Unlike some overreactive fans inevitably will, I'm not about to lose my lid over a hat trick scored in a scrimmage. I suppose I understand why some might look at a defense whose left side is nearly as lacking of qualified candidates as the most recent Presidential election and a left-handed defenseman who possesses the perfect skill set for long term success, and want to the force the latter into the office of the former as soon as possible. After all, you'd have to go back to a time well before Lou Lamoriello actively decided he was too damn old to adapt to find a Devils' development camp that was as rich with young talent, and even then you'd still have a hard time coming across one in which a defenseman was immediately the most consistent catalyst at both ends of the ice. Simply put, what Ty Smith did on Saturday was force the focus unto himself from a position that's not inherently flashy. For that reason alone, the stat line of the first round pick that fortuitously went without regard before floating to the top of New Jersey's prospect pool might encourage the idle hands that are the Devils fans' playground to start writing his name onto the wall as quick fix when he still has a long way to go before manning an NHL blue line.
The proper way to view Ty Smith is to treat him like a meal that's slowly simmering in the crock pot. We just got an intoxicating sniff of the first waft and were more than pleasantly surprised to see how the ingredients were coming together as perfectly as advertised in the recipe (i.e. scouting report). We're still a ways away from getting fat off the finished product, but - while patience is key to perfecting its preparation - the belief that there's not much tinkering to be done to guarantee the fulfillment of a true two-way, top-4 defenseman has been rationalized by way of sensory overload.
It's called developmental camp for a reason and it's not a reason that Ty Smith is an exception to. He still has a lot of maturing to do before he's comfortably maneuvering around all three zones of an NHL ice surface against those that have proven themselves on it. That said, it sure looked like most of that much-needed maturation is physical as opposed to mental, and thinking the game at a high level is the biggest hurdle for young defenseman. Surely the 19 year old still has a lot to learn as well, but he's already looking like someone that has the ability to take everything in stride en route to the finish line that marks the start of his professional career. That's great news for an organization that will more than likely be anxiously awaiting it.
As Is The Case With Most Things Sabres, I Can't Imagine The Discount They Are Offering Anyone That Wants To Update Their Jack Eichel Jersey From #15 To #9 Will Be Well Received
Let's make one thing very clear, the Buffalo Sabres don't actually owe their fans a damn thing. The $49 dollars off that they are giving anyone that wants their Jack Eichel jersey to be both numerically accurate and associated with a future that can't possibly be as dark as the past three seasons is a nice gesture, but it's far from a necessary one. A superstar randomly changing to a new number when the old one is stitched on to the back of 75% of a home crowd that thought their investment would be safe for the next eight years might provide the most ruthless of reminders, but every single person (over the age of 12) that chooses to wear a professional athlete's name on their back does so with the understanding that its authenticity is temporary.
The inherent issue of roster fluidity, however, isn't the main reason that a sports team shouldn't feel obligated to extend an olive branch to their long suffering fanbase. The main reason they should just charge full price to any and every person that's fiscally inclined to keep their wardrobe up to date with the professional progression of Jack Eichel is that any price deduction short of 100% isn't anywhere near enough to offset the emotional and financial toll that the Sabres sucking has taken on the fine folks of Buffalo.
Giving even one single dollar off on a second $200+ jersey bearing the same last name of a transcendent player whose efforts have been wasted by the ineptitude of the organization that drafted him is an admission that atonement is due, and if atonement is due then it's due in a hell of a lot more than $49 dollar increments. Simply put, coming off a season in which you finished dead last in your division for the 4th time in five years, it's more insulting to offer a discount that's smaller than the percentage of games you won than not offering a discount at all. then don't even offer a discount at all. In a "don't bother paying until you plan on paying in full" sort of way, it's not about about the payment as much as the principle. For that reason, a genuine, heartfelt apology that reads "sorry...for literally everything" might actually go further with Sabres' fans than a single nosebleed seat's worth of savings on a redundant expense.
Sidenote: I don't encourage torching jerseys as a display of fandom, but if Jack Eichel eventually bolts after pulling this move then the record he's going to hold in the amount of ash formed by the burning of his likeness will be a well-deserved one.
While I sat pondering how even the most emotionally vulnerable of fan could look at the last nine seasons of John Tavares and the New York Islanders and come away with even the slightest inclination that the former should feel guilty for wasting the latter's time, I was reminded of something. That something was the feeling of resentment I felt for both Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk whenever Michael Ryder "skated" around the ice as the bargain basement replacement for their offense.
You can treat this as a disclaimer, I suppose, as the following stands to be pretty harsh, but I do get why some of the Long Island faithful have taken aim at their long time captain for making the easy choice of exploring far greener pastures seem extremely difficult. For the same reason that most husbands eventually accept what they've married into and stop putting up a fight when the opposite side of an argument is just begging to be taken, it's always easier to blame the former player when the organization is who you have pledged your undying allegiance to. That said, anyone that has taken any umbrage whatsoever with John Tavares is quite clearly lashing out, and while I understand their inclination to do so, I would be remiss not to remind them how ridiculous that is.
I'd encourage all Islanders' fans to pop a percocet real quick because this is going to get painful, but let's talk facts for a second. A franchise who woefully missed the playoffs, due to a damning lack of defense and goaltending, by a considerable margin let their ownership of one of the most enticing assets in league history expire. It may be true that said asset expressed his desire to be retained, but to hold John Tavares responsible for maximizing the value of John Tavares tells you all that you need to know about the faith in the management at the time of the trade deadline.
Consider this, the Islanders gave Garth Snow, of all people, the ability to trust in his own ability to sell a franchise that was the NHL equivalent of homeless to a guy that was set to be offered a world of possibilities by the prestigious team in his hometown. I don't even care if John Tavares was getting the infamous fisherman logo tattooed on his asscheek during the afternoon of February 26th, because the only ink that would have guaranteed his future in the "greater" New York area would have had to dry on a dotted line. Maybe I'm naive in believing that it truly was more gut wrenching than it should have been for the one of the best players in the NHL to opt out of gambling the rest of his career on an organization in flux, but not as naive as one would have to be to believe that their wasn't one single suitor capable of making the Islanders look like a second rate operation as soon as he hit the open market.
Of course, what followed a season that did a shameful job of instilling confidence in John Tavares, could only be described as the work of the hockey gods. The goddamn Godfather of General Managers found himself available to the organization that already employed his son. A coach that still had the beer he drank out of the Stanley Cup on his breath stumbled into an unemployment pool that was currently home to one single raft. The Islanders seemingly breathed some life into their chances of keeping the league's most sought after of talent, but the truth is that they basically tripped ass backwards onto the horseshoe that somehow got stuck up their ass. The tandem of Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz is a formidable one, but it all-but-fell into the lap of a desperate franchise at the most opportune of time. In theory, bold moves were made to keep John Tavares. In execution, blatantly obvious moves were made to keep John Tavares.
Now, I totally get why too much was read into them too soon when in reality it ended up being too little, too late. Still, you'd think that fans whose hearts were on the line would have checked the reviews of the basket before they put all their eggs in it. I'll appreciate Lou Lamoriello to my dying day. I think the personification of professionalism was an unbelievably easy choice for an Islanders' organization that needed their culture shocked. That said, the one thing he has not proven adept at throughout his illustrious career is putting personal pride aside and doing whatever is necessary to swoon superstars into staying.
Scott Niedermayer, on the heels of having added to his three championships with a Norris Trophy during his first season taking over for Scott Stevens as the Devils' captain, decided to join his brother in Anaheim. Zach Parise, having captained his team within two wins of owning real estate in title town, decided home is where his heart was in heading to Minnesota. John Tavares could have been gifted the entirety of the Hamptons for his own personal use and he still wouldn't have had as many reasons to remain in Long Island as those two players had to remain in New Jersey. Lou Lamoriello is a lot of things. Excluding the outlier of the ownership-influenced Kovalchuk fiasco, a shameless seller of his stubborn soul for transcendent skill is not one of them. The fact that he's fallen a bit out out-of-touch as an executive doesn't make him anywhere near a bad one, but if his presence is your biggest bargaining chip then you're probably scrapping the bottom of the bag.
If Islanders' fans want to be upset with John Tavares for ghosting them as their optimism lost its slipper and went full-Cinderella while Saturday ticked into Sunday then I can understand the frustration. If the image of Little Johnny boy wrapped cozily in his Maple Weafs' bwankey and the likely unintended implication that his tenure in Toronto was a foregone conclusion makes them want to scream then I can sympathize. What I can't do is blame John Tavares for exercising his right to make the most out of the rest of his career when the first half of it was held back by an organization that put an exclamation point on its ineptitude by wildly mismanaging the odds of his departure. If the painstaking waiting period was any indication, John Tavares actually did give the idea of retiring an Islander way more thought than anyone else would have. It's not his fault it took him meeting with other teams for hours on end to realize that he couldn't justify devoting his future to a franchise that waited until the last possible second to even slightly advocate for its own.
I got to be honest, I'm a little happy for Sabres' fans. As much fun as it is to poke fun at the poor, unfortunate franchises that can't ever seem to get out of their own way, it caters to the Devils' fan in me seeing them exude pure excitement every time their #1 pick gives them even the smallest taste of what's to come throughout his tenure.
I haven't the slightest idea what Matej Pekar was thinking with that move, as the 4th round pick basically wheeled head-on over the tracks while the train was coming through. However, speaking as someone that had a Pavlovian response whenever #13 touched the puck last season, the impressiveness of the hit isn't anywhere near as important as the name of the person who delivered it. I don't know how endless the love will be Rasmus Dahlin, as I don't him playing an integral part in an immediate playoff run like Nico Hischier did. However, for now, he could accidentally piss off a balcony onto a Sabres' fan and they would treat that shower like it were made of gold by seductively rubbing into their scalp like they were the lead in an 'Herbal Essences' commercial.
Okay fine. That one got away from me, but that's what tends to happen when a fan base can't control its man-crush. Regardless, Dahlin has got quite the long leash on him, which is ironic since fawning over a blue chip prospect can become as much of an obsession as playing with a new puppy. Let's hope the team doesn't make that feeling fade too quickly, if only for the sake of Jack Eichel's sanity.
Good News, The Maple Leafs Learned A Lot From Their Failed Pursuit Of Steven Stamkos And They Are Applying It To Their Pursuit Of John Tavares!
Whew. I, for one, am relieved. I was on pins and needles wondering whether or not a prestigious franchise in a historic hockey market whose mere existence sells itself was going to sabotage their chances of adding a superstar by once again trying too hard to impress. Good to know that if they do happen to miss out on John Tavares then at least they'll receive the consolation prize of yet another illustrious lesson in the art of pitch meeting persuasion! It would suck to come so close yet so far from solidifying themselves at the center position for the better part of the next decade, but not as much as knowing they made the same mistake twice!
Just a quick question, are we assuming that all hockey players have the exact same mindset? While that's actually probably more true than it is false, the idea that the Maple Leafs think they are slowly but surely creating a foolproof blueprint for enticing talent as if said "talent" has a uniform set of interests, beliefs, and priorities is a little strange. Tinkering with the acuteness of their angle is probably smart, but acting like they have a cheatsheet to the 77(!) page handbook that John Tavares is personally judging prospective employers off of? Eh, not so much.
Again, I'm glad they learned from the unbelievably stupid miscalculation that a hockey player would be swayed by the presence of a political figure. I'm just not so sure that gives them a leg up in the Tavares' sweepstakes as much as it puts them on an even playing field with all the other organizations that weren't laughably out-of-touch with the prevailing personalities of players. If there is an NHL team that can just be itself in a "love me or leave me" sort of the way then it's the Toronto Maple Leafs, as a regionally famous CEO was never needed to convey that their future is only surpassed in brightness by their spotlight. I just can't believe they had to smoke a superstar out of a room that's reputable in its own right by stinking of Sabres-esque desperation to figure it out in the first place.
The Devils Are Reportedly In On James van Riemsdyk, And I'd Really Appreciate It If Someone Knocked Them Out
I blame Ray Shero, but it's not because he has reportedly identified a need for more scoring and is at least thinking about addressing it by way of overpaying a player that doesn't necessarily fit the system. He wouldn't be the first, nor would he be the last NHL GM to voluntarily make an objectively unwise investment because he had the money at his disposal.
Instead, I blame Ray Shero because, much like a mother that thinks no one is ever good enough for her baby, his work in nurturing the Devils from the talent barren wasteland they were has pretty much convinced me that very few free agents are worthy of their time. It's actually quite impressive when you think about it. Fans in particular tend to fawn over free agency, but in three short years the franchise's new figurehead has made me largely numb to its allure with his meticulous scouring of the trade market.
To be clear, I don't think someone who is basically a lock for 25 goals from the tough areas of the ice would be the worst addition to a team that's currently depending on quite a few if's to come to fruition in building on a promising playoff appearance. I just don't think he would be the best building block for a team that has structural flaws elsewhere and that's what we've come to expect when Ray Shero gets to stacking the brick and mortar.
In JvR, you're basically talking about a player who brings more of a scoring touch than Pat Maroon, for at least 1.5x -2x the price and term, but almost none of the other characteristics that made Pat Maroon a solid contributor in the lineup down the stretch. Neither is fast, but at least one of them makes up for it by being hard on the puck and bringing a productive and possessive presence along the boards in the offensive zone. So while it would be nice to bring home a Jersey boy, doing so a cost that (within the framework of their attacking style) might not even seem effective if he does hit 30 goals next season seems like a reach.
With how long the Devils have waited to make a splash in free agency, James van Riemsdyk would make for an underwhelming prize. I understand the want, but yet another left winger doesn't come close to filling a need in the lineup. These 5x5, 6x6, or 7x7 deals that are given to secondary players in their late 20's so, sooo rarely seem smart in hindsight. That doesn't mean you can't offer them when you have the luxury of excess cap space, but it does mean that you should probably consider circumstances and put both the target and team in the best position to succeed in the long run when you do. Even at its most ideal this isn't a match made in heaven, so what happens when that honeymoon phase comes to an end as (::knock on wood::) the Devils' window to truly contend begins?
A Random Dude Posed As A Reporter To Sneak On The Ice At The Florida Panthers Developmental Camp, But Sadly Didn't Get What He Deserved
::breathes deep and internalizes urge to poke fun at the Panthers' proclivity to prematurely throw away talent::
Talk about a catch 22. Developmental camp is too valuable in judging the current status of legitimate prospects to have even 15 seconds of a single session wasted on some kid off the street who was desperately seeking the fickleness of social media fame. However, wouldn't putting some attention-starved bender through an intense workout with young and hungry prospective pros that were chomping at the bit to make an impression provide the ultimate in poetic justice to someone who tried to make a mockery of it?
Dale Tallon obviously did the right thing in exterminating that disease before he could go viral. Seeing as the Panthers hardly even tolerate plastic rats on the ice anymore, they certainly shouldn't accommodate human vultures. That said, had their GM and coaches not been pressed for time that was undoubtedly spent more wisely then it would have been mighty nice to see those retweets roll in as this dude was getting rag-dolled in a "be careful what you wish for..." type situation.
As someone who likes to see passing internet glory come organically, I am glad this anonymous kid didn't get what he was looking for in some empty online encouragement of his idiocy. I am, however, a bit disappointed that he didn't get sent into the concussion protocol by getting what he had coming to him in acting just as recklessly narcissistic as this streaker...
With What Was An Inevitable Induction, Marty Brodeur Is Officially Amongst Hockey's Finest In The 'Hall Of Fame'
I'm not sure there's all that much that needs to be said prior to the ceremony in which the full extent of Martin Brodeur's contributions to both the sport of hockey and the goaltending position will be truly honored. After all, his immediate induction into the 'Hockey Hall Of Fame' is only newsworthy in how non-newsworthy it is. The numbers, which are record breaking in all the ways that matter the most, have long spoken for themselves, and the voters who are more visual learners already had plenty of time to study up on the trophy case that's the size of a walk-in closet. Simply put, you could have set your calendar to this announcement years out and rested easy that you wouldn't be made to look either stupid or presumptuous, which is a rarity in today's sports' climate.
That being said, this does provide an excellent opportunity to take a walk down memory lane, and boy is it an absolute treat to anyone that has a shred of interest in the history of hockey. The fact of the matter is that due to both the dominance of the man who's been affectionately coined 'Marty' and the NHL's apparent familiarity with elementary geometry, we will probably never see another player like him. Even if you ignore that his style of stopping pucks was novel in how casually styleless it appeared most of the time, his ability to negate a forecheck as an All-Star caliber third defenseman revolutionized his position. So much so, in fact, that it made the league step in and force a devolution by actively handcuffing one of their most talented players while he was still near the peak of his powers.
You can loathe him as person, and/or diminish what we did because of who he did it behind. However, even if you remained insanely ignorant to the fact that he won two of his four Vezina Trophies behind an extremely mediocre defense and found himself in the Finals as he neared the age of 40, you'd still be foolish not to appreciate all that he brought to the sport. Whether he was the greatest pure puck-stopper of all time is up for debate. Whether he's the most accomplished is not. Accentuate those absurdly untouchable accolades with a highlight reel that epitomizes both creativity and athleticism. Add to that ridiculous resume a lasting impact on the game that unquantifiably unmatched. Whether he is the best or not is inconsequential, because - as the total package that didn't just stop shots, but undeniably suppressed and created them - Marty's universally better.
There's already plenty of reasons to believe that the G.O.A.T. of goaltending just officially received his set of keys to the house that hockey built, and there will only be more as his mere existence is responsible for the redecoration of future wings.
With Nearly Ten Teams Vying For The Suspect Services Of John Moore, It Shouldn't Be Too Hard For The Devils To Bid Him Farewell
Eight teams. EIGHT TEAMS. That's over a quarter of the league that made it a point to target the same player that they typically targeted when entering the Devils' defensive zone the last three seasons. If that alone doesn't tell how much the thirst for any type of talent trumps money management when free agency hits then the following definitely should.
In John Moore we are talking about a guy who probably cracks the 90th percentile in speed and skating during an era in which they are absolutely paramount at his position. A guy that made his biggest mark in scoring overtime goals that guaranteed victory for a team that's grown to appreciate each and every single win throughout his tenure. Somehow that guy, despite all those positives, still managed to merely make as big of an impact on Devils' fans as his name would on a suburban middle school teacher who has been navigating roll call since the early 80's. Over the last decade, New Jersey has been home to about as many defensemen that are capable of scoring in the double digits in goals per season as it has been to television shows that paint the state in a positive light. Therefore, hoping someone who has cashed in 19 times over the last two years leaves speaks louder than any fist could possibly pump.
To put it more simply, the only reason John Moore should be on stage at a bidding war is if he's the auctioneer for a player with far more hockey sense than himself. That's not to say he can't adequately fill a valuable depth role, but just because he played 20 minutes a night for a playoff team doesn't mean a team that has hopes of making the playoffs should plan on paying him to play 20 minutes a night.
If the league-wide level of interest in any indication then John Moore's immediate future is best compared to an oil change. It serves a purpose, but that purpose ends up being way more expensive than it should be when you prematurely agree to pay for any other problems that get found under the hood in the process. Assuming his agent is at all familiar with the handling of hot irons, he appears ready to brand a desperate team with a bad contract. The Devils have both the money and the positional need to be that team, but there aren't many emotionally invested in their success that hope that's the case. Considering their only other left-handed defensemen are an overage Andy Greene, a still-developing Will Butcher, and the unknown that is Mirco Mueller, you don't have to dig too deep to realize that John Moore might just seem more intriguing when he's not on your roster.
Since kneeling in worship at the work of Ray Shero has quickly become my customary response to almost all of his masterful acts of management, it brings me momentary sadness to inform you that not even I can fully credit the Devils' GM with the first round selection of Ty Smith. While he was the one that stood on stage and made it, the automated list by which your forgetful friend "drafts" his fantasy team could have just as easily done so. I don't know if you happened to catch the announcement of the Hart Trophy winner, but it provided a pretty good reminder that Ray Shero's standards of success are far above that of someone like...oh, I don't know...let's say Peter Chiarelli. Therefore, not falling victim to overthinking when the easiest of decisions fell right into his lap doesn't register as a huge win by him personally, even if it could turn out to be a monster victory for the franchise he's rapidly made reputable.
We're years away from finding out whether or not Ty Smith reaches his potential as a fleet-of-foot two-way defenseman that thinks the game at as high a level as he played it in putting up a ludicrous number of points in the WHL. That said, his potential was basically that of the lovechild of 'best player available' and 'organizational need' for the New Jersey. I would say that the left-handed blue liner with legs for days and leadership qualities (Captain of Team Canada U-18) could really Ty up some loose ends in the Devils' lineup. However, there will be plenty of time for the nauseating forcing of puns if he comes even remotely close to remotely close of fulfilling the promise of the Drew Doughty or Duncan Keith comparisons that I've seen (far too liberally, mind you) floated.
In making a laughably premature projection, the only opinion you could possibly come away with is that a ton of value was gotten out of the 17th pick and that's really the best you can ask for when predicting the development of underdeveloped teenagers. The area in which Ty Smith comes up the most short is size, but if he were three inches taller he probably would have been picked in the top ten instead of just being ranked there by a multitude of sources much more knowledgeable than I. If nothing else, that's a testament to his wide variety of merit-based talents that the Devils just added to a prospect pool that was specifically lacking in well-rounded defenseman that check all of the boxes that pertain to upside.
I don't know if the streak of success they stumbled upon with Nico Hischier, Will Butcher, and Jesper Bratt is a sign of what's to come from their scouting department, but just as things broke right for them this past season, they broke about as well as you could have hoped for them last night. Ty Smith could end being quite the addition to Ray Shero's resume, even if it would realistically be more of a black mark on those of the GM's that picked before him...
The Magician That Botched His Reveal At The NHL Awards Was Left Hanging By Anze Kopitar, In What Was An All-Too-Fitting Fail
That's it. That's all you need to see. Now that this video is at our disposal, there is no longer any reason for us to use our discouraging words in describing how the NHL is successful in spite of itself. That clip is such a perfect microcosm of the how out-of-touch the league is with just about everything that resonates with its fanbase that it makes the fact that they brought out a ventriloquist in Vegas to serenade an audience of grown adults in song seem like a smashing success by comparison...
I know Anze Kopitar didn't intentionally snub the magician whose greatest trick was getting us to believe he knew what the hell he was doing prior to revealing the winner of the Selke Award with a puzzle of wayward body parts that looked like it was pieced together by someone that dons a bib during dinner. Still, in that moment, we could all sympathize with the indifference of the player that pushed past the piss poor pageantry that felt more forced than that attempted handshake to get to the celebration of excellence in a league that would cease to exist if not for the merit of its product.
If anything, I appreciate that the Kings' forward clearly didn't see the extended hand of the bargain basement illusionist that has probably never pondered if life were still worth living more than he did in that exact moment. If there's anything I can relate to it's focusing on the hockey so as to remain immune to the NHL's failed attempts at gesturing to its overly loyal audience.
Considering the grace, professionalism, and - as officially evidenced by the award in his hand - perseverance with which he handled a preseason cancer diagnosis, I'm not so sure that the best compliment I can offer Brian Boyle isn't that he more than lived up to the contract he signed in free agency.
What's happened since then has been anything but ordinary, and he obviously meant a hell of a lot more than your average bottom-six center to a young team that benefited from the veteran leadership he provided on the ice and inspiration he served as off the ice. However, if not for the occasional heart-warming and tear-jerking moment, the most notable thing about his seamless fit into the lineup that he almost immediately aided was that it made tragic news feel like somewhat old news. Perhaps it's wrong to even speak on all that he went through, because the vast majority of his fighting was done away from the rink, but - save for the times in which his resilience was being celebrated - what he went through certainly wasn't evident when he was on the rink.
Of course, Brian Boyle wasn't a virtual lock to take home the Masterton Trophy because of the battles in the corners that he was quick to engage in, or the face-offs he won, or the goals he scored. Still, the willingness with which he did all those things without missing a beat certainly was made all the more impressive by the circumstances surrounding his personal life. We're not even just talking about a guy who kicked cancer's ass one month and was on the verge of returning to play meaningful minutes in the NHL the next. We're talking about a guy who wasted no time in becoming a proactive advocate for the fight against cancer while also dealing with a sick child as he was still indoctrinating himself into a locker room that he was originally added to as a "big brother". I think it's safe to say that he didn't just succeed in setting an example for the New Jersey Devils, but for the entire hockey community and everyone that's even mildly familiar with it.
There's so much to be said about a season that was undoubtedly of MVP caliber well before it was made official last night. There's no shortage of adulation just begging to be heaped upon a player whose incredibly enduring excellence was the driving force behind a unexpected playoff berth that was always in doubt despite the Devils never having left the proverbial leaderboard from October through April. What there is a scarcity of, however, is original endorsements of Taylor Hall's value to a franchise whose future was made to look far, far more luminescent by the blooming of a star into a superstar.
My ex-girlfriends might strongly disagree, but I'm not all out of compliments because I'm a stubborn S.O.B. that's hesitant to give them. Rather, I'm all out of compliments because falling back on the same two dozen or so for the umpteenth time would cheapen them. As tends to happen when someone rattles off a 26-game point streak (observe this, NHL ::violently grabs groin::) for a team that literally needed almost every single one of them to break their five year absence from the postseason, Taylor Hall exhausted any and all forms of authentic praise almost every time he took the ice.
For that reason, I'm just going to casually mention in passing that the statistical disparity between himself and second highest scorer on the Devils looked to be one that you might expect of a 12 year old playing out an entire video game season as his 99-overall created self. Strictly out of habit I feel inclined to bring up that Taylor Hall spent half the season dominating alongside two of three youngest players in the entire NHL, so you're welcome for suppressing that urge as best I could. Because I know you've heard it all before in what seemed to be a never-ending debate about the definition of 'value', I'll even be nice enough to save you the repetitive reminder that #9 was hotter than the pistol he appeared to be shot out of when it mattered the most for a team that made the playoffs by all of one single point. After all, as the voting shows, his candidacy spoke for itself...
I almost feel as though the Oilers don't even deserve a mention, for as much joy as I derived out of Edmonton's misery as Taylor Hall resurrected his character as those that assassinated it were left digging their own grave, his season was so much more than just a massive middle finger to the most meddlesome of hockey markets. With how much was expected of him on a game-by-game basis, there was only so much time to revel in what can retrospectively be viewed, in part, as resolute retribution in one of its most satisfying forms. Taylor Hall went the "let bygones be bygones" route, which is fitting as his success was the result of him putting his past in the past, and letting nothing more than each next game chuck up the most devastating of deuces on a one-for-one trade...
For proof of just how important Taylor Hall was to a New Jersey Devils team of which absolutely nothing was expected, read the second half of the quote above. A then 18 year old center who had the muscle mass of a middle school distance runner on a month-long juice cleanse. A General Manager who, while highly accomplished, was mired in the middle of a rebuild. A first time head coach that was coming off a destitute season that undid all the positives of the year prior. Nico Hischier, Ray Shero, and John Hynes were all unbelievable in their own right, but - let's be honest - they make for pretty mediocre help relatively to what it takes to win a Hart Trophy. That's not so much an insult to an organizational culture that took as many powerful strides forward as their MVP as it is an acknowledgement of said MVP's undeniable impact on those strides.
The Devils are now Taylor Hall's team in a way that's only been broached by Hall Of Famers that rest eternally in the Prudential Center rafters. There's not enough to be said about a player that gave an organization that won three Stanley Cups throughout two decades of perennial playoff contention their first Hart Trophy winner, and yet - in between the dropping of jaws - it was all uttered ad nauseam throughout a season that Devils' fans won't soon forget.
A Washington Reporter Got Caught Reacting To The Barry Trotz News In The Background Of A Live Senate Hearing
I'd be lying if I told you I fell within 35 channels of being tuned into a Senate hearing, so Lord only knows what I did or didn't miss (seeing as everyone else who watched was probably sleeping through it with their eyes pried open). That said, from what little I caught, I think it's fair to say that we should be applauding Kelly Cohen for not interrupting what was a shockingly slow moving discussion with an on-air aneurysm.
Yet another circular conversation about Russia and collusion that, in all likelihood, leads nowhere but the next circular conversation about Russia and collusion is enough to make even the most savvy of political savant turn into a zombie. So, while the shock was written across her face, I'd say she did a great job containing her heart from leaping out of her chest. That was definitely a possible outcome of stumbling upon the news that the head coach of a Stanley Cup champion was walking away from the organization less than two weeks after bringing them to the promised land for the first time ever while otherwise catatonic.
Now, my jaw didn't exactly hit the floor when I found out, as Todd Reirden appeared ripe to push Barry Trotz out the door all the way up until Barry Trotz was presumed to have blocked said door with a three foot tall trophy that might forever smell like Alexander Ovechkin's beer-soaked beard, but I also hadn't been lulled one step short of a coma at the time. To consider what Kelly Cohen experienced to be a swing of emotions would be to consider the pirate ship ride at your local carnival that leaves your stomach firmed fixed in your esophagus to be a "swing". Therefore, one must credit a professional reporter for handling a taser-like jolt to the system with as much grace as did the head coach that respectfully resigned when his unbelievably fair contract demands weren't met.
I'm fully aware that this was a case of San Jose clearing some cap space prior to free agency by unloading one of their relatively bad contracts on a desperate organization that might have accepted nothing more than a bottle of prescription pills as a cure to hockey's most heinous headache. I know they only traded for Mike Hoffman to turn around and maximize the diminishing value of a player who may have sabotaged his career by (allegedly) proposing to Cruella DeVille's even more evil step-daughter. What I don't know is why the Senators were worried about trading a ticking time-bomb to a team in a division that they aren't in any way, shape, or form ready to compete in regardless, but credit to the Sharks for leveraging a laughably run organization's ineptitude against them. I suppose we shouldn't have expected Ottawa to get themselves out from between a rock and a hard place without their totaled reputation absorbing another dent or two in the half-assed pursuit of retaining Erik Karlsson.
Anyway, how can you not appreciate this move? Even if you had a high-level of interest in keeping the Sharks from swarming John Tavares come July 1st, you'd at least have to find it hilarious that Mike Hoffman and his multiple overcharges worth of baggage were (at least in spirit) sequestered to three separate and extremely distant reaches of the hockey world in just over two hours time. I don't even care that it was the circumstantial result of one team's diligent management, because the symbolism of San Jose shipping (allegedly) the world's most wrathful WAG as far away as possible before she even got anywhere near close enough to poison their lunch, never mind their locker room, is just so perfectly fitting.
I can't say I'm surprised that a team that has trouble attracting outside talent, like the Panthers, decided to accept the (alleged) risk of a walking, talking internet virus when they stumbled upon the power play porn of a proven 25-goal scorer. I'm just glad that we'll always have the morning in which it appeared that Mike Hoffman and the big ball of (alleged) human feces chained to his ankle were getting passed around the NHL quicker than the mumps virus. If only during a fleeting moment of weakness, it gave me hope that some franchises have it in them to overlook deadly accurate one-timers if it means potentially infecting their team culture with (allegedly) the most reprehensible of two-timers.
Good luck to the Panthers in their blind trust of the talent. I can't help but think that Mike Hoffman would rather his long-time girlfriend get presented with a clean hard-drive as opposed to a clean slate, though the good news is that the staff at the BB&T Center is highly trained in rodent control...
Barry Trotz Ultimately Upped His Local Legend, His Salary, And His Cachet By Stepping Down As Head Coach Of A Stanley Cup Champion
The following admittedly feels like a weird thing to utter about a coach that, had he chosen to stay with the organization that was left lying to itself year after disappointing year before he helped lead them to the promised land, would have spent the entirety of his two-year extension working with a leash long enough to lightly jog circles around every single one of his peers. Still, dare I say that Barry Trotz' decision to briskly walk out from behind the bench of the Washington Capitals two weeks after they rose the Stanley Cup for the first time in the franchise's 44-year history was somewhat...relatively...easy? Sentimentality aside, scoffing at a small bump in salary (albeit contracted) that spoke volumes about the team's preferred direction as well as left him well below market value for any coach, never mind one coming off a championship, was to be...well...expected.
I mean, leave it to the franchise that was previously allergic to success to only achieve it after putting a successor in place, but the truth of the matter is that the newest coach on the unemployment line just won his way into a win/win situation by choosing to lose his job. If you want a look at a man that will forever be welcomed back in Washington D.C. then look not through the hallowed halls of The White House, but rather at the neckless wonder that appeared damn near Presidential in how calm and collected he remained throughout the entirety of a title run that presented no shortage of adversity. Barry Trotz was basically Joe Cool in every single postseason press conference. You have to imagine that was due, in large part, to the acceptance that not even all the ice that was used to chill the championship champagne would have completely extinguished the heat of Todd Reirden's seemingly inevitable promotion from singeing at his ass hairs. Barry Trotz was playing with house money for the first time since his arrival in Washington, and not only will he have potentially tripled his earnings when the cards fall in regards to his future, but he'll forever have ingratiated himself into an irreproachable past in the nation's capital.
Judging by their social media presence throughout the last two weeks, the Capitals might not even be sober enough to have a Stanley Cup hangover until the next All Star break. Yet, the man that has to answer to expectations that will be innately upped won't be the one that forever solidified his place amongst the limited lore of Washington sports in graciously leaving them behind. Once you reach the peak of your profession, you're typically left choosing between riding that high downward or going out on top. Due to a mutual willingness to move on, Barry Trotz gets to pick and choose the best of both those worlds. Come the time in which the possibility of an unlikely repeat is being discussed, he might very well still be enjoying an extensive vacation while watching his value gain interest on the open market.
These are undeniably strange circumstances, but they are guaranteed to work out in favor of the guy that just put a ring on the 27 Dresses of sports' cities while becoming the league's most eligible bachelor. I can't say for sure what his plans are, but if Barry Trotz can stomach some time off then he could easily use this honeymoon period to prove - once and for all - that it is possible to have your cake and eat it too.
Now that the buzz has (presumably) worn off on what's been a week long bender for a Washington Capitals' club whose tolerance has been built up by offseason after offseason of having to drink away their second round sorrows, this sobering story is long overdue.
The fact that even the most tragic of catastrophes tend to have but a short-term staying power in both our minds and our hearts is a sad truth, but it's a truth nonetheless. The bus crash that took the lives of sixteen kids and coaches, the health of thirteen others that were also pursuing their passion, the innocence (and much, much more) of their families and friends, and the peace of mind of countless people with even the loosest of ties to the team, the city, and the sport happened a little over two months ago. Yet, to even the most compassionate of unattached fan, I'd bet the wounds don't seem anywhere close to that fresh. The hockey world showed an overwhelming amount of support for a disaster that could have easily effected any one of us, and it still feels as though it came and went too quickly.
So credit to Chandler Stephenson for recognizing that the small Canadian town with which he shared a province growing up could still use a small reason to smile as it's still very much in mourning. For as relatable as the celebratory "boys will be boys"-style binge drinking has been, the unifying power of hockey is that much greater a reflection of its sense of community. The Capitals' forward doesn't seemed to have forgotten that, as it sounded as though Saskatchewan never left his mind as he achieved his lifelong dream of raising the Stanley Cup. Humboldt deserves a day with hockey's ultimate prize, as the strength that its survivors have shown says just as much about as the sport as the tens of thousands of sticks that were left leaning on porches.
Yikes, Erik Karlsson's Wife Filed An Order Of Protection Against Mike Hoffman's Fiancée For Online Harassment Regarding Her Stillborn Child
OttawaCitizen- Melinda Karlsson has filed an order of protection against the longtime girlfriend of Senators forward Mike Hoffman — alleging a campaign of harassment that plagued the Karlssons after the death of their son and through much of the last NHL season, this newspaper has learned.
It was in late November that the Karlssons announced on social media that they were expecting their first child, a son they would later name Axel Michael who was stillborn on March 19, 2018.
“Monika Caryk has uttered numerous statements wishing my unborn child dead,” says Melinda Karlsson’s sworn statement to the court.
"She also uttered that she wished I was dead and that someone should ‘take out’ my husband’s legs to ‘end his career'. Monika Caryk has posted over 1,000 negative and derogatory statements about me as a professional.”
In March, Sens captain Erik Karlsson blasted an anonymous online troll who, in the comments section of a post mourning his dead son, accused his wife of “popping painkiller medication” during her pregnancy.
In an Instagram post mourning his son’s death, Erik Karlsson posted a photo of Axel’s tiny footprints. In the post, Karlsson thanked the city and the team’s fans for their love and support and wrote: “We feel very lucky to be Axel’s parents. Even though he was stillborn, we know we will hold him again one day under different circumstances and the joy he gave us will be with us forever.”
The post garnered more than 10,000 comments, with the overwhelming majority of them expressions of support and sympathy for the couple. However, one comment, posted by user @sandydandy45, stood out: “I feel bad for the baby he didn’t have a chance with Melinda popping pain killer medication everyday.”
It took the league’s top defenceman just seven minutes to respond: “How dare you. You have been making fake accounts and buying hacked ones for months to harass me and my wife but this is an all new low even for you. You are a disgusting person.”
The user @sandydandy45 has since deactivated that account.
This newspaper also found other social media users coming to Melinda’s defence after Twitter user @petersonmegan51 used an anti-bullying event to insult her. That account has also since been deleted.
Be careful what you wish for. That's how the saying goes, is it not? I ask only because clearly I had forgotten of it's importance as I followed along with the hilarity of the Bryan Colangelo saga and longed for the day in which someone in the NHL would find themselves mired in similarly idiotic internet hijinks. Turns out, the story I thought I was hoping for was right around the corner, but running a burner account that essentially labels the wife of your boyfriend's teammate as a pill-popping baby killer is too hot for me to handle with two dozen oven mitts.
I suppose it bears mentioning that Mike Hoffman has denied everything, as any good fiancée to an (alleged) loose cannon/lunatic should, but there seems to be a lot of smoke for there not to be some sort of fire behind extremely personal attacks regarding something as sensitive as someone's deceased child. Just using common sense here, but I think though doth protest too much by claiming "150%" non-involvement when there's already been an order of protection filed and an article from a reputable news source written about said order of protection...
Technically this is still one-sided hearsay at the moment, but if any of it is proven even remotely true then Mike Hoffman looks just as bad as his sociopath of a soon-to-be life partner. Not just because it's his job to keep lady trouble out of the locker room, but because he should be responsible enough not to get down on one knee and pledge his future to the type of person that feels vindicated by the unexpected death of even their own worst enemy's infant.
Monica Caryk is probably a freak in a sheets if she is truly that disconnected from reality, but - as an NHL player - Mike Hoffman has to up his standards higher than someone who appears to be mentally ill in the internet streets. If not because his significant other currently comes off as the type to chop her husband's dick off if he doesn't finish doing the dishes to her liking, then because his talent doesn't outweigh his reported baggage by as much as that of the player whose wife finally WAG'd the finger after months of being victimized.
A third, fourth, fifth, and sixth party have spoken, and it's not exactly glowingly of the relationship that the Senators' winger is in...
Therefore, if I were Mike Hoffman I might think about prioritizing long-term stability over the absolute psychosis of a fatal attraction. Although, in fairness, the latter does make his relationship a match made in the hellscape that is a dysfunctional organization. If nothing else, it would be very fitting of the Ottawa Senators to get forced into keeping someone who put a ring on a locker room cancer while trading away a franchise cornerstone that damn near dragged them to a Stanley Cup Final on one foot.
The Washington Capitals Took An Ad Out In A Las Vegas Paper To Praise The Entire Golden Knights Organization
There's no doubt about it, this is a classy move. Blurred and slurred in what appears to be an all-time bender is that the liquid diet that the Stanley Cup Champs are currently on came at the expense of an expansion team that overcame historic odds. Ovechkin and Company deserve every single watt of the spotlight, but when - if ever - the proverbial keg finally gets kicked on the Washington Capitals' frat party there's going to come a time when we all sit back and appreciate what the Vegas Golden Knights were able to do in coming within three wins of the most expedited title in sports history. The organization that was doing parade prep got a head start on everyone else by taking out an ad in a Las Vegas newspaper on the day in which they were officially commemorating their championship, and they deserve credit for being so humble in victory.
All that being said, I think we can all agree it's a bit easier to shower your opponent with compliments when they are run by the same man that put together half of your roster that will now reign eternal...
Not to make it sound any less generous, of course, but the least the Washington Capitals could have done for George McPhee was to give a noble nod to the second championship contender he has put together in as many tries. I'm sure this was nothing other than a genuine show of praise towards a worthy opponent, but best not forget that "world class" descriptor when the head of that class helped give you the world.
Eat your goddamn heart out Ferris Bueller. Assuming that a new one can't truly start until you actually close your eyes for longer than it takes to blink champagne out of them, the following was all in a day's "work" for Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals...
My first thought upon seeing Alexander Ovechkin treat hockey's ultimate prize like some combination of his birth blankey, a freshly-tapped keg, and - sooner rather than later - his right hand in the court of law was that the Capitals have really deprived us of a pricey version of Project X by having a low tolerance for high pressure situations prior to this postseason. Of course, my second thought was that they probably wouldn't be using the entire city of Washington like the backyard of a low-rent, off-campus college house if this untimed shit show hadn't been in the making for about three decades-worth of the dog years in which Ovi's looks have been aging.
Both things are probably partially accurate, but whatever the case may be, the Caps are following their leader off the ice about as well as they did on the ice. Luckily for those of us living vicariously through the Stanley Cup's bender, their leader just so happens to be the type to inject some energy into a power nap with the crisp cracking of a cold one.
To be clear, I'm not completely lukewarm on acting like you've been there before, as humility doesn't get anymore nauseatingly commendable than it does in the hockey world. Unfortunately, having not been there before, riding the high of a 48-hour binger with not a concern in the world but where your next drink (and/or chant) is coming from is a hell of a lot more more relatable.
Since the two are always going to be compared to one another anyway, let's put this in the following context. Sidney Crosby is the consummate champion, but his rival just became the people's champion by seemingly matching the amount of debauchery he has gotten into with hockey's Holy Grail within the confines of one extended Saturday. Mathematically speaking, if you tallied up all the laughs that have been had at the Caps' expense throughout all of their self-proclaimed years and multiplied it by amount of goals Ovi scored before they became eternally validated by a championship then you'd probably get close to the quantity of fun they've had since Friday. Alexander Ovechkin might not be carrying the Stanley Cup like he owns it, but I'll be damned if there's not something incredibly endearing about watching him fill it up enough times to get his money's worth out of the summer long lease he's got on it.
Cheers to him continuing to drink em' up, on the condition that it doesn't require him to put his life's work down for more than 5 minutes at a time.