<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/07/hendersonblog.gif align=left hspace=4>Are you kidding me? For this I spent an entire hockey season grimly following Swedish Elite League games on the Internet?? Grasping at charity scrimmages and prospect tilts like a shopper grasping for the last pair of size 7 sling-backs at the Army and Navy Shoe Sale? (Sorry boys, but there are so few chick analogies in sports writing – you have to throw the occasional one in).
Silly me, I believed the reports that said the lockout year and the new deal between the NHL and the NHLPA would result in a brave new world of parity between teams, and rationality when it came to contracts. Wasn’t this the deal that was going to save general managers from themselves and prevent them from making foolish offers in a moment of desperation?
Well, gee, that worked great. New York continues to chuck wads of cash at anyone with the vague scent of stardom, while the Oilers are still unable to convince anyone that the joy of playing for a storied franchise, and pots of filthy lucre, are adequate compensation for actually having to live in Edmonton.
It’s not even the money being thrown around that alarms me, although some of the announced dollar amounts are pretty head shaking. No, to me what is most unbelievable is the length of the contracts. An eight year deal for Daniel Briere? Yes, Danny is clearly a talented lad who has blossomed under the new NHL rules. But seriously, folks. Briere will be nearly 38 years old when the contract expires and he won’t be any taller. Frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me if the mighty mite gets his clock cleaned within the first few months of playing traditional Flyers hockey. I think it’s quite a gamble to imagine that Briere, or the other long-term signings, will be legitimate six or seven million dollar men through the run of their contracts.
Yep, it all seems like madness to me, but that isn’t preventing local fans from screeching at Dave Nonis to leap in with chequebook extended. Well, I say stay the course, Dave. So far, his minor signings seems ok to me and quite possibly upgrades on the players we are losing. Yes, we still need at least one more top six scoring talent, and while I was (unrealistically) hoping that some skilled player might be seduced here by the prospect of excellent sushi, as well as a well-rounded team, smart coaching, superb goaltending, and the chance to accept tape-to-tape passes from either Markus or the Sedins, I certainly wasn’t expecting a July 1st super-signing. If we can get a decent forward here for a season or two at a reasonable price, then great.
But considering how close we are to the salary cap, I’m not holding my breath. I still think one of our recently signed, talented Manitoba farm boys may yet make a difference, and I do expect Taylor Pyatt and Ryan Kesler to improve this season. I expect Nazzy to show off in the last year of his contract. I expect the ever-improving Twins to take one more step forward.
Besides, we’re languishing in the heat of July and I always believe in waiting until at least the first puck drop to start panicking.