Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thrashers to Appall Your Friends Every Friday Night

Surely those of you who go to Thrashers games every now and then enjoy going to Friday night games. The atmosphere is usually fun, the beer is flowing, and it's the ideal way to introduce friends---or girlfriends/boyfriends, if you're lucky enough to be dating a human member of the opposite or same sex---to the splendid sport of Hockey.

Ah, it's so much fun, introducing the non-initiated to hockey via the comic antics of the Atlanta Thrashers. Explaining what icing may or may not be, giving reasons for the existence of the Ice Girls, watching their reactions as they go from merely amused to intensely interested.

But from now on the majority of these Friday night games with your friends/dates will be spent talking about how hideous the Thrashers' uniforms are.

"Why are their uniforms so horrendous?"

"Well, they don't NORMALLY wear those."

"Those are really ugly."

Et cetera.

Report from Practice

I hate to bump the excellent Ron Hainsey post below, but couldn't leave our readers without a report from today's practice.

Coach Ramsay emphasized offense on the after the Thrashers posted three goals in a losing effort to the visiting Nashville Predators.

After warming up, the team began with a drill intercepting passes coming out of the offensive zone then driving back in and getting off a quick shot from above the faceoff circles. That was followed by drills cycling the puck up high between a point man and winger, then two man breaks against the goalies, one on one drills, and finally three on two end to end drills.

Dustin Byfuglien did not skate and Chris Vivlamore attributed that to an ankle injury he is still nursing. Jimmy Slater once again skated but did not take part in drills.

Interesting line combinations today included Burmistrov skating with the bruisers between Thorburn and Eager, a Swedistan line with Antropov, Modin, and Petterson, and a speedy line of Peverly between Kane and Stewart.

With Slater and Cormier still on the sidelines, might we see Burmistrov get a little taste of the NHL, playing five or six minutes a night for the first few games before being sent back to Junior to gain muscle and experience?

Facts About Ron Hainsey

So a few days ago Mr. Recaps---the proprietor of the fine analytical blog Thrashers Recaps---asked us Chronicle folk if we would be interested in compiling an epic list of "facts" about Ron Hainsey. The idea is humbly borrowed from Rudy Kelly's classic "Facts About Patrick Marleau" posts at the Battle of California, truly some of the funniest written material to ever appear on the Interwebs.

Here's our Hainseyfied version. Mr. Recaps supplied many facts, as did your TBC editor. We'll leave it to you to guess who came up with what (his are the super-funny ones). Mr. Recaps will be posting this EXACT same post on his blog sometime in the very near future, so hooray!

Without further ado...


One time Ron Hainsey shoutcasted a game on Sportsouth, but he stumbled over his words and accidentally kept calling the opposition the "Wed Rings".

Ron Hainsey walks in on other peoples conversations and asks what they're talking about.

Ron Hainsey's favorite MTV personality is Carson Daly.

Ron Hainsey watches MTV.

One time someone said something funny in the locker room and Ron Hainsey laughed too loudly and it became awkward. Since then, he has intentionally laughed loud at jokes to make it seem like that is his normal laugh.

Ron Hainsey always tries to pronounce foreign words in the accent of that language.

Ron Hainsey still confuses East and West.

One time during practice coach Anderson said "Well I'll be a monkey's uncle". Ron Hainsey had never heard that phrase before and got so confused that he spent the rest of the practice trying to figure out how that was even possible.

Ron Hainsey wears a onesy to bed.

Ron Hainsey once took part in a medical study. He was the 1% that experienced nausea and vomiting.

Colton Orr once challenged Ron Hainsey to a fight, and during the arguing that ensued Hainsey pretended that he didn't understand that Orr wanted to fight and skated off to the bench.

Ron Hainsey reads books in the evenings.

Ron Hainsey likes the Olive Garden commercials.

Ron Hainsey saw the 1998 film 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain in the theater. He was 17.

Ron Hainsey claims to have invented the Ove Glove.

Ron Hainsey owns a wide collection of lufas.

Ron Hainsey has Word 2007 and accidentally saves all his files in docx format. Everyone gets mad at him because they can't open his files.

Ron Hainsey played the clarinet in high school marching band, but none of the band kids wanted to hang out with him.

When Ron Hainsey has lunch with someone, he is terrified of getting food stuck in his teeth and goes to the bathroom multiple times to check.

Ron Hainsey has recently been depantsing everyone in the locker room and proclaiming "WEEEE!!!" Several team members have repeatedly told him to stop.

Ron Hainsey claims that leap year is a conspiracy created by the calendar industry to force us to buy new calendars every year. He has given several controversial seminars on the subject.

Ron Hainsey keeps a small blue stuffed dolphin on his desk. When people ask him about it he tells them it’s his “spirit animal.”

Ron Hainsey wakes up every morning, gazes into the mirror, and says, “Remember who you are.”

Ron Hainsey rarely addresses anyone directly, but when he does he calls people “buddy,” which makes everyone feel weird.

Ron Hainsey often sits in the corner of the locker room humming songs from the first five Van Halen albums.

Ron Hainsey sometimes reminisces about how he “used to fuck ALL KINDS of fat chicks.”

Ron Hainsey has been known to sit quietly through team meetings and then suddenly exclaim, “JEEZUS, this is boring!” It can be very startling.

Ron Hainsey had a totally sweet personal shopper named Craig until the Great Recession hit.

Ron Hainsey has been known to pull out his iPhone and look at, muttering under his breath about “investments.”

Ron Hainsey was so excited when he got a Gibson Les Paul for Christmas one year.

Ron Hainsey taught himself to play “Johnny B. Goode.”

Ron Hainsey often wonders when he can finally quit this hockey gig and buy a vineyard.

Ron Hainsey has been known to make Ondrej Pavelec uncomfortable by talking about his bong and doing inept impressions of a stoner.

Ron Hainsey didn’t know whether to feel flattered or embarrassed when his hairdresser said, “You know who you look like? The little guy in Lord of the Rings? He also played Batman, right?”

Ron Hainsey was once having a conversation with Tobias Enstrom. At some point Enstrom said something Hainsey couldn’t quite make out, but he nodded along anyway and pretended to understand. It turns out Toby was asking him a question. Ron just sat there nodding and chuckling and going “Yeah, haha, yeah, I know, mhmm” while Toby waited for his answer.

Ron Hainsey once went to Kinko’s and had several “Ron Hainsey, Esq.” business cards printed.

When asked by a journalist why the Thrashers won some game one time, Ron Hainsey responded, “It’s the moon, isn’t it? It’s the moon. Yeah...” His voice trailed off into a whisper and he walked away saying “it’s the moon, it’s the moon” over and over.

Ron Hainsey keeps a mini-fridge in his locker.

For the life of him, Ron Hainsey doesn’t understand why he can’t also keep a mini-bar in his locker.

Ron Hainsey doesn’t have a pool but regularly describes “my pool” because no one on the team has ever been to his house.

Ron Hainsey regularly calls Zach Bogosian “Cliff,” even though Bogo has corrected him several times.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Game Day: Predators

The Thrashers play the second of a home and home with the Predators tonight at Philips Arena.

According to the official website, the roster will feature mostly players who are a lock to make the NHL squad, plus a few scrappers hoping to break in:


With Jimmy Slater and Patrice Cormier still on the sidelines, I expect Petterson, Dawes, and Stewart to be wearing the blue on October 8th. Once Jimmy and Cormier come back, Dawes and probably Stewart will make their way to either the press box or to the AHL.

Kulda and Meyer are fighting for the honor of eating free popcorn in the press box while watching Buff, Bogo, Toby, Oduya, Hainsey, and Sopel man the blueline. While I think Kulda is a better player, I would prefer to have him racking up ice time in Chicago than sitting idle in the rafters of Philips.

Boris is still here, but will be sitting this game out. I am not sure that any of us who watched him earlier in the preseason really need to take another look before sending him packing.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Excellent Read on Race in Hockey

A Canuck (as in Vancouver, not just some Canadian guy) blogger has written a great post about the Thrashers' acquisitions of black players in the past year and about race/nationality in the NHL in general.

It is well worth the time to read. In it, he states that bringing in an underrepresented race to the locker room, as long as the players belong there *cough*Brashear*cough* is a far different thing than excluding players on the basis of race. He points to what he believes to be an example of the latter in the Indiana Pacers locker room. I am not sure that I agree with his example, but I know nothing other than what he has written about the situation.

He goes on to compare bringing black player to Atlanta to stockpiling Francophone players in Montreal or Western Canadian players in Vancouver.

I have certainly harbored a desire to have more American born players on our team in the past, for the simple reason that they are more like me than Canadian or European born players. Of course they are all very much UNlike me in that they are good at hockey, except for Chris Tamer.

Our issue in building a fan base in Atlanta goes farther than race, as I pointed out in the comment section of that post. There is a hostility towards hockey here. I encounter it when my friend Brad makes his trite comment "there ain't no ice outside! Why aren't we watching the Dawgs?" I encounter it every time Jeff Schultz deems to write about the Thrashers.

Hockey is foreign to Atlantans. Folks in their late 30's or older may remember the Flames and have passing memories of the Knights, but they didn't grow up with the game and the vast majority have never worn a pair of skates.

We still need more rinks in Atlanta. People need the opportunity to play hockey in order to grow to love it. Soccer requires nothing but a ball. Ditto for football, in the back yard at least. Basketball just needs a ball and one of the nets that is ubiquitous around the country. Baseball only requires a ball, gloves, and a bat.

The two sports that have the hardest time bringing in new fans, and in particular, fans of races that generally occupy lower socio-economic categories, are golf and hockey. Why? Perception and money.

People think of golf and hockey as white sports. They think of golf, at least, as an elitist sport. That's because both sports are very expensive to play.

In golf, you have to acquire clubs, balls, and cleats, then pay for the privilege to play or even to practice hitting balls. In hockey, you have to buy skates, pads, a helmet, gloves, a stick, and pucks, then you have to pay for the privilege to play or even to practice. You can practice in your driveway on expensive roller blades or in your shoes with a tennis ball, but that doesn't translate to the real game.

If we want hockey to become accepted in Atlanta, we have to make hockey accessible to more Atlantans. We need more rinks, and we need programs to get poorer kids on the ice. We need to find ways to get skates on poorer kids feet and sticks in their hands, then get them on the ice.

We don't have the advantage of our Canadian brethren who can enjoy free ice time outdoors from November through April. We have to pay to skate year round and take turns.

The best way to improve hockey's footprint here is going to be through programs to get as many kids on the ice as possible. We need programs with community pads and skates that get sanitized then passed out to the next kid as one kid outgrows them, and we need rinks to lower their fees while expanding their leagues to make up in volume what they are losing in individual fees.

If you've felt what it's like to step out onto the ice before a game, taking those first few strides on the fresh ice and lined up for the first puck drop of the night, then you're going to love hockey no matter what. You will watch a Japan/Belerus international match because you love the game.

Catching potential fans' attention with faces that resemble their own is all well and good, but they won't truly be won over until they've learned to tape a Koho and pass a water bottle over the heads of ten teammates without sending it flying onto the ice.

For the Blueland Chronicle, I'm Razor Catch Prey.

Let's Not Lose Our Heads Over JR's Wacky Comments

(photoshop credit, now and forever, goes to Aaron of BWA)

So Jeremy Roenick said something incendiary about the Atlanta Thrashers, according to Chris Vivlamore:

“That might be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Dustin Byfuglien as a defenseman. I would love to play against Dustin Byfuglien as a defenseman. I would turn him inside out, left, right and center every single time. This kid, he made his living in front of the net scoring goals during the playoffs for the Chicago Blackhawks. Why on earth would you put him back as a defenseman? This kid is strong, he’s powerful, he’s a great skater. Put him in front of the net as a forward. That’s where you want him to do all his damage. Playing him as a defenseman? Maybe that’s why the Thrashers are 0-3 in preseason. Maybe that’s why nobody comes to watch their games. It’s crazy. What are they thinking? They already have a GM that doesn’t know the game whatsoever. But, hey, that’s just my opinion. Like me or hate me if you don’t [agree]. I’m not a big fan of Atlanta for a lot of reasons but the fact that they’re going to play Dustin Byfuglien [as a defenseman], my goodness gracious.”

It's not a secret that Jeremy Roenick has disliked Don Waddell for some time now because he left JR off of Team USA in 2006. For all we know, he STILL thinks Waddell is GM and doesn't even know Rick Dudley exists.

This is what JR does. He's theatrical, he's opinionated, he's a show-off. A very entertaining show-off at that. It wouldn't be terribly becoming of Thrashers fans to get ultra-outraged and play the "I'M OFFENDED, I'M VERY OFFENDED" game of hysteria and special pleading.

I beg the Thrashers fan base (not that I have any influence): Don't act like this is some epically big deal. You'll come off to everyone as thin-skinned and resentful. Just laugh it off or say "Ah, JR, what a doofus."

Oh, and Dustin Byfuglien shouldn't play defense.

OH, AND ALSO: I've read more than a few people weeping into their Haagen-Dazs because JR allegedly "hates Atlanta" or somehow dissed the entire city in his comments. He did no such thing. When he says, "I’m not a big fan of Atlanta for a lot of reasons..." he's CLEARLY using "Atlanta" as shorthand for the Atlanta Thrashers. First rule of grown-up reading: don't take everything literally.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Important News and Unimportant Musings

First, for anyone who has been looking to get a personalized sweater but didn't want to shell out over 150 clams for one, is having a one day free personalization promotion today. If you've been wanting a Byfuglien, Antropov, Bogosian or (hehe) Rissmiller jersey, now's the time to save off the usual price based on the length of the name.

I attempted to watch the practice of the few Thrashers who will not be participating in tonight's preseason game in Nashville but arrived too late. Apparently the team took the ice a little early and finished before noon. However, I did run into Vivlamore who informed me that Jimmy Slater was not at the rink today and there is still no word on exactly what is injured inside his wrist.

Ben Wright doth tweet earlier that Cormier would start the year in Atlanta but on the Injured Reserve list. So that means that Antropov (hip), Cormier (foot), and Slater (wrist) will likely miss time at the beginning of the year.

**EDIT** A new post from Vivlamore included this little quote from Ramsay about Antropov: "We are going to get [Nik Antropov] back, probably, and want to get in a couple games with him." So apparently he will be back before the season starts and will fill in one gap.

That makes the Thrashers' potential lineup a little thin, as I would expect it to look somewhat like this:





Dawes has not impressed me one bit in his lone pre-season game appearance or in practice. Stewart looks like a reliable NHL third line winger. Boulton normally plays on the left wing, but if Dawes isn't deemed to be servicable, we could see Stewart playing with Burmie and Ladd while either Boults or Eager moves to their off wing.

Once we get those three healthy (assuming for the sake of discussion we don't have more injuries in the meantime) the lineup looks much more stout, though it's still not one that's going to make NHL goaltenders lose sleep at night.





However, if Ramsay's system of offensively minded defensemen really takes hold in Atlanta and everyone contributes to the goal scoring, the skaters might be able to give Mason and Pavelec enough cushion to pull of some wins. I don't expect any one of our forwards to put up more than 20-25 goals, but if our blueliners can average 10 goals each, that might not be a hinderance.

PRE-SEASON GAME DAY: Nashville Predators

The unnatural effects of modern technology: these days predators don't stalk their prey; they just run it over with a four-wheeler.

If that shifty Vivlamore can be trusted, the Thrashers have sent Spencer Machacek, Riley Holzapfel and Noah Welch to the AHL.

What now? A pre-season game in Nashville?

I think so!

The roster for tonight's ice terror can be found on Vivlamore's blog (follow the link, etc.). All very exciting, but not as thrilling as fantasy hockey warfare, amirite?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

PRE-SEASON GAME DAY: Carolina Hurricanes

Not sure what the roster will be, though we THINK it might be that Group A group. Or is it? Who knows?

Hopefully many interesting things will happen tonight. Meaningless pre-season victory might arrive in a gleaming UFO.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Final Ever Fantasy Hockey Announcement

People of the Internet,

Scientists tracking strange beasts on the isle of Borneo have discovered the ACTUAL time and date of the Blueland Chronicle's 2010 Fantasy Hockey Draft.

Sunday, September 26th, 6:00pm EDT

Now you know. Be there or be a sad panda.

Does Dudley Meddle?

This is a topic Big Shooter and I have discussed before. Does Rick Dudley have his nose in his coach's business too much?

Consider the Byfuglien to defense issue. For weeks, Dudley spoke to the press about the possibility of moving Big Buff back to the blueline and we didn't hear a peep from Craig Ramsay. Finally, right before camp, we get word from Rammer that indeed the big guy would "come to camp as a defenseman."

Ramsay was hired by Dudley who had just spent weeks talking up Byfuglien's potential as a blueliner, so what choice did he have? The fact that he worded it with the qualifier of "come to camp as" sounded like he wasn't totally sold on the move.

Then, reading Chris Vivlamore's blog post on Chris Thorburn playing center, we get this gem from Rammer: “I have a pretty good hockey guy around me in Dudley, who informed me he thinks [Thorbs] could [play center]. If he says so, I believe him. So we are tying to give him a bit of a look.”

Is this a coach listening to what he feels to be sage advice and trying something out, or is this a coach getting leaned on by a micromanaging General Manager?

We know Dudley didn't get along with folks in Tampa and was fired. We know that he didn't get along with his head coach Mike Keenan (who does?) in Florida and Keenan eventually replaced him as GM.

I admit I don't have a mountain of evidence to which I can point, but is it something we as Thrasher fans should be concerned about?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Interesting Position Shifting

It's just practice, but the latest lines Coach Ramsay tried out today include both Antropov and Peverly playing on the wings.

The centers in that lineup were Little, Rissmiller, Machacek, Hozapfel, Burmistrov, and Thorburn.

I would be very surprised if Rissmiller or Hozapfel made the team out of camp, and don't expect to see Machacek either. Burmistrov will have to show some major improvement over rookie camp and Tuesday night's preseason game to prove that he belongs in the NHL this season.

So that puts us with only two NHL ready players practicing the pivot position today.

Jimmy Slater wasn't listed in that lineup at all, despite the fact that he was on the ice practicing both Tuesday and today. He adds one more NHL ready center.

Again, this is just practice and doesn't necessarily reflect what the lineup will look like on October 8, but I would say that unless Burmistrov and/or Machacek make major strides over the next couple of weeks, we can't ice a competitive team without either Antropov or Peverly playing center. Rolling Little, Burmistrov, Slater, and Thorburn down the middle just isn't going to cut it.


Following Vivlamore's tweet about Thorburn playing center and John Manasso's new article about Petterson's excellent chances of making the team, I took a look at the names currently in camp and made my own cuts to decide who was still going to be here for opening night.

12 Roster forwards:

Plus Cormier on IR and Dawes in the press box, despite Ben Wright's prediction.

9 Roster Defensemen:

Plus Boris and Meyer in the press box. I think Meyer will be a good one to keep around in case of an emergency. He's 29 years old and shouldn't take away ice time from our prospects in Chicago and he won't hurt us too much if he has to fill in. But if we have two or three days notice that one of our top 6 D-men have gone down, we should call up Kulda.

2 Goalies:

Guess who?- Pavelec and Mason.

No offense to Akim Aliu, Riley Holzapfel, Andrew Kozek, Spencer Machacek, Patrick Rissmiller, Arturs Kulda, Jaime Sifers, Noah Welch, and Andrei Zubarev, but you should all make reservations at Pizzaria Uno next week.

Official Editorial Position on HBO-Meets-NHL Smut

We LIKE this idea. Really, really like it.

Thank heavens, about time, etc.

And everyone whining "b-b-b-b-b-but I'm TIRED of Crosby and Ovechkin" should consider where this might go if the series is a big success.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why We Have The Internet

Go Thrashers, etc etc...

More Cuts

From Vivlamore: "@ajcthrashers Thrashers release six more players: Esposito, Forney, Paquette, Ross, Postma and Siklenka. Also Deveaux and McLaren released from pro tryout"

We know McLaren left the ice early yesterday during practice. He looked to be doing fine to me in the little bit I got to watch of drills. Perhaps he re-injured himself and the team decided he wasn't worth the risk. Esposito has been sidelined with a hip injury, but his knee appeared to be working fine during rookie camp.

Like I said in the comments section below, Paquette showed potential last night but has a ways to go. No surprise to see him head to Chicago.

Postma's early departure (without even making it into a preseason game) is a bit surprising considering how high many are on his potential.

Traffic Warning for Saturday's Preseason Game

Atlanta is going to be a VERY BUSY CITY this Saturday.

In addition to the 7:00 Thrashers preseason game, there is a Georgia Tech home game at noon, a Florida A&M/Tennessee State game at the Dome at 3:30, the PGA Tour Championship at East Lake (go Matt Kuchar!), Midtown Mile Road Race in the morning, the Parade of Excellence from 10-noon, and UGA fans flocking to sports bars at 7:00 to watch their game.

Plan accordingly.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pre-Season Impressions, etc.

(updated below)

The Thrashers are known for spending too much time in their own zone (I think everyone from John Anderson to the Dalai Lama has spoken about this) and playing a generally comical game.

Tonight the Thrashers spent far too much time in their own zone and played a somewhat comical game.

Obviously, this is just a pre-season game with an ad hoc training camp/audition roster, so we shouldn't jump to conclusions.

What Your Chronicle Correspondents (Razor, the late Monsieur Catalogues, and your editor) Liked:

Evander Kane- He played with an intensity that makes you go, "Whoa hey it's only a pre-season game. CALM DOWN, etc."

Bryan Little- Goal! The reason he scored said goal is because he was making smart plays and shooting the puck at the right moments all night. At some point it paid off.

Fredrik Pettersson- Everyone---including your Chronicle's Razor Catch Prey---has been raving about this actual Swedish person ever since the opening of camp. Your TBC editor hadn't seen Fred until tonight, and I was impressed. He was GOOD (the goal was the least of it, sort of; he just played a solid game), but not great. Tonight, at least...I might be missing something.

What Your Chronicle Correspondents Didn't Like:

Everything Else (though various players---Pavelec, Nigel Dawes---showed vague promise here and there)


Boris Valabik- Let's see, what did I say about Boris after watching him play pre-season hockey last year? Let's just say that tonight's game only further convinced me that he just can't play the modern Hockey thing very well. I'm sorry. He just can't. He even got knocked off the puck and checked into the boards tonight. By a much smaller man.

Far more entertaining than tonight's hockey game was an epic fight in our section (thanks for the seats, Mr. Rawhide!) between a teenage lass and her angry mother. All in front of about 12 of her friends. It was priceless.

UPDATE: Wait, wait, wait! I forgot Ben Eager. Liked that Ben Eager. Kept the puck down low in the offensive zone, solid Stanley Cup-winning fourth liner, etc. During the intermission interview with the new Natalie Taylor (her name is Rebecca, I think) he looked like he was about to cry "why did I get sent here?" tears.

PRE-SEASON GAME DAY: Columbus Blue Jackets (how comical)

Lady, weepinng at the crossroads, Would you meet your love, In twilight with his greyhounds, And the hawk upon his glove? <br />
Even now I'm finding it hard to believe that new Thrashers hockey will take place this evening. But it is, so hooray, even though it's a pre-season game against the Blue Jackets with a try-out/ training camp line-up.

What IS this line-up? In case you haven't already seen it:

Kane- Burmistrov- Stewart
Dawes- Little- Pettersson
Paquette- Holzapfel- Aliu
Eager- Rissmiller- Machacek

Kulda- Meyer
Valabik- Zubarev


All of which begs the question: who is "Sifers" again?

Needless to say your Chronicle will have correspondents on the ground. We'll report our findings (e.g. who this mysterious person with the "Sifers" code name might be) later tonight.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Important Announcement Regarding Your Fantasy Hockey

I think I said something about the Blueland Chronicle's Wicked 2010 Fantasy Hockey Draft taking place tomorrow night at 9:00. WELL KIDS, it's actually been moved to NEXT WEEK, for various reasons.

I repeat: the draft will not be tomorrow night, it will be Tuesday September 28th at 9:00 PM Sunday September 26th at 7:00 PM.


UPDATE: Yes, it's been changed to Sunday at 7. AS SEEN ABOVE. As Shooter points out, 17 or so teams drafting on a week night could be very unpretty.

Real Live Hockey Tomorrow

The long, long offseason is finally over and the Thrashers take to the ice in Philips Arena Tuesday night for the first preseason game of the year.

In addition to Cormier's broken foot, we're hearing from Vivlamore that Esposito has suffered yet another setback and will require hip surgery Antropov is also sitting out, as is Dustin Byfuglien who reportedly rolled his ankle.

**EDIT** Esposito doesn't yet need surgery, my eyes played tricks on me and saw the word 'surgery' where it was actually 'injury' in this report from Chris Vivlamore's Twitter: "Nothing official, but I'm told Byfuglien out after rolling right ankle. Esposito has hip injury. Scheduled MRI." **EDIT**

So we won't get to witness Big Buff's Atlanta debut just yet, either on offense or defense. It will be interesting, however, to see how Little and Peverly perform in their new positions in a game situation.

I am also curious to see how Kyle McLaren plays after his long hiatus. If he is back to his previous caliber, he would really solidify the blueline. With him, Bogo, Toby, Hainsey, Oduya, Sopel, and Big Buff taking up the ice time (and press box) in Atlanta, Kulda, Postma, Zubarev, and Owuya will get plenty of experience in Chicago.


Ben Wright has posted a roster with tentative lines for the game here.

Burmistrov will get top center duty with Kane and Stewart on his wings while Little centers the second line with Fredrik Petterson and Nigel Dawes. It should be an interesting test for all of them.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Chris Vivlamore, writing about the second day of Thrashers training camp:

Ramsay is switching Bryan Little to center and Rich Peverely to right wing.

Oh my! I've long been an advocated of moving Little to center, but I'm not sure about this Peverley-as-wing business. 'Twere I the coach, I'd have Little and Peveley as our top two centers and move Antropov to right wing. But thank goodness I'm not an NHL coach so what do I know, etc.

Also in Vivlamore's report: today Coach Ramsay tried to teach the Thrashers how to make indirect passes by bouncing the puck off the boards. He said this effort was "inordinately unsuccessful."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

For Those Who Still Don't Get It

Like my last post about the CBA, this one is a good bit longer than you're used to seeing here on the Chronicle. If you take the time to read it, however, I hope that you'll come away with a better understanding of the issues we all watched play out between Kovalchuk, the Devils, the NHL, and the NHLPA over the past few months.


Since I am still hearing pundits (and Jay Grossman and Alan Walsh) complain about the league's decision to sanction New Jersey for circumventing the salary cap, I thought I'd demonstrate exactly why this happened. The penalty has been levied for the first contract submitted and it's attempt to circumvent the cap. The league acknowledged that the new contract also circumvents the cap, but agreed to "grandfather it in" in exchange for the NHLPA's cooperation in instituting new rule changes to prevent future contracts of the sort.

That in itself is very odd. If it really was a one for one deal of "the league will let the Devils circumvent the cap with Kovy" for "the union will agree to a rule clarification preventing future circivention," it doesn't make sense. Why does a single team benefit in a negotiation between the union and league? If instead it was "the league will let the Devils circumvent the cap with Kovy AND we will agree not to go back and look closer at the Hossa, Luongo, Savard, and Lecavalier deals," then it makes much more sense that the NHLPA would go for it.

Now, Walsh and Grossman have both been saying that Kovy's new deal is not cap circumvention. That is plain fiction. The league said as much when it made it's "grandfathering in" deal.


There of course are legitimate reasons for frontloading a contract. You can honestly believe that a player's value is going to diminish down the road. Now normally what you would do in that situation is structure a contract to end at the point when you think the value is going to start declining, then negotiate a new, lower contract at that point. There can be two reasons you wouldn't do that. First, the player may demand a longer term contract because he wants to make sure he stays put for the rest of his career. Second, the team could want to make sure that the player stays put as a face of the franchise rather than going to a higher bidder for the last few years of his career.

Several recent NHL contracts have used those two bits of reasoning as excuses to frontload contracts. But make no mistake, the real motivation there is to circumvent the cap. Does anyone believe that Vinny Lecavalier, who has already won a Cup, is going to keep playing at 38 years old for $1.5 million? Roberto Luongo might play at 39 years old for $3.382 million, but do you think he'll play into his 40's for $1 million per year?

Professional sports are about drama. The drama of players and fans passionately yearning for victory. That drama becomes watered down in a league of haves and have-nots. When only a handful of teams have real hope of winning the Stanley Cup, then the drama dies down and the passion dies down. We saw that over the past thirty years in the NHL.

Take for example the 1990's and early 2000's. Detroit, Colorado, and the Rangers used their natural economic advantages to throw money at the best players in the league and stack their teams. The Rangers did this in futility, missing the playoffs over and over again. Detroit and Colorado, however, built powerhouse franchises that won multiple Cups. New Jersey was able to do so as well without quite so many superstars but with Brodeur, Neidermeyer, and Stevens keeping pucks out of their net.

Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Ottawa, and many other teams could never dream of being able to pay Joe Sakic, Patrick Roy, Peter Forsberg, Rob Blake, Ray Bourque, Milan Hejduk, and Chris Drury all at the same time. Neither could they shell out for a roster boasting Steve Yzerman, Sergei Federov, Slava Kozlov, Slava Fetisiov, Vladamir Konstantinov, Igor Larionov, and Mike Vernon before later saying, "hey, Luke Robataille, Brett Hull, Chris Chelios, and Brendan Shannahan would look good in our jerseys, too!"

A salary cap makes sure that talent is fairly evenly distributed around the league without wealthier teams able to stockpile superstars. Yes, it's a socaialist system which kills economies in the real world, but in the world of manufactured drama (which professional sports is) it is the only sustainable system.

When teams are able to circumvent the cap, wealthier teams are still able to throw their extra money at multiple high caliber players while staying under the salary cap.

Under his new contract, Ilya Kovalchuk will play for the next two seasons making $6 million per year, which is a bargain for a proven 50 goal scorer in this market. However, after that, his salary goes up to 11 million, then 11.3 for two years, then 11.6 and 11.8 before dropping down to 10 million in 2017 and 7 million in 2018 when Kovy is 35 years old. The final three years of his contract, when he is 36-38 years old, will pay him six million total. In every year of that contract, his cap hit is $6.666 million dollars. (All figured here and afterward come from

Grossman and the Devils point out that for the next two years Kovy's cap hit is .666 million per year MORE than they are paying him. Then in the final two years of the contract the cap hit is 5.666 million more than Kovalchuk is being paid, so this really can't be a boon do the Devils at all, right?

In the 2012-2013 season when Kovy's salary jumps from 6 million to 11 million, he will be getting paid 4.333 million more than his cap hit. That deficit goes up to 4.634 for two seasons, grows to 4.934 in 2015 then 5.134 in 2016. Over those five seasons, Kovalchuk will be paid $23.669 million dollars more than his cap hit.

Here is a list of all the players in the NHL who will have a higher cap hit than Ilya Kovalchuk in the upcoming season:

*E Staal
B. Richards
*Vinny L

*- indicates their contract runs at least through 2012-2013 season when Kovy's salary goes up to $11 million.

Now here is a list of the players who will be making more money than Kovy in the 2012-2013 season:


The next five highest salaries in the NHL behind Kovy in the 2012-2013 season (keep in mind his salary goes up for the next four seasons after 2013):

Staal-7.75 million
Spezza-8 million
Malkin-9 million
Vinny L-10 million
Ovechkin-9 million

Cap hits on those players (salary vs. cap deficit in parenthesis):

Staal- 8.25 (-.5)
Spezza- 7 (-1)
Malkin- 8.7 (-.3)
Vinny- 7.727 (-2.283)
Ovechkin- 9.538 (+.538)

Looking at those numbers, you can see why Jasper's Rink gets torqued when people point to Ovechkin's contract as being similar to Kovy's. Ovi's contract is actually backloaded, with the first half paying him 9 million per year and the second half paying him 10 million a season.

I would argue that Spezza's contract circumvents the cap by allowing $1 million in extra cap room and Lecavalier's contract certainly constitutes circumvention. Cap-wise, Tampa basically gets their goalie Mike Smith for free with the savings they get from Vinny.

At the height of his contract, the Devils will save $5.134 million under the cap offset from what they are paying Kovalchuk. Hypothetically speaking, the Devils could be paying out salary cap-ceiling dollars and still trade for Bobby Ryan with their fictional cap space.

The league should have stepped in much earlier on these circumvention contracts. I would speculate that the reason they didn't is because they were afraid that a more marginal contract such as Hossa's (very similar to Kovy's new contract, but far less egregious than the first Kovy/Devils contract) might be approved by an arbitrator and establish bad law.

The next CBA must be more carefully crafted to make sure that the "haves" cannot work loopholes to their advantage and harm parity. Parity is what makes sure that every fan of every team can have hope that their team has a chance to hoist the cup if not this season, then very soon. Cap circumvention circumvents parity and weakens our sport.

For the Blueland Chronicle, I'm Razor Catch Prey.

Friday, September 17, 2010

God Love 'Im

Pat Burns = Everything the sport of hockey should be.

Basically, nothing more or less needs to be said in this space. But since over the years I have proven to be a long winded SOB, particularly when rum has been involved, I think I'll elaborate.

I read earlier tonight that Pat Burns is nearing the end of his fight with cancer. All of us knew this was coming sooner or later. We were all hoping for later, but it doesn't appear that will be the case. Reports indicate Pat's battle will end in the next few days. Cancer can sometimes take people very quickly. Others, who are tough as nails, will fight it off once, twice, and even a third time and give it a run for it's money.

That's just what Pat did. And anyone who has ever been around him or known about him would not be surprised. He survived colon cancer in '04, liver cancer in ' 05. In 2009 he announced the cancer had returned and that it was incurable. In typical Pat Burns fashion, he approached this news head on stating he knew what was ahead of him and he was not afraid. I don't know about you, but that sounds like a hockey player to me.

My first memories of Pat go back to 1993. I was a young kid growing up in Georgia whose grandparents happened to have this crazy new thing called a satellite dish. I was at their house during the playoffs when Burns and the Maple Leafs were up against Gretzky and the Kings. Needless to say the Kings prevailed, but in the process Burns called Barry Melrose "a Billy Ray Cyrus wannabe" and a lasting impression was made for this fake Internet blogger.

For those that don't know him, Pat is the only coach in NHL history to win THREE Jack Adams Awards. Oh, by the way, those three wins came in three NHL Original Six Cities (Mon, Tor, Bos). My, I nearly forgot to mention that after all that he managed to win a Stanley Cup with the Devils a few years later. Burns coached and won the Stanley Cup for the Devils in 02-03, and retired after the following year due to health problems. To Lou Lamoriello's credit, he has kept Burns on the payroll ever since as a consultant. No other words can do it justice, Lou has always done things the right way.

There was a Facebook campaign after the news of Pat's third battle with cancer to get him in the Hall of Fame while he could enjoy it. After all, he deserves it on his hockey accomplishments alone. That cannot be overstated. The campaign for Pat was about his accomplishments on the ice, not about his illness. Sadly, the HOF committee decided not to elect Pat last year. I cannot even begin to explain this as it has no explanation. Bottom line is, it's just not right. He deserved to be there, we all knew he wasn't going to be with us forever, is there really any harm in getting him inducted while he and his family could all enjoy it together? Shame on all who were involved in this decision. Shame.

So, Pat, while your days come to an end on this planet we thank you for everything you have done for our sport. We will never forget all you have accomplished and will strive to always respect the game the way you did every day.

God love you.


It appears Pat is not quite dead. Hooray! He called TSN to say he was, "far f*#!ing from it". Last time I trust a CBC report...

Happy 200th, Mexico! Only a Matter of Time Until You Get NHL Teams

Just HOW did the Chronicle forget to mention that Mexico---or at least its Estados Unidos Mexicanos incarnation---celebrated its bicentennial this week? Cheers, Mexicans! It's been a wild 200 years, and things are as crazy now as they've ever been.

It's no secret that your TBC editor wants the NHL to expand into Latin America, to further piss off hockey geography purists. Obviously, this will begin with Mexico. My ultimate dream is to one day own the Oaxaca Walruses and commute between Mexico and the U.S. and Canada on the supersonic North American Union railway.

Let's celebrate with some musical videos about Mexico. Your editor regrets that he's not exactly up on Mexican music, so here's two American bands and one British band, all of them doing strange things south of the border.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Oh Boy

According to some mysterious operative at Bird Watchers Anonymous, Patrice Cormier left the ice today ON CRUTCHES, and wearing a boot, after blocking a shot.

Also: here's your training camp roster.

Dustin Byfuglien is Honest

What went through your mind when you were told about the trade?

BYFUGLIEN: Right away I was actually bummed. After coming off of winning the Cup, it wasn't even two weeks after we won. You're still in a celebration mode, but once I got off the phone and sat down and really thought about it I was excited. I was ready to get out of there and get ready for a new change and set new goals for myself. I'm excited and I can challenge myself for new things in life. It's just another step.

...the man says, in an interview, which you can read here.

Brief Report from Rookie Camp

As I was taking the day off yesterday anyway, I made my way over to the Ice Forum in Duluth to watch the Rookie Camp scrimmage. I was joined there by our good friends Rawhide and Mr. Speaker, as well as the Falconer.

It was great to get to see hockey again- and it was very good hockey indeed. In a two period game, there were at least 11 goals scored between the two teams. The blue squad went up 5-1 before the white team came back and made it a game.

If you read the recap of Monday's scrimmage over at BWA, you remember that they reported a lackluster performance from Burmistrov and Cormier. In Wednesday's game neither stood head and shoulders above anyone, but both played solid games and contributed to the offense. Cormier in particular drove to the net while protecting the puck and was able to stuff one past Pasquale. It wasn't a pretty move, but it was the kind of smart, non-flashy, power move that will actually translate once the ice is populated with more seasoned and skilled players.

Fredrik Petterson put on a show. About half of his eye popping performance was fancy stick handling that won't cut the mustard when he tries it against Jonny Oduya in camp next week, but the other half looked like a 5'10 Keith Tkachuk pushing past people and driving the net. Very impressive. I'll be anxious to see how he fares against the big boys in pre-season.

The Oilers gave up on Petterson after a couple of seasons in Junior with the Calgary Hitmen, but the Sutter brothers' player evaluation skills have to be in question considering their recent roster moves (RCP's statement about the Sutters' evaluation skills is true, of course, but BE ADVISED the Sutters-are-Oilers-folk thing is just an avant-garde haw haw joke. Razor knows they actually work for the Calgary Flames. -Ed.). Petterson scored 20 goals in the Swedish Elite League last season which was good enough for fourth in the league (but only second on his team to TOMMY KALIO!!!). He's an older prospect now at 23 years old which could account for his domination of a rink full of 18-23 year olds.

Akim Aliu also played a solid power offensive game, scoring two goals and throwing his body around. He didn't display enough skill to threaten for a roster spot in Atlanta, but with some more seasoning he could be someone who gets called up to fill in during an injury later on in the season.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Holy God

Alex Ovechkin and Graydon Carter, together at last.

[Via the P. Dizzle, as you well know]

P.S. Unsurprisingly, Lundqvist had the best ensemble. Also: We approve of Tavares's and Keith's ladyfriends.

Your 2010-11 Blueland Chronicle Fantasy League is OPEN

(UPDATE: Because your TBC editor is a moron, he didn't realize you can actually CHANGE the league settings so that there can be more than 12 maximum teams. So if you're one of our beloved regular commenters---Jointhead, H, you kids in?---and have seen that the league is filled, DON'T PANIC. I've changed the maximum to 15 teams. If there's somehow even more interest than that, we'll up it again. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE, ETC.)

(ALSO: We'll try to figure out a reasonable draft time that works for everybody Very Soon.)

First, click.

If you don't have a Yahoo account of any kind, obviously you'll have to create one.

When you get to the part where the webpage demands "League ID" and "Password," here's what you need to type:

League ID: 28670

Password: hellowookies

From there it should be easy to create/name your team, etc. The official URL for our league is

Hooray! If you have problems let us know in the comments section.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Il est arrivé.*

We suspect this will be better than that frat-tard from the Coyotes everyone thinks is so funny and charming.


Important Thoughts, Discovered in a Taoist Hockey Fortune Cookie

1) Long-term investment in a quality item is always a good idea. Particularly if you gave up something extremely valuable to get it in the first place.

2) If you're no longer willing to pay for something, you probably no longer want to own it.

3) SOMETIMES, by making concessions in the present, you have more control over the future.

4) Or maybe they're just trying to trade him.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

We here at the Chronicle illegally wiretapped Rick Dudley's trade phone earlier this summer and are busy combing through all of the chatter to find juicy tidbits to share with all of you.

Today we discovered this exchange between Duds and Glen Sather discussing the Todd White deal:

RD: Hey Slats, I've got an idea. How would you like to take Todd White off my hands?

GS: Todd White? Did he ever win a Cup with the Avalanche or make way more money than he's worth?

RD: Well we paid him almost two and a half million dollars last year and he only scored seven goals.

GS: Hmm, I don't know. I would usually pay a guy at least four million for that kind of production. What the hell, I'll take him.

RD: Great! Let's talk about what you're going to send back my way. Got any 30 year old third line talent who doesn't score goals?

GS: How about Patrick Rissmiller? He's only scored 18 goals in 182 games.

RD: Perfect. But I'm going to need a little more. What else have you got for me?

GS: I've got a black hockey player. I hear you're trying to get as many as you can.


GS: It's Donald Brashear.

RD: F*&%!

GS: No take backs!



Vivlamore is all like, " year deal on Bergfors worth $900, 000."

In other hockey-playing Swedish people news, Carl Klingberg will NOT be attending rookie camp this year, probably because he's still under contract with Frolunda in the Swedish Elite League and doesn't want to become an oath-breaking vulgarian by dishonoring it.

ALSO: Fredrik Peterrsson, you know him? Well, he's been interviewed.

So many Swedes.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"Now They Blew Up His House Too"

Check this article on the Thrashers and race from Hockey Buzz (I know, right?!).

Put your makeup on, etc.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Panthers of Yore, Thrashers of Now (Maybe?)

Historical analogies are always goofy, but I'm as eager to make them as the next sucka MC.

The recent news out of Thrashers HQ gives me the queasy feeling that our 10-11 team is not unlike the 08-09 Florida Panthers. You know, the Panthers back when they had a stellar defense (Bouwmeester, Boynton, Ballard, McCabe, etc.) and hotttTtTtTt young forwards like David Booth (31 goals that year), Stephen Weiss, Nathan Horton, and impressive rookie Michael Frolik. We just don't have a Vokoun equivalent.

Anyway. Enjoy your weekend, childrens! We trust it will be full of college football and patriotic sadness.


Via Vivlamore's Twitter, etc.

UPDATE: Take a look at Vivlamore's full chat with Ramsay on This Very Subject.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Observation of the Day

This whole "Dan Ellis talking about money on the Twitter/Dan Ellis is History's Greatest Monster/Greg Wyshynski has brutally murdered Dan Ellis's Twitter self and should be apprehended by mounties" thing is stupid beyond fucking belief.

Kids and their Internet...almost makes you pray for the space walruses to wipe us all out.

If I Took Even One Sniff, It Would Bore Me Terrifffff...

Still not sure what to make of this Nigel Dawes. Your editor has always been intrigued by Dawes, and even wondered a few days ago whether or not we should sign him, but he sadly doesn't have the ability to settle questions like "Will this fellow be GOOD, in the future?"

Whatever happens this season---and your Chronicle is not at all convinced that Dudley is the Great Leap Forward we've been craving (that doesn't mean we believe the opposite either!)---the Thrashers give us a great kick. So, hats off to this comical hockey team. Looking forward to the season. Take it away, Mr. Chairman:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dawes to Dally in the ATL?

"Nigel Dawes," you may be surprised to learn, is not a British Member of Parliament. He is, in fact, an actual hockey player. A young one at that, one who used to play for the New York Rangers and the Calgary Flames. As far as I remember, he was one of those young guys who showed early promise but hasn't quite delivered yet.

According to a recent Twitter dispatch from Andy Strickland, he's in talks with the Atlanta Thrashers and should sign sometime soon.

We don't know what to make of this, so here's Bugs Bunny and a gremlin:

UDATE: And it's official.

Ramsay Will Build Us Many Pyramids and Sphinxes

AJC intern Bill "Rawhide" Tiller located the Thrashers' new head coach "Craig Ramsay" over the weekend and asked him some important questions. Questions about the power play, questions about Atlanta's nightmarish traffic, questions about his overall vision for the team, etc.

It's a good interview!

The main idea seems to be Simplicity.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ah, Typos

Even assuming there was someone in Atlanta who was willing to wear a Dany Heatley shirt, isn't $3.99 plus shipping and handling still too much for a shirt that couldn't even spell the player's name right?

Will There Be Fantasy Hockey? There Will Be Fantasy Hockey.

YES folks, it's that time of year again. The Blueland Chronicle will again be hosting a decadent fantasy hockey league, and you're all invited!

HOWEVER, we won't be revealing the league ID and password and so forth until next week (when Big Shooter gets back from some sort of deep-water naval expedition in Florida). Thank you for your patience.

But this is probably a good time to talk about draft time. I have the live online draft tentatively scheduled for Tuesday September 28th at 9:00 PM. Is this date/time okay, or should we revise it?

At any rate, sit tight and the league will be open very very soon.

UPDATE: More than one of you has mentioned a live and in-person draft, possibly at the cavernous Philips Arena Taco Mac or possibly somewhere else. I'm intrigued by this idea. It can be discussed further in the comments section.

ALSO: Chronicle operative "Jay" has suggested Fleaflicker rather than Yahoo! Sports. Because your TBC editor is lazy and doesn't want to register with another fantasy league service, he would like to stick to Yahoo, but if there's substantial demand for Fleaflicker...

Dan Ellis Does Contortionism

I know goalies are more flexible than the rest of us (steel I-beams set in concrete are more flexible than me) but Dan Ellis is just amazing. Look at how he bends himself around to place his foot in his mouth here!

@33dellis "If you lost 18% of your income would you be happy? I can honestly say that I am more stressed about money now then when I was in college. I can't explain it and I never thought it would be the case but it is true. $ in no way makes u more happy or makes life much easier. If you don't make a lot of money I don't expect u to understand in the same way I could never understand what it is like to risk my life Daily as a fire fighter or police officer...especially not a soldier. There r pros and cons to every profession. U r kidding yourself.. If u think money makes things any easier."

When people started calling Ellis on this brain-fart rant on Twitter, he took a page out of the South Park parody of Michael Jackson to reply:

@33dellis "RT @ArsonistSavior:u get PAID to PLAY HOCKEY.. suck it up. feel free to go work construction if the "pressure" gets too rough...ignorant!"

For those not used to reading Twitter, that is a comment from a follower which Ellis "retweeted" and the "ignorant!" on the end was Ellis' reply.

Now there is a trending theme of #danellisproblems on Twitter with people all over the hockey world making fun of Ellis' "let them eat cake" comments. Surprisingly, the backlash seems to be worse than Kovy explaining that he turned down 102 million dollars because he has to worry about his kids.

Dan Ellis is generally a good guy. He has tried to blow this off as a joke, even pointing out that earlier in the day he said he wanted to "stir the pot" a little. But those comments sound like frustration, not amusement.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day is When We Commemorate Freddie Modin's Accession to the Atlanta Thrashers

Isn't it a great thing that increasingly ineffectual hockey players like Freddie Modin (who was, don't get us wrong, once very good) are finding work? Almost makes you forget about comical mass unemployment. Let's celebrate the last daylight hours of Labor Day with a patriotic song cycle about work:

Man, those British LOVED black American blues musicians. Let's see what they've thought about their own employment/unemployment situation over the years:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Freddie Modin

Dan Kamal and TSN are reporting that the Thrahers have signed former Bolt/King/Blue Jacket Frederik Modin.

Modin can play either wing and was a reliable 20 goal scorer in the past, but hasn't hit that plateau since the 06-07 season. Since then he has been limited by various injuries, playing in only 44 games last year scoring 11 points.

It would have been nice to have him circa 2003, but now he just adds one more third liner who played for Dudley in the past.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

"Covered With A Million Little Molecules."

TBC financial analyst Razor Catch Prey has written an engrossing piece about the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement. Well worth reading. Everything on the Chronicle is worth reading, obviously, but this thing reminds me a bit of articles in The Economist about the British and German governments trying to correct their deficits. Meaning it's SUBSTANTIAL.

Your editor is tempted to agree with RCP about the likelihood of another NHL work/play stoppage in the near future. But surely something like that would be catastrophic in our Greatest Recession...but who knows? What should be obvious to any intelligent observer, and what RCP articulates nicely in his post, is that the CBA is unsustainable and messed up.

The blues have descended.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The CBA is Broken

I hate to even think about it, but things do not look good for avoiding another work stoppage next time the NHL and NHLPA meet to write up a collective bargaining agreement.

Donals Fehr is soon to be named as the new head of the players union. He is the "mastermind" behind the players' strike in Major League Baseball that killed my interest in the professional game back in the 1990's.

More importantly, the current CBA can now be classified as a failure.

The CBA orchestrated between the union and the league (and owners) had two major goals: 1) cost certainty and 2) parity among the league's 30 teams.

After sacrificing an entire season to a lockout, the players finally gave in to the league's demands to institute a salary cap in order to achieve those two goals. The cap put a variable limit on both team salary and salaries of individual players. It was a good idea, as it based those limits on percentages of total revenues and were adjusted as needed yearly.

However, disease that created the need for such a cap has persisted. That disease is the inability of the owners and general managers to police themselves. Players are self-interested and want to draw the highest dollar figures that the market will yield. It is up to those who run the teams to say no.

The salary cap under the current CBA was meant to say "no" for those owners and GM's who couldn't bring themselves to say it for themselves.

I do not know if it was intentional or not, but a loophole was left in the CBA wherein the cap hit of a particular player was measured by the average of the total cost of the contract divided over the total number of years.

I suspect that this was a shortsighted move intended to address the kind of long term deals that were common in the years prior to the lockout. Those deals were backloaded by demand of the players who wanted to negotiate for new contracts while coming off the highest paid year of their careers. That served two purposes for the player. First, it allowed them to make extra money in the last year of their contract in case they either decided to hold out or couldn't find work. In addition, it allowed players to negotiate from the standpoint of "well, I made three million last season" rather than the 1.25 he made in the first year of the deal.

If that is the case, the attorney who drew up that contract should really be sued for legal malpractice.

The best players and their agents are still demanding the most money that the market can possibly provide them. Thanks to that clause which determines cap hit based on the average over the total length of the contract, teams are able to structure contracts in which players earn far more in the first few years of a contract than their cap hit.

Marian Hossa will be paid 7.9 million dollars each year between 2009 and 2016, but his cap hit is only 5.23 million. That saves the Blackhawks 2.67 million dollars per year. Duncan Keith's contract is similarly structured such that he earns 8 million per year 2010-2013, then a little less each year until 2022. For the next three seasons, Chicago will pay Duncan Keith 2.449 million more than his cap hit.

That 5.119 million dollars per year in cap space allowed the Blackhawks to re-sign Towes and Kane for deals averaging 6.3 million per year.

Without that salary cap falsehood, one or more of those four superstars would either have to take a hometown discount, or get shipped off to another NHL team in exchange for cheaper prospects.

The point of a salary cap is to create parity. When teams pay players what they are worth, no team will be able to afford to have a stacked roster. If a team has three prospects who all develop into high priced talent at the same time, they will have to make tough decisions and trade one for draft picks and younger prospects who don't yet command the high dollars.

We have seen some of that, but most of it has been a result of teams shooting themselves in the foot by signing Wade Redden and Brian Campbell to outrageous contracts that no one else will take off their hands.

In a perfect world where all teams have equal financial resources, the league could have parity without a salary cap. Teams would rise and fall based on luck and the skill of their general manager. However, in the real world, the Atlantas, Phoenixes, Floridas, Columbuses, Minnesotas, and Edmontons can't afford to throw the same kind of money at prime players as the Detroits, Torontos, New Yorks, New Jerseys, and Colorados of the league.

The loophole exploited by the Kovalchuk, Hossa, Keith, and Luongo contracts allows wealthier teams to throw money at players just as they did under the old CBA without regard for the salary cap. Does anyone think the Coyotes or Oilers could afford to shell out more than the league maximum to their players if they were able to circumvent the cap? Of course not. They don't have the cash. Neither do many teams in the NHL. But the New Jersey Devils do. The Chicago Blackhawks do. The New York Rangers do. The Philadelphia Flyers do. So those teams can circumvent the cap and throw money at high caliber players to lure them away from smaller markets and kill parity.

For the sake of growing hockey in America, we need parity. We have seen what happens in most markets when a team isn't competitive over a long period of time. Empty seats here, in Sunrise, in Phoenix, even Denver attest to that.

To keep fans interested, they have to have hope that their team can compete. The NFL has that now. A team can go from dismal to the Super Bowl in just a couple of years if they have the right coach and they draft well.

That parity should exist in hockey as well. We've seen teams rebuild through the draft. Ottawa built up from the expansion draft days to a team that appeared in conference and Cup finals year after year. The Penguins and Blackhawks won the cup within five years of earning first overall picks from basement finishes.

Those teams were able to make those kind of turn arounds because they had good management who drafted well and made shrewd moves, but also because they were able to pay high end players the money they demanded.

Bottomless money pits aren't a guarantee of success of course. You could let Glenn Sather hand pick any players he wants off every roster and disregard the cap entirely and he would still ice a team only slightly better than the one Don Waddell would compile in the same scenario.

The CBA is broken. The loophole must be fixed and that means teams suffer a cap hit each year that is equal to the money they pay to that player in the same year.

Might As Well

image supplied by top secret Chronicle operative

LeakED on the Twitter thoroughfare this noon, behold the new noble crest of the Atlanta Thrashers---a phalanx of iron-and-wood-wielding knights famous to children---to enticeth wool to cometh to market, sheep to eateth grain in the stands, and children to worshipeth the hockey players.

The credo doth be:

"A Brutally Good Time."


Thought for the Day

Edmonton is a fine place, but we understand if Hilary Duff doesn't want to live there.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Everyone Likes Season Previews

What in heavenly tarnation hell is going on? Your editor has been away from the hockey wires all day, doing "Other Things," and it appears there's very little Thrashers news.

Let's just gorge ourselves on this pornographic Thrashers season preview from Puck Daddy. We think Greggers gets it about right.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Oh My

Twee, whimsical, a-bit-too-cute Atlanta music magazine PASTE is dead. Its staff of editors, contributors, freelancers, photographers, graphics and art designers, marketers, sales-folk, and copy editors have been loosed on the streets of Decatur like an army of homeless undead.

They'll need jobs sometime in the near future.

But sadly there are very, very, very few jobs in word-publishing or word-writing these days. It's always been tough for scribblers, but this infernal Internet machine and the Greatest Recession have probably killed paid writing off for good, or at least for a thousand years, during which we'll enjoy something like a technologically-advanced dark age.

There is one way to avoid this calamity, though.

The Thrashers should fire their current marketing and PR staff and hire a bunch of out-of-work, hopeless PASTE folks. Sure, most of them don't even know what hockey is, but the ad campaigns and slogans they come up with couldn't possibly be worse than what the Thrashers use now. Their lack of hockey experience might even be a STRENGTH in a market such as ours.


From the official press release:
The Atlanta Thrashers have acquired forward Ian McKenzie from the Nashville Predators in exchange for defenseman Grant Lewis, according to General Manager Rick Dudley.

The All-Time Thrashers Defensive Corps of Our Dreams

Haha, Thrashers defense. Anyway...

This morning Rawhide challenged his readers to come up with an all-time Thrashers defensive corps, in their imaginations. And "all-time" doesn't mean Chris Chelios and Mathieu Schneider on defense. Great players, to be sure, but they weren't at the peak of their powers during their time as Thrashers. The forward analogue would be including Peter Bondra and Mark Recchi, etc.

Your TBC editor agrees that this is cheating a little bit, and that a proper all-time list should only reflect how each player played as a Thrasher. At any rate, we've accepted Rawhide's challenge. Here is your editor's list:

Tobias Enstrom - Zach Bogosian
Pavel Kubina - Niclas Havelid
Steve Staios - "Big" Greg de Vries
Ron Hainsey

I would love to put Braydon Coburn on the list, but he simply didn't play with us long enough. Which reminds us of why the history of Thrashers defense is such a sad beagle.

Anyway, THERE YOU HAVE IT. Readers?