Sunday, 16 July 2017

Donald Fehr, Gary Bettman and NHL revenues

News Item: Donald Fehr speaks at NHLPA golf tournament on apparent union disenchantment, big signing bonuses and much more

Donald Fehr and the players are unhappy with their take, with the size of the pie which is the NHL's hockey-related revenue.  After a period of robust growth, the curve has flattened out, with ticket prices about as high as they can go in their respective markets, and the league locked into its current TV deals.

A lot of the low-hanging fruit have been picked, that’s for sure. Revenues can rise with things like the Canadian dollar, but that’s out of the NHL’s control.

One thing they do have some control over though is the number of eyeballs during telecasts, and the demand for tickets for the show. And Gary Bettman being the Little Dummy Emperor that he is, keeps insisting that the game is fine and has never been better and will yammer your ear off about their own stats and facts that show the game has never been healthier, as Bruce Arthur disputes here.

But my own indices certainly are falling. I often read or cook dinner during games, instead of being inert on the couch, transfixed. I’ll fast-forward when I’m sleepy and just want to see how it ends, stopping for goals and fights. The playoffs are held up to be the pinnacle of competition, but really, it’s a mudwrestle, superficially exciting, but once you’ve seen a couple of minutes, it gets old. It’s not normal that every player sports cuts on his face or bruises or a black eye. It’s not an indicator of a successful league. Once the Canadiens are out, I don’t watch anymore.

Back in the day, after watching the Canadiens rooney the Whalers into submission or lalor the Nordiques along to the golf courses, which was fine and all, I used to stay up late and be amazed at the back and forth action of the Western Conference games, the Oilers vs. the Flames being the best example, but the Kings and the Jets also had exciting teams. I’d watch the games for the pure joy of it, with no real rooting interest.

And that’s the problem with hockey. It’s being run by people who love the minutia of hockey, they’re the pigs in the mire who really appreciate a good and fragrant mire, who’ll grudgingly respect another hog who really gets down and dirty. But the average fan isn’t entertained by that obscure, somewhat repellent spectacle. She’d much rather watch the cute ducks flit around on the pond all graceful and effortless.

Only when the game of hockey is rescued from the NHL, when the NHL-equivalent of the NFL’s introduction of the forward pass or the NBA’s introduction of the shot clock occurs, will the NHL start to get the numbers that reflect how great the game of hockey is, or should be.

Hockey is run by myopic purists, like the old days when football men would rhapsodize about John Hannah and the ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’ approach of Woody Hayes. And that’s a bad thing. Purists insist that golf clubs should be retroactively backdesigned so that it’s harder to make par. Tennis purists hate oversize carbon fiber rackets.

Ski purists advocated against sidecut on skis, because racers used flat planks, so everybody should use flat planks. Sidecut would make the sport easier, would make carving turns a breeze, and thus were cheating. They only relented, after decades of an industry-wide self-embargo, led by a small cabal of European reactionaries, when snowboarding started eating their lunch, when beginners would strap on a board and, after a couple of days, would say “This is easy, and way more fun, I’m never skiing again.” Then, and only then, did the ‘shape-ski revolution’ begin.

So yes, all you Gary Bettman apologists, revenues are rising under his watch, but please understand that they’re rising at a slower rate than all other North American major team sports.  As Donald Fehr observes:
"The NHL's revenues have fallen behind all the other sports. Basketball’s have exploded. We used to be 20% behind and now it’s 50% or more behind …"

The NHL wears the dunce cap among the NBA, the NFL and MLB.

Yet it would be so easy to fix. Let the players play, get the cheating and hooking and slashing and mugging and violence and overcoaching out of the game, and watch spectators flock in.

The Canadiens organization goalie situation in 2017-18.

With Carey Price and Al Montoya, the Canadiens are set in goal at the NHL level.  It should also be crowded in the crease in the minors with Zach Fucale, Charlie Lindgren and now Michael McNiven battling for icetime in the AHL, with one seemingly destined for the ECHL.

As fans, we're now driven to pronounce on what will happen this season and beyond.  Here are my wishes in that regard.

1) OHL late-bloomer phenom Michael McNiven gets his first taste of pro and lots of rubber playing with Brampton in the ECHL, which are announced soon to be moved to Brossard.

2) Zachary Fucale and Charlie Lindgren split duties in Laval, where the stands are overflowing, and it’s a clash of titans, both are at the top of the league in goaltending stats.  Trade supplicants beat a path to our door with their piddly offerings of first-round picks and Clayton Kellers and Anthony Manthas.

3) Carey Price is having a no-contest Vézina season, he's so head and shoulders above the competition, while a rash of injuries hits the league’s goaltenders. We begrudgingly trade Al Montoya to the Senators for a second, a third, a fifth and Thomas Chabot. Al promptly dislocates a hip when Fishface Borowiecki falls on top of him trying to knee Auston Matthews in the tympanic membrane. The Senators finish 12th in the conference.  And lose big in the draft lottery.

4) Garth Snow, in a panic to secure his job and sign John Tavares for life, can’t watch idly as his team sinks in the standings and settles at the very bottom. He trades Anthony Beauvillier and a first-round pick to the Canadiens for prospect Hayden Hawkey, since he thinks the kid’s name has a nice ring to it, and is just the kind of trickery he needs to sell seats in Brooklyn.

John Ledecky, picking at the remains of this trade, asks good ol’ Garth “You made sure that draft pick was lottery-protected, uh?”

“Flatternry-prorated?” queries a befuddled Garth Snow.

You arrogant ass,” cries Ledecky, verily observing his investment implode and contemplating a future of baby blue uniforms, being noogied by Bonhomme Carnaval and having to be a good sport about it, and Berlitz French lessons, “you’ve killed us!

5) Carey causes a province-wide meltdown when he jiggifies his transverse groinary process, and needs to take a month “or so” off to rest and rehab. In his stead, Charlie provides a Martin Jones-like performance, solidifying the Jennings for the Canadiens.

6) Hayden Hawkey having chosen to remain in the NCAA rather than jump with both feet into the Chernobyl that is the Islanders, Garth Snow tries to engineer an elaborate multi-team trade whereby he can wheedle his now-traded 1st-round pick and likely the top lottery pick back from the Canadiens, and obtain a goalie in the process, to at least rise in the standings and make the situation somewhat tenable, maybe have his first not be the first overall but have the Canadiens end up with the 10th pick or so.

But when the dust clears, Garth Snow somehow has obtained Mathieu Garon and David Aebischer, and the Canadiens his first-round picks through 2028. A haggard, unsteady Snow, mopped in sweat as he faces the media, borrows a page from the Claude Julien Big Book of Lies and says “I’d need to see a replay to comment. I haven’t see the replay…”

7) Having claimed ‘general lassitude’, John Tavares takes personal leave to play in the Seoul Olympics for Team Canada. There, he’s witnessed wearing a Canadiens ballcap and bro’ing down with Carey Price, who’s been assigned to the Canadian team for ‘conditioning purposes’. The gold medal they earn over a dispirited group of KHL All-Stars and Alex Ovechkin proves Carey is ready to return to NHL action.

8) At the June draft, in the seventh round, the Canadiens pick little-known Salvador Saint-Sauveur from les Saguenéens de Chicoutimi. The gangly kid didn’t have a great season in terms of Wins and GAA, but saw a lot of rubber with a great Sv%, and his coaches rave about his athleticism and competitiveness.

Later that summer, during a celebrity golf tournament, Salvador is partnered with Patrick Roy and two nuns in a foursome. At the thirteenth hole, Saint Patrick lends the kid his new nanotech driver for him to have a swing, and as the handoff occurs, they are struck by lightning. Miraculously, both are unharmed. “It’s a miracle”, Soeur Liette confirms.

Except that Salvador, who used to have brown eyes, now has a steely blue, confident, some might say cocky glare, and Patrick’s baby-blue eyes are now brown.

In a battle of owners, Geoff Molson wins over Jeremy Jacobs in a rout, eleven times out of ten.

Here's a Deadspin article showing another aspect of the degree of douchebaggery of Jeremy Jacobs.  And it makes me think of a discussion on social media shortly after the draft, on the topic of the poor crop of LHJMQ prospects lately, when some HockeyInsideOut members idly wondered whether the Canadiens and Geoff Molson did anything for the grassroots, to promote and develop participation in minor hockey.  Everyone seemed to agree that this was unclear, nobody posted a response, and the matter lay unresolved, at best.  The tone suggested that the Canadiens do very little if anything that we know of.

I was surprised at this, and disappointed, since two clear examples sprang to mind, one being the Canadiens annual construction and inauguration of refrigerated outdoor rinks, and the annual minor hockey coaches clinic.  These events are well publicized, but apparently don't sink in to the HIO consciousness as good deeds by their beloved team.  In fact, when the news release occurs, when the video of the event shows up on Habs TV, many wags will opine that the Canadiens are trying to draw attention away from (...) and the poor forecast of success as the playoffs approach.  "It's media pablum", they'll agree.

Yet these are two endeavours that the Canadiens undertook at their own expense, and not as a contractual obligation, since we know that the team built its own rink at no cost to the taxpayers, and pays a tax bill every year that is higher than all other teams'.  Meanwhile Jeremy Jacobs used public funds to build himself a palace to grandstand in, and welched on the community benefits that he floated as an inducement to get civic authorities to chip in.

The Canadiens have been reacting to climate change and declining enrollment in minor hockey by opening these rinks in various Montréal neighbourhoods and now around the province to stimulate participation, and targeting low-income families with programs and donations of equipment in cooperation with various partners.

The Canadiens also have been hosting a coaching clinic every year at the Nouveau Forum, where minor hockey coaches can rub shoulders with the pros, learn new tricks, develop relationships with others, and be invigorated and rewarded by the experience.  We all know this, we all remember this, from the blowup Michel Therrien had at Rangers' assistant coaches watching his team practice during the playoffs, and then later having he and Alain Vigneault play nice and laugh about it as they host a Q&A in the stands.

There was a discussion today on whether HIO is filled with optimists or rancid with pessimists.  Especially since it's putatively a Canadiens fan site, it's astounding how negative the slant is, it's the default setting actually.  The Canadiens hold two of these community and hockey-development events that I can think of off the top of my head, but HIO concludes that at best it's unknowable whether the Canadiens expend any efforts in these areas.

Ever since he took over from a not-bad George Gillett, who didn't turn out to be the Michael Heisley I feared he would be, Geoff Molson has been everything we should hope for from the owner of our beloved team.  He's been involved, yet hands-off, letting the hockey men handle that side of the business, which we could compare with Charlie 'Silver Spoon' Jacobs, who's in competition with Donald Trump Jr. for guys born on third base who think they hit a triple, declaring that everyone on the Bruins is "on notice" due to unsatisfactory performance.  Or compare to Arthur Blank remarking that his players weren't tough enough and there'd be some changes.

Geoff Molson grew up among the Canadiens, he witnessed the legends first-hand, has personal memories of Jean Béliveau and Guy Lafleur and Bob Gainey.  He plays beer league hockey.  His sons play minor hockey.  He is doing everything he can to restore our team to its past glory, sparing no expense, as is often seen by the one-way AHL-buryable contracts Marc Bergevin dishes out.

So yeah, if there is any doubt, HIO is the Assembly of the Negative Nellies, it's not even close.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Karl Alzner liked what he saw during his Montréal visit

Catching up on my reading, here’s an article on how Karl Alzner describes his visit to Montréal during the UFA window, and why he ultimately chose to sign here.

It sounds like the tour the players get shows off the best of Montréal (evenings out in the summer, the facilities and support they’ll receive) and allays the fears and prejudices some players may harbour (schools, where do I live, phone call with Shea Weber).

It seems like the Canadiens will do well to focus on guys like Jeff Petry and Karl Alzner, settled family guys with a head on their shoulders who are up to a challenge, rather than a Shane Doan or a Vincent Lecavalier, who take the easy way out.

I still think the contract and investment is ill-advised, he’s not a perfect fit, the puzzle piece we needed, like Jeff Petry was, when we needed a true-blue Top 4 rightie on our blue line to support P.K. and displace Yannick Weber and Raphaël Diaz, but I’m willing to give the guy a chance, maybe a leeway of four to five games before I put him in my digital doghouse.

Andrei Markov is still unsigned, still a UFA

Simply put, with P.K. Subban and now Nathan Beaulieu and Mikhail Sergachev gone, the Canadiens need Andrei Markov.  They need his offensive ability, his talent at passing the puck out of the zone.  No one currently on the roster or in they system has anywhere close that ability.

Yet there he sits on the Unrestricted Free Agent rolls, unsigned.  Based on what Marc Bergevin said on July 2 and various reports, it seems Andrei wants a raise from his $5.75M he was earning the last few years, and a two-year deal.  And obviously Marc Bergevin is balking.

Some will say that the Canadiens should offer him a two-year deal, but with a reduced salary the second season, say six million and then three.  I'm pretty sure the Canadiens would have explored this option though.  At a reasonable cost, with the cap hit spread over two years, it becomes doable.

My theory is that with Andrei representing himself, and wanting to save the 5% on agent fees, he's the one butting his head against a GM, and there enters a personal element in what should be business.  There's a hardening of positions, no one in your ear to sway you, pride becomes a factor in the equation.

Some commenters have compared it to the Daniel Alfredsson situation in Ottawa, causing him to play his last season in Detroit, but I think it's pretty different.  In Daniel's case, he wanted to sign as what he thought would be his last NHL contract a three-year deal, but the Sens convinced him to make it a four-year deal with a fake last season at $1M tacked on, which was the practice in those cap circumventing days, and would have brought the cap hit down to $4.9M.  Reports are that Daniel did so reluctantly, since he didn't want to box himself in, he wasn't certain he'd retire after three seasons, but he went along with the ruse.

He then had three very productive seasons, and decided he didn't want to retire, he felt great and wanted to keep playing and maybe win a Stanley Cup, his team having done well in the playoffs in 2012.  But he was now locked in and forced to play out the contract and the 2012-13 season at $1M.

Still, Daniel had a good season during Gary Bettman's Third Lockout season, with 10 goals, 16 assists in 47 games played, and felt he could still play.  So for his final 'final contract', Daniel wanted the going rate for a team captain at his level of play, and a top-up for the previous season when he gave the team that $1M sweetheart deal.  Instead, broke billionaire Eugene Melnyk tried to nickle and dime him, and that's why Daniel, who wasn't in a mood to do any owner any favours, quickly left and slammed the door, signing a contract with the Red Wings.  Mr. Melnyk was left to backpedal and try to explain what transpired, presenting it as a perplexing turn of events, since it was a 'money's no object' situation for them.  They had adopted that stance after playing hardball/insulting Mr. Alfredsson though.

In Andrei's case, the Canadiens can be said to have treated him fairly, certainly during the Pierre Gauthier administration.  We all remember how the GM didn't really hesitate when it was time to re-up Andrei, but merely extended Andrei's previous $5.75M per season contract for three more.  This was when Andrei was recovering from a problematic ACL reconstruction that had to be redone, and we all remember the portends of doom on social media, how it was wasted money since when Bobby Orr shredded his knee in 1969 he was never the same afterwards, so certainly the same fate would befall Andrei fourty years into the future.

Andrei did return to his former productive self, with maybe a mile or two off his fastball and a step late in some situations, but well worth the cap hit and money spent.  So much so that the carbon copy of that deal was used essentially by Marc Bergevin when Andrei needed another new contract, even though he was three years older.

And I guess this is where the crux of the matter is.  Andrei's performance is tailing off slightly, yet he asked for a raise and a two-year deal, and you can kind of understand his view.  Since he's playing first-pairing minutes anyway, he wants to be compensated as such.

The Canadiens see him as a valuable but declining asset, and want him on a one-year deal.  It seems like an impasse, but this is what negotiation is about, and where a good agent would come in and be worth his fee.

Alouettes 30, Stampeders 23

Having given up my NFL addiction cold turkey, I tried today to rekindle an old love affair with the Alouettes.  They were hosting the Stampeders at Percival Molson Stadium.

--Darian Durant threw a couple of balls off balance and under pressure in the first half.  One was tipped and the other intercepted, an awful toss as he was being brought down that was shot-putted into the defender's belly.

--I'd never heard of Nik Lewis until he was traded to the Alouettes.  TSN put up a graphic during the game that showed he's set to become the career reception leader in the CFL with 40 catches or so.  Ahead of guys like Brian Kelly and Peter Dalla Riva, I immediately wondered?

Like I said, I haven't kept up.

--I keep being surprised by how short Matt Dunnigan is.  As a quarterback he was so good, and pretty jacked, I don't think I ever noticed that.  He's listed at 5'11" on Wiki, but I believe that's charitable, it's not an honest-to-goodness 5'11", it's more like a 5'10"3/4 if he stands up real straight and tall.

--The Boris Bede experiment seems to be a success, after last season went off the rails a little.  They gave the kid some time, and now appear to have a talented, dependable kicker and punter all in one package, despite his miss on a point-after attempt.  What a benefit to a team to not have to waste two roster spots on these two special team spots, and have one player do both jobs instead.

That should be the rule, really, in the NFL and CFL.  Force players to be more complete athletes, that degree of specialization is a little overdone.  Precious little kicker can't kick the ball if it's not held on the ground off a tee?  Have a tablespoon of cement and toughen up.

2nd rule suggestion: eliminate kickers entirely.  The player who scores the touchdown has to kick the point after.

3rd rule suggestion: eliminate punters entirely.  The player who punts has to have been on the field on the preceding down, as a wide receiver or running back or quarterback or right tackle.

4th rule suggestion: the point after has to be attempted at a point on a line perpendicular to where the ball crossed the goal line on the touchdown, kind of like at rugby.

I'm full of ideas like that.

--A great advantage of the Canadian game is the absence of illegal formation, procedure, false start and illegal motion penalties, which all infest NFL games, nitpicky annoyances that serve no discernible purpose but which occur around five times a game.  There's a reasoning behind every rule, but really, how come a CFL game can proceed without having all these arcane administrative strictures?

--Vernon Adams is a trainee quarterback with the Alouettes.  When he played for the Oregon Ducks, I thought he'd be a perfect candidate for a CFL quarterback.

--I always wondered why Jacques Chapdelaine didn't play for the Alouettes, but now, I wonder why Marc Trestman isn't coaching the Alouettes.  We should have had dibs on him when his NFL career petered out.

--CFL football in the summer is better than no football.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Martin Lapointe at the Canadiens Development Camp, on Nikita Scherbak

Martin Lapointe, after discussing a few prospects during his media scrum, is probed about Nikita Scherbak:
“You can’t forget about Scherbak. We have to understand that he’s a ‘late birthday’, he only played one more season of Junior after being drafted, and then two seasons of AHL. The AHL isn’t really a minor league, it’s a big league. It takes time, you have to be patient. Scherbak, from year to year, he gets better and better. The skill he has, it’s NHL-level skills. But it’s about maturity, he has to mature a little more. He’s the one who’s going to decide when he’s going to make the jump.”

It’s hard to make it out, but someone follows up with a question about why Nikita has to attend another development camp, with two pro seasons under his belt:
“I think he’s matured a lot since we drafted him. He still has a way to go, like every other young player. For me, Nikita is an important player for the organization, and in Laval this year, if he doesn’t make the Canadiens, he has to prove he wants to play for the Canadiens.

“We invited Nikita because he’s a guy who still needs structure (guidance), and we want to develop him. Nikita will stay in Montréal all summer, will train with the big boys. We’re giving him the resources he needs. We want him playing in Montréal as soon as possible. That’s the reasoning.”

There's no need for a red alert on Nikita Scherbak, although we wish he was further along in his development, that he wasn't being singled out for not being in good enough shape before training camps.  But the kid is still young, he'll be 21 to start the season, and still has a full season of waiver exemption, so he can marinate further in the AHL this season, and let his work and study habits catch up to his skills.

Let's hope that another summer of the Pierre Allard régime does him some good, and that this season he take another couple of steps forward, that he leads the Laval Rocket as a veteran-ish player, and is consistently one of their best players every game.

We need that kid's skillset on our Top 9, and next season, it's make or break for him I would think, once he needs to start going through waivers.  At that point, we may face a decision like we did with Sven Andrighetto and Jarred Tinordi.

Canadiens Development Camp: Joni Ikonen vs the blahs

The buzz about the Canadiens Development Camp was the play of Joni Ikonen, a low second-round pick we're convincing ourselves will be the steal of the 2017 draft, such is his progress curve at Frolunda, and the demonstration of talent and hockey IQ at the Brossard rink these last few days.

The last time we were this hyped about a second-round European prospect was when Sebastian Collberg was showing such sublime skill, observers thought he was wasting his time against such poor competition.  He was that good.  A lock.

When I started blogging, and posting on social media about hockey, I was really high on the Canadiens' prospects, in both sense of the term, but veteran killjoys would douse the flames of passion of this young man, recalling similar situations when Tomas Plekanec and the Kostitsyn brothers and Mike Komisarek and Alex Avtsin and many young hopefuls seemed like a great combo of surefire stars-to-be.

So now, with the perspective of Louis Leblanc, Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu no longer with the team, and two of them arguably busts, with Alex Galchenyuk not yet established as the Pierre Turgeon he was sure to become, I'm quite jaded on the farm system.

Is young Mr. Ikonen an interesting prospect?  Sure.  Did Josh Brook form a good pairing with that other 2017 draftee d-man (I forget which)?  Great.

But every team right now is chortling over their draft hauls.  Nashville seems to think they have too many good young players, they'll lose some through the cracks.  The Canucks are rejoicing that finally there's some help on the horizon, lots of talent.  Blake Price of TSN 1040 Vancouver called the 'Summer Showcase', a scrimmage at the New Pacific Coliseum to close off their development camp, "the most highly anticipated July Canucks game ever."

So I'm not going to cartwheel to training camp, and have high hopes.  I actually expect a very difficult season, and missing the playoffs a distinct possibility.  Even if we get a hot start to the season.

But this development camp, with Nikita Scherbak stalling, and Mike McCarron and Jacob de la Rose taking their time, and the apple of my eye Mikhail Sergachev gone, with Bokondji Imama signed away by those darned Kings, it was hard to get excited about.  What I'm looking forward to is getting picks at the deadline for Tomas Plekanec and Ales Hemsky and Joe Morrow, and a better draft position next June.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Carey Price didn't give us the Canadiens a hometown discount.

When news hit that the Canadiens had signed Carey Price to an eight year contract extension, quite a few fans were shocked if not angered at the sticker price attached to it, which works out to a $10.5M a year cap hit.

Mainly, if we are to go by the posts on social media, a lot of supporters believe that Carey should have taken "a little less", say, $9M per year, to allow his team to win, how that's more important in the big picture than making "a few extra million dollars."  And that's where we are now, with the average fan siding even more with billionaire owners in their contract talks versus players, with the justification that the salary cap determines the fortunes of the team.

Now, on whether players should be happy with $5M vs. $8M, or $50 vs. $100M over their career, I completely agree from my perspective.  If I got my hands on 5 mill, I wouldn't need to baby another couple of years out of my ol' truck, I'd upgrade my TV to a 100" model from the current retinally underperforming 50", and get a living room beer fridge and be perfectly happy, fulfilled.

The thing is, evidently when you attain that level of income, your lifestyle expands to match it, and it's trite to even say it, but all of a sudden you have a big house with a gardener and pool maintenance and the tech guys who keep coming around to fiddle with your home theatre since it's never quite right.  You're Jonathan Bernier cruising around near your spread in Terrebonne on the river in your boat with your fashion model wife, and it's a nice cruiser, but the berthing costs and maintenance are in the back of your mind, they're killing you, and even then you're thinking you need to upgrade your dinghy, since when the in-laws come for a visit it gets too crowded on deck.

So you need to kill it on your next contract, this one you're playing on, once you pay your agent and the tax man and minus escrow which mostly you never get all back, there's nothing left, and your wife wants to send the kids to private school.

Even beyond that, that your new lifestyle now soaks up what would be enough to cover your current lifestyle ten times over, one phenomenon is that when you reach that tax bracket, you tend to hang out with others in that same bracket, and now you're comparing vehicles, houses, wine cellars, and you have to compete on those too, enough is never enough.

We see this when a George Clooney, who's richer than 20 putzes like me will ever be, goes and hangs out with Paul Allen on his yacht, and Vanity Fair or GQ reports back how wowed he is, how what he aspires to is not a comfortable life and secure retirement that would make any of us very happy, he now wants to produce and have a stake in the films he stars in, and gets into a dodgy Costa Rican land scheme to try to triple his money.  Because his own yacht in Italy is kinda chintzy, all things considered, there's not even deck space for a heli-pad.

Pro athletes and hockey players tend to rub shoulders with investment bankers at golf tournaments and when they go out to dinner, and think that those guys really rock, and now $9M is nowhere as good as $10.5M per season.

So yeah, when a Tom Brady takes a little less on his contract so the team can 'afford' to pay his offensive line a little more and get him some better running backs and receivers, it is noteworthy, it's not ultimately meaningless.  There is 'sacrifice' there, although usually the guys who are in position to do that, they make so much on their endorsements that their salary is almost a side-income.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Ales Hemsky signs one-year deal with Canadiens, will try to fill void left by Alex Radulov's departure to Dallas.

My knee-jerk reaction to the news that Alex Radulov has signed a contract in Dallas, and that the Canadiens have (resultantly) signed Ales Hemsky to a one-year deal:

--I'm happy not to get entrapped in a five-year contract for a 31-year old winger, as good a season as he had last year.

--I admit it's a little bit like slamming the barn door shut after the horse has already bolted, though, with Carey's 8-year contract having been announced yesterday.  That's going to be problematic to build around, and a lot will have to go right for it to turn out okay.

--I hope this makes it more likely that Andrei Markov will return.  We need him more than Alex, I still think, and on a one or two-year deal, it fits into our plan.

--Ales Hemsky is who he is, I'm not doing cartwheels or anything, but he's a talented veteran on a one-year deal, no skin off our nose.  Best-case scenario, he has a good, productive season, but gets pushed out of the lineup by Charles Hudon and Daniel Carr and the like, and we can trade him at the deadline for more draft picks.