Thursday, July 29, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
About a dozen security guards, moving their flash lights, direct us to a roped off section on the dance floor of Tao next to a couple of apparently nude women in a bathtub full of water and rose petals. [...]
Carter, LeBron's' childhood friend and manager, begins dancing around James like Puff Daddy in a Notorious B.I.G video. A giant red crown-shaped cake is brought over to James while go-go dancers dressed in skimpy red and black outfits raise four lettered placards that spell out, "KING." Carter grabs a bottle of Grey Goose and pours a quarter of it on the floor and raises it up before passing it off.
"I wish they'd have one of these girls with no panties do that instead of the guy."
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
This is from Ball Don't Lie, my favorite basketball blog on the internet, and I'm reposting it because, well, the kid in the green polo shirt is perhaps the best kid ever made. If you are some sort of hypocritical Luddite who can spend time on the computer but not watch Youtube videos, here is what you're missing: Jimmy Kimmel asks kids how much they think NBA players make. Since kids are hilariously underinformed, they guess way low and it's cute. But the kid in the green polo has a world-weariness, a sense of ennui--a self-awareness in regards to his childish ignorance--that makes him seem about a billion years old. It's funny.
Anyway, back to hockey.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Salo has obviously been told not to talk. I called him on his cell phone in Finland on Friday and we had a crystal-clear connection. When he answered, I said, 'Is this Sami?' and he said 'yes.' I said, 'Sami, this is Brad Ziemer from The Sun.' Then Sami suddenly had a hard time hearing me. "Hello, hello, hello," he said, before hanging up.
I find this absolutely hilarious. This is the strangest paragraph written about Sami Salo since that time his testicle exploded, which, come to think of it, wasn't that long ago. What is the deal with this guy? I believe he is insane.
As a subscriber to The Hockey News, I get the digital issues delivered by e-mail before they hit the shelves. A letter in the upcoming August 2nd issue caught my eye. Mr. Scott Saxton of
I hate the NHL salary cap. I am not a Blackhawks fan, but what is happening to their club frustrates me as a hockey fan.
Strong words to start off with. The NHL salary cap certainly has its flaws, as has been adequately proven by the Ilya Kovalchuk fiasco of the past couple weeks, but clearly, Mr. Saxton has his eye specifically on the dismantling of the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup winning roster that has seen Byfuglien, Ladd, Versteeg, and others all shipped out of town.
The NHL should reward greatness and allow it to run its course. The salary cap only serves to dismantle progress and promote athletic communism.
Wait, athletic communism? Clearly we have leapt from the foothills of discourse into the lofty peaks of gross hyperbole. Even in the post-salary-cap NHL there are the haves and the have-nots. And yet, a team like the Nashville Predators continues to perform better than teams with significantly higher payrolls, such as the New York Rangers or Minnesota Wild.
And no one seems to be advocating “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” or else we might get some bizarre attempts from second-tier NHL players attempting to establish their need for a comically oversized diamond ring as if they were factory workers in Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.”
Why punish the clubs who excel and get it right? Why not reward them?
Yes, let’s reward the Blackhawks for the absurd contracts they gave to Cristobal Huet and Brian Campbell, the ones that necessitated shipping out so many players. Huet, after all, played such an integral part of the ‘Hawks Stanley Cup run, earning every penny of that $5.625 million contract. And those bonus-laden contracts given out to so many of their young stars, giving them a carry-over cap penalty of $4.2 million is completely an example of a team “get[ting] it right.”
Example: the Stanley Cup champion could get an exemption to exceed the salary cap by $5 million during the season of their defense.
You know, like the Blackhawks did last season when they won the Cup, essentially exceeding the cap by $4.2 million in bonuses.
And really, nothing says dynasty like allowing a team an unfair competitive advantage.
This would allow them to re-sign integral parts or even further bolster a championship-caliber team. Don’t think this idea has legs?
This idea has many things, but definitely not legs. Maybe a couple armpits and half a buttcheek.
Well, at least let’s get this conversation going.
Something must be done.
Something was done. The Chicago Blackhawks fired Dale Tallon.
The NHL is in the entertainment business. Watching a whole slew of middling teams slog it out each spring to see who is the best of a homogenous bunch is not entertaining.
Personally, I appreciate that the salary cap forces teams to get creative with how they build a team. With the salary cap, you can’t just fling contracts indiscriminately at free agents anymore, as if you were building a house by tossing a bunch of bricks in a pile and hoping for the best. Of course, that doesn’t stop some general managers, but building a team in the new NHL requires intelligence, foresight, and a solid plan. Dale Tallon demonstrated none of these things.
We want to see greatness. We want to see champions. The last team standing doesn’t necessarily give us this.
And yet, year after year, the San Jose Sharks have been on top of the Western Conference, the Red Wings have competed for the Stanley Cup, the Washington Capitals have exerted regular season dominance, and the Pittsburgh Penguins keep pissing off the rest of the NHL by being good, allowing for more marketing of Sidney Crosby.
Heck, even the Chicago Blackhawks have managed to keep their top-six forward unit intact this off-season, still have a formidable top-four defensive corps, and are a waive of Huet away from being neatly under the salary cap again.
Again, the reason the Blackhawks have had deal out their Stanley Cup winning team like a deck of cards isn’t because the salary cap is bad for certain values of badness; it’s because Dale Tallon gave out some terrible contracts while he was a GM. Huet was paid $5.625 million to be a backup goalie last season and Campbell was paid $7.14 million to be the third defenceman.
Don’t cry for the Chicago Blackhawks, Scott. They got what they paid for: one year with Lord Stanley. And only one.
News is coming in this morning that the Vancouver Canucks and Mason Raymond have reached a contractual agreement on the steps of the courthouse. The numbers? 2 years, 5.1 million. That's a $2.55 million cap hit, and I do believe that sound you just heard was millions of Canucks fans breaking their jaws, especially after superagent J.P. Barry suggested Raymond was looking for between $3.5 and $4m.
My reaction to this signing? I love it. Gillis gets Raymond at a reasonable cap hit for two years. This is brilliant, because if he turns out to be a one-season wonder as a genuine top-six forward, he's still got a ton of value as a speedy checker. Even if his scoring numbers dip a little bit, Raymond is worth 2.5. As well, if Raymond turns out to be everything last season indicated, he's worth far more than 2.5, and joins Alex Burrows and Mikael Samuelsson as remarkably underpaid top-six forwards. If Raymond outprices himself with two excellent seasons going forward and the Canucks can no longer afford him, the Canucks have bought themselves two years to see Hodgson, Schroeder, Rodin, or another of their young forwards develop into the spot. For Raymond, this puts him in a brilliant position to get a ton of money as a free agent in the prime of his career, which is likely why he agreed to what might otherwise seem like a fleecing. It might also have been because nobody likes being told what they're worth monetarily, and how it's not as much as they think.
As well, the Canucks have deftly managed their cap and are now in a good position to take a little bit of salary back if and when they trade Kevin Bieksa. All good things. Chalk this one up to another Mike Gillis win.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
- Stipulation excusing Kovalchuk from the backcheck contravenes the CBA.
- It is impossible to calculate salary cap hit of "OMG all the money".
- Portion stipulating that play-by-play announcer Mike Emrick must call Alex Ovechkin "Bride of Kovalchucky" during all Washington visits to New Jersey contravenes the CBA.
- Lou-Bucks are not a valid currency.
- The sheer immensity of the contract roused Lord Chaos, who realized it had been a while since he had done anything head-scratchingly contradictory.
- NHL learned of Lamoriello's plan to bench Zach Parise mid-season and come down from the GM's office to be Kovalchuk's center.
- Having spent so much time calculating Phoenix Coyotes home attendance figures, numbers above 10,000 are impossible for Gary Bettman to comprehend.
- NHL learned of Lou Lamoriello's plan to get the money by building a death ray, pointing it at United Nations, and holding the world's powers hostage.
- Enormity of contract meant that the Devils could no longer afford to sweep the ice with zambonis; proposed cheap replacement, Lindsay Lohan's nose, deemed unacceptable.
- "Shots Vodka Bonus" contravenes the CBA.
- NHL announces that, just like PiTB, they have fallen in love with Kyle Wellwood, and no contract will be approved until somebody signs him.
- NHL simply looking out for Kovy's best interests: nobody wants to spend a lifetime in New Jersey.
- Outrage over BP oil spill made NHL brass sensitive to any instance of something circumventing a cap.
- Upon second look, NHL discovered the last seven years of the contract were to be paid in "Itchy & Scratchy Money," which, because it's not accepted anywhere, doesn't count against the cap.
- Gary Bettman still holding out hope for Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk to make the Decision to join Ilya Bryzgalov in Phoenix and form Russian superteam in 2021.
- No-trade clause that kicks in for 2018 confused NHL war room in Toronto, as they don't understand what a kicking motion is.
- Upon hearing Pierre McGuire announce it, Gary Bettman got scared when phrases "Jersey Devil" and "monster contract" were used so close together.
- Contracts so long they can be considered hereditary contravene the CBA.
- Upon learning contract was drawn up by New Jersey mafia, NHL realized that KHL is merely a truncation of "killhole", and New Jersey's plan to bury him in the KHL for the last six years of the contract were far more sinister than anybody could have imagined.
- After forgetting how to tie his shoes, Gary Bettman decided to crack down on loopholes.
Anyway, that's all I've heard. Perhaps you've heard of some additional reasons? We'd love to hear them in the comments.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Friday, July 09, 2010
"The San Jose Sharks have signed Blackhawks restricted free agent defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson to a free agent offer sheet, signing the defenceman to a four-year, $14 million dollar contract.
Chicago has seven days to match the offer. If the team does not match it, they will receive San Jose's first and third round picks in the 2011 NHL entry draft."
Whoa! I don't feel bad for Chicago, because they just won the Stanley Cup, but this has to hurt for the fans, watching a young team that could have been a dynasty just get picked apart, piece by piece. And for those saying Dale Tallon over in Florida is a tiny god, keep in mind that he is the one who mismanaged the player salaries and timing of contract renewals, as well as overspent in free agency so perfectly as to allow this to happen. And that is why he's no longer with the Blackhawks.
I watched the Lebron James trainwreck last night. Likely, you did too. I'm sure when the ratings come in, we'll all be as embarrassed as we were when we realized that we had made Titanic the highest grossing film of all time. We were duped, y'all. When Lebron announced he was going to Miami, I felt terrible about it. Not because he was leaving Cleveland--that much I expected. It was because of how he did it and where he went. It was because of what it proved about his arrogance, his immaturity, and his sense of entitlement. It was because it showed what he cared about, what he didn't, and how messed up his priorities were. I felt terrible because, in one fell swoop, Lebron destroyed his brand and his reputation. Now, I've been holding in a lot of perturbation with Lebron, his handlers, the pandering owners in Cleveland, and so much more. I wanted to let it all out. I was going to storm in this morning with a scathing tirade on the guy.
But Adrian Wojnarowski over at Yahoo! Sports said everything I wanted to say, better than I could ever say it in an article titled Easy Come, Easy Go For King James. I've never agreed with one of his articles more--this is a fantastic piece of sports journalism. Please read it. Here are a few highlights.
As the worst idea in the history of marketing unfolded, James looked trapped somewhere between despondence and defiance. His bumbling buddy Maverick Carter had walked him into the public execution of his legacy, his image, and there was a part of James that clearly wished he could turn back through the doors and hide. Only, it was too late. No going back now. James goes to the Miami Heat, Cleveland goes into a basketball Hades and LeBron’s legacy becomes that of a callous carpetbagger.
Oh my, yes. This was a terrible idea. Rather than saying goodbye to his hometown team behind closed doors, he dumped them live, on national television. Maybe he was masking guilt and maybe he was masking elation, but it was a cold, cold moment and James looked like a heartless robot doing it. It seemed careless, and could only serve to cast him as a villain. When he licked his lips just before announcing his decision, he may as well have been the serpent from Genesis, attempting to destroy humanity and steal away man's eternal joy. Legacy destroyed. And DecisionWater? Really? Let's move on.
So now people are cheering Dan Gilbert’s manifesto tearing apart James, but no one contributed more to what the world witnessed on Thursday night than the owner’s enabling of James and his inner circle for seven years. Gilbert is the biggest con going, a man who makes his fortune peddling mortgages, and he’ll make his next on casinos in downtown Cleveland. He sells illusions for a living, and now he’s selling the biggest of all: that he’s a victim here, that James betrayed everyone. That’s a lie, and no one ought to dare buy it.
Yes! Dan Gilbert's idiotic manifesto is classic revisionism, desperate to vilify Lebron before people realize he enabled this giant jerk. Over the last seven years, to hear Lebron tell it, Gilbert owed it to him to surround him with talent. It's garbage, and somebody should have told him that years ago. The Cavaliers weren't Lebron's team. They were Cleveland's team. Lebron simply played for them. Gilbert owed it to Cleveland to surround Lebron with talent. But, he held Lebron up over the city, and Lebron held him hostage for it. Lebron talked about the things he's done for Cleveland. What things are those, Lebron? You didn't deliver the championship, and you quit on the team two postseasons in a row. But nobody stood up to you, and that's not your fault. Don't you think, Cleveland, that you should have been told that Lebron wasn't returning a single phone call or text from Cleveland ownership? Gilbert should have exposed Lebron years ago. This is like being dumped by a boyfriend with a penchant for violence. If the relationship was so terrible, why did you stay? Because the sex was good? Gilbert looks like Stella Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire: Abused, ignorant, careless, and equally at fault for what happens to Stella, the naive and melancholy dreamer who only wants to be happy again. And while Stanley was the aggressor, Stella deserved blame for enabling the attack on Blanche. Sound familiar? Let's move on.
So there was LeBron James, the MVP, the man of the hour, sitting in the middle of his own “Truman Show” on Thursday night. His personal network ran his commercials and celebrated his greatness and let him hijack a platform to build his brand and break hearts. He can never go home again now, and he can never completely rebuild what he let his cast of buddies talk him into losing that night. He’s taking his talents to South Beach, and the kid going away for the first time will have some party down there. After all these years, it was clear he had been coddled and protected and ultimately prepared to do one thing: Take the easy way out. Wherever he was going, he looked conflicted, lost and completely confused.
Preach it, Woj. Everyone, please do yourselves a favour and read the whole thing.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
- The biggest announcement, of course, is the retirement of Markus Naslund's #19 on December 11th of the upcoming season. While I'm sure this will spark many debates among Canucks fans as to whether the honour is deserved, personally, I'm thrilled. Naslund revived the franchise when he arrived from Pittsburgh, becoming one of the most important Canucks of all time. He's the all-time franchise leader in goals and points, and was the key component of one of the most exciting scoring lines Vancouver has ever seen in the West Coast Express. But equally important, he played a big role in the community, along with his wife Lotta. They gave freely of their time and energy, much of it to Canucks Place and BC Children's Hospital. Markus is a special player who is very deserving of having his number retired along Smyl and Linden.
- Like many other NHL teams, the Canucks will be establishing a Ring of Honour for those players who may not be ideal candidates for a sweater retirement but still contributed to the history of the Canucks organization. The first to be honoured on October 26th will be Orland Kurtenbach, the Canucks first captain and former head coach. This is a great move by the organization, as there are many players that could be honoured. Orland is a great choice to be the first inductee. Three other players will be inducted this year. Possibilities could be Richard Brodeur, Kirk McLean, Thomas Gradin, Pavel Bure, and Wayne Maki. The one player that the Ring of Honour should take out a restraining order on to ensure that he has no contact with it, whether in person or by phone: Mark Messier.
- As expected, the Canucks introduced a special 40th Anniversary sweater, which will be worn on opening night and four additional nights. The sweater is a match for the original they wore for their first seasons in the NHL from 1970-78 with the addition of the 40th Anniversary patch that had already been scouted out. I'm guessing the other four nights this jersey is worn will be the nights they induct the four members of the Ring of Honour, but that's just speculation on my part.
- The team formally introduced Manny Malhotra and Dan Hamhuis as members of the Canucks. It's a good thing they showed up, as John Shorthouse was looking dangerously under-dressed in his polo shirt amongst all the suits. Fortunately, Manny and Hammy were appropriately casual. Hamhuis slipped in a jab at Nashville, noting that the attendance at the Summer Summit was awfully similar to the attendance at a Predators home game in November. Shortly after, while drawing a ticket for a prize, a fan jokingly booed when he announced it was a red rather than green ticket. Shorty jumped in, "Your first boo! No, no, it was Hamhuuuuuis."
- Shorthouse used the opportunity of the announcement of Naslund's jersey retirement to ask about the possibility of Pavel Bure receiving the same treatment in the future. Gillis clearly was not expecting the question and gave a classic GM's non-answer. To be fair, Bure could be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and would be the first player who played the majority of his career in Vancouver to receive that honour. I don't see it happening; it's more likely he'll find a place in the Ring of Honour.
- Then came the questions from the season ticket holders, the majority aimed at Mike Gillis. The first was about Russians and the KHL: no Russians other than Shirokov will be competing for a spot on the Canucks and it appears that Kirill Koltsov won't be coming over from the KHL any time soon. Gillis went as far to say that the risks with Russian players and the KHL mean that he'll be likely to pick more Western Canadian kids than Russian kids in the future.
- Best line of the evening easily goes to Gillis. A fan asked "Why don't we have a cool intro like the Flames or Oilers?" Gillis's response: "I'd rather have a hockey team." Killer line.
- Gillis was actually quite funny all night, with a number of great one-liners. He really seemed to enjoy himself.
- Alex Burrows, according to Gillis, is ahead of schedule after his shoulder surgery and may be back in time for the beginning of the season. His agent had previously suggested Burrows might not be back until October or November, so hopefully Gillis is right.
- Who will wear #2 next season, Ballard or Hamhuis? Hammy suggested that in these types of cases, it usually comes down to the number of games played. Convenient.
- Unfortunately, our favourite weirdo, Kyle Wellwood, is on his way out. Gillis wished him the best and hopes that he finds a place to play through free agency.
- And finally, Gillis confirmed once again that Cory Schneider will be the backup in Vancouver, but also expressed the desire to sign a "veteran, young goaltender" to be their third-stringer/starter for the Moose. It's kind of difficult to get someone who's both veteran and young. Yann Danis might work; he's been a respectable backup at the NHL level. He's 29, but he could be a decent pickup. Barry Brust is younger, but has less NHL experience. Thankfully, I'm not the GM of the Canucks.
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
The sudden explosion of hundreds of flash bulbs kicked off a frenzy of activity. Voices rang out from the crowd. Gillis was asked to explain himself. And that's when the walls came tumbling down. "Lebron James has signed a max, $200 million, ten-year contract to play with the Vancouver Grizzlies." And, as though anticipating the next question, he added, "Yes, the Memphis Grizzlies will be coming home." Lebron James emerged from behind a curtain. "I am the greatest," he said. "I'm so great I can resurrect the Vancouver Grizzles. People of Vancouver. I am yours. Love me." It was the greatest day in the history of Vancouver.
*sigh* It's a slow news day.
Sunday, July 04, 2010
What Skeeter and I both agreed on, however, was that Kyle Wellwood was weird. He was pudgy. He rarely emoted, and when he did, it looked like this. He had a soft spot for Ayn Rand's lesser works. He used a little, teeny-weeny hockey stick that made it easy to handle the puck and impossible to shoot it with any velocity. Photos indicated he didn't care much about women, preferring to ogle spaghetti, read a book, or be confused by them. Contrasted with Kesler, he appeared to be the least competitive hockey player ever, once remarking that he could not understand how Ryan could take the game so seriously. Wellwood was a strange bird.
And we loved him. We mourn for his loss. We want him back and we are fighting back the urge to be happy with the Manny Malhotra signing. Only Welly satisfies.
So here's what's going to happen: we're not going to let him go. Something tells me Kyle Wellwood is going to find another hockey team looking for a strange center, be it in the NHL (doubtful), the AHL (perhaps), or Europe (ding ding ding!). And wherever he goes, we're going to follow his career in a little feature that we would like to call Wellwood's World. Watch for the Wellwood's World update at least once a month going forward.
And Kyle, if you ever find this blog, let us know you love us as much as we love you.
Here's something for you to try:Take a sharp metal instrument and slice the muscles and tendons in one of your legs. Then spend a few months healing and rehabbing. Finally, as soon as you are physically able, step back into the pressure of playing in the fastest, most physical league in the world, playing a sport that relies heavily on the use of your legs.Before I forget, for maximum effect, this procedure should be repeated two years in a row.
[...] people who are close to the Canucks say that head coach Alain Vigneault isn’t real big on Bieksa anymore. He wanted more responsibility this past season, we’re told, and when he got it in the playoffs he was not reliable.
Saturday, July 03, 2010
But don't panic. Naysayers and pessimists have been waiting for the bottom to fall out on this kid's potentially stellar future with the Canucks since he was drafted. You might recall the hullabaloo last year when he opted not to train with Dave Gagner. Maybe you even remember Pierre McGuire crapping himself when he found out the Canucks had acquired Manny Malhotra to personally assassinate Cody. Disregard all of it, especially the Pierre McGuire stuff. He's more of a Washington Capitals expert. Assistant GM Lorne Henning explains why Cody's better not coming:
Hodgson won't need to attend the sessions, Henning said, as the Canucks' top draft pick in 2008 (10th overall) has already been to two of them previously and it's deemed he's better off staying in the Toronto area to continue his training there.
At this point, we just want to make sure he's ready for camp,” said Henning. “It's just that we don't want to get him away from his routine. He's already acclimated with all this so there's really no need to bring him in.”
Okay, good. So who is coming? All five of the Canucks 2010 draft picks, for instance. Here's your complete list. Note that Players in italics are invitees who have not been signed or drafted by the Canucks.
Andersson, Peter-- D 6’3” 194 Kvidinge, SWE Apr 13 1991
Connauton, Kevin-- D 6’1” 196 Edmonton, AB Feb 23 1990
Edwards, Maury-- D 5’11 176 Rocky Rapids, AB Mar 16 1987
Ellington, Taylor-- D 6’2” 209 Victoria, BC Oct 31 1988
Ellis, Brendan-- D 6’2 206 Kelowna, BC Jan 5 1989
Fedun, Taylor-- D 6’0 190 Edmonton, AB Jun 4 1988
Hannay, Sawyer-- D 6’4” 192 Moncton, NB Sep 6 1992
McNally, Patrick-- D 6’2” 181 Glen Head, NY Dec 4 1991
Miller, Kevan-- D 6’2 200 Los Angeles, CA Nov 15 1987
Oberg, Evan-- D 6’2” 165 Forestburg, AB Feb 16 1988
Polasek, Adam-- D 6’2” 194 Ostrava, CZE July 12 1991
Price, Jeremy-- D 6’1” 194 Milton, ON Sep 26 1990
Sauve,Yann-- D 6’3” 220 Montreal, PQ Feb 18 1990
Tanev, Chris-- D 6’2 185 East York, ON Dec 20 1989
Anthony, Steven-- LW 6’2” 205 Halifax, N.S. Mar 21 1991
Clark, Kevin-- RW 5’8 160 Winnipeg, MB Dec 29 1987
Downing, Jack-- RW 6’3 200 New Canaan, CT Mar 16 1989
Fraser, Matt-- LW 6’2 207 Red Deer, AB May 20 1990
Friesen, Alex-- C 5’10” 189 Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON Jan 30 1991
Froshaug, Mats-- LW 6’2” 209 Oslo, NOR July 31 1988
Henry, James-- LW 5’8 180 Winnipeg, MB Mar 11 1991
Jordan, Tayler-- LW 6’6 200 Wynyard, SK Feb 8 1990
Matson, Taylor-- C 6’0” 185 Mound, MN Sep 16 1988
Morin, Pierre-Olivier-- LW 5’11 162 Trois-Rivieres, PQ Apr 23 1991
Rai, Prab-- LW 6’0” 190 Surrey, BC Nov 22 1989
Rodin, Anton-- RW 6’0” 176 Stockholm, SWE Nov 21 1990
Schneider, Stefan-- C 6’4 206 Vernon, B.C. Dec 13 1989
Schroeder, Jordan-- C 5’8” 183 Prior Lake, MN Sep 29 1990
Tochkin, Kellan-- RW 5’9” 179 Abbotsford, BC Feb 15 1991
Volpatti, Aaron-- LW 6’1 196 Revelstoke, B.C. May 30 1985
Zurevinski, Scott-- C 6’2 190 Saskatoon, SK Jun 4 1988
Cannata, Joe-- G 6’1 200 Wakefield, MA Jan 2 1990
Houser, Michael-- G 6’2 188 Wexford, MI Sep 13 1992
Iilahti, Jonathan-- G 6’1” 176 Vaasa, FIN Apr 27 1992
Kinkaid, Keith-- G 6’3 180 Farmingville,NY Jul 4 1989
Lack, Eddie-- G 6’4 183 Norrtalje, SWE Jan 5 1988
Will any of these guys play with the big club next year? Absolutely. Evan Oberg has already played five games with the Canucks, and you have to think he might do it again this year. If Yann Sauve's shows he's made some strides in training camp, he'll be near the top of the call-up list. Jordan Schroeder flat-out wowed everybody in his brief stint with the Moose at the end of last season, and he's likely to push Cody Hodgson for a roster spot out of training camp. Some people think they might both make the team. One of these five goalies is likely the starter for the Moose, which means he's warming the big-league pine if Luongo or Corey Schneider pulls a groin. My dark horse pick to don the Orca after October would be Aaron Volpatti, the gritty, two-way winger from Brown University that might turn out to be an upgrade on Tanner Glass. Only time will tell.
Friday, July 02, 2010
The Canucks Sign Dan Hamhuis
Definitely the biggest Canucks free agent signing of the day, and, considering all the hype around the guy and how the rights to speak to him privately were passed around as though he were The Girl Who Uses Tongue at a "spin the bottle" party, maybe the biggest overall. While the early Gonchar signing was for the most money, Hamhuis was considered the prize of the day. The deal has some heft to it, coming in at $4.5m for six seasons. On paper, Dan Hamhuis is officially our #1 guy. Is he? The jury's out on that. Somewhere, it was said that the Canucks now lead the league in number three defensemen, but is that the worst thing? The jury's out on that too. Put another way, the Canucks lead the lead in guys you'd be comfortable averaging over twenty minutes a game. There's nothing negative about that.
If there's a trend with Mike Gillis, it's signing guys with upside, guys he believes might be able to have a bigger role. It makes sense. Undervalued guys are obviously a big part of his moneyball philosophy. Mind you, they're also the only guys available. I've heard a number of fanboys lament that while, yes, we got Hamhuis, we didn't get a guy like Pronger or Weber or Keith or Doughty. I've heard it said that we're a superstar defenseman away from winning a Stanley Cuo. Right, and the Philistines were one One True God away from being the best military nation in the Bible. It's not exactly something you can just flip a switch and fix. Gillis did what he could: he got the best player available, with the belief he might be even better than we've been told. Here's hoping.
While Hamhuis was the #3 defenseman on Nashville, the Preds are a team with two of the best defenseman in the NHL. It's not like he was being beaten out for ice time by Ryan O'Byrne. We're talking about Shea Weber and Ryan Suter here. For people with concerns, consider that the Predators' leading scorer was Patrick Hornqvist, with 51 points, good for 91st in the NHL. Despite this atrocious fact, Nashville still made the playoffs, and fared as well against the Blackhawks as any other team that faced them, largely because their defense corps is stupid good. Dan Hamhuis was a gigantic part of that. And now he plays for us.
So what sort of defenseman is he? I'm sure that's probably covered elsewhere, so I won't belabor it. I will say, however, that he apparently loves to hip check, much like Keith Ballard. This means that spotting a Canuck on the positive end of a hip check won't be like spotting El Chupacabra, for once. That's a good thing. Hamhuis also has some offensive upside. Put those two things together, and you get this:
Consider that Hamhuis, who can do the thing we see above, makes Kevin Bieksa--who stars in this clip--expendable. So what are the downsides to this signing? Well, from where I'm sitting, there aren't many. Granted, his cap hit is high, but consider first that he took a paycut and denied a bunch of attractive destinations, and second, that, in a surprising turn of events, he was not given a no-trade clause. Hamhuis can be moved without too much difficulty, if need be. Verdict: this is an acquisition chock full of win, and I am ecstatic about it.
The Canucks Sign Manny Malhotra
Until the Hamhuis thing broke, this was the big news of the day. Earlier, the Canucks signed Manny Malhotra, the guy that could have been had for chump change a year ago, after Columbus had decided they didn't want him. He wound up with San Jose where he was a lights-out faceoff man all season and playoffs, was a reliable third-line checking center that played top-six wing at times, and showed some grit. A real turnaround year for him, right? Wrong. Turns out that's exactly what he's done for the last six years. Why did Columbus let him go for nothing? I heard one of their radio guys joke that Columbus fans called him as fifth-line center. It makes no sense, but we're about to find out, for $2.5 mil. a year for 3 years.
But don't panic. Not only were we not the only team to chase him this summer, but we were one of many teams that offered him over $2 mil. to be our 3rd center. People are going to gripe about this signing, but, if they do, remind them of how the NHL has changed. The playoff game-changers aren't the superstars. For the last half-decade, it's been the third-line checking centers: Rob Niedermayer, Jordan Staal, Dave Bolland, et al. Matt Cullen fetched a 2nd round pick at the trade deadline last year, and he went for a $3.5 mil. yesterday. This has become a crucial position, and while Cody Hodgson might have been able to fill it, Mike Gillis couldn't take that chance. After a few years of Kyle Wellwood impressing people by being up to the job, Gillis needed somebody who would do more than impress simply by showing up. That's what Malhotra brings.
On the negative side, that contract is a lot. In fact, it's the same contract Mikael Samuelsson got, except this one has a limited no-movement clause. Is Manny worth it? We'll see, but if he's not, we're not absolutely stuck with him. Let's talk about the NMC. Don't panic. It's not, contrary to some report, a NTC. This clause gives Malhotra some veto power, but it doesn't give him ultimate veto power. I'm not surprised. Gillis has some numerous times he won't ask a player to waive a no-trade clause. That's an integrity thing. Here, he won't have to if Malhotra winds up on the block; Gillis has merely promised to let Malhotra have some say if a move comes up. That's beyond fair.
I like this deal. Consider that Malhotra is paid to be the veteran presence on our third line, and he'll likely stay there no matter what. Unlike last year, where our third line was all over the map, Gillis has established Manny Malhotra, who can play all three slots, as the mainstay on it. This gives us the option of letting a ton of our young players fight it out to skate with him. Verdict: good deal. Fills a major hole for us. This was the move Mike Gillis had to make. That's why he paid so much to make it.
The Canucks Sign Joel Perrault and The Canucks Sign Jeff Tambellini
I have less to say about these two moves, as I don't really know what to expect here. Neither Perrault nor Tambellini are really known as crash-and-bang style guys. Instead, they're prospects on the verge of washing out. Both these guys have a ton of talent and impressive junior resumes, but, to the chagrin of their former teams (the Coyotes and Islanders, respectively), it's never translated to the NHL. In both cases, however, there's more than enough potential for a gambler like Mike Gillis to offer them $500,000 deals and see if they pan out. What's the harm? Relatively speaking, $1 mil. is chump change to test drive a couple of former first-rounders, and if even one of them pans out, we're in luck. The claim here is that these guys have solid enough two-way games to play on the third-line, and since Gillis expects his third-line to be physical, they make be stretched a little more than they were elsewhere. Tambellini has already been trying to develop a reputation as a fighter. Considering they'll likely be competing for spots with the best prospects the Canucks have, it should only boost the level of competition and motivation Canuck draft picks have to make this team.
Do these guys honestly have a shot? Maybe. Perrault might be a good fit as a fourth-line center, but he'll have to battle Alex Bolduc, Mario Bliznak, Rick Rypien, and any training camp walk-ons for the spot. Jeff Tambellini's in tougher, likely fighting against Cody Hodgson, Jordan Schroeder, Sergei Shirokov, Victor Oreskovich (and maybe Nikita Filatov) for a spot. If neither guy makes the cut, they'll help the Moose stay competitive, and since the waiver wire is so seldom used these days, provide excellent depth in the case of regular-season injuries.
Here's the thing nobody has mentioned yet. Tambellini is a perfect replacement for Michael Grabner. They're similar players, though Tambellini is a little stronger. They both play left wing, they both skate extremely well, and they have both failed to live up to their billing. It certainly allays any unease I had over losing Grabner in the Ballard trade. Verdict: I am okay with these moves.
And finally, if this does not provide concrete enough explanations of how these guys will affect the team, take a look at this image, courtesy of Nucks Misconduct.