Vacation time always seems to be too short Â– unless you're a mosquitophobe who spent a few skin-slapping days in Ontario's cottage country. Then you remember why you agreed to hang out in hockey arenas eight months a year.
Now, back to blogging business:
Â• Apparently, there ain't no party like a Staal Bros. party. I'm just relieved nobody got tasered or pepper-sprayed.
That reminds me Â– maybe Ryan VandenBussche should start a summer camp showing kids how to deal with an off-season zapping. You know, to show them how to "protect" themselves.
Â• The way Kevin Lowe is peeving off colleagues this summer, I expect they're going to wheel him into the next GM meetings a la Hannibal Lecter. Though the Oilers' main hockey brain is well within his rights to grossly overpay any player he targets, I think Ducks counterpart Brian Burke would be nuts to match Lowe's offer to Dustin Penner.
On his own, the big winger won't get Edmonton back in the post-season. More importantly, if the Ducks take the draft picks, and the Oilers wind up back in the lottery Â– and junior phenom John Tavares successfully lobbies to be included in next summer's draft Â– the Penner transaction has the potential to be one of the worst in NHL history. Take the picks, Burkie!
Â• Finally: my pre-vacation Screen Shots column, on my choices for the five worst free agent signings of the summer, struck a collective nerve with some readers. And it was not a pleasant collective nerve.
Most cursed my existence for including Lubomir Visnovsky on the list, and were more than willing to point out the many ways the rugged blueliner is valuable to the L.A. Kings. I don't think I ever disputed that in the article, but I'll maintain that a five-year deal for a small-ish player who's missed nearly a full season to injury over the last five years isn't the safest gamble Dean Lombardi could've made.
Other readers wondered why, if I was citing Ruslan Fedotenko's lack of goal production in putting him on the list, I wasn't also including new Ranger Scott Gomez and the 13 lousy goals he had for New Jersey in '06-07. That's fair comment, but I think we all know what Gomez brings to the proverbial table and what Fedotenko's table is missing.
However, thanks to the sheer volume of write-in votes for one particular signing, I think we need to add another honorable mention to the list. I'll let a couple readers explain:
I thought that was a good list of bad signings, but one that really caught my eye was the Flames' signing of Cory Sarich for $18 million over five years. Has Darryl Sutter lost his mind? He could have re-signed Brad Stuart for what LA gave him and saved $100,000. Sarich is a lower-tier defensemqn worth no more than $1.5 who should have been grateful to get such a prominent role on the defensively weak Lightning.
Where is Cory Sarich?
Did you just assume Sarich was obviously the worst and made a list of the 5 next worst signings? You should have made that clear because many will miss that.
Michael Wagner, Calgary
Hard to argue with McAuley's reasoning or Wagner's dry humor. I don't know that $3.5 million a season will eat up a ton of cap room in 2010, but I do know if you told the NHLPA's rank-and-file in 2004 that the owners would green-light a collective bargaining agreement allowing the likes of Sarich to sign a five-year contract, the lockout never would've happened.