Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Shitting On Someone Else's Lawn

I figure since we basically stole the title for this blog from some other blog of a similar name, I might as well steal the basis for their blog as well. Only I like hockey better than baseball. I also recently read an article by Damien Cox of the Toronto Star that made me confused. A little angry. Kind of hungry. Mostly confused. Anyways, you may have seen this done before only funnier than how I'm about to do it.

The Pittsburgh Penguins didn't win the Stanley Cup last spring.

Thanks, dick.

But they sure paid for the visit to the final.

Nothing in life is free.

In massive new contracts for Evgeni Malkin (five years, $43.5 million), goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (seven years, $35 million) and defenceman Brooks Orpik (six years, $22.5 million), the Pens no longer boast a relatively affordable roster of young, improving players.

Oh, you were talking contracts, not hotel rooms. How long is this young, improving talent supposed to play for the league minimum by the way? Over the course of their entry level contract, you say? Well those expired and the Penguins made sure they didn't go anywhere. Like Toronto.

They still have the young players and they may well all still be improving.

That's sort of the idea. They will still have these young players for many years.

But affordable? Well, just. The formerly bankrupt Penguins, who host the Maple Leafs in exhibition play tomorrow night, are pushing right up against the NHL's $56 million salary cap.

Yes. The Penguins are pushing up against the salary cap. That's the purpose of a salary cap. Good teams spend up to but not over the cap. But why bring up the fact that the Penguins were bankrupt? They have money now. They are spending it on very good hockey players. They also won the Eastern Conference last year. You may know it as the conference where the Maple Leafs finished 12th.

There's no turning back now.

Darn tootin'.

GM Ray Shero has committed to a group of players that includes Malkin, Fleury, Orpik, captain Sidney Crosby and defenceman Ryan Whitney, all of whom are 27 or younger and are now locked up through the 2012-13 season. By next summer, they'll be joined by forward Jordan Staal, who is slated to become a restricted free agent in June.

Exactly. This is why the Penguins will probably be good for a while.

The cost of paying so much to so few, as Tampa Bay found out with its now disbanded Big Three, will be instability and yearly turnover with the other 60 per cent of the roster.

Correct, the Penguins will have "yearly turnover" for role players, grinders and general 3rd and 4th line talent. However, all their good young players, the core of the team, aren't going anywhere until at least 2013. You just said so yourself.

As for "paying so much for so few", each one of those aforementioned players has signed for less than market value. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will make on average $8.7 million each year. Two years from now, when presumably long term deals will begin to hurt a team financially, Vincent Lecavalier will make $10 million. He will continue to make that much each year until 2016. Ryan Whitney stands to make about $4.5 million a year until 2013. Ron Hainsey makes more than that. Brooks Orpik took a 6 year deal with Pittsburgh that will pay him $3.75 million a year. Nearly the exact same deal given to Mike Commodore and Brad Stuart.

This summer, the Pens lost unrestricted forwards Gary Roberts, Ryan Malone, Jarkko Ruutu, Marian Hossa, Georges Laraque and Adam Hall, as well as goalie Ty Conklin.

Let's break this down player by player with their 2007-08 regular season and postseason stats with the Penguins:

Marian Hossa - (3G, 7A, 10P - 12G, 14A, 26P) - Hossa was a rental. Pittsburgh hoped he wouldn't be, but it is clear now Marian Hossa was a rental player. He also only played in 12 regular season games for the Penguins. Was he instrumental in the Penguins going 12-2 through the Eastern Conference playoffs? Absolutely. But, the Penguins were 2nd in the East without him. Without Marian Hossa the Penguins still win the East, only they go 6 or 7 games with both the Rangers and Flyers. Remember, he only played in 12 fucking games with the Penguins before the playoff run. His offensive production doesn't need to really be replaced.

Gary Roberts - (3G 12A 15P - 2G 2A 4P) - He's old. He was a healthy scratch throughout the playoffs. Big deal.

Ryan Malone - (27G 24A 51P - 6G 10A 16P) - Malone was a great heart guy for the Pens this past year. He is also set to make $4.5 million a year until 2015. He has never scored more than 27 goals in one season. The Penguins let the overpaid guy leave so they could keep the young talent. If anything you should be writing about how the Tampa Bay Lightning, a club who you have pointed out already is terrible with contracts, has committed to paying a guy $4.5 million a year for the next 7 seasons yet the best year of his career got him 51 points.

Jarkko Ruutu - (6G 10A 16P - 2G 1A 3P) - Why is Ruutu leaving a bad thing? He was also replaced by a younger, cheaper, more talented player in Matt Cooke.

Georges Laraque - (4G 9A 13P - 1G 2A 3P) - Georges Laraque might be the best fighter in the league. There was absolutely no room for him on this team. Eric Godard is a more than suitable replacement.

Adam Hall - (2G 4A 6P - 3G 1A 4P) - If the departure of Adam Hall affects the Penguins season one iota, I will never watch hockey again.

Ty Conklin - It must be said, the Pittsburgh Penguins were where they were last season largely because of this man. Marc-Andre Fleury was injured and Conklin stepped up beyond anyone's wildest expectations. As did Dany Sabourin, the BACKUP goalie the Penguins chose to keep rather than pay Conklin and carry three goaltenders. Plus, the only reason Conklin left was so that he could play in all three outdoor NHL games. Oh yeah, he also did this.

In their place, the club brought in forwards Miro Satan, Ruslan Fedotenko and Eric Godard and will give some farmhands a chance.

In addition to Satan, Fedotenko and Godard, the Penguins also brought in Cooke and Janne Pesonen. A low risk, very high reward player for Shero. Gratned, he may spend most of his time in Wilkes-Barre Scranton. Not accounting for the Hossa rental, Ray Shero chose to let guys who had excelled and were going to be overpaid on the open market walk and bring in cheap talent to replace them. He did something similar with Sergei Gonchar and Petr Sykora. That's worked so far.

The Penguins can expect similar roster churn next summer, with nine more unrestricted free agents.

Those nine UFAs? Satan, Sykora, Fedotenko, Kris Beech, Jeff Taffe, Darryl Sydor, Hal Gill, Rob Scuderi and Sabourin. This "roster churn", or as I prefer to call it, "letting role players become overpaid role players in places like Tampa", will allow for the Penguins to keep their stars in town until 2013. We've been over this, Damien.

Still, many have anointed the Pens as the No.1 team in the Eastern Conference.

Have you seen the East?

But Crosby and Co. do have some speed bumps ahead.

Yes. You drive over speed bumps.

For starters, their training camp has been shortened to 10 days and just four exhibition matches, after which the club will jet to Europe to open the NHL regular season with games against Ottawa in Stockholm on Oct. 4-5.

Sergei Gonchar injured his shoulder in the Penguins first exhibition game. I am totally fine with less of those.

A similar jaunt didn't help Anaheim and Los Angeles last season.

Ok, Anaheim I can kind of understand. However, they still finished with 102 points in the West so going to Europe hardly derailed their season. But Los Angeles? Going to Europe didn't do anything to their season. Having that roster fucked that up.

Satan and Fedotenko are slated to replace the production of Hossa and Malone, but each scored only 16 goals with the Islanders last season.

First off, no one is expected to replace Hossa. Unless the Penguins trade for Marian Gaborik at the deadline. Secondly, 16 goals in the Islanders offense from last year is equal to at least 25 anywhere else in the NHL. Alexander Ovechkin would be held to 30 goals on Long Island. Third, four players from the Maple Leafs, the team that you cover, scored more than 16 goals last year.

The hope is that each will experience a rebirth in Pittsburgh simlar to that enjoyed by Petr Sykora (28 goals) a year ago.

Yes. And with Satan scoring over 600 career goals I wouldn't exactly say it's a pipe dream considering he'll be playing every day with Sidney Crosby as opposed to Bill Guerin. Mr. Cox also neglects to mention the fact that Ruslan Fedotenko is a 3rd line player.

Staal could be shifted to left wing alongside Malkin.

My dick just went hard.

The tricky challenge in the 20-year-old's contract year is to balance his aspirations for more opportunity – and more lucrative contract possibilities – with the team's ability to win.

"We've talked to Jordan," said Shero. "He's got to earn the time."

So let me get this straight, Damien. You first say that the Penguins have to balance Jordan Staal's on ice play with him hoping to get paid. You then follow that with a quote from the GM of the Penguins that basically says Jordan Staal won't play if he's not up to par, regardless of his contract situation. Ok...

While the upside for the Pens is attractive, nothing's for sure.

No fucking shit.

Both Malkin and Whitney struggled terribly against the Wings in the Stanley Cup final, the top two lines are being rebuilt and Fleury has played more than 60 games once.

Clearly Damien Cox's definition of rebuilt differs greatly from mine. When I think "rebuilt" I don't necessarily think of Crosby, Malkin, Fleury, et al, coming back with another year of experience. Experience that includes a run to the Stanley Cup Finals. The only experience Jiri Tlusty has is having nude pictures come back to bite him in his cute little ass. As for Malkin's and Whitney's struggles? They were both hurt. Ryan Whitney could miss half of this upcoming season because of that injury. Also, the majority of the NHL struggled terribly against the Red Wings last year.

Conklin, don't forget, carried the Pens through a portion of last season, winning 10 of 11 in one stretch.

I didn't forget. I will forever be indebted to Ty Conklin for that. I also didn't forget this.

Pittsburgh has played its hand, committing to a crew of young players who now have a Cup final appearance on their resum├ęs.

Again, I fail to see why this is a bad thing.

They'll have to propel this team over the top, for the salary cap world means there won't be enough money to get them help.

See: Ducks, Anaheim and Flyers, Philadelphia. Not Penguins, Pittsburgh.

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