Thursday, August 04, 2005

NHL FREE AGENCY CONTINUES

This free agency free-for-all in the NHL may be fun for the dedicated fans to watch but I sure hope we don't see this every year, and we probably won't anyway. But it is fun to see. It says a lot for the NHL when the off-season is more interesting than the season. Especially last season.

Today Scott Niedermayer, who was yet another of these players supposed to be considering going to the Toronto Maple Leafs (so the local media conned the fans into thinking) has made up his mind and gone to the Mighty Ducks. He'll play alongside brother Rob.

Meanwhile the Philadelphia Flyers are looking for a place to send Jeremy Roenick to, now that they stole Peter Forsberg from the Avalanche. That signing put them over the salary cap, so they have to get rid of someone. All in all the Flyers have loaded up with free agent veterans. They clearly are trying to get themselves in a position to win the Cup and I think they have. It wouldn't take much for the Flyers to get over the hump after coming so close last time. The risk with taking on veterans is that they may get injured, and some people think these guys they got are big and slow. But who knows.

And fans in Toronto are furious with the Maple Leafs. Every year at free-agent time they see all these deals being done and how the Leafs are supposedly out-witted by the other teams all the time, and they can't understand it. They can't understand why all these players, who keep saying they love Toronto, would go somewhere else. Well, I think it's all about money. It was before and it still is, except now there's a salary cap and the Leafs are too close to the ceiling to be able to move much or sign players. And frankly I don't see what getting a bunch of old free-agents will do for the Leafs anyway. Leaf fans think it's a disaster to miss out on these old dudes, but really the Leafs need to get younger, not older. And I like their farm system prospects a lot, but they're not ready yet. The Leafs have to ice a much younger team, period.

The Flyers, on the other hand, clearly are gambling to win the Cup. They figure it is now or never, and they're gambling on the vets with Cup rings. I think what they need is for the Tampa Bay Lightning to lose some players to free agency, because otherwise the Lightning are winning the Cup again. And emulating the New York Rangers is never the way to go. That's what they're comparing this to. The Flyers are acting like the New York Rangers. But with a salary cap. Boy, were they ready and organized for this free agency. Same with the Edmonton Oilers, who grabbed Michael Peca the other day, too, in addition to Chris Pronger.

But still, we're getting all this whining in the media about the Leafs doing nothing. Everyone in town is complaining. Well, maybe it all will work out in the end and they'll get Eric Lindros. Then the Leafs fans will celebrate their impending Stanley Cup victory. And then Lindros will get a concussion again and have to retire. Eric Lindros is not the player he used to be, and a big help he was to the crummy Rangers.

Another issue is what becomes of Tie Domi. Already the Leafs have given up veterans Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk to Florida. Domi is believed to be next to go.

By the way Sidney Crosby is on Leno tonight, over on NBC and, uh, A-Channel. I find it really hard to call that New VR station A-Channel. Aren't you sick of the local TV stations changing their names all the time? Yecch.

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