“Bettman has only a marginal interest in the weaker teams. He only wants the NHL to make a bigger profit as a whole.” -- Dominik Hasek

July 30, 2007

Panthers Will Likely Play Poorly Again Next Season, Look Worse

The Florida Panthers have really outdone themselves this time. For a team that hasn't really enjoyed success since their appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals back in 1996 (Colorado swept them in four games), they sure don't look too interested in achieving any kind of future glory. Other than signing a really good goalie in Thomas Vokoun, they've more or less got the same batch of minor leaguers they did before.

And, like the Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets before them, they'll not only suck at playing hockey, they'll also suck aesthetically.

The Panthers unveiled their new uniforms last week (home and away), and boy oh boy are they rotten. Not only did they go with the "apron" style of useless front piping that the Predators adopted, but they've also been suckered (by Reebok, perhaps?) to allow what Paul at UniWatch refers to as "contrast-colored logo creep" to dominate the back of the jerseys. Gross.

The only thing worse would be contrasting vertical and horizontal sleeve stripes. Oh wait, they did that too. The overall color scheme is fine (red, black and yellow has served the Calgary Flames well for years), but the orgy of piping, stripes and unflattering lines in general just makes for one really ugly jersey style.

Lame, Florida. Lame.

Ballhype: hype it up!Digg!


Rangers Bitch Slap Sean Avery

Ouch. You think you're a major contributor to a team's slight post-season success, the local press loves you and you score a totally amazingly hot sex goddess of a girlfriend.

Then the issue of money gets involved and it's all downhill from there. Suddenly you're a detriment to the team.

That sucks for Sean Avery. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

Ballhype: hype it up!Digg!


July 28, 2007

West Side (Conference) Story: Burke's Fightin' Words

Brian Burke, Anaheim Ducks general manager, likes a good scrap. He's a big fan of having mindless brutes on the ice and he's a big fan of unleashing those brutes on unsuspecting, smaller men.

With this in mind, Edmonton Oilers GM Kevin Lowe better frickin' check himself before he wrecks himself.

In response to Lowe's recent submission of an inflated offer sheet to Ducks forward Dustin Penner (a poorly-concealed effort to hurt the Ducks' salary cap budgeting), Burke had this to say,

"Edmonton has offered a mostly inflated salary for a player, and I think it's an act of desperation for a general manager who is fighting to keep his job."

Apparently, the term "gutless" was also used by Burke to describe his Edmontonian counterpart.

Oh snap!

It's obvious, at least to Dear Lord Stanley, that Lowe better watch his back from now on. Burke is known for sending enforcers to do some dirty work now and again, and Lowe just might find himself face down on the ground with a broken neck.

Dustin Penner, on the other hand, will probably just find himself a lot richer but stuck playing in cold, unforgiving Alberta for a really lousy team instead of sunny Anaheim playing for a really good one. Such is life.

Ballhype: hype it up!Digg!


July 27, 2007

When Bunnies Attack!

I know some people probably resent the term, but the girlfriends and wives (and groupies) of professional hockey players have for a very long time been referred to as "Puck Bunnies". I'm sure this is the first and only term used to belittle women in the entire history of sports. But I digress.

Lately, the only consistent headlines hockey players have been getting have been relationship-related. Six young and not-so-young ladies in particular have become the talk of the hockey world as of late.

In an effort to accurately document the important issues facing the National Hockey League, I will take the time to explore each of these ladies and the reason for their recent notoriety. I'm selfless like that.

Bunny #1: Hilary Duff

Hilary Duff is an actress. Or she's a singer. Or maybe she's both. I wouldn't know for sure because I don't listen to music or watch movies (takes time away from watching hockey), but I'm told she's a very talented person. She's also reasonably attractive. She also happens to be dating a nice young man named Mike Comrie, who until he was signed by the Islanders a couple of weeks ago, played hockey for the Ottawa Senators. The only mildly interesting thing about their budding relationship is that they hit it off first on a trip to Idaho. Idaho? Holy crap hockey players are boring.

Bunny #2: Willa Ford

Willa Ford was on Dancing With The Stars opposite some dude with a mullet. Before that, she was in a little-known men's magazine called Playboy (NSFW). I've never heard of it either. Currently, she's engaged to marry none other than American hockey hero Mike Modano, and she likes to tell people by flashing the gigantic ring he was likely guilted into buying her. But anyway, she took all her clothes off and posed for pictures a couple of years ago---I assume to promote herself as a serious, talented individual with opinions worth considering. Some of those opinions garnered a little attention recently. I'm sure Mike is proud. Mike might not be proud of the 80 or so pounds Willa has packed on to play Anna Nicole Smith in a biopic nobody really wants to see, however. Ugh.

Bunny #3: Elisha Cuthbert

All you need to know about Elisha Cuthbert is that she's smoking hot. Sure, she's currently starring in a weird-ass torture porn movie and she's dating notorious asshole Sean Avery, but really, none of that matters at all. She's absolutely smoking hot. Good lord.

Bunny #4: Kellie Pickler

Who the hell is Kellie Pickler? Ms. Pickler (hee hee) was an early-season reject from American Idol a year or two (or three or whenever) ago and since then the only thing she's managed to do with any kind of fanfare is date Nashville Predators resident jerk Jordin Tootoo. Apparently they're totally in love. Anyway, the only thing really interesting about Ms. Pickler is the strange transformation her chest area has undergone in the past couple of months. Interesting.

Bunny #5: Carol Alt

Carol Alt isn't getting any younger. She used to be a really hot model back in the 1980s, but since then she's transformed into quite a cougar with a penchant for lazy, greedy hockey players who are much, much younger than her and just totally misunderstood. She recently made the papers for bravely defending her unmarried domestic partner Alexei Yashin from his many, many, many detractors. Go get 'em, cougar.

Bunny #6: Janet Jones Gretzky

Janet Jones is the quintessential, end-all-be-all of puck bunnies. She is the ultimate. Once a major model and Playboy pinup sensation, Jones really gained fame and fortune when she married Wayne Gretzky. She's much older now and has a bit of a gambling problem, but she's still pretty hot. That is, if you're into hot, rich older chicks. And really, who isn't?

So, the question for you is, who's the hottest? Do newcomers Duff and Pickler have a youth advantage? Does Willa Ford take the cake because she's totally willing to get naked for money? What about established and sophisticated veteran bunnies like Carol Alt and Janet Gretzky? Or does pure, unadulterated (but worth the adultery) hotness make Elisha Cuthbert the runaway champion? You decide.

(Special thanks to both With Leather and Z czuba of Poland for the 1000+ extra visitors.)

Ballhype: hype it up!Digg!


July 25, 2007

Innocent Staal Brothers Arrested For Disorderly Sleeping

The Staal brothers, specifically Eric of the Carolina Hurricanes and Jordan of the Pittsburgh Penguins (there are in fact other Staals), have each made huge splashes in the NHL in the past two years. First it was Eric with his 100 point season and Stanley Cup victory in 2005-06, then it was Jordan with his league-leading 7 shorthanded goals and Calder Trophy nomination this past season.

Well, over the weekend they also took the small resort town of Lutsen, Minnesota by storm. After what witnesses describe as a rambunctious bachelor party, the brothers and fellow celebrators were arrested for disorderly conduct. Oh, and underage drinking, too, since Jordan is still 18.

The Cook County Sheriff's Office said the brothers were among 14 arrested last weekend after authorities received several complaints about "screaming, yelling and playing loud music" at the resort in northeastern Minnesota, about two hours from the Staals' hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The sheriff said the group was warned multiple times before finally being ordered to leave the Lutsen Resort and Sea Villas in Lutsen, at which point the men gathered on a nearby highway and "began harassing motorists." That's when authorities arrested the group, around 4 a.m. Saturday.

Seems like your average out-of-control party thrown by multi-millionaire professional athletes to me. It doesn't even compare to the recent troubles faced by players in the NFL or refs in the NBA. Mere disorderly conduct is for pansies.

Well, except that this isn't your typical disorderly conduct. Apparently, the Staal brothers---being the well-behaved, responsible men that they are---weren't even awake when police busted up the noise fest. They're totally innocent, honest:

[Staal agent Rick] Curran said the brothers were among several partygoers who went to bed when authorities first gave the group a warning, and when authorities returned to kick the entire party out of the resort, they first had to wake the Staals up.

"What is unfortunate is at the end, the entire group was asked to leave the hotel, including Eric and Jordan and some of the others that had gone to bed when the first warnings came in," Curran said. "They were asked to go to bed, and they did. ... A couple of the kids kept going. That's what caused the continued disturbance."

The Staals obviously suffer from the well-known affliction called Narcoleptic Asshole Disorder Syndrome (NADS). Sufferers typically experience periodic bouts of unruly, disruptive behavior and then immediately and uncontrollably fall asleep afterwards. Sometimes the condition also creates alcohol fumes within the body which emanate from the mouth for no reason at all. This medical mystery afflicts many other celebrity victims, including Nick Nolte.

Seriously though, nice try, Staal brothers. Just admit that you guys throw the best parties this side of Thunder Bay and ride the notoriety for a while. Maybe Paris or Lindsay will join you guys for the next photo shoot.

Ballhype: hype it up!


July 23, 2007

Gary Bettman Is An Excellent Commissioner, Financial Advisor

Gary Bettman, the well-loved and vastly-respected commissioner of the National Hockey League, is known for making great decisions. He is also known for his leadership and vision.

In the vision category comes this little tidbit from ESPN.com's Scott Burnside:

Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie has accused NHL commissioner Gary Bettman of forcing the owner of the Nashville Predators to break off discussions about the sale of the team to Balsillie...

According to the article, Bettman prefers the Predators be sold to a group interested in moving the team from Nashville to Kansas City, another hot bed of hockey interest just like Nashville.

While Balsillie already has a deal with Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario, not to mention 14 thousand deposits on season tickets, Bettman seems to prefer trading one lousy market for another. But of course he does! He's Gary Bettman! He never makes a decision that isn't absolutely perfect for the league!

Why waste time expanding the league back into Canada, a country that loves its hockey more than it loves its own children? Why waste time having financially successful teams?

I think Gary Bettman should be NHL commissioner forever. He's a genius.


We're All Invited To The Nashville BBQ, Suck Fest

The Nashville Predators unveiled their new RBK Edge uniforms last week, and, due to an ill-timed out-of-town excursion, I was unable to offer my opinion when it immediately came spewing forth from my mind.

My initial impression of the new jerseys was to ask, "Why the hell are the Predators wearing aprons?" Unfortunately, because I hesitated, somebody beat me to it.

That somebody is the illustrious Teebz, whose opinion is more or less identical to my own on the Hamilton/Kansas City/Nashville Predators' new look. In sum, it sucks. Just like the team is going to this coming season.

I'm not even going to justify their aesthetic cop-out by posting a lengthy analysis of the new uniforms. Instead, I'm going to go buy dirt-cheap tickets to their game against the Avalanche on October 4th so I can mock the Predators in person.


July 20, 2007

Coyotes Sign Aebischer, Own Death Warrant

image courtesy of Divealanche.com

David Aebischer was once a pretty decent goaltender. In 2003-04 with the Avalanche (the year after Patrick Roy's retirement), he posted a 32-19-9 record with a fairly amazing 2.09 GAA. Granted, he was backstopping one of the greatest lineups in the history of hockey, but he put in some good work.

After that, it was all down hill. His numbers have consistent worsened since then, and he spent most of last season as the Canadiens' under-played backup. How did he become a Canadien, you ask? He was traded for Jose Theodore by the Avs in 2005-06. Yeah, remember that trade?

At any rate, Aebischer has now signed a one-year contract with the Phoenix Coyotes, and he will probably become their starting netminder, considering the only other guy they have to play in net is Mikael Tellqvist (11-11-3, 3.39 GAA, .885 SV%). Just a hunch, but I have a feeling that coach Gretzky won't be making his first behind-the-bench appearance in the playoffs anytime soon.

And you can bet on that.


July 19, 2007

Any Publicity Is Good Publicity, Right? Right?

Courtesy of TheDenverChannel.com:

A 27-year-old man rounded up in a prostitution sting last week could face stiffer charges because he admitted to knowing that he had AIDS, the Denver District Attorney's Office said Wednesday.

Garcia is being held in Denver jail in lieu of $50,000 bond. His mug shot shows him with long brown hair, wearing makeup and a Colorado Avalanche jersey.

You really can't make this stuff up.


Change Is Afoot, Not A Leg Or A Hand

Things are going to change a little bit around here, kiddos. With the launch of Mile High Hockey and the relocation of my primary blogging focus to that site, Dear Lord Stanley is going to become a bit more general.

Whereas before I focused on the Avalanche first and the rest of the NHL second, from now on the majority of my posts here will deal with the NHL as a whole (or other teams) and the Avs will be shifted to the background just a little. I'll still make Avalanche-related posts, of course, but you'll see a lot more stuff about the rest of the league.

The same brilliant and insightful commentary that you've come to expect from DLS, like "ESPN blows goats," will not be changing at all, however. So you've got that going for you.


Exciting New Avalanche Blog In Case You Are Bored Of This One

SportsBlogs Nation, in case you aren't aware, is the largest network of sports-related blogs on the entire Internets. There are NFL blogs, blogs for the NBA, MLB blogs and blogs for many college sports programs. Until recently, however, there weren't any blogs dedicated to the National Hockey League.

Not any more, kiddos.

I have been given the privilege of creating a new Colorado Avalanche blog as part of the SB Nation network. This brand new site joins the only other existing NHL site so far, Die By The Blade---a Sabres blog.

Introducing Mile High Hockey.

Make no mistake, this new blog won't be a carbon copy of Dear Lord Stanley. Nothing could possibly be the same as this amazing blog. Not even close. But Mile High Hockey will be the most thorough, in-depth Avalanche fan community on the web.

Did I say "community?" That's right. SB Nation runs on the same technology as the liberal political blog DailyKos, a technology called Scoop that allows readers to create their own user accounts and post their own blog entries, called diaries. These diary posts are linked directly to the front page of the blog, and other users are free to comment on them. In other words, I, the main blogger, am not the only game in town. Everyone is free to chime in and contribute, and build their own following of readers. Even better, diary posts I really like can be promoted to the front page of the blog. This is especially useful when I'm low on my own content or it's a slow news day.

I'm also not alone in this endeavor. I'm being joined in this project by none other than Avalanche blogger Draft Dodger, he of In The Cheap Seats fame. He will be contributing periodic stats-related informational posts to the front page to add depth and substance to my hollow and biased ranting. I'm excited to have him on board.

So, if you love the Avalanche, or at least like to talk about them, head over to Mile High Hockey today and sign up for a free user account. Start posting diary entries. Get the conversation started!

And fellow Avalanche bloggers (you know who you are), start spreading the news! Help me promote this new site, since it's not just my work, but a community of fans dedicated to the team and the Stanley Cups they're still sure to win. I expect to see everyone over there.

Go Avs!


July 13, 2007

Lazy Summer Video Post

Ray Bourque, the owner of the lowest hairline of any man his age, answers some really inane questions from some ESPN lackey about winning the Cup with Colorado in 2001.

Watch it here. And, if that doesn't work for you (ESPN's video player is buggy most of the time), just go here and look for the video player on the upper right.

As for the interview, holy crap those questions were horrible. Ask something worthwhile, you hack.

And Ray, keep chillin' on the beach, bro.


July 11, 2007

Avalanche Releases 2007-08 Schedule

2007-08 Schedule

Penguins in Denver on November 1st. Something tells me I should buy tickets now. As in today.


Sing A Song Of AvsNation

When there's not much else to do, I sit around and search for Avalanche videos on YouTube. I just found a great one, complete with a song actually written about the team.

There's no better way for a blogger to cover his own ass for not having anything of real substance to write than posting a YouTube clip.

Seriously, it's a slow news day. Well, week.


July 10, 2007

Sidney Crosby Signs $95 Trillion Contract Extension With Penguins

Well, he won't make quite as much as $95 trillion, but it's pretty close. Sid The Kid has agreed to a 5-year $45 $43 million contract extension with the Penguins, which locks him up with the team until he becomes and unrestricted free agent just prior to the 2013-2014 season (at age 25). His cap number will shift from $850 thousand to $8.7 million.

Hot damn.

In a league where relatively low-scoring guys like Ryan Smyth and Chris Drury will make over $7 million dollars a season, it's hard to argue that Sidney Crosby doesn't deserve to earn even more than $9 million a year. Two years in the NHL, two 100+ point seasons. The youngest scoring champion, multi-100 pointer, Hart Trophy winner, team captain. The only thing he lacks is a haircut befitting a Penguin. Hair aside, in the realm of raw, unbridled man studs, the only guy arguably more raw and studly than Sid is Matthew McConaughey, and that guy's two steps from complete insanity.

Crosby is an asset the Penguins had to lock down---even if the salary cap takes a dive in the next few years and it eventually drives them bankrupt. At least Sid The Almost Middle Aged Old Fart will still be around, probably still scoring 150 points a season.


July 9, 2007

NHL Merch Sales Way Up, Interest In Sport Obviously Down

It has been common consensus for some time that the NHL is on life support. Games can only be found on a lousy, hard-to-find, b-list cable network, the ratings suck anyway, ESPN doesn't cover hockey because the sport is lame (rather than their lack of a vested interest in its promotion), and attendance at most arenas is down. All in all, the National Hockey League sucks and nobody in the United States cares about it.

Maybe nobody watched or attended the actual games last season because they were spending all of their time buying crap tons of NHL merchandise online. The league reports that their online merchandise sales have increased for ten straight seasons, and this past year was the best ever---47% more sales than the year previous. The two individual teams with the biggest gains in merch sales: the Sabres and the Ducks. The most popular individual player jersey: some young stud named Sidney Crosby. I've never heard of him either.

So nobody cares about the NHL but licensed merchandise sales have increased dramatically. Maybe it's just the strong Canadian dollar, but last time I checked, the Sabres, Ducks and Crosby's Penguins were American teams. The Senators enjoyed strong sales after their impressive playoff showing, but nobody spent money like people in New York, California and Pennsylvania, not to mention the fans of 24 other NHL teams, most of which are US-based. Only three teams suffered losses over the course of the season, and while I have no doubt a couple of them were American teams (Coyotes and Thrashers, anyone?), at least one HAD to have been Canadian.

Seriously, who in their right mind would buy an Oilers jersey?


Red Wings Sign Old Fart Dallas Drake To One-Year Deal

Dallas Drake, the gritty, extremely old right wing enforcer (and former captain) of the St. Louis Blues has signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings, of all teams. I guess this puts to rest any talk that he might (or should) become a member of the Avalanche. Turns out he went the completely opposite direction after all.

Looks like we'll be seeing much more of this over the course of the coming season.


July 8, 2007

That's Not Really Saying Much

Very little to post about today, but I thought I'd comment on this headline:

"Turris Impresses At Coyotes Camp"

All Kyle Turris really needs to impress the Coyotes is a steady pulse and a birthday after 1965.

. . .

The Avalanche still have a decent amount of money but have not made a move toward any remaining free agents, and they're clearly not going to re-sign Mark Rycroft, Ossi Vaananen or Patrice Brisebois, all of whom remain on the unrestricted free agent market. There's also still no confirmation of former-Hab Sheldon Souray's future home. Word on the street suggests he'll go to Jersey. I feel sorry for him if those rumors turn out to be true.


Eight Things You Couldn't Care Less About

I have to be totally honest with you, I hate blog memes. Can't stand them.

I don't hate Teebz over at Hockey Blog In Canada, however, and since he's a friend of DLS and a fellow follower of athletics aesthetics, I will always give him the benefit of the doubt, to a fault. Unfortunately, he has "tagged" me to participate in one such insidious blog meme. Because he is not a terrible person, I have no choice but to play along---though with regret and against my better judgment.

So, first of all, the rules of this horrible meme, courtesy of Teebz:

1. All right, here are the rules.
2. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
3. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
4. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
5. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Click below for my eight random personal facts and/or habits.

1. I would never buy an authentic NHL jersey to wear because I am not an authentic NHL player. Besides, they're expensive. The only authentic jerseys I would ever buy would have to have been game-worn, because then they'd truly be authentic. But those are even more expensive, so I don't buy those either. I only own two jerseys, both replicas, and both were on sale. That's how I roll.

2. I would never wear an NHL jersey with a player's name on it. I don't believe any grown man should ever wear another grown man's name on his back. Be your own person. If I could afford actual game-worn jerseys with players' names on the back, I would frame them, not wear them. Anyway, players come and go from teams so often these days---how many Avs fans now wish they had "Smyth" on the back of their jersey instead of "Skoula"?

3. I am aware that other people have perfectly valid opinions different than my own.

4. I have taken two different long-term girlfriends to NHL games (at different times, of course). They both seemed bored and one of them eventually broke up with me. The other is still around, but I'm sure she's mad at me for something. Probably the hockey game I made her go to.

5. I obviously love hockey, but I think baseball is the greatest, most perfect sport ever invented. It is beautifully complex and yet sublime. I never pass up the opportunity to see a baseball game for free and make it a point to see at least one MLB game a year---not bad considering I don't live in a city with an MLB team.

6. I don't have a favorite baseball team, though I do follow (and sympathize with) the Cubs because my best friend is a rabid fan of that historically bad Chicago team.

7. As far as media coverage of sports goes, I think most newspaper and TV reporters are completely full of sh-t and take themselves far too seriously. I also think that most bloggers are even worse.

8. Finally, I hereby resolve to never again participate in a blog meme. Ever. I will not "tag" anyone else in the hope that this meme will die here, with me. I still love Teebz, though. No hard feelings.

You know, when I think about it, I'm not sure which is worse---people who willingly engage in the propagation of blog memes or those who self-righteously complain about it and then do it anyway. Probably the latter is worse. I suck.


July 7, 2007

"World Leader In Sports" Invokes Many, Many Other Four Letter Words Than "ESPN"

ESPN is no doubt the World Leader when it comes to sports. We know this because absolutely nothing even remotely considered a sport is left uncovered by the tireless sports journalists at the network. But it's not just the reporters, anchors and talking head opinionists (™ 2007, DLS) that should receive commendation. The program directors are true heroes as well.

Because, without them, we would all miss the 2007 Bud Light USA Rock Paper Scissors League National Championship in Las Vegas, which aired Saturday night on ESPN2. That's right, rock-paper-scissors. Finally, ESPN has the courage to air a true athletic event which only the A&E network had had the balls to do in the past.

Why waste time on a sport like ice hockey, which involves keen hand-eye coordination, well-developed leg strength and balance, a high level of aerobic endurance and a strong, physical body type? After all, hockey doesn't translate well to TV and just gets so boring. Not like golf or tennis, or NASCAR, or poker, or rock-paper-scissors. Those sports are exciting!

Clearly, ESPN has only our best interest as sports fans in mind. By airing the rock-paper-scissors tournament, complete with blatant alcohol sponsorship and transparently snarky announcers, we have all gained a better appreciation for the most difficult of human athletic endeavors---pumping your outstretched hand repeatedly toward some guy almost as drunk as you. Forget baseball, these fine rock-paper-scissors athletes are the true "boys of summer."

If only there was someone we could thank personally for this great spectacle. Maybe Ilan Ben-Hanan, the director of programming and acquisitions at ESPN, could be that person since he was directly responsible for the coverage. Just drop a note to his email address, Ilan.ben-hanan@espn.com, and thank him personally for his hard work bringing only the greatest of sports to his network's viewers. I did.

UDPATE: Apparently, Mr. Ben-Hanan is on vacation. After sending him an email, I received an auto reply from his account stating he would be out of the office until July 16th. Despite the delay, I hope there will be many more happy, supportive notes from fellow hockey fans to greet him when he returns to work.


Sabres To Oilers: "Bring It"

The Sabres are getting low on talent. They lost Chris Drury and Daniel Briere to the free agent market, and up-and-coming talent Thomas Vanek is a restricted free agent with a big-spending suitor. Edmonton made a ridiculous 7-year, $50 million offer for Vanek, which included four first round draft picks to Buffalo because of Vanek's status as restricted.

As already discussed, the Sabres stupidly matched the offer, and will likely retain Vanek's services. But Sabres' management is not happy about the ordeal, not one bit. Says managing partner Larry Quinn, while stomping his feet and pouting:

"As it comes to the Edmonton Oilers, if there is an opportunity for us to put an offer sheet on a player at any time--as long as we're alive -- we'll be very comfortable in doing that. And they can expect it, if it's in our best interest."

Take that, you meanie heads.

Quinn and the Sabres have apparently taken great offense to Edmonton's completely legal and permitted offer to Vanek, and are probably a little put-out that they now have to pay a relatively unproven young player a crap ton of money for a very long time. But if they really wanted to hit the Oilers below the belt, they would have let Vanek go.

Huh? It's simple: the Sabres are now far less deep in talent than they were last season, and will likely suffer for a couple of years as the seventh or eighth best team in the East. Instead, they could have let Vanek go, gone into a rebuilding period immediately and enjoyed EIGHT first round picks over the next four seasons. There's no better way to rebuild a franchise than to draft high and often. Considering that half those draft picks would be coming from Edmonton, who would have Vanek as their only true star player, those picks would likely be in the top ten each year.

Edmonton would be the loser by far if they sign Vanek to a bloated, way-too-long contract with the additional loss of four draft picks. They'd take a large chunk out of their salary cap, have no young prospects out of what are predicted to be several consecutive strong draft classes in the coming years, and would probably just trade him away for nothing in the end anyway---just like they did with Ryan Smyth.

Instead of whining and crying about it, the Sabres should just let Vanek go and be confident in the fact that a few seasons from now, they'll be far stronger and more talented than the pathetic Oilers and their genius GM Kevin Lowe.


July 6, 2007

Thomas Vanek Is One Hot Piece Of Hockey Tail

Thomas Vanek must be great in bed. Or at least, he must be great in the locker room, since Edmonton and Buffalo just got done fighting over him. Buffalo will re-sign the up-and-coming-but-still-kind-of-unproven young Vanek, but not without oodles of controversy.

Apparently, Kevin Lowe, universally-admired GM of the Oilers, temporarily went totally f-cking bat sh-t crazy and decided to make a 7-year, $50 million offer to Vanek, which included FOUR first round draft picks to Buffalo because he is still a restricted free agent. Four first round picks. FOUR. And a 7-year deal. For $50 million.

Not to be outdone in the genius department, Buffalo GM Darcy Regier then matched the offer, which Vanek, likely realizing the impossibility that anything this balls-out amazing will ever happen to him again, is sure to sign. His pay last year was $942 thousand. This coming season he will make $5 million, and that's just the beginning. The breakdown of his income over the length of the contract, in millions of dollars, will be: 5, 5, 6.4, 6.4, 6.4, 6.4, 6.4. That's right. No matter how good he becomes---or how bad he gets---Vanek is guaranteed to make over $6 million for five straight seasons, starting in 2009-10. Bear in mind that he's only had one good season in his limited NHL career. He could still totally choke.

Obviously, so-called "small market" teams like Edmonton and Buffalo are not exactly short on cash to throw around, just short on brains.


July 5, 2007

Ryan Smyth Is Very Rich

Or, if he's not already, he really will be when he starts cashing checks from the Avalanche.

Adrian Dater at the Post was generous enough to share the full details of Smyth's new contract with the Avalanche:

This season, Smyth will make a base salary of $5 million, and he received a additional $2.5 million signing bonus. His salary for the following four years will be $7.25 million, $6.5 million, $5.5 million and $4.5 million. His averaged cap number salary for the full term is $6.25 million.

So this season, including the signing bonus, he'll get paid $7.5 million, followed by a whopping $7.25 million next year, which, barring any huge free agent signings next July 1st or another 100+ point season from Joe Sakic, will almost guarantee that Smyth will become the Avs' highest paid player.

Not too shabby for a guy who hasn't scored more than 70 points a season. I wonder if he's in the market for a personal assistant...


Domo Arigato Mr. Svatos

After receiving a qualifying offer early this week from the Avalanche, restricted free agent winger Marek Svatos decided against arbitration and re-signed with the team today.

Svatos, you may recall, made a big splash in 2005-06, his rookie season, when he scored 32 goals in just over 60 games. This past season, however, he never quite found his place on the team and sucked something awful. A frequent healthy scratch, he finished with 15 goals and 30 total points. To say his sophomore performance was slumptastic doesn't begin to cover it.

But Svatos isn't a lost cause. He's obviously got offensive potential, it's just that he has to be paired with the perfect linemates in order to shine. He's not physical, he's not good defensively, and when he doesn't have the puck he generally looks lost on the ice. But when he does get the puck he can work magic.

The Avalanche now has three full-time right wingers---Milan Hejduk, Ian Laperriere and Svatos---and will likely either fill the remaining spot with a standout rookie from training camp (TJ Hensick Jaroslav Hlinka, perhaps?) or will soon make a move for a veteran grinder (Dallas Drake, maybe?). At any rate, barring any huge surprises from training camp, the Avalanche roster has just about been filled out.

Hopefully Svatos can regain his past goal-scoring touch and stop sucking, or the Avs will have to find somebody to take his spot---again.


Avalanche Stuff Watch™

Another slow news day in the NHL, especially since the major free agent signings have come and gone. So, in order to avoid talking about the ongoing clusterf-ck in Nashville, I'll post another installment of the reader-favorite Avalanche Stuff Watch™!

Item #1 (a and b):

Chris Drury made big news this week by leaving Buffalo and the Sabres' co-captaincy behind for the urban caverns of New York City. He might now be playing with the Rangers, but you can still get your hands on authentic, game-worn Drury jerseys from his time with the Avalanche! And even better, you have more than one to choose from. Prefer his #37 assignment from the 2000-01 Cup year? Or maybe you like his #18 jersey a little better. Or maybe, just maybe, you have $2750 just lying around and can afford both. What's holding you back?

Item #2:

Nothing says "classy guy" like pleather apparel. Women melt at the sight of it. If you want to seriously upgrade your wardrobe, look no further than this Colorado Avalanche faux-leather men's jacket. And with a buy it now price of just $99, it's impossible to believe it's still on the market!

Item #3:

It took them a while, but finally Fathead.com has started producing hockey-related wall-hangings to match their huge inventory of enormous steroid-pumped football players. Number one on any Avalanche fan's list: a giant Joe Sakic. Sure, putting enormous pictures of grown men on your walls seems a little strange to your wife, but at $99, it's too good to pass up.

Item #4:

Hockey pucks make great collector's items. Hockey pucks with cool logos and photos on them are even better. If you're a puck fan like me, you'll definitely have trouble passing up this amazing find, now listed on eBay. That's right, it's a Colorado Avalanche puck complete with a lithograph of Peter Forsberg. Not only that, but it's arguably the worst picture of Foppa EVER! Only $4 if you act now. Hard to believe someone is actually trying to get rid of it, so take advantage of this great opportunity!


July 3, 2007

Ryan Smyth Is Not Hockey Jesus

Though he shares a striking resemblance in the hair department (blessed be thy mullet), Ryan Smyth is not the second coming of Christ on ice. In fact, he's not even a superstar in the traditional vein of superstar hockey players. He's no Dany Heatley. He's no Alexander Ovechkin. He's not even Daniel Sedin.

But you wouldn't know that if you just read Colorado Avalanche fan message boards for info. Or looked at Smyth's contract---which involves him being paid more than $6 million a year for a very long time.

Ryan Smyth is a down-low, in-the-slot grinder who specializes in tip-in shots and goalie screens. He's gritty and offensively gifted, and has great "hockey sense", but he's not a winger in the style of Teemu Selanne, the speedy, nimble sharpshooter who can score from anywhere on the ice. For an Avalanche example of that type of winger, Milan Hejduk (in his prime) comes immediately to mind.

Ryan Smyth is not that kind of guy. In fact, he's not all that statistically impressive in general:

He's never scored more than 70 points in a season, and in his 11-year career, he's only scored more than 30 goals four times. If he's worth $6 million just based on statistics alone, it's not hard to imagine somebody like Sidney Crosby earning $15 million when his contract with the Penguins eventually comes up for renegotiation. Maybe that's okay in baseball, but it can't work in the NHL.

Now, don't get me wrong, I like Ryan Smyth and think he'll make an excellent addition to the Avalanche roster, especially on a line with Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk. Each player brings a different, complimentary style of play to the ice, and combined they could do a lot of damage (in theory, of course). But Smyth is not the best player in the NHL. He's a great leader, a gritty winger, and generally a good person to have in a locker room. Just don't get any ideas that he'll be vying for the Art Ross Trophy at the end of next season, or that the Avalanche will instantly become a Cup contender the second he steps on the ice.

His mullet, however, is unparalleled.


July 2, 2007

Joe Sakic's Secret Weapon: Hot Phone Sex

original photo courtesy of Flickr user Elan Photography

Who says Joe Sakic is a silent leader? It seems "Quoteless Joe" did plenty of talking to Ryan Smyth, since the newly-signed Avalanche winger says a phone call from the Colorado captain played a major role in his decision to leave the Islanders for Denver.

Says Smyth of the call,

"It was like the icing on the cake ... Joe as everybody knows is a world-class player, he's a future Hockey Hall of Famer. The guy handles himself with a great deal of class. There's no question he was an influence on it.''

Captain Joe doesn't have to say a lot. He's the strong, silent type. But when he does, his fellow players just melt like warm butter in his hands. Like soft, silky butter, flowing like sweet honey through his strong, manly hands...

I'll be taking a cold shower if anybody needs me.


Bertuzzi Returns Home To Daddy Burke

You just can't keep them apart. They were born for each other.

Brian Burke, GM of the Anaheim Water Fowl, has made the move to bring Todd Bertuzzi back into his nest, reuniting them for the first time since their tenure in Vancouver, two seasons ago. Sure, that period of time was punctuated by one of the most despicable acts ever perpetrated during an NHL game EVER, but what's ruining a guy's career between friends?

Anyway, no details yet, except that it is supposedly a 2-year contract. How wonderful.


Avalanche Clinches Deal With Ryan Smyth, Mullet-Lovers Everywhere

Gritty winger Ryan Smyth, he of the flowing mane and illustrious nickname “Captain Canada” (complete with Canadian Tuxedo?), will sign a 5-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche at an average of $6 million a year. The high-scoring former Oiler/Islander will fit in well with the Avalanche offensive system and should provide a much-needed presence deep in the slot, receiving dead-on passes from either Paul Stastny or Joe Sakic as a member of either the top or second line. Or both. Or maybe Smyth will just levitate above the ice like Hockey Jesus and toss pucks into opposing goals using only his mind. Judging from the overwhelmingly positive response among Avalanche fans, you’d think he could do that.

Smyth reportedly received competitive offers from 10 teams, including the Islanders, who acquired him last season from the Oilers at the trade deadline. The Avalanche apparently made the most appealing pitch, however. The Islanders now have nothing to show for their initial deal, which cost them two future prospects and a high draft pick. They also lost Jason Blake (40 goals) and a couple of other decent players which means their playoff days are likely done for a while.

There is no doubt that Ryan Smyth will have a positive impact on the Avs this coming season. If he doesn’t, he can join Jose Theodore on the bench, where overpaid underachievers get to hang out during Avalanche games. Theodore, whose deadline for being bought out passed yesterday, will be resuming his role as the highest-paid backup goaltender in the NHL this coming season.


Blues Likes ‘em Short, Oilers Caps Likes ‘em Swedish

TSN reports that the speedy but smallish Paul Kariya has left the collapsing wasteland of Nashville for the already-collapsed wasteland of St. Louis, signing a three-year deal with the Blues. Kariya’s not the superstar he used to be, but he’s still quick and still productive. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Michael Nylander, a high-scoring center with the Rangers last season, has decided to try out the icy tundra of western Canada, signing an undisclosed deal with the Edmonton Oilers. The Rangers won’t miss him much, considering they signed centers Scott Gomez and Chris Drury on the first day of free agency signings.

UPDATE: Initial reports were false. Nylander has signed a 4-year contract with the Capitals, filling the huge gap at center that team has suffered for some time.


July 1, 2007

"Big D" Scott Hannan Added To Avalanche Blue Line

The Avalanche landed the big d-man they were after by signing Scott Hannan to what TSN reports to be a 4-year, $18 million deal. Hannan, a 6-1, 225-pound heavy hitter will add much needed size and grit to the once-soft Colorado defensive pool.

While the contract, at over $4 million a year, seems a little bloated to me, it's still relatively cap-friendly and leaves the Avs with plenty of money to clinch the deal with Ryan Smyth.

No new details on that, however.


Center-Happy Rangers Sign Drury, Steal Avs' Favorite Ex-Girlfriend

TSN just posted news that the Rangers have also signed Chris Drury (in addition to Gomez) for five years and $35 million. That's some depth at center, no doubt. Looks like the Hockey Stud won't be returning home to Colorado ever again.

This is much worse news for the Sabres, though, since they lost both Briere and Drury to Eastern Conference rivals they will have to play four times each.

Such is life.


Gomez Disses Jersey For NYC, Ryan Smyth In Talks With Avs

ESPN just reported that Scott Gomez has agreed to a 7-year deal with the Rangers, one of the main rivals of the only team he's ever played for: the Devils. No money details yet.

Also, the Fourth Period has reported twice that Ryan Smyth is ironing out a deal with the Avalanche, which would be a major move on Colorado's part, adding offensive depth to an already potent team. No confirmation as of yet, though.


Briere To Flyers, Rafalski To Wings, Jesus Himself Still Considering Options

At least, it seems like everybody---even Baby Jesus---is in the free agent running today. The signing orgy continues, with Daniel Briere agreeing to a whopper 8-year deal including a "no move" clause with the Flyers (for $52 million). To fill the hole left by Mathieu Schneider, the Dead Wings have signed Brian Rafalski, a Michigan native. Too bad, I kind of liked him.

There was some talk about Yanic Perreault being pursued by the Avs to improve their face off percentages, but that didn't pan out because he just signed with the Blackhawks.

Oh, and speaking of 'Hawks, former Avalanche forward Brett McLean (who started his career with Chicago) has signed with the Florida Panthers along with Richard Zednick.

No word yet on Ryan Smyth, Scott Gomez or Chris Drury, the three big boys yet to go.

UPDATE: Smyth is rumored to be on the cusp of a multi-year deal with the Avalanche.


Dead Wings Lose Schneider To Water Fowl

First big free agent to go:

Mathieu Schneider, an aging but still-capable blueliner with the Red Wings last season, has signed a two-year deal with the Ducks for $5.5 million and $5.75 million. Always good to see the Dead Wings lose a talented player.

Could this be a sign that Scott Niedermayer is indeed retiring?


Post Archive

Topic Guide

template by free-web-template.blogspot.com