I apologize to all that have been following that I have not posted very much in the last few days. I have had other obligations to deal with, and quite frankly, my level of disenchantment with the National Hockey League was nearing red alert, and it felt like a good couple days to decompress before writing something I couldn’t take back. A lot has happened in the last few days, so maybe it is best to just break it down step by step.
This “Award Show” was possibly one of the more embarrassing items to hit cable television in a while. Being that it is an award show, the bar is already a little bit low, but this was just horrendous. There were multiple elements that were bad beyond mention, but perhaps the worst part of this whole charade was the lack of attention given to the purpose of the evening, the awards. Many of the categories, no matter how inconsequential, the winner was simply displayed on stage with the trophy and very little mentioned about what they had won. In about seven categories, the runners up were never even introduced. Instead of all the “B” list celebrities next year, why not just get back to hockey people.
The second thing that got under my skin, for whatever reason, is after seeing Mark Messier introduce his own award. It’s not that I don’t think he was a great leader, but how on earth does Mess get his name on an award before the Likes of Orr, Gretzky, Bowman, and an infinite list of players that truly defined the game of hockey. If your looking for a group that is badly in need of a change,
James Norris Memorial Trophy – The Norris family is famous for both the Blackhawks and the Red Wings, but what gets very little attention is the federal investigation into the relationship between the Norris family and Frankie Carbo of the Lucchese crime syndicate of New York. Why not name the award for best defenseman in the game after the defenseman that defined the modern game – Bobby Orr.
Jack Adams Memorial Trophy – With all due respect to the man, he won 3 Stanley Cups in 14 years with the Detroit Red Wings, and he had losing records in 7 of those 14 seasons. This does not even begin to address the fact that he did this in a league with six teams. If the standard that is held to teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs, that there glory was earned in a six team league, than the same should go for a major award. Scotty Bowman was a coach in the league for thirty seasons with five teams, and has ONE losing season (3-7 with Buffalo, quit to be a television analyst in 86-87). His career winning percentage is just under 60%, and he won 9 Stanley cups. No disrespect to Mr. Adams, but this award is in dire need of changing.
Every year this topic comes up in the mainstream media, and just like all else in hockey, usually nothing happens to change it. I suspect nothing else will change, but the NHL really should reconsider, as not only do most modern fans not know the origins of the awards they celebrate, they probably wouldn’t care much if they did.
This game of chicken is rather interesting, as each side thinks that they have the upper hand. The Leafs are almost positive that nobody else is chasing the goalie, and the Canucks are trying to start a bidding war between two teams that are lukewarm on the idea of taking the player to begin with. It does make one wonder what the asking price is, as Luongo would certainly be more helpful than any other player that could be acquired this summer by Burke. The Leafs, whether the fans and media in Toronto want to believe it, need Roberto Luongo quite badly. The last established goalie to play in Toronto was Eddie Belfour, and that was far too long ago. If the plan is seriously to build from the net out, sticking kids that have only proven themselves in small sample sizes is not the way to do it.
This one is going to be quick and easy, he will look to maybe move to five teams other than Phoenix, none of them being the Leafs. Doan is 35 years old and looking for a term of three to four years on a contract. This will likely be one of the last contracts he signs, and being this late in his career, he will only want to go to a contending team. If six years was too much for a 30 year old Brad Richards last year, one has to assume that 4 years for a 35 year old will not agree with Leafs management. If I were to handicap the teams he will look to, watch for Pittsburgh, Washington, Vancouver, San Jose, and Los Angeles. Imagine the Kings walking away from Dustin Penner with his$4.5 million cap hit, only to replace it with a much more consistent Doan.
Whether or not the kid signs with the Leafs, I am glad he did to Anaheim what he did. The widespread cry in the media about a player screwing over a team that drafted his is nonsense. He simply was patient and then exercised his rights, something everybody forgets about when it comes to athletes. The team has almost all of the power in nearly all situations from drafting to restricted free agency, and only when they hit unrestricted free agency do they actually have a chance to see what the teams are willing to do for them. Quite simply, the team has as much responsibility to the player as he has to the team. In this case, Schultz did not like the situation he would be walking into in Anaheim and wanted to see his options. Good for him.
If there is one player in free agency I could see in a Leafs sweater, watch for this guy. He is a smaller but faster version of Colby Armstrong, who has spent far too much time over the past two seasons in the Leafs infirmary. My theory on the lack of productivity from Armstrong over the past two years is that he has not had anybody else on the team that plays the way that he does. Any additional bangers the Leafs can acquire will help to implement the cycle game that Randy Carlyle spoke of over the last two weeks. With the announcement that Armstrong will be bought out, it seems all but certain that Prust will play for a second original six team.