Okay, one more post of random thoughts and then hopefully I'll be back on track as next week winds down and we start moving toward draft day and free agency.
-- The NHL Awards ceremony was, as usual, an awkward disaster. I get what they're going for and I love it in theory but it really just emphasizes how irrelevant hockey is to much of the country. Chaka Khan? C-List celebrities? Come on. And good lord, can someone please give the players some kind of reading training. Some of these guys make Sidney Crosby appear to have as much personality as Charles Barkley. You can't deliver three lines off a teleprompter with some pizazz? Oy. Thank god for Tim Thomas and Zdeno Chara who were both well-spoken, sweet, and funny.
-- I was pretty upset when Teppo Numminen wasn't a final nominee for the Masterton but I comforted myself with the fact that Richard Zednik was going to win anyway. I mean, the guy almost died in front of thousands of people but he faced down any demons and got back on the ice, including the ice where he almost lost his life. That's dedication to hockey right there. But he didn't win. HE DIDN'T WIN?!?!?!?! I'm sure Steve Sullivan is a nice guy and his injury does seem like a bitch. But it's an injury he could have lived with even if he'd never played hockey again. I'm not really sure how that trumps playing in the NHL less than a year after open heart surgery and almost dying in the middle of a game.
-- The only award I really, really cared about was the Norris, partly because I wanted Zdeno Chara to win and partly because I wanted Mike Green to lose. I've read some stats that suggest Green isn't the defensive disaster I think he is but I know that I haven't been impressed with him at all in the games I've seen personally. Thirty-one goals is an awesome achievement and I would happily take that on my team. But I wouldn't give it the Norris. Green is better than Chara offensively but Chara is better than Green defensively and if a guy is going to be stronger on one side of the puck than the other, it should be the defensive side. Because it's an award for defensemen, see? The Norris winner should be a shut down guy and a top unit penalty killer. He should make forwards a little tiny bit nervous. I've said this many, many times before but defensive defensemen are the most unappreciated players in the NHL. For the love of all that's good and right, they can't even get any love in the one category they should be winning. It's really past time for the NHL to create an award for defensive d-men. And please, would it kill you to find some defensive highlights for the Norris nominees? Hits, blocked shots, stolen pucks, something?
-- I'm not one to make fun of the Lady Byng - I think it's perfectly fine to have a sportsmanship award even in a sport like hockey - but I hate the way people vote for it. It's basically the guy with the most points and the fewest penalty minutes which means it's yet another award that a defenseman will never win along with goalies. That's bogus. Hey, voters, why don't you actually put some thought into this one for once?
-- A few days ago I read a really interesting post at Silver Seven about the Dany Heatley situation. Blogger PeterR discusses Heatley's trade demands and how because of his no-trade clause he has a lot of power about where he ultimately goes. It does put the Senators in a very tough situation. If the best offer comes from a team Heatley isn't interested in, the Sens have to either pressure Heatley to accept the trade or pass on it and take the best offer from an acceptable team which could ultimately not be a great offer. Sucks for them especially since everyone in the league knows Heatley wants out.
The idea of a player having to give up his no-trade clause when he demands a trade before the contract is up is interesting but probably not really passable. (Though don't get me wrong, I would love for Bryan Murray to say, "What's that? Trade you? Sorry, can't. You have a no-trade clause.") Ultimately, it really is the Senators fault for giving Heatley the no-trade clause in the first place especially since they seemed to give one to everyone they signed in that little period of time. I'm glad Darcy Regier and/or the Sabres seem to have avoided them even (as far as I know) with all the big contracts they signed in the last couple of years. As a fan, I like the idea of having players around for a long time but if a player wants to move or a team wants to move him, they find a way around those clauses anyway. And more often than not, no-trades end up hamstringing the team from making moves that could potentially help them. Think Toronto had second thoughts about the no-trade for Mats Sundin? Think the Flyers are re-thinking that no-trade clause they gave Danny Briere? Heck, the Senators spent most of the 07-08 season trying to get around Wade Redden's no-trade clause. If you have a really, really special player - and I'm talking top ten or so in the league - maybe I could understand giving out a no-trade clause. But even then I think the player should be willing to give up some money or a year or two in exchange. Giving a guy big money, long years, AND a no-trade/no-movement clause? That's insanity.
-- The SBNation blogs have been doing a mock draft for the last few days and today Die by the Blade selected Zack Kassion on the Sabres behalf. I don't really keep up on juniors/college very well but I've heard Kassion's name quite a few times and I do like his size. I love Darcy Regier but if we draft another pipsqueak I might have to punch him in the head a few times. Follow the link above if you want more info on Kassion or the rest of the mock draft so far. Die by the Blade will also be attending the draft with press pass in hand which does make me a tad jealous. I had a blast at the draft last year just as a plain ol' fan and it's the one event that I think would be pretty fun to cover in an official capacity.
-- In case you didn't notice, I would just like to announce that yours truly won the Goose's Roost playoff pool. Okay, technically Kate and I tied and we have to take a GR quiz to break the tie but I know in my heart that I'm the winner here. I got the Finals right after all and I'm pretty sure Kate went with her Finals pick in an effort to stave off Mark, who was right behind her going into the final round. In other words, she fell back into defensive mode in an effort to protect her lead and I went for broke, desperate to get that game-breaking goal. I think we can all agree that we don't want to see trapping creep into our hockey playoff pools. So regardless of the final outcome, I'm claiming moral victory. (That said, if anyone knows if Ryan hates bears or not, please let me know.)