Thursday, August 31, 2006

Off-Season Reviews Part III

Today's contestant is Trevor Van Knotsenburg from our good friends the 2004 Stanley Cup Champion Ning (they hate it when we call them that).

Van Knotsenburg devotes a whole paragraph to the 1998 Eastern Conference Champion Washington Capitals in his look at the Southeast Division. To say that this is a basic outlook at the Caps, would be an understatement. But it is the same amount of space that the 2006 Stanley Cup Champions Carolina Hurricanes got in thie "division preview."

But it is August 31st, there isn't much hockey news to post. Unless of course, you want to talk about Roenick's latest whining. To which I only have to say "welcome to the club."

I guess my original idea of posting a chimp would have been a little more productive, so here it goes...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Caps Take Over RFK

It was interesting tonight at the Nats game at RFK (a game in which we really don't need to talk about too much). I don't know if anybody really noticed, but in the bottom of the 5th Inning, the Ribbon Scoreboards in the outfield had and advertisement for the Washington Capitals. All it did was put a couple of logos up, hawked the Caps website and posted a phone number (202)266-CAPS (that one is free Ted! :)= ). But what would get the most attention if anybody bothered to stick around (and the way the Nats are playing, they aren't likely too) is that the Caps are sponsoring the "Washington Capitals Big Hit of the Game." There's a quick little montage of A.O. hits (memo to Ted, include the hit against Columbus) that leads the highlight "hit of the game" in and out.

With training camp approaching and the regular season a little over a month away, it is nice to see the Caps ramp up their marketing. (Which in turn tells us hockey season is just around the corner.) What makes this rather noteworthy IMHO is that a year ago, the Caps couldn't do any of this. Not because of the lockout but because ex-Nationals Team President Tony Tavares wasn't going to allow it. I have it on good authority that Tony did not believe that the Nationals should promote the other sports leagues in any way. It took a considerable amount of arm twisting to get Redskins scores posted during Sunday day games last September. Of course, why the Nationals would turn down a check from anybody is beyond me, but that's the dysfunctionalism of Major League Baseball for you.

Anyway, kudos to Ted and Co for marketing the team and kudos to the Lerners and Kasten for being good neighbors and being smart enough to take a check.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sunday Smorgasbord 8-27

  • Nats drop two of three to Atlanta. The Nats lost those last two games to Atlanta by a combined score of 23-7. Now at 55-75, the Nats are 25 games back of the Mets in the NL East. With 32 games remaining, the Nats elimination number in the NL East is 9, so the Nationals could be eliminated from the NL East race this week. They are 11.5 games behind the Reds in the Wild Card chase and their elimination number from the playoffs is 21. Only the Royals, Pirates, Devil Rays, and Cubs (who are currently playing the Cardinals) have a worse record than the Nats.
  • I know I've been saying "it's only preseason" and while the most important part of the preseason to keep your valuable starters from getting hurt, you also don't want to embarrass yourself. Now we can go into how the third preseason game is the most important, but I really don't think it is a sign that the Skins are overrated or won't be any good. No, I don't think Joe Gibbs is going to win his fourth Super Bowl this year. Gibbs has always been a coach more concerned with Week 1 than whatever preseason game may be up next, so while Redskins fans have a right to be concerned, there's no reason to hit the panic button or write this team off. On the injury front, it doesn't look like anybody was seriously hurt last night other than a few bruised egos.
  • Equally ugly last night was D.C. United's blow up against the Galaxy. There are 32 soccer games and teams will often come out flat. Though a case could be made that D.C. has done that more and more recently as they have failed to win their last 5 league games (2 loses, 3 ties since beating Columbus at RFK on July 15th). D.C. is clearly showing signs of fatigue and it isn't going to get any better by playing in the U.S. Open Cup Semi-final vs. Chicago as a result of their 3-1 over the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night.
  • A few other thoughts on last night's game though, first I hope that Landon Donovan gets fined by MLS for his taunting of the D.C. United crowd. Alecko Eskandarian was fined for his spit-take. I can't see how actually taunting the crowd goes unpunished. And speaking of Landon Donovan, where was that type of play over in Germany? I might have refrained from that type of rhetorical cheap shot had Landon not said that he's content with being a big frog on a very small lily pad. Whoever the next U.S. National Team head coach is will have to either light a fire under Landon or cut him loose. Finally, could somebody please explain to me why D.C. United still insists on bringing the ball up the middle of the field? And when they actually use the flanks to advance the ball deep, why isn't anybody filling the center looking for the crossing passes? D.C. United right now is playing like the Caps did in the late 1990's early 2000's. They're a collection of players who play like they've never played together before in their lives. It is rather frustrating to watch.
  • All that being said though, D.C. United is now 13-3-8 with 47 points. With 8 MLS games remaining, D.C. United's magic number for a playoff spot is actually 4 points with Kansas City's 1-0 win over Dallas earlier tonight. (I apologize for the mathematical goof last week.) Their magic number for the Eastern Conference Title is still 11 points. And the magic number to lock up the MLS Supporter's Shield is now 19 points because of the Dallas loss tonight.
  • Darren Dreger of reports that the NHL will ratify Malkin's contract with the Penguins. Should this be true, the NHL is making a big mistake here. First of all, by ignoring RSL contracts the NHL puts in danger future IIHF transfer agreements. Secondly, the NHL is standing on shaky ground domestically as well. Metallurg has vowed to sue and it is tough to see howMalkin can show that he has fulfilled his obligation. Remember, a two week notice means you actually work the last two weeks before leaving. You don't hand in your notice and then bolt. But further complicating matters is Metallurg allowing a different player under contract to come to the NHL. Is this a peace offering or just nobody of any importance? Who knows, but the NHL is making a bed I don't think they will like laying in.
  • On a lighter note, all this talk of two week's notice reminds me of something from my job in college. A colleague of mine decided one night that he had enough and just decided to quit once his shift that night was over. Needless to say his supervisor wasn't too happy about his decision and told him he needed to provide a two week's notice. To this he replied, "for the next two weeks, just notice that I am not around and then forget about me."
  • And on that note, the Nats have tomorrow off to lick their wounds before returning to RFK to start a nine game home stand. They start with the Phillies on Tuesday for a three game set and then welcome back old buddy Livan Hernandez and his new team, the Arizona Diamondbacks next weekend. The Redskins have a short time to lick their wounds and get things going in the right direction as they play their last preseason game on Thursday night at home vs. the Ratbirds from up north. The Terps are the first football team in the area to play a football game that means something this Saturday night when they overmatch William and Mary at the newly renamed Chevy Chase Bank Field at Byrd Stadium. D.C. United is likely to punt their friendly (as opposed to a hostile) with minor-league Richmond on Wednesday night before heading to L.A. to face Chivas USA next Sunday night.
  • Finally, as always, please send all comments, questions, criticisms, complaints, suggestions, and high-fives to "capsnut" over at gmail dot com. If I can find any free time in my schedule, I might waste it reading your message. And if ever get around to it before deleting it, I just might respond.


Blood Everywhere

Yikes! 10-1, 5-2, and 41-0. Maybe Dan Steinberg had a point? I'm just glad that the Caps and Bullets are still in their off-seasons and couldn't add to the misery of D.C. Sports fans yesterday.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Off-Season Reviews Part II

Today's contestant comes from Wes Goldstein of See-BS Sportsline:

Wes seems to think that the Caps aren't a playoff team and doesn't seem to rap them on the knuckles for trying to build a team instead of trying to make the playoffs with very little. However, another common thread is emerging in these reviews and that is lamenting the loss of Jeff Halpern. Before Halpern signed with the Dallas Stars, there was hardly any recognition of him league-wide as a player. Much like Steve Konowalchuk, the accolades came upon leaving D.C.

So what is this all about, are the Caps really letting high-quality players go? Well in the case of Kono, he hasn't exactly lit the world on fire since going to Colorado and Halpern is already buried deep on the depth charts in Dallas. Furthermore, Dallas and Colorado aren't the "black holes" of hockey that Washington currently is. For instance, on opening night last year, the NHL sent out a highlight package including Secondary Assist Sydney Crosby's first ever NHL assist and did not include A.O.'s two goals and board breaking hit. (Oh, the Caps won their opening night game, unlike the Penguins)

So maybe it is because these guys, Halpern and Konowalchuk, were the good players on a bad team? I don't know, but considering that the national media treats the Caps like some backwoods backwater franchise, it does not come as a surprise to me that they "discover" these players when they move to the "glamour" franchises. Anybody who goes to those franchises, are going there to win a Stanley Cup and the move is geared towards making those teams tougher to beat for the Cup.

And if Halpern and Konowalchuk were considered the better players on these recent Capitals teams, no wonder they failed to win many games. As somebody who has followed this team, yeah we let Kono go without a ready replacement, but we already have a center capable of filling Halpern's shoes by the name of Brian Sutherby. And if Matt "Princess" Pettinger can show that last year wasn't a fluke, they'll become the new Halpern and Konowalchuk and receive all sorts of accolades when they leave Washington, D.C. too.

Only 2,000 Seats?

More details on the Byrd Expansion from the (Com)Post, the Times, and the Sun.

Head Coach Ralph Friedgen had talked about upping capacity to around the 70,000 mark so I'm surprised that the capacity is only being goosed by 2-3 thousand. This does however alleviate potential problems with parking, traffic, and in the short term, simply selling those additional seats. This also prevents a mass re-seating of the stadium from being done.

Of course, selling the naming rights to a bank is always a dicey proposition, just ask the people in Philadelphia. (How many names has that arena had?) Let's just hope that Chevy Chase Bank doesn't get bought out or decide to merge with another bank over the next 25 years. We already went through that when they sold the naming rights to the basketball court at Cole.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Two Way Street

NHLers leaving for Russia

And guess what, the NHL doesn't seem to like it.

But here's the real upshot of the whole thing:

Zherdev is the only first-line player among them. The others find themselves squeezed in the NHL's salary cap system where most of the money goes to the marquee names.
In other words, the marginal players are being squeezed out of the NHL and Russia is overpaying for that talent.

Of course, if the Rooskies can outbid the NHL for talent, then their claims of wanting $2 million for a player like Malkin begin to ring more and more hollow.

Though the Canadian Press should do a little more homework, agent Mark Gandler was also named in the Caps lawsuit against Alexander Semin last year. The Caps alleged that Gandler assisted Semin in his breaching of his contract with the Caps and that Gandler had numerous contacts in the Russian Super League which allowed him to aide and abet Semin. I don't think it is a coincidence that his clients are heading back to Russia during this dispute.

As I pointed out a couple of weeks ago there are some Russian players who have been downright busts. The Russian players who know that they are good hockey players, like A.O., will want to play against the best to prove themselves. The others, well, they'll go where the $$$$$ is. What exactly is wrong with this, I don't know.

UMD Announcement at 2:30 pm Tomorrow

Chevy Chase Bank is putting up $20 million for the naming rights mentioned earlier today and will hold them for 25 years. Some details are still being worked out, but additional renovations to Byrd will include an expanded visitor locker room, expanded and renovated Varsity Team House (for the other Varsity Athletic teams), and a bubble for practice during inclement weather.

Construction is to take place in two phases and will start after the upcoming 2006 football season. Unlike the last Byrd expansion, this will not have any effect on the football season either this year or next.

More details tomorrow at the Presser.

Caveat Emptor

Reds could file a grievance.

Well, methinks the Reds don't have much of a case. MLB has previously said they wouldn't get themselves involved in this case. But the Reds only recently started talking Bowden's calls again; CW would say that if Bowden wants to keep that relationship going, he'll have to work something out. Otherwise, he'll have to find another team to trade with.

Lonny Sentenced

Plea Bargained

Coming Soon.....

Chevy Chase Bank Field at Byrd Stadium.

Word on the street is that the Presser for this will be announced today and take place tomorrow. This sponsorship is being done to help finance the future upgrades to Byrd stadium which will include increased seating capacity, the of lowering the field (so that fans in the first rows of the stadium can actually see the field over the players, coaches, and press), the installation of field turf, along with other upgrades to the facility.

The details aren't out yet, but the stadium in its current configuration holds over 51,000 fans. The renovations could push that number as high as 70,000+. Among the new seats added will be the timeless classics of luxury boxes and club seats.

A few thoughts here, people complained out the wazoo about the "renaming" of Cole Field House back in the 1990's. I'm sure that there will be a good deal of hand wringing over the "renaming" of Byrd too. However, unlike the "renaming" of Cole, the $$$$$ generated by this will be put back into the facility and upgrade the facility. (Though I only hope that they paint the roofs red, so the sun can fade them into either pink or a hideous orange, so people will stop complaining about the blue roofs.) Also I think some will say an opportunity was missed here by Under Armour. The company's founder, Kevin Plank, is a UMD (along with SJC) alum and is very involved with the football program. UMD was the first school to wear Under Armour football uniforms and now Auburn has joined the UA ranks. I have to believe that UA would have jumped at this chance if they could have.

Finally, game day traffic (and parking) in College Park is bad enough with 52,000 fans coming to a football game. Add in an additional 10,000+ and I have serious concerns about the ability of the campus and surrounding neighborhoods to handle the traffic. I hope that's handled in the details and I will post the details as they become available.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Portis Hurt Worse Than Reported?

ESPN is reporting that the Skins have gotten T.J. Duckett from Atlanta.

It was a part of a three-team trade (which are always hard to pull off) in which the Redskins give up their 2007 3rd round choice to Denver while the Falcons get Ashley Leslie from the Broncos.

This leaves a glut of tailbacks in the Redskins backfield, unless of course Clinton Portis is hurt worse than initially thought. So, the other burning question is, how well does Duckett dress up for press conferences?

Offseason Reviews Part I

Well, with less than a month now until training camp, various hockey pundits will be offering their dime-store analysis on what the Caps did and didn't do this past off-season.

Today's first contestant is the always incorrigible Alan Muir of Sports Illustrated. You might remember that Mr. Muir thinks the Federal Minimum Wage and the NHL IIHF transfer agreement have something in common.

Well, in my $.02 analysis of Mr. Muir, he got about half right, half wrong. The Caps need help everywhere, period. Yes, that means in net too. Kolzig ain't gonna play for forever. The loss of Halpern was no big deal, they could use a veteran "rugged" defenseman but it isn't a necessity IMHO, and I do think Pothier will struggle at least for this season in his new role.

Muir says that the Caps goal isn't to compete, but to develop. Well, the team seems to think that they can do both this season. Muir also says that they should have been more aggressive in the Vishnevski hunt. Well, I don't know what need Vishnevski necessarily fills for this team, but McPhee has never been one to publicly tip his hand and we can likely get something better than Vishnevski for cheaper down the road.

But let me end this by saying that I really, really love the writers and the fans who think that every move in every season and off-season must lead to winning the championship in that season (or the one upcoming). There is such a thing as "rebuilding." The Caps are still in rebuilding mode and one should grade them on that, not on their ability to win the Stanley Cup this season.

Contestant #2 Dave Strader from the Florida Panthers TV booth makes exact same mistake. Hello guys, we know we aren't making the playoffs. (Cue Jim Mora, "PLAYOFFS!?!? YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT PLAYOFFS!?!?) Personally, I'm not too sure about the "upgrades" that Boston made (or Florida for that matter) and the mess on Long Island. My point being is that there are teams that even the Caps have a chance to pass this season.

Though the only nitpick I have with him was that we traded for Richard Zednik and did not get him as a UFA. Furthermore, we bought-out Nolan Yonkman and weren't too upset about losing Halpern, Brian Willsie, or Mathieu Biron. I mean if we're being hit over the head for losing Biron....

Monday, August 21, 2006


At least a legal one anyway...

I hereby nominate for Quote of the Day (cue David Bowie):

"You can ask militia (Russian police) about pressure. Pressure is when they bang your head against a wall radiator.
So that's how the Russian Mafia does it?????? I was thinking maybe some Penguin heads in Malkin's bed, pointing a gun at him, or something, but banging his head against a wall radiator..... Ok, if you say so.

On a serious note though, with Tretyak and Fetisov on board, the NHL's relationship with the RIHF is one of "persona non grata."

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sunday Smorgasbord 8-20

  • Nats drop the last two of three to the Phillies. Now at 54-70 with 38 games remaining, the Nats are 21.5 games back of the Mets in the NL East. Their elimination number from the NL East title is now down to 18. The Nats are now 10 games back of the Reds for the NL Wild Card and their elimination number from the playoffs is 29. After giving up 23 runs in the last two games, does anybody else remember Jim Bowden saying that you can never have enough pitching? Only the Royals, Pirates, Devil Rays, and the Cubs have worse records than the Nats. The loathsome B.O.'s have passed us.
  • I was at D.C. United's 1-1 tie with Colorado yesterday with my good buddy Sparky from Washington Hockey. I'll leave the expert analysis to those who know more than me. But I will express my dismay at United's stupid and often lazy turnovers in the midfield and, when they weren't turning the ball over in the midfield, their insistence on bringing the ball right down the middle of the field and into the heart of the defense. But all that aside, they got a point and they now are 13-2-8 with 47 points after getting another tie this past Wednesday night vs. New York. Their magic number for a playoff spot is now down to 11 points. Their magic number for the Eastern Conference title is also, 11 points. One more point and D.C. United will lock out Columbus from the Eastern Conference Title and 4 more points will eliminate Kansas City from the Eastern Conference Title. D.C. United's Magic Number for the MLS Supporter's Shield is 22 points with the Dallas loss at Los Angeles earlier tonight.
  • After taking in the D.C. United game, Sparky and I met up again at the lackluster 27-14 Redskins loss to the New Jets. Once again, this is preseason, the whole idea to keep players healthy and the only news on that front is Cornelius Griffin is day-to-day with a sprained knee. You also want to find out who among your non-regulars can play. The Skins are taking a hard look at quarterback Jason Campbell and he played alright. He had a stupid interception but was the victim of numerous drops. The only other big concern is the lack of somebody to kick off. But there are 22 days until the regular season opens, so some of these problems should be ironed out by then.
  • I meant to but I forgot to mention last the Redskins are being forced to defend their name again. I think I speak for most people when I say that I wouldn't have known that it was considered by some to be a "racial slur" if those people who did hadn't told me. But besides the whole P.C. connotations here, I find this attempted end run around the patent laws laughable. The last challenge was dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired, just because somebody younger is challenging now shouldn't make any difference.
  • The defending Women's NCCA Basketball Champions, Maryland Terrapins, also released their 2006-2007 schedule this past week. The most notable game, outside of the ACC tilts, is the home game vs. Michigan State on January 6th that See-BS has picked up for a national telecast. In other Terp women news, Kalika France, who was medically red shirted last year, is transferring. No word on where just yet, but with the Terps absolutely loaded at the guard position and all of last-year's important players returning (along with highly touted transfers and recruits coming on board this season) there just wasn't any room left for Kalika, so this isn't much of a surprise.
  • And if I am giving out Women's Basketball news, I must not have much material tonight. So this week the Nats continue their road trip by finishing off the season series with the Marlins for three games starting tomorrow night. After a day off on Thursday, they spend next weekend in Atlanta playing three games with the Braves. D.C. United hosts the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night at RFK for a U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal. They then host the L.A. Galaxy in an MLS regular season game that William Yurasko says he will be attending next Saturday night. The Redskins will pay a visit to the New England Patriots on Saturday night for another pre-season game.
  • Finally, as always, please send all comments, complaints, criticisms, questions, and indecent proposals to "capsnut" over at gmail dot com. If I ever stop spending my $$$$$, I might just read what you send and give you the courtesy of a reply.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Malkin Speaks has an exclusive interview and registration might be required to view the video of the interview.

But expect to be underwhelmed, a two year-old could come up with harder questions than what you'll hear in this interview. Like most of what we've heard so far, there's contradicting information. As I said earlier today, ESPN's Scott Burnside called into question Malkin's trustworthiness and that Malkin's father played a part in strong-arming the kid back into signing the 3 am contract.

All of that is fine and dandy but now Malkin claims that he was worried about what might have happened to his parents. So aside from the contradiction, (why would he be worried about his parents when they are one of the parties applying pressure?) Malkin never really says what threat his parents may or may not be under. He also seems unconcerned about what might happen to his parents now that he's gone on the lam.

The comical part comes from Slava Malamud, a Sports Express Daily reporter, who says that you really don't need to physically beat down a 20 year old or threaten him with guns to get him to do your will. All you need to do is to get "millionaire businessmen" to get the kid, who doesn't know very much, to do what you want. That might be news to some people who deal with 20 year olds, like college coaches do, on a daily basis. Malkin also never tells us what psychological games were played with him.

The force of this kid's character, or complete lack thereof, is starting to shine through. Imagine if the Penguins take him into arbitration down the road? That could be a doozy. Some clowns are saying the Pens could trade him. Take that with a full grain or two of salt, but on the off chance Malkin ends up in a real hockey-mad town, he'll really feel psychological pressure then.

And we all know now what Malkin does when the heat is applied.

Caps Announce Training Camp Schedule

T-minus 27 days and counting...

We're getting closer to having something else to talk about hockey-wise that isn't Malkin related, but that day is far from here. Nope, the Caps will be living a Nomadic life during training camp, wandering from Ashburn to Hershey and back to Ashburn, waiting for their new facility in Ballston to open up. So if you're the type bored enough to watch practice, (or are either a puckbunny and/or a stalker) you now know where and when to go.

And in your obligatory Malkin link of the day Scott Burnside says not to trust Malkin. We also learn that his father was also major player behind this whole sordid affair. (Can anybody say Carl Lindros?) If I were you Penguin fans, I wouldn't get my hopes up with this guy. It sounds to me like he is going to be more trouble than he's worth

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Terps Men's Basketball Schedule Released

Click Here

Though could somebody please explain to me all of the 9 pm weeknight tip-offs? And Dook twice in 17 days, that's smart...

There He Is...

Malkin now in L.A.

Here are some interesting snippets...

Barry has been with Malkin since the pair connected at an airport in Helsinki, Finland on Saturday, at which point they went into lockdown in a nearby apartment to await Malkin's visa clearance.

Ah-ha! The old "hide it right under his nose" trick.

All of the secrecy was necessary to ensure Magnitogorsk officials wouldn't track Malkin down while he waited for the U.S. embassy in Helsinki to process an American visa.

Yeah, no poop.

But one wonders, now that he's in the U.S. and "exposed" why aren't they worried about Magnitogorsk officials anymore?

CAA sports filed a two-week notification to terminate Malkin's contract with Magnitogorsk on Sunday. In early July a similar notice was served in an effort to break away from his original agreement.

Go read yesterday's update please.

A team of lawyers will soon be brought on board to determine a direction.

Again, no poop. (Those guys are going to have a field day with all of the "billable hours" on this one.)

What is known is that Evgeni Malkin is healthy and very eager to put the politics of this saga behind him.

That's nice, but it ain't gonna happen there buddy.

In the final analysis for right now, the big question of where he is has been solved, but the other questions have yet to be answered. Is Metallurg an arm of the Russian Mafia? What kind of person allows a third party to control their passport? Will the NHL risk an all-out war and ratify Malkin's contract? At this rate though, Malkin had better be as good as advertised and not be another Jiri Dopita.

Off Wing is out of sympathy for Metallurg but until more details come out, I have to disagree. Yeah, they're interested in $$$$$ more than they are in the player as person, but can you blame them? He's clearly their best player and they spent the time, $$$$$, and effort developing him. I happen to think that their demands are on the ridiculous side but you can't deny that they have a valid point here. Malkin's defection has allowed them to play the victim card to its fullest extent. We're also talking about businesses here. While humans play the sport, they are a commodity and are often going to be treated as such. Not everybody can play hockey and not everybody who can play hockey can play it as well as NHL players do. Rightly or wrongly, they are a commodity and they are sometimes going to be treated as such.

Now we're onto phase two, everybody gets lawyered up and they duke it out in court. Possession is 9/10's of the law, so while the NHL "has" Malkin, will the NHL put him to use?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

More Notices & Answers Forthcoming?

Add Yaroslavl's Andrei Taratukhin to the list. Him along with Malkin and Alexei Mikhnov bring the total to three Rooskies going around the RSL, RIHF, and coming to the NHL. This is the only thing other than expiring contracts that could force the Rooskies hand into signing onto the IIHF transfer agreement.

Though if you read further into that article, you'll notice that the Rooskies are moving to close the two weeks notice loophole, so this is your last chance Russian hockey players.

The other big point is that the NHL apparently isn't willing to ratify the contracts of Taratukhin and Mikhnov until the Malkin saga has been resolved which is interesting to say the least. The RSL is apparently more interested in keeping Malkin than these two, so while they may end up facing no legal entanglements, they'll be held hostage by the Malkin debacle. The NHL in this instance will be playing right into the hands of the RIHF federation no matter which way they go. If they refuse to ratify Malkin's contract, the RIHF wins because all three players will not be playing in the NHL. If the NHL does ratify the contracts, then the NHL will be going against their own word and employing at least one player whose Russian contract status is in clear dispute. The RIHF can claim victim status and the NHL will have a tough time getting a new transfer agreement with the European leagues because the NHL will have shown a clear disregard for the contracts in Europe.

And speaking of Mr. Malkin, apparently that "undisclosed location" is somewhere in Europe. Of course with all the twists, turns, and misdirections in this whole saga, I'll take this development with a grain of salt. I sincerely do hope that the kid is alright, this whole thing is stupid for somebody to get hurt over. I am also very interested in hearing his story. Though don't think for a second that just because Malkin turns up alive and well that this whole story will end right there. We'll be talking about this case for some time.

Have You Seen This Man?

Ok, how long does it take to get to North America? First he defects on Saturday and then yesterday we found out that he signed his new RSL contract at 3 am (so at least we know that story from last week is true) but now nobody seems to know where this guy is right now and the people who should know, apparently aren't talking anymore after yesterday's non-update update.

So the question begs, just where is he and why hasn't he come out of hiding yet? If Malkin had such a rock-solid case of giving a team two weeks notice and then leaving with no strings attached, why would he have to go the defector's route? Just give your two weeks notice after signing the new contact and then take off. Surely Metallurg was aware of the two week notice provision and I can't imagine they wouldn't have done something about it in the new 3 am contract. So again, what is he hiding from right now? I personally think the answer is pretty obvious, but why nobody wants to talk about it is beyond me. Do he and his handlers think that he can stay in hiding and play for the Penguins at the same time? (Well, considering the attendance issues in Pittsburgh, he just might...)

Furthermore, this whole sordid affair doesn't speak well for the type of person that Malkin is. He has shown very little backbone and seems to be easily swayed by whoever is currently surrounding him. While those traits could end up making him the perfect player for Pittsburgh, one must wonder how he will acquit himself in the NHL when the going gets tough. Will he runaway again?

Who knows how this is going to play out, but one thing is for certain, it will be ugly no matter how this situation comes to a conclusion.

UPDATE: Malkin gives his two weeks notice, again.

A few things here, #1. A two weeks notice means you actually work those last two weeks before you leave. Malkin clearly is not fulfilling that provision so isn't this notice null and void on a technicality? Doesn't he owe Metallurg at least two weeks of work before he can legally depart? #2. How does Rooskie law handle a two weeks notice filed after the employee in question undeniably breaches his contract? Inquiring minds want to know. #3. As I said earlier today, Metallurg had to have been aware of Malkin's "two weeks notice" rights when they did the 3 am contract. Why didn't Metallurg take precautions against this provision in the 3 am contract? #4. As I've said before, even though Malkin can "walk away" with a two weeks notice, Metallurg can move to block Malkin's departure if they are able to prove that losing him would be harmful to their operation. This would seem to me to be a slam dunk case for Matallurg. Furthermore, why would Metallurg forgo this route for a talent like Malkin when is reporting that Yaroslavl is considering doing just this for Alexi Mikhnov? (Maybe that's why Metallurg did not bother to put a provision in, but even if they knew that they had a slam dunk case, why bother putting yourself at risk for an extra expense?)

I personally see no way that the NHL can ratify a contract from Pittsburgh for Malkin. There are way too many legal entanglements right now. If the NHL does however ratify a contract for Malkin in Pittsburgh, they'll lose all sorts of credibility with their fans (because they have made it clear that Russian players have to secure their own release through legal channels) but most importantly, with the IIHF. The transfer agreement expires next year and if the NHL and/or Pittsburgh had anything to do with this defection (including welcoming him into the NHL when he was still under contract elsewhere), it will only make things harder for them going forward.

Finally, it is nice to see that the rumor of Malkin hanging out with A.O. in Toronto appears to be unfounded but is instead stashed at Vice President Dick Cheney's ubiquitous "undisclosed location." But again I ask, why is he hiding?

Say It Ain't So

Gang banging Baxter????

One of the nice things about the 2002 Maryland National Championship Basketball team was the overall lack of thugs and prima donna "superstar" players. Seniors Lonny Baxter, Juan Dixon, and Byron Mouton were all average players who lead the team to the National Championship by simple hard work and effort. You knew that none of those three would have long and distinguished NBA careers and that was the reason why you were so happy to see them win the National Championship. They were good hard working kids who got a much deserved reward for their hard work.

Now LB is on the Drudge Report and that usually isn't a good thing. I'm sure everybody is wondering just what he was doing late last night. I know I am.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Crazy From the Heat

Ok folks, we need some help quickly. Japers' is holding a contest for his favorite ice girl. We need to get NHL training camps open pronto here.

I would be willing to cast a vote myself (I have to admit, I find contestant #5's almost emotionless expression rather intriguing...) but I do not feel that I can be an objective judge because my heart belongs to a contestant not even listed. As a matter of fact, I needed a Google Cache search to bring up my-all-time favorite ice girl Blondie from the Carolina Hurricanes. Now folks, let assure you that the pictures there do not this girl justice. As a matter of fact, I am rather disappointed that Google can't find the picture of Blondie that, for me at least, ruined all other ice girls forever. As Hanz and Franz used to say "hear me now and believe me later" when I say that if you had seen this picture too, you would know exactly what I was talking about and would understand why I was so mesmerized that I forgot to right-click and save as. I remembered to do it for this one (which BTW I had an 8 x 10 printed out and then autographed) but there was just something about Blondie's picture that I just didn't do it. I can't explain why. (And if you have the picture in question, please be a friend and share with the rest of the world by e-mailing it to me at "capsnut" over at gmail dot com." Thanks!)

Anyway, on a more serious Canes-related note, season ticket sales are up about 60% in Raleigh. Why do I mention this? Well it's bad news for us Caps fans. This means we'll only be able to bring four busloads of Caps fans to Raleigh this season instead of our usual six. Our "home ice advantage" in Raleigh has just been compromised.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sunday Smorgasbord 8-13

  • The Nats dropped the last two of three to the Mets and there is tension in the locker room. On a brighter note, Alfonso Soriano hit his 200th home run today. Now at 51-66 with 45 games remaining, the Nats are 20.5 games back of first place in the NL East. Their elimination number from the division title (Mets) is 26. The Nats are 9.5 games out of the Wild Card and their elimination number from the playoffs (Reds) is 36. Cleveland moved past the Nats, but the fast sinking B.O.'s dropped under them, so only the Royals, Pirates, Devil Rays, Cubs, and B.O.'s have a worse record than the Nationals.
  • I admit to doing laundry instead of watching the Redskins lose to the Cincinnati Bengals 19-3. The results of a pre-season game are largely unimportant so I won't be sounding any alarm bells. But injuries do count, and the injuries to starters Clinton Portis and Chris Clemons are something to worry about. Portis' injury does not seem to be too serious but the Skins need to be careful going forward. The NFL is a 17 week war of attrition and losing players for the season in games that don't count unnecessarily handicaps yourself.
  • From what I did see of the game, I was highly disappointed that NBC employs the self-proclaimed (and self-important) "Dean of the NFL Journalists" Peter King from Sports Illustrated. His single-minded obsession with keeping Art Monk out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in my mind disqualifies him from being a serious NFL journalist. For NBC to give him a bigger microphone is unconsciousable.
  • Your daily obligatory Evgeni Malkin link comes straight from the "Duh!" file. Next we're likely to learn that the Pope is Catholic. Otherwise, the real question, just where is Malkin, has yet to be answered. Yesterday, Rumor Boy said he was heading to Canada. And speaking of Rumor Boy, is there anybody that the Caps aren't interested in?
  • On the off-chance you didn't know by now, D.C. United battled to draw with Real Madrid on Wednesday night in Seattle. United played well in the first half and started to fade in the second. They were able to launch some nice counter-attacks late in the second half but were still lucky to hold on for a tie. The defense did about as well as you could expect absorbing wave after wave of world-class attacking players. The offense though was very, v e r y s l o w t o d e v e l o p. Of course, D.C. still needs to take care of business in the MLS. Games like this should give them confidence that they can handle anything the league throws at them. With this week's results in the books, D.C. United is still 13-2-6 with 45 points with 11 games remaining. Their magic number for a playoff spot is 13 points, their magic number for the Eastern Conference title is 15 points. Their magic number for the Supporter's Shield is 27 points.
  • This week; the Nats will host Atlanta for four game series before heading out on the road and spending next weekend in the City of Brotherly love. D.C. United resumes their MLS schedule and starts off Wednesday night in East Rutherford, New Jersey to face the New York Red Bulls and welcome back former D.C. United and U.S. National Team Head Coach, Bruce Arena, to the MLS. D.C. United then comes home to RFK on Saturday afternoon for the first time in over a month to seek revenge on one of the two teams to actually defeat them this year, the Colorado Rapids. The Redskins will seek to avoid further injuries (and turnovers) when they host the New York Jets at FedEx field on Saturday night.
  • And once again, you can send all comments, questions, complaints, suggestions, and shout-outs to "capsnut" over at gmail dot com. I might eventually read anything you send and if the moment moves me, you might just get a response.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Malkin Goes AWOL

Is in the process of defecting.

That link has it exactly right. This is yet another bizarre twist to an already downright kooky story. I came across this link earlier in the week about Malkin's new Prison-Themed Restaurant but was saving it for Sunday's Smorgasbord because I didn't think it was worthy of its own post. But one can only now begin to note the irony about Malkin's potential to be spending time in an actual prison should he have really gone AWOL from Metallurg.

Two things to consider. #1. As I stated before the NHL is really now going to be forced to either stand by their statement that they will only ratify the contracts of Russian players who have LEAGALLY gotten out of their RSL contracts. If Malkin really has gone the defector route, there's no way the NHL can honor a contract for him submitted by the Penguins. At least not without providing special treatment to one of their favored teams, again. #2. Should he turn up in North America, there will be tons of questions about Malkin's "new" contract, his "change of heart" that he passed on through Gonchar, his Prison-themed restaurant, and of course, the real reason for him defecting. If this does not go a long way to expose the influence that the Russian Mafia still holds over Russian hockey players, nothing on Earth ever will.

On a more Caps related front, one must also begin to wonder if this will have an effect on the return of the "savior" to the Caps this fall. No, I'm not talking about A.O., I'm talking about Alexander Semin. I know I sound like a broken record player, but if you've ever read the case that the Caps filed against him and his U.S. based agent (who had strong ties to the RSL), you'd have to be pretty stupid to not put 2 and 2 together and see that he was being held hostage by the Russian Mafia. (Thanks to smarner I have the complaint that the Caps filed. If you would like to read it for yourself, please shoot me an e-mail to "capsnut" over at gmail dot com and I'll be glad to send it to you.) I can't imagine that the Russian Mafia will be happy with Malkin's defection lettalone the Russian Ice Hockey Federation. One can only wonder what the repercussions from both will be.

Stay tuned kids...

And Now We Know...

Comcast folded like a house of cards.

I am mildly surprised that it went down this way. Comcast had the resources to bleed Peter Angelos dry over MASN. I guess the Congressional and FCC pressure that Angelos (and well known Democratic donor) brought to bear on Comcast was too much. There has got to be some way to get the Nationals out from under this outrageous setup.

I am livid that I'll be personally supplying $2 a month to Angelos. My incompetent Representative Jim Moran (D are you surprised? VA) is going to be hearing a lot about this one.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

From the "Some Things Never Change File"

NBC NHL and the OLN NHL schedules are out.

And thanks to Old Chelsea over in Darwin's Waiting Room for pointing out that the Caps and the reigning NHL Rookie of the Year, A.O. will get a whopping combined 3 appearances on NBC and OLN while while runner-up Secondary Assist Sydney Crosby gets to show his crybaby act a combined 11 times.

The Caps will actually be getting more National Television coverage in Canada on TSN (five games) than they will in the United States.

Anybody want to guess as to who the still favorite son is? But can anybody please explain to me why?

Ratbirds Want D.C. Market Too?

Yeah, Bhawlmuher is a "Major League City."

You know, this is just further proof as to the absurdity of the whole Peter Angelos-Baseball in Washington, D.C. conflict. If Bhawlmuher does not have enough strength in their own market to support Major League teams, why should Bhawlmuher be allowed to have them? If Washington can support Major League teams on their own (w/o requiring the help of other markets mind you) why was Washington denied a baseball team for 34 years?

And going off on a side rant here, I don't want to hear a single word from some Baltimoron telling me that Jack Kent Cooke kept the NFL out of Bhawlmuher. That is a flat out lie. Cooke never did anything such as that because he didn't need the market and the competition wasn't non-existant.

Last season with Nats games being aired erratically on WDCA in Washington, D.C. and little formal marketing to speak of, the Nationals drew 2,692,123 fans while Bhawlmuher pouted drawing 2,624,804 fans according to ESPN stats. This year with the shine off the apple in D.C., the TV coverage worse than last year (some cable systems picked up MASN but there are less games on over the air TV) and marketing of the team finally starting up recently, the Nats have drawn 1,388,893 fans in 51 games averaging 27,233 per game while Bhawlmuher has drawn 1,642,147 in 61 games averaging 26,920 per game.

The B.O.'s have a TV market that includes all of MD, parts of PA, and a good portion of VA along with a strong marketing presence. Peter Angelos said last year that wouldn't have minded if the Expos had been moved to Richmond or Norfolk. But with the Nats TV rights in his hands, Richmond and Norfolk didn't get any Nationals games last year from MASN, while the B.O.'s were carried in those markets. Even now, the Nats do not have an over the air station in either of those markets or Roanoke which the B.O's continue to have. The B.O.'s also have a D.C. affilate but not the only over the air affilate that the Nats have is Channel 20.

But just like the B.O.'s now the Ratbirds insist on having the D.C. TV market too. Can somebody please explain to me just why Bhawlmuher deserves to be in the driver's seat and why they are allowed to lay claim to the D.C. TV market when they clearly can't support their own teams? I guess the Redskins will have to move too?

Gonchar Speaks!

At least he isn't randomly shooting pucks at new forwards for the Caps....

This is almost from the "I told you so" file. When will somebody here in the States start to take a serious look into the involvement of the Russian Mafia with the Russian hockey players? I remember there was some talking about it in the 1990's when they shook down Alexander Mogilny and Pavel Bure, but the issue clearly hasn't gone away.

As I said yesterday, I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised to see a Russian Military Draft Notice in Malkin's future. Will A.O. be hit with one of those too? Who knows, but what is it going to take to get the sports media's attention to this problem in Russia?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What is it with the Big Sports Media Outlets?

Thanks to Off Wing Opinion to tipping me off to this utter garbage from Sports Illustrated.
After all, this is a country where the minimum wage has remained static at $5.15 for nearly a decade.

Ok, could somebody please explain to me why that line was put in there? I know I said I would keep politics in here to a minimum unless circumstances warranted. But this is a case where the wages of the working teenagers of America has absolutely, positively, nothing to do with the demands of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation. First Rick Reilly got me to drop my subscription to SI, then Peter King turned me off to them as serious journalists. Alan Muir has just further justified my opinion of that waste of paper.

While the "taking" of players like Evgeni Malkin and A.O. for a mere $200K looks like highway robbery, you have a long list of much ballyhooed European players that NHL teams paid the transfer fees for an got darn little in return. Jiri Dopita, Kristian Huselius, Petr Sykora, Roman Cechmanek all of whom at one point were branded (like Malkin currently is) "the best player not playing in the NHL." And yet each and every single one of them fell flat on their faces in the NHL and didn't even come close to living up to the hype. I admit to being old enough to remember the arrival of Dmitri Khristich and Mikhail Tatarinov to the Caps in the early 1990's. They didn't do much, but it was more than what Alexander Kharlamov did for the Caps.

If the Rooskies want a FIFA style transfer system, fine, all that will mean is that marginal players will be left behind in Russia and the superstars will still be brought over one way or another. For every Sergei Fedorov, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Dominik Hasek there's a Dopita, Tatarinov, and a Cechmanek. These things have a way of evening out over time so with a low transfer fee there's not a whole lot to worry about on the NHL's side. Or maybe the NHL should demand their money back?

Furthermore, what Muir forgot to point out (probably because he was too busy making irrelevant political points) was that the NHL does not have the revenue streams that the NFL, MLB, and NBA do. Do you think that the MLS would pay $18 million for any international soccer player? The NHL can't afford that price either. While the RIHF has every right to get the most money they can for their players (and they should not be denied that right) the NHL also has a right to demand the lowest cost for every player that they can get (and they shouldn't be denied that right either). I could be wrong, but I believe that is called free-market capitalism.

But beyond capitalistic motivations, one of the real reasons why the Rooskies are holding this whole thing up is because of the Russia Mafia. Anybody who seriously followed the Alexander Semin saga knows that the whole system over there is flat out wacko. How much does somebody want to bet that just before Malkin's new one year deal ends that Malkin will receive his draft notice?

SI needs to stick to photography.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Livan Traded

To Arizona for two minor league pitchers.

But the best part of this trade? The egg all over ESPN's face.

See why I have such a low opinion of ESPN? It seriously has nothing to do with their anti-hockey stance.

What Did I Tell You?

I'll look for a more reputable source later but no Malkin in the NHL this year. If you're good with Russian, you can go here for the straight scoop. I find it interesting that Metallurg was willing to knock a year off of the deal. This is starting to have shades of the Alexander Semin saga. The one drawback for the Rooskies not signing onto the IIHF transfer agreement is that once their contracts run out, they can lose their players to the NHL for nothing. Apparently now Mettalurg has decided to give Malkin one year back. That just doesn't add up to me.

As I said, I'll post a more reputable source if and when I ever see it.

UPDATE: seems to be just as confused as the rest of us right now.

ESPN links a Reuters report that has more confidence but is even more confusing, stating that Malkin had signed with the Penguins but had a change of heart. This is becoming more bizarre than the Semin saga ever was....

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sunday Smorgasbord 8-6

  • I was listening via to the Nats lose to the Padres again as I was doing that post below. Now at 49-62 with 51 games left, the Nats are 17 games out of first place in the NL East. Their elimination number from the NL East (Mets) is 36. They are 8 games back of the NL Wild Card and their elimination number from the Wild Card (Reds) is 44. The Nationals passed Cleveland this week so now only the Royals, Pirates, Devil Rays, Cubs, and Indians have worse records than the Nationals. Right now we've lost a top five pick for next year's draft and Bhawlmur is quickly sinking.
  • Let me give Thanks once again to Sparky for putting up with me this weekend. That's why I haven't commented until now on Comcast and MASN reaching a deal. Unlike DCSportsChick, I don't think Hades froze over with this deal. Comcast was eventually going to have to let MASN on the air in some form. I wouldn't be surprised in the least to find out in the coming days if Comcast has either bought a piece of MASN or if Angelos came off his outrageous carriage fee. I just paid my Comcast cable bill for this month, so I'll let you know if there is some crazy increase. Personally, I was hoping that Comcast would bleed Angelos dry on MASN. I can only imagine the losses he was taking on that venture. Though I find that an interesting precedent has been set. I can start my own network, have three to four hours of programming on almost a daily basis for only six months for over a year, insist on outrageous carriage fees from cable companies and I can get Congress and the FCC to push the cable companies into carrying my network. Ain't Free-market Capitalism grand?
  • 47,258 bored people fans showed up at FedEx field for the Redskins-Ratbirds scrimmage yesterday. The stars didn't play, so nobody of consequence got hurt. I don't know if I should be proud or ashamed of the fact that 11,741 more people showed up in Landover yesterday than in Bhawlmuher last year.
  • With some help from the rest of the MLS, D.C. United defeated Chelsea FC yesterday 1-0. D.C. United had 8 players on the MLS squad and Coach Peter Nowak coached the team as they avenged their 2-1 loss to Chelsea last year at FedEx Field. D.C. United also won their U.S. Open Cup match this past Tuesday. They'll now meet the New York Red Bulls on August 23rd at RFK Stadium in Quarterfinal.
  • This past Thursday night I went to an Maryland Gridiron Network event to get a preview of the upcoming Maryland Football season. Ralph Friedgen is fired up for this season and the only things of note to report is his satisfaction with having an experienced quarterback to start the season with and that he'll be recruiting the kids with "good character" now more than he was in the past. This isn't a bad idea as the Terps open their camp on Monday minus two offensive linemen. On a side note, word on the street is that two high profile State Penn recruits from the People's Republic of Maryland are about to hold a competition to see who transfers out of Happy Valley first, though neither are welcome at UMD.
  • In your obligatory hockey links, Malkin fired his agent again and the Bruins walked away from Tanabe. Though if the Bruins were comfortable with the depth that they had the defenseman position, why take Tanabe to arbitration in the first place?
  • Freaky Floyd Landis' second sample flunked which only confirms the original. If anybody still cared, I need the material tonight folks.
  • And seeing as how I am scraping the bottom of the barrel here... This week the Nats come back home and start a ten game homestand on Tuesday night with the Marlins and then lose even more ground to the Mets next weekend. After playing out of division games for the past two and half weeks, the Nats play nothing but the NL East for the rest of this month and all four NL East rivals come to RFK. The Redskins open their preseason next Sunday night visiting the Cincinnati Bengals on NBC. D.C. United travels to Seattle, Washington to play a friendly (as opposed to a hostile) with Real Madrid.
  • And finally, no I won't open up the comments section here. I just don't want to deal with them. However you can send all comments, questions, complaints, criticisms, congratulations, and huzzahs! to "capsnut" over at gmail dot com. I'll eventually might read anything you send me and if the mood strikes me, I just might respond.


You Tagging Me???

JP asked, so you get to know...

  1. I actually spent a year after High School at Prince Georges' Community College (aka, Largo Senior High) before transferring to the University of Maryland. It was a total and complete waste of time. I had a 3.0 GPA there without even putting forth the effort I put forth to get through my senior year of high school. One of my professors even called me out on my lack of effort (and yet, I still got a B from him). I ended up there simply because the two colleges I did get into La Salle and then Western Maryland College didn't offer enough financial aid and scholarships for me to go there. My parents, wisely, were not willing to let me take on the debt of student loans to attend those schools and I ended up at P.G.
  2. I did not attend either my Junior or Senior Proms. I remember the classmate of mine whom upon learning that I was not planning on attending the Senior Prom asked me "How will you live with yourself"? Well, over 12 years later, very well thankyouverymuch. While I do have some regrets in my life, that isn't even close to being one of them. My friend even tried to set me up with a date for the Prom about two days beforehand with another friend of ours that he and some of his other friends wanted there. I turned the offer down because of the lateness of the whole thing and because it was more about getting that particular girl there than it was about getting me there. It also didn't help that she wasn't to high on the potential arrangement either.
  3. I have an uncanny knack for ill-timed comments. For instance, 7 years ago now I was still working at my job on campus even though I had graduated. A couple at my job was getting married and so we threw a party for them. I admit to not knowing either one of them that well, but when the card came around I signed it "Congratulations on your wedding. I hope your first child is a masculine child" quoting of course Luca Brasi from the greatest movie of all-time, The Godfather. Well, of course during the party the whispering campaign started and after the party the General Mangler came up to me absolutely exasperated and asked me why I wrote what I did. I just as exasperatedly told her it Luca Brasi from "The Godfather." She told me never watched that movie and gave up on me. It took about another hour and half before it hit me and I asked a friend of mine "[She's] (the bride to-be) pregnant isn't she"? Luckily the couple knew that I didn't know about their situation beforehand and wasn't as offended as the GM was.
  4. My older sister calls me "Forrest Gump" because I have my had my picture taken with Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich (3 times), Maryland Basketball Head Coach Gary Williams (2 times), Maryland Football Head Coach Ralph Friedgen, Boston College Basketball Head Coach Al Skinner, Penn & Teller, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Ted Nugent, Ted Leonsis (who's eyes were closed), Joe Beninati, Craig Laughlin, and most recently Miss America 2006 Jennifer Berry. I'm sure that there are others I am forgetting about right now, but I've also snuck into the Official Senate Photos for the 106th, 107th, and 108th Congresses (I didn't sneak into the picture this year for the 109th Congress because the habit has become too expensive.) I've also been on TV numerous times being interviewed and in the background (most recently the Nats/Yankees game on Father's Day earlier this year). I also had a letter read by David Letterman on the CBS Mailbag to which this day, I've heard about but have never actually seen myself.
  5. I got a passport in 2001 in only three days and I didn't pay for the expedited service. I got the passport that quickly because of my job on Capitol Hill. But so far the only stamp in that passport is from Canada, which I don't think counts. I was actually annoyed that the Customs agent in Calgary stamped my passport in 2003 when I went through there.

Ok, I've fulfilled my commitment. I hereby tag Ted Leonsis and Raking Leafs because everybody else I was going to tag has already been tagged.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Building False Hope?

Or just getting the usual special treatment?

So one day after I say that the Rooskies aren't coming, Evgeni Malkin gives his two week notice to Metallurg, publicly opens negotiations with the Penguins, and almost hands Malkin the Calder Trophy.

Reality check here folks, the same Russian labor laws that allows Malkin to get out of his contract with a simple two week notice also allows employers to seek damages against an employee who uses the two week notice to leave their job. Metallurg is entitled to sue Malkin for damages and prevent his departure.

The TSN story linked here weasel worded it and pulled a little obfuscation to boot.

The news comes after NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told the paper that there will be no transfer agreement between the Russian Hockey Federation and the NHL for this upcoming season, but noted that if players currently on contract with Russian teams can secure their own release, they could still sign with NHL teams this season.

I added emphasis to the important point. I wouldn't be surprised in the least to see Metallurg slap a lawsuit on Malkin.

A lawsuit will throw the whole thing into disarray. Some have tried pointing to the lawsuit that Moscow Dynamo filed in U.S. court against A.O., which was dismissed, as proof that there is nothing to worry about from a Metallurg lawsuit. While it was nice to see U.S. Courts for once refusing to apply foreign laws in U.S. courts, the D.C. Circuit Court was being asked to enforce an arbitration board ruling, not a Russian Court ruling. That arbitration board ruling came only after the Caps had slapped a lawsuit on Alexander Semin and his U.S. based agent and was dubious to begin with. Dynamo tried to argue that after being found in breach of contract, they matched the offer to A.O. but omitted the opt out clause. Either way, it wasn't a court ruling but an arbitration board ruling that the D.C. Circuit was being asked to uphold.

While I doubt that the U.S. Courts will get involved this time around (and they shouldn't). The NHL has two options should Metallurg throw the Malkin contract into dispute. They can ignore their statements about releases and allow Malkin to play. They however run the risk of alienating the IIHF and other European Hockey Federations in the process. This isn't a good idea because the NHL's transfer agreement with the IIHF expires after the next offseason and ignoring contracts in force (or at least in flux) would not be a good way to as they say to "win friends and influence people."

Or the NHL could do what it has always done and play favorites. They allowed Mario Lemieux to become the first owner to ever suit up and play for this team. They slapped him with a criminally low $500 fine for coming out of the penalty box and charging after veteran referee Kerry Fraser in 1994. (Lemieux also stated that he would no longer help to promote the league and threatened to retire because of all the hooking and holding he had to endure.) Considering the Lemieuxesque treatment the NHL has already begun to bestow on Secondary Assist Sydney Crosby, I wouldn't be surprised in the least if the NHL went ahead and allowed Malkin to play in the NHL while his Russian contract remains in limbo. The NHL for whatever reason wants to protect and promote to the hilt a team that has more bankruptcies than Stanley Cups and can't get the local politicians behind an effort to keep the team from moving. Why this is I don't know, but it is long past time the NHL stopped blatantly playing favorites.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I Respectfully Dissent

Those who know me well know that I am not afraid to swim against the tide of popular opinion. Here's one of those cases, first Off Wing Opinion and then DC SportsChick sounded off on the NHL's new marketing idea of selling pink jerseys to their female fans. In a nutshell, they don't like them and like William Yurasko, I think it is a bit condescending.

However, problem is, this isn't a new idea. The NHL isn't exactly breaking new ground here, so I really don't see what the problem is. Maybe the NHL is a day late and dollar short, but so what?

Who cares that the NHL is following everybody else? Yes, I did notice that some of those pink jerseys are in the bargain bin and directed to young girls and not adult women. But I don't hear any complaints about women's replica jerseys that are cut to fit the contours of the grown ladies.

These jerseys aren't being marketed to the serious fans, like those who read every story about their team, league, and blogs about them. They are being marketed to the casual fans and quite frankly, the NHL needs all the casual fans they can get their hands on. Why do you think we have a gimmick like the shootout now?

Neither one of my sisters is likely to wear any type of "women's jersey", pink or not, because they are serious fans. Unless you're the type who feels the need to own every piece of merchandise with your favorite team's logo on it, you don't have to buy these jerseys and wear them to the game. And if you are the type who does feel the need to own every piece of merchandise with your favorite team's logo on it, there are support groups for you because you've got a serious problem.

I could understand if the players were being forced to wear pink jerseys during an actual game. And again, Yurasko is right that they could be a good as a rookie hazing tool. But I happen to think that there are more important things to worry about that what color the NHL tries to sell their jerseys in. Maybe it's the 100+ degree heat, I don't know, but I'm starting to agree with Japers, hockey season now please.

And they wonder why I have the comments turned off...

Deadline Schmedline..

Russia flat out says no.

So no Malkin or any other RSL player this year. The Rooskies didn't even wait for the deadline to approach. They didn't even bother with the obligatory phony hand wringing and sweating over the deal. Face with a deadline, they just flat out said, "ok, no deal, we don't need to think about this."

This could get really, really ugly folks. Should the NHL follow through with the threat and not allow the Russian NHLers to play in the World Championship, watch the reverse defection take place. Rooskies care about playing for their country and if playing the in NHL interferes with that, well then good-bye NHL!

Once the NHL contracts for these players are up, say good-bye to them. Sure some guys could go Alexander Semin and just ignore the NHL contract and play in Russia. However, those players run the risk of the IIHF barring them from International Competition because they are ignoring a contract that is in force. We'll soon see if a player like A.O. will put $$$$$ ahead of country. If this situation is not worked out, the Caps will have to give him a max contract in two years when his rookie deal expires in order to compete.

Of course, the NHL could allow the Russian players to play in International Competition despite the lack of a transfer agreement and avoid a mass exodus back to Russia. But I doubt that gesture of goodwill will mean anything beyond that. If the NHL wants a transfer agreement, they are going to have to cave into the RSL's demands and allow the individual teams to broker agreements with the Russian clubs. Soccer already does it, so it is not as if the Rooskies are asking for anything out of the ordinary here.

But this is going to drive up the cost of doing business and drafting Russians into the NHL. Other European leagues are likely to quickly follow suit if the RSL gets their way making, international drafting a risky business. Teams will likely pass on the marginal players and pay the big bucks for the superstar talent. While folks like Don Cherry smile at the thought of less European players, this could end up declining the quality of play in the NHL.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Tick Tock...

Time's running out.

Of course, I only think this plays right into the hands of the Russians who oppose the IIHF transfer agreement. Absent an agreement, the NHL would be crazy to allow Pittsburgh (or any other team for that matter) to either negotiate a deal directly with an RSL team (which is what the Rooskies want BTW) or sign a player under dubious circumstances through the use of legal wrangling (which Malkin has been talking about doing). By letting the clock run out, the RSL knows that the pressure to sign the deal will come to a temporary end. This will allow them to dig their heels in further and make it much, much harder for a transfer agreement to be worked out with terms that the NHL favors.

The losers in all of this? Well the NHL and its fans for one. But the Russian players who not only want to "prove themselves" and make more money lose out as well. Russian players in the NHL could lose if the threat to not to allow them to play in IIHF events is upheld. The only winners here are the RSL owners who will continue to try to extort more $$$$$ from the NHL.

Ain't capitalism grand?????

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Morning After...

Here's a rundown of what they're saying about the Soriano non-trade:

Tom Boswell:

But even if Soriano ultimately leaves town, the Nats may have made the right choice anyway because they did the right thing for the right reasons. Many will remember it. The small loss Washington may suffer in personnel -- the difference between the good-but-not-great prospects they could have gotten yesterday and the two draft picks they'd receive as compensation if Soriano leaves -- may be dwarfed by the credibility they immediately gain with their fans, their players and their biggest star.

DC Sports Chick:

I realize that the Nats are not contenders in any sense of the word for the rest of the season, but that doesn't mean I want to watch the Kansas City Royals for the next couple of months. Give me a team that can win some games, like the team that played last week (not the one that played over the weekend)! If that means Soriano stays in town for the remainder of the season and then leaves, fine. It's a good decision, both team morale- and fan- wise.

The Curly W:

Bowden got what he deserved. He told everyone who would listen about how eager he was to shop Soriano and how high the price would be, to the point where other GMs seem to have just tuned him out. Bowden was bluffing so hard at poker that the other 29 guys at the table just checked their bets. Ol' LeatherTrousers drove the price for Soriano so high that other teams simply punked him by offering their comparable stars for less. See: Abreu, Bobby and Lee, Carlos. At the last minute, Bowden made a pathetic attempt to trick other GMs into thinking the Nats were trying to re-sign Soriano, and no one fell for it.

The Beltway Boys: (No, not More-teeny-tiny-table-tops and Freddie "The Beatle" Barnes...)

I think that Bowden woke up this morning ready to trade Soriano for the prospects he thought he was worth or he was going to keep his star. While the two haven't come close to an agreement for an extension or a new deal, I'm sure that both sides feel good enough about where things are heading that Bowden was willing to take this chance. He can now say to Soriano, "Okay big fella, you said you wanted to stay and I turned down two very good offers to keep you here. Show me your appreciation by finalizing a deal now so the fans know that you meant what you said." I think it'll work.

Capitol Punishment:

So, good for Bowden. I guess the only concern I have is whether his obsession with Soriano and the accompanying trade talk prevented him from making deals for Ortiz, Armas or Hernandez, but given how crappy they've been pitching, it's unlikely the Nats would've received anything useful anyway. (And there's a chance that Armas and Ortiz could return draft picks at the end of the season anyway).

RFK Cheapseats has some words of advice for Soriano:

You've made numerous claims on numerous different occasions that DC is where you want to be. You love the City. You love the Fans. You love the Organization, and so on and so forth. It's time for you to prove it.

The Franchise has now committed a great show of good faith, and shown a great deal of committment to you as a person and as a player, by NOT trading you when every ounce of conventional wisdom as it related to the Rebuilding Strategy of the New Regime indicated that they SHOULD have.

People can sit around and armchair GM and complain all the live long day. The problem is as DC Sport Chick pointed out, we don’t know what was and was not offered for Soriano. Furthermore, we don’t have crystal balls and can’t look into the future and tell if the prospects that were offered would be better than the compensation picks that we could get if Soriano departs as a UFA. So we cannot accurately judge whether or not Bowden made the right choice in hanging on to Soriano.

The bottom line though is this, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Bowden knows that that he has two picks in the Top 35 in hand should Soriano depart after the season as a UFA. Other GM’s would have been required to part with something of clearly greater value than that in order to get Soriano. And why not? Other GM’s were calling that price “insane” and “astronomical” for a two month rental. I happen to think they’re right in that regard. However, that does not mean that somebody would not have paid that price at some point in time. The fact that Soriano was not traded means that nobody was willing to pay that price yesterday. It doesn't mean Bowden "couldn't get the job done."