With the year finally winding down, we can now look back on the prior 350-something days and start to put together some conclusive feelings about them. It seems, to me at least, that this has been literally the stupidest calendar year of hockey in maybe a decade.
10. Tampa backs up dump truck full of money to Ryan Malone’s house
What a terrible idea just from an asset management standpoint. The Lightning’s new owners wanted to make a big splash on the free agent market and traded for the rights to negotiate with something like 392 of the NHL’s most mediocre free agents. Their big signing: Ryan Malone. For $31.5 million over seven years. In what universe did that seem like a good idea? At least he repaid the Bolts with 7-6-13 in 23 games this year before getting hurt. Maybe the most camp contract in the NHL this year. The money was tragically ludicrous, the results have been ludicrously tragic.
9. Pink ice
It might be the worst looking thing in hockey since Mark Recchi. It was for a good cause and all but jeez, just LOOK AT IT.
8. New York Rangers retire number of … wait this says Adam Graves. That can’t be right, can it?
Of all the Ranger greats ever, why Adam Graves? He had 616 points in his entire career. After this, how much can it mean to have your jersey retired by the Rangers? Your name’s up there in the rafters next Adam Graves, who is tied for 246th on the NHL’s all-time points list, one ahead all-time greats of Marc Savard and Sergei Gonchar. What an embarrassment.
7. Chicago spends HOW MUCH on two mediocre goalies?
Clearly, the Blackhawks needed help in net. Nikolai Khabibulin was a bust by any stretch of the imagination, considering the size of his contract relative to the amount of success he had in Chicago. So the popular wisdom was that the ‘Hawks would sign a reasonable replacement and trade Khabibulin for pennies on the dollar. Didn’t work out that way, even if they did sign Cristobal Huet and later put Khabi on waivers for a little while right before the season started. Instead, Chicago has sunk $12.375 million into two goalies, neither of which is exactly earning their rather large paychecks. Imagine if they’d spent that money on, say, a No. 2 center or something?
6. Gary Bettman suspends Sean Avery six games for talking about Kim from 24’s vagina in a negative way.
You can talk all you want about the many, many ways in which Avery calling Elisha Cuthbert and Rachel Hunter “sloppy seconds” was very stupid, not the least of which being that the last thing anyone should want is a pissed-off Dion Phaneuf on their ass. However, even stupider than the impromptu presser was the league’s decision to suspend Avery for six games. It was far too harsh a penalty and while I see why the NHL is making the distinction between on-ice and off-ice incidents, I also think it’s pretty pointless to suspend someone for seven percent of the season because they said mean words.
5. New York Rangers’ top defensive pairing makes so much money oh god
Here’s one even the most hardcore Ranger fans will get behind. This summer the Blueshirts doled out $32.5 million for five years of Wade Redden and $20 million for four years of Michal Rozsival. And for all that they’re a combined -15. This is bad resource management and pretty much the reason the Rangers were unable to get Mats Sundin. The rumor is one or both of them are already being shopped. Good luck with that, Sather.
4. Dallas Stars throw away $15.5 million on 23 games of Sean Avery
After the aforementioned Sloppy Secondsgate, the Dallas Stars decided that the reason they were so unbelievably terrible was not Marty Turco’s abysmal, embarrassing performance through the first quarter of the season, but rather that Avery is kind of an asshole. So they kindly asked him, in light of the suspension and everything else, to never ever return to the team. But he had just signed a contract that would pay him $15.5 million over the next four years, so Dallas announced it would pay him the balance of that contract. In summary, Sean Avery was basically paid $673,913.04 per game with Dallas. Or, if you choose to look at it another way, $5.16 million per goal. Totally worth it, right, Brett?
3. “The KHL is going to murder the NHL and steal all its superstars! USURPER!”
“One league to rule them all, one league to find, one league to bring them all and in the Siberian winter bind them. In the land of Russia, where Medvedev lies.” That great threat from the East? Turned out not to be such a threat at all. One day the Kontinental Hockey League was targeting YOUR TEAM’S Russian megastars, and the next we found they were unable to score on Ray Emery and slashing salaries 30 percent and killing Ranger prospects.
2. “Boots” Del Biaggio turns out to be a fraud to the shock of several
How could a guy named Boots have acquired the loans with which he bought a stake in a dying NHL franchise illegally? There’s no justice in the world. ‘Course, the NHL wouldn’t know anything about that, since they didn’t actually bother to fully vet Del Biaggio before they gave him the go-ahead to take over the Predators. This isn’t so much a stupid story as it is a terribly embarrassing one for the NHL.
1. Tampa signs the guy with the mullet from ESPN as coach of an actual NHL team
Everything you need to know about how Barry Melrose was ever going to work out as the coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning is right in this video:
Melrose is egomaniacal, considers himself blameless and, worst of all, is a really really really bad hockey coach. Add that to a very bad Tampa team and look what happens. Thinking this clown could coach professionals after spending more than a decade on TV was easily the worst decision in hockey this year.