I had proposed evening of Fri, June 26 or afternoon of Sat, June 27th for year end ceremony + to do the draft lottery for upcoming FUNHL season (along with food, drink, camaraderie of course).

Out of towners Bob, Cam and Doug along with myself are all available for sure on the Fri evening as we are watching the NHL draft in the afternoon. Here is all the info I have so far:

DAN - neither works (moving)
CHRIS - good for Sat only
DOUG - good for Fri only (returning to Edm during day Sat)
CAM - good for both (I think)
BOB - good for both
BRIAN - good for both

We can change - but not sure we'll have Doug, Cam, Bob in town again at same time.

Would be nice of course to have Darrell attend whenever we do this!

Thoughts? Proposals?


Currently consists of Bob, Rob and Brian. If any other GM interested in being part of, or if anybody would like to nominate a new GM(s) to be a part of... please speak up (lots of time, we decide DC by the ED).

Rule Proposal 4

I would like to propose a rule that says you cannot draft anyone under 18.

Redwings vs Penguins

Redwings or Penguins

Rule Proposal 3 - 6 prospects (2010/11)

I propose dropping the number of prospects to 6 for the 2010/2011 season. It cannot be done for this season as it affects current rosters.

Rule Proposal 2 - Continuous waiver wire

Richard proposed the following - Let's make waived players from a line up stay around for the remainder of the season. They can be picked up by any team, at any time, once they are off someone's line up. They shouldn't disappear after one week.

Please comment on this proposal in this thread.

Rule Proposal 1 - One Waiver draft

Below, Richard proposed that we change to one wavier draft instead of two. Please place your comments in this thread.



I know everyone has been eagerly waiting to know this (okay, mabye just me??) Sorry Doug if this was your purview but I just felt like doing and sharing + maybe saves you some time.

I have added up all goals scored this season and get the following:

3530 goals scored in Western Confernece
3635 goals scored in Easter Conference

TOTAL goals scored = 7165

30 teams x 41 games each = 1230 games.

Average goals per game = 7165 / 1230 = 5.84.

SO... no change for 2009-10 season and we continue to use 3.75 as goalie baseline according to rules we implemented into the covenant after much blood, sweat and tears last year. Covenant states:

4.00 - 4.4999 use 3.00;
4.50 - 4.9999 use 3.25;
5.00 - 5.4999 use 3.50;
5.50 - 5.9999 use 3.75; ***
6.00 - 6.4999 use 4.00;
6.50 - 6.9999 use 4.25.

Lost Boys Status update

Hello all,

It would be wrong to start this post with anything other than a hearty thank-you to Bob for essentially running my team for the past season. My life is busy on the other side of the covenant, and whether or not I would continue with running the Lost Boys for another season has been on my mind for months now. I told Bob I'd have an answer to the league before the playoffs were done; and here's it is.

Yes, I'll be back for 2009-2010. I'll be changing my ideal for how I want to run the team, to something much closer to how I can run the team, and I'll be coming to Calgary for the entry draft, since that seems to be key to my participation.

And, although I'm not going to hold the league hostage to my requests, there are some changes that I really do need to see put into the covenant (i.e. whether or not these pass, I'll be in next season.)

Change #1: Let's reduce the number of waiver drafts to one a year. I find these very stressful, for a variety of reasons, and I don't see them as helping my team: one waiver draft will give us all the advantages we can hope to get from the exercise.

Change #2: Let's make waived players from a line up stay around for the remainder of the season. They can be picked up by any team, at any time, once they are off someone's line up. They shouldn't disappear after one week.

These aren't yet formally phrased to fit in the covenant: someone will have a better talent for that than myself; I'd be keen to see these changes implemented for this coming season if that's possible.

I hope all of you have a good summer.

(Still) GM Lost Boys.


FUNHL Prospects

Here's my overview of the prospect drafts most likely candidates as we move through the off-season.

Keep in mind that this isn't my actual 'list', just a rough lay of the land, and that I make no effort to account for any particular team needs or tendencies in how I put this together. So if Jamie Benn is picked in the third round instead of 3rd overall, I won't be shocked.

For the most part the names are culled from one of two sources; the Hockey's Future website (which is awesome) or from mockups of the NHL 09 ED.

1. Matt Duchene-C OHL

Upside: Franchise cornerstone, Steve Yzerman type of #1 offensive center with blazing speed.

Downside: If he goes third overall as expected to the Avalanche - none, he's about as can't miss as you get, and in the opinion of some scouts has passed John Tavares as the best forward in the draft . If he's a Bolt or Islander, the only downside is the crappy team surrounding him. If he's an Av - he's essentially blemish free.

2. Kiril Kabanov-L Rus

Upside: Ilya Kovalchuk

Downside: He's a potential first overall 2010 pick, so you have to burn a year just to see him get drafted behind Taylor Hall. Also the track record with skill wingers coming from Russia is varied; some are Ovechkin, some are Zherdev. Given his upside of being a potential FP quality player, he'll go early despite the risk and the burned year.

3. Jamie Benn-L/R Dallas

Upside: He's a pure goalscorer. In his most recent Memorial Cup game with the Kelowna Rockets he netted four, and had a fifth bounce off the post in an empty net try. Dallas is aging rapidly at the forward spots and an opportunity to immediately make the roster exists.

Downside: Lacks physical bite, and may need a year or more of seasoning at the AHL level to round out his game.

4. Evander Kane-R WHL

Upside: Physical two-way forward with excellent wheels and scoring touch. Made the WJC team as a checking winger and forced his way up to a scoring line. Jarome Iginla potential.

Downside: Concerns about his ability to play his hard-nosed game at the next level., ala fellow Vancouver Giant grad Gilbert Brule.

5. Erik Tangradi-R Pit

Upside: Could be the long sought after ppg power forward with size to compliment either Crosby or Malkin. Tangradi was a top scorer in the OHL as an overager (20), and was the blue-chip prospect the Pens received along with Chris Kunitz in return for Ryan Whitney going to the Ducks.

Downside: Skating is considered to be at best average, and he severed a tendon in his arm that has required surgery and could shelve him for a while.

7. Colin Wilson-C Nsh

Upside: Power pivot in the Jason Arnott mold.

Downside: Lacks elite skating ability to go with elite hands/hockey sense.

8. Luca Sbisa-D Pha

Upside: Mobile, intelligent 1st unit powerplay defenseman. A Wade Redden type, he's a safe, if a little un-sexy, prospect.

Downside: Does everything well, but nothing at an elite level.

9. Zach Boychuk-L Car

Upside: Nifty waterbug type winger oozes offensive skill. A Ray Whitney style top line forward, he could develop into a nice fit alongside Eric Staal on the top line.

Downside: Undersized at 5'9", he's already been bitten by the injury bug once, and with his style of play and slight frame he will never be rugged.

10. Ryan Ellis-OHL

Upside: A Brian Rafalski/Brian Campbell cross, he has terrific offensive potential, especially on the powerplay where his shot and passing abilities are already NHL caliber.

Downside: With his undersized frame and defensive liabilities he may never be more than a powerplay specialist ala MA Bergeron in Minnesota.

11. Jakob Markstrom-G Fla

Upside: Large framed #1 goaltender who can play 60 games a season. He's currently the top rated prospect goaltender by the Hockey News.

Downside: Will need to wait out the transition away from Tomas Vokoun. Also, he'll be playing in Florida - a place where elite goaltenders rot on the vine till traded elsewhere.

12. Jake Gardiner-D Ana

Upside: Top pairing offensive defenseman - a Mathieu Schneider type. He's already had a year of College so is more advanced in his progress than many d-prospects.

Downside: Logjam of defenseman ahead of him may delay his arrival. Needs to prove he can play in his own end.

13. Dmitri Kulikov-D OHL

Upside: Niklas Kronwall type of defenseman, he has excellent powerplay credentials, and has a solid defensive and physical game. Potential #1 defenseman with an all-round game.

Downside: Has not looked awesome in the Memorial Cup playoffs, including being on the wrong end of some devastating hits by Greg Nemisz. As a 2009 draftee, he'll be farther away than other more developed prospects.

14. Mathias Tendenby-L NJ

Upside: Brian Gionta2

Downside: Eric Perrin2

15. Jordan Eberle-R Edm

Upside: Eberle is blessed with Joe Mullen style scoring ability and is a potential first line finisher.

Downside: Lacks; playmaking ability, size, top-end speed, decent city to play hockey in, hope.

16. Nazem Kadri-OHL

Upside: A Mike Ribeiro type of skill center, he can play all three forward positions, win face-offs, score, make plays, and has above average speed. Bonus points because he comes out of the London Knights prospect factory.

Downside: Two words; 'Daniel Tkachuk'

17. PK Subban-Mtl

Upside: A robust, thick-bodied, puck rushing defenseman with a potent shot, and swashbuckler instincts. Subban opened a lot of eyes at the WJC where he would cause hearts to stop with his gambling style. A potential Jovo-cop.

Downside: Fringe NHL defenseman Shawn Belle

18. Jordan Schroeder-R USDTP

Upside: If there is a potential Zach Parise in this draft, its Schroeder. He's undersized, but undeniably skilled.

Downside: Makes Patrick Kane look like Lou Ferrigno.

19. Nathan Gerbe-C Buf

Upside: Theoren Fleury. He's an offense first winger who has marinated substantially in the AHL where he's been a top performer, and made the effort to cover his small frame with as much muscle as he can pack on to it.

Downside: Dude is all of 5'6", so if he can't be an elite scorer he doesn't play.

20. Brendan Smith-D Det

Upside: He's more of what the Wings already have lots of, swift skating, mobile, offensive defensemen.

Downside: The Wings like to leave their prospects on the farm an extra year or three before breaking them in slowly on lower lines (Johan Franzen was a 27 year old rookie). It could be years before he sees powerplay time of any note.

21. Jonathon Blum-D Nsh

Upside: the latest in a long string of offensive minded defensemen to come through the Nashville system, he could be the highest scoring of all of them.

Downside: He's a featherweight even by Brian Rafalski standards. Will need a few years to break in, and there are lots of guys ahead of him on the depth chart.

22. Artem Anisimov-C NYR

Updside: He's over a ppg in the AHL, and has the size and skating ability to be a top line pivot, on a team that lacks size down the middle. His advanced age for a prospect (20) makes him more likely to succeed sooner rather than later.

Downside: The Rangers haven't developed a home grown forward with any kind of talent for almost a decade - will they screw up Anisimov like they did with Hugh Jessiman?

23. Zach Hamill-C Bos

Upside: With Kessel moved to the wing, and Krecji a threat to leave via free agency signing, there is room to add the skilled playmaking centerman into the B's top six.

Downside: His season was interrupted by a thumb injury last year that has delayed his entrance to the NHL.

24. Greg Nemisz-C Cgy

Upside: Every year a Flames prospect gains some interest, and this year its Nemisz. With a powerlifters body and the soft hands of a scorer, he's the prototypical #1 centerman once he hits his potential.

Downside: Skating has to improve for him to make it, and the Flames are currently full at center, so he'll need a break to see ice soon.



Malkin mocks the Hurricanes

Update: According to Max Talbot, Malkin actually called his shot.

Phoenix WTF?

The National Post has never been one of my go to reads (if only because Ezra Levant was once a paid lickspittle...er columnist there - ditto for the Calgary Sun), but they have a good Q and A about the Coyotes situation.


Ballsy Update

If this is true, it could mean that round one goes to Ballsy;

"Moyes declined to comment Tuesday, but a spokesman said (Judge) Baum made it clear Moyes still owned the team." - Az Central

I mentioned before there were two major legal decisions that had to go in Ballsy's favour, the first is whether or not Moyes can file for bankruptcy without League involvement - and (as predicted) it looks like he can.

The second will be whether Ballsy's conditional offer is the best for the creditors of the team - and that is a whole-other kettle of fish.

Interestingly, the NHL asked the judge for a quickee ruling on whether or not the team was a 'mobile asset' - essentially asking for resolution on Ballsy's second hurdle. Over the course of the day apparently the Ballsy lawyers agreed with the request. The Judge however noted that the Ballsy camp had yet to file a notice with the league that they intend to move the franchise, and Ballsy's lawyers were criticized for suggesting they didn't see the point given Bettman's position on the issue, because the decision would be one for the Board of Governors, not Bettman.

Which brings the whole thing back to one legal and one procedural question;

- If Ballsy's conditional offer meets legal requirements.

- If the NHL BOG approves the move internally.

Here's the rub, I think Ballsy stands a good chance to win on the first by having the judge grant him the team and its right to move, and lose on the second when the BOG rally to Bettman and vote to prevent the move. I further suspect that both sides know aprox what the BOG will say ('hell no'), which is why Ballsy hasn't formally asked them the question.

The BOG is in a tricky spot as well. If teams exercise a 'veto' (i.e. Buffalo/Toronto) that may place the league in an anti-trust position - and give Ballsy more reasons to sue. But if the BOG unanimously rejects the move without resorting to a veto, the blockage may end up being legal, and Ballsy could be stuck in the dessert.

Stay tuned!


Hockey rumours

Darren Dreger of TSN drops a couple of doozies...

- Lecavalier to the Kings

- Jack Johnson to the KHL!

The first isn't a shocker, at least not to me. The Kings have lots of chips to offer in trade, especially the young defensemen that the Bolts covet.

Johnson was supposed to be an elite defenseman by now, and yet has already been traded (for Tim Gleason), and has been passed on the depth chart by several King prospects - including Doughty, Harrold and Quincey. Makes you wonder what the kids issue is.

Hot Goaltender Anyone?

Some of you may know that I follow basketball fairly closely, and one of the B-ball sites I regularly visit is called 'The Wages of Wins' - where they do a statistical analysis of basketball that seeks to calculate a players worth to his team in the number of 'wins' said player contributes through his stats aside from just his raw scoring.

Earlier Doug had raised the question of whether or not the Flames should 'blow it up' based on the failure to advance out of the 1st round since their 2004 Stanley Cup finals appearance. I had argued that the core group of players was fine, and that blowing things up is what you do when the core is obviously inadequate.

Well on Wages of Wins today, there was this quote that put the Flames losses into perspective for me;

“…if one team is good enough to warrant beating another in 55% of its games, the weaker team will nevertheless win a 7-game series about 4 times out of 10. And if the superior team could beat its opponent, on average, 2 out of 3 times they meet, the inferior team will still win a 7-game series about once every 5 match-ups....So sports playoff series can be fun and exciting, but being crowned “world champion” is not a reliable indication that a team is actually the best one.” (p. 70-71). The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives (bold emphasis mine: ch)

This is both intuitive and fascinating when you think about it. Despite the fact that a team like Detroit is a clearly superior team to most (if not all) in the NHL, 40% of the time they can expect to go home and self flagellate over the hows and whys they lost to an inferior team.

This is why playoff hockey is so exciting - it has random elements at play (a bounce here, an injury there, a hot goaltender, etc.) that make the outcome too chaotic to reliably predict.

And ultimately, that is why they play the games.


Analyzing Hockey

This article by Mike Smith (ex-Gm) was really interesting (if a little too much like an advertisement for this services).

But here was the money quote;

"There is one player, who shall remain nameless, who has never been above the bottom third in scoring when the game is on the line and his scoring rate decreases as the game situations become tougher - and he has never made less than $5 million. No, it’s not Alex Ovechkin, nor Teemu Selanne nor Sidney Crosby."

Wow. My gut instinct is that he is talking about Joe Thornton or Jason Spezza, but it makes you wonder...


Quote of the Day

"You see him without his clothes on, you say to yourself, there's no way this guy's a professional athlete. But, man oh man, he gets after it." - Pierre Maguire

Who else would comment on a naked hockey player but Pierre Maguire? If he isn't marveling at the size of Crosby's thighs, or gushing over Phaneuf in a way that makes the hair on your neck stand up, he's eyeballing naked goaltenders in the changeroom.

I have to say though, I love Maguire. He sees the game at a very high level and can explain break downs in clear and easy to understand terms (See how Semin just gives up on his check here, and now Malkin has a free path to the net, etc.), but he also brings an unintentional comedy that is impossible to match.

Staal Drinking Game

I lifted this from the Pensblog comments section because it was too funny not to.

Likelihood of alcoholic blackout or worse? Better than 50%

Drinking game rules:

Mention of any 'Staal' during game - drink

Mention of Eric and Jordan being brothers - drink twice

Mention of their 2 brothers also being in the NHL (Marc with the Rangers, Jared with the Phoenix organization) - drink four times

Mention of the long stick Jordan Staal uses - chug

Showing the Staal parents right before Jordan scores a goal - toast the person to your right and chug

Showing the Staal parents right before Eric scores - kill yourself

Mention of the Staal family Sod farm - vomit on the person to your left

Mention of 'Whitney' and someone near you thinks it's Ryan - punch them in the throat


Russia 2010

The Russians seem to have turned their team around after years of incompetence on the international stage, largely because of bureaucratic mismanagement and infighting. As per usual with the Russians, they should have a dynamic and explosive set of forwards, a solid group of defenders, and goaltending that carries a question mark or three.

First the forward possibilities; Ovechkin, Malkin, Kovalchuk, Radulov, Morozov, Datsyuk, Semin, Kozlov (Viktor), Frolov, Kozlov (Slava), Fedorov, Saprykin, Kovalev, Filatov, Zherdev, Kabanov, Artyukhin, Brylin.

The Defensemen: Zubov, Grebeshkov, Markov (Andrei), Markov (Danil), Gonchar, Volchenkov, Tyutin, Kalinin, Atyushov (KHL), Kulikov (OHL)

Goalies: Dmitri Nabokov, Ilya Bryzgalov, Nikolai Khabiboulin, Alexander Eremenko (KHL), Simeon Varlamov.

The top line; Ovechkin - Malkin- Kovalchuk

I think the temptation to play the three best forwards on the same line will be hard to resist, and it has the makings of being one of the scariest units ever put together by any team. OV and Kovie are absolutely lethal shooters who operate at the highest speeds, Malkin is an elite playmaker who can also drop the hammer when necessary, and while Kovie isn't the most physical of players both OV and Malkin can give and take a hit, and none of them are intimidated by rough play.

2nd Line: Semin - Datsyuk - Radulov

Semin was the league's leading scorer at the quarterpole before an injury knocked him off, and if you pro-rate his production over a full season he would be a 100pt player. Datsyuk is a legit Selke candidate and offensive dynamo. Radulov is a game breaker, and to make the team would need to be on one of the top lines.

3rd Line: Frolov- Kozlov (Viktor) - Morozov

I tried to put a bigger third unit together that wouldn't be defensively suspect and at least a little on the physical side. Morozov despite not being in the NHL is probably a lock to make the team, and is a thick-set forward with a full array of skills. Kozlov and Frolov aren't the swiftest skaters, but they have some defensive acumen, and will be a dangerous third unit.

4th Line: Kozlov (Slava) - Fedorov - Saprykin

Not a lot of Russian checking forwards to choose from, and Fedorov will be positively ancient by the time 2010 rolls around. Saprykin is now a KHL regular, but his forte was always more of the grit and grind variety that suits a checking role. Slava Kozlov isn't a pure checker, but he honed his abilities in Buffalo where defensive responsibility was key to ice-time, so he won't be a slouch.

Spares: Alexei Kovalev, Nikita Filatov, Nik Zerdev, Kiril Kabanov

Kovalev may be a strange guy to leave off for a roster spot, but I just don't see him locking into one of the top two lines where he would be most effective. Of the other spares, Filatov and Kabanov are outside shots to take a role from someone.


Top D pair: Zubov- Tyutin

Zubov (assuming he is healthy) is the Russian version of Lidstrom; a super slick tempo setting guy who can log huge minutes, run the powerplay and make everything look effortless. Only concern is his accumulation of nagging injuries and the inhuman mileage on his odometer. Tyutin is a hard hitting mobile defensive defenseman who can compliment Zubov's all-round game.

2nd D Pair: Gonchar- Volchenkov

Gonchar may be creeping up in age, but he's still one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL, and an underrated defensive stalwart. Volchenkov is an excellent compliment and defensive concscience for him.

3rd D Pair: Markov(Andrei) - Grebeshkov

Markov is a younger version of Gonchar - while Grebeshkov is a two-way rearguard just coming into his prime. That said, I wouldn't be shocked if Kulikov's game advanced enough to garner him the last spot and displace Grebeschkov from this third pairing. Kulikov just finished an eye-popping turn in the OHL where his allround game appears to be very well developed.

Spares: Dmitri Kalinin, Vitali Atyushov, Dmitri Kulikov

Goalies: Nabokov, Khabiboulin, Varlamov

Tough to see a KHL goalie like Eremenko crack the top three. Varlamov shouldn't displace any of the two most senior guys, but he gets my nod over Bryzgalov so that he gets some international experience as at 21 he is clearly the Russian goalie of the future.



Thinking Ahead...

...here's a very good question, assuming Hamilton gets a team, what division would they play in?

Three different takes on the Coyote Uglies

The Toronto Star points out that round one goes to Ballsy as he successfully forces the NHL to turn over all documents related to the proposed Jerry Reinsdorf bid - the one that was supposedly in the works right up to the point that Moyes declared chapter 11.

The interesting factoid dropped into the discussion is that the Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks may be facing his own bankruptcy situation - though the Stars are not a money losing enterprise like Phoenix, so moving them seems like a very remote possibility.

The Globe and Mail's Al Maki tries to review the legal landscape of Ballsy's bid and comes up with (what else) some contradictory readings;

"A group backing Balsillie's offer has gone to court in Phoenix to seek an injunction to overturn the NHL's relocation rules on the grounds they are anticompetitive and violate antitrust laws.

Several legal experts say U.S. courts have consistently backed sports leagues on that issue.

"My own view is that the league has every right to do that," said Gary Roberts, an expert on sports law at Indiana University."


"The agreement by which the NHL controls the location of a franchise is itself a contract," said Ross, who believes Balsillie might have a good case. "One of the things about bankruptcy is a bankruptcy judge can void any contract to protect creditors. … The NHL constitution is simply a contract, and from a bankruptcy point of view, it's no different from a contract that says I'll provide you with 5,000 rolls of toilet paper."

So at least that is all cleared up.

Last but not least, Stephen Brunt writing for the G+M suggests that 'the genie is now out of the bottle' - and that as a result of Ballsy's move sooner or later Southern Ontario will get another team.

"Just try explaining to the judge that the Coyotes' many creditors should be stiffed because you don't like the cut of Balsillie's jib (despite approving him unanimously when he tried to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2006), or because you don't want him going through a franchise relocation that seems to conform exactly to the rules laid out for such a move in your own constitution."

The above is my reading as well. As much of a longshot as Ballsy seems to be playing there is more than a little logic to what he has done, and it may well payoff.


Canada 2010

Lots of interesting speculation is possible about who might make the 2010 team for Canada.

Here's my two cents on the likely candidates for consideration (keep in mind these are just the candidates my own roster picks will follow);

Center: Crosby, Thornton, Getzlaf, Spezza, Lecavalier, Stamkos, Tavares, Sakic, Toewes, Savard, Richards (Mike), Carter, Staal (Eric), Roy

Wings: Iginla, Heatley, Gagne, Nash, St Louis, Doan, Perry, Marleau, Smyth

Defense: Pronger, Weber, Phaneuf, Regehr, Green, Niedermayer, Boyle, Campbell, Bieksa, Bouwmeester, Seabrook, Keith

Goal: Luongo, Brodeur, Mason (Steve), Ward

Ok, so clearly we have too many centers, and not enough wingers. Traditionally this problem is solved by moving some of the centers to wing, and some others off the list entirely.

Here is what I think the team could/should look like;

Line 1: Heatley/Getzlaf/Nash

They have it all, size, speed, lots of scoring punch, and they can physically punish the oppositions first line. All three players are locks to make the team, and all three were on a line together last year at the IIHC where they were just about unstoppable.

Line 2: Iginla/Crosby/Gagne

Crosby gets two natural fits for his wingers; Gagne whose speed and shot make him stretch the defense, and Iginla for his ability to do all the dirty work and score goals while protecting Crosby from any thuggery.

Line 3: St Louis/Staal/Toewes

Staal has proven he can be an overwhelming dominant pivot with his size and speed. St Louis' burst and playmaking will create room, and the converted winger Toewes is exactly the type of two-way player that can cover for any deficiencies defensively while chipping in at the offensive size of the rink. It's a third line that would compare very well to most other teams top units.

Checking: Smyth/Richards/Doan

Pure nasty. They may lack in speed, but these guys all bring the hammer, and will make life miserable for opposing teams. All of them can kill penalities, and work the dirty zones, and all of them can move up or down the roster to provide grit on a line that might be lacking some.

Alternates: Thornton, Sakic

Thornton would be every other nations top center, but for Canada his lack of elite footspeed is troublesome, and keeps him out of the top lines. That said, he's a powerplay specialist, and in the event of injury to any player above him could easily slot onto the roster. Sakic is the ultimate leader/good luck charm, even if he never sees the ice in a critical situation, having him around makes the team better.

1st D Unit: Pronger/Niedermayer

The two Ducks are familiar with each others tendencies, can control the play at any tempo, work the 1st unit powerplay together, kill penalties, etc. The all purpose guys who can log inhuman ice-time.

2nd D Unit: Phaneuf/Weber

When you absolutely have to kill somebody, these guys go over the boards. Familiar from their time as shutdown partners at the WJC, and fellow 2003 draftees, they are both mobile, hitting machines with solid outlet games and absolute bombs for slapshots. They would make life hell for any matchups.

3rd D Unit: Regeher/Keith

When you need to shutdown a unit, I send these guys over the boards. Keith is more mobile than Regher, but big Robyn is the type of human eraser every team needs. Together they would annhilate the opposing teams chances while keeping the play moving towards the other end.

7th/8th Dmen: Green, Boyle. Both have weaknesses in their own end that make them ill-fit for prolonged duty, but both bring offensive gifts to the table that can't be replicated elsewhere. Green in particular would be my sub for Niedermayer on the 1st unit PP as his puck rushing and shooting abilities are second to none.

Goaltending: Luongo / Brodeur / Mason

The only controversy will be how Marty handles being the #2 banana to Bobby-Lu. Given that Bobby Lu made it to the 2nd rnd and Marty didn't, that shouldn't be a hard argument to make. Should Marty take a pass, Ward steps in to the three spot.

I think the greatest controversy - and likely difference from reality - is likely to come with my defense picks. Canada has a boat-load of quality defenders to choose from, and I'm certain that some of them will be incorrect (i.e. Phaneuf in particular has to rebound to pre-08 form to merit consideration), and the lack of Thornton/Lecavalier/Spezza from any of the top lines will likely raise some eyebrows, as it would seem heresy to predict all three fail to make the team outright based in previous contributions to Team Canada.



Another Mock Draft

Hockey Spy has their mock draft up. Some interesting insights into the teeny boppers can be found reading through it.

Follow the money!

With all the entertaining mano-a-mano stories out there it is easy to get sidetracked into viewing the current Balsillie attempt as some personality-driven drama. It isn't. It is business.

It is being assumed that the only reason G.B. (following the McCowan Prime Time Sports tradition) is fighting Balsillie is any one of the following: ego, personal animosity, hatred of Canada, blind adherence to the "southern footprint" plan, etc. G.B. is an employee - 30 bosses (currently 29) - and is not the CEO of the NHL. His bosses are, like Balsillie, business men. Most are not as successful and many have a much shadier past, but in the end they have bought a business so what are the business advantages and disadvantages of moving a team from Phoenix to Hamilton.

Phoenix is hemoraging cash. This was bad enough when they were merely sucking revenue-sharing money from the top-earning teams like the Leafs and Canucks. It is something else entirely when the league is running the team and running up the losses and passing those losses on to 29 other teams.

With the guarantee that a team in Hamilton (or Guelph, for that matter) would make money hand-over-fist why would there be a business opposition to a move?

First question a hockey fan might ask is where is Hamilton? You think selling a Tuesday night game ticket in Dallas is hard when Phoenix is in town? Try Hamilton. Balsillie would be wise here to go with the Toronto "Tempest" ala the New York Islanders.

Secondly, well the Southern Footprint strategy of Bett..I mean G.B. is not completely nuts and while a NFL-like national TV contract seems further away than ever, a return to ESPN is not. Phoenix's TV numbers may not be great for the NHL but, as far as US ratings are concerned, they are infinitely higher than would be the case for Hamilton. It may be hard to quantify but it is a cost to the current owners.

But the big cost for the current owners will be the result of this new team's very success in southern Ontario. The Blackberries, or whatever they might be called, will be a great source of hockey-related revenues. Yay! Everyone wins, except that they don't. Any spike in league-wide revenues results in a jump in both the NHL salary cap AND the salary floor. Just because Hamilton is a great success doesn't mean that Nashville, Tampa, Atlanta and Los Angeles are happy. They now would be required to pony up more cash to hit their cap floors. Does the extra revenue-sharing money off-set this - good question - but it is the far more important question to ask when looking at this whole discussion gets down to what the league is ultimately going to do.


The Hamilton Jets?

I ran across a legal analysis of Ballsy's coup attempt, and it has some interesting things to say;

1. Ballsy is likely to win the fight over whether or not Moyes can declare bankruptcy without NHL approval (he would have to pay back the loan he took plus interest though - something easily possible given the payout he gets for the sale)

2. The conditional purchase would almost certainly violate the NHL rules governing the movement of the club - meaning that Ballsy could rescind the offer all together (because he can't move the team) or allow him to make a lower offer to take ownership - but have to abide by the league's rules on when or if he could move it.

But then the author hit upon what is likely Ballsy's plan;

"A couple hours after publication of this article, it was brought to my attention that there is a third possible option: the Bankruptcy Court could decide to consider the relocation dispute at the same time it decides on which bid to accept.

In other words, the Court could determine that any future effort to block the relocation of the team would be an illegal anti-trust violation, and therefore decide that the condition in Balsillie's bid is no longer a hurdle to accepting it. If it would be illegal for the NHL to block the relocation, then the court can accept a bid predicated on that relocation without violating the rights of the NHL to govern its franchises.

It is up to the bankruptcy judge whether or not he/she will consider both issues simultaneously. Therfore, it is hard to predict how likely this third scenario is. However, this is probably what Jim Balsille is hoping for.

This option would allow Balsillie to avoid the risk of buying the team then fighting the NHL to move it. If he wins the relocation dispute, the practical effect is minimal. But if he loses, he can find that out before sinking a ton of money into an unhealthy franchise in a city he doesn't care to be in." -Jim Graham at Bleacher Report

So here is what we look for;

- A ruling that the Moyes bankruptcy proceeding is leagl

- A second ruling that the NHL's relocation procedures are anti-trust violations.

If Ballsy can get those two things, he wins.

A Fine Mess

"Lawyers involved in the bankruptcy filing say a judge could trump the NHL's rules if the court finds the deal with Balsillie is in the best interest of creditors." - AZ Central

Given the circumstances, I can definitely see that happening. Everybody gets out OK in the Ballsy arrangement (except for the city of Glendale - who get screwed).

"This is not about whether or not we want a franchise in southern Ontario," Bettman said in New York yesterday. "This is about league rules."

But league rules are where things get tricky. Bettman is only the commissioner, although his opinion holds sway with many teams.

Franchise relocation is a matter for the board of governors, representing all 30 teams. If a majority side with Balsillie, he'll get his way.

Balsillie was said to have been on the phone to governors last night, attempting to drum up support." - The Star

Actually, it isn't about league rules, its about Gary's ability to invoke them at his whim. In short, its about Bettman's ability to call all the shots.

"Having a second team in a hockey-mad area, even one that encroaches on the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres, is not something Bettman seems interested in. Why else would he thwart Balsillie's previous bids to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators? Because he dislikes Balsillie and the way he operates? If that's the case, then Bettman should be shown the door in a bum's rush.

The commissioner's job is to make the game popular and profitable. Right now, he can barely keep it stable and that can only mean the pressure from the inside may soon be as great as the pressure from the outside.

You think NHL owners are eager for protracted litigation against moneybags Balsillie? You think the owners would prefer to lose bundles of cash funding a team in a questionable locale rather than have one managed by a rich owner in a solid market?" - Al Maki

This is the key question - how much support for either guy exists on the BOG?

"Mr. Balsillie spent Wednesday trying to call all 30 NHL governors, who must approve any change in ownership of a team, to lobby for their support. A source close to Mr. Balsillie indicated that part of the strategy was to bid more than $200-million to establish a mark for franchise value, at a time when other owners fear their equity is plummeting." - Globe Sports

Based on what I culled from the above;

- It certainly looks like a better than 50/50 proposition that Balsillie will gain control of the Coyotes. His bid is likely to be the highest - and even if another bid exceeds his he has the coinage ($2.9B) to simply counter again till he exhausts the opposition.

- The fight could come down to the board of governors approving the move. Ballsy and Bettman are both working the phones to get owners on side. Working Bettman's favour is that he has been a loyal attack dog for the owners and got them the lockout agreement. Working in Ballsy's favour is that he is bailing the governors out of a bad situation in Phoenix, as well as putting a bid in for the Coyotes that floats their own franchise values upwards.

- Ballsy can lose this fight and still win again at some point in the future. Bettman can't. If the Governors back Ballsy in his bid it is essentially a loss of face for Bettman he can't recover from - like a non-confidence motion in Parliament, it would be a clear indication that he doesn't have the backing to remain in the Captain's chair.

- Bettman needs to do some Judo. Sooner or later Balsillie is going to get his hands on one of the troubled teams, and from there its only a matter of time before he maneuvers himself into the S.Ontario market. The biggest objectors to this situation are likely to be the Leafs and Sabers (most other markets could probably care less). If Bettman were to use a little finesse, he could get Ballsy to pay a chunk of change (say $75M) to the Leafs and Sabers for the infringement, and hand over the team. Everybody would be happy - except for Gary. Bettman would have to swallow his animus for Ballsy and suck it up, but it would ultimately be in the best interests of everybody if he didn't defend a loser like Phoenix over a winner like Ballsy.


And Lebrun's Retort to Burnside

You can link to Pierre Lebrun's ESPN Playoff Blog here.

On the other hand...

I don't agree with Burnside here, but this is the counter-arguement.

p.s. Hamilton Highlanders has a nice ring to it, non?

Ballsy Update

Stephen Brunt has a nice work-up of how Balsillie's tactics have evolved as his previous attempts to buy a team have been frustrated.

From scouring the other articles available (Illegal Curve has a nice round up for those interested, you'll have to scroll down to find it though) the opposition of Bettman to the deal moves more into focus;

If Ballsy is successful in moving the Coyotes the new team would;

- Invade the 'territory' of the Leafs and Sabers - neither of whom are likely to be pleased, and both of whom would certainly represent members of the existing opposition among owners. MLSE in particular is likely to be the 800lb gorilla motivating Bettman to block the sale.

- Generate untold $Ms in legal fees for the NHL to fight the transfer

- Create a potential anti-trust lawsuit if the League attempts to enforce existing by-laws that give territorial rights to existing teams that block the transfer.

- Drive the league salary floor upwards, impacting on other low revenue teams - who surely won't be thrilled about it.

- Maybe most of all this humiliates Bettman on a number of levels;
A. Its moving a sun-belt team back to Canada - a direct slap in the face for Bettman's US presence program

B. It brings the maverick Ballsy into the old-boys club of the NHL against the wishes of Bettman (and a number of owners)

C. It puts Bettman in the position of defending a league supported cash pit in the middle of hockey nowhere over the wildly popular relocation a dead-franchise-walking to a hockey starved marketplace in a country of hockey mad fans, yeah, thats going to win you popularity contests Gary

D. It shows that when push came to shove at the chessboard, Bettman wasn't as smart as Ballsy - and that one in particular is going to hurt.

E. This is a big win for the NHLPA - who would vastly prefer that there be another rich team in Canada rather than a poor team in Arizona - if only for the upward salary pressure such a move creates. Interestingly, at least one article suggested the union was made aware of Ballsy's intentions as much as a week in advance and gave their approval for it. This certainly has the look of being a proxy fight for the Union to gain a victory over Bettman and his regime.

As always, Bob Mckenzie has a solid take on what roadblocks exist with the purchase;

"The question then becomes, can a bankruptcy court in Arizona mandate the NHL to relocate or transfer a franchise in order to satisfy the needs of the Coyotes' secured creditors?

It's an interesting legal question and without putting words in anyone's mouth – no one is commenting anyway – the safe bet is that Balsillie's group believes that's a possibility while the NHL doesn't believe a bankruptcy court can tell it how to conduct its affairs."

And he makes clear what Bettman's first legal strategy will be...

"The wording of the NHL press release suggests the league believes Moyes was perhaps not within his rights to file the bankruptcy claim and that he, by virtue of the NHL monies forwarded to the team since October, may not have been in control of the franchise. In any case, the league said it has now ''removed'' Moyes as an official of the club.

Clearly, the league is at odds with Moyes and vice versa."

So buckle up kiddies, this is going to be one marvelous ride!


The Shoe Drops...

Jim Balsillie makes an offer to buy the Coyotes.

To nobody's surprise - there is a catch - he'll buy the team (for $212M) on the condition that he can move the team to Southern Ontario.

Word is that Bettman is in Phoenix trying to 'sort things out'.

Ballsy has already launched his own website for people to sign up and register their support for the move.

My first thoughts are;

- Ballsy likely has enough spare scratch to make the lease agreement issues with Glendale go away.

- Ballsy may have snookered Bettman with this move. The Coyotes are hemorrhaging cash, the league is already on the hook for payroll, etc. and I can't imagine the Board of Governors are excited about putting up even more money to keep a team in Phoenix where no other new owners with deep pockets have stepped forward - or are ever likely to.

By stepping up now to bail out both the current owners and the league places Bettman in a very ugly spot. He has to find a way to get Phoenix resolved - and absent local owners stepping up Ballsy is currently the only option.

- I do wonder, is Bettman actually behind this? Ballsy's desire for a team in S.Ontario is well known, and he has the cash to make a lot of problems dissapear - did Bettman roadmap this for Ballsy to make it an easier go? Or is he going to fight to keep Ballsy exlcuded from the league's cozy club of ne'er do wells and multi-millionaires?


FUNHL News and Notes

- Everybody in the blogosphere has apocalyptic thoughts about what the cap will look like next year and the year after (guesstimate of 10% decline or thereabouts) - and what a hardship that will be for teams who are up against it to trim payroll. However, consider for a moment how much worse it would have been if there were no cap in place.

- Consider the following names; MA Fleury, Erik Staal, Nathan Horton, Nik Zherdev, Thomas Vanek, Milan Mihalek, Ryan Suter, Braydon Coburn, Dion Phaneuf, Andrei Kostitsyn, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Brent Seabrook, Robert Nilsson, Steve Bernier, Zach Parise, Erik Fehr, Ryan Getzlaf, Brent Burns, Mark Stuart, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards, Corey Perry. What do they have in common? They were ALL 1st rnd picks in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Wow - that was some draft - arguably the best 1st rnd ever.

But that is not the whole story. The above is also the order they were drafted in, which raises some interesting points; Suter and Coburn over Phaneuf? Hmmm, probably seemed like a good idea at the time. Robert Nilsson over Getzlaf, Parise or Perry? Ewwwwww. Kesler over Mike Richards? Well, both are Selke candidates, but Richards is also a ppg whereas Kesler is half that.

If only hindsight were 20/20.

Which raises another interesting point; Hugh Jessiman, MA Pouliot, Anthony Stewart, Brian Boyle, Jeff Tambellini, Patrick Eaves, and Shawn Belle - none of who are regular NHL players a full 6 years after the draft. How would you like to be the GM who selected Jessiman 12th overall, ahead of guys like Seabrook, Parise, Getzlaf and Burns? Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

- My predictions for the 2nd rnd;

Pittsburgh over Washington. Offensive weapons everywhere, but the Pens have the edge in goaltending and on D - and that is where playoff matchups like this are won. Pittsburgh in 5.

Carolina upsets the Bruins. I just don't believe in Tim Thomas, and Cam Ward has already got a Conn Smythe trophy. Canes in 7

Ducks shock the Redwings. The Ducks have a deep defense corps (as deep or better than Detroit), a robust physical style of play - especially in their intimidating first line Getzlaf-Perry-Ryan, and a goaltender who doesn't know he isn't supposed to be elite. The Wings have experience, depth and....Chris Osgood. This is the kind of series where Osgood needs to steal a game or more, and I bet he doesn't. Ducks in 6

Bobby-Lou over the ChiHawks. The Hawks have an impressive cast of young speedsters, a mobile deep defense corps, an all-world goalie, and excellent coaching. The Canucks have two excellent scoring lines that dominate the puck, an elite checking line, a six deep defense unit that is in good health, and the best goaltender on the planet. Bobby-Lou wins in 5.

- Says here the Red Wings will regret the Franzen contract extension. It's too much, for too long for too little in return.

- Lowetide dreams of Gaborik landing in Edmonton (over Havlat or Jagr) but I'm betting that Vancouver gets him with the money saved from Sundin's departure. I also think the Sedin's re-sign with the 'Nucks.

- Hart nominees are Ovechkin, Malkin, Datsyuk - and somewhere Don Cherry is spinning in his technicolour suit.

- As I type this Anaheim has a 1-0 lead and Mike Brown caught Hudler admiring his pass and absolutely buried him with what looks to be (to me) a more or less clean blind-side hit. (Oops - 5 for interference and a game misconduct is called on Brown - somewhat arbitrarily IMO).

- And Franzen ties it 1-1 to make me eat my words all-round. C'est la vie.

- Colour me very impressed with Patrick Kane. He look for all the world like Denis Savard has returned to Chicago. He has wicked speed, scores pretty goals, and can take a beating. Me like.

- Also, Toews is some kind of player. He does everything well. Everything. I think he could even play goaltender as well as Huet if needed.

- At a commercial break I switched to Space Channel and caught Ben Mulroney reviewing the new Star Trek movie - enthusiastically. It was followed by none other than William Shatner discussing the virtues of 'free comic book day' - and whatever his hair replacement cost was worth it - he now has it cut short in a military crew - and it looks awesome. I think I just blew several blood vessels in my brain.

- It still pisses me off that the rules are different for Chris Pronger in the playoffs. However with Anaheim playing Detroit I'm willing to overlook any ultraviolence he dishes out. Here's hoping he cuts out the ankle stomps.

- One reason for me picking the Canes over Bruins - the Canes have Tuomo Ruutu - the Bruins don't. I will miss Lucic once they are elimenated though. He rules.


Turns out both teams I picked to win their series tonight blew it, Anaheim lost 3-2 to Detroit, and Boston whipped the Canes 4-1. Mea Culpa.

- Simeon Varlamov will NOT be a prospect - he's played 12 career NHL games over 2 seasons, so he's fair game in our entry draft. I know I have him ranked.

- I'll believe the Lucic=Neely formula when Lucic scores more than 40 goals in a season. Till then, he's still more on the Brad May track than the Cam Neely track. He's a beauty though.

- I hate baseball. Please. Make. It. Stop. Its wrecking my nightly highlight packages.

- One interesting tactic the Canadiens brass will no doubt consider is offers to one or both of the restricted free agents Phil Kessel and David Krecji - the Bruins will not be able to match both, and hurting your opponent while helping yourself is always a good tactic. Kessel a Hab? It could happen.

- The rumour mill on Lecavalier being dealt at the Entry Draft won't go away. If there is a prize to trade for this off-season it might be him - that said, he has control over his destiny and may be able to name his destination. Personally, I think the Buds may be the best place for him to land.

- Keep an eye on the J-Bo sweepstakes too. Once the playoffs end he's the biggest prize in the unrestricted free-agent market, but Florida may still trade his rights for exclusive negotiation before they expire. At least they would get something for him.

- Stamkos is tearing it up at the World Championship for Team Canada - he's going to be a good one - and his development into a first rate offensive threat could be the final push out the door for Lecavalier.

- One of the players taken from 2003 I didn't mention is Shea Weber - he went in the 2nd round!

- Lots of good mock drafts coming out. Here - Here - Here and here;