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Tonight in the NHL: Atlanta vs. Atlanta

9 Mar

1972-73 O-Pee-Chee - Dan Bouchard

2010-11 Upper Deck - Bryan Little

Tonight, in Calgary, the Atlanta Flames are playing the Atlanta Thrashers.  Well, ok, it’s the Calgary Flames against the Winnipeg Jets, but both franchises originated in Atlanta.  Apparently this is the first time in NHL history that this has happened.  Go Atlanta Go.

Point to ponder: which city will get an NHL team first?  Atlanta, for a third time, or Hamilton?  Think about it.

Newsworthy – Mikhail Grabovski’s New Contract

8 Mar

2011-12 Score - Mikhail Grabovski

So, my initial reaction on this Mikhail Grabovski signing the other day was, “great, the Leafs signed him long-term.  Pretty good player to lock up, because really, they don’t have anyone else.  Way to go, Burke.”  Then, I found out how much money they were going to pay him.  My opinion changed quickly.  This was a colossal clusterfuck of a bad contract.  $27 million over five years?  Pretty high.

It seemed like a lot of people felt the same way as I did.  I could tell this because Joe Public was saying and writing a lot of things on the radio and the internet and the Twitter.  However, unlike Joe Public, I felt like I was intelligent enough to make an informed comment rather than just venting my emotions irrationally.

So, I went to to see if the contract made sense.  I figured going in that I’d find Grabovski’s deal was in line with comparable players in the league.  Well, that’s what I wanted to find out.  I wanted this to be a good deal for the Leafs.  I wanted it to make sense, because I wanted Joe Public to be wrong.

What I actually found was that, with a few exceptions, he’s going to be getting paid at a level above what he should.  He’s getting paid star money – and in some cases, franchise player money, when in reality he’s a very good player, not a great one, on a bad team.

Grabovski’s new contract kicks in for the 2012-13 season.  In the first year, the cap hit will be $5.5 million.  What I did was look at the 10 forwards above that cap hit, and 10 below, as well as the other two forwards with identical $5.5 million hits.  I realize that there are a ton of factors to take into consideration – player age, stage of career, when the contract was signed, length of contract, and the fact that other players on the list are not available to the Toronto Maple Leafs at this time as teams don’t give players away for nothing (see Nash, Rick and 2012, Trade Deadline).  But, there is also just the simple fact that there is a salary cap in the NHL, and comparing players based on their cap hits is completely reasonable in this money-driven environment.

Here is the list:

$6.300 – Jonathan Toews
$6.300 – Patrick Kane
$6.100 – Henrik Sedin
$6.100 – Daniel Sedin
$6.083 – Henrik Zetterberg
$6.000 – Mike Cammalleri
$6.000 – Patrik Elias
$5.900 – Patrick Sharp
$5.750 – Mike Richards
$5.625 – Martin St. Louis
$5.500 – Mikhail Grabovski
$5.500 – Shawn Horcoff
$5.500 – John Tavares
$5.400 – Phil Kessel
$5.325 – Corey Perry
$5.325 – Ryan Getzlaf
$5.300 – Jason Pominville
$5.273 – Jeff Carter
$5.250 – David Krejci
$5.233 – Marian Hossa
$5.100 – Bobby Ryan
$5.000 – Ryan Kesler
$5.000 – Ales Hemsky

The only players on this list that I would pick Mikhail Grabovski ahead of for my team would be Patrik Elias, because he’s 58 years old, and Ales Hemsky, because, well, because I just don’t think he’s as good at hockey as people think he is.  Oh yeah, and Shawn Horcoff.

I know this list will change in a year or two as contracts expire, new ones are signed, and who knows what the new CBA will bring or what free agents will be available, but right now, I’m really not convinced that this is money well spent.  Prove me wrong, Crosbovski.  Prove me wrong.

Randy Carlyle, Toronto Media Darling Already?

3 Mar

1978-79 O-Pee-Chee - Randy Carlyle

So, Randy Carlyle, you’re the new coach in Toronto.  Good luck with the mainstream media who are already trying to sewer you for not talking to them on your way into the hotel last night.  As @felixpotvin put it,

Welcome back aboard the good ship Maple Leaf.

Blackhawks 5, Maple Leafs 4: Turning to Nostalgic Misery Instead of Current Misery

29 Feb

1987-88 O-Pee-Chee - Rick Vaive

While wallowing in the misery that is being a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs on nights like this, a blown-lead, 5-4 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, I decided to wallow in some nostalgic misery instead.  The nostalgic misery involves the same two Original Six teams, and took place on September 3, 1987.

1987-88 O-Pee-Chee - Al Secord

1987-88 O-Pee-Chee - Ed Olczyk

On that date, Toronto traded Rick Vaive (their only 50-goal scorer to that point), Steve Thomas and Bob McGill to Chicago for Al Secord and Ed Olczyk.  Sure, Olczyk had a couple of decent years for the Leafs, but Secord was done by then and trading Thomas always stung.

It’s a rough time in Leafs Nation these days.  We’re turning to Ballard-era Leaf trades for our nostalgia.

Gary Carter, 1954-2012

16 Feb

1981 Donruss - Gary Carter

Tough loss for baseball today with the death of Gary Carter.  He’s remembered in a lot of places as a New York Met, and rightfully so, but for those of us in Canada, we’ll always think of him as a Montreal Expo.  In fact, he was such an Expo that the hometown on his baseball cards during those years was listed as Kirkland, Quebec, a Montreal suburb.  I wonder if he liked poutine and Labatt 50 too?  Thanks for all the great years.

Mats Sundin – A Hockey Card Tribute

12 Feb

Last night, Mats Sundin had his number 13 honoured by the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Today, I present to you a Mats Sundin Hockey Card Tribute.

Before Mats came to North America, he played in Sweden, where he may have been using Borje Salming’s gloves from a decade earlier.

1990-91 Score - Mats Sundin

In 1989, he was drafted first overall by the Quebec Nordiques, the first European ever to be drafted first overall.  They might have been going for a Euro-pose here, I’m not sure what this was about.

1990-91 Upper Deck - Mats Sundin

Early on, he had success.  This is evident by his being named to some wildly futuristic “Team 2000” by Pinnacle.

1992-93 Pinnacle - Mats Sundin - Team 2000

When he arrived in Toronto, Leaf fans had their doubts.  This mostly had to do with the weird bubble helmet that he brought with him.

1995-96 Upper Deck CC - Mats Sundin

Before too long, he looked more normal.  With all his Nike gear, he exposed a weak stick side on goaltenders, who were then reduced to mowing lawns and driving cabs.

1997-98 Pinnacle - Mats Sundin

For a long time, he had hair.

1997-98 Donruss - Mats Sundin

After we gave him the C, it started to disappear.

2000-01 Upper Deck - Mats Sundin 6th Sense

He led us well, and did what he could, often with questionable supporting casts.  He gave us great moments like this one, and then this one.

2002-03 O-Pee-Chee - Mats Sundin

Even when the jerseys looked like practice jerseys, the effort was there.

2008-09 O-Pee-Chee - Mats Sundin

At the end, he left us, and went to a faraway land and a team everyone hates.  Like Jordan with the Wizards, let’s just ignore this.

2009-10 O-Pee-Chee - Mats Sundin

Thanks Mats, for all the great years.

Newsworthy – Barry Larkin, January 9, 2012

9 Jan

1988 Donruss - Barry Larkin

Barry Larkin did not have a mustache.  He does not have a name like Razor Shines or Rusty Kuntz.  There was never anything spectactular about his haircut.  Even if he grew a beard (and since he played for the Reds, he couldn’t), it could never have made him look badass.  Yet, somehow, despite all these glaring shortcomings, Barry Larkin is now a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I wish the BBWAA would contact me when they are doing their annual voting.  I would help point them in the proper direction.  For example, Jack Morris had a fantastic mustache, and Lee Smith’s beard still haunts my dreams to this day.  Also, Fred McGriff’s nickname was Crime Dog.  Crime Dog.  These things need to be considered much more carefully.

Newsworthy – Yu Darvish, December 15, 2011

15 Dec

As of right now, the posting period for Yu Darvish has ended, but we don’t know who won the bid.  It’s kind of like if eBay auctions ended, but they waited a day to tell anyone who won the auction.  This post at Getting Blanked is a must-read if the whole process confuses you as much as it confused me.

Whether the Blue Jays win the bid or not, I think it continues to be astoundingly clear that none of us have any fucking idea what Alex Anthopoulos is thinking or planning.  And we should keep it that way.  Play on, Silent Assassin.

Newsworthy: Sidney Crosby Returns

21 Nov

2010-11 Score - Sidney Crosby

So, Sidney Crosby returned to the NHL tonight.  Of course, this event was overhyped in Canada.  CBC decided to cover the game nationally at the last minute, and every major news and sport news agency was all over it.  For most of the game, of the top ten Twitter Trends in Canada, five or six related to this hockey game in Pittsburgh.  So, basically, the hockey-loving Canadian stereotype was perpetuated in a significant way throughout the evening.

In other news, the New York Islanders were relevant today.  You know, in the way that the Winnipeg Jets used to be relevant because Wayne Gretzky scored on them a lot.  The Islanders will also be relevant for a second time this week on Wednesday for looking just awful on the ice.

Most importantly, through all the talk about concussions, headshots, fighting and protecting superstars, Sidney Crosby scored two goals, including the game winner, and two assists.  He also posted a plus three rating and won 14 of 21 faceoffs, all in under 15 minutes of ice time, leading to a solid night for my fantasy hockey team.  Like I said, this is the most important thing.  Why this is not being reported in “mainstream media,” I will never fully understand.

One thing is certain: the NHL is a better place today than it was yesterday.  Welcome back, 87.

Newsworthy – 2011 Hockey Hall of Fame Inductions

14 Nov

1992-93 O-Pee-Chee - Ed Belfour

1994-95 Parkhurst Vintage - Doug Gilmour

1990-91 Pro Set - Mark Howe

1992-93 Upper Deck - Joe Nieuwendyk

Congratulations to Ed Belfour, Doug Gilmour, Mark Howe, and Joe Nieuwendyk on their induction to the Hockey Hall of Fame tonight.  Rumour has it Belfour was even wearing a tie, which he didn’t do at the Hall of Fame Game in Toronto on Saturday, a move that I respect the hell out of.

Now, quick, one-line memories of each of these four guys:

Mark Howe – Once wore his entire name on the back of his jersey when he played with these two guys, and also wore Cooperalls in the National Hockey League.

Ed Belfour – was “washed up” when he came to Toronto in Curtis Joseph’s shadow and then just absolutely ran the show – and some would say the city – for the Leafs for two years.

Joe Niewendyk – Game Seven, Patrick Lalime.  That is all.

Doug Gilmour – I simply cannot say it as well as this YouTube video which I have forced upon you at least once in a previous post, will surely again sometime.  Enjoy.

Congrats especially to 93.

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