It’s time for some random thoughts as I deal with the annual late-season collapse from my hockey pool team (maybe it’s time to fire the coach?)…
Dumbest thing heard on the radio recently (non-Rush Limbaugh division): "Look at Steve Yzerman, he hadn't done a thing by the time he was 28" -- Toronto-based sports radio host.
That comment was made after the show's other host opined the San Jose Sharks could regret trading 28-year-old Patrick Marleau because his best days might well be ahead of him.
Now, granted Yzerman hadn't ended world hunger or found a cure for cancer by the time he turned 28, but to suggest he "hadn't done a thing" is a little harsh considering he had six 100-point, and five 50-goal seasons on his resume by that point in his life. The guy had a 155-point season as a 23-year-old for crying out loud!
The reality is that by his 28th birthday, Yzerman already had a career worthy of Hall of Fame induction with 1,040 career points to his credit in 757 games. Compare that to Cam Neely who is in the Hall of Fame with 694 career points in 726 career games. (Interestingly, Yzerman also played in exactly 757 games after turning 28 and had 715 points in those games.)
Anyway, it was just another example of why I find it so frustrating to listen to sports talk radio.
These "experts" are completely unaccountable for what they say yet their words can leave a strong impression in the minds of some listeners.
OWNERS WIN, OWNERS WIN!
Well, the salary arbitration season is over and the owners were the big winners, taking six out of the eight cases.
Of course, this is the baseball salary arbitration season I'm talking about where even the losers are big winners (Francisco Rodriguez will receive $10 million in 2008 to throw about 1,200 pitches -- that's $8,333 a pitch).
There are some notable differences between hockey and baseball when it comes to salary arbitration, the most significant being that baseball features final offer arbitration which requires the arbitrator to select either the player's or the club's salary figure. In hockey, the arbitrator picks either number or anything in between.
Also, baseball cases are heard in front of a panel of three arbitrators whereas in hockey just one arbitrator hears each case.
One similarity between the two sports is some of the arbitrators themselves. This past summer we presented cases in front of Margaret Brogan (she awarded Sean Avery $1.9 million) and Elizabeth Neumeier (she awarded Ryan Craig $850,000) and this month they heard cases involving the aforementioned Rodriguez, Oliver Perez and Mark Loretta.
Speaking of arbitration, the number of potential NHL cases dwindled further recently with the contract extensions signed by New York Rangers' defensemen Fedor Tyutin and Dan Girardi and Toronto Maple Leafs' forward Alex Steen. Among the most prominent names still on the board for potential arbitration cases are Columbus goalie Pascal Leclaire, Florida defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and Boston defenseman Dennis Wideman.
ROLLER COASTER RIDE
How much parity is there in the NHL right now? Well consider this: On Jan. 4, the Philadelphia Flyers sat 19th in the overall standings. Just 16 days later, they had rocketed up to 5th. Then, one month after that, they were back to 19th. That's 19th to 5th and back to 19th in less than 50 days!
Thanks to thehockeycube.com for making it easy to look up stuff like that (and tons more) in about three seconds.
My Carleton University classmates have gained pretty good traction with their causes and now it's time for mine. As regular readers of The Hockey News know, Jason Kay has long advocated for bigger nets and it's an idea that has gained momentum in some quarters.
Meanwhile, TSN's James Duthie was the driving force behind the Breakaway Challenge at the NHL All-Star Game (don't blame James for the poor execution...if the league had listened to all his ideas it would have worked much better).
Well, my cause is the assist. I have never understood why an assist is awarded to a player who has virtually nothing to do with a goal (think the defenseman who briefly touches the puck in his own end before a rush up the ice leads to a goal) while we limit the number of assists on a goal to two, no matter how many great passes or plays may have been made prior to the goal being scored.
In one game earlier this season, Montreal swingman Mark Streit made a great play to keep the puck in the offensive zone before feathering a nice pass to Andrei Kostitsyn, who in turn fed Tomas Plekanec, who then set up Alexei Kovalev for the goal. Now there's a play that should have had three assists.
By the way, a very highly respected NHL GM agrees with me on this point, so maybe one day we will see the elimination of the two-assist cap.
While they're at it, the NHL should take the even more obvious step of awarding two points for a goal and one for an assist, but that's a topic for another day.
Rand Simon is an NHLPA certified agent. He has spent the past 14 years with Newport Sports Management Inc. He will be blogging for THN.com throughout the season. You can read his other entries HERE.