Saturday, July 4, 2009

NHL Free Agency... West Edition Pt. 1

Hockey Time!


Less than a month ago the Penguins won the cup.

Since then, a lot of stuff has happened. The draft and free agency have changed the look of basically every team, for better (Chicago) or worse (New Jersey). Now the questions of the next season are more clear.

Can the Pens repeat without Rob "The Piece" Scuderi? Will the Red Wings ever not be awesome? Did Chicago's young guns gain the experience to make it to the next step? Did the Caps do enough to stay elite? Will the Islanders not suck with #1 pick John Tavares?????

I will give a team-by-team breakdown of the changes they've made, and also one reason why you should care about that team. I wont go through EVERY change, so fourth liners, backup goalies and assistant coaching changes wont be getting any ink.

First the West. Let's Do This.

Anaheim Mighty Ducks

Well, they lost their beast of a defenseman Chris Pronger, but managed to get a whole lot back in return including the solid forward Joffrey Lupul (25 goals last year) and two first-round picks.
Losing Pronger doesn't make any team better, but with the graybeards Neidermayer, Neidermayer, and Selanne returning, and the solid goaltending of Hiller and Giguere, they'll make the playoffs.

Why you should care:

Adam Banks.

Calgary Flames

The Flames got the crown jewel of this year's free agency acquiring Jay Bouwmeester. He's as reliable a defenseman as anyone in the NHL. Not exciting, but I guess defensive defensemen shouldn't be anyway. Flames will be solid this year. I always considered the Flames the prototypical Western Conference team. Solid defense, love to hit, not scared to win their games 2-1.

Why you should care:

Their crowd is pretty.

Chicago Blackhawks

In the NHL, it pays to suck. After sucking for many many years, Chicago is now kind of a big deal, with many early first round picks now playing for them. Two of the best young stars in the game with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will guarantee the Blackhawks will be in the playoffs for a while. They also signed the Cup-chasing mercenary Marian Hossa for the like 45 years. Hossa. What a joke. More on him later. The 'Hawks did lose Martin Havlat, but Hossa should be able to take his place scoring goals. They lost Khabibulan to the Oilers, so a question mark will be goalie Huet. But he does have the coolest goalie nickname in the game, Cristobal "Crystal Ball" Huet.

Why you should care:
Toews is INSANE.

Colorado Avalanche

Long gone are the days where your friend would choose The Avalanche on NHL '98 and Forsberg and Sakic would eat you alive. They been kind of a joke for a while now. They traded Jason Smythe to the Kings for for peanuts, just to get rid of his huge contract, and haven't added much in free agency. They did draft a stud in Matt Duchene with the third pick, but he might not be ready this year. Looks like a tough swan song season for the awesome Joe Sakic.

Why you should care:

I teared up.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Like anyone cares. They locked up their best player Rick Nash for 8 years, all of which he will be dying alive.

Why you should care:
I got nothing

Dallas Stars

Wow three duds in a row. Kind of similar to the Avalanche. One ripe for retirement star in Mike Modano, and not much else. Did nothing of note in free agency, and will have a new coach this year. Three teams in a row that won't make it to the big dance.

Why you should care:

Mike's girl Willa Ford is hot. You can almost see him saying "Yep. This is mine"

Detroit Red Wings

Not much to say. Detroit is seemingly always awesome. They do everything good. Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen, Kronwall, sooo many good players. But they did lose Hossa. Hossa, Hossa, Hossa.

Hossa deserves his own paragraph. Hossa last 2 years: Lose in the finals. Join the team you lost against for a " better chance to win the cup" Lose in the finals AGAIN against the team you left for that "better chance" What a joke. This is possibly my favorite picture of all time.

Suck it.

The Wings didn't do much in free agency, because they don't have to. They won the cup without Hossa 2 years ago, and they definitely could do it again this year.

Why you should care:

Hard not to like their jerseys. Just looks like hockey.

Edmonton Oilers

Must be tough to be an Edmonton fan. After Chris Pronger's wife demanded they move away from Edmonton 3 years ago, now Dany Heatley, a player that demanded a trade, refused to waive his no trade clause because he didn't want to play in Edmonton. Could it be the curse of trading Gretzky??

In free agency, the Oilers have landed aging goalie Khabibulin from Chicago. Not too sure about that move as Khabibulin is already 36. Oilers have the ridiculously skilled Ales Hemsky, and rock of a defensemen Sheldon Souray, but not much else. Heatley would have really fit in nicely here; without him I think they wont score enough goals to make the playoffs.

Why you should care:

Dedicated Fans. That's a backyard rink. SICK.

OK 8 down 22 more.. Next up... the last 7 west teams.


GoodPointJoe said...

What the hell are Penguins fans so mad about when it comes to Hossa? He left, so what? People leave teams all the time, and life goes on around the world. Were Hossa's 26 points in 20 games for the Penguins during the '08 playoffs an insult to Pittsburgh fans? Christ, you guys have the memories of gypsy moths.

And how exactly can you have a laugh at Hossa who had 40 goals last season? Also, even though he was quieted in the Stanley Cup round, he accumulated 15 points in 22 playoff games. He's as much a reason that the Red Wings made it to the finals as anyone.

Hockey is a game of lucky bounces and the amplification of tiny mistakes. He was a vital part of teams in back-to-back seasons that came within a couple of bounces of being world champions. He's obviously not a joke.

It bothers me when people whose favorite teams actually win titles use the opportunity to make fun of their opponents. Especially when it was just one year earlier when you guys felt the agony of defeat. You guys could afford to show a little more humility.

James said...


Pens fans(I guess I'm the spokesperson)problem with Hossa is how he HANDLED his leaving with the Pens.

First he did the usual thing, "Well I'd love to come back, we'll see what happens" talk at the end of the year. No problem there

THEN, he said Penguins are my first choice to come back.

THEN, Penguins offered a long term deal worth about 8 million.

THEN, he signed with the Red Wings for a one year deal for LESS MONEY than the Penguins were offering for SEVEN years.

So he outright lied to the media about the Penguins being first choice.

THEN he said outright "The Red Wings have a better chance to win the cup this year"

How do you think the Penguins players felt towards Hossa? Many players said in the media he told them he would be back if at all possible. Another lie.

I think it's only natural for the fans to feel what we assume the player's feel on our favorite teams. When the player's on your team HATE a team, in turn the fans HATE that team. In this case it is one man.

In the end I am VERY happy Hossa left. The Salary cap is tight as it is, and I'm almost certain Stall or Letang and possibly more would be gone now if they had signed him.

I guess imagine;
1.Federov(or some other player) says
"I want to be a cap next year"
2.Caps over long term deal
3.Feds signs with different team for less money AND less term
4.Feds says"I left because X team has a better chance at the cup than the caps"
5.Caps win Cup AGAINST feds new team.

Don't tell me seeing Feds shake hands with your team that he CHOSE to leave for a "better chance" for the Cup wouldn't give you any added satisfaction.

GoodPointJoe said...

The Penguins may have been his first choice, just like my first choice in the cafeteria is sometimes pizza. But then I get down there and I say, "Oh, wow, that is a good-looking steak and cheese. I'll have that instead." First choices are what you say when you don't have all the information. He maybe could've said less about his intentions, to avoid having to go back on his initial comments, but I don't see his decision as sinister.

I don't know how the Penguins' players feel about Hossa, but my guess is that they're mostly just delighted that they were able to win the Stanley Cup.

The quote was that the Red Wings had a "little better" chance to win the Cup. You probably didn't even disagree with that statement at the time. The Wings looked great coming back, they were good all year, and they were good in the playoffs.

Also, what I read was that the Penguins offered $7 million per year, and he signed for ~$7.5 million. But he did allegedly turn down a long-term deal from Edmonton at $9 million per, so all you Oilers fans can feel snubbed if you so desire.

Let's fill in "X team" in your hypothetical scenario with the logical replacement: the Pittsburgh Penguins. Defending Stanley Cup champs, ousted the Caps in the playoffs. I couldn't argue his logic. The Penguins DO have a better chance at the Cup in 2010 than the Capitals. Vegas will say so, too, just as I'm sure Vegas had the Red Wings as more likely to win the Cup in 2009 than the Penguins.

I don't think I'd feel differently about Federov than I would any other Penguin. However, it's only fair to mention that I really hate the Penguins, so it would be difficult to hate Federov to any noticeably additional degree. :)

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