  This isn’t Ference’s first time at the rodeo either.  How do you not give a repeat offender that took his time to absolutely level a defenseless player more than 3 games?  How?  Brendan Shanahan was as ballsy as it got when he played.  He’s practically toothless as the NHL’s Top Cop.

If the NHL wants to get serious about potential head injuries, I’m all for it.  But the only way to do that is to get some real punitive measure behind it.  If there’s no deterrent, it’s going to keep happening.

 

Montreal Canadiens Add A Goon To Play With P.K. Subban

I’d like to start this off by saying, even though it has nothing to do with the trade, that I still call P.K. Subban “P.K. Slewfoot” because of that crap he pulled on Dubi last season.

The Canadiens have sent Mike Cammalleri and some pieces to the Flames for Rene Bourque and some pieces.  I had two immediate reactions.  The first is that when a team says they need to get bigger up front, that strikes me as grasping at straws.  You know what teams need?  Scoring.  Yeah, size is good too, and Bourque can put the puck in the net.  If you’re getting the player that scored 58 and 50 points the last two seasons, I think I might sort of see this as being an OK trade for the Habs.  But if you’re getting the guy on pace for 30 points this season and who leads the league in being a dick and taking bad penalties, then I don’t think this does anything for the Habs, who are falling faster than Lindsay Lohan at Charlie Sheen’s house.  But hey, he speaks French, so the Habs fans should be thrilled.

My second thought was, “OK, they have to be dumping salary here.”  Lo and behold, from CapGeek.com:

A quick update on the Mike Cammalleri/Rene Bourque swap from Thursday night. The move opens up all kinds of cap space for Montreal, as the Canadiens can now add a cap hit of approximately $8.2 million at the deadline without requiring any long-term injury relief. The Flames stayed cap compliant by putting several players on long-term injured reserve, but once their roster returns to full health, they’ll need to trim more than $2.5 million in cap hits.

OK, so now it makes sense.  Even though Cammalleri is by far the better player with the better scoring touch and Montreal is 12th in the conference in scoring, if they’re dumping all that cash (something like $2.6MM) to either make a bigger move at the deadline or position themselves for the offseason, it’s not the worst move in the world.

One last thing:  I don’t remember the last time that I saw a player get traded in the middle of a game.  Was Doug Weight traded for Tikkanen in the middle of a game?  Am I making that up?  Also, keen insight from Kevin Weekes on the NHL Network, calling the Canadiens “a flagship organization in the NHL.”  No kidding.