“Thoughts on 30 Thoughts” is a feature that looks at Elliotte Friedman’s terrific weekly post “30 Thoughts.” Justin Bourne selects his 10 favourite tidbits, and elaborates.

Last editionTime to free up NHL free agency

Friedman’s column, July 19th: Zach Parise ‘ran the show’

Opening: Friedman’s opening today was largely about the process of bringing Parise and Suter to the Wild, and how it was the ex-Devils captain that really made it happen.

Money was immediately made relatively unimportant in the discussions due to the ridiculous early offers, so Parise really had the time to make the right life choice. Check out the link above for the rest of that story.

This was Friedman’s last 30 Thoughts column of the 2011-2012 NHL season, so in turn, this is the last 10 Thoughts. The bonus here though, is that Friedman had a whole bunch of goodies today, extending his post to 44 Thoughts – in turn, here are my comments on the 15 most interesting tidbits.


5. (re: the owner’s new CBA proposal to the NHLPA) Also, while the rookie contracts were to be extended to five years, they weren’t necessarily guaranteed. They were set up as two guaranteed seasons, with three more one-year club options. So, if you’re a star, you’re locked up long-time. If you’re a bust, you’re done quick. In theory, this makes some sense, but, as part of the overall package there’s no sale.

The five year entry-level contract was the first thing to jump out at me when I saw the owner’s proposal (and that was before I knew they could tell guys to hit the bricks after two if they felt like it). Won’t happen, can’t happen.

That means that players out of college (I was 24) can’t earn their worth until they’re pushing 30. That means Stamkos would have one more season of earning like, $850K after winning two Rocket Richards. I know it’s just a negotiating jump-off point, but the NHLPA can’t allow that to happen for the simple, playground-level logic of “That’s not fair.”

9. Good line about the Wild: “They probably want rookie contracts to last forever,” one GM laughed.

That’ll happen when you have scads of money locked up in a few players and a sackload of prospects!

11. Dallas quietly did a decent job, too. Getting Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr did not go unnoticed.

Friedman’s point was that when smaller market teams get big name players to choose them, it’s like throwing chum in the shark-infested waters, because other players take notice and say “hey, what did those guys see there that I’m missing?”

I would disagree that Dallas pulled that off though – you had two guys very much at the tail-ends of their careers who were simply given more than other places were offering – money in Jagr’s case, term in Whitney’s. If I were another player around the League, that’s where my investigation starts and ends.

12. The Stars were willing to give Whitney a second year, which separated them from the pack. Couldn’t reach him to ask about it, but people who know Whitney say he has this hilarious theory that it’s easier for small guys to play into their 40s. Apparently, he’s quite the convincing salesman.

If you’re a smaller player who’s good at avoiding contact (like Whitney), it makes sense (Nugent-Hopkins is good at that too). It kinda reminds me of doing fitness testing with with a guy on your team who’s 5’5″ and takes training seriously (I’m thinking of Dallas Steward from UAA) – those guys can do like, 80 dips and 100 pull-ups with their compact little arms. Maybe having less body to drag around the ice for a lot of years will help in some way. It also helps that he was speedy in his prime – when a slow player (generally bigger guys) loses that step, sayonara.

14. Speaking of jersey sales, called a Canuck store (don’t ask) and was told there is big demand for Garrison’s in Vancouver. He hasn’t been given a number yet. The Canucks don’t like going too high, which makes me wonder if it’s not going to be “52.” When Sidney Crosby is available in 2025, it’s “8″ or “7″ for you, buddy.

Vancouver takes issue with high numbers? I never noticed that. Here’s why that makes sense to me:



In conclusion, for zero reasons. I get it with kids (the jersey’s come pre-numbered, for flip’s sake), but in the NHL it just seems like another case of minimizing personality. And to hell with those flashy namebars, too!

15. 125,000 YouTube hits for this superb Ducks video announcing Teemu Selanne’s return. They filmed it in May, with the understanding that if Selanne retired, they’d “burn” the footage. It’s great stuff.

I like to think we had some small part in that.

I wonder if getting him to physically say the words “Forget this, I go back to hockey” was like a subliminal brainwash thing that got Teemu to think “Y’know, that felt pretty good to say. I’m in.” …Yeah probably not.

17. Red Wings players will tell you Babcock’s belief is that “when we’re defending, you do it my way. When we have the puck, you can create.” (He laughed when asked about that.) Krueger’s plan for Edmonton will be along those lines. “The only way we’re going to learn to win is by having a solid team structure,” Krueger said. “We had a lot of ‘immature games’ last season…they were fun to play and watch, but we lost. We need to learn to manage the game better — play to the score, the clock, the situation.”

I like the term “immature games.” When you’re young and still trying to figure out your talent ceiling, you tend to try things, because, hey, who knows how good I can really get? “Trying things” is exactly what coaches need to minimize in game situations. As long as a bench boss is understanding that guys are allowed to “try things” (and by that I mean beat guys one-on-one, backhand toe drag, pull it through their feet etc.) in practice, you should be okay. Not a whole lot of guys are. “Practice like you play,” blah blah blah.

18. Krueger added the critical thing will be “finding a team defensive structure that works for the whole game, but allows players to use their intuition offensively.”  He explained that when it comes to that part of the game, he believes more in “principles” than a set system. An example would be always having a net presence on the power play. As long as those principles are followed, the Halls, Hemskys and Nugent-Hopkinses of the world can create.

Another common “principle” is always have the third forward high in the o-zone. I’m on board with where Krueger is going with this. The big fear is that you take a talented team, and Bruce Boudreau/Dale Hunter the flare out of it, and you end up with a lot of mopey dogs on leashes who want to go chase that dog because HOLY SHIT IT HAS A TENNIS BALL. Those dogs are built to run.

23. Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey got a lot of attention for helping recruit Justin Schultz to Oilertown, but do not underestimate the role Hall played. Word is his sales pitch was extremely impressive, because he was unafraid to discuss the tough things the team has gone through — and how he believes those will be fixed.

Taylor Hall is two years younger than Justin Schultz, so it seems like an odd situation, but still good that he was able to help get the job done. If you’re Hall making that sales pitch, I’m guessing you see the personal value in having a d-man move the puck up into your hands, and your team filling another hole. Losing sucks, and it feels like the Oilers are pretty serious about climbing the ladder. I’d say whatever was asked of me to get Schultz to commit.

24. Sam Gagner’s arbitration is tentatively scheduled for Friday. This one’s going to be interesting if it gets that far. The Oilers are probably thinking David Perron ($3.8 million AAV) while agent Jeff Jackson is likely looking at Brandon Dubinsky ($4.2M). Saw-off in the middle? 

From Derek Marr, our arbitration guy, on why this is off-base:

Both Perron and Dubinsky are signed to longer deals, and he [Friedman] uses their AAV’s instead of salary.

(For more on this, here’s “Arbitration explained” on our site by Marr.)

Still, you get the point of how teams plan and prepare for arbitration – name someone remotely similar to your guy but better, claim you’re holding the same product. Teams do the opposite.

27. Have to believe that, yes, Toronto’s inquired about Jonathan Bernier. Brian Burke isn’t doing his job if he doesn’t. But there are doubts Burke is incredibly serious about him. Was he serious about Martin Brodeur? Yes. Is he more serious than he lets on about Luongo? Yes. Bernier doesn’t really fit Toronto’s stated criteria of a veteran in goal.

I really can’t believe he was serious about Martin Brodeur. Am I crazy, or am I the only person who thinks he’s looking at a .908 save percentage or something this year, a number you can get from basically any current NHL goaltender?

Luongo’s salary is down to the 9th highest for goalies in the League. He’s consistent, proven, and should have another good 5-8 years left in him. I don’t hate the move for Toronto, but if I’m them, I do hate having to give something up. The Leafs just aren’t quite deep enough to part with pieces to get incrementally better in net.

29. Been a lot written about a one-year, huge-money offer sheet (with Shea Weber). Think a couple of good teams have at least thought about it. Look, if you really believe getting Weber is going to mean giving up four 27th picks, he’s worth it. Now, I know the counter: what if he leaves you after just one year? This is the dicey part: you almost need a nudge-nudge, wink-wink “understanding” that he’s going to stay. And, if Gary Bettman finds out, he’s going to CRUSH the team that does it. Google “David Stern Joe Smith Timberwolves.”

Trying to pull off the wink-wink nudge-nudge part would be fun. I think it’s different than that though, a bit. I think if you’re a premier destination – say a Pittsburgh, or Detroit, or Chicago, or Boston you don’t necessarily need that confirmation. You believe people want to play in your city on a contending club, and believing you could convince him, you go for it. If you’re, say, Columbus, you miiiiight wanna get some behind the scenes confirmation that he’d re-up.

32. Think the Red Wings are very confident that they can go in different directions because Babcock can coach multiple styles and systems. He didn’t exactly preach puck possession in Anaheim, but showed up in Detroit, saw who was on his roster and realized, “We can do that here.” If the roster dictates another adjustment, he can deliver.

Now THAT’S coaching. By now you probably know that I’m an unabashed Mike Babcock fan, and that ability to change is why. Some coaches try to jam square pegs in round holes, and force players to play a system that doesn’t optimize their skills. There’s a reason Detroit’s almost always a home ice team.

33. Shane Doan: ESPN’s Craig Custance quoted a GM as being “90-per-cent sure” Doan will turn to the Coyotes. That’s probably true, but I really wonder how much he’s being tempted. Only a fool underestimates the Coyotes on-ice, a brilliantly run and coached organization full of players who compete beyond belief. But, Doan’s getting great offers to play with the Sedins or Pavel Datsyuk or Sidney Crosby or Claude Giroux or Joe Thornton. He’ll be 36 in October. How hard is he thinking about trying to win a Cup on a high-revenue team for the first time in his career?

RUN. Sorry Phoenix fans, but Friedman is right – If you’re Doan and you hear that all those teams want you, and they can put you beside any of the names mentioned above, you’re out, yesWho knows how many extra points and wins come from plays you always make (a hard hit creating a turnover on the forecheck) when you get to skate with better players?

36. The only reason I’d trade Yandle is, at the All-Star Game, he knew all the words to Drake’s songs.

Hey now. On “Fireworks,” proud Canadian Drake rapped “I’m flying back home for the Heritage Classic
Searching for that feeling, tell me, where is the magic?

37. Alex Semin: you try to be careful with Semin, because, it reaches a point where it’s like piling on. But, here’s the issue: he always seems unhappy. Last year’s playoffs weren’t easy on either him or Alexander Ovechkin. Ovechkin, though, decided to put on the best possible face because the team eliminated the defending champs and pushed the Rangers to seven games. Semin didn’t do that. It’s a long season and it’s hard on teams when guys are like that. He’s got incredible talent, and if he ever showed a little more warmth (for lack of a better term), opinions might change.

I agree with Elliotte, but also liked what Ellen Etchingham tweeted about that earlier today: