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Worst Run NHL Franchises

by Chewbacca 24. July 2009 14:03

It feels good to talk about how well run the Redwings are as an organization.  You'll find no shortage of praise for Ken Holland or Brian Burke and the like.  It's much more fun to rip apart the organizations that just don't seem to get it.  So in the spirit of being cruel (summer is tough on a hockey fanatic), here are the Top 5 Worst run NHL franchises.

 

#5 - NY Rangers

Since winning the Cup in 1994 and ending the 50 year drought, the Rangers seem intent on making a run at that record.  Sather almost single-handedly forced the cap issue by offering ludicrous salaries to over the hill veterans.  Since the lockout, he hasn't done much better, offering bloated contracts to Holik, Gomez, Redden, and now Gaborik.  Any reputation he had for his work in Edmonton has been entirely reversed.  There are no signs on the horizon that things are getting better here.  If it weren't for Lundqvist in net, the Rangers wouldn't even be a playoff contender.  Change is needed in New York.

 

#4 - LA Kings

LA has been preaching the youth movement for over a decade now.  Some of the young guys back then have already retired, and they have yet to see a squad worth the price of entry.  Lombardi has been true to his plan over the past few years for the most part, only straying occasionally to sign a veteran or two.  Still, the Kings don't seem much closer to being relevant than they were in 2004.  How long do Kings fans have to wait for the dream to be realized.  How long can Lombardi hold off the wolves with the promise of better things to come?  Don't expect a sudden rise to power this year.

 


 

#3 - Montreal Canadiens

How can a team fall so far, so fast?  Or was it that 2007-08 was just a fluke?  The Canadiens haven't made a serious run at the Cup since they won it as major underdogs in 1993.  For an organization that once prided itself as the rightful owners of the Stanley Cup, they sure haven't shown it to anyone under the age of 50.  Bob Gainey had one really bad year in 2008-09, from his handling of the coaching situation, to barely making the playoffs only to be totally embarrassed, to allowing his team to be completely dismantled and put back together with whatever leftovers he could overpay for on July 1st.  Was this part of a plan?  If so, who is he working for?  Boston?

 

#2 - NY Islanders

It was a tough call not making the Islanders #1.  Good thing for Mr. Wang and company that the Lightning are around.  It's tough to recall anything this franchise has done right in the past 20 years (and drafting Tavares doesn't count - that was a no brainer that only came about because they were so inept this year).  You can start with Yashin, then move on to the DiPietro contract, throw in the coaching / GM fiasco of last summer, and sprinkle in a prospect firesale that netted two months of Ryan Smyth's services.  All told, John Tavares had better be that good.

 

#1 - Tampa Bay Lightning

The future was looking bright for the Tampa Bay Lightning in the summer of 2004.  The last five years have been a total disaster.  It started with mismanagement of contracts in the off season, resulting in the loss of Khabibulin.  Since then, no goalie to wear the Bolts logo has been worthy of the crease.  Things took a turn for the bizarre last summer with the new management team, who went on a teenage girl shopping spree, overpaying for every available player on the market.  Some of the defensive signings this summer may start to right the ship, but as for now, the Lightning hold the title as the undisputed worst run franchise in the NHL.

 

Honorable Mention:

 

Minnesota Wild for giving fans an expansion team for almost a decade now.

Atlanta Thrashers for failing to win a single playoff game in their existence

Toronto Maple Leafs for many reasons.  Burke seems to be righting the ship, which kept them off the list.

 

Free Agent Carnival

by Chewbacca 2. July 2009 06:21

That was certainly the most memorable 1st day of free agency ever in terms of stories.  Unbelievable all the deals that went down, and the one that didn't.  Here's a breakdown of the best, worst and indifferent:

 

Most surprising deal:

  • Hossa to Chicago - not just the destination, but the term.  If this deal had been done a month ago, there might have been a different team in the finals.  Chicago should be the Western Conference favorites going into next season, largely due to this signing.  Too bad they couldn't reunite him with Havlat.

 

Deal that filled the biggest need:

  • Ohlund to Tampa - The Lightning have had one failure after another, but this signing made wonderful sense.  They get a solid 2-way defenseman, and a perfect mentor for Hedman.  The term may be a little long, but they won't regret this transaction

 

Most laughable signing:

  • Gaborik to NYR - As with every year since Sather arrived in NY, the Rangers get the prize for the head-scratcher.  Yes, they need every bit of scoring that the talented Gaborik can bring, but 7.5 million for 5 years?  So easy to forget Redden, Gomez, Holik, Lindros, etc…  They'll be begging some team to take him off their hands in two years after Gaborik averages 30 games a season.

 


Who cares?

  • Rupp to Penguins - 90% of hockey fans don't even know who Rupp is.  He might contribute on the fourth line, or he might not even make the lineup next season.

 

Staying where he belongs:

  • Cole in Carolina - Cole just make sense in Raleigh.  It was great to see him sticking around at a fair salary.  Great signing for the Canes.
  • Sullivan in Nashville - Good to see this happen for both sides.  Nashville was loyal to Sullivan during 2 trying years, and Sullivan rewarded their patience with a strong comeback.

 

Is that the Best you can do?

  • Anderson to Colorado - Going on 4 seasons now that the Avalanche have settled for an average solution in goal.  Anderson may be the answer, or he may be like the others who came before and disappointed.

 

Addition by Subtraction

  • Kubina leaving Toronto - Shedding some salary and losing an overrated defenseman.  Gives Burke the flexibility to do what he wants going forward
  • Gill leaving Pittsburgh - Gill was a liability for the Pens.  He will fit in nicely on a team of misfits that is being assembled in Montreal.

 

GM that should be fired tomorrow

  • Gainey in Montreal - Are you kidding?  This is the best you can do?  Signing 3 midget forwards, offset by a slow, lugging giant defenseman, while losing your entire top line and your top defenseman in the process on a team that was already bad and getting worse?  The wrong guy was fired in March.

 

Saving face

  • Havlat in Minnesota - Wild fans should rejoice that the franchise might actually be thinking about offense for the first time.  Sure, they offset the loss of one injury-prone star scorer for another, but imagine if they hadn't signed Havlat.

 

Moron

  • Couldn't get through the day without calling Heatley a moron for obvious reasons.  The NHL should consider a rule change based on his behavior.  If you request a trade, you nullify a no-trade clause.  Moron.

 

3 Questions to Ponder - Week of June 28

by Chewbacca 1. July 2009 06:20

1. Who won the Pronger deal?

There is only one way that Philadelphia comes out of this trade without a heap of stink on their chest.  3 years from now (or even 6 months from now), we could look back on this deal as the worst trade in last 5 years.  The Flyers gave up a lot of promising young talent, in addition to some significant draft picks, to acquire an aging defenseman that they will struggle to find cap space for. 

 

On Anaheim's side, knowing Niedermeyer will be back again in the fall, and after adding Whitney at last season's deadline, they were able to let Pronger go without much set back to their defense.  Meanwhile, they've stockpiled some players and picks that could help them for years to come.  In addition, it will open the door for underrated James Wizniewski to get the playing time he deserves.

 

So, unless the Flyers manage to take down the Penguins as Eastern Conference Champs (which they could well do in 2009), this trade goes overwhelming to the Ducks.

 

2. Will Gomez be successful in Montreal?

Gomez never quite fit into the Ranger's lineup from the day he arrived.  Not that this makes him unique.  It's hard to remember a big name (other than possibly Jagr) that the Rangers have added in the past decade that helped the player's career.  Gomez is a gifted playmaker that will prosper if he gets paired up with at least one scoring winger, and is given ample playing time.  Both of these things should unfold in Montreal for Gomez next season.  Look for him to possibly put up a career season in Montreal in 2009.  He may ultimately be the lone bright spot for the Canadiens going into training camp.

 

3. Who will play the wing in Pittsburgh?

The Penguins have a history of recycling wingers by plucking up players on the tail end of a decent career, and squeezing one or two inexpensive seasons out them before retirement.  (Sandstrom, Robitaille, Sykora, Satan, etc.).  It seems unlikely that Sykora or Satan will be back, and Fedetanko is questionable.  It's possible that the Pens will just promote from within, but that's not how they historically address the position.  So who will the Pens target, now that Free Agent season has begun?  Here are a few names to ponder:

  • Alex Tanguay - Tanguay has flirted with greatness over the years, but hasn't lived up to the hype of rookie season in Colorado.  A saucer pass or two every other shift from Crosby could put Tanguay into the 30 goal territory.
  • Erik Cole - Erik's not exactly at the end of his career, but he would be a great fit in Pittsburgh.  Rumors were he was possibly going to Pittsburgh at the deadline last season.  Could Orpik and Cole co-exist?
  • Brian Gionta - Gionta really only enjoyed one great season, scoring 48 goals in 2005.  While he'll never reach that height again, he could crack 30 in a Penguin sweater
  • Alex Kovalev - Kovalev enjoyed his greatest success as a Penguin.  The Pittsburgh fans would love to see his wristshot back in the Igloo for one or two more seasons.

Falling Stars - Disappointing Performances of 2008-09

by Chewbacca 26. June 2009 11:21

Looking back again at the 2008-09 NHL season, there were a number of players who failed to deliver on fantasy hockey expectations.  We'll ignore the situations that were due largely to injuries (Zubov, Brodeur, etc.).  That's a topic for another day.  These guys tanked unexpectedly and can't blame the medics.  Here are the top 11 fantasy disappointments of 08:

 

1. Vincent Lecavalier - After averaging 46 goals and 100 points over the last 2 seasons, expectations were high for Lecavalier.  Some thought he was ready to challenge the league leaders in points.  So, after registering only 67 points and under 30 goals, Vinny qualifies as the biggest disappointment of 08.  Perhaps a trade could spark a rebound in 09.

 

2. J.S. Giguere - Giguere was on a steady climb over the past few seasons, peaking last year with a GAA of 2.12, while winning 35 contests.  He tanked big time in 08, winning only 19 games with a 3.1 GAA, and he lost his job in the process.  Hiller will be the #1 in Anaheim next season, so unless he's traded, Giguere's fantasy value has plummeted considerably.

 

3. Olli Jokinen - It was assumed that escaping from Florida will mean good news for Jokinen owners.  It didn't prove to be the case.  Jokinen dropped to a lowly 57 points, and didn't show any signs of life after being traded to Calgary.  It's not time to write him off completely, but he certainly won't be getting drafted in the first 10 rounds next season.

 

4. Brian Rolston - Rolston scored 30+ goals in his last 3 seasons in Minnesota.  So it was reasonable to think that going to play for a higher scoring NJ team would only help his cause.  To everyone's surprise, it wasn't a joyous homecoming for the former Devil.  He registered only 15 goals and 32 points in 08.

 

5. Wade Redden - After signing a big contract with the Rangers, Redden was expected to lead the power play and score some points.  He racked up a whopping 3 goals, the lowest total of his career, and recorded only 26 points, another low.

 

6. Carey Price - After a sensational rookie year, all of Canada was hailing Price as the greatest goalie in the world.  It didn't take long for the song to change when Price struggled.  He finished the season with a 2.83 GAA, a .905 save %, and a whole host of critics on his back.

 

7. Michael Nylander - The Capitals expected Nylander to continue his point-per-game pace that he averaged over the previous 3 seasons.  He fell off the map with only 33 points in 08.  Nylander has been replaced by younger forwards and will not return to his former scoring pace.

 

8. Anze Kopitar - There was a lot of hype surrounding the amazing talent in L.A.  There wasn't much living up to that hype in 08.  Kopitar took a step back by scoring under 30 goals and totaling only 66 points in his 3rd NHL season.  He's still very young and will most likely take a big jump back up in 09.

 

9. Miroslav Satan - Many people expected Satan's numbers to soar playing along side of Malkin and/or Crosby.  It was the first time in his career he had a chance to play with top notch talent.  Surprisingly, his production slipped to the point where he found himself in the minors for a month.  Don't bank on him coming back to relevance at this point in his career.

 

10. Vinny Prospal - Prospal continued his amazing up and down pattern last year by dropping back to 45 points.  If he holds to form, expect him to get back up the 70 point range next season.  Here's his totals since 2002: 55, 79, 54, 80, 55, 71, 45…

 

11. Jonathan Cheechoo - Sure, he only fell 8 points from the previous season, but it was widely believed that his performance in 2007 was a fluke and that he would get back to scoring again last year.  It never happened, and Cheechoo finished with a lousy 12 goals and 29 points.  It's hard to recall seeing another guy with this much promise fade so quickly.

3 Questions to Ponder - Week of June 21

by Chewbacca 24. June 2009 06:02

1. Does anybody really believe that Daryl and Brent didn't speak about the job until last week?

 

Two weeks ago, Brent Sutter stepped down from the Devils, citing that he just wanted to spend time at home.  Two weeks later, to the surprise of nobody, he turns up as the head coach in Calgary, working for his brother.  League rules state that a coach under contract can't talk to other GM's without first getting the permission of the other team.  According to the Sutters, Daryl didn't ask for permission until after Brent stepped down.  Now what are the chances that Brent left NJ prior to having any discussion with his own brother about possibly coaching upon his return?

 

In other words, what happened to the league's high and mighty stance on following "league rules".  If you've listened to any of Commissioner Bettman's comments regarding the situation in Phoenix, the situation is 100% about "enforcing league rules".  Yet, nobody from the NHL has even questioned the Sutters on league rules in this case.  Now, it's likely that Lou in NJ has been in on this all along, and being a classy guy (yes, there is one in New Jersey), he doesn't want to make an issue out of this.  I'm just looking for a little consistency from the NHL office from week to week on their high and mighty rules adherence.

 

2. Will San Jose sign Chris Chelios this summer?

 

Since they've given up hope of winning past April, the Sharks have started a trend of bringing back washed up, irritating old-timers.  So will the trend continue?  The Redwings finally decided it's time to take down the tent from the Chelios charity circus.  And only 5 seasons overdue.  Chelios showed in limited action during the playoffs that he just can't keep up.  Why they kept him on this long is a mystery, coming from a GM who doesn't seem to make mistakes.  I can't picture any team wasting time on Chelios next season.  Even the Sharks.  Hang 'em up Chris.  You won't be missed by me.

 

3. How many years will it take for Tampa Bay to win another playoff series?

 

The failures of Phoenix/Winnipeg and the New York Islanders come playoff time over the last two decades has been well documented.  Neither team has given fans much to cheer about.  The Islanders have been more prominent in bone-headed management mistakes, blowing opportunity after opportunity, while the Coyotes simply have never risen above mediocre.  While those streaks may continue for years to come, there's a new team to add to the Club. 

 

No team has been so badly mismanaged since the lockout.  After winning the Cup the year before, it's hard to find a single move that worked out well for this club.  And now, they're supposedly poised to trade away the last remaining piece of respectability the franchise has left.  Vinny Lecavalier.  Once this happens, the league should call Jim Balsillie, and beg him to move this franchise.  I can't imagine the fans in Florida will stand by this team over the next 5 to 10 years as they miss the playoffs again and again.

 

I'm placing the over/under at 2019 before they win another series.  Any takers?

 

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