Insights & Insults
Be honest Allan, you were bored to tears watching that series. It was a ratings dud, too. Seriously, why was it such a terrible series buzz-wise? It had some great players, a Hall of Fame goalie, two big markets, etc. What happened?
I saw two teams that played an aggressive, up-tempo style through three rounds and thought that's what we'd get in the fourth. Instead? One team had cashed in its hatred chips in the semis against the Rangers and the had played hard, but without really getting riled up against anyone. That's why last year's match was so great -- Boston and Vancouver truly HATED each other. I'm surprised we didn't see Jack Edwards and John Shorthouse brawling in the press box. Those guys wouldn't settle for winning. They wanted to
The Devils have a great GM in Lou Lamoriello and have had some great players, but they again disappointed everyone in the league with dud crowds that were clearly outdone in passion by Kings fans. I wonder if New Jersey just isn't a good fit anymore for this league. They were 24th this season in attendance with an HOF goalie, great hockey management and some really high-paid stars. If they can't draw with this group, when will it ever happen?
So, what does it mean for the future? You know Bettman will do contortions worthy of Cirque du Soleil to keep a team in place, but it might not matter. If Jeff Vanderbeek
My hunch says Parise is gone, daddy, gone, but Lou might be able to work some more magic. I'll say this for Parise: I loved the quote he gave the local media in Joisey saying "No" with an admirable tinge of contempt while responding to the question of whether he'd ever sign with the Rangers.
So where do you think he goes? Minnesota? Detroit? And what about Ryan Suter? Looks like he's ruled out playing for any Eastern teams. Time to ask Drew Miller if he'd mind giving up that No. 20 Red Wings sweater yet?
So I'll say Detroit is the favorite to get at least one of those two guys, if not both. The Wings currently have $26.2 million of cap space. (Huge asterisk here being that the current cap number of $70.3 million could be meaningless when the next CBA talks finish.) Colorado, by the way, has the most cap space -- nearly $40 million. They still have to sign guys like Duchene, O'Reilly, Johnson, etc. but don't rule out the Avs trying to disrupt the conventional wisdom July 1.
What I'm wondering is, if a team like the Wings or the Wild...or for the sake of argument, the Avs... would be willing to deal for negotiating rights to one of these stars? Risky move giving up assets on spec, especially when you have a chance to sign them for nothing but cap space in a few days, but dishing a couple of picks or minor prospects is a strategy that's paid off in the past. The Flyers bought first crack at Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell from the Preds. Worked out pretty well for both sides.
But almost always, these guys have everything mapped out when they do those kinds of things. Not always, but usually. I'm a guy who still believes in Bigfoot, so I absolutely, definitely believe that talks occur between teams and free agents before July 1. They just cover their tracks well. How can you monitor talks between free agents and teams if they really want some kind of secret agreement? Some day, a scandal will come out on this.
OK, so, it's not just free agency on the horizon. We also have CBA talks looming. We're both on the record as believing that a delayed start to the season is inevitable, but I'm still trying to figure out what principles are at stake that would justify shutting things down. It's not like the cap is on the table, or that the PA is going to war to get the players into the Olympics. This is all about re-slicing the pie and figuring out exactly how much more the players have to give up...but is that really enough for the league to go nuclear again?
We know the owners are going to say "Hey, the NBA players took a 50-50 revenue deal, you'll have to do it too." And the players under Don Fehr will rightfully say "But we took a huge haircut last time and your revenues went up after that anyway." And the owners will say "So?" And it will result in a standoff.
I'm of the belief, like a lot of others I've talked to in the game -- and you probably have too -- that we'll get the season back up again by the start of the Winter Classic, where the networks start to make their money on this game in the States, and that will be that.
The only thing I hold out hope for is: maybe the players will just say: "Hey, we can take a reduction from 57 to 50 percent, and we'll still have a cap near $70 million and our overall average salary will still be way up from a few years ago." I think Donald Fehr is smart enough to know that players simply don't win anymore in a labor standoff. The rank and file player really doesn't want to miss a bunch of paychecks again. But the big star isn't going to care that much. This, I fear, will again be part of the problem like it was in the last lockout.
I think this will be a lockout of will by the owners again. They probably lose money on early-season games in an 82-game schedule. The irony is: people think owners hate losing "gates" on a game at any time, but not when they don't have to pay the players and especially not in those early-season games that don't mean much to them gate-wise.
Enough of this CBA talk. Lots of time to gripe about it later. NHL Awards next week. I'm missing out for the first time in years, but you'll be throwing on a cheap suit and soaking up that Vegas hospitality. I'm jealous, brother. What's the best part of that event for you?
I will be ensconced at the fabulous Hooter's Hotel and Casino for my two nights there. Room rate: $25 a night ANNNND....a coupon for two sets of a dozen hot wings at the bar. Envy doesn't become you, Allan, but I know it is unavoidable. The awards will go like this: Malkin for Hart, Lundqvist for Vezina, Landeskog for Calder and Weber for Norris.
After the awards and we all get back on the plane with sizable hangovers, it's draft week. As your are the self-proclaimed "geek" here, perhaps I should ask if there are any Crosbys or Malkins in this coming class.
Ah, but next year we've got some studs in the pipeline.
And yeah, it can be really tough watching those kids sweating it out. I grew up with Cam Fowler's dad back in Windsor, and seeing that family shrink in their seats with each passing pick was brutal...and that's a kid who only had to wait for the 12th name to be called. Then you see those kids who walk away undrafted after the second day...as father to a couple of young players, I can say that's a real heartbreaker.
Well, more on the draft next week. I'm going to get back to work on that preview. Enjoy the Kiss cameo in that Paul Lynde special, AD!