Around the NHL
Anyway, I'll call it whatever they want as long as it gets me a day off in August. And Alberta says Ontario sucks. Psssh.
I realized I've talked mostly about the Sens for the last little while, basically ignoring the happenings going on in the rest of the NHL. So on this lazy Monday I'm catching up. Where to start?
- A lot of people are hoping the Bruins will set an important precedent by walking away from what they considered to be a ridiculous award given by an arbitrator to David Tanabe. I would like to think that's the case, however, it's the Bruins. They do wacky stuff all the time and are the only team that has a history of doing this previously. As for the award, $1.25 mil is probably too much for Tanabe on that D, where he'll be a fourth d-man (the Bruins also have two very good young rearguards in Andrew Alberts & Milan Jurcina who are quite ready to step up, I believe), but if you're a team in need of a solid defenceman, that price, or around it, isn't bad. And if no team bites on Tanabe, he apparently has what it takes for another industry.
- I commented on it over at Bflo Blog, but it's worth saying here: I give Mike Noronen a lot of credit for deciding to ply his trades in Russia this coming season rather than riding the pine as Roberto Luongo's back-up for the Canucks. About a month ago, after Luongo was traded for, a frustrated Noronen expressed disappointment, noting that this probably means he won't see much playing time (a safe assumption). At the time, I remember thinking that it was time Noronen came to the realization the rest of the NHL seemingly had and recognize that he's seen as a back-up goalie. Unfair as that might be considering the lack of opportunity he was given in Vancouver after being traded, it's the reality.
But he manned up and has decided he'd rather play and hone his craft in Russia instead of serving as the second string 'tender for, I assume, more money in Vancouver. That kind of decision took balls.
- On a related note, the TSN article that broke the Noronen news noted he's a year away from UFA status, which apparently played a part in his decision. Someone with a superior knowledge of the new CBA, answer me this: do seasons played in leagues outside the NHL count towards a players years for UFA status? I assumed not but maybe I'm wrong.
- Pavel Vorobiev says the NHL and specifically the Blackhawks are biased against Russians. Americans don't like Russians. Imagine that. If I were to think of teams that had those kind of prejudices against Russians, the Hawks wouldn't be one of the ones I'd think of. Of course, stupid claims about the Sens having a bias against French Canadians have been presented by people of similar intellect before, so such allegations are not new in the hockey world.
- The trade that saw Kyle Calder swapped for Michael Handszus is cool because it's something you never see anymore in this salary cap age: an actual hockey trade. While I'm sure Calder's arbitration award played a part in the Hawks shopping him, the reality is, it's a deal that benefits both clubs and addresses a need they each have. Calder brings a talented, top-six forward to a winger short Flyers line-up. Handszus is a big body who can play both ends of the ice and never takes a shift off, which the Hawks have lacked for as long as I can remember.
- Speaking of the Flyers, what the fuck is taking Bob Clarke so long in signing Simon Gagne? Gagne apparently wants $5 mil, and based on the salaries given out this summer, I'd say he's worth it. I've seen some Flyers fans talk down Gagne by arguing that his stats aren't an accurate reflection of his value as a player because he played with Peter Forsberg, who could probably make me look like Rocket Richard, for most of the season. Obviously it helped Gagne to play with one of the best players in the world, but I also think Forsberg benefitted from having a red hot sniper bury all those chances. Gagne has grown into one of the most offensively dangerous players in the NHL and the Flyers would be foolish not to lock him up long term. But hey, it's Bobby Clarke. He's sort of nuts sometimes.
- I'd love to congratulate Paul Kukla on getting the blogging gig over at NHL.com, but I haven't gotten over my jealousy yet. All I get are offers to moderate the Sens section of some tools message board, continually.
- I have no idea what the truth is this Rick Tocchet gambling story, but I'm working under two assumptions:
1) Many many more people knew about this than are letting on
2) Someone, whether it be a player or not, gambled on hockey in this ring.
Those may seem like unfair assumptions, but nonetheless, I have them. When this story broke, the word was Coyotes GM Michael Barnett knew and placed bets with Tocchet. Has this been revealed as false? Why is it never mentioned? And if it's true, you want me to believe Barnett and Janet Gretzky knew and were involved, but Wayne Gretzky wasn't? His best friend/business partner and wife knew but he didn't? C'mon.
Perhaps I'm jumping to conclusions though, because, after all, the word of a dirty cop should be very tainted as far as the truth. And one who turns over on other people so easily. Pretty despicable if you ask me.
And is anyone else bothered by the eagerness of the authorities and the D.A. to speak to the media about this? It sorta kinda really reeks of a publicity attempt and their 15 minutes of fame. The day they announced a deal with the dirty cop they were all over the press talking to anyone who would liten about the case. Very tacky.
- The best player still without a contract for this coming season: Mike Leclerc, assuming he can stay healthy.
- Who will be the next team to take a shot at Alexandre Daigle? It looked like he found a home in Minnesota under Jacques Lemaire, but his star burnt out quickly last season there and he finished the year in the AHL. His old habits of not trying very hard emerged and he was sent packing.