Gross Misconduct Hockey Thoughts from a drifter on the hockey landscape

06/26/2012

Finally

For the few years I was scribbling nonsense on the Internet before I landed over at NBCSports.com’s ProHockeyTalk, every June would turn into a soap box for me to sound off on why Adam Oates belonged in the Hockey Hall of Fame. His case was always easy to make. No, really, it was super easy to make.

Now? Now he’s a Hockey Hall of Famer.

The fight is over and a childhood hero is enshrined for eternity. Bias accepted here, there’s never been a doubt as to Oates’ career being Hall-worthy.

I am as happy as a hockey fan can be. The complaining, the indignant stat-prattling, the case-making, the whining about it all… It’s over. I don’t have to crow about an open-and-shut case anymore.

There’s no need to talk about the injustice of it all and continue alternating between banging my head against the wall and shouting from the mountain tops. Adam Oates: Hall of Famer.

Back in late September during the preseason, I wanted to interview Oates about being snubbed by the Hall. With him being the Devils assistant coach and it also being the team’s first preseason game of the year, the Hall was the last thing on his mind. All business, all the time. That’s part of what got the Washington Capitals to hire Oates as their head coach today on top of it all.

It feels a bit silly to feel as happy for what someone else accomplished, but that’s part of being a fan, right? Embracing those that helped bring the love of the game to you. Oates is the key figure on my personal “Mount Rushmore” of hockey. Oates, Wayne Gretzky, Steve Yzerman, and Teemu Selanne. There are plenty other players I have a great appreciation for, but those four? They turned hockey from something I watched and enjoyed into something I obsess over and love dearly, maybe a bit too much if you ask some of my friends.

But Oates? He was the guy who sparked it all for me. Seeing a guy like that play live in person when you’re a kid leaves an impression on you. Seeing him win your favorite local team a championship hammers it home even more. Watching him excel as a professional for nearly 20 years is icing on the cake.

Adam Oates is a Hockey Hall of Famer. What a great day.

 

12/06/2009

Daniel Carcillo: Best Goon or Dumbest Goon?

I’ll admit here that I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for the goons of the NHL.  It sounds really effeminate to say that being as how I’m a dude, but it’s true.  I’ll sit around with my friends and we’ll throw out the names of legendary 1980s and 1990s goons and try to one-up each other.  Sure, most of these guys weren’t very good at hockey (Dennis Vial) and those that were had major issues of their own (Bob Probert).  For some reason, for those of us that grew up in that highly impressionable era of hockey through the 80s and early 90s the guys that dropped the gloves were always memorable and with the way the NHL has gone out of its way to try and “clean up” the game in recent years, they’ve taken on an aura all to themselves.

From the moment that Tie Domi ended his NHL career, the NHL landscape for pugilism seemed barren and it looked as if fans of the dirty side of hockey were going to have to keep a wandering eye towards the AHL to get their mixed martial arts of hockey fix.  After all, when you’ve got characters like Dennis Bonvie and Brian McGrattan accumulating over 500 PIMs in a single season, you have to respect the effort that goes into being that damn disruptive.  After all, not everyone is going to be a Crosby, Zetterberg or an Ovechkin – some guys are going to be Stu Grimson or Tiger Williams or Chris Nilan.

This is where Daniel Carcillo stepped in.

Two years ago, Carcillo was getting ice time in Phoenix when he made his NHL debut.  He played in just 18 games, but piled on 71 penalty minutes in that time, a pretty hefty haul considering the NHLs PIM leader in 2006-2007 was Philadelphia’s Ben Eager with 233.  Phoenix had another guy doing dirty work that season in Josh Gratton so Carcillo’s road to eventual goon-borne glory was blocked.

Come 2007-2008, Carcillo was a man on a mission accumulating an astonishing 324 PIM in 57 games.  Think about that.  He missed 25 games that season and still out-PIM’ed the second place finisher Jared Boll by 98 minutes.  That’s historic goonery not seen in the NHL since Peter Worrell of the Florida Panthers went bizonkers (thanks Gary!) and loaded up with 357 PIMs in 2001-2002.

The difference between the goonery back in the day and the goonery now, however, is how it gets put together.  Back in the 1980s, it’s fair to say that the big gun goons were all out to get after each other.  Most teams were able to pile up PIM totals that would make Lil’ Gary Bettman wet his pants and cry if they were to happen these days.  Well, moreso than he does nowadays anyhow.  I’ll just pick out a season at random and take a look at the PIM leaders from that season.  Let’s check out 1987-1988.

PIM Leaders

  1. Bob Probert 398
  2. Basil McRae 378
  3. Tim Hunter 337
  4. Richard Zemlak 307
  5. Chris Nilan 305
  6. Jay Miller 304
  7. Gord Donnelly 301
  8. Rick Tocchet 299
  9. Torrie Robertson 293
  10. Steve Smith 286

Now for those who were critical that the NHL was a goon league back in those days, keep in mind that Mario Lemieux scored 70 goals that season and lead the league in scoring (yes, even over Gretzky) with 168 points.  That season saw 12 players score over 100 points.

Now?  We’re lucky to see five players get 100 points in a season.  The first two seasons after Gary’s sport-crippling lockout are exceptions thanks to the insistence to help goal scoring via the power play.  Guys that rack up tons of penalty minutes are even more rare, whether you want to pin the cause on that to the incredibly bogus instigator rule or to the possibility that the game has moved beyond having guys out there strictly to enforce the “code” on the ice.  I don’t really subscribe to one idea or the other, but I am a firm believer in the instigator rule being totally bogus.

carcillofarvaOfficer Carcillo doesn’t want a God damn liter of cola.

Where this all came out to the forefront was last night when Daniel Carcillo managed to find a way to put his Philadelphia Flyers on a nine minute penalty kill, thanks to him trying to punchasize Washington Capitals Matt Bradley’s face.

Carcillo received a five-minute major for fighting, a two-minute instigator penalty (duh) and a two-minute minor for cross-checking. That’s a pretty hefty effort, especially when Matt Bradley picked up nothing… Since all he did was body check Daniel Carcillo cleanly.  Carcillo also got spanked by the Wheel of Justice to the tune of four games, a number that somewhat makes sense because Carcillo is a rather notorious character at this point.

I get that it’s Carcillo’s job to fight and inspire his teammates and certainly that kind of play isn’t exactly frowned upon in Philadelphia but Carcillo is developing a bit of a habit of not choosing his moments wisely. Take a look at the playoffs last season where he decided to fight Pittsburgh’s Maxime Talbot and managed to not only inspire the Penguins but also the entirety of the Pittsburgh fan base. That kind of stuff is not what you’re paid to do if you’re Dan Carcillo.

I will say that my friends and I were initially amazed and impressed with Carcillo’s ability to consistently find his way to the penalty box and act out like an “old school” goon and while I’m not about to speak for them here, Carcillo isn’t from the same class of goon as those legends from the 80s and 90s.  He’s a different sort of creature, perhaps a guy who came along 10-15 years too late, but it’s tough to even make that assessment about him because he plays the game with such little respect for others on the ice.

Let’s face it, Matt Bradley was about another five seconds away from dropping the gloves with him and indulging his wont to fight… but he didn’t wait and cold-cocked him instead.  Much like Officer Farva from the movie “Super Troopers” Dan Carcillo’s shenanigans are cruel and tragic and above all else, ill-timed.  Flyers GM Paul Holmgren can talk all he wants about how he disagrees with Carcillo’s suspension and there are some intriguing arguments to be found as to why it’s “too much” but the Flyers knew exactly what they were getting when they brought him aboard and to be surprised at all that he does things like this or to get kid glove treatment from the league is just completely stupid.

Perhaps someday the Flyers will get their act together and stop appeasing the meathead part of their fanbase and outfitting the team with more goons than talent but as long as Bobby Clarke’s shadow looms around the organization, the Broad Street Bullies image is going to be impossible to shake.  Would Carcillo have fit in well with Dave Schultz and Bobby Clarke in the 70s?  Absofrigginlutely.  In today’s NHL though… Carcillo is a man out of his element and comes off more like a clown than an intimidator.

11/21/2009

Worst Fight of the Year Candidate

A friend of mine gave me a heads up last night that I should keep an eye out for a fight between Flyers forward Daniel Briere and Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic that he described as, “they basically embraced, played some grab-ass, gave each other a reach-around, and dropped to the ice in a man-hug.”

Well who WOULDN’T want to see that?  I mean… Wait, what?

Nevermind that the combatants in this fight aren’t what you would call “pugilists” in the first place but this had to be epic, right? Anyhow, your nominees for worst fight of the season are, shockingly, two guys that should never drop the gloves in the first place.  Let’s go to the videotape!

I just… I have no words as that barely qualifies as a fight. Giving them each five minutes for embarrassing themselves would be more apt to put in the box score rather than fighting. Waltzing, perhaps?  Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda did their best to shine up that turd because, really, what else are you going to say about it.

With all that said, there’s a long way to go for the title of “Worst fight of all time” as that honor belongs to Aaron Downey and Brad Norton years ago.

Perhaps I should’ve given you the heads up to mute the audio on that video. You’re welcome.

07/18/2009

New Faces In New Places: Smorgasbord

After what a rousing hit the last set of premonition photos were with Tampa Bay and Washington…

…Wait, what’s that Professor Frink?

Ahh, yes, good to see yours is working. Well played, sir. Glavin!

Since folks aren’t overly entertained by the Lightning nor the Capitals it was high time to step it up in a big way. Again big thanks to EA Sports and XBox Live for providing the means to whet all of your appetites for the upcoming season.

This time the top pick in the 2009 NHL Draft makes his (sort of) video game debut, the New York Rangers unveil an entirely new lineup, Professor Pronger dons the black and orange, Nikolai Khabibulin does his best Andy Moog impression and a guy lets his new paycheck commit to the Indian in Chicago.

I’m going to let these photos appear to be a bit smaller on the page here because there are A LOT of them, but as always, feel free to click on them to make them reasonably life size on your screen.


2009 #1 Draft Pick Jonathan Tavares slips around 2009 #3 Draft Pick Matt Duchene.


This will not end well for virtual Marian Hossa as Chris Pronger steps up in the slot to greet him.


Professor Pronger stays in form: Elbows up at all times


Poise. Grace. Steadiness. Ray Emery. Wait, why are you laughing?


It’s John Madden doing what he does best.


Ian Laperriere was called in as a witness in Daniel Carcillo’s assault case (background) against Niklas Hjalmarsson.


Tomas Kopecky deals out some beach justice to Chris Pronger.


Marian Gaborik shows how far into the defensive zone he’ll ever go.


Nikolai Khabibulin stones Marian Gaborik in close. Gaborik pulls groin in process.


That’s just Donald being Donald.


Matt Gilroy shows the rest of the team how to play defense correctly. Take notes Roszival!


How do you know its a video game? When Ales Kotalik is trying to play some defense.


Christopher Higgins is just playing it out until the post-game party starts.


Hey look! It’s those two guys that got traded for Ryan Smyth!


What Dwayne Roloson doesn’t know is that he’s wearing Tommy Salo’s number and he’ll have to start more games than not. Let’s see how he reacts…

05/14/2008

Congratulations

Given that both Conference Finals series sit at 3-0 as of this writing with Detroit looking to end Dallas’ season tonight, I’ll offer up a jinx-proof congratulations to both the Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins, who lead the Flyers, a hearty, “Thank you” deep from the bottom of my hockey-loving heart.

I thank them for playing ridiculously good hockey of late. I thank them for showing that yes, indeed, skill can win out over blatant laziness and goonery. I thank them for carrying out my marching orders that neither the Sharks nor the Canadiens could take care of in the previous round.

Most of all, I thank them for giving me the game I love back to me and others like me with a vengeance.

Detroit has been nothing short of a cold-blooded monster of a team, carved out of the mold of the most bad-ass of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator. Pittsburgh has proven to be the most resistant and most opportunistic of teams, capitalizing on every turnover and every mistake offered up by the Philadelphia Flyers – and most notably, Steve Downie. Downie has had two crucial and demoralizing turnovers in the last two games that lead to cinching goals for the Penguins.

Karma is indeed a nasty trollup Mr. Downie and don’t you forget it.

What most bloggers are doing now is taking a look ahead at what the Finals will bring about, however, I’m not completely presumptuous and will save such a thing for when both the Prince of Wales and Clarence Campbell trophies are presented and ignored by team captains.

These Conference Final matchups have provided something interesting amongst the potential double-whitewash. Philly and Dallas writers and fans both have had plenty to say about the officiating through the first two games, but Game 3 in both series silenced even the most ballyhooed complainers. Detroit and Pittsburgh both took care of business so thoroughly that any complaining from then out just rang hollow and very bitter, nevermind completely uneducated.

Every bit of momentum the Stars attempted to seize from Detroit was met swiftly with an answer – no more pointedly than Grossman’s goal in Game 3 that tied the game and got the Stars faithful fired up only to have Pavel Datsyuk score 37 seconds later to quiet the crowd. Pittsburgh has been nastier, jumping out to leads and not letting Philly get comfortable in any way. Philly would rather get ahead, sit back and beat the tar out of you. It’s tough to do that when you can’t get the lead and the injuries suffered by the Philly defense have rendered them tired and toothless. Even Derian Hatcher can’t muster up the strength to hit someone cheaply.

Not yet anyhow – there is still at least one more game to go.

Detroit’s work in Games 2 and 3 was even more pointed given that Johan Franzen, the latest Swedish goal-scoring sensation, was sidelined with something resembling concussion-like symptoms. Franzen single-handedly slapped around the Avalanche and got a taste of some more in Game 1 against Dallas before being benched for recovery. Valteri Filppula is banged up as well and Tomas Holmstrom is showing signs of all the abuse he dishes out/takes in front of the net as he’s clearly a step or two slower than his linemates Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Then again, with linemates like that, who wouldn’t look slow? Come Finals time, you’re looking at, potentially, a fully recharged and rested Red Wings team. My goodness.

Pittsburgh, on the other hand, has only seen the flu sort of take chunks out of the lineup, but not really. Gary Roberts sat out Game 3 and his physical presence wasn’t even necessary to beat Philadelphia. Players like Mike Richards, Scott Hartnell and Daniel Briere have taken plenty of abuse at the hands of guys like Hal Gill and even Evgeni Malkin, and what have they done to fight back?

Turn around and yell at the officials. They’re in your head boys, just play the game.

Nevermind that virtually every beat writer in Philadelphia has been yelling about one-sided officiating since the start of the playoffs, the players appear to have picked up the same poorly cynical attitude. All the complaining led to having the officials set the tone at the start of Game 3, tons of penalties early on on both teams which effectively neutered the rabid Philadelphia crowd. Talk about your slaps in the face – you get what you’ve been asking for but at the price of killing the buzz and emotion of the crowd.

What’s been most exposed about the Flyers though is their youth. A lot of the youth is in action thanks to injuries on the blueline, the rest of it is there because they’re supposed to be ready. The Flyers aren’t an old team and they’ll be back at it again next year, and perhaps even better. Dallas, on the other hand, has looked slow from the get-go and Dallas writers and VS. analysts have used that early on as a crutch; That the Stars aren’t playing like the real Stars because the series with San Jose wore them out.

That’s fine to say that and think that that’s true, but all those guys on the ice will tell you that that’s no excuse and they’re just getting beaten by a better team.

Well maybe Marty Turco wouldn’t say that, but his mental stability in regard to playing Detroit is, at best, extremely fragile given that Turco has managed only two wins in his career against the Wings, both of which came in Dallas. Detroit isn’t going away any time soon in the West and if Turco wants to get over the hill, well, he’d better start winning a few against Detroit – praying you don’t face them in the playoffs can’t work every year.

Let’s hope that Detroit and Pittsburgh can end the warm-up act quickly and we can get to the Main Event because we haven’t had a Cup Finals, potentially, this good in a very long time.

05/06/2008

Round 2: Operation Failure

Filed under: Dallas Stars,NHL playoffs,Philadelphia Flyers — Joe Yerdon @ 3:59 PM

It was bound to happen.

When I first started setting goals for this year’s NHL Playoffs I knew there was no way to keep the happy momentum going along after a rousing success in Round 1.

Heck, I even cut down on the number of goals to be met in Round 2.

Alas, fate and incomprehensible failure on the part of two great and underachieving teams interceded and both the Stars and Flyers have moved on to put the Stanley Cup Finals in jeopardy of being dreadfully boring.

Well, maybe not that bad but certainly not as exciting as it could be.

Last year, we were openly rooting for Buffalo to beat Ottawa and Detroit to beat Anaheim in the Conference Finals because that would’ve presented us with perhaps the most wide open Cup Finals since Gretzky played in Canada. Instead, we got the team that played slow-it-down-clog-it-up crap hockey to beat Buffalo and the Ducks who set the rules of the game back 100 years.

This season, you’ve got two teams that do the same thing, just they come from opposite conferences. The Dallas Stars are more than happy to play at a snail’s pace and make skating anywhere on the ice impossible. Dallas isn’t really there to score, they’re there to keep it a one-goal game.

Literally, if it’s 0-0 going to overtime, Dave Tippett is doing cartwheels in the tunnel after regulation. Of course, that reaction might also be because Marty Turco hasn’t given up a back-breaking goal either. This defense-first style is no accident and a lot of that has to do with Turco.

Before last season, Turco had a bad reputation for getting ripped up in the playoffs and pulling the El Foldo. Enter the Vancouver Canucks and their non-existant offense and you have one cured head-case of a goaltender – even still, Dallas lost but Turco couldn’t be blamed. Go figure.

It was no accident though, Dallas’ defense helped keep an already toothless attack at bay for most of the series and still Dallas’ offense stunk it up. How bad were they? Goals scored by Dallas per game against Vancouver (wins are in bold italics): 4, 2, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2

Obviously, Dave Tippett blamed the defense for the losses since they’ve only managed to get more annoying and tougher on that end of the ice. That means that Turco giving up one or two is hard to come by since teams have to work even harder to get a shot off or get to the net. It also allows their suspect offense to win more games after scoring two or three goals.

Just ask the Sharks.

The Flyers, on the other hand, came into the playoffs with the reputation carrying all the earmarks of the Flyers teams from the 70’s and earning worthy comparisons to that of the Anaheim Ducks…and not the good ones. Over the season, I’ve covered all the issues with the Flyers and their cheap hits ad nauseum, so I’m not about to go bringing that back up. Suffice it to say, the Flyers, already a mostly unlikable team, came into this playoff season with an even worse reputation.

To make matters worse, they knock off the World’s Favorite Hockey Player in Alexander Ovechkin in the first round, much in part due to Martin Biron playing solid in goal as well as to what turned out to be very suspect officiating all series long. Given how it’s been all playoffs, it doesn’t seem as though this was unique to their series.

Up comes Round 2 and they get to deal with the Eastern top seed Montreal Canadiens, aka: Canada’s Last Hope. The last few seasons, we’ve seen Canada’s Last Hope make it into the Cup Finals before bowing out (Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary) and Flyers fans found themselves wrapped in paranoia after Game 1 convinced that the fix was in to have Montreal make it all the way. Nevermind that the officials assisted in getting Philadelphia past Washington, this was a new round with new conspiracies!

I’m convinced, however, there was a plot against the Flyers advancing if for no other reason than it failed miserably. After all, anything the NHL tries to make happen while Herr Bettman is leading the way manages to fall flat on its face. It’s for this reason alone I have this nagging feeling that we’re destined to see a Dallas-Philadelphia Cup Final. After all, you have to bet that the NHL and NBC are praying for arguably the biggest hockey fan market (Detroit) to face off with team with two of the hottest rising stars in the league (Pittsburgh) in the Finals. Detroit and Pittsburgh would provide for some high-octane

I’m also convinced we’re going to be having a healthy dose of deja vu come Saturday May 17th. Remember last season when Ottawa and Buffalo had their Eastern Conference Final overtime game get bumped off of NBC in favor of coverage of the Preakness Stakes? Well guess what…the NHL schedule has again set itself up for conflict, this time with the potential to get the Red Wings and Stars bumped off of NBC in favor of the ponies. The Wings-Stars game on the 17th is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. ET. Coverage of the Preakness Stakes will begin at 5:00 p.m. Dallas did just play a four-overtime game with San Jose and virtually every game involving the Stars is a one-goal game. I can’t help but figure this is going to happen again and the NHL will rightfully get slapped around for things being this way.

All that said, the only goal for this round is for Sid the Kid and Evgeni Malkin to get a date with Datsyuk and Zetterberg in the Stanley Cup Finals – it’s now the Dream Matchup for the league and for television. Canada doesn’t have a stake in things this year so they’re happy to have hockey to watch in general.

Anything outside of Pittsburgh and Detroit will be a letdown to some degree and a Dallas-Philly Finals will be extremely disappointing and not nearly as fun to watch. Since Round 2’s goal set was a complete letdown, we’re carrying it over to the Conference Finals in hope that it will be fulfilled for the betterment of hockey.

01/07/2008

Beating Them To The Punch

Filed under: Jason Blake,Philadelphia Flyers,Steve Downie — Joe Yerdon @ 9:01 AM

Right when you thought it was safe to go back on the ice….the Flyers strike again.

If you check out the video, you’ll see Flyers rookie and now notorious cheap-shot artist Steve Downie being restrained by one of the linesmen in the Flyers game with the Toronto Maple Leafs this past Saturday night. Downie had gotten into a scrap with Maple Leafs winger Jason Blake.

Blake is known in Flyers circles for speaking out about Steve Downie’s elbow attack on Ottawa’s Dean McAmmond in a pre-season game that knocked McAmmond out of action for a while and earned Downie a 20-game suspension:

“I’ve got one thought: This (Downie) should not be (allowed) to play in the
league again,” Blake told a Toronto radio station.

“One day a player is not going to get up, so something needs to be done
about hits of that nature.”

Well, thank goodness Steve Downie got recalled from the AHL because now in his fifth NHL game, he’s shown the mettle that he’s made of….by thumbing another player in the eye!

Unreal – I know all of this reflects poorly on the Flyers, after all, they’re the dopes employing these morons, however Downie has shown nothing that says he should stay employed in the NHL. Tack on another ten games to the 20 he got earlier this year and send the message.

We’ll see what Herr Bettman has to say when he finally rolls out of bed after a long, tough weekend.

07/01/2007

Lessons Learned

It’s pretty clear that after Day One of the Free Agency Frenzy of 2007, one that kicked off with word that the NHL Salary Cap would be at $50 million and the salary floor at about $35 million, NHL owners have learned absolutely nothing about how to do business.

It started off before the period began with the deal Philadelphia made with Nashville to lock up the free agents that Nashville wouldn’t/couldn’t/didn’t want to re-sign. Philadelphia acquired them and then locked them up for obscene, market-shaking contracts.

Philadelphia then followed that up with kicking things off today signing away now former Sabres star centerman Daniel Briere to an eight-year $52 million dollar deal. Let me break this down for you, that’s an average of 6.5 million per year, except that this year alone Briere will make $10 million dollars.

$10 MILLION DOLLARS FOR ONE YEAR!

Since that stupidity wasn’t enough, the New York Rangers, formerly the team known as fiscal irresponsibility until the Briere/Timonen/Hartnell signings by Philadelphia, then decided to take back the crown they had stolen from them by Ed Snider. They signed former Devils centerman Scott Gomez and former Sabres centerman/folk hero Chris Drury to separate deals that average out to $7 million dollars a season. Gomez’s contract also has the fun stipulation of paying him $10 million dollars in the first year. Let me reiterate that one more time.

$10 MILLION DOLLARS FOR ONE YEAR!

The lack of responsibility on the part of the owners here is both stunning and unsurprising. It’s stunning because we’re only two seasons removed from a lockout that has done more to harm the NHL than it has to help it. A lockout where the owners wouldn’t settle until there was “cost certainty” and the players wanted to make sure they could still make their money. Fans wanted there to be hockey at reasonable prices and the kind of hockey that wouldn’t make even the most die-hard of fans cry at the boredom.

It appears that in the long run, that even though the Players Association most certainly got raked over the coals by the Owners at first, they are definitely the winners now with contracts like these.

Did the Flyers crazy spending spur the Rangers to reply in kind? The Rangers, a team desperate for defensive help who then goes and picks up two of the three premiere centermen at costs that shake the foundation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement they signed not even three years ago. The Flyers insanity is nothing new, but just the fact that they were able to rook over the Predators once again to be able to do it is stunning in and of itself.

The Flyers signing of Timonen shook the market up for defensemen quite obviously as Brian Rafalski, formerly of the Devils, signed with Detroit for 5 years and $30 million dollars. Scott Hannan, formerly of the Sharks, signs with Colorado for four years and $18 million. Many of you might even be asking, “Who the hell is Scott Hannan?!”

And now late news has the Avalanche signing Ryan Smyth, who weepily left Edmonton when he was traded to the New York Islanders and left fans counting down the days to Canada Day and the start of the free agency period praying he’d come back home to Canada and Edmonton…signed for 5 years and $31 million dollars.

I mean, seriously, holy crap! It’s amazing to me that these owners are now fully bought into whatever Gary Bettman is feeding them, that the league is financially solvent and apparently making money hand over fist enough to keep upping the salary cap and floor and allow them to spend like drunken fools with asinine contracts with ridiculous financial costs and yearly investment. I’m speechless at all this – so much so that I don’t have the muster to comment on Nashville’s Craig Leipold running away from Jim Balsillie and into the arms of Boots Del Biaggio and eventually back to an NHL graveyard in Kansas City.

We’ve already seen all these big names come off the board, and we’ve still got Paul Kariya out there waiting to move and Peter Forsberg left wondering if his foot will be good enough to loan out his oft-injured self out to another sucker team.

And you thought the NHL off-season was boring.

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