Saturday, June 27, 2009

No requirement for Lawton's decision making


Did we all just let out a little sigh of relief when Tavares went first?

Even though it would have been awesome to see the madness ensue if the Isles took Hedman, I imagine all of the phones on the Lightning table start ringing, Burkie jumping over tables and Lawton's head exploding, there was no such need for any madness last night.

In case you have been living under a rock, or in somewhere where hockey isn't a religion, like Florida** or something, the Lightning took Hedman at #2.

Mmm...that is a nice jersey on you...

The rest of the night was, well long. Did every team have to congratulate the Penguin for being the Stanely Cup Champions? Or say something in French? (I loved it for the first 10, but not so much after)...Next time, perhaps the NHL should cirulate a memo, maybe like Lawton did by e-mail, that clarifies that you should go up and say "For the [insert #] selection, the [insert team] select....[player]....." Those are now 4 hours of my life that I will never get back.

This is how you smile in front of the kids when it's joint custody day...

Please enjoy this moment Hedman, before you start your season learning names of the 527 names of players who you'll play with on your roster.

ps. pick a new number kid, because #4 is already taken

**i kid about the Florida jokes because I know there are some hockeys fans there...but just some...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lawton tries to assert power through e-mail

Lawton sent out a friendly little e-mail reminder to all the GM's and player agents today that said:

"Please be advised that in order to avoid any confusion over the next couple of weeks, as GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning Organization I am the only person authorized to speak on behalf of the team with regard to player transactions,"

"No other person is authorized to negotiate player transactions. Any questions, feel free to call."

Just in case there was any confusion as to who is in charge, I guess Lawton decided a short little e-mail was the way to go. This just adds to the drama that has been surrounding the Lightning lately. Unlike fans of other teams, I cannot say In Lawton I Trust.....

Monday, June 22, 2009

Trouble in Paradise...

So I wasn't going to write until tomorrow at the earliest since I have been enjoying my time off doing non blogging reading and hanging out with my dad for father's day. It has also been pretty slow news-wise with the Lightning and I really didn't want to write another draft or Vinny post because really, they just seem pointless these days.

But then, via Lightning Shout, the St. Petersburg Times confirmed the rumours about the bickering going out between Lightning owners Koules and Barrie. Tomorrow, Bettman will hold a meeting with the two owners to give the authority to make decisions about the team to ONE of them.

Romano writes something at the end that I found really interesting:
But, today, the fissure seems wide. The talk is that Koules wants to keep Lawton as GM, wants to trade Lecavalier to get out from under his $85 million contract and wants to pare the payroll to the low $40 million range. Barrie is not as solidly behind Lawton, wants to build around Lecavalier and is in favor of signing some free agents to get the payroll closer to $50 million.

I've always thought that perhaps it was Barrie who made all of the early decisions about the team last year, and then Koules that just ended up taking over the day-to-day stuff when they hit the point that they really just couldn't fix the team mid-season (and Barrie was still up at Bear Mountain). Perhaps I was wrong. If Barrie is wanting to build the team around Lecavalier and spend more than just the salary cap floor, then I think this is a step in the right direction.

I mean really, could this year get any worse than last year?
Or did I just jinx myself by asking that?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

NHL Awards - Martin St. Louis

Like I said on my other blog, I didn't bother watching more than 5 minutes of this...but our boy St. Louis was there representing the Lightning...

There's just something about men in suits...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

2009 Draft: Tampa Bay Lightning Preview

The posts have been a little slow lately on tHB with me being caught up in all the SCF stuff (Yea for my adoption team winning!) and the lack of Lightning news recently. I have done an interview/draft perspective on the Lightning for Matt's website View From My Seats which is up today.

Check out my take on the Lightning which is part #2 of his series of guest bloggers, (1 for each of the top 11 teams). I'm sure it's going to be a great series (clearly because I was a part of it), so be sure to check them all out.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Coming up to draft day...

So in less than 2 weeks, on June 26 and 27, the 2009 NHL Entry Draft will take place in Montreal. We will be hearing tons of stuff coming up in the next few days about the I won't start now.

BUT, I did come across a great post from Cassie at One Timers and Deflections today about an overview of Major Junior Hockey. Living in Canada (the place where all those crazy rumors from sometimes bored journalists arise from), I don't always realize that not everyone actually understands where the majority of players that are drafted come from, ahem the CHL. So check out her site for some quick, and easy to understand about the Dub (WHL), the OHL and the QMJHL.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

2004 SCF Game 7 Line-up Where are they Now?

This was posted by in the comments...and I love comments :)
I thought it was interesting....

June 7 2004.. SCF Game 7 Line-up Where are they Now?

# POS. PLAYER 2008-09 TEAM
4 C Lecavalier, Vincent Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL)
5 D Cullimore, Jassen Florida Panthers (NHL)
7 R Clymer, Ben Minsk Dynamo (KHL)
8 C Cibak, Martin Sodertalje SK (Sweden)
11 L Dingman, Chris Lightning Radio/Sun Sports Host
13 D Kubina, Pavel Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL)
17 R Fedotenko, Ruslan Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL)
19 C Richards, Brad Dallas Stars (NHL)
21 D Sarich, Cory Calgary Flames (NHL)
22 D Boyle, Dan San Jose Sharks (NHL)
25 L Andreychuk, Dave Lightning Community Representative
26 R St. Louis, Martin Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL)
27 C Taylor, Tim Retired
29 L Afanasenkov, Dimitry Moscow Dynamo (KHL)
33 L Modin, Fredrik Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL)
35 G Khabibulin, Nikolai Chicago Blackhawks (NHL)
44 D Pratt, Nolan Khabarovsk Amur (KHL)
47 G Grahame, John Omsk Avangard (KHL)
55 D Sydor, Darryl Pittsburgh Penguins/Dallas Stars (NHL)
61 L Stillman, Cory Florida Panthers (NHL)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Lemaire says no thanks to the Lightning....

...instead "he has another offer that has gained his interest and which he is pursuing". And I suspect that next week the Four Habs Fans will be announcing the Jacques and Jacques team of the Canadiens...

Have fun in Montreal Jacques...I didn't want your defensive style anyways...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Let's throw Vancouver and Edmonton in the mix...

Bruce Garrioch from the Ottawa Sun is reporting that the deal for Lecavalier to the Kings for Jack Johnson (D) is still on the table. Vancouver, Edmonton and Montreal have also made calls about Lecavalier.

He is also reporting that the Lightning, who already have committed $38 million to just 17 players, are only planning on spending to the salary floor which is estimated to be at $40.5 million. Yikes, that makes signing 6 more players a little tricky...and even so, what will the ice product look like?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Hedman = beefcake

Just for the female Lightning fans out there, here is reason enough to draft Hedman:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Roadtrip to Tampa for Tavares, Hedman and Duchene

After getting to meet the SCF players and watching the game tonight in Pittsburgh, Tavares, Hedman and Duchene will travel to Tampa tomorrow to meet with the Lightning. They will meet with the management, get a tour of the Times Forum and Tampa, and do some fitness testing with the strength coach. This will also be a media day for the current top 3 draft picks.

Tavares, Hedman and Duchene have already met with the Islanders, though GM Garth Snow has not give any indication as to who he's going to pick.

From the Globe and Mail of what went on :

Koules said he sat next to “Burkie [Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke] for three hours and he never said anything me.”

Really? Brian Burke went three hours without speaking?

“He talked the whole time,” answered Koules, “but not about that [moving up in the entry draft].”

Koules did mention that the Lightning would be happy with any one of the top seven or eight players available in the 2009 entry draft, which suggests that they will not completely rule out a deal with Toronto, given that they are drafting at No. 2 and the Leafs select seventh overall.

Interesting things to be said by Oren don't you think? Or maybe he is just getting better at creating press just to talk about himself, maybe that's what he and Burke talked about...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Vinny...Should he stay or should he go?

So from the firm "no" response given by Lawton to the question if Lecavalier would be traded back in March...we are now only 30 days away from a decision that may/will define Lawton's career as a GM.

Last summer, Vinny spent the off season rehabbing his shoulder after surgery and missed training camp. He played the season with nagging injuries that you could clearly see affect his game. This summer after a successful wrist surgery and time to rehab it, Vinny will be able to have the time to train properly for the upcoming season. Speaking to the St. Petersburg Times, Vinny said:
"I hope it's going to be the best summer of my career," and "I'm determined to be in the best shape of my life." He has even gone so far as to hire speed skater and speed skating coach.

Now Lawton has said that is he not actively shopping Lecavalier, but all the GM's in the league know that Lawton will listen to offers and why wouldn't he?. Obviously Lawton will listen to every trade offer that is coming his way with regards to Vinny, that's just part of hockey management. With such a hefty contract that OK Hockey offered Vinny, I can't imagine that there are many teams that are offering a trade for Vinny, mostly just because of cap reasons. The per season hit at $7.7 million for Vinny is on par for other elite players, but the contract length of 10 years is ridiculous since is already 29 years old. Now if the Lightning were playing well or the cap were to hold steady or keep rising we wouldn't necessarily call this a bad contract. Lecavalier is a franchise center. Each team needs to spend money on an at least 1 elite player; some spend it on a goalies, others on forwards, but it is not every day that you think about trading away your franchise player (if you have one).

Lawton has said that the past year the management have been "owner-operators" and this year he has given the final word for hockey operation decisions (although not really if you read the whole article). He will have to decide in the next 30 days whether a trade from another team is worth trading away your franchise center. Will he be known as the GM that traded away Vinny?

There may be a trade proposal that he may receive that actually might be a sensible hockey deal for the Lightning...maybe. But do you think that Lawton will be able to see it? He currently is known as the GM who after signing Dan Boyle, forced him to waive the no trade clause and shipped him off to San Jose. Now there wouldn't be so much anger if the trade had brought back players who were 1. good/not disappointments and 2. are still with the team, but alas that was not the case. If Lawton trades away Vinny and the Lightning end up looking like Boston after they traded away Thornton, that will be Lawton's legacy as GM.

Why are other teams like LA looking for a player like Vinny when they are currently full of young talent? The reason is because they want an elite player like Vinny to take their team to the next level. Even though they have drafted well, they are still missing a key piece to take through the playoffs.

There are a couple of things that also affect Lawton's decision.
1. Player payroll limit
- It really depends on what the management is willing to spend on this team. If they are not willing to spend more than the the floor of the cap, the roster will be top heavy on 1 player and will ice a team that looks exactly like it did this year.
-If Lawton can only really spend the floor of the cap, and the management only want to ice a mediocre team, then trading away Lecavalier for a couple good (not great) players should do that for you. But mediocrity does not bring long playoff runs
-If Lawton can spend more than the minimum, having Lecavalier and giving him a team that can move the puck to him will increase his offensive output. This year was a terrible team this year, some nights they forgot how to play nhl hockey. Imagine if Lecavalier had a good puck moving defenceman that could feed him the puck or even a defensive unit that did not break down every game.

2. If you trade away Vinny will your fanbase understand? Or will they stop buying in to the franchise? The fans were upset at the Boyle trade and they were not pleased about watching a terrible team for 2 years in a row finishing dead last, and 29th respectively. Will trading away Lecavalier be the last straw for current Lightning fans?

3. If you trade him away will that affect a future player's decision to sign in Tampa? If after signing a 10 year contract with a no trade clause, and just before the contract starts, you trade the player, what does that say for your management strategy? Do players trust you? You already run one of the worst teams in the league, how will you build a team of players that want to play for you if they can't trust your word.

On the flip side, does keeping Vinny with his NTC affect what your team will be able to do in a couple years when both Stamkos and Hedman/Tavares 2009 draft pick (assuming they turn out to be good) come to contract negotiation time? Or do you try to make a cup run while both of them are still under their entry level salaries and deal with the contract later?

So clearly the next 30 days will be interesting...If Lawton can't make the right move, the best move may be no move at all.