Oil Spill, NHL's Cap for 2008-2009, Weekend of the Rat

Oil spill in the NHL, what should Kevin Lowe really do.

NHL’s cap for 2008-2009; where it should be and why.

Weekend of the Rat! A great day in South Florida.It has been a long time since my last column, and I have cut you guys some slack with my assigned summer reading. What can I say? I love it when I see comments “Good article, but long as hell!” Good!!!! At least I get your lazy eyes moving on an interetsing subject.

Anyway, big oil spill around the Edmonton area and it’s spreading throughout the NHL. Lowe oh Lowe, what have you done!? I applauded Oilers GM Kevin Lowe when he made the offer sheet to Thomas Vanek. It was heavily overpriced, but at least Lowe was getting a great pure goal scorer, so young too. I realized Lowe was seeking a young player who can make a long-term impact on the team, and I expected Zach Parise, New Jersey Devil, to be next. The youngster is a 1st line center, smart hockey sense, good skill, grea overall package despite his smallish frame. But at least, he is a real quality forward. Yet, Lowe goes after a soon to be 25 year old Justin Penner, giving him a ludicrous contract solely based on Penner’s potential. In hopes that he turns out to be a Todd Bertuzzi? Who are we kidding here guys? Penner just does not compare to Bertuzzi, at all. Bertuzzi is a definite first line player, he can create plays and make a player on his line better. Can Penner do that? No. Does he have the skills to do that? No. He is a 2nd tier scorer in the NHL who needs an umbellical cord attached to good linemates in order for him to score. He will get paid more than Florida’s Nathan Horton, and are these two players on the same level? Not even close. Hey, I like Penner a lot and he is a heck of a player with that size and goal scoring ability, but he is worth at most half of what he is about to get.

What kind of impact will Penner have as an Oiler too? We shall see, but will he score 30 goals? I have high doubts on that. It will only be a matter of time that Lowe realizes what a stupid move this is. He wants to make his team competitive? Fine, try and get RFAs that actually make an impact. Without good linemates to mesh with, Penner is nothing more than a scoring 3rd line power forward. Lowe should have gone after Parise who offers a lot more than Penner, and Lamoriello would most likely match an offer along the lines of $5.5M a season for Parise, but it would not surprise me to see he would not as he has always tried to lowball his free agents; and if they request too much, he shows the door.

Brian Burke had every right to lash out at Kevin Lowe, because he inflated the market value for players like Tomas Vanek, who are still NHL young, not yet at the top of the league, but get paid one of the higher contracts in the league. But you know what? Fine. It was a long-term deal where Vanek would be their franchise team goal scorer, and I would have respected that. Yet Justin Penner getting paid $4.25M a season for putting up just 45 points? That is just going to hurt many teams around the league, even Lowe in the long run.

What should Kevin Lowe have done? Look, with or without Penner, I really don’t think that the Edmonton Oilers will be a playoff team in the next two seasons. At this point, as a general manager, you want to stay conervative with finances (not handing out huge contracts to players), but try to assemble a competitive team as well. There are still a bunch of free agents out there who could be signed for at most two years and for no more than $2M a season. If I were Lowe, I would have made a better headline by signing Nils Ekman, Jeff O”Neill, Anson Carter, and Jason Allison to one year deals worth no more than $8M (all combined). You get speed, experience, some skill, some size, and definitely depth. Will they make the team better? Who knows? It’s possible, and if not then who cares? What would Lowe have to lose by signing these guys? He shows his willingness to make the team better, and he would also have some tradeable assets that are cheap salaries. Imagine if the Oilers would be out of the playoffs by February 2008, but Allison is having a 65 point season. The amount of interest from teams wanting to buy will benefit the Oilers. I know those players are on a decline, but they can still pull it off, especially Allison who is hungry to be back in the NHL.

I just think that this would have been better than overpaying for someone of Penner’s caliber. What say you?

NHL’s Cap, 2008-2009

This is just a short bit. I hoped that the new CBA, with the salary cap, was going to redeuce player salaries, and with its recent increases it really hasn’t. Disappointed? Yes, but it was not my main concern, ever. Imagine if there was no salary cap in the NHL for this year’s free agent market. Which teams would have made the usual impact? Rangers, Red Wings, Maple Leafs, Flyers, Avalanche, Stars…. teams would have hit $70M payrolls this year if they could have. Would that have been fun? No. So, I am still glad the cap works in a certain way.

I think $50.3M is high enough, though, and it should remain status quo for next year as well. That’s right, leave the salary cap at $50M, maybe make it $51M for a slight increase. This would work perfectly for teams who did not get to spend much in this year’s market and not many teams will try to outbid each other, which should, in theory, decrease some player salaries. There are always highs and lows in the free agent market, and if the NHL sticks with $50.3M for July 2008, then I think the contracts will be lower than this year. Just an economical theory on my part, but I think it’s worth a shot as it is fair to have $50M cap limit. Not too high, not too low.

Weekend of the Rat

Saturday was a great day in South Florida, and unfortunately I did not attend, but the coverage has been great. Also unfortunate, major hockey outlets, like TSN, gave no coverage of this on the internet.

The Panthers held a re-union game played by the members of the 1996 Stanley Cup Finalist against Panthers Alumni team. The final score was a 9-5 victory for the 96 squad, and yes….the fans threw a lot of rats on the ice. For you younger people who may not remember much about the rat, or don’t know about it, it happened in 1995 when a rat was running around in the Panthers locker room. Some guys tried to get rid of it, others were scared and jumping up and down, as Mellanby once told the story, and Scott grabbed his stick and slap shot it right against the wall. In that game, Mellanby scored two goals and killed a rat, thus making it a Rat Trick.

So, it was a great day for South Florida and hockey, a lot of passionate fans attended remembering the great year. The roster of the 96 team can be found here: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/hockey/panthers/sfl-flsppanrost23nbjul26,0,7271540.story

Here are some comments from the members:

“I was amazed at the amount of people in the building and the excitement,” retired winger Dave Lowry said. “It was overwhelming.”

“You know what, when I was putting the equipment on I was actually getting a little nervous,” said retired defenseman Gord Murphy, who had 30 points in ’95-’96. “It was a lot of fun. This is a special, special group and to be able to get back together with them and have a fun game brought back a lot of emotions, a lot of memories. I wish it would have lasted longer.”

“To see the fans still doing that (throwing rats), and telling us stories of how they used to throw rats at their TVs and stuff like that is pretty cool,” he said. “We had such a tight group of guys. We’ve spent a lot of time together the last few days, drank a lot of sodas and shared a lot of stories. … It would have been nice to win the Cup, but we feel like we were a champion-quality team.”

“It was everything and more than I expected,” Sk
rudland said of the reunion weekend. “If I may throw this at the Panthers organization, history is where it’s all about. You dig into the history of the franchise and you take the good and throw out the bad. Hopefully they look back at that ’96 team and think it was pretty good.”

”Honest to God, I got chills,” said Doug MacLean, coach of the 1996 Panthers team. “We hear about it all the time and we get asked about it all the time, but when the rats came out it was pretty neat, pretty special.”

”It was kind of strange,” MacLean said. “Because it was almost like it was for real. The same one-liners and when we started to win [the Panthers] were giving each other shots. It was like a practice atmosphere, because they used to give each other shots in those days too. It’s funny I saw some of the things from the players that they did on a regular basis.”

”I’ve had a lot of people over the years tell me stories of how they used to have their kids throwing rats at their TVs,” Mellanby said. “Being a father of three myself, those are things that you can share with your kids and those are things that their kids will remember 20, 30 years from now. It’s nice that we were able to bring some excitement to people and their children. To have that kind of connection, it’s nice to be a part of that.”

”When you have a special memory that’s locked in your memory bank for a while you wonder when is the next time you might see something like that,” John Vanbiesbrouck said. “The rat throwing and the rat year is an occasion that will long be remembered.”

Couple of other tid bits. Beezer’s son had a penalty shot on him, but missed. Paul Laus and Peter Worrell mocked a fight by pretty much dancing around the ice.

The new jerseys of the Panthers were also unveiled. You can go to www.floridapanthers.com to check them out. Personally, I quite like them. Maybe the away jersey seems a bit too Flyerish, but the home jersey is very nice.

So, could this be The Year of the Rat for the Panthers? Who knows. They got their goaltender, their captain, and some very good young talent ready to get well noticed around the league. As per wikipedia.org: “The Rat ( 子 ) was welcomed in ancient times as a protector and bringer of material prosperity. It is an animal associated with aggression, wealth, charm, and order, yet also associated with death, war, the occult, pestilence, and atrocities.”

Hmmmm, could be a fun year, I hope!

Thank you all for reading and enjoy the rest of your summer,

Micki Peroni
Vice-Administrator

p.s How about that new banner with the new HTR logo? Gotta love McCabe looking behind him seeing the opponent he left uncovered!