Monday, July 31, 2006
Jiri Slegr: A Tribute
My Jedi senses have once again led me in the right direction as Jiri Slegr has signed a deal with his hometown HC Chemopetrol Litvinov club and has pretty much closed the book on his illustrious NHL career.
Regular Season: 622GP 56-193-249 838PIM
Playoffs: 42GP 4-14-18 39PIM
With that, it's time for a tribute to one of my all-time favourite players.
Slegr was born Jiri Bubla, May 30th, 1971, in the Czech town of Jihlava, where his dad was playing hockey with the once-legendary Dukla squad. Jiri was named after his father, the ex-Canucks defenseman, who soon left to North America and left his family behind. Jiri and his father rarely had contact during his childhood, and his mother remarried, moving the family to Litvinov, a town known for having a chemical plant and a good hockey team.
As he was estranged from his father and found himself growing up with a new family, Jiri ditched the Bubla name and took the name of his mother's family, Šlégr (SHLAY-gur)
Slegr is very much similar to his father in many ways. Both are shorter, offensive-minded defensemen who were very muscular and ended up playing with the Vancouver Canucks. For all of their muscle, both Jiri's had trouble handling bigger forwards. It seems the muscles were great for getting the ladies, but not clearing the crease.
Slegr grew up behind the Iron Curtain, trained in a very strong Litvinov system that also produced his 'mates' Martin Rucinsky, Robert Reichel, Robert Lang, and Josef Beranek.
Slegr's breaking out party came at the 1990 World Junior Championships, where the very strong Czechs pulled out a Bronze medal. This team featured many of the Czechs stars, such as Jaromir Jagr, that comprised the new golden years of Czech hockey. Slegr had 3 goals and 4 assists in 7 games for the Czechs.
Slegr played his first full season in the senior Czechoslovakian Extraleague as a 19 year old in 1990-91 with Litvinov, and put up an amazing 43 points in 39 games. For his efforts, Slegr won the Best Defensemen Award, an amazing feat for a 19-year old. He was also named Best Defenseman at the 1991 WJC, where he put up 9 assists and a +9 in 7 games, and earned another Bronze medal.
Slegr, like many of his Czech-mates, found himself suddenly open to playing in the NHL as the Iron Curtain fell. Slegr was taken 2nd round, 23rd overall, by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1990 Entry Draft (one of the strongest drafts of all time, if not the strongest) after his fine performance at the 1990 WJC. He was the third Czech picked that day behind Petr Nedved (who had already defected earlier) and Jaromir Jagr.
Slegr made his North American debut in 1992 with the Hamilton Bulldogs, putting up 18 points in 21 games before getting the call up to the Canucks, where he put up 26 points in 41 games.
When I saw Slegr play for the first time, I was an instant fan. I was a big fan of offensive defensemen and loved the way Slegr skated and dished the puck. It also helped that in one of the early EA NHL games for the Genesis (I forget which one in particular), he'd always lead my Canucks in scoring as I scored on countless end-to-end rushes.
Slegr would play one more full season for the Canucks before being traded to the Edmonton Oilers for Roman Oksiuta during the strike-shortened 1994-95 season. In his season-and-a-half in Edmonton, Slegr clearly never fit in very well and had only 23 points in 69 games. Both parties were clearly frustrated with each other, and Slegr went to play with Sodertalje in Sweden in 96-97.
Slegr made his triumphant return to the NHL the following year with the Czech-heavy Pittsburgh Penguins. In 4 seasons with the Pens, Slegr was converted to a much more defensive-minded role and learned to round out his game. This transformation led to his peak, when in 1998, Slegr's fantastic play helped lead the Czechs to the Gold Medal in the Nagano Olympic Games. His coach at the time, Ivan Hlinka, was quoted as saying that the tournament represented the best he'd ever seen Slegr play.
Fast forward to 2001, when he was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers for another down chapter in his career. Slegr was expected to carry a much heavier load and carry the play of such esteemed defence-mates such as Yannick Tremblay and Chris Tamer. Slegr seemed to be unable to handle the pressure at times, and faltered in such a role.
After parts of two seasons, Slegr was given a reprieve and traded to the Detroit Red Wings in 2002. Slegr was merely a 'black ace' on the squad, but still managed to get his named etched on the Stanley Cup as his one and only playoff appearance for the Wings was in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He took the Cup home to Litvinov that offseason and held one huge block party.
Unable to find a team willing to sign him, Slegr played the next season between Litvinov and Omsk. It was a frustrating time for Slegr, as Omsk already had their quota of imports and Slegr was basically in the press box for most games. He was paid about a $1mil US to basically watch hockey in cold Russian rinks. Not a bad gig, but clearly not too fulfilling.
In 2003-04, Slegr made his return to Vancouver to be closer to his father. The two Jiri's had re-established their relationship and there was a nice happy ending to that part of the story. Unfortunately, Canucks coach Marc Crawford, for some odd reason, never liked Slegr and played him sparingly.
Slegr requested, and was granted by a willing and understanding Brian Burke, a trade. Slegr ended up in Boston where he finished out his NHL career on a high note, with a season in Litvinov during the lockout sandwiched in between.
GOLD MEDAL CLUB: Jiri Slegr retires as one of the few players to have earned a Stanley Cup ring, an Olympic Gold Medal, and a World Championships Gold. Jiri is one of only 18 players to have ever done this.
#71: Slegr wore #71 in honour of the year of his birth.
Full Stats via Eurohockey.net
An article on Jiri Bubla and Jiri Slegr, posted by VCOE
First, here is one of my all-time favourite goals… Jiri scores to put the Czechs up 1-0 during the Semi-Finals of the Olympic Games in Nagano. Of course, the over-the-top play-by-play adds to the awesomeness.
And here is Slegr setting up teammate Viktor Hubl during the lockout. This is a typical Slegr join-the-rush point. Just a beautiful tic-tac-toe play.
Jiri Slegr and Jiri Bubla appearing at a charity event together.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Yannick Tremblay is not our Saviour!
Cue the mainstream mediots with the usual headlines:
"Canucks sign Tremblay to boost blue-line" - TSN
'Nucks bolster blue line with Tremblay - SPORTSNET
Boost: To assist in further development or progress
Bolster: To buoy up or hearten
Does Yannick Tremblay really do anything of the sort for the Canucks blue line? The media use those terms all the time, but without realizing that signing a scrub like Tremblay does not actually IMRPOVE the Canucks. How does he progress the defense? Making them progressively worse than last year's group?
Tremblay has some offensive skills, I'll give him that, but the d00d is truly a negative-impact player, or below replacement level, if you will. Having Tremblay on the ice means that your team is worse off than having an easily replaceable guy like Nolan Baumgartner on the ice. Good teams do not have Yannick Tremblay's on their roster.
Opposing forwards love Yannick Tremblay because he makes Andy Delmore look like Scott Frickin' Stevens, k? There is a reason Yannick was in Germany last year and it wasn't just because of his Weisswurst fetish.
Let's see the damage Tremblay has done to his NHL teams during his career...
YEAR TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM
1996-1997 TOR 5 0 0 0 -4 0
1997-1998 TOR 38 2 4 6 -6 6
1998-1999 TOR 35 2 7 9 0 16
1999-2000 ATL 75 10 21 31 -42 22
2000-2001 ATL 46 4 8 12 -6 30
2001-2002 ATL 66 9 15 24 -15 47
2002-2003 ATL 75 8 22 30 -27 32
2003-2004 ATL 38 2 8 10 -13 13
Career -- 378 37 85 122 -113 166
Yes, folks, that is a career -113 in just 378 games. Sure, he played in Atlanta, but HE WAS A BIG PART OF THE PROBLEM, not just a symptom of it.
If Tremblay ends up less than 90% of the season with the Manitoba Moose, than this is a bad deal for the Canucks. He doesn't provide nearly enough offence to make up for being a human turnstile.
Blech... get me some Maalox.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
Why does Vancouver hate Slovaks?
WHY DOES VANCOUVER HATE SLOVAKS?
Vancouver is quite the diverse and cosmopolitan city. We have all kinds of people here and all of the cultures blend in and become snobby, coffee-sipping fashionitas regardless of where their families are originally from.
This cultural diversity has extended to the Vancouver Canucks, for the most part. The Canucks have had plenty of CZECHS (Slegr, Nedved, Malik, Bubla, Hlinka, Rucinsky, Beranek, Kucera), RUSSIANS (Bure, Mogilny, Chubarov, Semak, Sharifijanov, Oksiuta), FINNS (Salo, Ruutuu, Ruutu, Skriko, Lumme, Tikkanen), SWEDES (Too many to count), LATVIANS (Irbe, Vasiljevs), and even North Americans of ASIAN descent (Park, Kariya). The Canucks even drafted an AUSTRIAN (Grabner) in the first round on the 2006 Entry Draft and drafted a DANISH pastry not too long ago.
So, why doesn't this diversity extend to SLOVAKS, hmm??
Oh, trust me, this city hates Slovaks. I walk down the street and get bottles thrown at me all the time for no good reason. We have a Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, and Croatian Cultural Centre in Vancouver. The Slovaks? They might have a shed in the backyard of some guy's house, but that's about it.
Did ya know, that the total number of games played by SLOVAK players for the Vancouver Canucks is a mere 10.
You have one of the great hockey countries in the world, and the Canucks have only had 10 games from Slovak players? Obvious proof of the Anti-Slovak policy at work.
Who were these brave souls who never got a true shot?
1. LUBOMIR VAIC - A player so awesome that there is an entire blog dedicated to his greatness.
Lubomir played 9 games over 2 seasons for the Canucks (97-98 and 99-00, getting about 2 minutes of ice time a game and scoring 1 goal and 1 assist. The only reason he got 9 games in the first place is because he pretended to be a Czech. One the Canucks got wind of his true background, they made sure to blacklist him from the team.
Sick of being stuck behind crap such as Darby Hendrickson, Vaic left for Europe to become a star in Finland and Czechia.
Did ya know that VAIC is a Slovakicized version of the German name WEISS? Well, you do now, suckers!
2. JOZEF BALEJ - A talented winger with a few issues, Balej seems to have bolted to Europe this off-season after is was obvious that he'd never get a shot with 'talented' Canadians such as Alex Burrows in the fold.
His count? 1 game and 1 assist. Apparently, his 82-points-a-season pace wasn't good enough for the Canucks.
The only country getting the shaft more than Slovakia is Germany, for which only Sven Butenschon (by my recollection) has represented that fine nation. He played 8 games with the Canucks last year and won't be back. Still, there are few fewer Germans in the NHL than Slovaks, so the Germans, by ratio of players available in the NHL to games played for the Canucks, are doing far better than the poor Slovaks.
Friday, July 28, 2006
Buffalo Sabres to go retro
It looks like the Buffalo Sabres will be going retro for 15 games next year.
Buffalo Sabres Managing Partner Larry Quinn announced today the Sabres will wear the franchise’s original blue and gold uniform and logo as the team’s third jersey during 15 home games in the 2006-07 season.
The Sabres first wore the original Blue and Gold in the 1970-1971 season and continued that way for the following 26 years. The first major change to the team's look came in 1996-97 when the team changed its basic colors to red, black and white to coincide with the opening of the HSBC Arena (formerly Marine Midland Arena).
“We have been planning all along to use the original colors and logo as our third jersey for next season,” Quinn said. “Given the outpouring of fan concern the last few weeks, we decided to make this announcement now instead of September as originally planned. We are still committed and enthusiastic about our new uniform and believe that fans will embrace it once they have a chance to actually see it."
Awesome!! I love the old Sabres sweaters, and never could warm up to their new ones. The new ones just seemed too 'new' and too busy, like the geek trying to hard to get a date.
Like the Canucks, the Sabres would find that their old designs bring back a lot of nostalgia and positive reviews. When the St. Louis Blues changed to a more classic design a few years (away from those clown uniforms), it was one of the best things they could have done. Perhaps the CALGARY FLAMES could take a cue and wear uniforms that aren't so hard on the eyes. Black letters on red? Ouch!
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
CANUCKS Salary Structure as at July 26th, 2006
Here is the salary structure as of today (in salary cap terms). Of course, there is plenty of uncertainty as to the finality of the Canucks roster. I still expect Monsieur Naslund to end up in Philly with his golf buddy Forsberg, so that the Canucks forward corps will look substantially different in about a month from now.
Wow, over $40mil and that's with some RFA's still to be signed and perhaps another body or two to fill out the roster. Nonis will not want to go over $42mil, so the Canucks are definitely in a tight spot financially.
Monday, July 24, 2006
"Vítej Zlatý Hattricku!!"
I'm waving between laughing and nervousness listening to this guy.
Report: Canucks sign Jan Bulis
I have to say that I like this signing, as Jan Bulis has turned himself into an effective and mature 2-way player the last couple of seasons in Montreal. He can play center (his prime position) or shift over to LW and be just as effective.
His best season was last season as he had 20 goals and 20 assists in 73 games. The only worrisome stat is his playoff record of 4 points and -11 in 23 games. Ouch
Assets: Has a strong lower body and is difficult to knock off the puck. Is defensively responsible, skates well and complements scoring forwards well.
Flaws: Needs to use his shot more. Must improve his consistency. The jury is still out on whether he can score enough to be a top-six forward
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Memory Lane: Tom Kurvers
The last time the Canucks had a defenseman like Tom Kurvers since 1991, when they had, ya know, the real Tom Kurvers, and not some crappy imitation like Nolan Baumgartner or Greg Hawgood.
Kurvers' tenure with the Canucks lasted only 32 games, but he made a major impact in his time here with 27 points for a 0.84PPG. This PPG is even better than future hall of famers such as Jyrki Lumme and Gerard Diduck.
After winning the Hobey Baker in 1984 (d00d put up 76 points in 43 games...holy crap!!!!), Kurvers shook the Hobey Curse and went on to pile up 421 points in 659 career NHL games. That wasn't his most impressive feat, though. He was so good, that the Toronto Maple Leafs traded the 1st round pick that would become Scott Niedermayer for Kurvers. Niedermayer? What were you ever traded for? A slice of pizza?
Oh, but it gets better.
According to his hockeydb.com profile, Kurvers went on to play a season in Japan before he retired. In 1995-96, for Seibu, Kurvers put up 18 goals and 52 points in 0 games. 0 games!! Not even Wayne Gretzky could put up those kind of numbers...he would have needed at least 1 game.
Now, he's the director of player personnel with the Phoenix Coyotes and one of Gretzky's golf buddies. It's too bad he can't come to Vancouver and teach Lukas Krajicek how to run a Power Play. Is it too late for him to unretire?
Thursday, July 20, 2006
I have a sudden craving for Fish Sticks
One of the entries for hockey is the Captain Highliner design that the New York Islanders once wore back when Ziggy Palffy and Travis Green were an item.
This much we know: During the mid-1990s, lots of fans at the Nassau Coliseum were requesting vomit buckets. What's still unclear is whether they were reacting to the cheesy Gorton's fisherman logo or the seasickness-inducing trim and typography (which really deserve a closer look). Either way, a true classic.Although I've made fun of these unis many times, I actually have a soft spot for these uniforms and absolute loved them when they first came out. The mix of the strange-ass font, crazy-ass waves, and just general WTF factor turned them into the good-bad kind of uniforms. They are so bad that they are good! C'mon, I know I'm not the only one who would have loved to shell out $250 for one of these babies!
Ziggy Palffy scored a lot of chicks wearing this!
Bruce Driver looks on in envy
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Stupidity Continues Reign over the NHL
First, the Toronto Maple Leafs fall under the same spell the New York Islanders fell under and overpaid Mike Peca grossly, to the tune of $2.5mil for this upcoming season.
The same Mike Peca who scored a whopping 9 goals and 23 points in 71 games last year. The same Mike Peca that was a hair away from demanding a trade out of Edmonton. The same Mike Peca who basically quit on his team part-way through the season. Some leadership.
So, he may have 'leadership' and some decent defensive ability, but how can JFJ justify paying $2.5mil for Peca? You can get the same quality of forward, who will work just as hard, on the market for much cheaper, but apparently JFJ likes the BIG name that Peca is.
Whatever. This is just hilarious. JFJ continues to run the Leafs into the ground with his lack of ability to perceive player value. Mike Peca continues to be a me-and-my-money type of guy.
Oh, and we get the obligatory "It's not about the money!" quote
"Obviously being a Toronto kid goes without saying how big this is, but it goes deeper than that," Peca said Tuesday during a news conference. "My willingness to play in Toronto goes beyond being from Toronto, it's recognizing an organization that prides itself on wanting to win, and really taking every step necessary where they see fit to try to provide that for the fans."BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Oh, that's good stuff!
Speaking of those New York Islanders, Neil Smith stepped down as puppet-GM after about a month on the job. Although I made the mistake of forgetting that he was hired in the first place, the crappy signings they've made in the offseason have obviously been the work of Mad Mike Milbury, who somehow still maintains control over the team despite a very length track record of absolute sucktitude. Milbury must give good blowjobs, because there is no other rational explanation for Charles Wang's loyalty to this doofus.
So, who do they get to replace Smith? A guy with experience? A guy who's good at his job?
No, they get Garth Snow.
GARTH SNOW?? The scary-looking backup goaltender with the huge lacrosse pads?
WOO!! Only on Long Island.
I spoke with Garth at length throughout the spring about the general manager's position and he really impressed me with his passion and his knowledge," said Islanders owner Charles Wang.How did Charles Wang ever get to be as rich and successful in the computer world as he did? How can a man to obviously moronic get in a position to own a hockey club?
"When the job opened up, the choice was an easy one. Garth knows the league as well as anyone, has an eye for talent and understands how our staff works as a team. Most importantly, Garth is a man of integrity, someone I trust will work hard, be creative and represent the Islanders with dignity."
Yes, Garth Snow has lots of management experience. Oh wait, he doesn't.
Garth Snow has lots of business and management training. Oh wait, he doesn't.
Passion means nothing if you don't have the ability, and it's insulting to see a guy like Garth Snow get a premium job like this when there are about 1,000 more qualified candidates out there. Sure, Snow is just going to be a puppet, but why not do the right thing and hire somebody who can actually, I dunno, run a frickin hockey team?
I feel sorry for Isles fans, all 16 of them that are left.
Pavol Demitra Memory of the Day
Chris Pronger, back in the days when he wasn't so good in the playoffs, feeds Pavol with a beautiful long-bomb pass, and Pavol buries it behind Ken Wregget to beat the evil Wings in OT. The Blues haven't beaten the Wings much over the years, so this was one sweet goal.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
An Off-Season Look at... The Columbus Blue Jackets
How do they look so far heading into next season?
Not good. For the ~$35mil the Jackets are spending, they aren't getting a lot of bang for the buck.
The Dinner Jackets shouldn't have so many problems scoring goals next season with a forward corps that is actually pretty decent. You have the young Monster Nash together with playmaker David Excellent and overpaid, but still decent, ex-boyfriend of Anna Kournikova. Behind them, you have Jaroslav Balastik entering his sophomore year, newly acquired Fredrik Modin, future Calder winner Gilbert Brule, and Nik Zherdev, also a scoring star in the making. The forward corps has a bit of everything and lots of youth.
Unfortunately for the BJs, their defence is terrible and the goaltending isn't that far behind.
Now, I know Pascal Leclaire has talent and potential, and he just may explode next season, but it's still a risky proposition. Ty Conklin as a backup?? BJs fans better hope Fredrik Norrena, an excellent goalie from the Swedish Elitserien, takes the backup spot. (Norrena is 33, though, and not exactly in the prime age to be starting an NHL career)
As for the D, it's like putting a band-aid on a sewer pipe that just burst. There's lots of crap floating around and the BJs aren't going to stop teams from peppering their goalies with 40+ shots a night.
The Foote Soldier lost about 15 steps last year, and Cyclops Berard is about as much of a liability on defence as you'll ever see in the NHL. Rusty Klesla still has some serious issues with discipline and has yet to really match the potential we've been waiting for him to meet. What team playing Duvie Westcott every game is going to win many games? Anders Eriksson? Been there, done that, and didn't want to watch the sequel. Tomas Kloucek couldn't even make a weak Thrashers squad...
Who the hell names their kid Duvie?
Synopsis: The BJs will be fighting with the Blues and Chickenhawks for the basement suite. No team with a defence as bad as the Dinner Jackets is going to sniff the behinds of the teams fighting for the playoffs. At the very least, this team should score more often and get better goaltending than they have in the past. If Doug MacLean could secure some better defensemen and learn to pick up better players outside of the first round, the BJs could really start to build something. Until then, enjoy the lottery picks.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Canucks Off-Season Update
Pyatt has never put up any worthy offensive numbers at the NHL level, and had just 12 points in 41 games last season. His career high is just 28, which he got 4 years ago.
Still, Pyatt is a big specimen (6'4" 220"), still only 24 years old (we saw how long it took Grumpy Bear Bertuzzi to bust out), and still a useful part that won't hurt the Canucks at his expected salary.
He'll take the place of Jarkko Ruutu as the team's 'pest' of sorts, only with far fewer bad penalties. Pyatt is incredibly disciplined, taking just 170 PIMS in 308 games. He should make a solid addition to the 3rd line, as I expect that's where he'll be.
According to his SPORTSNET profile:
Assets: Boasts a tremendous combination of size and skating ability. Has sound body-checking skills, and is both defensively aware and an emerging offensive talent.
Flaws: The jury is still out on his offensive upside. Tends to struggle in the hockey sense department.
Since salary data can be very hard to come by, here is my best estimate to date of the Canucks roster and salary commitments. Obviously, the RFA figures aren't 100% accurate and I based them mainly on their previous salaries. I would expect Lukas Krajicek to get a raise, and the others not so much.
The Canucks look set in goal and on defense, if Luc Bourdon makes the leap, leaving the Canucks just a few million under the cap with a lot of work to do up front. Matt Cooke is nobody's answer to the question of "Who's out first line RW?", and I don't know if Jason King is in the Canucks' plans to play with the Sedins like he once did. Jozef Balej, the Slovak sniper, may get a shot at that 2nd line spot as well.
If anyone can help me fill out this chart, any information would be gladly appreciated.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Who is Jan Hejda?
Can they bring him over?
From a previous entry,
A 27 year-old DMan, he was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the 4th round of the 2003 draft. He's big, strong (6'3" 210), and he's good offensively with a big shot. He helped HC Slavia Praha win the Czech Extraliga a few years back before being lured to Russia by the big oil money. Out of all of the Europlayers, he's the best bet for an NHL career in the future, if Buffalo is willing to match the money he can make in Russia.Hejda is certainly more skilled than Ales Pisa, who had a cup of coffee with the Oilers and MUCH better than Jan Horacek, who struggles to be decent in the Czech and Slovak Extraleagues.
In my video vault, I found two kinda cruddy videos of Hejda taking shots from the left point that were deflected for goals. It's certainly more than YOU got!
Monday, July 10, 2006
Quick Hits from the Hockey Bong
People are barking because this apparently marks a return to the old New York Ranger$$$. Umm, OK.... a $4mil deal for just ONE season? The old Rangers would have given Shanahan 3-4 years at $5mil per.
This is the same Shanahan that scored 81 points in 82 games last season and looked physically faster and stronger than he had in at least 6-7 years.
Really, this is a brilliant signing and one of the best of this off-season (not that it would be hard in the face of so many awful contracts). You get a guy who can still produce at a reasonable price and you only tie yourself down for one season.
So what if Brendan wanted to leave Detroit? That's his choice. He's been in Detroit so long and seen Steve Yzerman retire, so a change of scenery is not such a bad thing. Obviously, he turned down bigger offers from other teams and thinks the Rangers have a shot. I don't see why Wings fans have to be so bitter about his departure. Brendan doesn't owe the Wings anything and has every right to go elsewhere. He's given the Wings 9 seasons of great service, so thank him and let him be on his way.
We saw a new-look Rangers team last year do quite well, but also exposed to the fact that Jaromir Jagr was far too important to their offensive fortunes. With Brendan Shanahan on board, they have a good 2nd option and their offensive depth is now quite improved. Add the development of Prucha and the signing of a decent 2-way player like Matt Cullen, and the Rangers should be able to have another good run next season. They aren't my cup favourites, but they aren't to be taken lightly.
On the flip side, we see the reign of error continue on Long Island as Mad Mike Milbury continues to spin the wheels and show that he has no real plan or sense of direction with his squad.
(Edit: I've been advised that Neil Smith is the GM of the Isles now, which I forgot. Still, Mad Mike is a higher power in the org. Neil Smith is pretty much a crappy GM as we all know. Good analyst, but poor GM)
1. Tom Poti (1 year @ $2.5mil). Fortunately, this is only one year. Unfortunately, it's Tom Poti and it's $2.5mil!!!
The so-called offensive d-man had only 23 points last season and is softer than microwaved chocolate syrup. Mmmmm syrup! Adding Tom Poti to your roster at any price is a risky proposition, but when you waste a load of money to do it? Stupid.
2. Brendan Witt ($7.5mil/3 years) - Brendan Witt was a decent dman in the OLD NHL, and at one point he was actually quite a rock in the back end. The problem? He's a liability in the New NHL and he takes a LOT of bad penalties. Witt is one of the worst offenders in terms of putting his team short-handed and provides a negative offensive value. Brendan Witt's 67 minor penalties taken was second only to Sean Avery (Jarkko Ruutu was 3rd, no big surprise) and I believe he hurts a team greatly with his lack of discipline. Really, Witt is the type of defenseman that you should let other teams pay the big bucks for.
3. Mike Sillinger ($6.6mil/3 years) - He was great for the Blues and Preds last year with 63 points in 79 games last season, but look at his past history and you KNOW he won't duplicate that kind of production again. Last season was an outlier and I'd be surprised if he gets more than 40 points next year. His defence (not counting face-offs) is actually quite poor and he's 35 years old! Why would you give a 35-year old with his track record that much money for THREE seasons? Do you think a 37-year old Sillinger will be all that valuable?
The only good thing about this signing is that it pads Sillinger's record for most teams played for. I'm hoping he gets traded to Atlanta so he can pad his record some more.
So, Mad Mike and Niel Smith add 3 risky guys at rather expensive dollars, thinking that they will be key cogs in their lineup. It's not the worst stuff he's ever done, but not the work of a smart GM.
Here in Vancouver, GM Dave Nonis signed former Minnesota Mild centre Marc Chouinard to a $2mil/2 year deal. Marc is a solid defensive forward and isn't too costly. For his cost, he should be a break-even warm body kind of guy. 30 points and good defence from a 3rd liner for $1mil sounds just fine to me.
This Vancouver Canucks team is going to be hella more defensive minded fo'shizzle. It may be less exciting to watch, but I'll trade a bit less excitement and offence for defence and more wins! The old style didn't bring us much postseason glory, so it's time for something new.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Pavol Demitra Memory of the Day
Saturday, July 08, 2006
St. Louis Blues Offseason Update
The major ownership change was finally completed with Dave “Checkbook” Checketts and his partners taking over the franchise from Bill “I married into Wal-Mart money” Laurie.
Their first major move was to take TV analyst John “I never shut the hell up” Davidson and install him as President 1.0 of the Blues. What qualification does Davidson have to be president of a major business operation? Well, in the hockey world, he seems to have met the qualifications of being a former player. Screw business training, all you need to do is know how to skate with the pros. Mmm hmm.
JD’s first big move was to keep, yes KEEP, Larry Pleau as GM of the Blues. Yes, the same Larry Pleau that is responsible for the Blues being an absolute mess of a franchise with a rather thin group of prospects and a long road ahead. So, all hope of seeing Pleau booted out is gone because he is, apparently, a nice guy.
Give me a prickly guy like Brian Burke who gets results! I don’t care how nice Pleau is or how great his hair is, the man is not very good at running an NHL franchise.
This off-season has been a great example of Pleau’s ‘effective’ leadership. The Blues are a train-wreck, and we know a train-wreck can’t be cleaned up in a day.
That didn’t stop Larry Pleau from wasting money on a bunch of old Americans that are on the good ship old-age decline, in a desperate attempt to attract attendance and win games.
A summary of off-season moves:
1. Signed UFA Doug Weight to a $7mil/2 year deal.
2. Signed UFA Bill Guerin to a $2mil/1 year deal.
3. Signed UFA Dallas Drake to a $2.2mil/2 year deal.
4. Signed UFA Petr Cajanek to a $1.7mil/season multi-year deal.
5. Signed UFA Jay McKee to a $16mil/4 year deal.
6. Drafted D Erik Johnson 1st overall.
7. Signed UFA Dan Hinote to a $1mil/year deal.
Fans want wins, they don’t care if Bill Guerin and Doug Weight played for Team USA years ago. Fans don’t shell out $50 to see Guerin and Weight unless they are the few people who count those two among their absolute favourite players. The Blues are so far removed from the playoff race that adding a few old veterans is only going to help lose a few less games. Does anyone think the Blues are a playoff contender? The Blues had Doug Weight for most of last season and certainly weren’t in the playoff hunt. Bill Guerin and the 40-50 points isn’t going to boost them to high waters, since he’ll essentially replace what Mike Sillinger was doing for them last season.
I like Jay McKee, but like Willie Mitchell here in Vancouver, he’s not a guy I’d pay that much money for. McKee is good defensively, but provides very little offense at all. He’s certainly not worth the $4mil per year salary, although the market is so inflated right now that his contract doesn’t stick out.
Did they sign these old dudes to make the minimum payroll? Well, let’s look at the figures and depth chart as it stands this morning.
We can see that the Blues, once they signed their RFAs, are well over the minimum payroll, even subtracting a few guys down to the minors. It’s not like they needed to sign Bill Guerin to make the minimum.
1. The old guys aren’t signed for a very long time. Guerin is only signed for 1 year and Doug Weight and Dallas Drake for 2 seasons. Pleau was smart enough not to tie himself with total albatross contracts. These guys will be off the books soon enough, and could be trade bait once the trade deadline approaches.
2. The old guys aren’t blocking any prospects. The Blues don’t really have any great forward prospects that need ice time to develop apart from Lee Stempniak, the inconsistent rookie who showed some nifty offensive moves from time to time, and Timofei Shish-kabob, who needs to be given some PP time to show what he can do, but isn’t a high-quality prospect by any means. Petro Sejna isn’t going to put up any numbers at the AHL level, and the Blues don’t have anyone else in the minors that is considered a top-end offensive producer at the moment.
3. The Blues defense actually looks fairly decent. If Eric Brewer can stay healthy, the young guys like Dennis Wideman and Christian Backman keep developing, then the group, as a whole, should do fairly well. I like the grit of this group, and I hope Wideman can provide the offense that he’s capable of.
4. Erik Johnson is going to college, at least for a year. This is good news because there is no use for him to be on the Blues right now, even though he could possibly make it. We don’t need him finishing -25 on a poor team and having his confidence shattered, plus burning a year of service time. The Blues defense is fine enough without him around, so he can develop at the University of Minnesota and develop his hockey skills and beer consumption habits in a nurturing environment.
What’s left for Pleau to do? Well, I like what Curtis Sanford did in goal last season, but his minor league track record is actually quite poor and I wonder if last year wasn’t just a fluke. If nobody else takes Manny Legace and his self-defeating attitude, the Blues may want to give him a shot in the tandem and return ‘Cash’ back to the AHL for another year of development.
The Blues could also use a real top-6 scorer for the second line, although Stempniak should be given the chance if the Blues can’t sign somebody that’s actually good. There is no use spending more money on a team that, most likely, won’t make the playoffs.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Introducing Gilbert Brule
Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch has Q&A with the league's next big star. It's not too late to jump on the Creme Brule bandwagon before it 'jumps the shark' like the Sergei Fedorov wagoners who came on after the first of two Wings Cup wins in the 90s *ahem*
A few select questions...
Q : What was the Memorial Cup run like?Too bad he won't be here for the Memorial Cup this year :(
A : One of the best things so far in my hockey career. Just being on a team like that, seeing how close you get with the guys. It’s such a hard tournament to win, but I don’t think you realize that until after you get there, after it’s over.
Q : You played a part in eight of the last nine goals scored by the Vancouver Giants, carrying them all the way to the semifinals. Is that as good as you’ve ever felt on skates?What's up with that answer?? 0_o
A : It’s a feeling of brotherhood. It’s hard to put your finger on it, but something develops that brings everybody together.
Q : Gilbert Brule is a very cool, very Frenchsounding name. What’s the background?
A : My dad’s parents were from Quebec, so French speaking, but he grew up mostly in Ontario. I’ve lived in Vancouver since I was 2 years old, so that’s all I’ve ever really known. But I’m half French-Canadian.
Q : Girlfriend?
A : Nope.
Q : Eligible bachelor?
A : Umm …
Q : What are your plans this summer?Oh, just say it. You'll be centering Jaroslav Balastik and win the Calder Trophy!
A : I’ll take a couple of days off, just to relax. But then I’ll get back to work, get some ice time in Vancouver and work on my hands and my skating.
Q : Any doubt in your mind that you’ll be a Blue Jacket next season?
A : I’m a modest guy, I like to think. I’m going to come to camp with the idea that I have to make the team, that I have to prove myself all over again. I have to make the team just like everybody else.
Hat-tip to Kukla's for the linkage.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Demitra and Gaborik: Best Friends Forever!
"He would have had choices," Wild general manager Doug Risebrough said. "Today, he chose us."Now, I've never known Pavol Demitra and Marian Gaborik to be close buds, but according to this article, and a bit of other stuff in the Slovak media, the two are apparently best friends these days.
The move came as somewhat of a surprise, as both Wild management and Gaborik's agent had said they expected the high-scoring Slovak to file for arbitration as the sides continued to negotiate a long-term agreement.
Wednesday was the deadline for restricted free agents to file for arbitration. The deal means the Wild avoided having to go to a hearing in which a third party would have decided a one-year salary for Gaborik.
"It's good for the Wild, and it's really good for Marian," Gaborik's agent, Ron Salcer, said in a telephone interview. "Marian is very pleased."
Pavol Demitra and Marian Gaborik have always dreamed about playing together in the NHL.
The fellow Slovaks saw the results when they teamed up, both for Dukla Trencin in the Slovak Extraliga and for the Slovakian Olympic team in Turin, Italy, where they teamed with Atlanta's Marian Hossa to form an electrifying line.
"We've always been talking about it," Demitra said.
But Demitra never really thought that it would happen in the United States. That was before the Minnesota Wild traded for the Los Angeles Kings center on draft night.
The move united Demitra with Wild winger Gaborik, who has known Demitra since he started playing for Dukla Trencin as a teenager.
"We are best buddies," Demitra said Tuesday in a conference call. "It's the first time I've had a chance to play with somebody like that. It's going to be awesome."
Poor Michal Handzus! Not only has he been left alone in Philly without another Slovak (Branko Radivojevic was booted to Sweden), but now he's been tossed aside and replaced by a younger guy.
Now that Potatohead has his big contract, it's time for him to shut up and put out. I've been waiting for Gaborik to explode offensively and now he's got a great linemate and, hopefully, a bit more leeway to use his ability.
Let's look at his career stats to date
YEAR GP G A PTS +/-
2000-01 71 18 18 36 -6
2001-02 78 30 37 67 0
2002-03 81 30 35 65 12
2003-04 65 18 22 40 10
2005-06 65 38 28 66 6
For a guy with as much talent as Gaborik has, he's only had one season with a point-a-game pace, and still has to break 40 goals (which he could have done last year). The holdout-shortened 2003-04 was a disaster for him, and he hasn't lead his team in scoring the past two seasons.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Dan Cloutier to the LA Kings.
A familiar sight...
Now, I dislike Cloutier more than I should (not personally, just as a goalie). He's a great fighter and not a bad guy at all, but he's just not a good NHL Goaltender. He gets injured often and at the worst times (we can partially blame Marc Crawford for that), and who can ever forget the Nick Lidstrom goal of doom.
The problem is that many people are fooled by the fact that, prior to this season, Cloutier was always able to rack up some nice win totals because the Canucks had a good team in front of him and Cloutier played a lot of games.
Look at the disparity between Cloutier's league rank in WINS compared to SAVE PERCENTAGE.
2004: Wins 33 (4th-T), SV% .914 (19th)
2003: Wins 33 (7th-T), SV% .908 (22nd)
2002: Wins 31 (11th), SV% .901 (33rd!)
Cloutier never finished in the upper half of starting goaltenders in SV% and always hovered at average or below-average. Overall, Cloutier was the typical replaceable goalie that could have good games now and then, but was never going to carry the Canucks to anything glorious.
We're still waiting to hear the full details of the deal, but I'll be happy even if the Canucks get nothing in return. Being able to dump Cloutier's full salary on someone else and have him let in goals against the Canucks is reward enough.
(edit: Canucks are getting a second-round selection in 2007 and a conditional selection in 2009 according to TSN.ca. Not a bad return for a salary dump. )
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Canada says 'NO' to JR
“We’re very pleased to bring Jeremy back to the Coyotes,” said Coyotes Managing Partner – Head Coach Wayne Gretzky. “JR is an elite player who plays with passion every night. He’ll be a valuable addition to our team and to the community. We are proud to have him and his family back.”An elite player? This is 2006, not 1996, Wayne-o.
Still, Phoenix should be a good spot for JR if he's serious about focusing on just hockey. There is only one media guy in Phoenix covering the team (David Vest), and not much else to do there other than golf, suntan, and eat tacos.
Over in Pittsburgh, they signed ex-Canucks 'pest' Jarkko Ruutu to a two-year deal. Ruutu will get $1.1 million in the first year and $1.2 million in the second year.
Yep, they are actually paying over a MILLION per year for JARKKO RUUTU?
BA HA HA!
This is a great signing for the Pens *snicker*
They can show their fans that they care by signing free agents, and then Ruutu's bad penalties and lack of any offensive or defensive ability at the NHL level can help them lose games and get a better lottery position.
Happy ID4 to our Yankee Friends
Sunday, July 02, 2006
I Wanna Love You Tender?
They are, but they all have to bow down to the Finns, thanks to this 'overtime goal' by Armi and Danny, with their awesome Engrish song "I Wanna Love You Tender"
They just don't make music videos like they used to.
Hell, I could write a whole damn essay on this clip.
Just in the first second of the clip, there are so many elements to analyse. You've got the host, who seems to be the Finnish Comic Book Guy who just came from the Dungeons and Dragons convention (Duünnjennit ja Draäâãgoônniit in Finnish, or something similar I'm sure). He's trying way too hard to be a hipster, and fails miserably. I'm willing to bet that this whole thing was filmed in his parents basement judging by the quality of the set.
In the background, it sounds they have some oldies song just finishing up. The singer sounds great, and then I'm left disappointed because I didn't get to hear more of the song. Not a single verse, or enough to make out a word. What if I just missed out on the best Finnish love song of all time? I'll never know!!
Then it fades out to the Milky Way and then some nebula thing. I bet the Finns back in 1970s thought these graphics were the absolute shit. Oh, you've got the credits BEFORE the video begins!! It doesn't even mention the singers. No, we get the guys who write the song and directed the video.
They are so proud of their creation that they just have to slap their name on it right up front. Hell, if I wrote this song and/or directed this video, I'd have it right at the top of my resume, highlighted in yellow.
"Oh you're absolutely fine,
your lips are taste of wine.
I'd like to think your mine!"
These contracts are getting more insane by the minute...
Wow, Scott Thornton to a 15-year contract? Dallas Drake gets 13 years? Welcome to the New NHL :)
Saturday, July 01, 2006
Canada Day: Free Agent Insanity!!
Oh, I guess not, judging by the crazy deals we’ve seen signed in the past 72 hours.
What wasn’t expected is the Canucks giving big bucks to Willie Mitchell, who signed a 4-year/$14mil deal to help replace Jovocop. I like Mitchell, I really do. He’s huge and can clear the crease well. The problem is that he’s a guy who puts up very little offense (10-15 points a year) and not far above average overall. $3.5mil a year for a guy like Mitchell is definitely overpaying for the performance they are likely to get. He’s only 29, so the length is no big deal. Still, thumbs down.
Fernando Pisani was a definite playoff hero, but like Dave Lowry, he’s a 3rd line forward now and for always. Would you pay a 3rd line winger $2.5mil a year for 4 years? No, but the Oilers will be. Since when do guys who score under 40 points a season deserve $2.5mil? Well, besides Mike Peca. The simple fact is that guys like Pisani are fairly easy to replace, and that’s why you don’t pay them big bucks.
Dwayne Roloson was also a hero for the Oilers, and we saw how deadly the Oilers could be when they got some NHL-level goaltending. Still, d00d’s 37 years old and just had his knee popped severely. Kevin Lowe decided to throw caution to the wind and signed Roloson for $11mil over 3 years. Yep, Roloson will be 40 when this contract is done, and is in very dangerous career territory. We’ve seen it before in Ed Belfour where an old goalie fighting injuries can very quickly turn into a poor goaltender.
Now, let’s see some insane money thrown around
I believe Jovo is the type of player who will age well (lean and quick), but d00ds missed 38, 26, and 15 games in the past three seasons respectively. He’s got special skills, but Special Ed got his nickname because of the mental mistakes he makes far too often. Jovocop is not the type of defenseman that you can count on to anchor your defense corp. Mattias Ohlund was always the true #1 during his tenure here, and Robert Svehla was the #1 guy when he was in Florida.
The fact that he’s getting the same money was Wade Redden just isn’t right. I understand why Phoenix did what they did, but there’s far too much risk in this deal and I wouldn’t have done this deal myself.
First, they signed Zdeno Chara to a $37.5mil/5 year deal, making him the 2nd highest paid defenseman behind Nicklas Lidstrom. He’s only 29, so the 5 year term isn’t as bad as it could be. If Chara is healthy, he can really be a huge anchor for the Bruins. I just wonder if he can do well on his own. Chara has great support in Ottawa and is notoriously needy on having a mobile partner to back him up. There is a marketing aspect to this deal, so I understand why they did it. This is a much better deal than giving $5mil a year to Martin Lapointe.
Second, they signed Marc Savard to a $20mil/4 year deal. I am quite surprised that they got a supposed ‘bargain’ on Savard, because I fully expected a guy getting 90 points to clean up in this market. I guess GMs noted how his point totals were pumped up by his linemates and the fact that Savard is very one-dimensional. I don’t think Savard will give the Bruins the kind of impact that they expect, but at least he’s only 28 so 4 years isn’t the killer. The price is, and they are likely to be very disappointed in this signing down the road. Savard is the type of player you don’t mind when you get him cheap, but not the type you want to be spending a huge chunk of salary on. I’d rather have any Sedinbot, and we got them far cheaper.
So, the Leafs are now paying the Top 4 of McCabe-Kaberle-Kubina-Gill a combined $17.1mil and Mats Sundin $7.6mil That leaves $19.3mil in cap room for 18+ other players.Yep, JFJ is one rockin’ GM eh? Maybe they ought to sign Sean Avery just to really screw things up.
This is a good deal for them, and he’ll make a decent replacement for Chara. No, he is no Chara, but he put up 40 points last year and played a significant role for the Kings. Corvo has pretty good size and I believe the Sens will be able to help him continue his defensive improvements.
So, what have we learned? Well, GMs aren’t afraid of albatross deals and long-term deals, despite being burnt in the past by them. We’ve also seen defensemen have been signed at a very large premium while forwards are generally being signed cheaper. Teams seem to be valuing good defense more than any other commodity at the moment. Good and average/adequate goaltending seems rather plentiful, so only a guy like Luongo was bound to cash in.
The Hockey Rants Glossary
In my case, I have quite a few nicknames and terms that I like to use that might be confusing or new to most people.
So, here is an always fluctuating list of terms, nicknames, and other words that you'll find used on this site. Some are 'borrowed', some I created myself, and some are common usage. Feel free to use these yourself.
TERM WHAT IT MEANS
Adonis Jiri Slegr
Anti-Laxative Antti Laaksonen
AQ The Acid Queen
Barge Roman Turek
Big Mac Al MacInnis
Booby/The Boob Bobby Clarke
Buttman Gary Bettman
Cementhead Tie Domi
Chewbacca Derian Hatcher
Chipmunk Chris Pronger
Chocolate John LeClair
Country Vladimir Orszagh
Crème Brule Gilbert Brule
Crow Marc Crawford
Czechia Czech Republic
Diveboy Radek Dvorak
Fleo Theoren Fleury
Goldilocks Markus Naslund
Grumpy Bear Todd Bertuzzi
Hepatitis Boy Patrik Elias
Jock Jacques Lemaire
Jovocop Ed Jovanovski
Judas RJ Umberger
Kapitan Ka$hin Alexei Yashin
Krazy Karol Karol Krizan (Slovak goaltender)
McGoo Mick McGeough (ref)
Mediots Media Idiots (ala Al Strachan)
Mini-Berezin Greg Jacina
Mood Ring Alexander Mogilny
Mr. Shadow Ivan Majesky
MSM Mainstream Media/Mediots
Ninjaboy Stanislav Lascek
Nurse Alexandre Daigle
O RLY? Oh, really?
Ovul-8 Alex Ovechkin
Pavol Pavol Demitra (the only and only)
Pigface Olli Jokinen
Potatohead Marian Gaborik
Pothole Felix Potvin
Prince Vince Vincent Lecavalier
Puree Pavel or Valeri Bure
Rebound Machine Robert Esche
Repo Man Teppo Numminen
Ronald McDonald Mike Commodore
Sedinbots Daniel & Henrik Sedin
Sleepy Vaclav Prospal
Smiles Oleg Kvasha
Slovak Pak Lubos Bartecko/Michal Handzus/Pavol Demitra
Special Ed Ed Jovanovski
Tarantula Head Anson Carter
The Big Ego Eric Lindros
The Bod Rod Brind'Amour
The Brat Martin Havlat
The Butcher Andrej Meszaros
The Count Gary Bettman
The Evil Empire The USA
The Evil Kingdom Sweden
The Fraud "Eklund"
The Golden Brat Brett Hull
The Mercenary Robert Reichel
The Ogre Marek Malik
Tittysmacky Antero Niittymaki
Tool Man Tim Taylor
Yank(ee) Generic term for any American
(as Canadians use it)