Monday, July 14, 2008

Oops, he did it again

After waiting almost 10 years for another shot at the show, controversial coach Ted Nolan was dismissed as a result of tension with Isles GM Garth Snow.
"Ted has helped us achieve some success over the last two seasons, however it has become clear that we have philosophical differences and have decided together to part ways," said Snow. "Since last season and continuing into the summer, I have realized we do not share the same philosophies. I would like to thank Ted for his two years with the team and wish him the best."...

Added Nolan: "While I am disappointed I will not be coaching the Islanders next season, there have been philosophical differences and we’ve agreed it’s a good time for me to move on. I want to thank the Islanders organization for giving me a chance to coach in the NHL again. I have tremendous respect for what the team is trying to do and I wish them well."

- Team release

As I'm sure you recall, in 1997 Nolan lost a battle with then Sabres GM John Muckler. Dominik Hasek wasn't that hot on Nolan either. Sound familiar?

Nolan may not leave the Island with the same scar on his reputation as he did in Buffalo, but his willingness to make thinly veiled comments to the press about Snow won't warm him to other GMs looking to hire a new head coach. Snow and Nolan were at odds over a youth movement. Snow wanted to play the kids. Nolan wanted to win and let the world know Snow didn't give him the players to do so.

If Nolan had the same job security as Barry Trotz in Nashville, it might have been an easier pill to swallow. But Nolan needed to win. Not to keep his job in New York - you'd have to be a masochist or an extremely inexperienced GM to want that - but to prove to the league that he belongs in the NHL. Nolan hit the unemployment line before he had a chance to redefine himself.

The Kings are currently the only other team with a coaching vacancy. They are in the midst of a youth movement themselves, but Nolan was successful in the junior ranks where youth abounds. More likely though, he'll join the ranks of Bob Hartley, John Tortella, Paul Maurice, Marc Crawford, et al who sit and wait for the inevitable firings of the 08-09 season.

Update: Greg Logan of Newsday has all the juicy tidbits here and here.

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Hollweg shipped to Toronto

I could tell you I called it, but who didn't see this coming really. The Rangers traded checker Ryan Hollweg today to the Maple Leafs for a 5th round pick. Hollweg was an 8th round pick in 2001, so it looks like GM Glen Sather came out ahead.

The Leafs are looking to increase their toughness. They'll also need to better their penalty kill, which was the league's worst last season. Hollweg has a knack for taking inopportune penalties.

Hollweg's days on Broadway were numbered once New York signed Aaron Voros. Not a big loss for the Rangers, although surely his teammates will miss the lockerroom entertainment.

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

Lowe bites back

A year after The Penner Incident, Ducks GM Brian Burke still has a bug in his craw about Oilers GM and ex-friend Kevin Lowe's offer sheet moves last summer. Lowe has been pretty mum to Burke's media attacks...until yesterday in a radio interview with Edmonton's Team 1260:
"This guy is an absolute media junkie and I guess he's achieving what he wants because he gets his name in the headlines. But the reality is, I hate the fact that my name is linked to his. He's an underachieving wanna-be in terms of success in the NHL. He won a Stanley Cup? Great. I've won six Stanley Cups, you want to count rings? Who cares, it's just a little pathetic that he carries on."

- Kevin Lowe on Brian Burke


I don't know if Lowe's name is so much synonymous with Burke's as it is with tendering offer sheets to RFAs. And while the Penner offer sheet may have driven up the price for young talent, the past few days have shown us that Lowe isn't alone in making bone-headed offers which skew future salaries. The most obvious example is Jeff Finger's 4 year, $14M contract with Toronto, affectionately know as Leafs Fans Getting the Finger.

But if Lowe is right, and Burke is on his way to destroying the Ducks the way he did the Canucks, then Lowe may have the last laugh in this battle of egos.

Update: How do you prove you're not a media junkie? Don't ask Brian Burke. In response to league commish Gary Bettman telling both he and Lowe to end their stand-off, the Ducks sent out a press release about the feuding GMs' trip to the principal's office. Probably not what Bettman meant by "quit it".

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

No room for Jagr on new look Rangers

On the heels of losing Sean Avery to the Stars, Rangers GM Glen Sather has closed the book on Jaromir Jagr as well. Upstaging the press conference to announce the signing of Markus Naslund and Dimitri Kalinin, Slats told reporters that he has informed Jagr that the team will be moving on without him.

I think the New York media themselves will miss the enigmatic Jagr the most. You have to admit he's been a hell of a bargain for the Rangers at just under $5M per year. Though Sather says they never talked numbers, you have to believe it would have taken more than that resign the captain.

Truth be told, if Jagr had clicked with either Scott Gomez or Chris Dury, bringing him back at any price would have been a no brainer. Equally, if Avery could keep his off-ice antics to a minimum, it would have been easy to justify giving the grating winger $4M. In both cases the Rangers chose their future over the present. Jagr's return would have meant another year of Gomez and Drury pushed down the depth chart - and Dubinsky up it before his time...or worse yet, big $$ to Mats Sundin. And who believes Avery would ho have tried to stay in management's good books (remember the media gag?) once he got his NY payday?

Don't get me wrong, both players are worth what they'll earn next season. The price was just too steep for Broadway. And, no, that still doesn't explain giving Wade Redden $6.5M a year.

Unfortunately, Jagr's exit means goodbye to Marty Straka as well. That's a loss I'll feel deeply as I loooove him. I wish I had gotten a Straka jersey at Cosby's when I had the chance.

So out with Jagr, Avery, Straka, Marek Malik, Fedor Tyutin, Christian Backman, and probably Brendan Shanahan. I think Ryan Hollweg's days are numbered as well. I was about to add Paul Mara to this list, but apparently he's in talks to return.

In with Naslund, Nikolai Zherdev, Dan Fritsche, Patrick Rissmiller, and Aaron Voros up front; and Redden and Kalinin on the blueline. The Rangers still need to add a 6th defenseman (if they don't resign Mara) and some scoring depth at wing.

The stars won't be shining as bright on Broadway next season, but that may be a good thing. The Rangers are trying to build themselves into a younger, more hungry team. But now that fans have finally tasted the playoffs for a few years running, will they be satisfied with a quick fourth trip (which would be impressive considering the roster Sather has cobbled together) or is it the Cup or nothing?

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A (Not So) Merry Christmas in July

In retail, the day after Thanksgiving is called "Black Friday", the biggest shopping day of the year. The NHL equivalent falls on July 1st and the stores open at noon Eastern Time.

Grandpa Sather went shopping, but unfortunately he forgot to bring the Rangers fans' wish list. And worse than buying a Zune when you really wanted an iPod, he got ripped off by the clerk who talked him into spending more for the useless warranty.

Here's what fans found under the tree today:

Wade Redden - 6 years, $39M
Redden receives a much needed change of scenery without taking in the pocketbook. The Rangers get.. well... um... Let's hope Sather didn't choose to match the no-trade clause he had in Ottawa as well. Adding Redden vastly improves the D corps (admittedly there was a lot of room for improvement) but the price tag was hefty.

Michal Rozsival - 4 years, $20M
Admit it, Rozy was a steal at $2.3M per year. Well, he just doubled that for the next four years. If he can return to form, he will still be overpaid but not grossly so. Redden will take some of the pressure off Rozsival, particularly on the power play.

Patrick Rissmiller - salary undisclosed 1 year, $1M
Healthy sized winger had 17 points in 79 games in San Jose last year. This signing along with Voros points to the Rangers trying to bulk up their checking lines. Rissmiller checks in at a healthy 6'4" and 215 lbs.

Aaron Voros - 3 years, $3M
At 6'3" and 178 lbs, this is the Rangers other "big" signing up front. Rissmiller had 141 PIMs last season to compliment his 14 point in 55 games. Ryan Hollweg's days on Broadway could be numbered as Sather's showing a clear preference for size with some offense upside, neither of which Hollweg has.

Stephen Valiquette - salary undisclosed 1 year, $725K
It's not like there's a huge market for a goaltender that doesn't play. It's here or backing up Martin Brodeur, and Kevin Weekes is still under contract for another year of bench warming across the Hudson. Still Valiquette was a good soldier in his limiting role and earned another year of the same.

Andreas Jamtin - salary undisclosed
Jamtin is a sh*t disturber in the Swedish Elite League. The line between agitator and punk is a bit different this side of the pond, so I'm not convinced he'll turn into an Avery replacement. Call him New York's own little Jarkko Ruutu. I hate Ruutu.

Sather didn't do much to address his holes up front, notably replacements for (or resignings of) Jaromir Jagr, Sean Avery, Brendan Shanahan, Martin Straka - collectively know as the Rangers' top four wingers.

Please, Slats, remember the shopping list tomorrow. Don't come back with Mats Sundin.

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