Friday, November 27, 2009

NHL teams say no thanks


As promised, here are what NHL teams are NOT thankful for, things they could do (or could have done) without.

Anaheim: The 2009 offseason. Gone is Chris Pronger. Acquired were Joffrey Lupul and Saku Koivu. The result so far: a 14th-place standing in the West. Yes, the goaltending has been shaky, but Lupul and Koivu have been decidedly underwhelming. And while I railed against Pronger's MVP candidacy yesterday, that doesn't mean I don't think he's good or valuable to his team.

Atlanta: The uncertainty over Ilya Kovalchuk's desire to remain in town.

Boston: That it's after Thanksgiving and Dennis Wideman hasn't fully realized the season has begun.

Buffalo: Kevin Lowe, for forcing Buffalo's hand to match an offer sheet the former Edmonton GM made to Thomas Vanek, who vies with Brad Boyes for title of "most one-dimensional, least-threatening 40-goal scorer in the league." Vanek wins because of that offer sheet, which comes with a cap hit of over $7 million.

(In case you're wondering, yes, I own Vanek and Boyes both, and no, I don't feel any shame in using this blog to air my fantasy hockey grievances. Let's move along.)

Calgary: That former Minnesota GM Doug Risebrough didn't trade James Sheppard as part of a package for Olli "I like to shoot the puck, and Iginla likes to shoot, we'll get along just fine" Jokinen.

Carolina: Karma. Ever since Scott Walker - he who sucker-punched Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward and escaped suspension - scored in overtime of Game 7 to eliminate Boston in the second round this spring, nothing has gone right for the Hurricanes. They were soundly swept by the Penguins in the Eastern Final and are now suffering a nightmare season. If you offered the Hurricanes a chance this season to be swept in the conference final again, they'd take it without blinking an eye.

(See what I did there? Eye? Of the storm? Hurricane? Moving on.)

Chicago: That Dale Tallon and his salary cap advisors (like current GM Stan Bowman) screwed up the cap so much that the Blackhawks can't legally sign Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith to extensions until they clear salaries off next season's cap. The move I like to question (besides the obvious Campbell/Huet ones)? Paying Dave Bolland over $3 million after one half-decent season.

Colorado: That fans in Denver seem to be paying more attention to the "We're great, now we suck, now we're great again" Broncos and not attending hockey games.

Columbus: Two of the most dreaded words in sports: "sophomore slump." Steve Mason, I'm talking to you.

Dallas: Former GM Brett Hull, for signing Sean Avery, half of whose cap hit will remain on the Stars' books through 2012.

Detroit: The KHL, for luring away Jiri Hudler in a season in which Detroit lost Marian Hossa to Chicago, and center Valtteri Filppula and wingers Johan Franzen and Jason Williams to injuries.

Edmonton: "The Oilers sign Nikolai Khabibulin to a four-year contract." The pertinent part is italicized. It's Month 2 for the 36-year-old Khabibulin (who has started more than 50 games in a season once in the last four seasons) and he's already experiencing back problems. For a goalie, that's probably a bad thing. Four years, really? Even for a guy with as squeaky clean an injury history as Khabibulin's?

Florida: Mike Richards, for turning David Booth's brain into mush, jeopardizing the career of a core member of the Panthers. Oh, and Booth's life. But mainly the career part.

Los Angeles: Too many distractions from the Ice Girls. Wait, that might be a good thing.

Minnesota: That 2008-09 was a contract season for Martin Havlat.

Montreal: Mike Komisarek leaving as a free agent. The Curse of Patrick Roy (Starting date: 1995.)

Nashville: That Steve Sullivan, similar to Havlat, regained his health and point production just in time to get a nice new contract, then forgetting how to score. (He's doing better recently, I'll give him that.)

New Jersey: The silly trapezoid behind the goal cages.

New York Islanders: Mike Milbury. Still. Honorable mention to Garth Snow.

New York Rangers: Bob Gainey, for not taking Chris Drury along with Scott Gomez.

Ottawa: Pascal Leclaire, for being born on an Indian burial ground or something. How else do you explain being injured worse while resting because of being injured? More importantly, what's next?

Philadelphia: That Daniel Carcillo is employed.

Phoenix: I think we all know the answer to this one. And it's not that it's hot there. (It's a dry heat anyway, right?)

Pittsburgh: The barren cupboard at the wing position. It's great having game-breakers like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but an injury to either, as evident this season, nearly incapacitates the offense. There's no Johan Franzen, no Marian Gaborik, not even a Vanek or Boyes among the wingers.

San Jose: The label of "perennial underachiever" that won't go away until a championship is won.

St. Louis: Boyes, for his best (worst?) impersonation of Jonathan Cheechoo, and the goal-total decline that goes with it. He needs to pull out of his spiral and soon.

Tampa Bay: Not trading Vincent Lecavalier for a bushel of goodness. The Lightning belong to Steven Stamkos now.

Toronto: Every year since 1967.

Vancouver: The International Olympic Committee, for kicking the Canucks out of town for a month and a half.

Washington: Michael Nylander's contract. Possibly Nylander himself, I don't know. But certainly the contract.

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