Monday, July 30, 2012

The Alex Semin Contract(s)

For the 3rd time in three seasons, Alexander Semin has signed a one year contract, this time with the Carolina Hurricanes for $7M. The last two seasons with Washington he earned $6.7M and $6M. He is now 28 years old, where peak performance tends to occur around age 27. Over the last 4 seasons he has scored 271 PTS in 277 GP. Yet for whatever reason, he can't seem to get himself a long term contract, the monetary security that elite talent tends to covet. My assumption is that he wants to make at least $6M per season, and at that price nobody will give him more than one year. So instead of taking a 5 year $25M deal like Mike Ribeiro, he's knocking off one year contracts at the wage he wants to be paid. His work ethic is questionable, and he's considered a high risk to bolt back to Russia any given season.

Just how common is it for elite point producers to repeatedly sign one year contracts throughout their years of prime production? It is very rare, becoming more common closer to the end of careers. My own database does not include every contract ever signed, but does include the pool of active contracts. If you look at all the forwards in the NHL who signed their current contracts from age 26-29 who averaged between 60-90 PTS per 82 GP over the last 4 seasons, what do you see?

age contract total
Player  Team signed term money cap hit
Ilya Kovalchuk NJD 27 15   $100,000,000 $6,666,667
Zach Parise MIN 28 13 $98,000,000 $7,538,461
Vincent Lecavalier TBL 29 11 $85,000,000 $7,727,273
Henrik Zetterberg DET 29 12 $73,000,000 $6,083,333
Rick Nash NYR 26 8 $62,400,000 $7,800,000
Jeff Carter LAK 26 11 $58,000,000 $5,272,727
Mikko Koivu MIN 28 7 $47,250,000 $6,750,000
Pavel Datsyuk DET 29 7 $46,900,000 $6,700,000
Dany Heatley MIN 27 6 $45,000,000 $7,500,000
Marian Gaborik NYR 27 5 $37,500,000 $7,500,000
Martin Erat NSH 27 7 $31,500,000 $4,500,000
Ryan Kesler VAN 26 6 $30,000,000 $5,000,000
Mike Cammalleri CGY 27 5 $30,000,000 $6,000,000
Martin Havlat SJS 28 6 $30,000,000 $5,000,000
Jason Pominville BUF 27 5 $26,500,000 $5,300,000
Mike Ribeiro WSH 28 5 $25,000,000 $5,000,000
Joe Pavelski SJS 26 4 $16,000,000 $4,000,000
David Krejci BOS 26 3 $15,750,000 $5,250,000
Ales Hemsky EDM 29 2 $10,000,000 $5,000,000
Alexander Semin CAR 28 1 $7,000,000 $7,000,000

75% of those contracts are at least 5 years long. Players signing their contracts in their peak production years tend to seek the longest term contracts possible while their value is also at its peak. That's how you maximize career earnings. There are more contracts over 10 years long than there are under 5 years. As Semin closes in on age 30 and his skills begin to diminish (some would argue that diminishment process has already begun), the amount of money he can get on a one year contract will fall considerably. Even Mikhail Grabovski scored a 5 year $27M contract.

It would be interesting to know what the best long term offer was on the table for Semin. He has a unique offensive skill set that should be in greater demand that what we've seen. $7M is a substantial sum, arguably more than he's worth for one year of work. However, if he doesn't suck it up and sign a long term contract soon, he's going to find that peak earnings window shut. It would also be interesting to see what kind of contract offers he has from the KHL. It's entirely plausible that he'll get a nice bounty whenever he decides to go back to Russia; such that he's willing to max out one year contracts in the world's best league during his prime years. Those Russian oligarchs need to wash their dirty money somewhere.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Rick Nash Trade

After months of trade speculation, the Columbus Blue Jackets have traded Rick Nash to the New York Rangers for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, and a 1st round draft pick. The word on the street throughout this spectacle was that General Manager Scott Howson's asking price for Nash was far too high, and now that the deal is done, most are saying that the Jackets did not get nearly enough in return. This coming after Columbus reportedly declined a very substantial offer from Detroit, because they did not want to trade their franchise player inside the division. To be fair to Howson, being given such a limited list of teams he was willing to play for did significantly diminish the ability of the Blue Jackets to get the best deal possible.

If the rumours are correct and San Jose dropped out of the Nash sweepstakes because they would not part with Logan Couture, that could cost them their last shot at a championship in the Thornton/Marleau window. The best thing about Couture is not necessarily his production, but more so being locked in to a contract favourable to the franchise. Couture's contract might be more valuable than Couture's talent (which sounds like a ridiculous thing to say). Nash is most certainly a better player, some would argue substantially better. He's 28 years old and has scored at least 30 goals 7 of the last 8 seasons. Isn't the conventional wisdom that whichever team acquires the best player wins the trade more often than not? How then was Logan Couture a roadblock to a Nash trade? Regardless of the logic, New York Rangers fans have to be very happy those other deals died.

The future does not look bright in Columbus. They're going to suck for a few more years at the very least. If I were taking bets on the remaining length of Scott Howson's employment as General Manager, the over/under would be 6 months. We'll see if this deal ultimately ends up being a franchise killer, as this step backwards could very well have fatal consequences. That being said, the Nash contract is not exactly favourable. He's no bargain at nearly $8M per season. If this was indeed the best deal available, then clearly the size of the contract diminished his market value, a market value already diminished by a restricted list of destinations. This was a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation for the doomed Howson.

Spiderman Reboot Flawed

Those with the power to decide the fate of the Spiderman movie franchise made the decision to reboot the system after 3 Tobey Maguire movies. Was Tobey's price tag getting too high or did they just wanted a fresh start? The answer is perhaps a little bit of both, especially considering the last installment of the Maguire trilogy was the least critically acclaimed. The new "Amazing" Spiderman series stars British actor Andrew Garfield and has incredible special effects (as expected) but Garfield did not feel like Peter Parker (though he is more believable as a genius than Tobey). Did we really need a darker, more mysterious Peter Parker?

I don't know about you, but I really liked Tobey Maguire in this role, even if #3 was by far his worst acting performance in his trilogy. He did a remarkably accurate portrayal of the Peter Parker character depicted in the comic books. Perhaps more than Tobey, I'm going to miss Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane. In my quasi-professional opinion, she was awesome. Emma Stone was alright, but lacking in the category of awesomeness. Tobey and Kirsten played the roles as they were meant to be performed. Andrew and Emma felt forced.

My most important demand is that every person responsible for making a Spiderman movie without J. Jonah Jameson be fired immediately and quarantined from the creative process in future films. You can't have a Spiderman movie without the boss at the Daily Bugle, and any individual who encouraged or even facilitated this travesty does not possess the creative wherewithal required for the super hero genre, and should be fired. Immediately. Do it.

The next ill-advised decision was telling the origin story again. Once was enough. Reboot if you must, but don't tell same damned origin story, even if you change out some characters and tell a slightly different tale. They shouldn't have to reboot the origin story each time they replace an actor in a franchise. Otherwise the hulk movies will just end up being the same story over and over again. Get on with a new story, even if the lead actor changes. The philosophical structure behind this reboot was flawed, and the 3D was not nearly as good as it could have been.

The movie is worth seeing if you have any interest in the hero genre, but did not meet my expectation. The visual effects were outstanding, but the casting was lacking and there were serious mistakes in the story making process. It was better than Spiderman 3, but worse than 1 and 2. It wasn't bad, but neither was it good. So if you'd like to watch superior special effects with inferior acting and a flawed story, the Amazing Spiderman is for you. There were far more laughable moments in the Maguire Spiderman movies; however if what you always wanted was a more serious Spiderman, then perhaps Garfield is for you. It was worth the price of admission, but fell short of its potential.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Nashville Predators Botch Shea Weber Contract

When Ryan Suter signed with the Minnesota Wild, did his former teammate Shea Weber decide at that exact moment he wanted to leave the music city? He was clearly shocked at the news, but perhaps more at the size of Suter's deal than the fact he departed. Not only that, but here we are, hopefully under 2 months from the next CBA where the type of money Suter got will not be available. Term limits on contracts, no more front loaded deals, and Lord only knows what else. Weber is one of the top 3 defensemen in the NHL and deserves a higher wage than Suter. It was almost a crime against common sense that Suter was able to secure such an abundant bounty. Upon seeing where the market is currently priced, any RFA defenseman would be advised to get the best deal they can before the window closes, whether they want to leave town or not.

I don't believe that a desire to leave Nashville was necessarily to sole impetus for signing the offer sheet with Philadelphia; but rather getting his extension before the current CBA expires. I'm also willing to wager that the Predators very much wanted a new CBA before locking their captain up to a long term deal. It was in Weber's best interest to sign a long term contract this summer, and in the Predators best interest to let the current CBA expire. If Poile was indeed trying to delay a Weber extension until the end of the summer, he wouldn't exactly be able to come out and say it, especially if Shea was serious about getting a deal done before the window closes. If one side is trying to get a contract before September, and the other is trying to postpone the contract until after September, that creates a perfect storm for animosity (amplified when it is one of the league's most valuable players).

This offer sheet is damned if you do, damned if you don't for Nashville. It should be a no brainer. Players of that ilk are incredibly difficult to find, and worth every penny. However if the Preds match the offer, that is going to consume a substantial chunk of their player budget, given the front loaded structure of the deal. Rinne and Weber will be making about $20M between the two of them next year alone. Those two players will be carrying a very large burden on their shoulders. Should they decline to match the offer, then their franchise is in far more serious financial trouble than any pundit has speculated over the last two years (and they belong in Hamilton). Letting him walk will decimate their chances of success, especially in the near term, and we would likely see that fan base they have been bragging about evaporate very quickly. It will take time before those draft picks to develop.

If the Flyers are able to add Shea Weber, expect them to be a top Cup contender for at least the next 5 years (ergo, they will be low draft picks). My prediction, Preds accept the deal, suck it up, even if it bankrupts the franchise.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Detroit Red Wings Plan B

Nick Lidstrom has retired and Brad Stuart has returned to San Jose. The Detroit Red Wings have lost 2 of their top 4 defensemen and have not replaced them with anybody. They lost out on Ryan Suter and Matt Carle, and now the list of available free agent blue liners has become perilously thin. If they are unable to replace this loss of talent, then this roster will struggle next season. Being on Suter and Parise's short lists handcuffed them from making significant offers to Jason Garrison, Sami Salo, even Sheldon Souray. Kyle Quincy signed a 2 year deal at a fair price, but he's not much better than a 4th or 5th defenseman.

Ken Holland must have a plan B, which has to be bringing in new talent on the back end through the trade market. The team has plenty of cap space to take on big contracts, but hardly the abundant supply of young assets needed to land a big fish. Wings fans must be patient, because the best time to make trades will be immediately after the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. If the cap comes down, there will be a number of teams forced to shed salary, making for a buyers market. I would even go so far as to say that Wings fans should cheer for the cap to come down substantially, but for salaries to remain the same. It would create the optimal conditions for a buyers market, and Detroit has abundant cap space.

In the meantime, Holland could also bear down and sign a few RFA offer sheets on players like Michael Del Zotto, PK Subban, John Carlson, or even Dmitri Kulikov. The offer sheet is not in Ken Holland's playbook, but it is a perfectly legal tool that NHL General Managers should use to help build their roster. We all remember Brian Burke skewering Kevin Lowe for signing Dustin Penner, which serves as an example of how this tactic is perceived among the GM fraternity. It is not a good way to make friends, however it is completely legal and arguably more fair than long term heavily front loaded contracts intended for salary cap circumvention. There is RFA talent available on the blue line, but the offers would have to be pretty high for the other teams not to match.

There was virtually no way they ever had a realistic shot at Shea Weber, unless he went UFA in one year. Anyone suggesting Detroit struck out on Weber, slow your role; Poile was not going to trade him to a heated rival inside the division (and is all but certain to match any offer). It's the same reason why you are unlikely to see Columbus trade Rick Nash to the Red Wings, even if they met Howson's ridiculously high asking price. Calgary is likely eager to move Bouwmeester at the right price, and Keith Ballard could be had in Vancouver if you're simply willing to eat his contract. For Christ's sake the Red Wings might almost be better off with Wade Redden than Jakub Kindl.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Christian Bale Should Light London Olympic Flame

After David Beckham declared that he did not want to light the flame at next week's opening ceremonies for the London Olympics, the big question now is to whom this honour will fall. Beckham's reason for declining the honour is his belief that it should be done by a past Olympian, of which he is not. This logic is flawed. Whether or not the individual previously competed in the Olympics is irrelevant, it should be about selecting the greatest possible national icon for the symbolic position, regardless of profession. For that reason, the Olympic flame should be lit by none other than British actor Christian Bale. The last installment of the Dark Night series is being released a week ahead of the Games, and will no doubt be the number one movie on the planet when the ceremonies are held. I ran this idea by my teenage nephews, and received their enthusiastic agreement that Batman is the perfect choice.

It can be argued that Christian Bale is the best thing that Britain has ever produced, it's greatest gift to the world. He has far more talent in his craft than Beckham, who is nothing more than glorified sex symbol married to a Spice Girl. He can even light the flame in costume as Batman, that is just a suggestion, not an absolute requirement. The opportunities for commercial cross promotions are limitless.

All that being said, the people of Britain should be ashamed at their failure to control mother nature and make the rain stop. The bad weather is going to become the most significant story of these Olympics, and the Brits inability to control it is deplorable. By the way, some of us Vancouver residents remember the British media slamming the Vancouver Olympic people for bad weather, so this karma fits beautifully. What goes around, comes around, you limey bastards!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

NFL In Toronto A Success

This week it was announced that tickets to the Buffalo Bills game in Toronto will be significantly reduced (some tickets reduced by half), and several clowns in the Canadian media are heralding this as evidence that the NFL cannot work in Canada. Jumping to this conclusion is incorrect, as average ticket prices for the games in Skydome are still higher than the avg price in the entire NFL, and they continue to sell 95% of available tickets. Before you can say that this experiment has been a catastrophic failure based solely on reductions in ticket prices, you have to point out that the tickets for the Toronto game were originally set at an absurdly high price tag.

They can fit a maximum of 54,000 people in the Sky Dome (which is the smallest capacity in the NFL), but the average ticket price in the first year of this game was $183, nearly double the next most expensive average ticket price (in New England at $88). Despite that obscene price, they still sold 52,000 tickets. The Toronto Argonauts are lucky to draw 20,000 people for a home game, and are only able to charge around $55 for an average ticket. When you factor in the food and alcohol sales, a single NFL game in Toronto generates 5 to 10 times the revenue of a single CFL game, in the same stadium. There's no doubt which league is the bigger draw.

Anyone suggesting that the CFL has somehow defeated the NFL because ticket prices were reduced is nuts (or trying to validate their initial opinion that the NFL would fail in Toronto (I'm looking at you David Pratt)). The NFL gets more than twice as many people willing to pay twice as much money as a CFL game. Yes, the amount they have been able to charge for NFL games in Toronto has been diminishing. The most recent "slashing" of ticket prices brings the average price down to around $100, but that's still more expensive than the average price anywhere else in the NFL (and twice as much as the Argos).

The NFL won by a large margin, it's just not clear if Rogers will make their money back. They paid $78M for 7 games and still had to share the revenues with the Bills. Just because Rogers paid an exorbitant price for those games does not mean that the NFL can't be sustained in Toronto. For a franchise to work full time, they would have to build a bigger stadium (which does not appear any closer to happening). There's no reason that the Bills can't play a few games in Toronto. The games generate substantial revenue, they are just charging Rogers too much to play them. It's not like the city of Buffalo is a cash cow.

David Pratt on CKNW 980 in Vancouver went way over the top and declared the NFL dead in Toronto, a catastrophic failure, with the CFL proving victorious.  It is nice to have Pratt back on the radio, but I have been quickly reminded of my 2 major pet peeves with Big Daddy 1) over-sensationalizing insignificant stories,  2) he's bananas about the CFL, where many Canadians prefer the American game over our boring 9 team intramural league. Relax Pratt. The NFL is not dead in Canada, you just want it to be.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Port Mann Bridge Toll A Bad Idea

One of the most travelled commuter bridges in greater Vancouver, the Port Mann, is soon to be replaced. This is a vital artery of Vancouver traffic, part of the Trans-Canada highway, and with the expanded capacity will come an expensive toll. For those of us who commute over this bridge daily and cannot afford this sudden dramatic increase in monthly travelling expenses, we will have to alter our habits to take alternate routes. This demographic is a lot of people, especially considering Vancouver motorists are already butt-f**ked by an impressive arsenal of automobile taxes.

Why do you think the BC government is spending vast sums of money trying to convince people to drive on the new bridge once it is tolled? A large proportion of traffic is going to divert to the Puttello bridge or the Alex Fraser, routes that are already under strain by the large number of people who work in Vancouver but can't afford to live in Vancouver. Those who say the solution is public transit, my daily drive of 55 minutes would take 3 hours by bus/train. That is simply not an option. Transit is not an option, an extra $50 per month is not an option, so what am I to do? The only remaining option is to divert to already over-used bridges.

The BC Liberals would be wise not to toll that bridge ahead of the next election, and the NDP would be wise to put removing the toll on their promise list. There are a great many votes to be won on this issue. Trust me, I travel this bridge on a daily basis. A lot of people are about to get very frustrated; not only the people who drive the Port Mann, but all the people who regularly drive the alternatives. They have spent considerable time and money expanding the highway capacity leading up to the Port Mann bridge, which they aren't even going to need if a chunk of existing commuters choose alternate routes. My guess is that the government realizes the cluster f**k they are about to create, which explains millions spent on ads begging people to take the new toll bridge.

The BC Liberals have basically destroyed themselves. The NDP will form the next government of British Columbia. I'd put the NDP probability of victory around 90% if I were taking bets on it.

Avengers 2: The Infinity Gauntlet

At the end of the Avengers movie, a brief teaser scene showed up at the end of the credits (as has become common with the Marvel film franchises) that showed the villain Thanos. The most popular Marvel comic storyline involving Thanos was the Infinity Gauntlet, where he assembled a collection of gems on his glove giving him the power of God. Moreover, the Infinity Gauntlet briefly appears in Odin's weapons vault in the Thor movie. The fact that they have teased both the most powerful weapon ever conceived in the Marvel Universe (far more powerful than the "cosmic cube" or "Tesseract") and the villain who used it, suggests a strong probability that this will become the plot of a future movie, possibly Avengers 2, or Thor 2. It is less likely to be the story for the next Thor movie because he was only a minor participant in the adventure.

The big question, will the Infinity Gauntlet be the focus of a major motion picture? Below are reasons that it will, and reasons that it won't. At this particular moment in time there is no confirmation that they story will be used in an upcoming film. As someone who owns the original comic book series, this story being told would only increase the value of the original comics. The first comic book that I ever bought (at age 11)  was the Infinity Gauntlet #2.

This is the cover of The Infinity Gauntlet #1

1) This is a story involving several different Marvel characters, Captain America, Spiderman, Thor, Hulk, Wolverine, Cyclops, Dr Doom, Silver Surfer, etc; creating a spectacular cross-over story with a mighty ensemble of movie franchises jam packed into one film. Money, money, money, money, money...

2) This is one of the best Marvel stories not yet told in a movie.

3) It is the most impossible odds ever faced by the complete combination of Marvel superheroes. 


1) The bad guy is almost too powerful. Ironically the ice dudes who went to Odin's vault to steal the Tesseract in Thor walked right past a far superior weapon.  That aside, in the Infinity Gauntlet story Thanos basically kills everyone, loses the Gauntlet in a freak exchange, and the new possessor undoes all his evil deeds. It's not exactly a fair fight, it ends weird, and thus not necessarily a compelling movie story. They'd damned near have to significantly alter the original story.

2) In Thor, the gems appear as "the Gauntlet" on Thanos' glove. We see them on the glove worn by Thanos, the one who united all these gems on a single article of clothing. However his glove is not on his hand; ergo they are shown after the story would have taken place.

3) It is a complicated story to tell, and doing so in such a way as to be an effective blockbuster movie would require dumbing down the plot substantially. Which is not to say that can't be done in an entertaining manner.

The most likely outcome is that Thanos seeks the Tesseract in Thor 2, and if he receives strong reviews, then The Infinity Gauntlet will be the subject of Avengers 2.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Minnesota Wild Sign Parise And Suter To Mega-Contracts

It took until noon on July 4th, but Zach Parise and Ryan Suter both signed with the Minnesota Wild for 13 years and a cool $98M ($7.5M per year). They both also scored heavily front loaded contracts that pays most of the money up front, contracts that in all likelihood will be illegal in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement coming in two months time (hopefully). These contracts are similar to the Brad Richards contract, but with higher cap hits and longer term. This is more money than most fans would want to see their favourite team pay for either player, arguably a crazy move the could cripple this franchise for years to come (in tandem with 6 more years of Mikko Koivu at $6.7M per, and 2 more years of Heatley at $7.5M) not knowing what the next CBA will look like.

There have been some people comparing these signings to LeBron James and Chris Bosh "taking their talents to South Beach", except that there are two key differences: 1) Zach Parise is no LeBron James, 2) Miami was not far removed from a championship and already had one of the league's best players (Mikko Koivu is no Dwayne Wade). The Minnesota Wild have sucked for most of the last decade (minus a few scattered hot streaks), and is an otherwise low budget team suddenly desperate to make a splash to pacify the fans loyally selling out the building each night to watch an inferior product. In terms of comparing this to "the decision" we are talking about much lesser players going to a much lesser franchise. If their destination were about winning, these guys would be Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings, or Philadelphia Flyers today, but no, it is clearly about the money (guaranteed neither the Wings, Flyers, or Pens had offers that high).

It is unclear which of the Wild young defensemen will play with Suter. The choices are Tom Gilbert, Jared Spurgeon, Clayton Stoner, Marco Scandella, Nate Prosser; far from an impressive list, certainly a far cry from what he played with in Nashville. They only have 2 D (including Suter) who have played more than 130 games in the NHL, youthful inexperience to put it mildly. I'm not sure how a team with this blueline is anywhere near a contender. They have too many forwards, not enough experience on D, and are jammed right up against the artificially high summer salary cap (which is likely going down soon).

Those teams that stayed in the bidding to the bitter end, missed out on a number of potential players who made up their minds prior to July 4th. Boy, that PA Parenteau contract looks awfully small right about now. Alex Semin was smart to wait.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Calgary Flames Overpay For Jiri Hudler

Calgary Flames General Manager Jay Feester has signed forward Jiri Hudler (formerly of the Detroit Red Wings) to a 4 year $16M contract. Hudler can be a handy little offensive player at times, but his defensive play is weak at best. If he were a restricted free agent and this were an offer sheet, there is little chance that Detroit would match, choosing instead to let the diminutive Czeck walk. It is unclear how much Ken Holland offered him, if he even made an offer at all. Jiri scored 25 goals, 50 PTS last season and will contribute to Calgary's offense, but he does not make the team better. Is $4M too much to pay for a one way specialist? Well I'm a Red Wings fan and I've been saying for several months that I'm prepared to say goodbye to Jiri Hudler. I'm not the least bit sad to see him go.

Hudler did win a Stanley Cup with Detroit scoring 14 PTS in the 2008 playoffs (tied for 5th on the team) as the 2nd youngest player on the roster (two months older than Filppula), and he must be thanked by Red Wings fans for his service to the organization. Thank you Jiri, now don't let the door hit you on the way out. Many of us remember the year he took off to play in the KHL with Moscow Dynamo in 2010, and he did not return from that hiatus as a better player. His career high of 57 PTS was scored the season before he left; scoring 37 PTS in 73 GP in 2011 after his return. He was better before he left.

How Patrick Roy Killed Quebec's Status As Goaltending Factory

On December 2nd, 1995, the Detroit Red Wings hammered the Montreal Canadiens 11-1. Goaltender Patrick Roy was not pulled until after the 9th goal (which was midway through the 2nd  period), after which he walked up to the team President and declared that he had just played his last game in Montreal. Sergei Fedorov had a team high 5 PTS for Detroit in the game that arguably destroyed the Montreal Canadiens franchise.

Did that one fatefull night actually have a negative effect on Quebec's status as a hockey "goaltending factory"? In 2012 for the first time in over 20 years, not a single goaltender was drafted out of the QMJHL, highlighting a steady decline over the last eight years. In the last 3 drafts, only 5 goalies were drafted from the Q; compared to 14 drafted in the 2003, 2004 and 2005 drafts (though only 2 of those 14 would go on to play more than 1 NHL game). If this is more than just a coincidence, what's the difference between young goalies born in 1986 and those born in 1994 (the birth year of most 2012 draft picks)?

The last bumper crop of Quebec goalies were those old enough to remember the Montreal Canadiens last Stanley Cup. The last best goalie drafted to the NHL from the QMJHL was MA Fleury in 2003, who would have been about 10 years old when Roy went to Colorado. Most future professional goaltenders decide to strap on the pads between the ages of 7-12. The 2005 draft class born in 1987 would have been 8 years old when Patrick Roy had his infamous temper tantrum and f**ked the historic franchise. There has been a steady decline in the quality of Quebec goaltending since those in their formative years when Roy left town. This was a province famous for its ability to produce goaltenders, yet one cold night in 1995 might have ruined that.

Below is a chart with the # of QMJHL goalies drafted each year over the last 20 years. Look at the data, decide and decide for yourself; did Patrick Roy destroy a generation of Quebecois goaltending? I'd like to think so.

Radulov Signs With CSKA Moscow

CSKA Moscow (formerly nicknamed the Red Army for its ties to the Russian military) has signed Alex Radulov to a contract for an astronomical $9M per year. This team plays in a 5,600 seat "ice place", where they'll get around 30 home games; ergo they'd have to charge at least $53 per ticket just to pay for Radulov's salary alone, notwithstanding the rest of the roster (which includes Alexei Yashin who certainly ain't playing for free). Then again, this team is not paying salaries with ticket sales. Their owner is an oil company called Rosneft, owned by the Russian government. This oil company hit it big when they absorbed the former oil giant Yukos. How were they able to do that? The boss at Yukos was a political rival of Russian President Vladimir Putin, so the President used the government to shut down Yukos and absorb it into a new company called Rosneft, owned by the state, with headquarters near the Kremlin. Mikhail Khodorkovsky was thrown in prison.

So if you are curious how the former Red Army team is paying its payroll, the answer is not ticket sales, jersey sales, or Vodka sales; it is from oil money seized by the Russian President from a political rival. With that kind of money floating around, you can see how CSKA Moscow is able to pay the bills without adequate gate receipts in an otherwise gate driven sport. Their General Manager is Sergei Fedorov, personally one of my favourite NHL players of all-time. He's running a team that once won 13 consecutive Russian championships from 1977 to 1989. The tradition is proud, and if you've got to topple the trillion dollar company of a political rival to pay the bills, well this is Russia! That's how the cookie crumbles in the Red Square.