Dale Tallon conspiracy theory and other hot mailbag topics
It didn't take long for the letters to start rolling in about the dismissal of Chicago Blackhawks GM
I remember wondering what led
Dudley's departure was just one bit of evidence pointing to a classic internal power struggle in a crowded front office. And barring a surprise Stanley Cup, it was a struggle that Tallon was destined to lose. It was reported on Monday night that he'd been dismissed and replaced by long-time assistant GM
A lot of the speculation about this firing will center on the improperly-filed qualifying offers that failed to reach eight of the team's restricted free agents in time. Tallon fell on his sword for that screw-up, and rightfully so. He's always been a buck-stops-here kind of guy, even if he wasn't personally responsible for that particularly embarrassing, and ultimately costly, episode.
But no one should think that a GM is actually licking stamps and dropping off contracts in the mail . . . and that's why this imbroglio has led to speculation that maybe whoever was responsible for moving those offers along might have applied the brakes on purpose. Not usually a fan of conspiracy theories myself, but this incident was so inexcusable that it is hard to imagine an experienced executive making that mistake.
But even the botching of a simple exercise isn't as telling as is the fact that aspects of the story were leaked to the press on at least two occasions from what had to be internal sources. Sure seems as though someone in the Hawks organization had an ax to grind. Whether that was for personal gain, the perceived betterment of the franchise or managerial homogeneity is wide open for speculation, but I think it might have been the latter.
Tallon, like Stan Bowman, was a rare holdover from the
It could certainly be argued that there was basis for staging a coup. Tallon made his share of questionable decisions, including a pair of failed coaches (
Sure, Tallon had his share of wins along the way (hiring
Although there's been speculation that the Campbell and Huet signings were the brainchild of club president
So the RFA scandal may have led to Tallon being pushed out the window, but he clearly put himself on the sill. It'll be interesting to see how Bowman goes about addressing the team's issues. He's generally well thought-of, but hasn't been in this position before. Having dad Scotty's experience to call on will help, but the Hawks' precarious financial position calls for some particularly bold strokes.
Hopefully, Stan already has a few ideas in place. No doubt the thousands gathering for the annual Blackhawks fan convention this weekend will be all ears.
I wasn't sure about this myself, but after a call to one of the league's more effective capologists, your assumption is confirmed. Even though Pronger signed the deal at age 34, he turns 35 this season, and that means the Flyers are on the hook for the cap hit for the duration of the deal even if the surly defender retires at the end of next season. And if not, he's still on the books for $4.921 million until he's 42. The history books aren't exactly filled with tales of useful forty-somethings on the blueline.
Although the Flyers are taking a lot of heat for assuming this risk, I'm not one of those who think they were caught off-guard by this loophole closure. Because here's another angle to ponder: The current CBA expires at the end of the 2011-12 season -- that's coming up fast, isn't it? -- and the truth of it is, we have no idea what the bargaining landscape will look like when the next deal is negotiated.
Given the impact that the economic slowdown is expected to have on the league's finances for the 2010-11 season, it wouldn't be surprising to see another round of rollbacks (remember that 24 percent haircut the players took after the last lockout?), buyout and renegotiation windows, and other cap-softening concessions as part of a new agreement. That whole 35-and-over clause might not be around when the next deal is ratified. So, in essence, worry about that bridge when it's time to drive off it.
Now, if the Flyers signed off on this deal assuming that the new CBA would include a
At least Holmgren has a chance to see this deal to its conclusion. That won't be the case with Tallon.
You can see how this sort of thing gets started -- and it's not simply because the Rangers seem intent on collecting every overpaid player in the league. Richards would fill an obvious need. The Rangers have added a few guys who are willing to pull the trigger:
Even with his game in decline, Richards remains a gifted passer whose vision earns him recognition as one of the game's better power play quarterbacks. Of course, those are the same qualities that make him so valuable to the Stars. Would they be happier if he was less of a drain on the cap? Sure. Even at his best, back in his Lightning days, he was never the kind of producer who could justify a $7.8 million hit.
Still, Richards is important to the Stars. The chemistry he shares with Loui Eriksson played a sizable role in the winger's breakthrough 36-goal season, and Richards' presence allows the pasture-ready
Of course, you can never say never about a player with a contract like that. With owner
Tough to say at this point, Sam. No arguing that Gustavsson was lights-out last season in the Swedish Elite League, but that's a different type of game played on a different ice surface, which is why so many promising Euro-goalies struggle with the transition.
Because of his age and European status, Gustavsson's contract was limited to just $810,000 by the CBA. That's a fair investment for a useful back-up and a steal for a starter, which is exactly what Gustavsson could become if the groin problems that sabotaged
But remember, that's low risk, not no risk.
If Toskala goes down and Gustavsson isn't Lundqvist 2.0, then Toronto's options are limited. They may be forced to call on
Burke has made some compelling moves to transform the Leafs into a more competitive squad next season. None will be watched more closely than this one.
I know a lot of Devils fans would have liked to see good guy
As for Lemaire, well, I'm not sure why you'd be so down on him. After all, this is a man who was recently hired to be part of the Canadian coaching staff at the Olympics. That should say it all about the level of intelligence and ability he brings to the table.
Still not convinced? Alright, so maybe an old familiar face doesn't make for the sexiest hiring, but it's certainly a level-headed one. Lemaire's act may have grown tired in St. Paul, but it wasn't the same routine.
Despite Lemaire's reputation, these won't be the mid-90s Devils all over again. He's smart enough to coach to his talent. With more offensive weapons at his disposal than he had in the Minnesota, he won't force them to dump the puck and retreat at the enemy blueline. Lemaire is savvy enough to know where this group had success last season. That means he'll recognize the need to pressure the puck down low and have defensemen who can jump into the play when prudent (remember, he gave
Lamoriello certainly took his time with the hiring, but it says here he made the right one.