DG's Quick Hits- June 30, 2002

NOTE: This is a compendium of Quick Hits over the past two weeks

Kozlov shuffles out of Buffalo

Imagine…

Senators: rebuilding or remodeling?

Belfour’s a Predator…for now

On the radar screen

(World Issues Page Announcement Inside)

KOZLOV SHUFFLES OUT OF BUFFALO

A disappointing end to a disappointing campaign transpired for winger Vyacheslav Kozlov, traded by the Buffalo Sabres with a second-round pick to the Atlanta Thrashers for a second-round and third round draft picks. Kozlov’s season was marred with inconsistency, injuries and a period where the winger was benched by Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff, frustrated that Kozlov, acquired by the Sabres from the Detroit Red Wings for Domonik Hasek, wasn’t putting up the numbers that were hoped. The Sabres wound up missing the playoffs for the first time since 1996.

Personally, I would have liked a better return, though I will admit that the Sabres probably wouldn’t have gotten much in return for the underachiever. He’s a bit like Mauriz Czerkawski, a player who has the talent but rarely ever uses them effectively, and, like Czerkawski, was pretty much given up on during the draft and dealt for practically nothing. There’s a difference though: Czerkawski’s old team, the New York Islanders, are moving up and looking to enter the next echelon of National Hockey League supremacy, while the Sabres are still trying to figure out what direction their rebuilding scheme is going in. Coupled with the Sabres’ financial woes, the direction-less rebuilding is an unfortunate development for Buffalo and not the way the franchise, once hailed as one of hockey’s most successful, would want to remember the post-Hasek years. One can only hope Buffalo can get their house in order and compete next year, but the sentiment goes that the Sabres probably won’t be for several more seasons. It’s not the message one would want to hear, but sometimes the reality is much different from what it should be.

IMAGINE…

Imagine: let’s say that, instead of Mike Milbury showing the media tapes of inconsistent officiating in the playoffs against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Milbury decided to go ahead and sue the league for corruption. Or what if the Leafs’ Pat Quinn threatened to do the same thing, charging the league was negligent for not calling a penalty on the Ottawa Senators’ Daniel Alfreddsson, whose hit on Darcy Tucker nearly cost the Leaf the playoffs? Think it is silly? Think again: the Italian soccer federation is considering to sue FIFA over inconsistent and corrupt officiating, charging that FIFA rigged the games to ensure the Italians would be booted out of the World Cup by South Korea.

Now, soccer has always been known for its eccentricities and this is just one of them. The fans of the world’s most played game sometimes take the game too seriously, as evidenced by the hooligans and riots that erupt after some games, and the fact that results sometimes have political implications, for example, a team’s victory could topple a government. Hockey, as many other sports in North America, tend not to go as far as soccer has across the world, as the reserved nature that many North American fans project towards their sports stops them from taking the game too seriously. However, considering hockey is the only sport where on-ice actions can net a criminal record, where only those who run it say the officials are doing fine and where the game is turned into a wrestling sideshow night after night, that day may not be too far off. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

SENATORS: REBUILDING OR REMODELLING?

The Ottawa Senators yesterday traded right winger Shawn McEachern to the Atlanta Thrashers for defenceman Brian Pothier and a draft pick. The deal was the first for new Ottawa General Manager John Muckler, hired last month after the previous GM, Marshall Johnston, stepped down in the aftermath of the Senators’ second round play-off loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

For many, this may, at first, look like the Senators are rebuilding, accepting a trade for one of hockey’s more reliable right wingers for a young defenceman that many in Ottawa may not know. However, if one looks closer at the deal, this deal makes more sense for the Senators than the Thrashers, as the Senators give up an aging winger who was practically useless during the playoffs (McEachern) for a young and improving defenceman in Pothier. Pothier will be useful immediately, aiding a defence that was beaten pretty badly by Toronto and will give the Senators another effective body. Meanwhile, the Thrashers, in the course of two days, acquired two slumping wingers in two weeks- Vyacheslav Kozlov from the Buffalo Sabres and now McEachern. Maybe the Thrashers think that losing will correct both players’ slumps. Don’t bet on it.

BELFOUR’S A PREDATOR…FOR NOW

The Dallas Stars traded unrestricted free agent goaltender Eddie Belfour and Cameron Mann to the Nashville Predators for David Gosselin and a draft pick. The deal, coming just days before Belfour hits the open market as an UFA, means that if the Predators lose Belfour, they’d receive a compensatory second round pick. The Stars, whose payroll is too high, would receive nothing if Belfour walked.

This deal all depends on what Belfour does July 1. If the Predators keep him, this will become one of the most lopsided deals in National Hockey League history, even though “Eddie the Eagle” was supplanted by Marty Turco in Dallas because of poor play and even poorer behaviour (just ask the Vancouver Canucks about that). However, both Nashville and Dallas are betting on Belfour going elsewhere, meaning this trade is, ultimately, a second rounder and Mann for Gosselin and a pick. Plus, the Predators may not want to keep Belfour anyway since they have two solid goaltenders in Mike Dunham and Tomas Vokoun, both of whom cost a fraction of what Belfour will command- even in his current state. However, if there is anything 2002-03 taught us, it is to expect the unexpected. Hey, who would have thought both Dallas and Nashville would miss the playoffs?

ON THE RADAR SCREEN

I’m taking a farmer’s bet (no money) here: how many Toronto Maple Leaf draft picks this year will be overhyped? I’m saying all of them…Domonik Hasek is gone from hockey for good, now that he’s a winner- and a whiner. Like I said last time, he could have avoided all this by retiring in glory as a Buffalo Sabre two years ago like he was supposed to, but no, he had to be selfish and demand a trade to a contender. No wonder he wasn’t an all-world goalie last year: his ego was too big…The Vancouver Canucks and Toronto made two trades, where the Canucks expended their excess baggage for Toronto’s excess baggage. The difference here is that Vancouver may have to use that baggage later and Toronto won’t…Speaking of Vancouver and Toronto, their dilly-dallying (instead of trying to sign the players during the season) will cost them two of the biggest free agents either have acquired in recent history. Get used to seeing Andrew Cassels and Curtis Joseph in different uniforms next year, and don’t kick yourselves too hard Vancouver and Toronto for failing to have what you could have easily had…Jose Theodore and the Montreal Canadiens are miles apart on a new deal. Is Theodore going to follow his idol, Patrick Roy, and spurn the Canadiens? Let’s hope not…Was Calgary Flame Jarome Iginla stiffed at the Awards by not claiming the Hart Trophy? As much as I like Jiggy, Theodore deserved it because Montreal went somewhere while Calgary did not…Finally: minnows like the Columbus Blue Jackets and Atlanta are going after high profile free agents. How many will they land? I’m guessing none.

DG’s Quick Hits: “St. Louis pitcher dies suddenly”, “R. Kelly snaps back”, “Chretien stands for Africa”, “Fitting finale for World Cup Final”, “On the radar screen”

Read Anonymous’ story, “In God we Trust”

-DG


6 Responses to DG's Quick Hits- June 30, 2002

  1. Flyers_01 says:

    is looking worse every day. That trade was so embarrassing for the Sabres. Just because he threatened to retire if he didn’t go to Detroit and also if they took to many players from Detroit because it could hurt his chances for a cup.

    Well now he’s got his cup, and I don’t even think Buffalo got a thank you from Hasek after Detroit won the cup. And to think they passed on Demitra. That move alone might’ve been the difference between Buffalo squeaking into the playoffs last year.

  2. big_booty says:

    “I’m taking a farmer’s bet (no money) here: how many Toronto Maple Leaf draft picks this year will be overhyped? I’m saying all of them.”

    You hit the nail right on the head there. For as much press as that team is given in Toronto, the Leafs faithful seem to believe that their team can build through the draft. The truth is that they haven’t drafted and developed anyone of consequence since the seventies. They are a team dependent on other teams’ cast-aways and tradebait, and now, free agency. Until they learn that in order to be successful they must draft well and develop that talent within their own system.

    Anyone who doubts this should read Damien Cox’s excellent article from 3 March 2002:

    http://waymoresports.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=waymoresports/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1015542132056&call_page=WM_Columnists&call_pageid=980137871627&call_pagepath=Columnists/Columnists

    “Jose Theodore and the Montreal Canadiens are miles apart on a new deal. Is Theodore going to follow his idol, Patrick Roy, and spurn the Canadiens? Let’s hope not.”

    I doubt it. Roy’s situation was nothing like the current situation between the Habs and Theodore. Roy was already wildly successful, with two Cups on his resume in addition to his individual awards, when he had his little meltdown. If anyone could be blamed for that incident, it would have to be then-head coach Mario Tremblay.

    Think about it. Tremblay, a rookie head man at the time, wanted to teach Roy, an all-world goalie, a lesson by leaving him in a game in which he was being shelled 6-0. If Tremblay takes him out, St. Patrick might still be wearing bleu, blanc, et rouge. Instead, there was the whole “t’a compris, stise?” debacle on the bench.

    Theodore is still young, has some individual hardware, but isn’t in Roy’s class yet. Michel Therrien is not foolish enough to pull that kind of stunt with his goalie, but I think Theodore is over-estimating his value, a common and sickening occurance among the younger players nowadays. Anyone else remember Tomas Kaberle’s and Tom Poti’s holdouts? I think you might see that kind os situation here. There might be a holdout, but things will get done between the sides eventually.

    “Finally: minnows like the Columbus Blue Jackets and Atlanta are going after high profile free agents. How many will they land? I’m guessing none.”

    I would agree with you on Columbus, but watch out for Atlanta. Doesn’t Ted Turner own that team, along with everything else in Atlanta? That team genuinely scares me. They seem to be doing it the right way. They draft premium talent, develop it correctly, and use trades and free agency to complement what they have. They need some help on defense, and can probably get it this year. They helped themselves immensely by getting rid of Jiri Slegr. They could make an unexpected splash.

  3. Jonathane says:

    DG:

    You must be in a world cup funk like the rest of the Italians. Get over it, your cynical finger prints are all over this article.

    As for the world cup, Italy played a total of 1 good game. They can blame the officals all they want, but the real culprits are themselves.

    Kozlov in Buffalo: “He’s a bit like Mauriz Czerkawski, a player who has the talent but rarely ever uses them effectively”

    I think that is a bit of an overstatement. How about Kozlov really never fit in Buffalo. He is not a big guy or an overly physical guy, so right there he doesn’t fit the mold of Buffalo. Plus he was moody about being traded from Detroit. Yes he should have been more professional about it, but things kind of steamrolled from there. He wasn’t given ice time that he thought he should get, os his numbers dipped. Trading him was probably for the best.

    As far as the Imagine piece goes, it is going nowhere. The Italians can shoot thier mouth’s off about the world cup and after their anger boils down, they see what they said was (a) really stupid and (b) the rest of the world is laughing at them.

    Let me put it to you this way. There will not be any lawsuits over blown calls. Trust me on this one. There are to many problems with something like that happening. Reply to this if you want me to start listing them…

    “Domonik Hasek is gone from hockey for good, now that he’s a winner- and a whiner. Like I said last time, he could have avoided all this by retiring in glory as a Buffalo Sabre two years ago like he was supposed to, but no, he had to be selfish and demand a trade to a contender. No wonder he wasn’t an all-world goalie last year: his ego was too big…”

    Now where did this come from? What exactly did he aviod? I am not sure what he made two seasons ago, but this past season he cashed a paycheck for $9 million. That’s one hell of a retirement package. Additionally he gets to set a career high in wins, beat Patrick Roy in a game 7 and win a Stanley Cup. On the other hand he could be sitting at home on his ass doing nothing. Yea, he really went out a whinner.

    As for the awards, to much emphasis is placed on them. The reason that the Hart was award to Jose was because of the criteria of “most valuable to their team”. The voters have a tough time voting a hart to someone whose team misses the playoffs. How the players have no qualms about voting the Pearson to the best player. Jose can win the Vezna yet not be close for the Jennings. And with Jose harware, Roy was the all-star goalie at the end of the season. Different criteria and different voters.

  4. Jonathane says:

    The embarassing thing for the Sabres was that they could not afford to pay Hasek $9 million a season. A contract that Buffalo negoated with Hasek. The clock was ticking. The Sabres knew that they had to pay Hasek $9 million or he was a free agent.

    Then Hasek used his leverage. He said he would retire if they didn’t trade him to a team that he liked and then he asked that they not take to much. What was Buffalo to do?

    They could not afford his $9 million salary and he would have played in Buffalo for that option year, even though it was the Sabres and their fans who where wanting to run Hasek out of town because of their goaltending depth. So the Sabres could not afford his option.

    So with the clock ticking down and he was just moments away from being a unrestricted free agent, why shouldn’t he choose his team. Yea he threaten to retire, meaning that if Buffalo had traded him to St. Louis he would have retired and St. Louis would have gotten their trade package back and Buffalo would have gotten nothing out of the deal.

    As it was, getting a 1st round pick and Kozlov was better than they would have gotten as a compensation for him leaving as a free agent.

  5. Flyers_01 says:

    Buffalo should have called his bluff by trading him to the Blues or by getting the best offer they could from the Wings. Hasek wasn’t going to retire as long as he was with a cup contender and either way Buffalo wouldn’t be paying the 9 million salary. Hasek wouldn’t have been a FA if he retired either. He’d have to honor that final contract year if he ever wanted to play again. As it is, the first round pick they received for Hasek was essentially a high second round pick with where the Redwings were placed.

    Hasek bossed the Sabres around and they let him do it, hurting themselves in the process.

  6. Jonathane says:

    I think by his current retirement that we can conclude that he would not have been bluffing about his retirement.

    If he was traded to St. Louis he would have retired. Buffalo would have gotten nothing. Even had Hasek left as a free agent, buffalo would have gotten a compensation pick, getting Kozlov and a 1st rounder was the best deal they could do.

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