Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

When I Was Young...

When I was young, my favorite player was Kelly Hrudey. He had everything a kid could want: he played the same position I did, he had a cool helmet, he wore a bandana that made him look like a pirate, and he had a name that was mine but switched around. (Funny how that works…) He was not the greatest goalie that ever played, but he was good enough and he was a hero to me.


I always wanted him to wear a helmet with a bandana painted on it.


When he left the Kings in 1996 and signed with the Sharks, I was devastated. How could the Kings not want Kelly Hrudey anymore? I mean, seriously, he looked like a pirate. To make matters worse, I went to Hrudey’s first game back against the Kings and had to suffer through the vile insults of angry Kings fans towards my hero. It seemed insane to me that fans could jeer and boo a guy who had led them to the Stanley Cup Finals and, again, looked like a pirate. The Sharks won (7-6, which probably explained why the Kings had let him go), but that was little consolation for a young man. From that time on, I swore that I’d never have a favorite player again.


Through the years, I’d have players that I enjoyed watching (Ziggy Palffy) and players that I rooted for (Steven Reinprecht), but I never had a player that I cheered for specifically. That all changed, however, during the first game of the 2005-06 season. The Kings were playing the Phoenix Coyotes on October 6th, the first home game of the year. They led 3-2 in the closing moments of the third period, but then disaster struck. Pavol Demitra was given a two-minute penalty for tripping and then Tim Gleason received a penalty for cross-checking. This put the Kings down 5-on-3, and then 6-on-3 when Phoenix pulled their goalie. The situation seemed hopeless, but the Kings center managed to win the face-off to himself and then draw a penalty, effectively saving the Kings. That center was Craig Conroy.

You not only stole that puck; you stole my heart.

I tried not to fall for Craig Conroy, but I was soon smitten. He had everything I looked for in a player; solid play-making ability, defensive responsibility, and a smile that rivals the Sun. He played in every situation with the grit and talent that every player should desire. Even more importantly, he seemed like a great guy to have a beer with, a guy that would reach out to young guys and show them the ropes. That whole season Conroy grew and grew on me, until I finally began to think of him in the same way I thought of Kelly Hrudey. Conroy ended up with 66 points in 78 games and our future together looked bright.



Unfortunately, nothing went right for Conroy after that season. His linemate Pavol Demitra got traded and the loss of Alyn McCauley meant that Conroy had to take on the task of shutting down the opposition. He devoted himself to this 3rd-line role with the same resolve that he did to everything, but the results just weren’t there. Kings fans began to turn on him the same way that they had turned on Hrudey, and I was forced to face the loss of my favorite player once again. Things turned out well with Conroy; he was reunited with Calgary, his former team, and showed the flashes of what had made me like him in the first place.



I know it’s dumb for a grown man to bemoan the loss of a hockey player that he’s never met and I often mock those who devote themselves wholly to one player. After Craig left, I decided that it was much more important to advocate what was the best for the team and look to the players as interchangeable parts. It is the most logical thing to do, but at the same time I feel that I don't get as emotionally invested as I used to. There’s something to be said for having a favorite player, and it's sad that I'll most likely never experience that again. I may understand more about hockey and appreciate its intricacies more than when I was a young man, but there are times I wish I could still feel the way I did about Kelly Hrudey and Craig Conroy.

Sleek's Poetry Corner, Part 3

(Previous Poetry Corners: Francois Beauchemin, Samuel Pahlsson)

Well, seeing as we still have a day or two until this Penner offer sheet gets resolved, my imaginary therapist figured it's probably best for me to deal with this offer sheet situation through some relaxing poetry, something I haven't really broken out since November last year. I'm a bit rusty, but hopefully still relevant:

Ode to Dustin Penner

D id you hear the story of mad Kevin Lowe?
U nable to sign anyone—he’s got money to blow.
S o far this offseason he’s felt quite maligned,
T urns out that Nylander hadn’t quite signed,
I tching for players, Lowe then tried for Vanek,
N ow that he’s failed, though, he’s starting to panic.

P erhaps, though, this offer sheet will go through,
E specially by overpaying a million or two,
N ever mind that Penner’s had Lupul-ish stats,
N or that his career doesn’t have many at-bats.
E dmonton with Penner will be somewhat stronger,
R egrettably, though: he’ll never be as worthwhile as Pronger.
As a Ducks fan, it is sort of strange to know how to feel about the Oilers: on the one hand, they do represent the last team to knock the Ducks out of the playoffs; on the other, they certainly lost out in the Pronger "deal", and now they are offering three draft picks for the right to increase Penner's salary tenfold? I really don't know whether to hate them, pity them, or just flat out thank them.
Waa! Gimme back your semi-star!

This of course is a pictoral tribute to my previous Pronger post:
"Waa! Gimme back my superstar!"

Saturday, July 28, 2007

San Jose Grand Prix 2007



Checking in from the 2007 San Jose Grand Prix. No Patrick Marleau sitings yet, but I have a feeling I will not be able to get too close for his "start your engines" call tomorrow. The race is on ESPN2 at 3PM tomorrow.

In the picture: 2007 Miss NPC Fitness San Jose, 2007 Miss San Jose Grand Prix second runner-up Areli Ahrens, winner Marivel Salgado and first runner-up Sarah Guerrero, and 2006 Miss San Jose Grand Prix Jennifer Field. In the background is one of the FMX Freestyle MotoCross riders doing a backflip.

The flash fired just before this photo, otherwise it would have been perfect. Better pics of qualifying and the Miss SJGP will be up on my blog tonight.



Sharks captain Patrick Marleau chats with radio announcer Dan Rusanowsky moments after his "Drivers start your engines" call to kick off the 2007 San Jose Grand Prix.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A few more thoughts on Dustin Penner

I went home last night to think through this Penner offer sheet a bit more, but I don't think my conclusion has changed. Here are some stats I've gathered that indicate that Penner should not be Anaheim's highest paid forward next year:

  • Of all the Ducks that played more than 15 games this year (regular season + playoffs), Penner had the worst even-strength goals-against average on the team, and he wasn't even facing the opposition's best scorers.

  • On the power play, Penner was 7th on the team in minutes and 9th on the team in scoring. His PP points-per-hour were the lowest for any forward not on the Pahlsson line.

  • In his NHL career (reg. season + playoffs), Penner has scored a total of 69 points over 135 games. Five other Ducks surpassed that points total last year alone.

  • Despite the Ducks' success in the playoffs, it is interesting to note that Dustin Penner was shut out completely for the month of May (10 games).
All that said, I don't predict Burke very well and I don't think I'd crucify him if he decided to match. It certainly would stretch the budget thin, but despite his flaws, Penner finished second on the team in regular-season goals as a rookie, and certainly should improve his game in the coming years, especially if Bertuzzi can effectively tutor him. Next summer, re-signing Getzlaf and Perry will be a pain regardless of where Penner plays this year, but Burke has shown an ability to ditch salary capably when he's needed to.

If Burke does match, then Penner and Bertuzzi would represent the team's top two salaried forwards, which is strange since neither is naturally assured a top-line spot. I'd probably have to use this nonsense price-per-pound metric to make sense of the salary structure:

Player

Avg. SalaryWeight*Price per pound

Todd Bertuzzi

$4,000,000

242 lbs.

$16,529

Dustin Penner

$4,250,000

243 lbs.

$17,490

Andy McDonald

$3,333,333

185 lbs.

$18,018

Chris Pronger

$6,250,000

220 lbs.

$28,409

Mathieu Schneider

$5,625,000

191 lbs.

$29,450

J.S. Giguere

$6,000,000

200 lbs.

$30,000

Scott Niedermayer

$6,750,000

200 lbs.

$33,750

* Player weights taken from NHL.com

So I dunno, my take is still that Burke should take the picks and let the Oilers pay Penner, but I don't feel as strongly about it as I did yesterday. All offseason, I have been excited to see the first instance where Pronger throws a snapshot through a Penner-and-Bertuzzi 485-pound double-screen, so maybe that's clouding my judgment some.

In any event, I still should poke some fun at the L.A. Times online edition, who added a silly picture-question to their Penner story:

Uh, nice proofreading, guys, but I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that Francois Beauchemin stays...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Lupul Part 2? Lowe tries to give another young Duck a big raise

I really don't have time for a well-thought-out post here (stupid day job!) just yet--when I get some time later I'll add more to this post, but apparently the Nylanderless, Vanekless Oilers GM Kevin Lowe has offered RFA Dustin Penner a 5 year, $21.25M offer sheet. The Ducks will have the opportunity to match this, or let him go to Edmonton in exchange for a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round pick in 2008 (not to mention some salary cap cushion).

At first blush, I am tempted to agree with MetroGnome here:

"Were I Brian Burke, I'd take the draft picks and run. Penner is a nice player, but I'm not sure he's worth the money the Oilers are offering. not to mention those are going to be some decently placed picks in a strong draft year."
Penner of course was an awesome value last year, potting 29 regular season goals and 3 playoff goals all for the meager league-minimum price of $450,000. That said, he wasn't necessarily the strongest performer: over the course of the regular season and playoffs, he was on the ice for 48 even-strength goals-for and 44 even-strength goals-against. Compare that to Sleek-mancrush Sammy Pahlsson, who was playing immensely-more-difficult minutes, and was on the ice for 52 even-strength goals-for and 47 even-strength goals-against.

I dunno--this kind of reminds me of Joffrey Lupul: Brian Burke gets easy-minute production from an underpaid player, then allows Kevin Lowe to turn an underpaid Duck into an overpaid Oiler?

More to come later, but your reactions are certainly welcome in the comments. Also check out Mike Chen's take on his blog, the ever-ready James Mirtle, and always save time for Oiler blogs: Lowetide, Covered in Oil, Irreverent Oiler Fans, BDHS, and mc79hockey have posted reactions, and more will be coming I'm sure.

Talkin' to Myself

I used to get very upset whenever someone brought up Mike Cammalleri. I was constantly told that he was too small, or too slow, or too black to make the NHL. (That last one, well, I’m not sure what that guy was talking about.) The conventional wisdom against Cammalleri was that he would never become a good hockey player, but I kept looking at his stats through the years and seeing the progression of a player who would one day become a very good player in the NHL. I was confused; why was Dustin Brown getting a free pass as he struggled to adjust to the NHL style of play while Cammalleri was constantly being maligned any time he had a hiccup?


Cha-ching!


I was proud last year when Cammalleri had his break-out season and I’m sure it felt good for him to finally prove his critics wrong. But now there’s a new problem: Cammy has gone from being woefully underrated to being slightly overrated, mostly by himself and his agent. Is Cammalleri our best offensive player? Yes. Will he be our best offensive player in two years, and then farther down the line? Probably not. By then, either Frolov will have finally gotten his shit together or Kopitar will have continued being awesome, and Cammy will no longer be our go-to guy. There's a big difference between being an elite player and being the best player on a bad team, and I'm not sure if Cammalleri knows that.



Apparently, Mike Modano can morph into a giant.


This leaves Dean Lombardi in a unique and unfortunate situation. Cammy wants to be paid like a franchise player, and he is our franchise player this upcoming season. However, the Kings aren’t going to win a Stanley Cup if our best offensive player is Cammy; they either need several very good players (who are all paid less than franchise money) or they need one player who is elite (like both Eric Staal and Teemu Selanne were for their teams). I don’t think Cammy is that player.

So where does that leave the Kings? It’s not a simple matter of paying the man. The Kings have a lot of young talent that are going to be due raises in the coming years. It isn’t a matter of paying Cammy $5 million; it’s paying Cammy $5 million at the expense of paying Jack Johnson or Dustin Brown that $5 million down the road.

Cammy’s arbitration hearing comes up August 2nd and it doesn’t look like the Kings and him are close to agreeing on a long-term deal before then. If he does go to arbitration, I think it’s likely that he’ll be awarded a salary somewhere in the $4.5-5 million range. (That’s more than Patrick Marleau makes.) If this happens, I think the Kings will sign Cammalleri for this upcoming season. If Cammy proves that he’s worth franchise money, then Lombardi should sign him to a long-term contract. If he proves to be a good offensive player that wants elite player money, then I think the Kings trade him to a team that desperately needs talent. (I'd mention Edmonton by name, but I think that'd be too cruel to send him there.) Neither situation is great, but that’s life in the NHL.

I don't know, that's what it seems like to me.I like Cammalleri, but I don’t know if I’d pay him big money if it means that I can’t pay Kopitar and Frolov in the future.



***


Canadians, you really need to learn how to get in trouble if you're a professional athlete. Steroids? Pretty good. Throwing games because you work for the mob? Excellent. Dog fighting? Ingenious! Getting arrested because you were yelling at cars on the road? Not that dangerous, and actually kind of embarrassing. Couldn't they at least killed a hooker or something? And where was Marc Staal?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

BoC stumbles across a new banner

Boy, sometimes this blogging gig is really too easy, I gotta say. First off, a heavy thanks to Steve at Battle of New York, who sent me an e-mail two weeks ago bragging about his new logo guy Dustin. Of course, being the graphics snob and techno-idiot that I am (how do you install a banner?), I ignored it.

Until today, when Dustin (whom I've never corresponded or collaborated with before) e-mails me with this already-completed logo/banner design:

Seeing as I never replied to Steve's e-mail, I was taken aback by this: a Devils fan, unsolicited, has decided to bestow upon this blog a kick-ass set of theme graphics? Will the wonders of the internet never cease?

Anyways, I spent a little bit of time today pushing components around the site, so feel free to critique the new look in the comments. And yeah, Sharks fans (and your aggressive googling). I know you guys just got yourselves a new logo that hasn't been incorporated [WEDNESDAY MORNING EDIT: Now it has! Thanks again, Dustin!]. But c'mon, it was free cheap! Well, so long as we promote our first-day-hired logo man, though:
In addition, I took a first sweep at managing our sidebar links; quite frankly, the list was pretty long and unhelpful. This organization is still in progress, but so far I separated out the links for the California teams (BoC supports them enthusiastically, of course), and I also created a list for BoC Inspirations, which really represents blogs I read and commented on before I was a blogger myself. More work to do with the blog links this summer, though.

Oh, and for those of you who fancy me a graphician, don't think the notion of a blog banner hadn't occurred to me before. Below is the prototype I had been working through the middle of last season, but ultimately procrastination ruled the day. These days, though, I'm feeling kind of lucky I didn't spend more time on this project; just for fun, can you count the number of players that would have needed to be replaced by now?
Anyways, thanks Steve, Dustin, and the wonder that is the internet! If anyone else wants to submit an unsolicited graphic this summer, so far I think we've shown a great willingness to publish!

Sleek’s crazy letter to Burke

To: Brian Burke, General Manager, Anaheim Ducks
c/o: Internet

Dear Mr. Burke,

I don’t know if you know me from a hole-in-the-wall, but I’m the jerkass who’s been blogging on the Ducks for the past year or so here at BoC. Congrats certainly on the cup win, and good luck this summer on dealing with Niedermayer & Selanne’s ceremonious non-retirements (please please please!) and the cap juggling that is certain to follow.

At any rate, I’ve had a crazy idea that I wanted to float past you—take it for what it’s worth. What’s crazy about it is that this idea is inspired by Charles Wang and his circus Islander show, back when they signed goalie Rick DiPietro to a 15-year deal ($4.5 M/yr) last summer. In listening to the ensuing debate about the insanity of that deal, some arguments were compelling about the (gasp!) salary cap merits of a 15-year deal, particularly those of my blog-hero Tom Benjamin:

“As long as Wang is prepared to spend more than what he is allowed to spend under this CBA - almost certainly the case - the Islanders are in good shape with this contract… If the worst happens, Charles Wang has the most expensive goalie in the AHL. His contract will always clear waivers. The Islanders will always be able to create cap space by demoting him. That's flexibility.”
I’m not completely sold on this—it still has the feel of a rich man’s gamble to it—but I think there is some merit to the idea, provided the commitment is to the right player. But what constitutes 'the right player'? As I wrote last year, I don’t think the right player should be a goaltender: it’s regularly the position with the most available free agent talent.

But what about Ryan Getzlaf?

Now Getzlaf is under contract next season for $623,200 (NHLSCAP.com), and will be a restricted free agent next summer (along with Corey Perry). They both will be due sizable raises at that point, but at least a top-end precedent has been set (S. Crosby, 5 yrs, $8.7 M/yr). Getzlaf's combination of size, skill, youth, and experience is pretty rare in this new-era NHL, and so far, there's nothing to suggest that he wouldn't be an ideal candidate for Anaheim's franchise player, no matter what sort of game the NHL evolves into.

Sure there are downsides—who knows how a longterm deal might affect his attitude, and historically the Ducks have not been a "rich" team that typically makes these types of risks, but if we look closer at when the gamble really takes place, maybe it becomes more stomachable. Really, the gamble is not so much in the first 10 years or so of the contract—all signs point to Getzlaf being a dominant enough player over that stage of his career. The downside probably comes at the latter end of the megacontract—will his skills diminish to the point where his salary needs to be hidden in the minors, and will the Ducks ten years from now be a team that can afford to do this? (Anyway, if it does turn out to be a mess, likely it will be someone else's job to work around the cap headache, not yours.)

The upsides, depending on the dollars, could be really beneficial. Remember, Getzlaf did lead this team in postseason scoring, and if he could be secured long-term for an under-market average salary, the franchise could have a strong salary cap advantage for a full decade or more. Also, in this era of player movement, a true franchise player-for-life is a real rarity, something that Anaheim fans could really embrace.

At any rate, Mr. Burke, by winning the cup you have earned yourself a lot of leeway as general manager—not many in your position probably have the freedom to do something this gutsy or maniacal. I have heard grumblings about the NHL possibly doing away with this sort of contract length (which further suggests that there are cap advantages), so the window of opportunity for this crazy scheme might be closing. Also, there's no guarantee that this sort of deal-structuring appeals to Getzlaf (or more importantly, his agent) at all.

Any way, this letter is getting way too long and self-linking, so I’ll just leave it up to you. There really is no ultimatum here, just some salary cap food-for-thought. I don’t want to get petty about the specific numbers, but if there are longterm cap advantages to be had, is Ryan Getzlaf the right player to take a career cap gamble on, or have I gone completely insane?

Commenters can confirm or deny my insanity below.

Crazily yours,

Earl Sleek

Bonus image: Old Man Getzlaf by Scarlett Ice's Sherry

Monday, July 23, 2007

Reminiscin': All-Star Shame

I have an unhealthy obsession with finding slights against the Kings and then railing against them. One such slight? The exclusion of Alexander Frolov in last year’s All-Star Game. Frolov was one of the better players in the Western Conference leading up to the All-Star break, tallying 45 points in 46 games. That put him 5th in the Western Conference in points and first among left wingers, yet he was passed over by Jonathan Cheechoo (who got in thanks to the powerful San Jose lobby), Ryan Smyth, Rick Nash, and handsome devil Henrik Zetterberg. It is my belief that Frolov deserved to be in the All-Star game over at least one (if not all) of these players.

Frolov: 21 G, 24 A, 45 P in 46 games (.98 point/game)

Cheechoo: 16 G, 18 A, 34 P in 42 games (.81 p/g)

Smyth: 23 G, 13 A, 36 P in 38 games (.95 p/g)

Nash: 13 G, 17 A, 30 P in 41 games (.73 p/g)

Zetterberg: 19 G, 21 A, 40 P in 49 games (.81 p/g)


A rudimentary analysis of the statistics at the All-Star break makes it obvious (at least to me) that Frolov deserved to be in the All-Star game. Ryan Smyth is the only player that came even close to matching Frolov’s production. At first I figured that they had to get a player on every team in the All-Star game, but then I was reminded that they did away with that rule about 4 years ago. Nash’s inclusion was particularly egregious. I mean, sure, he led the league in goals a couple of years ago, but that has nothing to do with this season. If I had been writing for this site when this happened, the whole thing might have caught on fire.




All-Star Game? More like All-Star shame! Wait, dammit...




Some might argue that maybe the NHL didn’t include Frolov because the Kings already had Visnovsky going to the All-Star game and it wouldn’t make sense for a team as bad as the Kings to have two players in the game. To them, I say go fuck yourself. The All-Star game is not a reward for teams that have excelled in the first half of the season; it is a place for players who have had exceptional seasons (like Frolov) to be honored.

Sorry, I got lost in your eyes for a second. What was I talking about?

I think a problem with the Kings is that because the team is bad, people just automatically assume that they don’t have any good players. This leads to Frolov being excluded from the All-Star game, and Kopitar being excluded from the Calder, and shitfucks writing about how Visnovsky doesn’t deserve top defenseman money. I think you need to watch this team to understand that the best players on the team (the three above plus Cammalleri) are all very, very good; it’s the rest of the team that ain’t that great. Of course, that would mean that the NHL and the writers would have to stay up past 11, and that’s just asking far too much. I mean, come on, it’s not like it’s their jobs or anything.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Eff the Sharks?



This video has the production values of a DMV training video, what sounds like a background track from the latest David Hasslehoff album, and a punchline that takes several days to make itself clear, but I feel compelled to post it here nonetheless.

My rebuttal in video form.

Top NHL goal-scorers since the lockout

This is really a setup post for when I decide to get off my lazy ass and write a Selanne-contemplating-retirement post, but this answers one specific question: since the NHL lockout two seasons ago, who has scored the most NHL goals (regular season + playoffs)? Here's the top 30 on that list, anyway:

Rk

PlayerTeam(s)AgeGamesESGPPGSHGGoalsGoals per Game

1

D. Heatley

OTT

26

194

60

45

5

110

0.57

2

J. Cheechoo

SJS

27

180

57

41

2

100

0.56

3

T. Selanne

ANA

37

199

55

44

0

99

0.50

4

A. Ovechkin

WAS

21

163

58

37

3

98

0.60

5

I. Kovalchuk

ATL

24

164

50

45

0

95

0.58

6

V. Lecavalier

TBL

27

173

55

31

7

93

0.54

7

S. Gagne

PHI

27

154

61

26

4

91

0.59

8

J. Jagr

NYR

35

177

56

33

0

89

0.50

9

D. Alfredsson

OTT

34

184

50

30

8

88

0.48

t-10

B. Gionta

NJD

28

164

43

39

2

84

0.51

t-10

H. Zetterberg

DET

26

164

47

35

2

84

0.51

12

E. Staal

CAR

22

189

41

38

5

84

0.44

13

C. Drury

BUF

30

192

37

41

6

84

0.44

14

M. Hossa

ATL

28

166

41

31

10

82

0.49

15

J. Iginla

CGY

30

165

47

31

3

81

0.49

16

M. St. Louis

TBL

32

173

48

25

8

81

0.47

17

R. Smyth

EDM-NYI

31

175

39

38

3

80

0.46

18

S. Crosby

PIT

19

165

48

30

0

78

0.47

19

P. Marleau

SJS

27

181

38

39

1

78

0.43

20

O. Jokinen

FLA

28

164

52

23

2

77

0.47

21

T. Vanek

BUF

23

189

47

29

0

76

0.40

22

B. Shanahan

DET-NYR

38

165

41

31

3

75

0.45

23

A. McDonald

ANA

29

201

45

28

0

73

0.36

24

J. Sakic

COL

38

173

45

27

0

72

0.42

25

M. Gaborik

MIN

25

118

44

23

4

71

0.60

26

J. Williams

CAR

25

189

44

20

7

71

0.38

27

J. Blake

NYI

33

163

41

26

2

69

0.42

28

R. Brind’Amour

CAR

36

181

31

34

4

69

0.38

29

D. Briere

BUF

29

163

43

25

0

68

0.42

30

B. Rolston

MIN

34

165

32

28

6

66

0.40


I guess the key take-aways from this table is how rare it is that someone as old as Selanne and playing in the western conference scores so many goals for this stretch of time. I know his spot on this list is somewhat dependent on games played (Anaheim's postseason success), but even so--Selanne continues to produce despite his age and the games-played.

Look for me to say more about this in a follow-up post in the near future when I've got a little less liquor in me, but for now, know this: I could probably make this list down to the top 70 post-lockout goal-scorers before you'd find another guy who's even contemplating retirement right now.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Anger...Rising...

The Hockey News’ Adam Proteau wrote a new article that listed the worst contracts given out this off-season. I looked forward to reading it; I love reading articles about terrible decisions by general managers. When I got to it, though, my amusement quickly turned into uncontrollable rage. Here’s what angered me so (full article found here):

"2. Lubomir Visnovsky (returning) to the L.A. Kings for 5 years and $28.25 million. I liked many of the signings GM Dean Lombardi made this summer; Brad Stuart (one year, $3.5 million) was a smaller gamble with larger upside, while Michal Handzus (four years, $16 million) and Tom Preissing (4 years, $11 million) should be valuable contributors as the Kings grow into Stanley Cup contenders.But that’s a major part of the problem I have with Visnovsky’s signing. If the nearly 31-year-old blueliner, who has missed even more games than Hamrlik (74 games) in the last five seasons, is regarded as their power-play quarterback, why sign Preissing, who excelled in the same role with Ottawa last year? And since a fair number of hockey types believe the Flyers overpaid for Kimmo Timonen, how come they aren’t looking at this deal with an equal amount of disdain?"

Lubomir Visnovsky's contract was the 2nd worst of the off-season??? Hold on, I need to take a minute… (clears throat, takes a sip of water)


WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?

How… I mean, what… I don’t even know where to begin. I feel like challenging this guy to a duel. I guess I should start by dismissing the notion that Tom Preissing comes even close to replacing Lubomir Visnovsky. Preissing is a good player, but he’s averaged 40 points the last two years; Lubo’s averaged more than 60. Besides, it’s not like you can only have one guy that’s good on the power play. I don’t even get that part. (I do like how he put in “regarded,” though, insinuating that Lubo isn’t actually good at it. Very sneaky.)


You have offended Lubo's honor, sir, and I demand satisfaction!

Over the past two seasons combined, Lubo has been outscored by Scott Niedermayer and Nicklas Lidstrom among defensemen. That’s it. His 125 points the past two years equals the totals of Sergei Gonchar ($5 million/year contract signed in 2005), Bryan McCabe ($5.8 million/year in 2006), and Sergei Zubov ($5.35 million/year contract in 2007). I don’t think Lubo can be considered inferior to any of those players. In fact, I’d argue that he’s better. I don’t see those guys playing on a team as defensively porous as the Kings and still ending up +1 on the season. Not bad for a power-play quarterback.

I also take umbrage with Proteau’s mention of Visnovsky’s propensity to miss games. It’s indeed true that Lubo has missed 74 games in the past 5 seasons; what Proteau doesn’t point out is that 59 of those games were in the three seasons before the lockout. Since hockey started again, Visnovsky has missed 15 games in two seasons. (Plus, 8 of those games were at the end of last season when the Kings were pretty much tanking, so I’m not sure if he was actually that hurt.) Sure, he gets a lot of little injuries, and that’s going to happen when you’re a 5’10”, 185 pound defenseman; to act like he’s injury-prone and unreliable, though, is ignorant at best and disingenuous at worst.


Don't worry Lubo, I got your back.


The whole thing gets even more ridiculous when you scan the article and see that Sheldon Souray was his 4th worst contract of the summer. Sheldon Souray has a very good slap shot, it’s true, but he’s pretty bad at everything else. His plus/minus? -28. I know that plus/minus is kind of a tricky barometer of a player’s worth, but you have to be pretty bad to be -28. Yet, somehow his contract is better than Lubo’s, even though they get basically the same amount of pay. sdfasdfsa…sorry, that was my hand clenching into a fist. I think I’ve got it under control now, though.

I am completely flabbergasted by this attack on Lubomir Visnovsky; who in their right mind thinks he’s not deserving of $5 ½ million dollars a year? I know he’s small and people claim that he can be pushed off the puck by a power forward, but that shouldn’t get in the way of what he’s actually done. Bottom line: Lubomir Visnovsky is almost a point-a-game defenseman that also gives you above-average defense. I'd want him on my team over all but a handful of defensemen in the NHL. Maybe Proteau just wanted to be different and that’s why he decided to go after Lubo’s contract instead of Chris Drury’s or Daniel Briere’s; maybe he thought Lubo was okay to go after because he can't speak English; maybe he’s just a dick. Whatever it was, he’s wrong.

(Oh, and the reason people don’t look at Lubo’s contract with the same amount of disdain as Timonen’s is that Timonen is getting paid $6.3 million dollars a year and isn’t as good offensively or defensively as Lubo. Just because they’re both offensively-minded defenseman from Europe doesn’t mean they’re the same, and I can’t tell you how many times that comes up.)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

An Idea

A lot of people in the hockey world complain that the hockey season is too long.They complain that by the time a champion has been crowned, it’s June and most people haven’t seen snow or ice in a couple of months. Every year there’s an article about how the season should be cut down to 72 games, or 60, or 10; I say fuck that noise. I believe just the opposite; the season needs to be at least 10 games longer.

Why must the season be lengthened, you ask? Well, for one, we need hockey. If you follow hockey every other sport seems to be played in slow motion. I mean, sure, I like baseball, but have you ever tried to watch a game from beginning to end? It’s like watching a hockey game, but if every player was Chris Chelios. Some people might get burned out by all that hockey; I call those people pussies. Think about it: if the season went until the middle of July, we’d have the rest of July and August to do the draft and free-agency, and then bam, pre-season.

Thirdly, we’d see more teams. Imagine if they added 18 games to the schedule, bringing the season up to 100 games. Along with all the Western Conference games that we already see, those 18 games can be used to give the fans more games against Eastern Conference opponents. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather see Sidney Crosby and Ilya Kovalchuk once than Keith Ballard for the 8th time.

You don't think he could play another 10 games?


Some people might argue that the players would be tired and beaten down if the season were that long, to which I reply: fuck ‘em. They get paid millions of dollars to play a kid’s game; they can handle a little pain. I don’t get 3 months a year off for my shit job, so why should they? If anything, it’d cut out the weaklings (read: Europeans) and we’d get real men playing again. Besides, tennis players, golfers, and NASCAR drivers go all season, so why shouldn’t hockey players?

So there you have it. A longer season equals more hockey, therefore my argument is infallible. For those of you who still disagree, think about this: if the season was longer, you wouldn’t get stupid articles like this one

Byproduct of Boredom: Anaheim Ducks Comics




Evil, keep your head up.

To be continued?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Jealous Impatience at the Battle of California


Yeah, between the cup finals in June and the September games in England, the Ducks might have the shortest offseason in the history of the NHL, but even so I'm starting to get itches of hockey withdrawal. Of course, I can just look to the other BoC teams and what jealousies they are having to endure, and that usually cheers me right up.

Sorry, fellas. But your glory day is coming, just sadly at an offseason snail's pace.

Monday, July 16, 2007

More Thoughts on the Kings Roster

In my last post, I jotted down some line-up combos off the top of my head that in retrospect I don’t agree with. Just to refresh your memory, I put:


Frolov-Kopitar-Cammalleri
Nagy-Handzus-Brown
Calder-Armstrong-Willsie
Thornton-O’Sullivan-Ivanans/Kanko


Looking back on it, I think I was a little irresponsible in throwing line-ups out there without justifying my reasoning for them at all. I think Marc Crawford will switch to more of a run ‘n gun style this season, like the teams he had in Colorado and Vancouver, meaning that he’s more likely to have three scoring lines and one stopper line. I made our old lines trying to build a team more in the Anaheim/boring mold, with two scoring lines, a stopper line and a line that sucks. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough lumbering brutes on our team, so that system doesn’t really work. (We also don’t have a Stanley Cup. Ha, you can’t make the joke if I’ve already made it!)
I think it’s safe to assume that Nagy and Handzus are going to play together, since the reason they came to L.A. was to be on the same team. They seem like they’d work well together, anyway, so that’s cool with me. Since Nagy’s a left wing, that means Frolov would have to play with Kopitar (unless someone wants to put one of them on the third line, and if that’s the case I’d like to meet you so I can put a hatchet in your face).
I had Cammalleri playing with Frolov and Kopitar, but I actually think he’d be better off playing with Nagy and Handzus, since neither Nagy nor Handzus are known for goal scoring. Having Cammy sniping on that line gives me the kind of dreams where I have to lie and tell my roommate that I spilled water on my bed. That means Brown is playing with Kopitar and Frolov. I hope he’s happy not touching the puck.

I couldn't think of a picture that went with this post, so here's a meerkat.


The bottom lines are little harder to determine because the personnel does match up that well. Some people are content with throwing out a third line that is centered by Armstrong with Calder on the left and O’Sullivan on the right, but I don’t like the idea of switching O’Sullivan to another forward position while he’s trying to develop. Playing left wing is different from playing the other two forward positions and I think it'd hinder his development to move him to his third position in the last three years. Calder is perfect for the third line, so I don’t want to switch him. The other option is to move O’Sullivan to center and dropping Armstrong down, which I want to avoid because that makes what I wrote here true. Plus, I'd hate to have Brian Willsie on the third line because he, well, Willsie sucks. I'm sorry, but it's true.

Where does that leave us? I don’t know fore sure, but I’ll tell you what I’d be willing to live with now that I’ve had a while to reflect on it:


Nagy-Handzus-Cammalleri
Frolov-Kopitar-Brown
Calder-O’Sullivan-Tukonen
Thornton-Armstrong-Willsie


This gives us three lines that can score and one line that can easily be replaced as the younger guys come up. About Tukonen, I think he’s one of those guys who comes out of nowhere and impresses people. He has the talent but has been beset by injuries recently; if he’s healthy this year, he could be one of those surprises that can solve a lot of problems for the Kings. As for the older guys on the fourth line, I figure if they’re going to be on the team I should at least lump them together and isolate their suckiness before it infects the younger guys.

Of course, all of this is moot because Handzus is going to break his neck and Nagy is going to come down with Hodgkin’s, but that’s what I’d like to see in London. What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments, so I can read it and then purse my lips and mumble, “Well, obviously he doesn’t get it.”

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Great ideas in partying: the Marchant piñata head

It has been a lot of fun this summer to follow the journeys of the Stanley Cup through the Hockey Hall of Fame Journal. Well, fun for me at least.

But I was especially inspired by one picture in the cup's day with Todd Marchant; apparently the town of Williamsville, NY, made an honorary piñata to commemorate Marchant's playoff-bearded-head. I can only imagine that the piñata is meant to be broken open through vicious suspension-worthy high-sticking, right?


"C'mon, son. Cut daddy in the head and get yourself
a suspension! Stop being such a Lady Byng!"

Of course, I think this is an awesome party idea for any hockey hate enthusiast, so I leave it to you to think it through in the comments: which NHLer would you most like to put into piñata form, to blind-foldedly bash to your heart's content?

In other news:
  • There is another new Ducks blog to check out: Ducks Wire. David seems to have set quite the sprinter's pace, already with 39 posts this month, but I'm not one to frown on Ducks enthusiasm. At any rate, David and previously-featured Varius are both welcome additions to the Ducks blogosphere, and to this point in the offseason are doing a lot better job of updating Burke's offseason than I am.

  • As for me, I continue to remain a bit mum on this offseason until there's some sort of definitive answer out of the Niedermayer and Selanne retirement camps. The optimist in me says that if they haven't officially retired by now, then they are both totally coming back. The pessimist in me says they have already made up their minds to retire, but Burke won't let them announce it until all season ticket money is collected. To me, the more critical decision belongs to Scott, but for now my head spins will all the possibilities.

  • The NHL schedule has been released, and as will be discussed further on this site, begins with two September BoC games in England. Between intercontinental jet lag and Stanley Cup hangover, I think it's going to be hard for the Ducks to avoid coming out flat in London, unless of course the team gets bolstered by the last-second news that Scott Niedermayer is indeed going to play. C'mon, Scott, the twenty thousand European fans would enjoy that dramatic announcement, I'd think.

  • And lastly, BoC-founder James Mirtle doesn't think I link to him enough.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Just When I Thought You Couldn't Get Any Dumber...




...you go and do something like this... and totally redeem yourself!

So you're telling me there's a chance!

I was on the road during the free agent madness, but I had my brother letting me know what was up. When the Kings didn’t get anyone that first day, I was kind of pissed. I mean, I didn’t want to spend anywhere near the kind of money Gomez, Briere, or Drury demanded, but I wanted, nay, needed something. I began thinking about Dean Lombardi as Sharks fans probably thought about him, a guy who was a great scout but couldn’t compete in the world of free agency because he was unwilling to sacrifice.

Then I got the news that the Kings had signed Tom Preissing, Michal Handzus, Ladislav Nagy, and Kyle Calder. A few days later I found out Brad Stuart had jumped on board. I was floored. (I’m pretty sure the Kings held all the signings back so that they could release them all at once and give me a heart attack.) More importantly, I was ecstatic. I like each of the signings individually (I’ll get to that later), but more importantly, I like what the signings as a whole mean for the Kings.

"Elisha still goes to the games? Sweet!"


When you are a bad team, one player can not change things. Like I’ve said before, the main problem with the Kings offensively last year wasn’t that Dustin Brown was on the 2nd line, it was that Tom Kostopolous was on the team at all. (Sidenote: I think I was more excited about Tom signing with Montreal than with the above five signings combined.) Instead of giving Scott Gomez an insane amount of money (he now makes more average money per year than Jarome Iginla, Vincent Lacavalier, Scott Niedermayer, and Joe Thornton… whoops!), Lombardi chose to buy low with guys who could be great. Handzus is coming off a knee injury, Nagy and Calder have both failed to live up to initial expectations, Preissing saw his ice time decreased in the Stanley Cup finals, and Stuart is coming off a terrible season. Are they all as bad as they were last season? No, probably not. They are all likely to bounce back, and then the Kings are getting their services for below market value. And if they don’t, that’s okay, because none of their contracts are too long.

Handzus? More like, "Hand's off, he's mine!" Right?


Just for my own amusement, here’s a line-up that the Kings could conceivably ice opening night:

Frolov-Kopitar-Cammalleri

Nagy-Handzus-Brown

Calder-Armstrong-Willsie

Thornton-O’Sullivan-Ivanans/Kanko(?)


Lubo-Stuart

Blake-Johnson

Preissing-Anyone but Jaroslav Modry, for the love of God


LaBarbera/Cloutier

Lombardi has instantly made the Kings a competitive team in the NHL, as we now have two legit scoring lines and a surprisingly strong defensive core. (Yeah, yeah, goaltending, but I’m willing to give LaBarbera a shot.) Frolov and Cammalleri tallied +70 points last year playing with Derek Armstrong; imagine what they could do with Anze. Our defense looks great because we have 4 players that can play top-2 minutes, negating the negative impact that our 6th defenseman is sure to have. I’m not saying that the Kings are going to challenge San Jose and Anaheim next year for the Pacific division crown, but maybe passing up Dallas isn’t out of the question. Before, we knew the Kings were going to get better but we weren't sure how; now, we know. The point, I guess, is that now the Kings (and I) have hope.



(Oh, and my trip was amazing and I'll write more about it later. Needless to say, the Hall of Fame is mind-blowingly awesome.)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The new Sharks logo (maybe)

Several message boards (and our pal Steve at Battle of New York) have posted what is supposedly the Sharks new logo. Drum roll, please...
IF (and that's a big if) this is the Sharks new logo, then it'll be as reported "updated, sleeker, more 3D".

My question to all of this is why? To me, it just looks like someone viewed the original Sharks logo through the lens of Batman: The Animated Series. That's not necessarily a BAD thing, but it all seems rather unnecessary.

I, for one, am not a fan of cartoony logos (Sleek, do you own the infamous Duck Breaking Through Ice jersey?). Original Senators crest? Cool. Creepy looking Senator dude staring at me? Not so cool. NY Islanders crest? Cool. Creepy fisherman guy? Very not cool. Nashville's main logo? Not great, but definitely not bad. Weird 3D alternate version? Looks like a fanboy had too much fun with a 3D modeling program.

Since the Sharks always bitch and moan about losing money (I'd like to see if they actually count suite sales in their records since companies have to buy them for EVERY event, check payable to Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment), forcing an entire fanbase to buy a new logo can do wonders for sales. Did this logo really need revamping or was this just a nice opportunity to cash in on the new Reebok jersey changeover? You make the call!

One thing's for sure...if and when I get one, I will avoid putting any names on there to prevent any further jersey curses.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Overdue thoughts on Free Agency

I know that I'm (really) late with my thoughts, but I figured that a quick look at the LA Kings' free agent additions (since the Dallas Stars did next to nothing, with all apologies to Todd Fedoruk fans out there...aka just Earl Sleek).

Ladislav Nagy, reportedly at 1 year/$3.75 million

I have a consistent viewpoint with free agency after seeing the heidous overpaying that went on with Drury, Briere, Vanek and Co.: short-term contracts are never too bad.

And when it comes to Nagy, this could end up being one of the best moves in free agency. He's a great setup guy and should allow the Kings to improve their powerplay substantially. Also, I wouldn't take his Dallas failures to heart too much. Dallas is The Place Forwards Go to Die, after all.

A one-year contract is always great because of the obvious: it's an instant contract year. It worked great for Selanne, and it could for Nagy. Of course, Selanne has about 3X the tesicular fortitude as Nagy.

Still, Nagy could be a point per game player with the talent young forwards in LA.

Michal Handzus, 4 year/$16 million

I'm torn on this one. For one thing, Handzus is pleasingly funny looking. Plus, his last name is a Berman nickname goldmine ("One Handzus washes the other"). He's also multi-talented, with good to very good defensive ability and the kind of faceoff winning prowess he Kings have been missing.

He's a package deal with Nagy, so they apparently have some kind of chemistry together. Even if they seem like total opposites.

Kyle Calder, 2 year/$5.5 million

Meh.

Tom Preissing, 4 year/$11 million

I like this signing more than the Calder one, but it seems like a bit much for a OD with two decent showings on two top-end teams. The fact that he wasn't putting up big numbers on the blueline of teams with Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Heatley and Spezza doesn't seem too promising.

Still, he's young and American. So that's good. Also, in Ottawa, it was virually impossible for me to tell him apart from Joe Corvo, who had a good year as a King. And he doesn't have a criminal background, either.

So I guess I kind of like that one.

Brad Stuart, 1 year/$3.5 million

Nice. Brad Stuart can have a nice year, then get some ridiculous, multi-year contract with the New York Islanders next year. Sounds good to me.

Free Agent Grade: B

The Kings did a very nice job this year. They get to rent Nagy and Stuart for a year while Jack Johnson progresses and Rob Blake continues to decompose. They'll get $7 million to either re-sign Nagy and Stuart or, better yet, throw money at a top-notch goalie or ... god-willing, if a certain Jason Spezza or Danny Heatley become available.

Some Kings fans might be dissapointed that LA didn't land a big name, but I personally think that Drury is overrated and Briere is old. So there.

Happy Birthday, Sleek

I will maintain to my deathbed that the Ducks' recent Stanley Cup victory can be attributed to several factors: skill, experience, effort, and of course luck. And while I cannot take any credit for the first three, unfortunately I take way too much credit for the fourth (and not just because of my lucky green shirt).

You see, I've always felt disproportionately lucky because of my lucky birthdate: 7/11/77. I'm no numerologist, but this date feels awfully special:
  • It rhymes.
  • The numbers all feel lucky.
  • And it's even multiplicatively sound.
So if you're inspired tonight, why not pour yourself a glass of your favorite cocktail, raise it to the heavens, and take a drink for the lucky S.O.B. named Earl Sleek, who hits the ripe old age of 30 today.
And as always, Go Ducks.