Saturday, August 30, 2008

Tampa is going to be Ridiculous (capital R on purpose)

From the Canadian Press: "A day after being traded from Ottawa, restricted free-agent defenceman Andrej Meszaros has signed a six-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning."

Add that they've just signed Vincent Lecavalier to one of those "you might die before your contract expires" deals and subsequently named him captain. (In case you were wondering: 11 years, $85 million.)

They also managed to pick first overall in the draft (see: Eastern Conference Doormat 2007-08) and now own The Next-Next One.

Oh yea, and they went on a free-agent frenzy signing that would even make Pierre McGuire blush. Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts, Radim Vrbata, Olaf Kolzig, Matt Carle, Mark Recchi, and somehow managed to talk ESPN commentator Barry Melrose into the head coach job.

Looks like their evil plan is coming together nicely.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Roadie anyone?

Alberta became the host of the 2012 World Junior Champions on Thursday. Calgary and Edmonton will split the hosting duties.

“This is an exciting day for hockey fans in Alberta and throughout Canada," said Hockey Canada president and CEO Bob Nicholson. "The bid group from Alberta put forward a great plan, and the site selection committee was particularly impressed with the bid's focus on making tickets affordable for all hockey fans.”

The announcement completes what looks like a four-year string a fantastic roadies for Canadians (especially now that Zoom airlines has ceased taking us all across the Atlantic for those European tournies). Coming up in December, Ottawa will host the tournament. We'll roll over to the land of living skies (Saskatchewan) for the 2010 tournament, with the games split between Regina and Saskatoon. Then the United States hosts in 2011, but are still undecided of which city will host, but it has been narrowed to Buffalo, Minneapolis or Grand Forks (I assume it will either be Buffalo or Minneapolis, since Grand Forks was the last American city to host).

And in something completely non-hockey related (except maybe for the fact that Ken Dryden is an Member of Parliament and Prime Minister Stephen Harper is writing a book on hockey)...

It looks like Canadians will be heading to the election polls in October. Harper recently called the Parliament "dysfunctional" despite the fact that they haven't been sitting in quite some time...and the fact that most of the dysfunctionality (is that a word?) came from the Conservatives (see: Maxime Bernier)... but who's nitpicking?

Friday, August 22, 2008

NHL should ban indecision.

I think we're in for another one of those years of hearing those famous (sortof) last words, "I am undecided on my future, I need to think about it."

Mats Sundin's first self-imposed deadline of August 1 has come and gone, and nobody is any closer to knowing what he might do come the beginning of the season.

He could retire, he could play with another team, sources say he doesn't want to play in the Western Conference, but who really knows. Some people even suggest he wants to finish his career as a Maple Leaf (god love the poor bugger, must've been hit in the eyeball with a puck one too many times).

But it's not really the fact that Sundin is sitting on his hands (and a contract), it's the fact that this seems to have become the norm in the "new" NHL.

Let's go back a year, the most prominent example I have of this NHL indecision (sounds like a segment off of Jon Stewart) is Scott Niedermayer. The elder Niedermayer spent the entirety of the first half of the season "deciding" what he wanted to do. I don't think he was deciding, I think he was taking a sweet vacation and preserving his body for the time of year that he really wanted to play: down the stretch and into the playoffs.

So, while everyone was getting beat up, stitched up and getting long-last ankle injuries, Niedermayer was sitting back and relaxing. I'm sure he was staying in shape... but staying in shape and getting your ass knocked into the boards by Georges Laraque are two completely different things. It wasn't until December 5, 2007 that Niedermayer had made his "decision" playing just 48 games in the 2007-08 season.

I don't want to put the full blame on Niedermayer, though. I really do think he's a premier player in the league and a fantastic leader. My question is, how was this allowed to occur? Obviously the Anahiem Ducks would have liked him in a uniform on day one, but they also must have liked the fact that they would have him for the playoffs without having to pay him a full contract year taking up valuable cap space.

In the end they did have to move a few people around because of a clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement called "tagging" cap space. (essentially meaning you cannot have players on the team this year that would exceed the cap next year should it not change... which is a strange clause that can become tricky come trade deadline) but they did save money in the end.

Also recently the NHL decided to lift a fine placed on Niedermayer for missing training camp. What is that saying to players who think that maybe they'll just spend the first half of the season with their family or on the beach staying uninjured for the "real season"?

Especially when you had players like Selanne and Forseberg do essentially the same thing. The NHL has got to crack down on this "pondering my future" tactic players have started to employ. I'm sure if the NHL told the Ducks that if Niedermayer isn't on the ice by (insert date) you will lose him for the rest of the season because he'll receive an NHL suspension.

I don't understand this pondering your future. Ponder away in June, July and even August (so far Sundin is still in my good books because training camp hasn't opened). But once that camp opens you're either ready to play or your not. Why should rookies and the grinders on the third and fourth lines have to be there all season, but other players don't have to. Start in september and if find that you just don't have it anymore... leave. Simple as that.