[Author's note: Power rankings are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.]
6. Grabbing a cop's butt
Everyone, including Claude Giroux, knows what Claude Giroux did on Canada Day in Ottawa was stupid. He repeatedly grabbed a male cop's butt (which is funny, you see, because it was one man touching another's butt! Why would one man touch another's butt? A ludicrous concept! Hahaha), and spent a night in jail, sleeping off what had to be one hell of a buzz.
But even if no criminal charges were filed against Giroux — and there weren't, nor will there ever be — that doesn't mean he hasn't come under the watchful, admonishing eye of the Philly media, which is worse than being thrown in a Canadian prison.
Giroux is now The Worst and Not A Leader and he Needs To Grow Up because he hasn't Won A Championship. If not, he needs to be Traded for someone who is going to be a Positive Influence for the Team And Fans. Travis Hughes did a good takedown of this nonsense here.
Boy, doesn't that all sound familiar? You know, if it were up to me, I'd make sure he got involved in some sort of program that made it so he couldn't drink. But what could I call it? It would need a catchy name for sure. Something like “Sober Isthmus” or “Alcohol-free Archipelago.” I'm sure I'll come up with something. I bet that will work out great.
5. Live-tweeting rookie camps
It's been about a month since any of us saw high-quality players play hockey, and so for the extremest of extreme hockey nerds, the annual start of various teams' rookie development camp is welcome. If you're lucky, you can get down to the rink to see your favorite team's prospects — most of whom won't be anywhere near the NHL team in the next two years at least — do strength and conditioning drills and skate around a lot. If you're really lucky, the team may even hold scrimmages that they stream online so you can see a No. 1 prospect abuse an NCAA free agent invitee one-on-one and score a decent goal. What a lucky life for you.
And if you're torturously unlucky, you will forget to unfollow every NHL team on Twitter because they're live-tweeting every shift of these scrimmages that maybe eight people care about in excruciating detail. As a consequence, you get stuff like this:
Gaudreau, Harrison, and Denham's hard work down low almost leads to a Group B goal but McDonald keeps it scoreless with a pad stop.— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) July 7, 2014
If you know who two of those guys are (probably Johnny Gaudreau, the Flames' No. 2 prospect and likely NHLer next season, and Mason McDonald, a goalie second-round pick this season who's going back to the QMJHL the second development camp is over), then you're way too invested in the Flames' prospect pool. If you know who three or four of them are (Tim Harrison, a low-scoring forward for Colgate University, and Brandon Denham, an undrafted 22-year-old right wing out of Robert Morris University) you need actual help.
Maybe people want to watch this stuff online in the middle of a workday. Maybe. People 100 percent do not want to read about it on Twitter. Stop this.
4. The Predators' offense
It was announced on Monday night that Mike Fisher, the No. 2 center for the Predators last season, was going to miss the next four to six months with a ruptured achilles tendon, and everyone in Nashville immediately went into panic mode.
The reason is that the Preds were probably going to rely on Fisher to be their No. 1 center this season, given the departure of David Legwand after he was traded to Detroit at the deadline last year. Which, you know, isn't a good strategy to begin with or anything, because Fisher isn't very good at that sort of thing.
But the joke that went around in the immediate wake of the announcement was that Fisher is, in fact, very bad. He is not. Was he a drag on possession for a team that was already underwater? Yes, but it was because he played tough minutes no one else on the team could. And he was still 33rd in even-strength points per 60 minutes in close situations, which puts him as a solid No. 2 (though it's interesting to note that he's behind Craig Smith, Colin Wilson, and Nick Spaling, who ranked seventh, 27th, and 30th, respectively).
But now it doesn't matter because they don't have him, and it's tough to envision them putting Craig Smith as their top-line guy. It's also tough to envision them putting anyone there. Olli Jokinen? Pass. Colin Wilson? Pass. Mystery free agent (Vinny Lecavalier is the hot rumor)? Pass. Kid? Pass.
You can only pass so much, though. There are no good options here. If you have James Neal in a keeper league, you might wanna dump him while he still has some value.
3. The KHL
Lots of eulogies for the KHL this week, which makes sense because it was always a joke league that posed no actual threat to the NHL at all. There was never any reason to see this as a threat.
“Oh no, the Russians are coming to take away our career AHLers and old European players who can barely skate now, so they can play in half-full 7,000 seat venues in Chelyabinsk!” Gary Bettman said recently. “All I have is $3 billion-plus in revenues and a bunch of teams selling every ticket in 18,000-seat palaces, with a fanbase so dedicated it will literally sit with no actual complaint through two lockouts in less than a decade! What am I gonna do?!”
RIP The KHL Threat. You were almost real once.
2. Being in the “defending the Orpik deal” business
I think the word I've repeatedly used to discuss the Brooks Orpik contract, which continues to be a big deal for reasons that should be obvious, is “indefensible.” Mainly because it is.
However, this has not stopped everyone from trying valiantly to defend it. Brian MacLellan, the midway rube who signed the deal, and Barry Trotz, who has to play the carny who received the deal every night, both said it's good because of his “intangibles,” despite the fact that the player's shortcomings are very much tangible.
Then, the fine folks at Japers' Rink went further, with a statistical defense that basically boiled down to “he played tough minutes.” Okay, sure. This doesn't change the fact that just about everyone on the team was miles better without him on the ice than with him. And a lot of these statistics revolve around not Orpik himself, but the Orpik/Paul Martin pairing. That's the same Paul Martin who only played 39 games last year.
Click that link and look at the first chart. That really says it all. His relative corsi numbers dropped off a cliff well before he started taking a ton of D-zone starts, and they weren't good before he was playing the toughest competition every night. And I wonder if it's a coincidence that he hit a wall in his age-30 season. Probably isn't.
Even if he got half the money he did from Washington, he still wouldn't have been worth the deal. He's a marginal bottom-pairing defenseman, and if you put him out against stars, you get killed.
The Red Wings are desperate.
They, like many other teams in the league, need a defenseman. But they, like, NEED need one. Need need need one, need one. Things are so bad that their regular beat people have taken time off from bemoaning that no one wants to play for the Red Wings to openly advocate that Ken Holland trade for this defenseman or that one.
When it turned out Brendan Smith and Danny DeKeyser were only pretty good, and they realized that they had 62 left-shooting defensemen all under contract and that Nik Kronwall is eligible for Medicare, things got nervy. Gotta trade for Mike Green, they say. Gotta try to snag Tyler Myers, they say.
Don't let them fool you, though. This has been going on for a while. It wasn't so long ago that they were talking about the possibility of getting Shea Weber, Derek Morris, Dustin Byfuglien, Cody Franson, and so on. Basically, if you can name a right-shooting defenseman, the Detroit media is drawing little pictures of him in their notebooks then putting hearts around him.
But, they caution, the price will be high. Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar or Anthony Mantha would have to go, along with a first-round pick that's more than a little likely to not be in the 16-30 slots, if you follow my meaning.
And when you spend so long building up these prospects who are never going to be Zetterberg or Datsyuk and then you want to trade them, of course you act like “Well, the price is too high.”
But if you want a defenseman, that's the price you have to pay. Tough spot to be in, especially for a team that's an eighth-seed — and a postseason one-and-done — at best.
(Not ranked this week: Cancer.
Best of luck to Bryan Murray, who's built some pretty great teams from very little, and because of how things have gone in Ottawa lately, doesn't get the credit he deserves as a very good general manager.)
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- Claude Giroux
- Mike Fisher