Who Better to Punctuate This Summer's Massive Migration of Talent to the New Jersey Devils Than The Goose Himself
You know, when the celebration of this offseason title finally subsides, there should be no shortage of apologies addressed to the man that turned a bad team with money to burn into one of the NHL’s most exciting rosters in the short time it typically takes for some fans to convince themselves that they are better at his job. Honestly, I want strong consideration given to constructing a confessional booth on the Prudential Center concourse between now and opening night for preseason use by any and every idiot that slandered Ray Shero for his reluctance to commit the sins of cap-strapped teams before him by falling victim to the fool’s errand that is free agency. I don’t know about you, but the irony of him being able to give Devils’ twitter exactly who they desperately wanted - with the shrewd acquisition of the best player outside the NHL - solely because he left them to spend a season-plus screaming into an empty void of an echo chamber while obsessing over the prospect of overpaying for past performance isn’t lost on me.
As for the actual player that serves as the next chapter of what’s been a quick and complete organizational rewrite, I’m not sure there’s anything other than his nationality that’s not to love. Once you get over the entirely understandable and otherwise undying trust issues that come with New Jersey signing another offensive-minded Russian, Nikita Gusev perfectly fits the bill of what the Devils openly prioritized at the very public request of their impending free agent of an MVP...
If absolutely nothing else, he is pretty much the personification of talent. He might not be the most physically imposing or fleet of foot of talent, but the skillset of someone that compares favorably to a New York Ranger that shall remain nameless are as undeniable on the ice as they are in the analytics...
How well it’ll translate to the NHL can obviously be questioned, but its existence can not. The player that owns two KHL MVP awards and the second highest scoring season in league history has star-power potential and he’s joining a team that hardly even needs him to fully realize it as he is presumably the final, complimentary piece to a formidable Top-6. With the risk of throwing in some ‘B’ level assets in order to pay an unproven commodity nine million over two years being minimized by the fact that the Devils don’t need full financial flexibility until those seasons have elapsed, it becomes pretty hard to envision it not being easily matched by the reward of rostering a preposterous amount of puck skills.
Whether or not the Goose takes flight towards the top of a lineup that’ll cater to his creativity remains to be seen, but Ray Shero’s laser-focused vision for the long-term future of the franchise he’s built from the barest of bones is not. Championship contention isn’t exactly around the corner, but it’s a hell of a lot closer than it was in April. That’s due in large part to the possibilities that patience provides, and those possibilities appear damn near endless with the Devils renovating their roster by adding Jack Hughes, P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds, Ty Smith, Nikita Gusev, and potentially Jesper Boqvist to a flock that’ll look almost unrecognizable for all the right reasons.
We Might Never Again See an NHL Offer Sheet With How Badly The Hurricanes Bodybagged the Canadiens and Their Attempt to Sign Away Sebastian Aho
And that, my friends, concludes your two day emasculation of a once-proud, long-storied franchise that might have the most wins in NHL history but couldn't save themselves from taking one of the most monumental L's. I was half kidding about never seeing another offer sheet throughout a league that has stigmatized them in such a way that the signing of one is comparable to the targeted spreading of an STD. However, I'm probably not far off with how savagely the "bunch of jerks" running a small market team in the South are do-si-doing atop the occupied cap space of an Original Six organization.
Stop me if you've heard this one before. Marc Bergevin looks like a complete buffoon, as he presumably got duped by an agent into doing Don Waddell's job for him in inking a point-per-game centerman in Sebastian Aho to a ridiculously reasonable deal to stay in Carolina for the next five years. There's dumb, and then there is insulting your own intelligence. Which category do you think front-loading a contract in an attempt to price-out an owner that, without so much as a second thought, sunk $70 million into the fool's errand that is trying to contend with the NFL falls under? I'll give you a hint, it's the one that allows the entirety of the Carolina Hurricanes' front office to publicly bend you over their knee and mix in abject mockery between metaphorical spanks with the wooden spoon while your negotiation tactics get laughed out of the room louder than Dr. Evil's.
A team that is no stranger to being the butt of the joke is basically sitting on the head of a legendary franchise like the Montreal Canadiens and belly laughing while bullying them without even having to lift a finger until Monday. Knowing how tight-assed NHL GM's are when it comes to the attempted robbery of restricted free agents, I can't imagine such a relentless roasting does anything to make them unclench any time soon. Though, I suppose the easy way to avoid being victimized by a similar spectacle would be to spend two seconds on a Google search of a team owner's net worth or six seconds scanning their salary cap situation before finalizing something as intricate as an offer sheet.
In What Will Surely Serve as a Stick to the Craw of Flyers' Fans, The Devils Have Signed Wayne Simmonds to a One-Year Deal
Please welcome all the impatient Devils' fans that spent all of last offseason (and, unbelievably enough, the last couple of hours of this offseason) incessantly whining for Ray Shero to go blind to his future budget for the temporary thrill of overspending to the wonderful world of free agency! It's a highly stressful place where your options are either obnoxiously expensive, entirely over-the-hill, or all of the above. Can't believe the Devils didn't decide to vacation here sooner!!!
In all seriousness, as far as flawed players who aren't worth 5 million dollars are concerned, I actually like Wayne Simmonds fit in the Devils' lineup. So long as his role is limited one, there is very little risk associated with adding a player who adds a rare combination of talent and toughness to an undersized lineup for one season during which the continuation of his career as an impactful NHLer hangs in the balance.
If that's not convincing enough for you then go rewind last season's game tape and try to watch the Devils' 2nd powerplay unit operate for more than 45 seconds without being brought to the saltiest of tears. If absolutely nothing else, Wayne Simmonds gives them endless options with the extra man as the type of net-front, pain-in-the-ass presence that actually has puck skills.
Now, I can't say I love inserting an old and slow defensive liability into a lineup that has young players who better fit the team's collective style banging on its door. For example, if Wayne Simmonds is what gets an NHL-ready Jesper Boqvist sent back to Sweden for another season then I'll lose my shit. I have an extremely hard time believing that's a legitimate possibility at this point in their rebuild, but it's one of the very few concerns I have about adding a player that brings attributes that the Devils don't otherwise have.
All in all, the reward might be limited to a 15-20 goal prick of a powerplay specialist who plays sparingly at even strength in the bottom-six. However, the risk is next to nothing for a team that's got a pretty populated nest to protect and could easily afford to sign a burning pile of money to a ten million dollar deal so long as the fire extinguished after this season.
Plus, can you really put a price that can be measured in AAV on the Flyers signing Kurtis Gabriel within the same 60-minute span as their fans finding out that one of their most beloved shit-stirrers took his tenacity up the Turnpike?
If you recall, the last we saw PK Subban he was really struggling to make ends meet in trying to dress properly for a celebration of new beginnings...
Well, the Devils lent him a helping hand to make sure he made David Puddy proud by, ya know, supporting the team, and I got to be honest folks...not even sitting cross-legged on a hardwood floor can rid me of this paranoid feeling that I am about to have the rug pulled out from under me. I don't know what feels more like a photoshop, seeing the provocative PK Subban in red and black after all these years or just seeing literally any legitimate #1 number defenseman in red and black after all these years. Whatever the case may be, if my eyes don't deceive me then my mind does, as it has yet to fully process that one the most electrifying talents in the NHL is going to be calling New Jersey's blue line home.
I'm assuming I won't have the opportunity to sneak my way onto the ice to gently caress the face of #76 in making a proactive pitch for it sink in that such a special specimen can actually still exist on the Devils' backend, as if my brain convinced itself that the concept of a first-pairing defenseman was deceased within the organization or something. Therefore, I think I'm going to need someone to pinch me or punch me prior to October. The days of Scott Niedermayer effortlessly wheelin' around Continental Airlines Arena were far too long ago for me not to feel like I just caught a glimpse of a fresh spring off in the distance while crawling dehydrated through the desert. Like, are we entirely sure that Lou Lamoriello didn't body-snatch Ray Shero and is just waiting to unveil that the whole trade was a hoax as revenge for letting Nico Hischier wear #13? Past his prime or not, I'm still wary that the visual of PK Subban flashing his 1,000 watt smile from under a Devils' helmet is a long con, as I've become astonishingly accustomed to New Jersey's defense being an complete joke.
The Devils' Twitter Fired the Initial Shot of the Hughes/Kakko Era, and It Was a Pretty Damn Good One
The truth of the matter is that the New Jersey Devils have far too much going right for them as a franchise that, after one turn of a clock, now boasts endless intrigue for me to be all that concerned with what's currently burning in James Dolan's dumpster fire.
That said, with the schedule having just been released, a rivalry having just been reinvigorated, and a Finnish freak having just been sentenced to a commercial flight into a public airport where an awkward and embarrassing display of fandom awaited, the time was definitely right for Devils' twitter to strike...
Rangers' fans can claim that rare objectively funny pun is proof of the Devils never letting their biggest rival out of their head, as they are too uncreative to think up a more clever retort to 'The Rock' being entirely unwelcoming of the NHL Draft's runner-up come October. However, with their own team's account having deleted their despondent draft pick's hilarious hostage video, I'm not sure they have much room to point out the insecurities of others at the moment...
Fact is, in the form of PK Subban, this past weekend's biggest splash was made on the New Jersey side of a Hudson River that now separates two teams that have made significant steps forward. That, of course, says next to nothing about the outcome of the blood feud that will play out on the ice over the next decade, but as far as the oh-so-important internet is concerned? Big brother is, for the time being, getting noogie'd to hell and back by a first class organization that is suddenly looking about as endearing to the casual fan as one Jack Hughes.
Realistically, when you consider Ray Shero's unspoken affinity for American-born players and John Hynes' history in coaching them, it's pretty easy to envision the Devils' scouting staff keeping a keen eye on Patrick Moynihan regardless of his former teammate's understandably biased thoughts on how he projects as a pro.
That said, with New Jersey welcoming both Jack Hughes and PK Subban in a window so small that it barely offered Devils' fans an opportunity to breath, the world we live in is now surreal. Therefore, I'm all for taking some liberties with the truth and letting myself believe that the most electric prospect in franchise history was doing amateur scouting on behalf of the organization before he had even become a part of it.
Hell, at the very least, he was cocksure enough in his own draft standing to use his first question to the team with which he saw himself spending his foreseeable future as a chance to talk up another prospect. I can only speak for myself, I suppose, but there are certainly on-ice opinions I'd value less than the one belonging to a player I had my sights set on selecting first overall. Especially when he drags his balls all over the ground he eventually left the room on in going entirely out of his way to correct me in making such a convincing case for someone other than himself.
The truth is that Patrick Moynihan was probably pretty close to the next man up on the Devils' draft board at Pick #158 with or without the prior input from Pick #1, but how can you not let yourself believe in the lore of a white lie when the last 72 hours feel like a fairy tale of a fantasy anyway?
I shouldn't be as shocked as I am. Perhaps that's a feeling that comes naturally with an unprecedented and expedited influx of skill, creativity, personality, swag, and charisma (never mind high jersey numbers) into a lineup that might well have left Lou Lamoriello in need of a Xanax and a 1995 Stanley Cup Championship VHS. However, the moves, as impactful as they'll presumably be to the present and the future of the organization that almost immediately went from one appearance on national television last season to being one of the most intriguing teams in the entire league next season, aren't anything we shouldn't have seen coming.
I was skeptical that the most dispiriting price tag on a formidable first-pairing defenseman wouldn't be the one that was preceded by a dollar sign, but leave it to Ray Shero to pull off a heist in doing exactly what he said he was going to do all along. That, of course, being the use of a little luck, a lot of patience, and some maniacal cap management to push the Devils into contention at the perfect time. With Taylor Hall stopping just one step short of begging for a real reason to make New Jersey the place where he can attempt to do some all-too-elusive winning, that perfect time wasn't any one of countless times fickle fans bitched for Ray Shero to majorly overpay in making a minor move for the sake of making a move. Rather, it was the 24 hour window in which the franchise was given the type of facelift that leaves you in complete disbelief of what your suddenly seeing in the mirror.
Regardless of what happened at the World Championships, Jack Hughes was basically an inevitable addition. The Devils now have the type of one-two punch down the middle that's knocked out no shortage of playoff opponents throughout recent Cup runs. Perhaps just as importantly, that second punch is one that is liable to completely take your breathe away as quite easily the most dynamic offensive prospect the franchise has ever gotten their hands on at a time when dynamism is at an absolute premium throughout the NHL. It might not be from Day 1, as the kid could definitely benefit from sprouting a few more ass hairs, so to speak, but Jack Hughes was born to be a game-changer.
In that sense, it makes total sense as to why his selection is what ultimately changed the way Ray Shero was playing the high-risk game of rebuilding. Make no mistake, trading for PK Subban is a risk, as he is now past his prime and performing below his pay grade. However, it's a risk that's almost entirely mitigated by giving up a package centered around a former 7th round pick, albeit one that has developed into much more, for a player at a position of desperate need whose prime literally had him atop the conversation for best defenseman in the league. As far as I know, 90 out of 100 is still an 'A', and there are hardly any blue-liners on the Devils that could have dreamed of grading out with Scott Stevens-level scores over the last few seasons. This is a massive upgrade that makes the depth throughout the right side of the Devils' defense flat out dangerous. It might be one that's objectively overpriced, but it's one whose expiration date so conveniently coincides with those of entry level steals like Jack Hughes and Ty Smith that you'd think this was all planned out years in advance if that were even remotely possible.
Despite his seat getting hotter, mostly just amongst a petty and premature public opinion, Ray Shero repeatedly maintained that everyone should just chill before filling the two biggest holes on his roster in less than 24 hours. Admittedly, this all feels like a franchise-altering blur, but this is a picture that was outlined ad nauseam by the man that just painted a large portion of his masterpiece. It may have become harder and harder to hear him out, but if you did then you shouldn't be quite as dumbfounded by debatably the fiercest fleecer of cap-strapped teams continuing to do what he's done best in picking first overall and making a lop-sided trade for the type of talent that you usually need far more than money to buy.
I don't know about you, but I'm starting to think he may have been onto something more than serendipity in not sacrificing a long-term vision that's blindingly brighter than it has ever been for a short-term payoff of a couple more points in the standings. It was a great "day" to be New Jersey Devils' fan, which means it was also a great day to be their MVP...
To be clear, it really shouldn't be all that comforting that the General Manager of a young NHL team on the rise isn't worried about sparing the feelings of his competition in the cutthroat quest to acquire more talent. It really should be common sense that Ray Shero, or anyone else in his position, would take full advantage of every opportunity contractually afforded to him in making his team better. Unfortunately, lazy narrative or not, history speaks to that not being the case, as some sort of unspoken gentleman's agreement makes for a better explanation than anything else that might explain the continued absence of offer sheets throughout the NHL over the years.
So, while I don't know that I'd want Ray Shero to go down such an asset-expensive path in improving his roster, it is good to know that he's not the type to shy away from taking a long look down it like some of the executives that frame their cowardice as consideration. "Fuck that shit" couldn't possibly do a better job mirroring my feelings on the matter of playing nice with other negotiators, so I'm glad it came out of the filterless mouth of the man tasked with taking the New Jersey Devils to the next level by any stupidly stigmatized means necessary.
If robbing cap-strapped teams of their restricted free agents is wrong then Ray Shero clearly isn't overly worried about being right. That's exactly the type of mindset you want your primary decision maker to have when you're in the business of risk-taking, never mind one that hopefully has over-anxious Devils' fans putting a pin in their pissing and moaning, at least until we're anywhere remotely near the eye of the offseason storm.
There Isn't a Jacket Thick Enough to Save You From Suffering Douche Chills While Watching Brad Marchand Shamelessly Celebrate 2nd Place
Let me first say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with professional athletes letting loose, in almost any way they see fit, after putting in an extraordinary amount of effort and sacrifice prior to suffering a painstaking end to their season. Any fan that disagrees and think that players should be holed up in dark bedrooms wrapped in a thick cloak of humiliation and spending all summer sweating out their shame is an insufferable asshole. That's especially true when those players came within a couple unfortunate bounces of securing the most physically demanding trophy in all of sports.
That being said, with the lone exception being any or all Stanley Cup Champions, these things can also be pretty uniformly said...
A 31-year-old man dancing on top of a bar is a bad look.
A 31-year-old man with a soul patch dancing on top of a bar is a worse look.
A 31-year-old man with a soul patch dancing on top of a bar topless is an even worser look.
A 31-year-old man with a soul patch dancing on top of a bar topless while wearing ski goggles is the worst of looks.
Yet, none of things instances, in and of themselves, quite compare to a 31-year-old man with a soul patch dancing on top of a bar topless while wearing ski goggles in case of errant champagne during a celebration of second place in representation of a city that is entirely up its own ass in accepting nothing less than first. The only thing that compares to that, in terms of being objectively embarrassing, is a laughably untimely line change that played a prominent role in a team being left to tearfully watch history made on their home ice...
Again, to be very clear, Brad Marchand has every right to singlehandedly compromise the stick-up-the-ass superiority complex on Boston sports' by giving the entire internet second-hand douche chills. I just want to clarify that that is exactly what he did with a painfully cringeworthy display, fitting of a frat brother who forgot he graduated, that proved he's just as unabashedly unlikable off the ice as he is on it. Someone should call pest control because I can't be the only one whose skin legitimately crawled while watching a grown ass man so obnoxiously revel in being a runner-up.
Let Brad Marchand's Tears Hydrate the Hockey World, As His Laughable Lack of Focus Played a Huge Part in Costing The Bruins a Stanley Cup
To be honest, I'm struggling for the words. The timing on a line change that all-too-perfectly resembled a rat choosing flight after having the brightest of lights turned directly on it while its mind was in a gutter was so mystifyingly stupid that I'm still damn near speechless. The most acceptable excuse for Brad Marchand scurrying off the ice as one of the last men back after whiffing defensively is that he thought periods had been changed to 19 minutes and 50 seconds in length. Unfortunately, he's probably going to have to do better than that to explain the otherwise inexplicable to the segment of the Bruins' fanbase that doesn't blindly blame Tuukka Rask (who was one win away from a Conn Smythe trophy, mind you) whenever they drunkenly dribble a little pee on their own pants.
Now, to say Brad Marchand is guilty of losing the entirety of a Game 7 with one lazy lack of awareness would quite obviously be false. However, to say that going down two downright deflating goals with mere seconds remaining in a period that the Bruins completed dominated otherwise against a road warrior of a opponent whose goaltender already successful stonewalled their best shot is an inglorious gut punch couldn't possibly be more truthful. There was still a ton of time left in the game, but the Bruins' odds of winning the Stanley Cup were dealt such a sperm-stunning kick to the crotch by an insurance goal that the league's biggest lover of low blows almost had to be complicit in it. Combine that with yet another no-show from a top line that basically bottomed-out offensively all series, and 'The Pest' was predominantly a pain in his own team's ass.
Of course, the Blues deserve a ton of credit for exterminating the impact of him and his linemates with a system that could suffocate even the most relentless rodent, but in playing 'Gloria' there's no more fitting undertone than the tearful face of failure belonging to Brad Marchand. After all, it was his familiar lack of focus that eternally altered a game that was well within reach...
The Blues' Fan That Turned $400 into $100,000 by Betting on His Then Bad Team to Win the Cup Has Eternal Bragging Rights
Assuming you aren't the executive whose confidence in the team he assembled was unwavering as they went through the type of rough stretch that has driven plenty of resilient rich men to the bottom of the bottle, or the head coach that took over when the things were at their bumpiest in helping to smooth a road to relevance, or any of the players who believed in one another as they battled against near inevitable odds to make history, you can't possibly feel more vindicated than Scott Berry currently does.
As sports' fans, we often look like unhinged idiots to the outside world in deriving a second-hand sense of either failure or accomplishment from the outcome of games we couldn't be further from factoring into, as though paying for tickets or memorabilia grants us some unofficial role within the organization. That realization is a pretty harsh one when you think about it, but it's one that Scott Berry can now comfortably avoid after putting his money where his mouth was in refusing to hedge on what was a bottom-feeder of a Blues' team that hadn't won a title in its 52-year existence and having it pay huge dividends.
The phrase "ultimate fan experience" gets tossed around a lot. However, you could have been sitting on Jake Allen's lap last night and you wouldn't have felt more a part of the actual on-ice action than someone who watched his favorite team participate in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final while knowing full well that one bad bounce could cost him six figures. In that moment, as the clock struck zero and Blues achieved the unthinkable, Scott Berry absolutely had to feel a profound sense of pride that only pales in comparison to that of those who were about to hoist the greatest trophy in all of sports after months of physical and mental anguish and sacrifice. You honestly can't put a price on that, though a cool 100K would be a damn good starting point.
What does this mean, you ask? Well, other than that the New Jersey Devils were universally understood to be the poster boys for a strangling level of defensive dominance en route to winning three Stanley Cups between the mid-90's and early 2000's, less than absolutely nothing.
In fact, I'd go as far as saying that it even being referred to as though it might have some underlying relevance to an unsourced trade rumor of some sort speaks more to the point here, which is that Devils' fans are quickly approaching the cliff towards full-blown Crazy Town if they aren't soon offered the opportunity to feel even a little bullish about the team's blue line.
Ray Shero, heed these words. I'm not even sure it gets more conspiratorial than studying the semantics in reading into PK Subban making easy-to-absorb basketball analogies to an ESPN audience that is half-witted towards hockey. However, if it does then you might as well make the first promotion a tinfoil hate giveaway if no NHL-caliber defensemen are added prior to October. I can't imagine Taylor Hall would be too ecstatic about the idea of continuing to receive outlet passes off the glass after spending 30 seconds a shift chasing the puck while his defensemen chase their own tail for the foreseeable future, and if he wants out then straight jackets might have to come complimentary with season tickets. Therefore, I strongly suggest some reinforcements are made to the backend so that a throwaway mention on 'First Take' is no longer the last resort of impatient Devils' fans who are near certain their pets heads are about to start falling off.
Jesper Boqvist, One of the Big Fish in the Devils' Prospect Pool, Has Finally Signed a 3-Year Entry Level Deal
And now, we wait.
As Jack Hughes gets ready to fulfill what has been his destiny for all of...::checks calendar::...two months and Devils' fans clench their asscheeks while clutching their Taylor Hall jerseys in preparation for what better be an eventful offseason, consider this signing to be a fairly good fail safe. Second to only a blueline that, figuratively speaking, is bereft of reasons to live, I think it's a pretty universally held opinion that New Jersey should be prioritizing the collection of high-level skill to flank their soon-to-be solid center depth.
Jesper Boqvist, although entirely unproven on North American ice, unquestionably fits that bill as a dynamic offensive asset regardless of what happens between now and October. Whether or not he has danced enough Swedes in developing enough physically to make the team out of camp is probably about as reliant on his performance in said camp as it is on the outside additions made prior to it. However, he makes for a highly intriguing back-up plan for a team that hasn't exactly made a habit of owning the rights to top-six level skill-sets.
As of right now, it's naively optimistic to pencil Boqvist in as a second line left wing for a team whose 'Hart' wants it wants, which is to play meaningful hockey beyond April. That said, it's nice that the Devils have another offensive option at their disposal as their fans have laid witness to far less provocative worst case scenarios than the one that has them deploying a multi-Jesper attack atop their lineup.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch Prematurely Published Their Stanley Cup Congratulations, Thus Ensuring Game 6 Would End One Way and One Way Only
How? Just, how? Unless the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had a mole acting in the best interests of fellow rodent Brad Marchand in order to give the Blues the maximum amount of bad juju and the Bruins some billboard material, I don't know how you possibly let this see the light of day before the long overdue Stanley Cup-inspired smiles throughout the city of St. Louis were lighting said day. I guess the short answer would be that it's easier for such a mistake to be made when your medium is slowly dying due, in part, to the same cutthroat deadlines that forced an employee or two to prematurely put together a celebration section in bad faith. Still, to not quadruple check in making sure it was under some sort of foolproof lock-and-key when working on the most time-sensitive Sports Section in the largely unrewarding 52-year history of Blues' hockey is beyond comprehension.
Now, the rational person in me knows that what got published in the online special addition of a paper has no tangible effect in what later played out on the ice. The truth is that this series always had the feel of one that was destined to go seven, as beating the Boston Bruins three straight times was as unlikely a proposition as getting through a playoff round without a dumbfounding officiating controversy. Therefore, it's hardly surprising that it has done so.
The irrational sports' fan in me, however, is hearing none of it as my confidence in the Blues dropped about as low as my jaw when that tweet went viral. It's somehow exponentially less surprising that this series is going the distance after a challenging of the hockey gods suddenly opened up a season-long underdog story to a narrative of eternal mockery. Hopefully the spirits got all their spite out of the way during a Game 6 that allowed the home fans very little excitement, or that embarrassing use of the internet will live on in infamy. For a team that's spent all postseason attempting to erase the misgivings of fanbase whose balls have been left bluer than their jerseys far too many times before, I hope the type of devastating cocktease that will be revisited ad nauseam by an obnoxious opponent isn't in the cards.
The Boston Bruins Certainly Know How to Set a Mood, As Stone Cold's Entrance Music Served as the Score to a Drunken Wrestling Match in the Stands
I don't know that people are referring to fortuitous music being played behind the unfriendly fire of inter-fanbase fisticuffs between fucking assholes when they say that sometimes there are other forces at work during sporting events. That said, it certainly felt like some sort of higher-power - perhaps even a stumbling, bumbling St. Patrick himself - summoned his sense of humor in cueing the most aggressive entrance music in wrestling history as a bald drunk with an attitude problem dripped domestic beer while dropping an unprepared antagonist.
If the surroundings, circumstances, and score of that shamelessly stupid scene weren't hand selected by the hockey and/or wrestling gods themselves then that's just some...ahem...Stone Cold serendipity. We're talking about a lottery-esque level of luck manifesting itself so that over-served idiots falling all over themselves could be part of something truly magical, as opposed to solely being a part of something truly stereotypical. The unmistakable sound of glass shattering in the background was the type of stunner of a script flip that could bring Vince McMahon to his knees, even if Boston fans belligerently boozing themselves into a 5-body pileup as their over-confidence turned into anxiety was the exact opposite.
You May Not Have Known This, But the Bruins are Actually the First Team to Get Boned by Incompetent Officiating During the Stanley Cup Playoffs
Ha! Joke's on Bruce Cassidy, and I don't mean the perpetual punchline that has been the entirely overwhelmed cast of characters (poorly) officiating the Stanley Cup playoffs. Instead, I'm referring to the joke that is the implication that one missed call, albeit an inexcusably missed call that led to an eventual game-winning goal, has made any blacker eyes that already looked like those of a raccoon after being bruised beyond belief by a postseason that's seemed destined to expose every potential defect in the NHL's product. If we're rolling with the analogy that the league is a living entity that takes a punch every time they suffer a bad look then a dead horse has nothing on the beating they've taken prior to last night. Long story short, one passed up penalty, no matter how impactful its aftermath, is a drop in the bucket of tears from teams that have far more reason to feel fucked.
Now, Bruins' fans absolutely have every right to bitch, just as Bruce Cassidy has every right to do exactly what Craig Berube did earlier in the series to try to influence officiating going forward. However, let's be very clear here. During a time of the year in which referees, for better or worse, tend to let the players play, every team in every game can point out a missed 3rd period penalty that went against them. They aren't always that obvious, nor do they always lead to backbreaking goals. However, it stands to reason that's partially because most victimized teams don't stand around, dicks in hand, waiting for a whistle instead of actually playing to it. Boston may have lost by a goal that shouldn't have had the chance to come to fruition, but to say they lost because of a goal that shouldn't have had the chance to come to fruition is a very convenient way to point the finger away their best players making their only impact on the groin of the opposing goalie.
The officials definitely deserve their fair share of blame for, yet again, getting exposed as incompetent, but - make no mistake - this was no hand-pass assist in overtime. With a multitude of mystifying misses, such as the like, so fresh in everyone's mind, an objectively crappy judgement call not made with plenty of time left on the clock hardly meets the high standard of abject stupidity we've seen throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs. With the incredibly controversial way this postseason has played out, we were damn near guaranteed another high-profile head-scratcher during the Final, and - has been proven time and time again throughout the last few months - this one could have been much, much, much worse.
Zdeno Chara, Who Answered Questions in Writing Because He Can Hardly Talk Through His Broken Jaw, Skated Today and Remains a Gametime Decision
I typically hesitate to heap praise on hockey players for playing through insane injuries, as it tends to inspire fans of a beautiful-but-barbaric game to take out their insecurities on sports that don't encourage athletes to stitch, wire, or glue themselves together and (almost literally) gut it out for glory.
Therefore, as it pertains to Zdeno Chara somehow making a strong case to play in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final despite being without the use of his mouth, I'll just echo the motto of an infamously resilient Jackass in stating that if you're gonna be dumb then you gotta be tough. Make no broken bones about it, even thinking long and hard about taking a beating from the band of brutes along the Blues' front lines with a busted jaw is remarkably dumb. That, more than anything, means it could only be considered a possibility by someone remarkably tough. Amidst a host of other qualities - such as proud, noble, tenacious, and persistent - Big Z is undeniably tough as a veteran who led by example long before that was literally the only means of communication left at his disposal.
Whether or not the Bruins' captain actually follows through in lacing them up and taking the ice in a limited role tonight is irrelevant. Even putting himself through the painstaking process of putting a helmet on and answering a line of questioning in ink is proof positive of how much this game means to someone who has accomplished more than the teammates who should be taking note of how dedicated he is to beating the Notes. Again, even trying to mumble his way into lineup Kenny from South Park-style is extremely dumb, but it's even more dedicated, and - above all else - it's a contagious type of tough.
TheAthletic- This is a big summer for Taylor Hall, who has one year left on his contract with the New Jersey Devils.
There’s been healthy communication between his camp led by agent Darren Ferris and Devils GM Ray Shero, although I’m told that things have not yet progressed to the actual beginning of negotiations. So, no numbers yet.
Really where things stand as of now is that Hall is contemplating his future and at some point will re-convene with Ferris to decide how they want to proceed.
But I also don’t think this is a “Sign on July 1 or you’re traded” scenario. I don’t think Shero wants to get boxed in by artificial deadlines. As long as there’s a chance Hall might eventually be willing to sign an extension, I think Shero would want to keep that window open. In other words, if it means waiting until November or January to get it done, so be it.
Obviously, it’s a different thing if Hall decides outright that he wants to go to the UFA market in July 2020 and lets the Devils know this summer. That probably changes things for Shero depending on the kind of trade offers he would receive.
But at this hour, there’s no reason to believe Hall isn’t interested in entering negotiations. There certainly hasn’t been any indication otherwise.
TFP- As the Devils try to convince the 2018 NHL MVP Taylor Hall to sign a long-term extension with the organization, multiple well-placed sources have told TFP the 27-year-old, as of now, is not interested in signing a new deal with the club.
Devils GM Ray Shero has had an open dialogue with Hall’s agent, Darren Ferris, but it appears that for the time being, an extension is not in the cards.
Ferris declined to comment about negotiations when contacted by TFP.
“Ray and I communicate regularly and to respect the process I am unable to provide you with any details,” Ferris said via text message.
As inevitable as it was that the uncertain future of the still reigning NHL MVP would get gratuitously beaten to death as a source of clicks leading up to the last year of his contract, I was really hoping that ruthless rumor mill would lay dormant until July 1st. Ya know, considering that's the first day Taylor Hall is actually allowed to sign any sort of extension anyway.
I guess I'm not surprised that there are already two separate articles, published days apart, putting wildly different spins on a piece of news that is only newsworthy in that it's not actually news at all. I'm just a little disappointed that what's guaranteed to be a shameless search for internet attention throughout the summer and beyond has already gotten off to the type of hot start that will leave New Jersey Devils' fans in a constant state of the cold sweats.
With Pierre LeBrun being an exponentially more reputable source than David Pagnotta, I'm more liable to believe his report that all is currently well between Taylor Hall and Devils' management. After all, someone who was confirmed to be wrong multiple times last summer saying that a superstar who literally can't yet sign is not yet interested in signing is only helpful if what he's trying to accomplish is grabbing the eyeballs of 30 additional fan bases. Since the following isn't exactly the look of two sides that had forgone marriage counseling and are already headed to a messy divorce, I think I'm comfortable buying into the idea that they are probably still on speaking terms a month before those talks can even turn into a contract extension...
The truth of the matter is that Taylor Hall was always going to want to see what the Devils had in store for an insanely important offseason for which they are stocked with no shortage of assets before he committed himself to the organization for the foreseeable future. The only thing that's been given the chance to happen throughout said offseason is that they lucked into an insanely talented player who has the potential to eventually take the pressure off him as another dynamic puck carrier and play driver. That doesn't guarantee a damn thing in regards to a potential long-term future in New Jersey, but I hardly think the inevitable addition of Jack Hughes hurts a recruiting pitch that is still very much in its infancy.
It's obviously very possible that it's only a matter of time before Taylor Hall is traded, but the clock isn't even ticking yet. Ray Shero is just as well-aware of the need for more talent as his most impactful forward is. Both have said as much publicly while seeming nothing but understanding of one another, so can we please wait until the process of player movement begins before we start ferociously biting at the hook of every asshole fishing for online traffic with repurposed and recycled bait? Taylor Hall has been very complimentary of New Jersey and the Devils' organization. One guy with an ulterior motive shouldn't erase all that, especially when his timing couldn't make less sense.
Taylor Hall Just Needled Every Obnoxiously Insecure Hockey Fan You Know By Tweeting About His Newfound Appreciation of the NBA
There I was, idiotically thinking that I couldn't possibly love Taylor Hall anymore than I already did. So, you can imagine my surprise when he spoke straight to my athletically appreciative soul by jabbing a knife in the side of every hockey fan that thinks diminishing the efforts of all other athletes should be a requirement of enjoying the NHL and twisting...hard.
There honestly isn't one single thing that ignites the insecurities of hockey's most overly obsessive observers quite like bringing up basketball, and the (technically still) reigning NHL MVP did just that and more by unintentionally reminding the entire internet of what's been his own league's most pressing issue for multiple decades running. For that reason, I think it would be nice if Taylor Hall offered to pay the next therapy bill for the faction of close-minded fans whose world promptly collapsed upon reading a good ole' Canadian boy's gratuitous praise of professional basketball after his experience enjoying it in a non-traditional market.
Now, said issue exists, in large part, because hockey inherently isn't anywhere near as superstar-driven or individualistically encouraging as basketball. You hardly need fully functional eyesight to see the amount of extreme differences that can be easily and immediately identified between two sports that, due to a multitude of factors (some avoidable, some not), clash culturally. That's why, as can be read in the actual words that Taylor Hall oh-so-carefully chose, this wasn't some sort of attempt at an apples-to-apples comparison. Unfortunately, if you don't think it will be defensively interpreted as such then you've somehow been fortunate enough not to encounter the type of hockey fan who will stop at no amount of illogical analogizing in a nauseatingly endless effort to get you to like their sport and only their sport.
What Taylor Hall essentially implied is that, though the games themselves are a matter of preference, the NBA produces a much more intriguing show with better character development than the NHL (and all other pro leagues, for that matter). That might be a difficult thing to admit during a postseason that is unequivocally the most gripping in all of sports. However, how can you argue against something so blatantly obvious that a superstar who has dedicated his entire life and livelihood to winning the Stanley Cup felt comfortable saying so on a public platform that collectively bears its claws at contrarianism?
The NBA has plenty of its own flaws, but among them are not a lack of adaptability, a lack of marketability, a lack of publicized personalities, or a lack of entertainment value. I say the following as a loyal consumer of hockey above all else: If you perceive that undeniable fact to be a subtle dig at the NHL then me thinks that you, as an overly sensitive hockey fan with an inferiority complex, doth protest far too much.
Some Bruins' Fans Were Apparently Stunned Into Sobriety by Last Night's OT Loss, As Full Beers Were Left to Meet Their Non-Drunken Demise
Shameful. Despicable, really. The last fanbase I expected to leave overpriced suds to suffer a fate of flatness was the FUBAR'd Boston faithful, and here they are abandoning yet-to-be-sipped stragglers as if their success in sports has made them forget that there are sober assholes in Africa, or however that saying goes. Whatever happened to "win or lose, we still booze"? That used to be a motto that the entire over-served city of speech impediments could stumble behind, but now some of its most loyal inhabitants have become so spoiled that they refuse to finish beers that aren't filtered through the thrill of victory? Is that what it has come to? Samuel Adams would roll over in his goddamn grave if he witnessed such willful wastefulness and entitled alcoholism. And to think, our forefathers fought for Boston's right to drown their Irish guilt in abused substances just for said substances to be left unabused when the outcome was undesired? Ugh, makes me sicker than a Masshole who fell publicly ill in a puddle of his own Jameson-induced vomit.
Now, I know it was just one single row, but if Bruins' fans as a collective can't be entrusted to leave only empties after overtime then maybe they deserve the sobering reality of Stanley Cup sorrow as they are apparently still too drunk off the Patriots' dynasty. One thing is for certain, the same can't be said of St. Louis...