Monday, July 12, 2010

Kovalchuk, The NHL's Lebron James?

I have a big problem with what Lebron James did last Thursday night on ESPN. A big, big, big problem. What he did, essentially, was take the team out of team sports and make it all about one person. The problem w/ his "performance" is that it will more than likely cause other superstars of other sports to do the same thing.

Enter Ilya Kovalchuk.

So far, Kovalchuk has been the primadonna of this year's free agent class. People have labeled it Kovygate (for some unknown reason) and papers from New York to Los Angeles have documented the winger's inability to make a decision on where he wants to sign.

The problem here is that a Canadian television station has asked Kovalchuk to pull a Lebron James and announce his decision on air, according to NESN.com.

I have a major problem with this because I grew up playing team sports. I played little league baseball, town team basketball, high school football, basketball and lacrosse and ended my sports playing career with college football. I've done everything I could do without making a professional jump (because honestly, I wasn't good enough) and throughout my lifetime I was taught that the name/logo on the front of the jersey meant more than the name on the back.

When did this change?

When Kevin Garnett came to the Boston Celtics via trade, there wasn't a big blow-up over it. KG or Ray Allen didn't go on ESPN and hold an hour television special (note: not a press conference) to announce if they would/would not waive their no trade clause.

Lebron James, and Ilya Kovalchuk should this event happen, are exactly what's wrong with this current crop (and subsequent crop of players hereafter) of players. This is deeper than just an hour spectacle on "The Network", its about the death of the "team" aspect as a whole.

Certainly there are still teams like the Boston Celtics and events like the World Cup and the Olympics were the team is still prevalent, but with this generation of sports, that will be washed out.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I am disgusted. I'm disgusted in the 12 million+ people that watched the Lebron special and then complained about it the day after. We all (self included) knew what was going to happen and when it was over (or at least when he made his decision) we changed the channel and then said how classless James is.

If Kovalchuk goes through with this, he'll be no different. The idea of announcing a decision on a show is a joke. Instead of holding clubs hostage (James only told Miami his decision), just make your decision and hold your press conference. Be done with it already!

There are a million people out there that would love to play in the NBA or the NHL and would do it for under 100K a year. The fact that we, as sports fans, allow these "superstars" to parade around on TV, pimp their clothing lines and hold us hostage for millions and millions of dollars is an absolute abomination.

When salaries go up, who ends up paying for it? That's right America (and Canada), we do. At some point we need to take a stand against rising salaries, ESPN "specials" (which are just fucking reality shows) and all the other bullshit that causes a family of 4 to spend upwards of $400 just to watch a GAME.

If the "superstar" doesn't care about the name on the front of the jersey, why should we care about the name on the back?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Zherdev making his NHL return?

Over the last couple days there has been rampant speculation that the Leafs were chasing former Blue Jacket and Ranger Nikolai Zherdev, well, they were all lies and just that. Rumours. At least according to word coming out of the Leafs camp today. However there is still a rumour being circulated that Zherdev is still in talks with the Buffalo Sabres, could this be someone to play on the top line with Vanek? Possibly, a more likely scenario is that of which would see him play along side of Stafford or Pominville, but with Zherdev looking for a reported multi year deal worth 4 million a season is that too much for a guy who had 23 goals and 68 points in 82 games in his last full NHL season? He spent last season in the KHL with Atlant Mytischi where he netted 13 goals and 39 pooints in 52 games he seems like player that can bring depth scoring to a team that needs some right now.

The Sabres had quite a bit of trouble putting the puck in the net in their first round playoff exit at the hands of the Boston Bruins, and it was no small secret that once Vanek went down, the Sabres offense went with it, however we need to be asking ourselves is this the player we want to be spending top money on? or will he run back to Russia on this first think smokin with his tale between his legs if things don't work out? Nikolai seemd to be coming into his own his last couple of seasons before he made a bee-line to the KHL, putting up solid numbers in Columbus and in New York and playing a full 82 games in both seasons so we know he can withstand the rigor of the NHL season and thats something the Sabres are looking to turn towards, they need to add some secondary scoring to help Vanek out, that same secondary scoring that left on Briere and Dury's backs when they skipped town four years ago.

Either way you slice it, Zherdev would be a good addition to a team that is lacking in the scoring department, they question remains.. is he worth the money?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

No deal for Modano.

In a move that surprises some, doesn't surprise some, but pisses off many, The Dallas Stars have decided to not over Mike Modano a contract. The 20 Year Veteran of one NHL franchise, Modano is the franchise leader in games played (1,459), goals (557), assists (802), points (1,359), power-play goals (156), shorthanded goals (29), game-winning goals (92) and shots (4,194). He also had the highest plus-minus rating for one season when he was plus-43 in 1996-97. Last season at 41 he had 14 goals and 30 points in 59 games, which isn't terrible for a guy of his age.(stats courtesy of TSN.CA)

This comes as no surprise to many Stars fans, and most NHL fans in general, Modano is not getting any younger and as he nears the end of a great career one has to wonder if Mike just needs to retire. Guys like Modano and Chelios, they've been around the game forever, they've accomplished things in their careers a lot of guys will only be able to dream about, Stanley Cups, World Cups, etcc.. the list goes on and on, so why put yourself through the further grind and torture of an NHL season? Save yourself the headache and go out knowing that you are one of the few guys who is a true class act and stayed with one team your whole career. In my opinion that's the biggest accomplishment of all, there are very few guys in the game today who can say they were able to do that.

Modano survived the team moving from Minnesota, he survived the early years, he's truly one of the games classiest players. I hate to see to him go out like this, but for the sake of all your fans who can't stand to bear witness to you play for another team Mike, Please, PLEASE retire a Dallas Star.

Predicitions for the NHL's top UFAs

Kovalchuk is this year's UFA prize

Tomorrow is the biggest day on the NHL calendar. Bigger than the beginning of the NHL playoffs, bigger than the NHL Entry Draft, and yes, bigger than the NHL trade deadline. Tomorrow is the beginning of NHL's Free Agency, something every fan looks forward to in hopes that their team will land the one elite scorer or wall of a goalie to bring them the ultimate prize, the Stanley Cup.

To talk about free agency, we need to know one thing:

Who is available?

Well thanks to sportscity.com we were able to grab a list of every 2010 unrestricted free agent (by position). Ripple the Twine is going to break down 3 players at their position (who is available, obviously) and where they will start the 2010-2011 season. We're not at liberty to give salary because that's always a crap shoot, but we'll do our best. Remember, these our just our predictions so if you don't agree with any of them, please feel free to debate it!


Ollie Jokinen
Age: 30
Team: New York Rangers
$5.5M last season

Thoughts: Jokinen was traded from Calgary to New York at (or near) the trade deadline in what many thought was a salary dump for the Flames. Despite being 31 when the new season begins, Jokinen played 82 games last season and amassed 50 points on the season. Now, that's not production you expect from a player making $5.5M so I expect his salary to decrease drastically.

In a year where aging centers have taken hometown discounts (see: Marc Savard 7 years/$28.05M and Patrick Marleau 4 years/$27.6M) I don't expect to see Ollie sign a contract like the one he previously had and I don't expect him to end up with the Rangers again. Even though Glen Sather loves giving out awful contracts (hello Wade Redden and Chris Drury), I don't expect this to be one of them.

New Team: Unknown

Name: Saku Koivu
Age: 34
Team: Anaheim Ducks

Thoughts: When Koivu signed in Anaheim, Montreal's spirit was effectively broken. Although Koivu only signed a one year contract in Anaheim, replacing him as captain in Montreal was not easy. Koivu played 71 games for the Ducks and ended the season with 52 (19 goals, 32 assists) points with a plus/minus of +14, his best plus/minus of his career (previous best was +8 in 1997/1998 with Montreal).

When it comes to Koivu, an aging center, the only thing on his mind has to be a Stanley Cup. I believe Koivu signs somewhere that has a legitimate chance of winning a Stanley Cup in the next year or two.

New Team: Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks

Name: Mike Modano
Age: 39
Team: Dallas Stars

Thoughts: Dallas has already made their statement, they will not be re-signing Mike Modano, effectively ending his career for the only team he's played on. Modano was the Dallas Stars. Everything they stood for, believed in and the Stanley Cup they won was channeled through Number 9.

So what happens now? This all lays on the shoulders of Mikey Mo. If he believes he can still play, a team may take a flier on him, especially given the right price. Many people thought Mark Recchi was to old to play, but he continues to be an ageless wonder in Boston for around $1M. Modano could effectively do the same thing if Dallas doesn't want him. One year, $1M deals until the legs can no longer skate.

With that said, I think he will ultimately retire. Last season he played in 59 games but was still able to score 14 goals and help with 16 assists (30 points), but his body is clearly breaking down.

New Team: Retiring

Wingers (Doing 4)

Name: Ilya Kovalchuk
Age: 26
Team: New Jersey Devils

Thoughts: If you want Ilya, you'll need to open your wallets. Kovalchuk has openly stated that he wants a long term contract for big bucks. In a weak free agent pool, Kovalchuk is the gem which means that teams will be throwing sacks of money with the dollar signs on them at him. Last season, Kovalchuk scored 41 goals, 44 goals (84 points) in 76 games played. Despite missing 6 games, he was over a point per game player who has the ability to score 50+ goals (done twice in his career).

If I was Kovalchuk, I'm looking for a long-term contract for a club that looks like they can be a contender. The Los Angeles Kings have lots of cap room this season (about $17M) as does Anaheim (about $21M) , Washington ($15M) and Colorado (about $29M).

New Team: Los Angeles Kings

Name: Alexander Frolov
Age: 27
Team: Los Angeles Kings

Thoughts: So if Kovalchuk lands in Los Angeles, Frolov is probably leaving for a new home. I'll be honest, there isn't much I know about Frolov because he plays on the West Coast where LA isn't in the NHL's spotlight.

Statistically Frolov had his worse year with the Kings since he began playing with them in 2005-2006. Frolov played in 81 games, scoring 19 goals with 32 helpers (51 points) and a plus/minus of -1. The biggest knock on Frolov is that he isn't great in one particular area. He's not a great two-way forward, he passes up a lot of shooting opportunities, but there is an upisde and potential that could make him a good top 6 forward.

I can see a team in the East signing Frolov. A team like Buffalo needs a big guy to hang with guys like Lucic in Boston and Phaneuf in Toronto. They also have the cap room (about $13M) to land him.

New Team: Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs

Name: Paul Kariya
Age: 34
Team: St. Louis Blues

Thoughts: An older player whose career is slowly coming to an end. Kariya has played in St. Louis for the past three seasons and after a great first season (82 games, 16 goals, 49 assists, 65 points) his second (11 games, 2 goals, 13 assists, 15 points) and third (75 games, 18 goals, 25 assists, 43 points) seasons have began to show his age.

Ultimately, I think Kariya stays in St. Louis.

New Team: St. Louis Blues

Name: Lee Stempniak
Age: 26
Team: Phoenix Coyotes

Thoughts: Stempniak was traded mid-season from Toronto the Phoenix and played pretty well throughout 2009-2010. At the end of the season, Stempniak played 80 games and scored 28 goals and helped with 20 assists (48 points).

Stempniak was a huge part of the Coyotes offense going down the stretch and into the playoffs, so I expect him to come back to the desert. The biggest knock on Stempniak is his size, but his ability to score goals and be a factor on the power play can make up for it.

New Team: Phoenix Coyotes


Name: Sergei Gonchar
Age: 35
Team: Pittsburgh Penguins
Contract: $5.5M

Thoughts: It's been documented that Gonchar is looking for a 4 year contract while the Penguins are only willing to go 2 years. I don't know what Gonchar is expecting, but I highly doubt there is a team out there willing to give an aging defenseman a 4 year contract, though I've been wrong many times before.

The only reason a team would be willing to give Gonchar a 4 year contract is because he is masterful at running the power play. Gonchar was the quarterback for Pittsburgh's power play throughout his five years there, but with the minutes he logs, his old body is about breaking down.

I have no idea where a guy like Gonchar will go. You could have one of those Florida/Tampa type teams that will just throw money at a player or you will have a team like Pittsburgh who will just sit on Gonchar until he caves.

New Team: Pittsburgh Penguins, Calgary Flames, New York Islanders
Real Team: Ottawa Senators

Name: Paul Martin
Age: 28
Team: New Jersey Devils
Contract: $4.5M

Thoughts: Martin is a young, puck moving defenseman (God, I hate that fucking term with a passion) who is able to devour minutes. The guy missed 59 games due to a broken arm and hasn't played a full season since 2006-2007.

With that said, he's still young enough that he hasn't peaked yet (I hope) but old enough that he carries good habits with him throughout his play. His biggest problem will be staying healthy, but the fact that he's 6'1" 200 and has a large frame that will eat minutes means he has value somewhere.

*WARNING, BRUINS BIASED COMING* I would like to see Boston make a run at this guy because they are thin at defense, but with a poor cap situation, I don't see it happening. Look for a team like St. Louis, Colorado or New Jersey to make a run at him.

New Team: New Jersey Devils, Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues
Real Team: Pittsburgh Penguins

Name: Derek Morris
Age: 30
Team: Phoenix Coyotes
Contract: $3.3M

Thoughts: Morris was traded from Phoenix to New York then signed with Boston last off season, only to be traded back to the Coyotes at the trade deadline. It seems as though Morris is destined to stay in the desert and he's been a fan favorite there (from what I've been told) since he first stepped out on the ice.

Morris was liked in Boston and people were very sad to see him traded, but his inconsistency didn't warrant the $3.3M Peter Chiarelli threw at him. Morris was virtually useless for the Coyotes in 18 games last season, scoring 1 goal and helping on 3 others so I don't expect the $3.3M price tag to come back.

With that said, there is always a team looking to grab an offensively skilled defenseman and Morris is that (well when compared to his defensive abilities). Another year as a UFA means that Morris won't go back to the desert...until the trade deadline.

New Team: Ottawa Senators, Carolina Hurricanes, Phoenix Coyotes
Real Team: Phoenix Coyotes


Name: Evgeni Nabokov
Age: 33
Team: San Jose Sharks
Contract: $6M

Thoughts: The Sharks have already came out and stated that they will not have a contract offer for Evgeni Nabokov. Apparently San Jose is ready to go in a new direction after Nabby has taken shots of being soft and lazy both in the Olympics and the NHL Playoffs.

Nabby's stats aren't terrible this season (2.43 GAA and .922 S%) so I don't know why people are always knocking him. Could it be the whole "San Jose Sharks are chokers" moniker that seems to be kicking around every year until they win the Stanley Cup?

I think Nabby still has some years left under his belt so look for Philly to make a run at him.

New Team: Philadelphia Flyers

Name: Marty Turco
Age: 33
Team: Dallas Stars
Contract: $5.4M

Thoughts: What an absolute fall from grace Turco has had. Over the past two seasons he's posted GAA of 2.81 and 2.72 and S% of .898 and .913. Turco was once thought of to be a Vezina winning goalie and has been in that conversation a few times over his career.

It could be that Turco was on a terrible Stars team for the last couple of seasons, but I don't expect him to go somewhere and be the starter. If a team is looking for an experienced back-up, Minnesota might be the place for him to land. With Niklas Backstrom manning the pipes, Turco won't have the pressure he had in Dallas but will still be able to get 20-25 games in.

New Team: Minnesota Wild

Name: Dan Ellis
Age: 29
Team: Montreal Canadiens
Contract: $2M

Thoughts: Ellis was just traded to the Montreal Canadiens and will become a free agent tomorrow, but many think that he will sign (or re-sign) with Montreal and compete for the starting job against highly touted but rarely winning Carey Price.

With a goalie battle in Nashville, Ellis may get the opportunity he needs to show the world he can be a starting goaltender. The knock on Ellis, though, is his inconsistency with the puck leads to costly turnovers.

With that said, I think he remains in Montreal, which means I hate him and will need to stop following him on Twitter.

New Team: Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers
Real Team: Tampa Bay Lightning

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dan Ellis Grabs Sunscreen For Trip To Hell

In a kind of head-scratcher of a trade, Dan Ellis and Dustin Boyd have been traded from Nashville to the epicenter of hell, Montreal. The Canadiens have sent back Sergei Kostitsyn and some future considerations.

Here's the head scratching part of the whole trade: Every player in this trade has a contract that expires in two days.

Ellis will be an unrestricted free agent who made $1.8M last year (all numbers from capgeek.com) and has stated multiple times that he wants to go to a place where he can become a starter. It's going to be hard for Montreal to re-sign both Ellis and Price (who is a restricted free agent) with the promise of a goalie duel in camp. Both goalies will want to start and I have a funny feeling that Montreal won't tuck their frank behind the bun and admit that they screwed up on drafting Price.

Trading Jaroslav Halak to the St. Louis Blues seemed to be a wink, wink; nod, nod to Carey Price that he'll be in the man in Montreal, but adding Ellis, especially if they can sign both, will certainly say otherwise.

I'm a big Dan Ellis fan and by nature a huge Carey Price detractor (I'm a Bruins fan first, hockey fan second) so please take that for what it is worth.

Dustin Boyd is still a young guy (23 years old) and his stats aren't amazing for a center, but again, he's a young guy.

Kostitsyn's stay in Montreal was awful considering the speculation of banging hookers with his brother and the lofty expectations he rarely ever met. The difference between Ellis and Kostitsyn contractually if that Sergei is a restricted free agent and only making 800K. Unfortunately for Nashville, the day to tender RFA's has long passed.

Again, this trade rarely makes any sense unless either team can sign their guy before July 1. If it happens after, you have to ask yourself why they just didn't wait a couple days.

Top 10 Reasons Why Marc Savard Is Being Shopped Around

Much like my friends at Days of Y'Orr and their investigative reporter Patrice Perr-geron, I always enjoy a good investigation of the truth. Although not as skilled as Patrice and his accomplices, I am not one to shy away from a challenge. When I heard that Marc Savard was aggressively being shopped to other teams this morning, I had to find out why. I couldn't deal with the fact that the Boston Bruins best offensive player was being shopped around so I did a little sleuthing.

What I found was shocking. Sitting on Peter Chiarelli's desk was a list of reasons why they wanted to trade Marc Savard before the season started. Here's the list:

10. Marc will throw up all over your shit

Apparently when Marc doesn't agree with something (like playing in Atlanta), he'll just throw up on it. Here's the video evidence.

9. Faux-hawk

Not much needs to be said about this does it? A faux-hawk is about as douchetastic as they come. A mohawk is one of the most badass hairstyles of all time, but if you have a little prick or just can't rock one, you rock the faux-hawk. That shit doesn't fly.

8. To Many Men penalty

Yes, this will want to make you throw up. Just mentioning this makes me want to cry and German-suplex toddlers in the park. It is time to come to reality though people, Savard was the one who screwed up on the penalty. I think that is something we can all accept though, he is a human being and humans make mistakes. What I can't stand is when someone doesn't own up to making that mistake.

It has been reported numerous times that Savard has deflected attention for the TMM penalty. Not admitting the mistake (and effectively blaming the guy coming off of the bench) is a good way to turn a locker room against you.

7. He beat Chiarelli in golf

Perhaps this is the most personal reasons of the list. Savard is known to be a good golfer and never playing past the second round means he has had a lot of practice in the off season. Although it has never been made public, Savard has apparently taken Chiarelli to task on the golf course. How else do you think Milan Lucic got that big ass contract?

6. Clearing Cap Room

If Savard was to be traded, it's clearly a cap dump. The Bruins are so close to the cap, any more signings and they'll just the jar wide open (get it, cap...jar? No? Sorry). Savard's contract may be "cap friendly" but having a 32 year old concussed center in a 7 year contract makes little sense. Sometimes you have to wonder how much drugs Chiarelli does daily.

5. He's a "whipped little bitch"

Originally sent to me in an email from a friend on Twitter, it is apparent that Chiarelli wrote the HFBoards (hell on the interwebz, I call it) that explained why Savard asked to be traded:

"Here it is. Marc has a girlfriend who lives in Peterborough, ON. She's in her young 20's and suffering a case of "Chris Pronger" wife syndrome. She traveled down to Boston last season to see Marc, but can't move to Boston due to her work and not being able to get a US VISA. She is controlling and there were a lot of rumors last season about Marc cheating on her and her going crazy over it. Anyways she told Marc that he had to DEMAND a trade to be closer to her (away from Boston and the other girls) and to either Ottawa or Toronto if he wanted to be with her and keep their relationship together. Ottawa and Toronto because they are both close and in between where she lives and also in between were Marc has a home in the offseason, his parents place, grandparents and children. This is a girl that was dumped by Marc before, dumped her boyfriend to get back with Marc and only dates pro hockey players.... I really hate to post something like this on a hockey board and make it so personal and about someone's private issues/relationships, but this is what's going on.

The reports about Marc having "family" issues aren't really "family" issues but a case of a young 22 year old girl demanding her boyfriend to request a trade.

So, Marc went to the Bruins and demanded a trade I've been told by a recent ex Bruin player (got the email from this players nhlpa email to prove it also). The Bruins don't want to move Marc, but are considering it if they can get a deal done, since Marc wants out. They don't want a "soft" deal, but may have to resort to one. The Bruins aren't completely against trading Savard (since they are deep at the center position, could get a good return, free up cap space since they can't find any suitors for Ryder, Wheeler and Thomas), but really don't want to trade their #1 center and a guy that has averaged more than a ppg in the last 5 of the 6 NHL seasons..."
LOL is all I can say.

4. He's Canadian

They smell like maple syrup and their bacon is just really ham...

3. The Return For Him

When Kessel was traded to Toronto, Brian Burke gave up (basically) every pick until 2013. Okay, maybe not, but a 2010 first round (hello Tyler Seguin), a 2010 second rounder and a 2011 first rounder that could very well be a top 5 pick again. Who's to say the return for Savard won't be good as well? The guy is a point per game player and has led Boston in scoring since he came here, outside of this previous year. I'm not saying Boston will get a Kessel deal again, but something useful will more than likely come back.

2. Savard's a "Team Jacob" guy

We all know Chiarelli is a Team Edward guy. Sensitive and loyal without the aggression and always wearing a shirt. Yeah, Edward is his mancrush.

1. Savard likes to wear Ed Hardy clothing

Again, the douchiest of douchewear. Savard is like the Ed Hardy poster child and Ed Hardy sucks.


So there it is. 10 reasons why Chiarelli is looking to move Savard.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Deal? or no Deal? for Kaberle.

How would you feel to be Tomas Kaberle right now? seriously, how would you feel? You've been a mainstay workhorse on the back end for a team that is now publicly saying they are trying to deal you and trying to do so in a small window of time allowed by your "no movement clause" just because they can. How's that for gratitude for what you have done for the team over the years?

Fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs seem to have come to terms with the realization that dealing Kaberle is the best and fastest way to make their team get better, he's a big asset to most teams out there and they think they can get top 6 talent for him. I for one think that's a pretty steep price for a guy who defensively leaves a little to be desired. Kaberle was a -16 last season, okay fine he put up 49 points in 81 games, but, -16? That was the worst plus minus in Toronto, hell even Dion "no defense allowed" Phanuef was a +1 on the year, and that's saying something.

Now the latest rumors are that there are currently five (5) offers tabled for Kaberle's services however that all 5 don't really appeal to Leafs Gm Brian Burke, one rumor floating around was Kaberle to Boston for Savard, which my esteemed colleague Greg blogged would be a dumb trade on Bruins behalf even moving Savard period doesn't make any sense. I think at this point the Leafs fans have to begin to wonder if they will ever see that "amazing" deal that Burke thinks he's gonna get for Kaberle.

Personally, I think maybe they need to think about maybe not moving him. However after all this and making the guy feel as unwanted as he must how could you even keep him on the team? I feel bad for Tomas because I grew up watching him and I think he deserves better then this. -ch-