Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ok, so its finally September.

September is here, and you know what that means. Ottawa is making silly moves to further reinforce their team concept; "Sens competitive regular season Hockey, cocaine, and lardy gladiators complete with mismatching historically inaccurate armor Nation". How could you be one of their good players sitting on the bench, knowing that the Penguins are going to sweep you, and watch that ridiculous spectacle take place on home ice without placing an immediate post-game call to your agent regarding an address change?

"Hi, this is Dany Heatley. Listen, did you see what happened tonight? Yeah, the shoulder is OK. Sid caught me by surprise... look, is there something we can do to get me out of this situation? Tonight I took off my jersey and the first thing I saw afterwards was Shean Donovan, then I was overwhelmed by a vision of our opening ceremonies and imagining the rest of the world's tears of laughter..."

Meanwhile, the KHL is trying to implement a transfer fee system using Alex Radulov as ante. It didn't work when they asked for money for Malkin, and it won't when they ask for money to release Filatov. So the plan was to sign away one of the NHL's players, then attempt to pay a nominal fee compensate for Nashville's loss. It works under FIFA rules, and many big clubs poach young players with bright futures away from smaller clubs, who honestly are thrilled to pocket the cash. KHL owners want to sell players to NHL clubs via direct club-to-club negotiation.

NHL officials, meanwhile, aren't sure that the Rangers paying some Russian cats upwards of $15M for Cherapanov's rights is quite the thing to do. The IIHF, NHL, and various European leagues have an agreement in place which pays a flat rate when a player leaves for North America. These leagues subside, generally, on players who prefer their home Continent or prefer not to play AHL hockey. Russians who won't accept a 2-way contract in North America play in their home country, unless they've been traumatized like Aleksey Morozov.

Finally in this installment, Bryan McCabe has finally bean dealt. Florida. You know, they always seem to have problems in Florida. Nevermind that I hate them for effectively halting the greatness of our dynasty once and for all in '96, forcing us to rebuild once again and not reach another Eastern finals for some time... but they seem to have the kinds of problems they can't solve. They can't seem to develop second-tier prospects. Their blue-chippers want out before their prime is over. Bouwmeester looks like this will be his last season in Florida, and he's just entering his prime. Free agents understand that their team identity is literally that of being outside of the playoff bubble. Who signs in Florida? Players who would have retired if not for the handfull of points they need to reach a milestone, or who really like the golf courses. Its not for the hockey, not for the player development, and its certainly not because of distinguishment. Nobody ever said "My dream was to play for the Panthers before I retired. I used to play pond hockey as a kid, imagining the plastic rats being thrown onto the slushy ice in my honor..."

The media is asking Bouwmy if he thinks McCabe will be his replacement. This is a team which still wants to apparently try to re-sign him after this year. The press, along with some of the worst personnel moves ever, should book Bouwmy's ticket out of town. McCabe is going to be fine, because the expectation is so, so low, even though Toronto and Florida are extremely similar in the modern NHL. Neither teams draft well, develop well, draw knowledgeable crowds, or make the playoffs. Neither teams' fan bases can hope of seeing a contending team before their own bitter, trite deaths. These same fans have to watch as teams like the NY Islanders, accomplice to the worst trade/drafting gaffes in the history of the sport, make the playoffs by 1 point. Sure, they lost miserably, and then both teams had to buy new first lines.

Would you rather have Jason Blake at $4M cap hit/5 years, Bill Guerin at $4.5M, or a quickly enlarging view of the foliage below the bridge you just jumped off?

McCabe, for all the obvious errors, is a good defenceman. It isn't his fault Toronto gave him a ridiculous contract, anyone would have taken it. Now its Florida's problem, or one of them. I'm secretly hoping that Florida moves to Hamilton before the McCabe era ends. It'll be one of those unforgettable moments on the ice. Go Pens.

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