Las Vegas could probably get a betting pool together with odds set on which NHL free agent will be the proverbial domino, as in the one player who signs or gets traded that causes all other players and teams to finally act in the middle of what has been a very stagnant off-season. So far, we have had plenty of single dominoes, but no domino effect. Anyway, at least we finally have some major news to talk about, regarding the other star defenseman on the Nashville Predators, Shea Weber, and the little offer sheet situation he and his team are involved in. Let’s take a look at that, and more, as we go “Around the NHL”…
Since it’s now been a few days since I caused that melee on Twitter with a certain Rick Nash rumor, I thought that it was now okay to go ahead with another hockey post. I just want to say that it seemed more people actually approved of the experiment than disapproved, though there were plenty who felt the latter. It’s funny that the people I know on Twitter, whether it be through actually talking to them on a regular basis or just casually following (even those who were not aware of the nature of the plot) were not angry at all, yet all these people who just came out of the woodwork were quick to call me names and attack me. I was left with this lasting impression: the lower the IQ, the higher the overreaction. Okay, now we’re moving on, and ready to go “Around the NHL”…
Has there ever been a more boring start to an NHL off-season than this one? Granted, the free-agent pool might not be as deep as it has been in years past, and is only going to keep on getting thinner due to all of these mega-deals, but still, there are enough names out there for this to have been a pretty exciting few weeks in July. It’s funny that when Ryan Suter and Zach Parise actually signed, aside from the initial, “Wow! Minnesota got both!” reaction, the excitement was limited, and people stopped talking about it within two days. Now if Parise had gone to the Rangers, Flyers, or Penguins, and Suter to the Red Wings, not only would we still be talking about it, but suicide hotline workers would be raking in overtime cash.
Hello there again! It’s time to take a look at what’s going on in the wide world of hockey. From a coach at war with the writers who cover his team, to already ridiculous off-season speculation involving the New York Rangers, it’s all here, in Around the NHL! (Oh yeah, and there was a Stanley Cup Finals game played last night too.)
- It’s no secret that I cannot stand the New Jersey Devils; well, actually, it’s their fans more than the actual team. Anyway, I gave them the benefit of the doubt heading into these Stanley Cup Finals. All we heard from them during the series against the Rangers is how they, as a fan base, are growing more now than ever before, how they are finally solidifying themselves. If that’s the case, then how come Game One of the biggest series in this sport was not sold out? Not just empty seats appearing in view of the TV cameras, but a laughable amount of available seats. Example: my friend (who is a Rangers fan wanting to see some Finals action with a group of people) buying eight tickets just a few hours before puck drop, then other people posting screenshots of Ticketmaster a half hour before the game, with plenty of seats still empty. I guess this should not really be a surprise—they could not sell out against the Rangers just weeks ago, and that was with the Blueshirts buying up roughly 20% of the seats in the arena. It’s a shame for them that there aren’t more Los Angeles Kings fans living in the Garden State.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s game day at last, with the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils slated for a big Game Six matchup in just under ten hours. This series has been very exciting, regardless of who you root for, but a lot has also been happening off the ice as well; some crazy, some stupid, some funny. (Okay, it’s the NHL so of course it’s mostly stupid.) It’s time we take a look at that, and go Around the NHL…
- When NHL games were being played on Versus, and before that, the ridiculous Outdoor Life Network, there was never a limit to the amount of what we hockey pundits could make fun of, because those networks were just…well…stupid. Remember when hockey games were being sandwiched between deer hunting, bass fishing, and extreme cage fighting? Remember when the network changed, and they launched a campaign for fans to show them your “V” (which stood for Versus…I hope; whatever that meant). Bottom line is, the networks were so bad that no one ever really made fun of the actual broadcast, because it looked like Emmy-worthy material when combined with everything else. Now that the NHL is on the highly esteemed NBC Sports Network (if I rolled my eyes any harder at that, they would get stuck facing the inside of my head), broadcasts are losing some of their luster. Aside from Mike Emrick, whose announcing has been flawless, does anyone see a point to having Pierre McGuire and Eddie Olcyk even being a part of the team? They add absolutely nothing; no enlightening comments, no inside knowledge, no nothing. All Pierre does is loft obvious questions with obvious answers toward Eddie, who, nine times out of ten, completely ignores it before saying something else. “I’d say that was a good save, wouldn’t you, Eddie?” No, you idiot, it was horrible. Tie game in the third period, why would that be a good save?
Complaints about the way the Pittsburgh Penguins have conducted themselves this past season have become so commonplace that they blend right in with your general barrage of gripes that you can expect to see with each season. But how about one from a Penguins’ fan himself? Sure enough, these last few weeks have gotten so out of hand, culminating with yesterday afternoon’s debacle with the Philadelphia Flyers, that it prompted an Open Letter to be posted on their SB Nation blog PensBurgh. This is a very thoughtful yet straight-to-the-point message from a lifelong Penguins’ fan that really captures everything that the rest of the league has been saying for years:
As much as I have expressed my anger with WFAN and the Boomer & Carton show in the past and their treatment of the sport of hockey, I must say I am thoroughly impressed with the interview they conducted with Brendan Shanahan this morning, who has a lot of explaining to do on his decisions to suspend or not suspend certain players in the last few games. Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton asked him some tough questions and really had the VP of Player Safety contradicting himself on several occasions. I used to have a ton of respect for Shanahan, despite the anger I showed towards him and the NHL in my article yesterday, who was one of my favorite players when he came to the Rangers for two seasons in 2006, but I have lost some of that over the last few days, and might not get it back.
In the 22 minute interview, Shanahan discussed his decisions to not suspend Shea Weber, and his perplexing suspension of Matt Carkner for only one game and Carl Hagelin’s three games. The contradictions that arose are when he was repeatedly asked about injuries being the only factor in his decisions and he denied it, though his explanations really did not clear that issue up. Click here to listen to the full interview.
The jerseys that the Pittsburgh Penguins will be wearing in this year’s winter classic have been photographed and released, and I just happened to catch a glimpse of them for the first time only minutes ago when I noticed them posted on someone’s Facebook. My immediate reaction that it was a joke—someone had photo-shopped a hideous jersey in an attempt to make fun of the Penguins, who have never really had a nice jersey. Then I find out that these jerseys are indeed real. Have a look for yourself:
The goal behind this monstrous creation was to take a little something from every jersey they have ever worn and combine it into one. This would not be a bad idea if every jersey the Penguins have had were actually good. There were the baby blue jerseys they sported in their inaugural years that were replicated for their appearance in the NHL’s first winter classic four years ago (not terrible). Then their black and yellow jerseys which featured a cartoon-like Penguin were laughable, and that design has shifted over the years. In my humble opinion, the picture below is the best jersey they ever wore—a very sharp black and yellow with the word “Penguins” down the center. Notice how it is not flashy, just very traditional:
But is this the ugliest jersey ever designed? The NHL is a league that has had their share of doozies over the years. From the mid-1990′s Los Angeles Kings wearing a jersey nicknamed the “Burger King”, to the New York Islanders having a center patch that was a mirror image of the Gorton’s Fisherman, only holding a hockey stick. Oh, and who can forget this design thunk up by the St. Louis Blues before Iron Mike Keenan shot it down and vetoed it? (Thank you, Mike!)
Year after year teams come up with awful designs, most recently teams beginning to use nicknames like the Lightning have with “Bolts” and the Senators with “Sens”, both of which can be seen in gigantic, unrepentant patterns right across the crest of the jerseys.
The Winter Classic is one hockey game that tops all others for viewership every year in its existence, and this is the best that the Penguins could come up with? Not only is it just an ugly clash of colors, but it contains that same cartoon penguin in the center and about three too many stripes on the bottom and the sleeves. To be frank, it looks like it was designed by someone who went into an acid-driven coma in the 1970′s and woke up this year to create this jersey.
It’s about time that teams stopped trying to stretch their creative minds past what they are limited to, and get back to simplicity. Each of the Original Six teams still wear jerseys identical to or slightly changed to what they wore when they debuted. I don’t hear anyone complaining about them.
So what do you think is the ugliest jersey ever? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!
Because this is the fifth post I have made with the title, “Around the NHL”, I have decided to make it an official column here on FNYTSF. Normally this series either wraps up or previews a busy day or days in the NHL, but over the last week or so, there has been absolutely nothing going on.
No one can even pretend to have the inside scoop on where Ilya Kovalchuk is heading. The Devils and Kings continue to be the front-runners while the Rangers reportedly offered him a two-year deal worth $15 million last week. Perhaps Kovalchuk himself does not even know where he is headed.
The amount of teams that can afford to pay Kovalchuk anywhere near the neighborhood of what he is asking are limited. They include the above mentioned three teams and the New York Islanders. Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs at one time were whispered to have an interest in him, but they would have to make some moves to afford him, much like the Devils.
Below is every team rumored to be interested in Ilya Kovalchuk, and why he will or won’t sign there:
Los Angeles Kings: They seem to be more active than any other team with Kovalchuk. They can afford him outright but will not sign him to an immense deal because of restricted free agents Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson up for re-signing after this season. Los Angeles would be the ideal location for the big star– it has plenty of glitz and glamor, all while not being in a major, stressful market for hockey. Should he sign there, he could live like a king (no pun intended).
New Jersey Devils: According to Mark Everson and his New York Post write-up where the Devils signed Kovalchuk two weeks ago, the team still has the inside track on him. This may very well be, but the Devils still need to sign two players to reach their forward minimum, and would have to get rid of players to afford Kovalchuk. Unless Lou Lamoriello can find a way to get rid of Brian Rolston, there is no way to sign him without dismantling the team.
Toronto Maple Leafs: One does not know if there was ever any legitimate interest between the two parties, but once upon a time ago, it was spoken of that Burke had an interest in Kovalchuk, and signing him would turn the team completely around. However, Toronto would be the worst possible career choice for a player who has never played with any pressure, or people in the stands watching him. Kovalchuk may want to get more exposure and certainly the Devils and Islanders would not provide that. But Toronto is a hockey-hungry city that does not tolerate losing (ironic considering the past few Maple Leaf teams) and should Kovalchuk sign there and flop, it would make his life a living hell.
New York Islanders: They offered him 10 years at $100 million. He turned it down. Enough said.
New York Rangers: The Rangers may not have the greatest abundance of cap space, but they also would not have to jump through hoops to get him either. All the Rangers would need to do after signing Marc Staal is waive Wade Redden after training camp, and there is the money. This would be the next ideal location next to Los Angeles. Here Kovalchuk would share the spotlight with Gaborik (meaning the pressure is not entirely on him) and he gets to play in the greatest city in the world. Although there is major pressure, it is still nothing compared to what he would face in the Toronto market.
Let’s begin with the wild and wacky news of the day, and that is the New York Post shedding some light on what Lou Lamoriello and the New Jersey Devils have offered free agent star Ilya Kovalchuk. According to them, and other outlets, the deal is 17 years at a total of around $100 million, with the $100 million front loaded in the first 10 years of the contract.
This has gotten people speculating that the offer is more than that amount of money, and is actually around $102 million. Either way, this is very strange, because if $100 million is distributed throughout the first ten years, that means Kovalchuk will only be receiving $2 million for the last seven years, an amount equaling only approximately $286,000 per season, which is almost half of league minimum.
I try not to curse on here, but if this story is true, then Lou Lamoriello is officially bat-shit insane.
Something is just not right all around here. Lamoriello seems like the last GM on the planet who would offer something as groundbreaking and egregious as a seventeen year contract, not to mention the announced method of how the money would be given out.
Perhaps the New York Post has gotten their information wrong again, because it was just this past Sunday when they had the hockey world buzzing when they announced that the Devils were moments away from inking Kovalchuk. Ten minutes, and about a million visitors later, they then changed the headline to “Devils Have the Inside Track”. By the end of the day, it was revealed the two sides were not even heavy in talks that day.
Something strange is definitely brewing in the Kovalchuk saga. Perhaps he needs a prime-time television special of his own to help move things along.
Now to the Blueshirts, who dealt away forward Aaron Voros (who they waived three times in the last two seasons) and prospect Ryan Hillier to Anaheim for defenseman Steve Eminger. This move is an even deal for both sides, although I feel bad for Ducks fans for having to get a player as pointless as Voros is.
Dubbed the “People’s Champ” by fans, I am still trying to figure out who he is the champ of. He can’t score, can’t fight, can’t back-check, and can’t throw a body check. Oh wait, that must mean he was perfect for the Rangers.
Meanwhile, the Rangers receive a former first round pick that never panned out, Steve Eminger, who was selected by the Washington Capitals in 2002. If you want an example of a journeyman player, he is the one. In seven seasons, he has played a total of 346 games with five teams, including three in just 2008/09 alone.
He does not excel in any particular area, nor it he extremely deficient in any, except taking lazy penalties, from what I hear. 301 career penalty minutes is an awful lot to have with only five fighting majors. But even so, Eminger is a cheap option for a seventh defenseman, whose contract runs 0ut after this season, like Voros.
Do not expect anything miraculous out of him; just let him play the forty or so games that he was brought here for, and if he scores, consider it a bonus.
However, there is talk that this is just the first in a series of moves by Glen Sather that will culminate with the waiving of Wade Redden at the end of training camp.
We shall have to wait and see! (Man, I’ve been saying that a lot lately.)