Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Change Is Inevitable

I understand that professional hockey is a business. I get it when teams are bleeding red and looking for a way to make it stop. In hockey, teams try all sort of things to make money: promotions, acquiring superstars, and finding more sponsors. The one thing I've never understood is why teams that are bleeding money trade their best players away when they need them more than ever. This brings me to the deal that the Nashville Predators and Philadelphia Flyers swung on June 18.

The Predators dealt the rights to free-agents-to-be Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen to the Flyers for the same first-round pick they dealt to the Flyers to get Peter Forsberg who is also an impending free agent. The Flyers wasted little time in signing both of these players. Hartnell signed with Flyers on a 6-year, $25.2 million deal for a cap hit of $4.2 million per year, while Timonen agreed to terms on a 6-year, $37.8 million contract for an annual cap hit of $6.3 million.

Here's the kicker. The Predators have to average 14,000 fans this season in order for Jim Balsillie not to enact a clause in the lease with the Sommet Centre to leave. David Poile, if he doesn't re-sign Forsberg, essentially traded Hartnell and Timonen for nothing. The overall effect of that Forsberg trade, at this point, is that Nashville traded Hartnell and Timonen for Forsberg, and have nothing to show for it three months later.

If you're trying to keep a team in town, this certainly doesn't help. Three stars gone, and all you're left holding is a draft pick. Good luck, Nashville. Hamilton is a nice place to live, I've heard.
It appears to me that the Boston Bruins are the team that enjoys garage sales the most in the NHL. Or maybe they're just garbage-pickers. Either way, it appears that if you've been dismissed from the New Jersey Devils as a coach, the next place you're going to end up is behind the bench of the Bruins. While the official announcement is expected today, the Bruins have confirmed to TSN that Julien will be announced as the head coach. Julien follows in the footsteps of Robbie Ftorek, another former Devils coach who was dumped before the playoffs, in terms of resurfacing in Beantown.

Honestly, I believe Julien to be a solid coach with a good understanding of the game. I think this will be a good hiring for the Bruins, but it may take a couple of years to see any immediate change. Boston has some talent, but not enough goaltending and not enough pure scoring talent to challenge for the divisional title. However, Julien should show results, and that is good news for Boston.
After a listening to rumours all week about a shake-up in Ottawa's front office, it finally happened. John Muckler is out, and Bryan Murray is in. Less than two weeks after their most successful season ever, the Senators made a major move in trying to take the next step to a Stanley Cup victory. Bryan Murray was due to be a free agent in a couple of weeks, and it could be said that this was a way to secure Murray's services when he was interested in becoming a general manager once his coaching contract with Ottawa expired. In any case, Bryan Murray will be making the final say on who gets drafted in Columbus on Friday night, and John Muckler will be watching from home.

I can't say this is a bad move. Muckler's made two significant moves during his tenure. He helped organize the Martin Havlat trade in which the Senators received defenseman Tom Preissing. He also swapped Marian Hossa and Greg de Vries for star winger Dany Heatley. Muckler brought in Mike Comrie, Oleg Saprykin, and Martin Gerber, but all have been disappointments in terms of their overall contribution.

Murray, as it has been documented, was largely responsible for the Anaheim Ducks' success this season as he had been responsible for bringing in players like Andy McDonald, Dustin Penner, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Chris Kunitz. It appears that Ottawa is hoping that Murray can bring the same young talent to Ottawa in order to help them win the Cup.

The only way to have Murray do that would be to remove Muckler. Time will tell if this is a good move by the Senators.
As I have been mentioning since last week, the Rbk Edge Uniform System is coming to a rink near you sometime this summer. Both the NHL and the AHL will be using this new "uniform system" next season, and people are anxious to see what this new "system" will look like.

Thanks to "bcrt2000" over on the HFBoards.com site, it appears he snapped a couple of photos during the Quad Cities' logo unveiling ceremony that shows the new Rbk Edge template in action. The home jerseys and road jerseys are nothing special, and hardly differ from their current jerseys aside from the lack of horizontal stripes. I will say that the lack of horizontal stripes is a big loss to the jerseys as they look more like cycling shirts than hockey jerseys, but I'm still willing to give them a chance. I'll see more at the draft this Friday, but I believe we're looking at Calgary's new look here as well.

Ok, that's all for today. Have a good one! Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

1 comment:

Sage Confucius said...

I almost cried when I heard that Hartnell and Timonen had been traded. I understand that Leipold does not want to be stuck with a payroll he will lose a lot of money on if the NHL Board of Governors votes against the sale. But to trade away two of the franchise's top players helps no one. I would like to note that this trade occurred just three days after Leipold invoked the attendance clause in the lease with the city. In that press release he said the following - “Our hope remains that the combination of passionate fans that we know this team has, along with renewed efforts of the business community, will enable the franchise to meet the necessary goals to make the franchise successful on and off the ice in Nashville.” By trading these players, and revealing that fan favorites like Paul Kariya, will not even be pursued as free agents has taken %50 of the draw capability off the table. If the BoG does not settle something soon, and Balsillie informed whether or not he needs to start paying for some folks, the only people at Preds games will be people like me who will watch any hockey game, anywhere. There are not enough of those people in all of Tennessee to meet the 14k minimum.

I will attend as many games as I can and encourage everyone I know to do the same. Ultimately, I feel that this will be the final season of the NHL in Nashville.