Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Great Hull Quote

From TSN/The Arizona Republic:

Hull, who has played 18 seasons in the NHL, said that while he admired former St. Louis linemate Wayne Gretzky for trying coaching, he was not one of the people who reportedly tried to convince Gretzky not to try coaching.

"I've only told Wayne Gretzky not to do one thing, and he didn't listen to me so I would never tell him not to do anything again," Hull said to the Republic.

"I told him not to come to St. Louis from Los Angeles and that (Blues coach Mike) Keenan was an idiot. He said (Keenan) wouldn't be an idiot once he got there. I said, 'He'll never change.'

"I was right."

Link.

Carnival Reminder

Submissions for Carnival of the NHL #7 are due by Noon EST Thursday. All submissions go to worldcusa (at) aol (dot) com.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Emrick Going to OLN

The New York Post reported a few days ago that Mike "Doc" Emrick is going to be doing the play-by-play for OLN games. OLN is also in talks with John Davidson to do the color along side him. Doc is a solid announcer and JD is the best color man in the business. If this ends up being the team, hockey fans will be very happy.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Going on Vacation

I'm leaving for vacation tomorrow morning and will be back Thursday night. There will be some posting while I'm gone, but it will obviously be light, maybe one post a day. The deadline to submit posts for the Carnival is Thursday at Noon. Please e-mail your entries to worldcusa (at) aol (dot) com.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Carnival #7 Details

Just a reminder: Carnival of the NHL #7 will be posted Thursday, September 1st (or in the early hours of September 2nd). Please have all your posts in by Noon EST on September 1st so I can work on the Carnival as I fly back from Seattle. (I'm leaving for Seattle on Sunday. Go Mariners!) Please send the links to worldcusa (at) aol (dot) com.

Lemieux's Salary

A friend and I were talking about a hockey subject this last week and then I saw it on a message board so I thought my readers must be thinking the same thing: If you are Mario Lemieux, what do you pay yourself? Under the old system, it did not matter at all. You could pay yourself $5 million and re-invest some or most of that in the team. But in a cap environment, salary means a lot. The Pens are not going to bust the cap, but what they spend matters for revenue sharing.

The revenue sharing is complicated (I don't completely understand it) but there are two "batches" of revenue sharing. If a club spends more than average on player salaries, they are not eligible for the second batch. So you see why Lemieux's salary can be so important. If the Pens are $500,000 away from the average, and he just pays himself $450,000, then they can get revenue sharing. If they are $2 million away, he can pay himself $1.9 million.

We also have to look at if it's even fair for a player to hold front office positions. Why can't the Flyers just have Forsberg buy 2% of the team at a very discounted price, and then have him accept less money? (which is basically what is going on with Lemieux, except he owns a lot of the team) There has to be a provision in the CBA that stops teams from giving front-office positions or small slices of ownership to players. Lemieux bought the team pre-CBA, so it will not affect his ownership, but it is still something that needs to be addressed.

Someone on a message board mentioned Lemieux should get a special arbitration hearing to determine his salary. I think this is a great idea. Mario Lemieux is one of the best players of all-time and owns his team. If the Pens were at $33 million, only gave Lemieux $450,000, and then brought in a big time player to fill the rest of the cap space, there would be outrage. Lemieux is a several million dollar player, and his ownership should not allow the Pens to lowball him for revenue sharing purposes. Lemieux needs to earn a fair wage, so that the Pens payroll is actually their payroll.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

St. Louis and Elias Sign

I'm on my way out but I wanted to quickly post my thoughts on today's transactions. Martin St. Louis is heading back to Tampa, signing a six year deal worth $5.25 million a season. I really like St. Louis, I think he is an excellent player, and the money is good. But six years? How can you possibly sign a player for six years? In today's economic environment with the new CBA, signing someone who is coming off an MVP season but is 30 years old to a six year deal is cap suicide. This CBA could be over in four years; signing someone to a six year deal is just plain dumb. The only person I would sign to a six year deal is Wayne Gretzky in his prime.

Patrik Elias signed the Devils qualifying offer for a one year deal worth $4.18 million. Elias has Hepatitis and as TSN is reporting, his contract will not count against the cap until he returns to the lineup. But the Devils are still way over the cap. (TSN says $5 million, woah)

Stats for 2003-2004:
St. Louis: 82GP - 38 - 56 - 94 with a +35
Elias: 82GP - 38 - 43 - 81 with a +26 (Can you believe he was not an All-Star last year with those kind of numbers?)

Ducks Making Cap Room

In an effort to get under the cap before the start of the season, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim sent Steve Rucchin to the Rangers for Trevor Gillies and a pick in the 2007 draft. The Ducks had to get rid of someone, and while I thought it would be Sykora, Rucchin works too. He's going to be a UFA after this season and is making $2.26 million.

The Ducks basically got nothing in return for a second line center because they are in cap trouble, and when you get into trouble, no GM is going to give up much to help you out. It's probably why Rucchin was moved instead of Sykora. Burke would have wanted a nice return for Sykora but no GM would give it. So he parted with Rucchin for a minimal return, which is easier to swallow than for a player like Sykora.

If you go to TSN, it looks like the Ducks are fine under the cap. But they still need to move someone. With a 22 man roster, the Ducks will be about 400-600K over. Look for them to make another move in the near future. And if they do decide to move Sykora, they will be able to get a decent return because they are not in serious cap trouble anymore, just minor trouble.

Also, check out two new hockey blogs: Canucks Hockey and Goon Blog.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Hossa for Heatley?

I was about to post news of the Sens signing Hossa for $18 million over 3 years when I see the big news on TSN: Danny Heatley heading to Ottawa in return for Marian Hossa. To me, this is bigger news than the Forsberg signing. The Senators are sending a D-Man to Atlanta as well. I'm hearing it's De Vries and that Atlanta is sending back a first round pick. Check out Chris at Hockey Country for continuing updates and a look at this from the perspective of a Sens fan.

Hossa is slightly better right now but I have always been a Heatley fan and I'll stick by him. He's two years younger and has the potential to be a better player. The first round pick is great news for Sens fans because it does not look likely that Atlanta will be a top team.

The biggest question mark here is Ilya Kovalchuk. He remains unsigned and is good friends with Danny. He has said that he does not want to negotiate until the Heatley situation is cleared up. Will this stop him from returning to the Thrashers?

Edit (5:27PM) - Fan 590 out of Toronto is reporting that Heatley and the Sens have reached a deal on a contract. It is going to be so weird to see Danny Heatley in a Sens uniform but I think he will have a great year.

Also, if you are asking yourself why Atlanta did this, there are rumors that Heatley wanted out of the Thrasher orginization so he could have a fresh start. I'm sure the accident has a lot to do with that.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Selanne Going Back to Anaheim

Teemu Selanne is heading back to the Ducks, having signed a one year deal for $1 million. Good for him and good the Ducks. They have serious cap problems (see this post) but this is a good value for an aging veteran who is going to have a much better year than he did with the Avs. This guarantees that Sykora is going to go as I don't see how else they can realistically get under the cap.

Lindros Cartoon

John from BoltsMag/RawLightning sent me this funny cartoon.

Carnival of the NHL

Late last night/early this morning, James Mirtle posted Carnival of the NHL #6 and thanks to Eric at Off Wing for announcing that I will be hosting the next Carnival. I will be going back to the trend of Carnivals being posted on a Thursday and it looks like September 1st will be the date. I'll post details in a few days.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Off-Season Winding Down

Even though there are still plenty of players that remain without contracts, the off-season is winding down. Most of the blogs (including mine) have been getting more and more quiet and it's beginning to feel like a typical off-season. I know for me, I just want to watch some hockey. My good friend and I talked last night and planned some of the games we want to go to, talked about which sports bars will have the games on (there was some debate whether ESPNZone would still show games, especially those on OLN), etc etc.

For me, some big questions still remain unanswered and they have to do with restricted free agents. Ilya Kovalchuk, Danny Heatley and Martin St. Louis still do not have contracts and September is less than two weeks away. St. Louis is the most interesting because he is coming off an MVP year in which he helped his team win the Stanley Cup. The Lightning are currently just under $32 million in salary with two players left to sign (St. Louis and Dave Andreychuk). But Bolts' management has said they will not go over $37.5 million which means St. Louis is going to have to receive less than $6 million in salary, maybe $5 million. They were put in this situation when Lecavalier took $6.875 million per year for four years. (Home team discount, yeah right.)

The Bolts also have to worry about Brad Richards, who becomes an RFA next season. He is barely 25 years old, coming off two 70+ point season and should have no trouble fetching a big salary next year. The Bolts have to lose either Richards or St. Louis to restricted free agency; I don't see how they keep both. I'm wondering when other teams are going to step up and make an offer on St. Louis. He might want to play in Tampa, and four first round picks are a lot to give up, but he's a talented player. Or, a team can trade some prospects for St. Louis' rights and then sign him. Either way, someone should do something. It puts pressure on Tampa and they could get last year's MVP.

Then comes the Atlanta situation. They are pursuing Bondra, when they still have two talents in Kovalchuk and Heatley unsigned. They have plenty of cap space, but they need to pull the trigger. Heatley just switched agents and some Russian papers are reporting Kovalchuk is reluctant to return to Atlanta unless Heatley re-signs.

The Red Wings also have not signed their two big RFA's: Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. They have $7 million left to sign 4 players (Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Kronwall and a depth player). The big challenge for the Wings will be to sign Datsyuk and Zetterberg for less than $6 million combined. If I'm a GM with cap space, I'm offering Datsyuk $4 million per season. The Wings can't match it, and if they do, then that allowes me to go after Zetterberg.

Before I end this post, I'm going to link to a random set of hockey musings by Jes Golbez, who is turning out to be my favorite hockey blogger as of late. He responds to a comment I made about Kevin Weekes, looks at splits of two Slovak NHLers, defends his pick of the Bruins winning the East, and thinks Derian Hatcher won't be as bad as people think in the new NHL.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

New Team Canada Jerseys

Take a look. What's up with those socks? They've got to go.

There's also a press release to go with the pictures. These jerseys, which will be worn at the Olympics this year, are "Nike Swift" uniforms and are supposed to be lighter. According to Nike, players can move faster compared to standard jerseys/socks. You can check out the press release for all the benefits. Despite those ugly socks, I actually would like to play with this uniform and really see if it's as good as Nike says it is.

Edit: Tom Benjamin is reporting that players like the jerseys but they have a serious problem: when you fall, you slide. Kirk Maltby compares them to ski pants. So why can't Nike just use the old material of socks with the new material of the jerseys. I've been playing hockey my whole life and I think current hockey socks are perfectly fine.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Individual Tickets On Sale Sep 17

The NHL is making all teams begin selling individual tickets on Saturday, September 17. No word yet on what time the flood gates will open. Is this new? I don't remember all teams having to start selling individual tickets on the same day in the past, but it's been a couple years.

From the same source, the Penguins have already sold more tickets (500,000) than they did all of the 2003-2004 season. Now the question for the City Council from Pens ownership is going to be, "When are we getting a new stadium?" If they don't receive a favorable answer, the Pens could be on the move in the next few years.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Comcast: I Love You

Burried in today's AP piece on the Comcast deal is this:

The deal with Comcast goes beyond just television rights. Comcast will bring the NHL Network to cable systems in the United States, and provide on-demand game broadcasts and computer streaming of live games.

Live streaming games? Yes!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Final Word On The NHL-IIHF Agreement

The whole process of the NHL-IIHF transfer agreement is finally over. The Czechs are in but the Russians are not. I reported a little while ago that I thought the Russians would do it because if they did not, they would be without compensation at all. Russian labor law allows a worker to quit any job as long as they give two weeks notice.

Pittsburgh is already working on bringing Malkin here using this "loophole." It is the same way the Blue Jackets got Zherdev. (see note below) Now, the Pens are not required to give any money to Malkin's Russian club, which is great news for their franchise. I see no reason why Malkin won't be in a Penguin uniform this year, unless him and the Pens have contract issues.

As plenty of people have said, it's quite sad that Russia thinks they are better than everyone else, that this deal isn't fair even though every other IIHF country believes it is fair. I wonder if they can still opt into the deal later

Edit: It seems the Jackets did pay a fee for Zherdev. I had heard differently.

Monday, August 15, 2005

LeClair to Pittsburgh

The Penguins sure are a different team after a flurry of signings this off-season. Today, Pittsburgh added John LeClair with a two year deal. Don't expect LeClair to be a first line player on the new look Pens. Too many people are still saying John has a lot left in the tank. I've always liked the guy but he has had serious back trouble and had another surgery during the lockout. He's only played 208 games over the last 4 seasons and notched 146 points in that time. I would consider him playing above expectations if he hits 50 points this season (assuming he does not play with Lemieux).

I've looked around and the terms of this deal have not come out yet. If the Pens paid more than $2 million for an injury prone 36 year old, then they are only hurting themselves while there are better players on the market. But as a pure low budget depth signing, this is not a bad move. He adds character, grit, and can help this team.

James Mirtle has last year's and this year's Pens depth chart for comparison.

Top Goals of 2003-2004

NHL.com has a 23 minute clip of the top goals of 2003-2004. It is so good to see hockey again and watching these sick moves makes me think of two things. The first is, hockey players are such talented athletes. I love watching them perform. And the second is, I cannot wait to see hockey again.

Streaming video (WMV): Broadband, 56K.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Cap Misunderstanding (Edit: I could be wrong)

I hear a lot of people make the same mistake when talking about the cap. They say that the value of the contract is averaged out for salary cap purposes. If Sundin has a contract for 3 then 4 then 5 million dollars a year, it counts as $4 million per year for cap purposes. This is only true for existing contracts. New contracts can be structured with different amounts against the cap for different years.

Here is where things get confusing though. If I decide to pay a player a million dollars a season, then 2 then 3, against the cap it will count as 1 million, then 2, then 3. It is only when the dollar amount per season goes down, not up, that there is an averaging for cap purposed. Mike Modano signed a five year $17.25 million dollar contract. He will be paid $4.25 for the first three season and $2.25 for the last two. For cap purposes, it counts as $3.45 million per season because he is getting more money in the beginning seasons than the ending seasons. If the deal was reversed, there would be no averaging.

I hope this does not confuse you even more. I just hear a lot of people saying that all new contracts get averaged for the cap. This is un true. It is only when the value goes down per year and those contracts are not that common.

Edit: Now Larry Brooks is saying that it is the average that counts against the cap. I'm waiting to hear from the NHL on this. There are people who think it's the average and then there are reports that it's not the average. Also, Larry Brooks has reported different things over the last month that seems to contradict other articles he's written. I might be wrong, but Lacroix's statement (see comments) and the fact that the NHL specifically went out of their to say existing contracts would be averaged, while not saying anything about new ones, leads me to want to wait it out. So we'll see.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

OLN, IIHF and Alexander Frolov

ESPN is seriously considering matching Comcast's offer for the NHL. It's not so much that ESPN wants hockey back as they want to keep a potential competitor from getting off the ground. The figure was supposed to be $100 million over two years, but the Buffalo News is reporting it has been raised to $135 million. This is the only place I've seen this figure so take it with a grain of salt.

NHL players will be at the Turin games this year, even if the NHL-IIHF transfer agreement falls through. Russian and Czech clubs have by early Monday morning on the east coast (10AM GMT) to agree to the deal, or the NHL has open season on their players.

Novosti (a Russian site, but in English) has a good article up with details the American media would never pick up on.

However, senior Russian hockey officials themselves admit that contradictions in Russian domestic legislation allow the North Americans simply to ignore this demand. The Russian Labor Code, for example, grants any person the right to give up one's job within two weeks, and this alone, should the agreement be not signed, will give a trump card to NHL clubs in securing Russian club players for free.


I think this deal will get done. These European teams have too much to lose by standing their ground. Even if the NHL has to throw a little bit more money their way, the two sides should come to an agreement.

The Kings have re-signed gifted young Russian forward Alexander Frolov. He will be paid $14.5 million over five years. This is a deal more about potential than anything else. He is a good player and those 48 points last year were nice, but the Kings are locking him up for so long because he just turned 23. Here is the player page for Frolov.

This was originally a longer post but Blogger ate the first version of it. Oh well.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Thornton Takes Shorter Deal

Joe Thornton did not take the five year $32 million dollars the Bruins were offering, but Sportsnet is reporting that the Bruins have re-signed him for three years at $20 million dollars.

They are also reporting the Lindros deal is finalized. For that amount of money, this is a great gamble by the Leafs.

RFA's Are Fair Game

I belong to a Ranger message board and I hear people saying that Glen Sather should not go after a RFA like Heatley or Kovalchuk, not because it's bad for the rebuilding, but because other teams will get mad. They reference the 1997 incident when the Rangers offered Joe Sakic $21 million over three years (with $17 million in the first year) and the rest of the league got outraged. I have two things to say to that: a) It's a different environment now and b) So what?

Under the previous CBA, teams like the Rangers could overspend, and it hurt the league in the long run. But it was completely fair under the CBA for the Rangers to offer Sakic that contract. If the Avs did not match that offer, they would have been heavily compensated. Teams and fans were mad at the Rangers, but when you have the opportunity to land a player who is going to the Hall of Fame, you do it. There was no reason for other teams to get mad; the Rangers played by the rules. I never liked all the spending the Rangers did, but you can't disagree with trying to get a Joe Sakic on their team.

Now, we are in a completely different environment with this new CBA. Teams cannot offer huge RFA deals because there is a salary cap. If they spend too much on a player, it will decrease their chances of winning. It levels out the playing field. RFA's are fair game. Everyone has the same salary cap now and no team is going to overspend by that much.

Danny Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk are special players, impact players as I like to call them. Kovalchuk is 22 years old and had 87 points last year. I would do everything in my power to get him on my team. And the CBA has RFA compensation to protect against outright taking of every RFA in the league.

If a team offered either one of these players less than $5 million a season (so they would not have to give up four first round draft picks) the Thrashers would surely match it. If a team gave them (probably not Heatley, but Kovalchuk) $6+ million a season, and Atlanta could not match that figure, the team would give up FOUR first round picks. That is a lot of first rounders. What makes RFA signings fair is that teams cannot make more than one major RFA signing every half-decade. If a team went out and offered Kovalchuk $6 million and they lost four first rounders, they would be basically done from making any significant RFA signings until 2008.

Restricted free agents are fair game. There is a compensation schedule in place to make sure teams don't offer huge salaries to players that don't deserve them. And if they overspend, they are hurt significantly in the draft. They are also going to be out of the RFA market for the next few seasons. And RFA's are even more fair in a salary cap environment because everyone is on (basically) a level playing field. Even if a team tried to overspend on Kovalchuk, they could not offer him the world and still be in fine cap position.

So people need to stop saying that RFA signings are unfair and that other teams will get mad. It lacks a basic understanding of the CBA, business and what "fair" truly is.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Dinner Time NHL Roundup

I'm hungry for dinner (making burgers and fries) but before I get to that, I thought I would post the major NHL news of the day.

Daniel and Henrik Sedin have resigned with Vancouver for the 2005-2006 season. Though officially undisclosed, each is rumored to receive $1.2 million this season. That is a very good price for these guys and the Canucks better take advantage of it. After this season, I expect them to try and cash in on their play.

Jocelyn Thibault was traded by the Blackhawks to the Penguins today for a fourth round pick. The Pens defense is still shaky, but Thibault is a veteran who can backstop this team while Marc-Andre Fleury develops. I like the Pens making the playoffs if they can go get a stay at home D-man, but they have spent enough money as it is.

The Bruins are now offering Joe Thornton $6.5 million a season for the next five. He is crazy if he does not take this deal and if he doesn't, you know he wants to get the hell out of there. The Bruins are going to be cutting it very close on the cap space. With Axelson and Samsonov being resigned today, and Raycroft still needing a deal, they should just make it under the $39 million mark.

Speaking of big contracts, Marian Hossa of the Ottawa Senators wants to be paid $7 million a year. That's right: Hossa thinks he's worth as much to his team as Jarome Iginla. Now Hossa is a great player, don't get me wrong. I would be thrilled to have him on my team. But $7 million a season is unbelievable. The Sun is reporting he turned down $11.5 million over three years and as you can see by my post below, that is why he filed for arbitration.

Continuing with Senators news, Martin Havlat resigned with his club today. Though TSN takes their standard "terms of the deal was not disclosed" line (With McKenzie on vacation, is there any reporting going on there?) the contract comes out to $2.6 million for this year.

The Blue Jackets gave a one year contract to Jan Hrdina.

Jes Golbez seems to know a lot about the St. Louis Blues and has another post breaking down the team for this season. And Lindsey at In The Crease defends Osgood going back to the Wings.

Exactly eight weeks from now, we will all be watching the first NHL game of the season. That is so exciting and yet it seems so far away.

Arbitration

Ah, the lovely process of arbitration. Where players try to suck as much money out of their teams as possible, and teams bash their own stars in the hopes of saving a million dollars. It's a fun time in the sports world. And this year, the eleven contestants are:

  • Dallas - Brendan Morrow
  • Edmonton - Shawn Horcoff
  • NY Islanders - Trent Hunter
  • NY Islanders - Justin Papineau
  • NY Islanders - Brent Sopel
  • NY Islanders - Mike York
  • Ottawa - Marian Hossa
  • Pittsburgh - Dick Tarnstrom
  • Pittsburgh - Josef Melichar
  • Phoenix - Paul Mara
  • Vancouver - Mattias Ohlund

The NHL Coming Back to ESPN?

The Los Angeles Times (via Bloomberg News) is reporting that ESPN is now interested in broadcasting the NHL.

ESPN, which in April declined its $60-million option to telecast the NHL this season, is now interested in matching any deal the league makes for broadcast rights, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday.

ESPN released a statement that said: "We have a matching right and remain interested in continuing our relationship with the NHL, as long as the deal is commensurate with the value of the rights being offered."


I'm not happy about this. ESPN doesn't want the NHL, but they might actually match the offer because they don't want a Comcast sports network getting off the ground. So if ESPN does match and the NHL eventually goes back to ESPN, the question is, will they do a better job of broadcasting the games? Probably not.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Cap Management

Jes Golbez discuses a letter from Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and breaks down exactly how cap management should work. I read this post and knew I had to link to it. Check it out.

Our belief is that the new collective bargaining agreement will reward teams that draft well and have prospects stockpiled within their system. This summer, most of the unrestricted free agents are aged 31 and older, just as they were under the old CBA. Many 31-year-old players have already had their best years for another club. In signing such players teams are too frequently paying them for what they have already done for another club rather than what they will be doing for your club.

(snip)


It's just quite refreshing and interesting to hear an NHL team lay out their plan in such plain view with a dose of common sense. I can see why the Toronto Maple Leafs wouldn't want to do anything like this (imagine the media and the fans ripping everything to shreds), but it pays for a small market/revenue team like the Caps to be more open and honest with their fanbase.

Where Is Datsyuk?

Pavel Datsyuk may be considered the future of the Red Wings, but right now it's hard to tell if he will even be back in Detroit. Today, Datsyuk practiced with Dynamo, a Russian team. GM Ken Holland is in a tight spot. Datsyuk wants a lot of money (at least $4 million, some reports state close to $5 million) and the Wings also need to resign Henrik Zetterberg. Both are quality players and the Wings are not the same team without them. But if Holland throws money at these guys, the Wings are going to be in a tough cap position for the next couple of years.

Right now, the Wings have a little under $10 million dollars left to spend on 6-7 guys (they have 15 players signed). The Wings can get under the cap by signing Datsyuk, Zetterberg and then filling the rest of the roster out with close to minimum salary. But Holland won't give in and throw lavish amounts of money at these guys.

Sources: Detroit Free Press, Soviet Sport (no link). The Free Press article says the Wings are negotiating with Chris Osgood but he has actually signed with the club. One year deal for $900,000.

Player Pages: Datsyuk, Zetterberg

Details on Cable Deal

Though this was on the blog over a week ago, more details are emerging on the cable deal with Comcast. This looks like a very nice deal for the league.

Comcast has formally submitted a two-year bid in excess of $100 million US to televise NHL games beginning this fall, sources directly involved in the discussions told the Inquirer in Tuesday's edition.

The deal calls for Comcast to televise two games a week nationally. The cable giant plans to put the games on its on its Outdoor Life Network, which is also available in Canada.

Two games a week isn't bad. According to the article, ESPN has the right to match this offer. But with Comcast putting up $100 million, I don't think there is any chance they will. I've said all along that Comcast was not my first choice because of how many less households get it. However, it looks like they are committed to taking on ESPN and putting hockey on their channel is a major component of that. That's great news for hockey fans.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Ducks Are in Trouble

Scott Niedermayer was a great signing for the Mighty Ducks because he is the kind of player that can transform a team, but the Ducks are in serious trouble. Anaheim already has over $32 million in salary tied up for the 2005-2006 season, and that is only for 12 players. They need to sign 9 or 10 more players and only have $6.9 million to do it with. That means most of those players will be making the league minimum.

It looks like the only option for the Ducks if they want to compete (two lines of league minimum players does not make a competitive team in the NHL) is they will have to trade someone. Sykora, at 28 (almost 29) years old and making $3.1 million is the most likely candidate to get moved. The last two years on the left coast, he has put up 59 and then 52 points. He actually notched 34 goals in that 59 point campaign of 2002-2003. He has very good speed and would be a welcome addition to most teams. It's not that the Ducks don't need him (because they certain do need his offensive ability), but Burke can get back some nice talent/prospects in return. And like I mentioned above, the Ducks are in serious cap trouble and they have to do something.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Gretzky Will Coach Coyotes

This had been rumored along time ago, but now the AP is reporting that Wayne Gretzky will coach the Phoenix Coyotes. No one knows if he will be any good, but this is great public relations for the NHL and for the Coyotes. Even SportsCenter won't be able to resist.

No Olympics for NHL Players?

Players from the National Hockey League might not go to the Olympics, as the Russians are staying stubborn and not changing their stance on the NHL-IIHF transfer agreement.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has met with the leadership of Russia’s Professional Hockey League and clubs of the upper league but he was unable to convince them to ratify the agreement.


If the Russian GM's (and the Czechs) really don't ratify the agreement, that means NHL teams can take anyone under contract over there and sign them, without any compensation to their Russian club. It works both ways, but players are a lot less likely to bolt from the NHL than they are from the Russian leagues. This is a grave mistake on the part of the Russians.

Now why does this affect the Olympics? The compensation of players is only one part of the deal. Another part is allowing NHL players to play in IIHF sanctioned tournaments, such as the Olympics.

There is an article in the Dallas Morning News (stupid subscription required, but you might be able to get one read without it) in which Billy Daly says there could still be an agreement sometime this week. He also said that he "doesn't think" there will be a problem with the Olympics in the long term.

Eventually, this should get straightened out. The Russians want more money and don't want to back down just because Bettman came over there. But in the end, it is in their interest to get this deal done. I wonder what the NHL would do if they could not work something out; there is an awfully big gap in the middle of the schedule for the games in Italy.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Friday Night Rundown

The Puck Stops Here has a nice listing (with links) to today's free agent signings. The biggest shocker for me is Kariya to the Predators. $4.5 million is a slight overpayment, but as I said in this post, small market teams can overpay now.

John at Boltsmag/RawLightning is happy that Khabibulin signed with Chicago.

Tom Benjamin goes off on Kevin Lowe.

Chris from Hockey Country pens an essay on the current free agent market. I thought I would spend a few minutes responding to it. I agree with almost everything he says, especially this.

Eventually, when/if all the big spending slows down, there will be a little less than 100 players looking for new homes. By then, with most teams having signed their restricted free agents, cap room will be at a minimum across the league. The choices available to players won't be what it was for those who signed this week. As a result, they'll have to take less money with teams they maybe wouldn't have looked at previously. Their “market value” will be irrelevant because it will be about finding a place to play.


But I don't agree with this next part.

One point that hasn't been given the emphasis I feel it should've is the fact that the salary cap is not set in stone. It will fluctuate based on league revenues. It's $39 million this year, but next summer, pending a miracle that allows the NHL to not take a hit financially this year, it will be lower. Giving out four and five year contracts, which seem to be the norm this off season, might not be intelligent considering we don’t know where we're going to be. It's very possible a five year deal will be a financial albatross to a team in a few years, limiting what they can do when there are 26-year-old free agents available to them.


I don't like some of these crazy long term deals GM's are doing. Well, actually I do, because it will put the Rangers in a much better situation. But what needs to be remembered is that a percentage of each player's salary is being held in an escrow. So if the cap goes down, that money goes back to the owners instead of to the players. A player making $4 million a season could have that brought down to $3.4 million (though more realistically, in the $3.7 range).

Getting into a bidding war in this kind of market is crazy. The teams that wait will be in a better long term position. But the new CBA helps GM's because if the cap goes down, then the salaries on the teams automatically go down. The biggest thing is that everyone is trying to figure out how this system will play out and there are two camps. The first camp believes it is best to go out and sign big name free agents for too much money and if the cap goes down, then let their salaries go down as well. The second camp thinks that this market is out of whack and that things will come back to normal and then they will be in better position. I am (mostly) in the second camp, but there are a lot of smart minds out there signing big players to big deals. So we'll see what happens.

Khabibulin Going to Chicago

The Chicago Blackhawks have signed free agent goalie Nikolai Khabibulin to a four year contract worth $6.75 million a year. Whoa. That's a lot of money but management has really given the team life this offseason. Their other additions have been Spacek, Lapointe and Aucoin. Now, I think the Hawks have been overpaying, but so have a lot of teams. And Khabibulin is an excellent goaltender who put up a 2.33GAA and .910 SV% in 2003-2004. This looks like the end of the line for Jocelyn Thibault in Chicago.

Jes Golbez thinks this is an awful signing for Chicago.

And this is a crushing blow to Tampa. John at Boltsmag/RawLightning said that Tampa was going to have to lose St. Louis, Vinny or Khabibulin. But in the new offense-first NHL, you need a great goalie to keep you in games. John Grahame is not bad, but he is no Khabibulin. To be fair to the Lightning, they would have been in awful cap position if they matched this offer. They just couldn't give him that kind of money. They had no choice but to let him go and even though they had no choice, it still hurts.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Update on the NHL-IIHF Transfer Deal

Russian newspapers are reporting tonight that Gary Bettman has gone to Russia to discuss the NHL-IIHF transfer agreement. He is heading to the Czech Republic tomorrow. Both countries have voted against the NHL-IIHF transfer agreement. Read this post to learn more on the back-story.

Anyway, what is impressive is that Gary Bettman is not going over there to hold hands. He is basically telling these GM's that they can take the agreement or leave it, and if they leave it, the NHL will give these teams nothing, not honor Russian contracts and take the players into the NHL. Hopefully we will have an update soon on how this will play out.

Niedermayer to the Ducks

The news of the day is Scott Niedermayer taking less money to join his brother in Anaheim. Niedermayer signed a four year deal worth $7 million a year, even though the Devils offered him a five year deal at $7.8 million per season. Niedermayer is worth that big contract he will be receiving from the Ducks, and this signing transforms their team.

In other news, check out Jes Golbez's post on why the Edmonton Oilers are "insane" for swapping York for Peca. And while we're linking to other blogs, Tom Benjamin is not happy with his Canucks.

I know I have a lot of visitors coming to my blog for the first time because of the link on AOL Sports. I just wanted to say welcome and please leave a comment if you have something to say. I love to hear what my readers think.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Five Questions To Ponder

There was a lot of activity around the NHL today, and it left me pondering five questions.
  1. Will the Flyers Win The Cup? The Flyers certainly have the raw talent to go all the way, if Carter and Richards live up to the hype. Forsberg is an amazing talent and should continue to excel. The problem is the Flyers overpaid for Hatcher, who I don't think will be very good this year. If the team doesn't click and a key player or two goes down, the Flyers will be going nowhere fast. On the other hand, if anyone can bring a team together, it's Ken Hitchcock. I'm trying to say people should not annoint the Flyers champions before they have a chance to play a game. I wouldn't put my money on them.
  2. Is Jeremy Roenick the coolest player in the NHL? Roenick took a lot of flak for his comments as the lockout was winding down, but I've always liked him. He isn't afraid to say what's on his mind and in today's politically correct world, I respect that. I remember a few years ago seeing a video of him jokingly ribbing on a couple that was making out during warmups. I like that. Anway, the reason I bring this up is because he said this on his near certain departure because of the Forsberg signing. ''The Flyers have a better chance of winning the Stanley Cup with Peter Forsberg than with Jeremy Roenick." A lot of guys wouldn't have been able to say that. Good luck JR.
  3. What happened with Mike Modano? TSN is reporting that Modano will finish his career in Dallas, as him and the Stars have reached an agreement. First, there were reports he was going to Boston. Then, he was staying in Dallas. But then all got quiet and it seemed Boston raised their offer. Modano's agent said he expected his client to play for less to stay in Dallas, but not $9 million less, and that is why he reconsidered Boston. But I guess Dallas raised their offer, but the final totals don't seem like they raised it that much. Confused? You're not the only one. I would love to hear the inside story of this some day; it sounds like an interesting tale.
  4. What are the Canadiens doing? I thought Bob Gainey was a good GM. Montreal signed Alexei Kovalev to a contract worth $4.5 million over four years. Peter Forsberg got $5.7 million a year. That might be a slight discount to play for Philly. So say Gainey has to offer Forsberg $6.25-$6.4 million a year to lure him to Montreal. What team in their right mind would not pay an extra $1.5-$1.8 million to upgrade ffrom a Kovalev to a Forsberg. None. Or at least, none should.
  5. Will Glen Sather ever learn? I think not. I know the Rangers are supposed to be in rebuilding mode, but they are going to have a payroll of less than $31 million if they keep this up. They have the money, why not spend it? Spending money doesn't have to mean benching young players. Good teams know how to have good veterans and a young core. That is how other teams win. But no, the Rangers can't do anything right. First, they overspend on veterans getting them nowhere. Now, they don't spend enough, especially given the fact that this year Jagr is only costing them $4.4 million. Straka for $3 million? Give me a break. He is as injury plagued as they come. Their only hope is to sign Paul Kariya because they need another impact player, but I doubt that will happen.

Early Morning Signings

Three big names have signed deals this morning. Jarome Iginla is going to be a Flame for the next three years, at a price of $7 million a season. Gonchar signed on the dotted line in Pittsburgh, agreeing to a five year deal worth $25 million. And Markis Naslund will be earning $6 million a season for the next three, as a Canuck.

My quick take: Iginla deserves the money and this is a good deal for the Flames, on and off the ice. Iginla coming back + Amonte + McCarty, you've got to like their chances for another Cup appearance. Gonchar is probably overpaid at $5 million but the Pens are going to have a sick PP next year. Now they just need to keep the puck out of the net. And Naslund is worth every penny he got.

The big name players continue to earn, earn, earn. Soon, the money is going to run out and it's those marginal free agents that will be lucky to earn over a million dollars. If I was a free agent I would sign very soon.

The Pronger Trade

The big news of the morning is obviously Chris Pronger being shipped to the Oilers for Eric Brewer, Doug Lynch and Jeff Woywitka. Pronger and the Oilers have agreed on a five year contract at $6.25 million per season.

This is a deal that works out well for both sides. The Oilers get an amazing defenseman who is truly an "impact player." They gave up some depth, but none of the three were ever going to come close to being a Chris Pronger. The Blues on the other hand get rid of a player they could never afford in the first place and pick up three defenseman. Lynch and Woywitka could be solid everyday blueliners and Brewer has already been to an All-Star game.

I'm sure there are Blues fans upset about the trade, but this is how a salary cap environment works. It will not always be this way where teams will give up a Pronger for this little, but the Blues were in awful cap position when this offseason started. It will hurt this year, but this is a great deal for the Blues.

The key to this deal is the contract extension the Oilers got from Pronger. If they only got him for one year, this deal would be useless. But Pronger is 30 and signing him to a five year deal is perfect for a player of his calibur. $6.25 million a season might be high for Edmonton but it's not a ridiculous price for Pronger. This is going to be an exciting NHL season.

Edit: (1:01PM) - Removed the Edmonton Sun link, as it stated the deal was for $6 million per, when it is really $6.25.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Are GM's Really Overspending?

Today was a busy day in the NHL, with 25 players inking contracts. Sportsnet and TSN both have daily transaction lists. With almost every signing, someone (sometimes including myself) says the team overpaid. So I was wondering, what exactly is overpaying, which teams can overpay, and who has overpaid so far?

Overpaying is giving someone more money than they are worth. Seems simple, right? But it's not. The Blackhawks paid Adrian Aucoin $4 million a year and Columbus gave Adam Foote $4.6 million a season. Most people believe that these players got more than their market value, which is probably true. But the Panthers and the Blue Jackets did not overpay. Why? Because they were not going to spend the cap anyway.

These two teams are going to add some money to their payrolls this season, but will not approach the $39 million mark. So if Columbus got Foote to sign for $3.8 million (which most people would consider a fair price for a good D-man) then they would have saved $800,000. But that would not mean much. If they planned the team exactly the same, all that would happen is the money would line the owners pockets. If they spend that $800,000, they could pick up a fringe player, or upgrade a 4th liner to a 3rd liner. The difference is negligible. But by paying a little more than market value, they secure the player they want. They don't have to worry about good free agents passing them by because they went out of their way to lure a good player to a club that has never made the playoffs. The overpaying is much more beneficial than if they played it cheap and Foote said no.

The teams that need to worry about overspending are the Rangers, Flyers, Red Wings, Avalanche, etc. These teams will spend up to $39 million and while an extra $500,000 to secure the player you want is not much, by giving away a million here and a million there where it's not needed, it could be deadly for the team.

Jes Does a FA Rundown

I don't have time this afternoon to post all my thoughts on the free agent signings of the past 24 hours, but Jes Golbez has a good rundown of the signings and what he thinks about them. I like Jes' blog and suggest you check out this post. I'll have my own thoughts up tonight.

Modano and Hatcher Signed?

Two rumors that seem to be confirmed this morning are coming out of the Canadian press (as usual, the American press coverage of hockey is so awful). Sportsnet is reporting that the Flyers have signed Derian Hatcher, Mike Rathje and Chris Therien. Then RDS is reporting (but I'm linking to TSN because I cannot read French) that Mike Modano will probably sign with the Boston Bruins this afternoon. I'll post more details if/when the teams announce these signings and when financial terms are released.

Update: 10:38PM - It seemed the Modano to Boston deal was dead and that everyone in the Dallas front office was celebrating Mike's return. But now I am hearing that everything has gone quiet in Dallas, and it could be because Boston has raised their offer. This is all rumor still. Stay tuned.

Foote to Columbus

Well this is a big signing that is out of left field. Defenseman Adam Foote signed with Columbus late last night/early this morning, receiving a three year contract worth $4.5 million a year. The Blue Jackets have had problems on the blue line and Foote is a great defensive defenseman.

This is about the right price for a defenseman of Foote's caliber. If you think the Blue Jackets paid too much, (which I really think they didn't) there are two things to consider. One) Great players will continue to get very nice paychecks in the new NHL. Two) The spending is now spread out around the league.

Does this make Columbus contenders? Not yet. They have a great young core and Rich Nash is someone I'd pay to see, but they still have some other pieces to add. We'll have to see how the rest of the offseason goes for them. But overall, excellent signing for the Blue Jackets. This is exactly what they needed.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Why MLB.com Is Great and NHL.com Is Not

If you have never been to MLB.com then you really need to check it out. It is not just the best site run by a sports league, it is one of the best sports webpages on the internet, period. The fact that I can get live TV/radio of nearly every game is something I long for with hockey. But there is a lot of stuff under the surface too. I can access video of every triple Ichiro has hit this year on the road. Or every double play he has hit into. Now of course this is because the sport of baseball naturally lends itself to these kinds of features, but it is also because Major League Baseball tries hard to make its online presence work. MLB.com is actually run by MLB Advanced Media, a separate company devoted solely to the website and establishing baseball on the internet.

The reason I bring this up tonight is because Barry Bonds has said that he will not be returning to the field this season. Did he tell it to ESPN? Fox Sports? The Giants? No. Only to MLB.com. That is where he went to tell the news. MLB.com tries to draw fans in, and is not just one big commercial for the league. When I want to get news on hockey do I go to NHL.com? Of course not. I go to TSN. If I want news on baseball, I go straight to MLB.com. The NHL would be wise to learn some lessons from Major League Baseball.

Carlyle Named Ducks New Coach

The Anaheim Mighty Ducks named Randy Carlyle their new coach. The wire piece leads with the fact that Carlyle won a Norris, but his 222-159-52-7 record over the past five seasons as a minor league coach is more important.

``As a team, we will be marked by aggressive play and an uptempo, offensive-minded system,'' Carlyle said in the team statement.

This is nothing but good news for Ducks fans.

Is the NHL-IIHF Transfer Deal Dead?

There are reports coming out of Russia this morning that all the GM's of the Russian Superleague voted against the NHL-IIHF Transfer Agreement. This deal was reported done by TSN and many other sources over a week ago. Now, there could be a problem with players that belong to NHL clubs but also are under contract for next season with a club in Europe. I'm not sure exactly how all this will play out or what the actual impact will be, but I will update this post throughout the day.

Update (4:44PM) - The deal is not completely dead. The Russian GM's did vote against the agreement but the IIHF is still trying to figure out how to smooth this all out. Hopefully it will be worked out soon, but this is a major snag for teams wanting their European players for the upcoming season.

Update (6:03PM) - We finally have a wire piece on the story. Just for the record, I used the word "snag" in my update above before I read the article.