To call last week a wacky and weird one would be an understatement. From fluke injuries, swinging sticks and a set of mega contracts, to the return of a sleeping giant, the week that was had a little bit of everything going on.
Savard Signs for Life
Marc Savard, the 32-year old renaissance man of the Boston Bruins, signed a $28 million, seven-year contract extension. At first, I thought it ridiculous that a 32-year old forward would even be offered a seven year deal (though stranger things have happened, particularly on Long Island…with disturbing regularity), but when I took a closer look, the deal makes quite a bit of sense. Not only is Savard one of the top pivots in the game, but his contract averages out to only $4 million a year — a relative bargain — and 39 years old, while getting up there, isn’t quite as old as it used to be: witness Recchi and Weight, among others, who have managed to change their game somewhat to stay relevant as old age catches up. Another good piece of business from Chiarelli. Story link.
Vokoun Tomahawked by Ballard
In what has to be the strangest thing of the week, Florida defenseman Keith Ballard — as I’m sure we all know — swung his stick with force against his net after Kovalchuk scored against the Panthers in a game last Monday night. While many players over the years have broken their stick over their own net in frustration, not too many managed to hit it with their goalie’s face in the way. A cut ear was the only physical result of the bizarre incident, but poor old Ballard gets to watch tape of him cracking his own goaltender again…and again…and again… Story link.
Ovechkin Knees His Way Into Hospital + A Suspension
Jim Kelley laid into Alex Ovechkin and Ted Leonsis in his weekly article on SI.com last week following the NHL’s two-game suspension of Ovy as a result of his knee-on-knee hit on Carolina’s Tim Gleason. While I think the suspension was a fair result, especially as a result of Ovechkin’s laundry list of borderline hits, I don’t feel that it changes anything in how the NHL officiates things. The fact is that the NHL can give a superstar a two-game suspension, to prove that it calls everyone fairly, then continue to call everything on a case-by-case basis with no rhyme or reason and very little explanation. Until they start handing out punitive suspensions and other measures (community service advocating to kids at hockey games against the dangers of head shots/knee on knees/other dangerous plays, maybe?), it’s not going to stop superstars from believing they’re untouchable or goons from having their way. Even if Colin Campbell did lay in on Ovechkin (or, more recently, Dan Carcillo), one suspension isn’t going to prove they’re suddenly “on the ball”: there needs to be a sustained crackdown on contentious calls in order for players to actually take the league seriously. Story link.
Blackhawks Triple Mortgage Their Life Away
Ladies and gentleman, they did it: the Chicago Blackhawks found a way to keep Kane, Toews and Keith together for an extended (at least 4-5 more years) period of time. Keith’s the rock here, signing a 13-year deal which will take him to 39 years of age (almost a decade younger than Chelios is now, mind…), and Kane and Toews both signed five year deals. So, the clock starts ticking: the salary-cap-maxed Blackhawks have five years to win a Cup before the bedrocks bolt for greener pastures. Story link.
Gustavsson Down Again
It’s not good that Maple Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavsson has had two heart surgeries in the first three months of his NHL career. Not only is it a life-threatening situation in the long run (whatever the doctors say), but what the heck’s going to happen when Gustavsson tends the pipes in a pressure situation or playoff game? Story link.
The Anointed One Returns
The boy is back in town… Rick DiPietro, with 11 years remaining in his albatross contract and having not played for almost a year, has begun a two-week stint with Bridgeport to get his goalie legs back. Looking forward to the next trip to the IR come February, Ricky. Story link.