Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Rising from the Ashes

An the winner of the award for worst use of a crummy pseudo French accent in a profanity laced verbal tirade goes to...

Rating the Also-Rans
Some of the non-playoff teams can definitely look forward to better fortunes next season-some are doomed to wallow in mediocrity for awhile longer, and some simply must spend the next few months in a Lazarus Pit. Here's my end-of-season eval on some of the non-playoff teams:

On the Rise
Panthers
Strong finish. Made a statement to the team, fans and Roberto Luongo by finding a way, at a bad time of year, to sign stud Ollie Jokinen. I busted Mike Keenan's chops at the start of this season for signing grandpas like Joe Nieuwendyk and Gary Roberts. But I think their presence helped bring the young guys like Nathan Horton along this season.

Craps
Nobody wanted to play Hanlon's boys by the end of the season. They punked the Thrash right out of the playoff picture when ATL had everything to lose and Washington was playing out the schedule. Ovechkin was a godsend to hockey in the DC metro area. Willsie, Clark, Pettinger all played with fire the second half of the season. A young blueline corps that will continue to grow. The Craps may not get a top draft pick, but their bench boss is gonna get the most out of these boys every night. They'll have to make an off season move to replace or put somebody in ready reserve behind Kolzig. The Craps take crap from nobody anymore. Alexander Semin will likely be in the fold. A pick up of a choice blueliner on the free agent market, and the Southeast will get even tougher next year.

Same as it ever was...
Islanders
Gonna be a change in senior leadership. Gonna be stuck with the same core of underachievers. Gimme Jason Blake and chuck the rest of the lot.

Minnesota
Marion Gaborik is a superstar. His creative ability and very hockey soul gets straight-jacketed under Jacques Lemaire's system. Brian Rolston is another star. He has adapted, but beyond these two the talent pool is pretty shallow. If Lemaire coached in Raleigh, there would have been nothing but tractor pulls, Clay Aiken concerts and Blue Collar Comedy Reviews this spring in the RBC center. The 'Canes would have pulled an Irsay and moved in the dead of night to Winnipeg.

LA
Same story-different year. Start strong-finish with a whimper. They'll get rid of the anti-character guys like Roenick and Avery, but they'll still need to find a clubhouse leader and a reliable goal tender.

Phx
Tough year for Coach Gretz. Gambled on a Lot of moves, even before the lockout, but not much to show for it. Shane Doan brings it every night. The young blueliners are rising stars. The vets they brought in just tanked. The recently departed Nedved, Morris, Ricci, Nash-all dead to me. But it's not all doom and gloom in the Valley of the Sun. They still have Pavel Brendl in the wings....

Chicago
Many say they have a nice core of young talent. Seabrook, Keith, Vorobiev, Sharp will all play well in this league. But the M*A*S*H patients they brought in to turn the franchise around this season turned it in the opposite direction. Khabibulin-bust. Aucoin-All IR first team. I'll believe they are turning the corner when they turn the damn corner.

Columbus
There would have been tractor pulls and 4H events in the Nationwide Arena all season if these fans weren't so dedicated and eternally optimistic. They've been let down so many years in a row. Bless their hearts, they'll continue to suck. Zverdev is soft and Federov is mailing it in. Adam Foote would probably trade a season's worth of paychecks to be back with the Avs right now.

Oh, the wheels on the bus fell off and off...
Boston
Crawlin' from the wreckage. New GM. Soon to be a new coach. Lots of die-hard fans who feel ripped off. Mismanaged the contract negotiations with franchise player, Joe Thornton-who might just be the next Hart Trophy winner. Somebody's got some splainin' to do. At least they have BC, BU, etc.

Vancouver
Bertuzzi gets a ton of wrath. The big salary, big name players disappeared when they were most needed. Issues in goal. Marc Crawford and his disturbing hedgehog hairdo likely looking for a job.

The Thrash
Big payroll. GM making playoff guarantees. GM hamstrung at the trade deadline because of the big contracts. Hartley went thug when things were going bad in the fall, and the team never figured out how to play consistently as a team. The Thrash D gave up tons of goals. They spent a ton of time on the PK. Savard is gonna be a free agent-if he goes, that leaves only Slava Kozlov who can make big plays and who is willing to share the puck. Darren Eliot said in a late season broadcast that Ilya Kovalchuk had finally learned that winning felt better than padding personal stats. Yeah, right. I thought Don Waddell was a genius at the start of the season. I thought he fleeced the Sens in the Heatley/Hossa/DeVries deal. Hossa was the real deal-Heatley even better and back to being a star-DeVries was just Ok. Yeah, I don't like the Thrash and it clouds my objectivity. So be it. Misters Sutton, Exelby, Boulton, you're next up on the first tee...

St. Louis
Total urban renewal project-hell its gonna be St. Louis' version of the Big Dig. First the new ownership, then the demolition squad, then they become the mirror image of the Blackhawks. They are going to need invest long-term in solid hockey people who will rebuild this team. Crikey mate.

Pittsburgh
Total meltdown from a team picked to contend. Crosby lived up to billing. Malkin is on the way. Top draft pick inbound. Must remove the Gonchar cancer. Fleury better step up as well. Step one: ditch the girly yellow pads. The Pens need to get a commitment for a new crib, or go Irsay, and go to KC, Vegas, Portland, anywhere but Hahtfud. Give this young squad a guy like Hanlon, and they'd compete next year. With that clown Michael Therrien behind the bench, they'll continue to lose their composure every time the going gets tough. Every organization takes on the personality of its leadership. This will work against a Pens rebound.

Leafs
Might be in the "same as it ever was" category as much as here. Lindros, Allison, O'Neill, Belfour, Berg. The Leafs are a "who's who list" of players well into the downside. Sold a chunk of young talent in their attempts to buy a Cup over the years. Who is really in charge? Teacher's unions don't want to see anybody get fired for incompetence.

2 comments:

Jes GÅ‘lbez said...

Good job!

Florida - Those old guys also performed very well. Even Jozef Stumpel (He scored a hat trick!) was useful. The problem was their defense was still young and not very good. Keenan needs to find some help back there

Craps - Their farm system is teh suck and Ovechkin can't do everything, try as he might. The Caps will need to sign inexpensive free agents that rock..like Cory Stillman was to the Canes

Minnesota - Gaborik has been openly complaining about Lemaire, but the other talents know when to shut up. Gaborik ought to just assimilate and spend his whining on getting a real playmaking center

Phoenix - But they got OLEG KVASHA!!

Boston - I even considered them to win the East...wtf??

Pens - They got rid of Patrick and have a good group of young prospects...plus Crosby/Malkin will rip the league apart. It's coming...

CasonBlog said...

Jes-I think Therrien getting canned is still a prerequisite for a Pens rebound. Stumpel did have a nice run, eh?