Monday, 28 September 2009

Plans Gone Awry

Thinking about the whole Phoenix Coyotes / Gretzky thing a bit.

There is no nobility in the eating of maggots spawned off a body that rots yet has not yet died, and even less if some of its wounds you have, yourself, inflicted.

Phoenix was dead, financially, years ago. As an owner there is no way Gretzky could not have known this. For him to insist on earning $8 million /year, an amount which is:

1. at least $6 million more than the average going rate and
2. probably $7 million more than a coach with his record deserves

it only means that the team, really, meant less than nothing to him. imo.

Gretzky has always had the halo. I know. I am ones of those who has polished it on occassion. But the Gretzky brand has always been one of how he trancends the game, not just a great player but also a great person; he knows this full well.

It is why he wanted his money.

Big halos get lots of polish.

What gets me is that he was/is a founder of this team. Were he just a contractor, or an employee, or even the sole owner (respectively: get mine / get mine / stupid greedy bastard) I could understand it but when the majority owner is, legitimately (not the accounting trickery that Katz is getting LaForge to peddle), losing his shirt, then sticking another sword in the back of the child you helped birth...


... and then trying to feast on the flies as it dies. Well.

Even Coyotes don't do that.

Somewhere. A couple of years ago. He really should have got out. Or taken a severely reduced pay package perhaps.

I don't like thinking about him in this fashion. I think tonite, I'll spend some time thinking about the way back when. 1979. The Lord Nelson Apartments. And heroes I actually thought I knew.

Heroes are human. They don't have halos. I tell myself.


All drama aside.

There have been some GREAT posts/threads over at Lowetide's lately.

I am well represented on the record as saying, and saying so in many ways, that this teams lacks both managerial acumen and a plan. To those who think differently I can only ask this:

Are you, rightfully, telling me that, with pre-season coming to an end, the fulfillment of the Oilers master plan this off-season, was to sign Comrie and then (maybe) trade Nilsson for a draft pick? Really?

Not only was Plan A a little less than brilliant but f^%k me, methinks they have to work on their Plans B through Z as well.

But thats just me.

(Doesn't Tampa Bay need a RW? Find $1 million or so in salary to take off their roster for this year and maybe that can happen. And no. That doesn't mean they would trade us Ranger. Probably starts with Hale. And yes. A trade with Nashville for picks is better financially... but competitively? Debateable.)


Have a great evening everyone.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

New Year New Attitude


Oilers are losing money again? Old new I know, but still... WOW! They really don't think much of us do they? Maybe the EIG will take them back. Katz would have to sell at a loss of course. Team being a money loser and all.

Anyways. So.

Comrie may be a value signing, Penner may be in shape, Motin may be a player*, Cor-NAY may be Pisani v1.2 in a coiple of years and Grebs may be about to hit another plane of being but, imo, what matters is this:

1. Can Khabibulin stay healthy and keep his save% over .910; and

2. Can Quinn and Renney make a difference with this roster

Either one of those go south and this team is no better than 4th in its division and out of the play-offs. New Year meet Old Year I guess.

To be honest I have written this team off for a long time now** but then I read/heard it.

Something promising. Something that makes sense. Something that agrees with what I already thought***.

(Oddly enough,) the most promising thing I have seen or heard out of this team all off-season actually came from outside the organization (pulling this from
Copper & Blue who pulled it from TSN):

We had high expectations going into the year. For the most part of the year we were in a playoff position and we were in pretty good shape. At the end we really didn't fulfill those expectations and when that happens changes are made. I think the players lost their trust and faith in me and my ability to get the job done, and for a large part I think that was the same for me, that I lost faith in the players."
Craig MacTavish (TSN interview)

That quote pretty much echoes everything that I, and a few others, were saying last year. And it hurt because I (and 'we' in some cases) am a MacT fan. Guy is a great freakin' coach but he got thrown under the bus by this team's player procurement department too many times and finally lost it.

I can't dismiss the fact that MacT may have said all that so as to take a fall for the team. I can't. My third favorite Oiler ever, everything I have ever seen from the guy indicates that his first instinct is to take the hit to make a play.

So maybe he did.

But for now. Perhaps for me. I'll take him at his words.

If true it means that Quinn and Renney may be able to get a lot of mileage out of this roster and if so maybe they take 3rd in the division and if they can do that then maybe 7th or 8th is a possibility. 6th if another team completely falls off the map (it happens).

Look. I'm trying to be positive here okay?!?


In terms of long-term planning? Well, the ability to build tomorrow's team is hobbled by the weight of its yesterdays. Barring a whole bunch of surprises this team just doesn't/won't have a critical mass of talent all hitting its stride. Together.

So best case scenarios, for the future, from the right now, are these:

1. The team sucks total ass and it forces the rebuild.

2. Tambellini starts thinking future-now and slowly unwinds these legacy contracts.

If #2 is an option then maybe its time to get Lowe to call Sather and find out just how bad the Rangers need a steady ol'd-man to balance the boat. The Rangers being one of the few teams with both budget and Cap space (they can manipulate it if need be) to take on steady.

The third option is to hope that this year will be all full of sunshine and lollipops and rainbows and Stanley Cup play-off runs and the kids will learn so much that it was worth putting it all off until next year!

Or something like that.

After all. They really are, all of them, new years.


* Would make me very happy if true. Have always liked that pick. Go Kytnar!
** That whole 'could' post I wrote a few posts back.
*** That's how it works, right?


Have a great evening everyone.

Thursday, 10 September 2009


So he's back.

I remember the buzz about Comrie back in the day. I remember the Van Ryn ruling and how it affected the signing. Didn't mind it so much. The super-huge ego, apparent even then, was a little worrisome but thems the rules so no harm no foul.

Pretty obvious the team didn't have the cash for it though.

When it did start to bug me was during his rookie year. It was pretty obvious that Comrie was getting some pretty easy minutes but there was everyone - even MacT - blowing sunshine up his ass. Talking about 'how defensively responsible he was'.

Which was all poppycock to anyone with an open eye.

But what do you do? The team had just spent a mint on the kid and he WAS the hometown hero... so... well... hero the man already! And so they did. Looking back on it now I no longer wonder about managements motives. It has always been all about the sell.

Winning cost extra back then.

Even so. What got me wasn't the reflections of the down deep and the passing through - it was how much he (Comrie) seemed to believe it. Must have paid up early because everything he got he was owed.

I lost it there. There. Just before the end.

'There' was when he was injured for a bunch of games and then got himself back on the roster. Wasn't even fully healed. Team was in the play-offs without him. Got his point though. Useless little assist and he got his bonus money.

But hey. There he was. Owed.

So fair enough. Team was dumb enough to play him and dumb enough to pay him. It wasn't a lot of fun. Watching Kevin Lowe die a little on the inside when it came time to negotiate a new deal. I treat you with respect and. Heh.

He forgot, Comrie had already paid.

I remember being really unimpressed. He wasn't helping the team win. It was all bonus. Money. Keep the star happy. Team chemistry is what its all about with the Oilers you know. Sacrifice for the team. Sacrifice for the win.

And win what you can.

Then the drama. Then the trade. Aborted. As much as I didn't like what Lowe was doing I have to admit I liked Comrie even less after all of that. Still don't. I didn't need him to go all Ruettiger for me.

Some fucking appreciation for his circumstance would have been nice.

So he's back. And, you know, humbler. Wiser. Must have learned a lot playing shinny hockey in New York and Ottawa. Contract is mostly okay. Finally force some roster moves I guess. Why waste money?

Thank God though. We could have ended up with a self-serving asshole like Dany Heatley.


Have a great evening everyone.

Monday, 7 September 2009


Growing up I gained a great deal of appreciation for certain bands. Mostly Rock bands. My ex-wife liked country. I started with a (great) respect for Johnny Cash and a wierd enthusiam for Kenny Rodgers 'story songs' and then found reasons to like the genre. Some of the songs are very watchable.

It was a fascinating time.

In Other News

Tanguay just signed a very (imo) reasonable contract with the Lightning.

I would have gone into rebuild mode with that team going into the draft, and hoped to scoop as many prime draft picks and prospects as I could to go with Hedman and Stamkos but, that said, the Eastern Conference isn't a stacked deck and if Lady Injurybug doesn't find this team it could surprise by both making the play-offs and making some noise in them.

The only sure team to miss in the East is the Islanders, and the most probables are the Thrashers and the Leafs, so the Lightning are in the thick of it with the whack of other teams that rely far too much on a goalie, or star forward, to make their team go.

Despite their ownership troubles the Lightning are making a solid push to put a solid team together, and management has done pretty well there (imo), individual contracts notwithstanding, so it will be fascinating to see if it amounts to much.

Still liked the full-rebuild model, for this team, better.

In the East:

Teams that will make the play-offs: Pittsburgh, Boston, New Jersey.

Teams that should make the play-offs: Washington, Philadelphia, Carolina

Teams that could make the play-offs: anyone not yet pegged plus the Lightning

Also, Sather may be stuck with Redden's contract but he did a nice job of picking up McDonagh (and Higgins) for Gomez. If we see Dubinsky sign a decent contract and Drury moved next year we will know that Sather has been given the green-light to rebuild the team.

Speaking of which...


I have, I must admit, been fascinated by the NBA for the last couple of years. Not by the game itself but by the management moves that happen in the game.

i.e. twice, in the span of four years, Bryan Colangelo (BC) has completely re-worked the roster of the Toronto Raptors. I know that it is far easier to rework a roster in the NBA than it is in the NHL but still - that's pretty farkin' impressive.

Of course, it isn't like BC has ever had to unload players like Dustin Penner or Robert Nilsson.

Now THAT would be hard to do.

All kidding marginally kicked aside there are two teams that, to my eye, have a very bright future ahead of them: the New Jersey Nets and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Nets are particularly interesting because they have the look of a team that will be successful, in the NBA, without any recognizable superstar

I won't do many (honest) NBA articles but there will be the odd mention here and there (given how my interest has been piqued). I am a Raptors fan (kindof) but this is about the:

New Jersey Nets

Playing Assets w/ Real Value

Devin Harris (PG) and Brook Lopez (C) anchor this team. As Point Guard is the most crucial position to get right and Center is the hardest position to adequately fill I have to say that, right off the top, they are doing well. Courtney Lee (SG) is a crucial fill here, he had a great play-offs with Orlando and if he can continue that level of play then the Nets are 3/5ths of the way there.

Terence Williams (combo-G and SF) projects to be a decent stopper across a few positions, and Chris Douglas-Roberts (SG) and Josh Boone (C) both look to be guys who can play their position effectively - which all means that the Nets should actually be stacked at the 1, 2 and 5. A lot of teams out there are lucky to have decent starters in two of those three spots (let alone have 'depth').

That leaves the Small Forward and Power Forward positions.

Of the two positions, the 3 should actually be easier to fill as the Nets don't really have any 'keepers' incumbent at that spot. Williams could play the spot (pretty athletic guy by all accounts) but he would need to dramatically imrove his offensive skills in order to be a solution there.

The 4 is a little tougher to deal with as Yi Jianlian (PF) is slotted in there right now. He has a long way to go to get to the level of 'effective' but his draft pick means he will get a lot of chances.

How the Nets fill the 4 will be key to the team's success going forward - the longer it takes them to get an effective player in there the shorter the window for success for this team will be.

Other Assets w/ Real Value

Budget Space - for 2010/11 the Nets have ~ $32 million committed to 10 players and most of them are on longer-term contracts. Barring the acquisition of a max-contract player this team doesn't really have any budget issues.

Draft Picks - the Nets have two 1st round picks in the 2010 draft. Their own and that of the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs pick is no big deal (in the 20-24 range?) but their own pick could easily be top-6.

Expiring Contracts - the Nets have ~ $26 million in expiring contracts (5 players) this year. Given the value of expiring contracts in the NBA (its huge) the Nets have fantastic trade flexibility.

Even Better - most of those expiring contracts are attached to players who other teams, come trade deadline, may actually want. This means that the return on those trades should actually be a little better than dollars alone would dictate.


Sean Williams (22 yr old PF) and Eduardo Najera (33 yr old PF) would have to have big bounce back seasons to be worth their contracts, that said, neither guy is making big dollars so their contracts could be unloaded in the right trade. As well, Williams is young enough to still learn and Najera is a veteran competitor so it isn't like they are stuck with a guy like Marcus Banks on the roster.

Keyon Dooling (combo-G) - admittedly I don't have a great handle on his value as a player but he seems to fit the role of 'mentor/decent depth player'. If so, an extension in the $2.5 to $3.5 mill range (after next year) would make him a useful, on-going, asset. Had hip surgery lately so recovery is an issue.


I have to qualify this section by stating that I just don't know basketball well enough. What players work/would work best in what system? Don't know. I know the basics of full court and half court play but the nuances of each system isn't something I know, or even care to know, on anything but the most general level.

It does seem interesting that one of the big determinates is who the shooter is. Teams can be broken down by options: who is first option for a shot, etc. It is why the latest news out of Sacramento (truth to be determined) is that there may be an developing issue between Kevin Martin and Tyreke Evans. It isn't be a personal issue (not even between them per se), it is an option issue. Tyreke, the ostensible 'new' point guard, isn't a distributor of the ball while Kevin is a guy who needs the ball distributed to. It isn't hard to see where that could be considered an 'oops' at the draft table.

Right Now and 2010

A lot is made of the 2010 free agent grouping but, myself, I don't see a lot there that fits for this team. All the big money guys (LeBron, Wade, Amare and Bosh) will be going to where the heart/wallet is and the Nets, while not a backwater, won't be that interesting to them (imo). Don't see Boozer as an option.

So that makes the 'right now' a little more interesting. I have to admit I was a little surprised that they didn't go after David Lee. A rebounding powerforward looking for a big payday, but being completely undercut by his current team in terms of term, may have been a great opportunity for the Nets.

It isn't impossible to see where the dangling of a long-term deal would have gotten Lee on board and an offer to pick up Jeffries contract may have enticed the Knicks into a sign and trade. The trick would have been that of getting Lee at the right price point but if the deal started at $7 million** and looked like (in millions):

D. Lee (5 yrs, start at $7.x), J. Jeffries ($6.5 / 6.9P) and cash
B. Simmons (exp. $10.5) and S. Williams ($1.6 / 2.5T / 3.5Q)

it could make a lot of sense. The Knicks dump Jeffries salary without taking on any that compromises their 2010 UFA spending spree. The Nets get, at a very reasonable price, a PF entering his prime and it only costs them Jeffries contract (which they dump next year anyways). Lee gets a contract that may look pretty good given the Cap contraction anticipated next year.

So, IF Lee fits the Nets profile: do they target him and get the 4 they need... at the cost of a (probable) top-6 pick in the 2010 draft and money to spend on the 2010 UFA class?

(It is important to note that NBA rookies drafted in the low first round have guaranteed contracts and earn substantial dollars so unless you are getting a guy who can outright play (like Blake Griffin) it is often better to be drafting LATER in the round.)

Maybe I do. Even with the Lee and Jeffries contracts the team would have ~ $44 million allocated to 11 players; in the NBA that is a pretty efficient contract ratio. If they wanted to upgrade at SF in 2010 they could afford to do so. Also, as much as Lee could make them a play-off team they still have some valuable contracts they can dump at the trade deadline - pieces can be acquired as needed.

But here is where it gets really fun (and again, remember, I fully admit I don't fully know what I am talking about) - what about Eddy Curry? If the Knicks drop his contract then it doesn't matter how far the Cap drops in 2010 - the Knicks could afford two superstars if they wanted them.

So how about:

D. Lee (5 yrs, start at $7.x), E. Curry ($10.5 / 11.3P), W. Chandler ($1.3 / 2.1 / 3.1) and cash
B. Simmons (exp. $10.5), T. Battie (exp. $6.3) and S. Williams ($1.6 / 2.5T / 3.5Q)

Wilson Chandler can play good defense, if he can also play the 3 (I have seen some conflict there as some sites have him as a 2 and some as a 3) then in one trade the Nets could have a line-up kinda like so:

PG ... D. Harris / R. Alston / K. Dooling
SG ... C. Lee / C. Douglas-Roberts
SF ... W. Chandler / T. Williams
PF ... D. Lee / Y. Jianlian / E. Najera
.C ... B. Lopez / E. Curry / J. Boone

That's pretty sweet. Salaries aren't too high, still lots of expiring contracts available, play-off probable, still getting two draft picks in 2010, Alston is a desirable asset regardless of contract status and if Curry learns how to play again he becomes worthy trade bait in his own right (trading Curry is a must).

Like I said - fascinating. Fantasy gaming on steroids. Almost every rumour has to be seen as credible because almost every trade can happen or can be made to happen - and most of them can be made to make sense. The Hedo Turkoglu trade was off-the-charts.

heh. Anyways, that's it for my NBA posting for now. Maybe something next off-season.


**Cribbing from the Stephen Jackson contract a viable David Lee contract could look like so (in millions):

$7.14 / 7.65 / 8.45 / 9.26 / 10.06

With his numbers that is a VERY reasonable contract.


Have a great evening everyone.