Thursday, February 14, 2008

10 Things I Think I Think

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.


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.


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.


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.)


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Does that even need an explanation? Really?


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.


Meg said...

Do any Sabres have no trade clauses? I don't know but I'd be surprised if any of them did.

I'm almost positive that Teppo has a no movement clause. But if there's one place I'm ok with a no movement clause it's on a one year contract for a veteran player.

On Buccigross:
If the Sabres don't pay Brian Campbell more than he's worth in their salary structure (or any salary structure for that matter) they should get out of the league? Wow. I think there is a hockey columnist considerably stupider than Bucky.

I would also like to add a few teams to your list of teams worse run than the Sabres over the past several years: Thrashers, Capitals, Islanders. And I could make a case for several others as well.

interchangeableparts said...

Meg, I'd add the Rangers, Flyers and Oilers to that list as well.

Heather B. said...

IPB, I already had the Rangers and the Oilers in the original list! Gosh! :PPP But I'm totally fine with the Flyers, Thrashers, Caps, and Islanders being added to the list. I can't believe I left off the Islanders in the first place.

Meg, and people listen to Bucci! This kills me!

Anne said...

I enjoyed all your thoughts on hockey and agree with you. I enjoyed the player comparisons, I had never looked at the players that way. Danny! -20? Wow. That's terrible.

And Google Analytics is totally awesome. I started it like a week ago, and I read what people type into search engines to find my blog and its ridiculous. The top hit is "Dr. Sonya Noor".

interchangeableparts said...

Heather, they're so bad they need to be listed twice. Three times ever. How about four? Rangers! Oilers! Humperdink! Humperdink! Humperdink!

(Sorry, it's early. I was up late last night talking to somebody about PR. @@@@)

andrew said...

"Put your man crush on Chris Drury away and get over yourself."

Amen, sister. Bucci's obsession with Drury is approaching a level of irrationality that I haven't seen since "Single White Female". I mean, honestly, I had a pretty damn serious man-crush on Drury too, but he left. You get over it at some point.

And holy shit you're right, Kaleta needs to play. I seriously think he should take Peters' spot in the line up. Every single night.

amanda said...

Heather, rock on with the Battlestar Galactica - you'll love it! I've got the DVD's (I chink I have them all, anyway, my feeble mind says) and you can borrow them if you don't want to go buy them.

I find that most hockey columnists say stupid things at least once in a while, but you're right, some are definitely worse than others. I'm not a big fan of Jerry Sullivan's.

And, last thing - a hearty HONK for the Goose! The Goose is loose!

bowlofpork said...

I can believe I'm saying this, but the Rangers aren't doing such a terrible job. If you except blowing a ton of money on 2 stars that have wildly under-achieved this year (a BIG exception, I know) the program looks a hell of a lot better than in years past.

For example, I happen to think that the Rangers/Sabres series from last year's playoffs was one of the best series I've ever seen. Against a Sabres team that scored at will and rolled over everyone except Ottawa to that point they did an amazing job. That's got to count for something, no?

Heather B. said...

Matt, I'd say overlooking the Rangers overpaying the two stars is a huge thing to overlook, particularly since 1) those players were never going to play in a way that justifies their paychecks - Drury and Gomez are both second line centers IMO and not worth top dollar and 2) neither player addressed the team's real need which was - and is - defense. Sather threw big money at the big names without taking into consideration whether or not they were the right players for his team. The Rangers are also extremely lucky that Henrik Lundqvist was so cooperative with them last season, agreeing to an RFA contract that was below what he could've and should've been making. They spent themselves into a hole without addressing the most important player on their roster which was not terribly smart. And while I would agree that the Rangers-Sabres series was good, I would say it was largely as competitive as it was because of Lundqvist. Without him they're a pretty average team which we've seen proof of this season.

Meg said...

I can believe I'm saying this, but the Rangers aren't doing such a terrible job.

The thing is, for a couple years the Rangers looked like they were trying to build a team in an effective way. Then they made the playoffs a couple years in a row and immediately decided to go back to what has failed time and time again.

TheTick said...

For quite a while, I kept getting told that scads of people were finding my site by using the keywords 'Jochen Hecht daughter'. Dozens of them. Never did figure out what the heck people were actually looking for.

The new BSG is awesome, though I am a season behind. So say we all.

Lee Andrew said...

Regarding dumb general managers. Doesn't it just take one or two dumb managers to force all the other general managers to be dumb? Maybe it's different in hockey. But this baseball season the Angels, who are spending a ton of money these days, overpaid for Torii Hunter. Once that was set the Dodgers had to overpay for Andruw Jones and the Giants had to overpay to get Aaron Rowand. Even the KANSAS CITY ROYALS overpaid to get Jose Guillen. Meanwhile, the new Pirates general manager came in and said they had a certain amount they were willing to offer each free agent and would absolutely under no circumstances go over that amount. Who did they end up signing this offseason? Nobody. Once general managers start making dumb moves the other general manager are forced to do dumb stuff or not keep up.

twoeightnine said...

Nothing to see here...

twoeightnine said...

not sure if that link was fully posted, add this after the traditional


Heather B. said...

tick, I've never gotten "Player x daugher/son" but I've gotten pretty much "Every Sabre girlfriend." I don't keep up with these guys' social life, people! Sorry!

Lee, you're absolutely right. I guess in my idealistic world, one GM would make a stupid offer and every other GM would watch that huge contract not work out (since they usually don't) and say, "Geez, that guy's an idiot," while continuing to conduct business at a reasonable and sane level. If they didn't all pile on and turn it into a competition to see who could spend the most, it wouldn't all get out of control.

twoeightnine, thanks for the link! I am, of course, totally stoked!

Mark B said...

I mentioned this to you in person last night, but I want to say it for all the world to hear.

If God answers my prayers and the Sabres make the playoffs with the Rangers missing, I plan on writing Bucchi a nice email about how wrong he was about the Sabres and that Drury can't exactly be clutch in this years playoffs, can he?

Juvenile? Maybe. But those comments by the "expert" ESPN hockey guy really pissed me off.