1. Please tell me this actually happened
Apparently, and this comes directly from Facebook via a newspaper and columnist you’ve never heard of in your life, but a Winnipeg Jets fan ran into Cory Sarich over the summer and asked him when he would request a trade back to his native province. Unfortunately, Sarich seems not to have responded, "Right away!" and ripped off his shirt revealing a Winnipeg Jets logo tattooed onto his chest.
"And while Sarich would be a welcomed addition to almost any team, the Jets already have enough manpower and depth on defense any way," Marshall Stevenson wrote.
No, listen though, you need Sarich. Can never have too many defensemen. He’s signed for two years! His cap hit is pretty low! What more could you possibly want out of a deal like that? Man, what a pickup that would be for Winnipeg. He already knows Olli Jokinen. What will you give Jay Feaster for him? Nothing? Perfect. He’ll be at the airport in the morning.
2. People going overseas
I wrote about part of this issue for Monday morning on Puck Daddy and as often happens with this kind of thing, soon after speculating on what guys might or might not do, many made decisions that immediately rendered my thoughts both obsolete and prescient.
Evgeni Malkin, for example, has potentially signed a lockout-dependent contract with the KHL side Metallurg Magnitogorsk, which you’ll recall is the team he literally had to escape from in the middle of the night when he came to North America to play in the NHL. Rumors of other players have been circulating as well, including Scott Hartnell and his possible interest in playing for the Finnish hockey Kalpa, to the point where the team’s GM publically acknowledged that he asked for a deal with the team.I find this all interesting. Dennis Seidenberg has kicked around the idea of playing with his brother in the German league.
Not that these players, or any others in the NHL, would attempt to ply their trades in foreign countries once they’re prevented from doing so here, but more that all this is coming now, in the day or two before the NHL was allegedly going to give the Players’ Association its second proposal or counter-counter-proposal or whatever else you want to call it.
I suppose I don’t get the psychology of it. The owners cannot have possibly considered the league to be safe from players’ jumping overseas for a few months, and even if they do, what’s the big deal? As we saw with Alex Radulov, guys can come back. Perhaps not happily, at least in his case, but there’s nothing that prevents them from being able to do so.
The only concern I can imagine they’d have, and it’s another thing I touched on for PD, is that maybe there’s a concern Scott Hartnell gets his knee whacked all to hell in his first Finnish game. This could be particularly important given that he’s now locked up for too much money and too many years by Philadelphia, the owner of which seems to be very much in the driver’s seat when it comes to these CBA negotiations.
The problem with this smattering of possible overseas signees, even augmented by rumors of more (including Alex Ovechkin) is that it’s not going to be enough to move the needle. Haven’t heard a word about Sid Crosby’s plans, for example, or Zach Parise’s or Jonathan Quick’s or Jonathan Toews’ or the Sedins’ or anyone else who is considered a top-flight — more importantly: marketable — player in this league. Just Hartnell and Malkin and maybe Ovechkin and Nail Yakupov. Plus, the league knows it’ll have all its good young players putting in time in the AHL anyway, so that’s another possible concern to cross off your list.
Until players start making these deals en masse, no one is really going to care. And even then, will they really?
3. Here’s something else about playing overseas
Y’know what, I’ll say this on the subject too: Players should not only do this as a means of applying pressure to ownership in whatever weird way they think will work, but to stay on top of their games.
I don’t know how many of you were around before and after the last lockout (probably most) but let’s recall the cautionary tale of Jarome Iginla. He won the Rocket Richard in the year before the lockout — with a laughable 41 goals, tied with Rick Nash and Ilya Kovalchuk — and scored 27 at even strength. Then he didn’t play during the lockout, and, in a league with far more scoring, he went out and scored 35 when everyone came back. Only 17 of those were at even strength. Now granted, there were about a billion more power plays in the post-lockout season than the one before it, but anecdotal evidence (the dreaded Eyeball Test) suggested he simply didn’t have It, whatever It was.
I can’t imagine what sitting out a lockout of more than a month or two would do to Iginla’s game at this point, but the answer certainly isn’t "help."
The same perhaps could be true of other players as well, but it’s clear that those players who actually went and played either in the AHL or overseas during the 2004-05 lockout had a much better go of things when they returned to the NHL a year later, so that’s another reason to pursue such a deal, beyond the silliness of ineffectively leaning on ownership.
4. Calgary’s place in the division
So people are starting to come out with their predictions for the upcoming season and most of the ones I’ve seen have Calgary exactly where you’d expect: In the 10-12 spot, behind Minnesota and, obviously, Vancouver, but ahead of Edmonton and Colorado.
Yeah, that seems about right, but you gotta give a little flexibility here for the fact that either of the teams below them will perform better than we expect, or that the Wild won’t be as good as the hype (Exhibit A: That defense). Most importantly, I’ve read some stuff, like Kent’s season preview, about how things don’t exactly look super-rosy for the Flames even when viewed in a vacuum, such as Iginla’s continuing decline and the very real possibility that Miikka Kiprusoff comes back to earth hard.
Personally, I think finishing third in the division should be the team’s goal this year, something to strive for. And I don’t think it’ll be handed to them on a silver platter. This is a third-place-and-not-in-the-postseason spot they’ll have to fight for. That’s not pleasant, but it’s not unrealistic either.