Monday, 26 November 2007

Beer League and Beers

Well, I have returned after what can only be called a "college-esque" type weekend. There was hockey on Friday evening, the corporate politically-correct "holiday party" on Saturday, and the Grey Cup party for the CFL on Sunday. Let's just say that many drinks were enjoyed, and lots of food was eaten. Lost in the midst of my drinking and eating was a few great hockey games and some hockey news. Brian Burke is hard at work in trying to change the game to benefit someone, most likely, himself. Shutouts were out in full force this weekend. And there's controversy in Toronto. Let's get at it.

My So-Called GM: Brian Burke is going to be running a conference call today to try and rally his GM brethren to allow teams to move salary to other teams when they trade players, and to discuss the "outrageous" suspensions handed out to certain players this season.

Burke's idea of trading salary is an interesting idea, but not one I endorse. The hard salary cap was put in place to protect GMs from overspending and outbidding on marginal players, thereby driving up the market price for players who certainly are not worth millions.

I understand that Mr. Burke will have a slight salary cap problem if and when Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne decide to return. They haven't filed retirement papers yet, and Niedermayer is skating in California as we speak. Perhaps he shouldn't have signed Todd Bertuzzi to a ridiculous contract, basically making him an unmovable "asset" in terms of a trade.

As for the suspension topic, Mr. Burke needs to keep quiet. Downie and Boulerice got what they deserved for their deliberate and calculated headshots. Anything less than a quarter of the season, and there would have been outrage within the NHL ranks.

If Mr. Burke pulls off this coup, he's a better salesman than I have ever given him credit for. And that is why he is one of the best GMs out there in the game today.

Dollars For Donuts: The shutout was a common denominator is several games this past weekend.

Pascal Leclaire of the Columbus Blue Jackets posted his sixth shutout of the season, breaking the Columbus franchise record for shutouts in a season. He put up a wall against the Minnesota Wild on Friday night as Columbus won 4-0. If Leclaire continues his stonewall act, he's on pace for about 20 shutouts this season.

Martin Brodeur made 22 saves on Friday night as the New Jersey Devils shutout the Atlanta Thrashers 3-0. It was Brodeur's first shutout of the season, leaving him eleven shutouts short of the all-time NHL record.

The Barney Rubble Hairpieces scored a 3-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday thanks to the goaltending of back-up goalie Jocelyn Thibault. It was his first shutout since March 14 of last year when he shut the door on the New Jersey Devils by the same score.

Marc-Andre Fleury picked up a 5-0 shutout win for Pittsburgh over the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday, the second time in two nights the Thrashers had been shutout. They have gone 132 minutes, 12 seconds without scoring. Fleury's second shutout of the season could be the spark that the Penguins need in order to climb back into the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference.

Manny Legace stopped 24 shots on Sunday as the St. Louis Blues downed the Calgary Flames by a score of 3-0. Legace recorded his second shutout of the season in the victory. Calgary seemed to be a step slower all night, having played three games in four days, and the scoreboard reflected that.

And, for the last shutout of the weekend, the Vancouver Canucks' Roberto Luongo made 27 stops to help Vancouver to a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. It was Luongo's second shutout of the season, and certainly more enjoyable than the shutout he earned in the 1-0 shootout loss to the Oilers ten days before.

Smoke From The Big Smoke: As much as I loathe the Maple Leafs, it brings me no joy in hearing reports that John Ferguson Jr. was trying to fire Paul Maurice. Of course, JFJ has categorically denied this allegation, but there is truth to every rumour, so I'm sure this may have been discussed at some point in the Big Smoke.

I find it funny that JFJ thinks that Paul Maurice can be blamed for the losses that are piling up for the Maple Leafs when they have abysmal defence, scary goaltending, and one line of offensive ability. They were taken to the woodshed by the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday, losing 5-1 to one of the worst teams in the NHL. Friday night saw the Leafs drop a 3-1 decision to the Dallas Stars. Yet JFJ will tell you that the Leafs are "an elite hockey club".

According to TSN, "President of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment Richard Peddie said that he won't be making any hasty decisions.

"'We're trying not to be reactionary in this tough time,' Peddie told The Canadian Press. 'The fact is John is under contract and we want him and Paul focused on winning hockey games and turning around this situation'."

The problem is that JFJ's ability to judge talent is far from being as good as mediocre. He is the same GM that signed defenceman Pavel Kubina to a $5 million-per-year contract through the 2009-2010 season. Kubina responded with seven goals and 14 assists last season, hardly a $5 million man. This season, Kubina has one goal and ten assists thus far, but, again, hardly worth $5 million per season.

He also signed "marquee" defenceman Bryan McCabe to a $5.75 million-per-year contract through the 2010-11 season. He scored 15 goals and 42 assists for 57 points last season, which are decent numbers. 11 of his 15 goals came on the powerplay, so one could make a case for the raise if McCabe continued to show improvement to his game. Instead, McCabe has played exceptionally brutal this season, scoring four goals and six assists in 18 games while posting a team-worst -10. $5.75 million for the worst even-strength player on the team? $5.75 million for a giveaway in overtime to lose a game against hated rival Montreal? $5.75 million for a goal scored on your own team against division-rival Buffalo? Wow.

If you need any reason why the Leafs won't win a Stanley Cup in the next decade, you can trace the path back to three letters: JFJ. And if anyone should be fired, his initials are JFJ.

Ok, that's all for today. If you notice your blog missing from the blogs on the right, it's because you probably haven't updated in a while. If you'd like to get back on the list, please email me. Otherwise, you need to update more than once per week in order for people to click off my page onto yours.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Kirsten said...

Sounds like an excellent weekend. I was out of town, but I heard about the Grey Cup game from a Riders fan, so needless to say it was less than fun to listen to.

According to Luc (who goes to school in Montreal, but was just in the T-dot for hockey) thinks that Toronto is going to explode. He didn't expand on that much, but he was rather intoxicated at the time. I agree with you. Maurice is doing the best he can with what he has, which isn't a lot. JFJ is angering Leafs Nation, and that's never a good idea. You must be seriously fucking up if you are trying the patience of the most loyal fans on Earth.

Jibblescribbits said...

Burke can go to hell.

Seriously no one has done more to damage the game than this guy. HE continues to be the force behind the culture that lets the Hartnell's, Brad May's, and Jones hits continue.

He uses the "he was asking for it" defense for all those hits. Then he goes and overspends, wisely because it won him a Stanley Cup, and then wants them to change the rules for him. If he didn't want to go over the cap he could have not signed Bertuzzi for $8M, but he did. That mistake hurts him. Too bad.

Man I hate that guy

Kirsten said...

I agree completely. I should make a facebook group about how Brian Burke should go to hell. I bet I could get a lot of people to join.