[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.]
7. Shawn Thornton's chances to be in debate club
Because this is a discussion we are apparently going to be required to have every couple of weeks until he retires, ex-Boston Bruins enforcer and object of every Boston fan's no-longer-requited desires Shawn Thornton went on the radio Tuesday (he had FIVE embarassingly fawning segments) and once again talked about how people don't value fighting as part of the game, among many other topics.
And in talking about the infamous fight with John Scott in which he got fed his lunch very, very badly — and Thornton would freely admit that — he said, “If someone ever thinks I'm overpaid, just Google that.”
He was half-joking (being an enforcer is a tough job, after all), but the sycophants who smugly quoted him were not. So, right. Shawn Thornton gets paid specifically to be good at fighting, and Scott beat the hell out of him. As did most guys he fought this past season. So when you're good at one thing and you don't do it well, maybe don't brag about it. This is like a once-decent race car driver who crashed his car on the third lap and says, “This is why I get paid what I do.” Not a very good defense, but this is the argument of a man who gets punched in the face for a living.
6. Waiting out the recession
It should come as something of a surprise — given the way in which the NHL falls all over itself at every turn to defer to experience and milestone stats — that Martin Brodeur has yet to catch on with a team some two weeks after the start of the free agency period.
Doesn't bother Marty, though. He's more than happy to wait until after the season starts to get a job. After all, he's got millions of dollars — he's the top earning goalie of the last 24 years, as a matter of fact — and the kind of smug self-satisfaction and naïveté that comes with having 688 career wins and a save percentage south of Ondrej Pavelec's the last two seasons simultaneously.
If Brodeur is going to be waiting for someone to call, he better use some of those millions to hire a maid who can occasionally come in and clear the cobwebs off the phone every once in a while. No matter how good he was as “recently” as 2009, Brodeur is now well and truly past it, and good on NHL teams for recognizing it. This also comes with the caveat that one can be sure Brodeur is asking for an absurd role that no team, even when not particularly of sound mind, would actually give him. Nice that he still wants to play and all, but it's important for guys to know when they should hang it up.
It is, frankly, sad to see something like this. It's Mike Modano's year with Detroit. Brett Hull with the Coyotes. Bobby Orr with Chicago. Brian Leetch with Boston. Legendary players shouldn't go out like this, screaming, “Why doesn't anyone want me?” Which is what Brodeur is doing by having his agent say he doesn't really mind that anyone wants him.
It would have been so nice if he'd just retired with dignity at the end of last season. But if he didn't see the writing on the wall after that Yankee Stadium game, I suppose there's probably no breaking through that delusion, is there?
The good news is that by leaving the Devils, he's giving them the greatest gift of all: A probable playoff spot.
5. Always making a great player mad
Things have gone from bad to worse in Colorado with respect to Ryan O'Reilly. Player and team alike are now headed inexorably toward the acrimonious arbitration process during which time O'Reilly's representatives will say — accurately — how good of a player he is, and how he should be paid a lot of money as a consequence. The Avalanche will argue that he is human garbage who doesn't even deserve to watch a game in the league, let alone play in one.
That's how these things always go. They are brutal. That's why no one goes to arbitration.
Because this is happening, therefore, we can assume the worst about the fractured situation between the two sides that has likely existed since O'Reilly tried to stay in Russia following the lockout, and came back because he signed that doomed offer sheet with the Flames. And because this is happening, we can further assume that there isn't much of a future here.
Unless he's traded — which if you believe the rumor mill isn't out of the question, though you'd think that's dependent upon the arbitrator's award more than anything else — O'Reilly is two years away from almost certainly leaving Denver as an unrestricted free agent, and he's going to be much better off.
But for the Avs, the idea of losing him and Paul Stastny for nothing in the space of two summers must be galling. That's why it would be tough to believe they wouldn't try to trade him. O'Reilly is a great player, and does everything well. But given how Colorado's treating him, and their apparent lack of interest in his talents, any return they would receive in a trade would be quite low.
Tough situation, but the likelihood that O'Reilly comes out looking good here is much better than Colorado's chances to do the same.
4. Big money, potentially some Whammies
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane signed their big deals last week and while it's tough to say they're worth it in terms of being better than the guys currently making between $8 million and $10 million, you have to consider where everything's going.
A lot was published in the last week about the “value” they provide, and Tyler Dellow's look at how Toews makes everyone around him better was particularly illuminating on the subject of why the Blackhawks gave out this contract. However, any suggestion that Toews is the best player in the world is ludicrous; he's not even the best player at his position in his own conference. Kane, likewise, might want to try breaking 90 points before we can consider him truly elite. Both are excellent, neither is worth it now.
In three or four years, though, when they're still south of 30 and the salary cap is well above $80 million, spending less than a quarter of your cap number on Toews and Kane is going to look really good, and as long as revenues keep going up after that, increasingly good as well, even to the point when they're in their mid-30s.
But in the meantime, the Blackhawks might have to take a bit of a step back for a year or two to accommodate — these deals don't kick in until next season and all — or try to unload some of the truly bad contracts on that roster. The good news is that because of how the Chicago Blackhawks have done in the last few years, teams are always willing to take unwanted players off their hands in exchange for way too much return.
Stan Bowman, you've done it again.
3. Quantity over quality
Last week there was a lot of talk about the Predators' problems down the middle, exacerbated by Mike Fisher's injury, and now it seems that the team has finally addressed the problem. By signing two centers who, if you put them together into one player, could be a legitimate No. 1.
Mike Ribeiro still has his good qualities, and maybe Derek Roy does too, but they make the seventh and eighth guys capable of playing the pivot on the Preds' roster. Other candidates for the No. 1 slot include Olli Jokinen (ehhhh), Matt Cullen (no thanks), Craig Smith (the clear choice but more likely to be used as a wing), Colin Wilson (definitely going to be used on the wing exclusively), Paul Gaustad (not close to being good enough).
The fact remains that James Neal needs someone to get him the puck, and no one is going to do it nearly as well as Evgeni Malkin could. Welcome to Nashville, Jimmy. Sorry in advance.
(With all that said, though, gotta credit David Poile for having a decent summer shopping in the bargain basement. If you can lock down Anton Volchenkov, Olli Jokinen, Mike Ribeiro, and Derek Roy for $50,000 more than Florida will pay David Bolland next season, it's safe to say you did well.)
2. Somehow still having to defend the Orpik deal
Maybe one day this will all stop.
The latest in the cavalcade of people who have had to come forward to stop people from throwing rotten fruit at the mere idea of Brooks Orpik's contract is Caps owner Ted Leonsis and once and future teammate Matt Niskanen.
They think the contract is totally good and actually not bad at all if you think about it! Who else do they need to get to say it to convince you?
No one will convince you, you say? Hmm, troubling.
Please keep in mind, by the way, that all this defending is being done literally months before he even plays a single second for the Capitals. That seems like it's not a good harbinger for a guy who's already 34 and signed for five years. Seems like it's not good at all.
1. Favoriting Tweets
Over the weekend, following LeBron James' decision (haha get it?) to head back to Cleveland, The Hockey News wondered whether any Toronto-born NHL stars would ever “pull a LeBron” and head back to their hometown.
Kind of an innocent thing to wonder. Not very interesting. But one person was particularly interested in it: Steven Stamkos. He favorited a Tweet linking to the story, prompting speculation that he would sign with the Leafs when his contract is up in 2016. He then favorited a Tweet from a fan asking both he and John Tavares to come to the Leafs.
And Stamkos is not a serial fav-er. At the time of those favs, he had just three other favorites, and now he's down to just two. So he was very clearly favoriting those two for a reason. Or so people would have you believe.
Weird, though, that people got mad at Stamkos for doing that when they were furious at Evander Kane for doing more or less the same thing a few weeks earlier. What could be different about these situations? Hmm.
(Not ranked this week: Counting stats for goalies.
That thing earlier about Martin Brodeur having the most wins in NHL history? Yeah, he also has the most losses, because that's what happens when you play for two-plus decades. However, it's important to note that Brodeur racked up a lot of those losses because he was around for so long; he was never really on a team that was all that bad for very long.
Well, Justin Bourne went and looked into it, and it turns out that Roberto Luongo — who in all likelihood is going to close out his career on dismal Panthers teams — is only 82 losses back of Brodeur for the all-time record. He'll probably break it within the next three or maybe four seasons.
And here's the thing: Luongo is one of the best goaltenders in NHL history. Assuming Tim Thomas doesn't come back next season, Luongo will have the second-highest save percentage among active goaltenders, and he's fourth on the all-time list behind Dominik Hasek, Henrik Lundqvist, and Thomas. For my money, Luongo is a clear Hall of Famer despite only twice being on great teams, and no, never winning a Cup.
So maybe we just, at some point, stop acting like wins and losses matter. Maybe.)
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