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Friday, July 27, 2007

Oh I am Good!

Remember when I said this yesterday?

If Edmonton were really out to screw with the other teams in the NHL, and
mind you testing Brian Burke's nerve I am all for...

Thankfully for me, I've got Brian Burke's style down pretty good. Here's some of the highlights:

"I have no problem with offer sheets, they are part of the CBA," Burke said on a
conference call. "I think it's a tool certainly a team is entitled to use. My
issue here is this is the second time this year in my opinion Edmonton have
offered a grossly inflated salary for a player, and it impacts on all 30 teams
and I think it's an act of desperation by a general manager who is fighting to
keep his job."

Funny thing here though is that Burke thinks that the world should center around him and that anyone who dares to do anything on their own schedule is doing it to spite him.

Burke was also disappointed with the timing of it - Burke was entering the
B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame in Penticton, B.C., on Friday night.

"Kevin Lowe has been in Penticton this week," Burke said. "Tonight is the
induction ceremony for the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame and I certainly think this
could have waited until Monday. I don't think it shows a lot of respect for the
B.C Hockey Hall of Fame.

"I think it's a classless move timing-wise."

Well excuse us Princess! The rest of the league should consult with your personal assistant before deciding to conduct business on their own.

Also, apparently when dealing with Brian Burke, you can't interfere with his dates and you should always speak with him about the dealings of what your own team is doing rather than just negotiating with the player you're trying to sign and with him alone.

"I was not notified of this until an agent faxed it into us," he said. "I
thought Kevin would have called me and told me it was coming. I thought that was

What a crybaby. For someone who molds his teams into skating goon squads that ruin hockey or end people's careers, he sure is one sensitive guy. Now let's all pray for Scott Niedermayer's retirement and for Burke to be a complete dope and match the offer to Penner.

While I am certainly not one to agree with how Kevin Lowe is doing things, the teams that match these offers to the guys he's going after I feel no compassion for at all. If you think Kevin Lowe is so bad at what he does...why are you bailing him out by matching the offer? I do think in this case, however, Lowe will be stuck paying out big time for his prized third liner in Penner.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Oh Those Wacky Oilers

They're at it again. Edmonton Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe nearly set the city of Buffalo on fire when he attempted to sign Sabres restricted free agent Thomas Vanek to a seven year $50 million dollar contract. The Sabres warned Lowe (and any other GM who would dare) repeatedly that they would match any offer made to Vanek, especially after losing they're top two guys in Drury and Briere via the unrestricted route.

Kevin Lowe attempted to call Darcy Regier's bluff except that Regier wasn't bluffing at all and a preturbed Sabres front office called a press conference almost immediately after Edmonton had signed Vanek to the massively insane offer sheet to say that they were indeed retaining their (hopeful) soon-to-be superstar winger.

Kevin Lowe, not satisfied with doing nothing on the unrestricted free agent market has again gone diving in head first into the restricted pool, this time signing Anaheim Ducks winger Dustin Penner to a five year $21.25 million dollar offer sheet. Again, the Oilers are obliterating the salary market in order to get some action going and maybe score a player - but right now, it seems more likely that Kevin Lowe is just being an agitator and gunning for guys that teams would rather not lose and upping the ante to put the uncomfortable bite on these franchises finances for the years to come.

It had been theorized to me that this was what Lowe was doing with the Vanek signing - blow up the salary market on one guy to really put the screws to teams they'll be competing with later on in the unrestricted market. It's an interesting theory, but imagine if the Sabres had not bothered to match Vanek's offer and if they were also foolishly saddled with this latest Penner deal. You'd have a combined 12 years and $70+ million dollars tied up in TWO players.

Now, I know that Edmonton may be getting sold to a Canadian billionaire not named Jim Balsillie away from their current gang of 34 owners and that he's promised to spend up to the heights of the salary cap to bring a winner back to the Canadian Rockies hinterlands of Alberta. That said, even I'd think that a shrewd businessman like Daryl Katz wouldn't go quite this hog wild, especially for a guy like Dustin Penner, who is mainly making his bank based on the success of the Ducks last season and his relative youth (He's currently 24 years-old and his stats for 2006-07 are: 82 games; 29 goals 16 assists for 45 points with 58 PIM and -2 ).

Is $4+ million dollars the going rate for a third line winger these days? Jeez, financial hard times have really struck the NHL once again. I haven't seen this foolish of a deal since the Bruins negotiated against themselves for the right to pay Martin Lapointe $5 million a year and take him away from the Red Wings, the same "fiscally irresponsible" Detroit Red Wings whose final offer to Lapointe that off-season was for $3.5 million per year.

If Edmonton were really out to screw with the other teams in the NHL, and mind you testing Brian Burke's nerve I am all for, but why not take a shot at a guy that would both fit into the Edmonton system instantly and thrive all the while really putting the screws to a stingy, joyless miser? Of course, I'm talking about the Oilers making a run at restricted free agent Zach Parise from the Devils.

Parise is clearly a budding young offensive star who will unfortunately be stifled if he's made to stay in New Jersey under the iron fist of hockey's Third Reich led by Heir Lamoriello. What good is it to have an up and coming young guy like Parise in a nothing place like New Jersey, where the fans could give a crap else and the team's management has been actively been hating their own fanbase and market for the last 15 years? It serves no purpose and Kevin Lowe would be doing the league a favor by trying to sign Parise to an obnoxious offer sheet that Lou Lamoriello would be tested to the "n"th degree as to whether or not to match.

Then again, Lamoriello would call in one of his favors from Asleep At The Wheel Bettman and find a way to circumvent the rules and regulations once again. Jim Fahey and Alexander Korolyuk agree at least.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Insanity Shopping Spree - Day 2

I'll likely regret writing my thoughts down now, as shortly after I completed my entry last night the Blues signed Paul Kariya to a 3-year, $18 million dollar contract. If it were any other team I'd call them crazy for spending $6 million a year on a wrong-side-of-the-hill guy like Kariya, but the Blues have oodles of cap space, a team reinvigorated under Andy Murray and reminds me a bit of how Nashville looked a few seasons ago when Kariya signed there seemingly out of the blue.

Now with the Predators looking like they're ready to be relegated to duking it out with Columbus and Chicago for the basement in the Central Division, that opens things up for St. Louis to vault into that spot to make a run at Detroit.

Speaking of Detroit, they're minus one man in a black hat as NHL villain Todd Bertuzzi found an appropriate home for himself in Anaheim with his former love slave and cornerman Brian Burke. After all, it was Burke who stood by willingly to defend Brad May and Todd Bertuzzi (as well as Markus Naslund and Matt Cooke and coach Marc Crawford) for their gangland assault on Avalanche forward Steve Moore.

Just the fact that Bertuzzi is being brought back into Burke's fold should be enough of a warning flag for the NHL to think that Anaheim or other teams like them have any plans to play the wide open style at all next year. Bertuzzi was the ultimate physical force for Burke's Vancouver team and while Anaheim is most certainly a physical team... I can't help but wonder if the rule book we came back from the lockout with has already been set on fire and they've dusted off the one we saw in use from about 1995-2003.

With all that I've rambled on about the Predators being asleep at the wheel, someone woke up David Poile and told him that the free agency period has begun so he jumped out quickly and snagged Jed Ortmeyer (Rangers fans will be upset by this) as well as forward Radek Bonk and (it's official, he's a journeyman!) defenseman Greg de Vries. Well, at least those deals should get them up to the $35 million dollar salary floor nicely.

The Los Angeles Kings, who should be on everyone's radar next year for a sleeper team provided they find a goaltender worth having, have broken through after being involved on talks for all the big names and landed a pile of new guys today. They've inked forwards Ladislav Nagy from Dallas, Michal Handzus (and his mullet) from Chicago, Kyle Calder from Detroit and defenseman Tom Preissing from Ottawa.

You know what might not be a bad idea for the Kings? Take a flier on Ray Emery as a restricted free agent and pressure Ottawa into matching the offer. Emery would be a perfect fit in Los Angeles and his personality is made to be in Hollywood. Just the thought of an Odd Couple type of situation with Emery and Anze Kopitar.

Well, it might not be quite so odd - but the idea of a loopy Canadian kid and a ready-to-be playboy Slovenian has gold written all over it. If the NHL had any strings to pull, they'd make sure that this could happen. Instead, they'd rather find ways to get a team into Las Vegas to make no money and give Rick Tocchet and Mrs. Gretzky a new avenue to run game on the NHL.

I kid...I kid.... mostly.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Lessons Learned

It's pretty clear that after Day One of the Free Agency Frenzy of 2007, one that kicked off with word that the NHL Salary Cap would be at $50 million and the salary floor at about $35 million, NHL owners have learned absolutely nothing about how to do business.

It started off before the period began with the deal Philadelphia made with Nashville to lock up the free agents that Nashville wouldn't/couldn't/didn't want to re-sign. Philadelphia acquired them and then locked them up for obscene, market-shaking contracts.

Philadelphia then followed that up with kicking things off today signing away now former Sabres star centerman Daniel Briere to an eight-year $52 million dollar deal. Let me break this down for you, that's an average of 6.5 million per year, except that this year alone Briere will make $10 million dollars.


Since that stupidity wasn't enough, the New York Rangers, formerly the team known as fiscal irresponsibility until the Briere/Timonen/Hartnell signings by Philadelphia, then decided to take back the crown they had stolen from them by Ed Snider. They signed former Devils centerman Scott Gomez and former Sabres centerman/folk hero Chris Drury to separate deals that average out to $7 million dollars a season. Gomez's contract also has the fun stipulation of paying him $10 million dollars in the first year. Let me reiterate that one more time.


The lack of responsibility on the part of the owners here is both stunning and unsurprising. It's stunning because we're only two seasons removed from a lockout that has done more to harm the NHL than it has to help it. A lockout where the owners wouldn't settle until there was "cost certainty" and the players wanted to make sure they could still make their money. Fans wanted there to be hockey at reasonable prices and the kind of hockey that wouldn't make even the most die-hard of fans cry at the boredom.

It appears that in the long run, that even though the Players Association most certainly got raked over the coals by the Owners at first, they are definitely the winners now with contracts like these.

Did the Flyers crazy spending spur the Rangers to reply in kind? The Rangers, a team desperate for defensive help who then goes and picks up two of the three premiere centermen at costs that shake the foundation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement they signed not even three years ago. The Flyers insanity is nothing new, but just the fact that they were able to rook over the Predators once again to be able to do it is stunning in and of itself.

The Flyers signing of Timonen shook the market up for defensemen quite obviously as Brian Rafalski, formerly of the Devils, signed with Detroit for 5 years and $30 million dollars. Scott Hannan, formerly of the Sharks, signs with Colorado for four years and $18 million. Many of you might even be asking, "Who the hell is Scott Hannan?!"

And now late news has the Avalanche signing Ryan Smyth, who weepily left Edmonton when he was traded to the New York Islanders and left fans counting down the days to Canada Day and the start of the free agency period praying he'd come back home to Canada and Edmonton...signed for 5 years and $31 million dollars.

I mean, seriously, holy crap! It's amazing to me that these owners are now fully bought into whatever Gary Bettman is feeding them, that the league is financially solvent and apparently making money hand over fist enough to keep upping the salary cap and floor and allow them to spend like drunken fools with asinine contracts with ridiculous financial costs and yearly investment. I'm speechless at all this - so much so that I don't have the muster to comment on Nashville's Craig Leipold running away from Jim Balsillie and into the arms of Boots Del Biaggio and eventually back to an NHL graveyard in Kansas City.

We've already seen all these big names come off the board, and we've still got Paul Kariya out there waiting to move and Peter Forsberg left wondering if his foot will be good enough to loan out his oft-injured self out to another sucker team.

And you thought the NHL off-season was boring.