As we move further and further into the NHL playoffs, we begin to look ahead to what the off-season will bring. It’s already started with all the Roberto Luongo buzz because Leaf fans want to be included in discussions on TSN, and it will likely continue as we roll on. However, the NHL playoffs are kind of weird and are proving that trade buzz and signing buzz can have a generally straightforward narrative but it can also be broken down into this conversation:
“Man, Mike Smith is just carrying the Coyotes”
“Mike Smith who wasn’t good enough to play for Tampa Bay Mike Smith?”
“Yeah, haven’t you heard? He’s amazing now.”
Of course, unpredictability and underdogs coming out of nowhere to make a difference is pretty commonplace in sports. It’s what makes sports great and it’s what gives Cuba Gooding Jr. a job every five years or so. But this year’s playoffs sees a whole whack of players sporting different jerseys from last year and have pretty full chequing accounts as well. Here are a few of them:
Brad Richards: The obvious big fish signing. The big man signed a big nine-year, $60 million contract to take the big pressure of playing in New York. And he was…okay. Nothing spectacular but he’s a guy who goes out and can get you a goal while breaking a player’s nose if he has to. He’s been pretty good in the playoffs too, leading the Rangers in scoring with 5 points (5 points leads the Rangers in scoring? Claude Giroux got more than that in one game. Man, that was a good series.). A good signing if not a bit overpriced.
Mike Richards: Brad’s brother from another mother, the perpetual party goer made his way out west after an off-season trade and he was…okay. He’s been pretty good in the playoffs too, placing fourth on the Kings with 3 points with a healthy 52% face-off win rate. Another solid acquisition if not a bit over-hyped.
Ilya Bryzgalov: The weirdest player in the league signed a very sane nine year, $51 million contract in the off-season and he’s been…I don’t really know what he’s been. At times he’s been fantastic, at times he’s been Andrew Raycroft. In the playoffs he’s basically been less bad than whoever he’s facing so…a good signing if not a bit confusing, I guess? Whatever. Bears.
Mike Smith: Apparently the greatest free agent signing in history.
What does this all mean? Well…not a lot, really. It means that sports are unpredictable, like I said, and it means that the NHL playoffs are even more uncertain. It does give me pause when looking at a giant contract like Luongo’s though. Randomness happens, especially in hockey. Who’s to say that a team wouldn’t be better off signing Michael Leighton for a fraction of the price (okay, bad example. Michael Leighton is not a very good hockey player). Point is, there’s uncertainty in every deal and before a fan base starts rolling out the hype and expectations of a mammoth contract, they should slow down and breathe and survey the landscape before pushing for something they might regret.
(Despite this, I still hope the Leafs get Luongo. I am nothing if not a hypocrite.)
Links To The Past
- Another team bites the dust, another eulogy is written for our entertainment. (Puck Daddy)
- The Phoenix Coyotes won again in overtime. Read that sentence again and then tell me sports aren’t insane. (The Arizona Republic)
- This Flyers/Devils series is going to be pretty good, methinks. At least one person on the internet agrees with me. (Philly.com)
- Just another friendly reminder that hockey players are really tough and totally crazy. This week’s example – Patrice Bergeron (ESPN)
- Once again, the Rangers and the Capitals are meeting in the playoffs. We need a swanky term for this rivalry. Where’s Pierre McGuire? I take that back. Go away, Pierre. (NHL.com)
- Let’s see if Dustin Penner can continue not being terrible. *insert flapjack joke here* (LA Times)
- Joel Ward isn’t going to let a bunch of idiot fucknuggets spoil his good time. (The Hockey News)
- CBC has chosen the right series to cover in terms of ratings. Good thing too, Arctic Air isn’t going to fund itself. (The Globe and Mail)
- And just in case you missed it, here’s Ray Whitney’s winner from last night. Guy is 39 years old and put up 77 points this year. He should get way more attention than he does.