I'm not a huge football fan but I do occasionally read Peter King's "Ten Things I Think I Think" column. I have a few things bouncing around in my head that don't really seem worthy of entire posts but I wanted to throw them out there anyway. Just so you're forewarned, one of my favorite things about King's columns is that every thing he thinks ends up with at least 18 subpoints so instead of 10 things, you actually end up with 180. In case you haven't noticed, I can be long-winded so I wouldn't expect that to be any different here.
1. I THINK THE IDEA THAT ALEXANDER OVECHKIN'S DEAL WILL EVER BE A BARGAIN IS RIDICULOUS.
Yeah, I don't understand this at all. Just because there is a maximum salary in the league doesn't mean there's anyone in the league who should be making it. Ovechkin will be eating up a huge amount of his team's salary cap by himself. How do you build a team around that, especially when a lot of his current teammates are young and going to be in line for raises of their own eventually?
And that's just the money. Thirteen years is crazy. Maybe I'm cautious because I've been raised by Darcy Regier but I can't imagine signing anyone for ten years or more. There's so much that can go wrong. How many players start out great and peter out after a few years? And what about injuries? If Eric Lindros were in his first few years now he'd get a similar contract and yeah, that would've worked out really well for the Flyers. Ovechkin is an amazing talent for sure and he hasn't had injury problems yet but he plays a very tough, physical style. On top of the regular wear and tear of hockey, that can add up to be trouble. Look at Peter Forsberg. He was considered a force of nature right up until the moment he started falling apart and he's never been healthy since. If Ovechkin gets hurt in the latter part of his contract, after the insurance coverage runs out, the Caps are on the hook for his salary and they're screwed big time. Somewhere along the way one of these contracts is going to go bad and it's going to completely cripple a franchise for a very long time.
Also, on a side note, I think Alexander Ovechkin is probably not the only guy in the NHL who loves playing hockey. He's happy and exuberant, I get it. I hope Caps fans are happy that Ovechkin is getting so much attention right now because I'm officially as tired of him as I was of Sidney Crosby two years ago. Shut up and let me watch the kid play. I have two eyes that, with a little help, see perfectly well. I can see that he's really, really good. I can see that he's really, really happy. I can see that he really, really likes playing hockey. Now leave me alone.
2. I THINK IT'S STUPID TO THINK THE SALARY CAP IS GOING TO GO UP FOREVER.
Okay, maybe it's not stupid. But I really don't understand it. I know there were things built into the CBA to insure that the cap goes up the first few years, but is it really going to keep climbing? And if it does, what's that going to mean for the league? There are a handful of teams, including Buffalo, that are already spending more money on player salaries under the cap system than they were pre-lockout. It's my understanding that at least a few teams are increasing their gates, not by attracting more fans but by raising ticket prices. If that continues and teams have to keep raising ticket prices to keep up their revenues, aren't they eventually going to price themselves out of the local market? Aren't we already seeing that in places like Detroit? They have one of the best teams in the league - if not THE best team - and they're not drawing, largely because tickets are too expensive for the local economy. And if fans stop going to games are they really going to drive out to the arena to pay marked up prices for a t-shirt they can buy at the mall instead? And if revenues start dropping, what's that going to do to the financial health of the league?
I will admit that all of this stuff is totally over my head so if anyone out there can explain this to me, please do. For now however I don't believe the salary cap will ever go up enough that Ovechkin is a deal and if it does, I think the league is going to have big problems.
3. I THINK MOST GENERAL MANAGERS ARE STUPID.
Seriously. Players are getting life-time contracts. Young guys are being paid for what they might be some day instead of what they are right now. RFAs are making as much money as UFAs used to make which makes free agency fairly pointless and gives teams very little time to develop their young talent before having to decide whether they're worth a decade long commitment. When guys do get to UFA they're getting ridiculous contracts. I love Danny Briere but seven million dollars? Come on. And instead of responding by saying, "Man, that guy is an idiot," most GMs rush out and make equally stupid offers. Or even worse, they make it a mission to top the previous guy and make an even stupider offer. So then the stupid GMs stand around and pat each other on the back about how they've shown their fanbase that they're serious about winning even though all they did was throw money at the first big name they saw and the smart GMs (Darcy and Lou Lamoriello) sit around wondering what the heck is going on.
Yeah, I'm real glad we did that whole lockout thing, guys. Dion Phaneuf should totally be within a million dollars of Nicklas Lidstrom and Thomas Vanek should absolutely be making ten million in his third year in the league.
(I'd completely forgotten this until I saw I already had a "GMs are stupid" tag but I've written about this a little before.)
4. I THINK WADE REDDEN IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT TO REFUSE TO WAIVE HIS NO TRADE CLAUSE.
Well, gee, if you didn't want him to use the no trade clause, maybe you shouldn't have given it to him. The guy actually wants to stay in one place and he's willing to take less money to do it and we're gonna crucify him for it? I get that he's been a disappointment and Wade, if you suck in the playoffs everyone in Ottawa will hate you forever, but I give him a lot of credit for knowing what he wants and sticking to it. I'm curious to see if a) more players start refusing to waive the no trade and if b) GMs respond to that by refusing to hand them out. Do any Sabres have no trade clauses? I don't know but I'd be surprised if any of them did.
5. I THINK THESE NUMBERS ARE PRETTY INTERESTING.
Daniel Briere: 21 G, 33 A, 54 points, -20... 6.5 million cap hit
Jason Pominville: 16 G, 35 A, 51 points, +11... 1 million cap hit
Chris Drury: 18 G, 22 A, 40 points, -11... 7 million cap hit
Derek Roy: 21 G, 25 A, 46 points, +9... 4 million cap hit
Briere and Pommers aren't really comparable since one's a wing and one's a center. I just matched them up because of all the talk about how Pommers was going to be lost without Briere. Maybe Briere is lost without Jason and Yo-Yo? If nothing else, I think it's pretty fair to say that Jochen was doing the defensive work on that line. Ouch.
Roy-Z should probably be compared to Briere since he's moved into his place as top line center but that comparison turns out pretty well too. I'm certainly not going to pretend that we don't miss Danny and Chris in some regards but right now at least, their salaries are ridiculous.
6. I THINK GOOGLE ANALYTICS IS THE MOST ENTERTAINING THING EVER.
Google Analytics is a tool that allows a blogger to see what kind of traffic he (or she) is getting and how that traffic is being directed to his (or her) blog. My favorite thing is looking at the various internet searches that have brought people to Top Shelf. Usually there's some fluctuation - recently "Brian Campbell negotiations" has been number one but that wouldn't have been the case six months ago - but there's one search that is always, always in my top five: "Rod Brind'Amour's girlfriend." And I get two or three variations on spelling. This is... perplexing. I can only recall talking about Rod a few times and I don't think his significant other was involved in any of those discussions. But for the record, internet searchers of the world, I have no idea if Rod Brind'Amour has a girlfriend or not. There seems to be a lot of you wondering however so you might want to make your move quickly.
7. I THINK LINDY RUFF HAS DONE THE BEST COACHING OF HIS CAREER THIS SEASON.
I admit it, as much as I love Lindy there were times this season when I questioned how he was handling the team. I wanted so badly for bad-ass Lindy to rear his head and knock some sense into a struggling, seemingly uncaring team. But you know what? He was right. As fragile and shaky as they were even a month ago, he was right to gather his players up under his wing and protect them from the negative media and the increasingly desperate fans. He was right to assure them, "You're still good, you're still good, don't listen to them." And now that they're playing better and looking more confident, he has been a little more critical like when he called them out for playing stupid a few games ago. He knew when to protect, when to criticize, he knew who to call out and when to do it. Basically, Lindy Ruff rocks. He should get a lifetime contract.
8. I THINK JOHN BUCCIGROSS IS AN IDIOT.
I have a love/hate relationship with Buccigross - I think his annual "Here's how I think your team is going to do and here's a cool, hip song to go with it!" column is one of the dumbest, most pretentious things ever - and this week's column pushed me more toward hate.
Which means a highly competitive team probably would go to eight years, $50 million. This is the reality the Sabres have to deal with. This is why this should have been dealt with a year or two ago. If they aren't prepared to pay that or can't stomach that kind of contract, they will need to trade Campbell before the Feb. 26 deadline, then get out of the NHL business.
Here is what I have to say to John Buccigross:
a) Read point 3 above, John. Just because some idiot out there is willing to give Brian Campbell between six and seven million dollars doesn't make it a good deal.
b) The reality the Sabres have to deal with is re-signing a number of upcoming UFAs and RFAs while staying under the salary cap. The reality is having to prioritize players and deciding who's replaceable and who isn't. You can't give everyone six million dollars especially with Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy already making a lot of money. I think if the Sabres do refuse to re-sign Campbell it's not because they're cheap or stupid, it's because a fella named Ryan Miller is coming up for renewal next and HE'S the must-sign player. He's the heart of the team on and off the ice.
c) The Sabres couldn't deal with Campbell "a year or two ago" because the current CBA doesn't allow teams to negotiate with players until the summer before the last year of a player's contract. (Gee, shouldn't the leading hockey mind at ESPN know that?) All sides have acknowledged that negotiations have been going on all season. So... what exactly were the Sabres supposed to do differently here? I suppose talks have been mishandled because the Sabres didn't just give Campbell what he wanted, right?
d) In a league that consists of the Kings, the Oilers, the Leafs, and the Rangers, the Sabres are the ones who need to get out of the league? Really? Because that's one of the stupidest things I've ever heard. Has Sabres management made some mistakes over the past couple of years? Sure. Are they the worst run team in the league? Are you serious?
e) Hey, have you noticed which Eastern Conference team is playing the most consistent hockey at exactly the right time of the season?
f) Put your man crush on Chris Drury away and get over yourself. By the way, did you get a look at point number 5? Sure hope the Rangers are enjoying their seven million dollars worth of intangibles.
9. I THINK PATRICK KALETA HAS TO STAY IN THE STARTING LINE-UP EVEN WHEN EVERYONE IS HEALTHY.
Does that even need an explanation? Really?
10. I THINK I CAN'T THINK OF ANYTHING ELSE TO TALK ABOUT SO I'LL LEAVE YOU WITH SOME RANDOM FACTS
Movies I've recently watched: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (seen it before but I really like it), The Great Escape (my second all-time favorite movie), Meet John Doe (pretty good), The Apartment (good), Battlestar Galactica: The Miniseries (good enough that I'm moving onto the series next)
Books I've recently read: Boy: Tales of Childhood and The Witches (read them both before but you can't go wrong re-reading Roald Dahl, How Doctors Think (a little disconcerting to read while undergoing medical care but very interesting), Born Standing Up: A Comics Life (Steven Martin's autobiography and a great read) and T is for Trespass (the latest Sue Grafton - I love this series unashamedly)
The last 15 songs that played in my iTunes: Life Ain't Always Beautiful (Gary Allan), Poor Little Fool (Ricky Nelson), Listen to the Band (The Monkees), Step by Step (New Kids on the Block), Just What I Needed (The Cars), Under Pressure (Queen), Somebody to Love (Queen), Thirteen (Big Star), Right on the Money (Alan Jackson), I Will Follow (U2), Lullaby (The Dixie Chicks), So Happy Together (The Turtles), Papa Gene's Blues (The Monkees), Don't Worry Baby (The Beach Boys), Bring it on Home to Me (Sam Cooke)
Holy smokes, this is long. Sorry.