Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Joe Sakic Signs with the Avalanche

Holy out-of-the-blue, Batman! Joe Sakic has signed on with the Avalanche for one more year. Thanks to Sully for the tip in the comments of my previous Sakic post.

Honestly, I thought the press conference Sakic had scheduled for tomorrow would be uneventful. Maybe I was getting apathetic about the whole "Will he or won't he?" angle. Or maybe I'm in that weird limbo phase of being disappointed about summer coming to a close but excited about hockey coming back causing my emotions to neutralize.

But it turns out I was dead wrong and couldn't be happier. And with a price tag of $6M, I bet Francois Giguere is whistling zippety-do-da all day long today. I'll take Sakic for $6M over Sundin for $10M any day of the week, twice on Friday and three times on Canada day.

At a cap hit hovering in the $50M area ($46M according to, $50M according to and $52M according to DD), the Avalanche have left themselves with plenty of wiggle room. Sources tell me Gomez is on the block but I hear he's going to Phoenix straight up for Kurt Sauer.

And can you believe he signed with the Avalanche? Man, I know Vancouver was in the running until the very end and so were the Rangers but he pulled a 360 and went back to the Avs. Shocking.

I wonder where all the prognosticators will put the Avalanche in their pre-preseason rankings now. Actually, I don't care.

Oh, happy day! Let's celebrate with some Ren & Stimpy.

Related Links
He's back
S-A-K-I-C spells relief
Sakic by the numbers
Sakic will return to Avs
Sakic will make $6-million
Sakic signs one-year contract
Sakic to return for another season
Sakic inks One-year deal with Avalanche
A Look Back: Joe Sakic's Season in Review
Sakic is back, hockey exists one more year

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sakic coming back because he loves him the moolah

I read a lot of stuff each day. It ranges from tons of online content, books and magazines right down to shampoo bottles, licence plates and the back of cereal boxes. Typically, I come across one or two silly things per day. Today, there was just one.

Well, actually it was just that this one raised the bar of silliness higher than Yelena Slesarenko could ever hope to vault over. It was to the point that I felt all other things I read today should be up for a shared Nobel Prize for awesomeness.

Stan Fischler, in his latest Fischler Report, states that the reason Joe Sakic - and Mats Sundin - will be back is "as obvious as a $6 million contract."

"These guys love the moolah - and attention - as much as Sean Avery and Alley Oop Ovechkin."
I threw up a little in my mouth at someone comparing Joe Sakic to Sean Avery in any way. Or someone suggesting that the reason Joe Sakic keeps going is purely financial. Or someone trying to give Ovechkin another lame nickname.

Joe Sakic has earned approximately $6K (that's "K" as in "Kajillion") dollars and could have retired five years ago with more money than he'll ever need. He keeps going, not because he gambles away all his money only to come back on his hands and knees begging for a job while his fans claim him as a the greatest man alive, but because he's a true athlete who will go as long as his body allows him to go.

And does this even mean what he wanted it to mean?
If either of them packs it in, it’ll be the upset of the half-century; roughly equivalent to the shrinking of Patrick Roy’s ego.
Sorry, Stan, but that was Brutal. Yep, with a capital "B".

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Joined in Progress = *expletive deleted*

The national broadcast schedule is out and the Avalanche will be featured 13 times. Unlucky 13. The ol' one-three. Yep, let's try and focus on an ill-conceived superstition than the fact that, once again, the Avalanche's season opener will be joined-in-progress.

That's right, the start to a season worth of Avalanche watching will be led off with gaggles of Avalanche fans crossing their fingers that the Wings/Leafs game won't go to overtime. Then there will be some cursory analysis of the Wings/Leafs game while those same fans simultaneously scream "CUT TO THE F'N GAME!" at their television screens. And finally, a harsh camera cut to action already in progress.

Maybe it's silly "pie-in-the-sky" thinking, but I love the buildup before the first game of the season. I love seeing some pre-game warmup shots, some early analysis, watching the goaltender waiting at the door, head down and getting psyched up, then watching him charge down the gate to christen a new season.

But again, my petty dreams will be dashed. And again, I'll blame it on the Red Wings.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sakic Still Sitting On the Boards

Joe Sakic was on "104.3 The Fan" this morning to promote his upcoming charity golf tournament but shockingly, the topic of Sakic's ultimate decision came up.

Now, in case people were unaware, Sakic is still trying to decide whether he will retire or play for at least one more season in the NHL. Word is that if he does come back, it will be with the Avalanche, so that's nice. What isn't nice, though perfectly understandable, is just how long this decision has taken.

Once the Avalanche were unceremoniously swept at the hands of the Detroit Red Wing - I bet you all tried to forget that, right? - the clock started ticking. And once word got out that Sakic had asked to be on the ice for the final seconds of game 4, many started assuming the worst. You don't ask to be out in the final minutes of a beat down unless it could be the last time you set skates on that ice.

Myself, I was ever the optimist. I guess I'll count that as shock #3 of the offseason, completing the trifecta. As soon as that game ended, I said that Sakic would be coming back, no questions asked. A month passed. Coaches came and went. Then Joe Sakic appeared in an interview on and said he would make a quick decision. I guess our definitions of "quick" differ.

We're closing in on the sixth fortnight since he stated he would make a quick decision. In my books, books which thankfully tell me that a fortnight is 14 days, that's not quick. Wars have been over in less time. Species have come and gone in less time. Paris Hilton has gone through a dozen "romances" in less time.

There are two new pieces of information that came out in the interview. One that can be construed as good news and one that can be construed as bad news. The good news? He isn't letting team and coaching personnel affect his decision. It's solely based on his ability and desire to play another season. The bad news? He wouldn't want those abilities to be any less than they were 20 years ago. In other words, it's #1 center or bust.

I don't have the numbers in front of me so I'm not sure just how many people have played their 20th season as a capable #1 center, but it can't be more than half a dozen. That's the only thing that has me wavering a bit on my decree. If he expects himself to be playing at the same level he was 5 or 10 years ago, well that just doesn't seem likely.

But in the end, he has the right to make this decision on his terms and given that he has management's full blessing, I think we should cut him a bit of slack. But just a bit.

Related Links
Joe Sakic still mulling future
Sakic: Final decision due within weeks
Joe Sakic Retirement Panic Thread
No need for vets to make a hasty decision
Rejoice! Joe Sakic will make retirement decision "pretty soon"

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Quote of the Year

The Hockey News had an interesting article on Bruce Bennet, Getty Images Director of Photography and Hockey Imagery, which contained, hands down, the quote of the year. Of course, the quote was from some time in the early 70's but nonetheless, it stands the test of time.

Embarrassing Career Memory: "Got hit by Carol Vadnais, also at Madison Square Garden. As I rolled around the floor of the penalty box trying to catch my breath, looking up at that distinctive MSG ceiling, two heads popped over the boards looking down on me. Linesman Leon Stickle said, ‘Hey Bruce, the girl in the front row wants to know if your date is still on tonight.’ Linesman Ray Scapinello said, ‘Try to fart. If you can fart it means you’re OK.’ "
Words to live by Ray, words to live by.

Related Links
Between the Lines at (highly recommended)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sakic More Likeable than Crosby?

I've been shocked once already this offseason. Then shocked again after hearing about Forsberg skating in Sweden (because there was no "He's injured!" followup story). I fully expect the trifecta of shockingness to come into play at some point, but today is not that day.

The National Post is running an article titled "Sidney Or Sakic: Who's More Likeable?" and the results are as un-shocking as they get. Joe Sakic had a "Q score" of 26 while Sid the Kid fell behind with a 22.

Poor Sid, for all the hype and marketing - and his 3 full seasons in the NHL -, is less likable than one of the quietest players to ever play the game. Who knew?

Honestly, I didn't need a survey to tell me that people would think more highly of Joe Sakic than Sidney Crosby. Crosby came into the league as a whining 18-year old, was given an "A" in that same year, had the captaincy foisted upon him at the age of 20 - to which they called a press conference to announce -, and has been anointed as the next Great One since he was a young teenager.

In other words, he's been shoved in our faces. Contrast that with a man such as Joe Sakic, who has quietly gone about his business and proven himself a winner at every level and you might get an idea why Sakic is more likable.

Now, I have nothing against Crosby. The problem is that he was so darn good at a time when the league - and the Penguins - needed it. Coming out of the lockout, they needed a face to market the game on. They needed a savior. An icon.

Ok, I don't actually believe that but nonetheless, many people - including the NHL and most of the mainstream media - did and they began shoving him down our throats. And nobody likes anything being shoved down their throat.

For a quick refresher on how the media treats their golden boy, look no further than the end of the National Post article:
"Crosby's numbers should jump once he gets his first ring."

Sigh. There is no guarantee that Sidney Crosby will ever win the Stanley Cup. He's not guaranteed to win another Art Ross. He may never again win the Lester B. Pearson. But the way people talk, it's as if he's entitled to everything just because his name is Sidney Crosby.

See, it's not so much that people dislike Crosby. It's that they dislike the hype that goes along with his name.

Related Links
Case-in-point #2

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Duke Stepping Away from the Throne?

Alanah at Canucks & Beyond got hold of an interview with Milan Hejduk which has him alluding to retiring after his contract with the Avalanche is up in two years. At least, based on what Google Translate tells us (and what Greg from the Post-Pessimist tells Alanah), that is.

This isn't terribly shocking given that Hejduk has gone through surgery on his knee, wore a brace for a considerable length of time and hasn't been near as lethal a sniper since those troubles started. And once a knee starts going downhill, it tends to keep right on trucking no matter how many times they slice and dice it.

But will the 2010/2011 season mark the end of The Duke's career? I think calling a retirement two years down the line is premature but in 2011, he will be 34 and will have completed 11 NHL seasons with the Avalanche and 6 with Pardubice HC in the Czech Extraliga. He currently has an Olympic Gold from '98, an Olympic Bronze from '06, won the Rocket Richard trophy in '03 (along with sharing the Bud Light Plus/Minus with Peter Forsberg) and, most importantly, a Stanley Cup from 2001. Even if he weren't to accumulate anything more in the next two seasons, that's still a solid career of hockey.

However - barring injuries - for the next two seasons we should see Hejduk wreaking havoc throughout the league in his maddening consistently inconsistent style. And who knows, if his knee holds up, he could even stick around for another season or two. The only certainty from that article seems to be that he will retire in the NHL, not back home in the Czech Republic.

Oh, and go easy on Alanah. Remember, she has to cheer for the Canucks. ;)

Related Links
Hejduk Heartbreak
Original Article in Czech
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