Commentary, opinion and news on the world of hockey.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Tough times for Tampa Bay?

With yesterday's signing of Vincent Lecavalier, the Lightning are in a precarious position. And don't think that everyone, including the players, haven't noticed.
"Everybody's doing the math, it's not rocket science to see what it means,'' said fellow Tampa star Brad Richards. "I'm very good friends with both guys (Lecavalier & St. Louis), it's a tough, tough situation - it sucks. There's no other way to put it...We've already lost (goalie) Nikolai Khabibulin and now it's going to be a big challenge to get Marty signed."
No kidding it's tough. Richards goes on to say:
"It sucks, there was a reason we didn't want a salary cap that low, especially for our team,'' said Richards. ''For some teams it's great, for some teams it sucks. But we're going to have live with it. We've already lost one of the best goalies in the world - which we could have signed without a cap - and now we don't know what's going to happen with our Hart Trophy winner."
Well Mr. Richards, your team also could have signed Khabibulin had he decided that hockey wasn't all about the money. Clearly his choice of Chicago screams monetary benefit. For cryin out loud, why else would he leave the defending Stanley Cup Champions, who could probably ice almost the same line-up, for the Blackhawks - a team that hasn't made any kind of serious playoff noise since I've been on this planet?

And did it ever occur to you dunderhead players that maybe taking less money to keep the team intact - in this case, a Championship team - is a good idea for all involved? Oh nevermind, I forgot about the built-in "me first" reflex that was surgically implanted on draft day.

And not surprisingly, Martin St. Louis will no doubt be feeling a little wary:
''I'm really happy for him, I have no problem with Vinny, I like Vinny,'' said St. Louis. ''It's not Vinny's fault. But does it affect me? Of course it does .... I'd be lying to you if I didn't say it affects me. Of course it does, but you have to forget about it when you hit the ice. I'm here to try and make the Olympic team. When I get off the ice, I get on the phone with my agent and try to assess the situation...."
Ah, good. Get on the phone with an agent. Good move from a personal perspective, no doubt. Maybe what you should do is get on the phone with a realtor and a reliable airline.

And of course it's not Lecavalier's fault. He couldn't possibly be expected to turn the dial on his ego down to 'semi-outrageously inflated' and sign a reasonable contract - could he? Good grief, no. In fact, Lecavalier actually did St. Louis a huge favour. Because realistically, if Lecavalier is worth that kind of money, then St. Louis can't be too far behind. He goes on:
''I think right now I'm in a pause mode,'' said St. Louis. ''I have to sit back and analyse the situation and see what's best for me and what's best for the team.''
You can take the last six words out of his last sentence. There's no way that he considers what's "best for the team." That's just not the pro athlete mentality, so please don't force feed us that recycled garbage.

So, what does Vinny himself have to say? Well, the usual drivel:
''Marty congratulated me right away,'' said a clearly uncomfortable Lecavalier. ''But with this new CBA, the GMs have a tough job .... We talked this morning and everything was fine. Marty's a great guy and I hope we play together for a long time.''
Yea, sure you do Vinny. Your gorked contract virtually ensures that either he or Brad Richards - or both - have new mailmen before the start of next season. It also probably ensures that the superb Tampa Bay team is methodically disassembled, or at least wattered down. Way to go, buddy.

Can you tell I'm bitter yet?

Last but not least, why is GM Jay Feaster dishing out this kind of money to Lecavalier. Not only is he not among the NHL's truly elite players (in my opinion), he's debatably not even the best player on his own team. Statistically speaking, he finished 4th in scoring last year while teammate St. Louis won the MVP and Richards won the Conn Smythe trophy. He has never eclipsed the 80 point mark, and only once has he gathered more than 70.

Is this what the NHL has come to? We are now paying 30 goal scorers $7 million per season? Did we as fans just get crapped on for an entire year simply just to take a breather from watching the League dance its way back into financial doom? Because from where I sit, things have not improved. They have gotten worse.

Surely, I can't be serious, right? Well, I am. And don't call me Shirley.

Boltsmag happens to share my point of view (well, more or less), and obviously has a much closer eye on the Tampa Bay situation.


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