The day finally arrived yesterday, and it feels like almost as many people were waiting for the announcement of protected lists for the expansion draft than they were any playoff game. I suppose only a few fanbases get to be involved in the playoffs while everyone is in on this, but still. We’re talking about a team that’s going to suck for a bit, no matter how much the NHL tries to pad it. And if George McPhee believes he can really go for it off the bat, just like he did Lorne Molleken’s face, then they could suck for quite some time.
BUT THAT’S NOT WHY YOU CALLED.
There weren’t too many surprised from the Hawks, at least given what the buzz has been for a while. We know Marcus Kruger is pretty much a goner, which allowed the Hawks to protect Tomas Jurco. That’s interesting in itself, but we’ll get to that in a second.
I’m not going to get back into why losing Kruger is more important than people realize, or that the Hawks don’t have a Plan B in that department. Kruger’s $3 million salary being shed will get the Hawks under the newly announced $75m cap, though only barely. Apparently their threats that if Vegas would have to take Kruger if they wanted to draft TVR or they would just trade TVR somewhere else apparently had an effect? We probably won’t find out until Thursday. Still, the Hawks thought they had a viable trade partner for TVR, I don’t know why you wouldn’t move him anyway, protect Kruger, figure out the cap stuff later, and y’know, be actually a better team. Maybe that’s just me (Rozsival would have qualified as the one d-man who played 70 games and was under contract, though Vegas would have never taken him unless the oxygen being pumped into the casino next door somehow got contaminated and leaked over to the arena. Which probably means they would have taken Jurco of what was available, which leads me to…)
The protection of Jurco. Here we go with another Stan-Q fight it seems, one that Stan seemed to be seizing the upper hand on with the firing of Mike Kitchen. Still, Q got to pick one of his guys in Ulf Samuelsson, who is seemingly being brought here to conjure whatever he can out of a blue line that could be rife with neophytes. Fine, neither he nor there. But Jurco is a player Stan clearly rates. We know he’s followed him for a while, we know he made a move to get him. We know he likes him, thus the protection.
But this is also a player that got 13 games of action for his trouble last year as a Hawk. He’s yet to prove anything on the NHL level yet, and he’s getting to that point of, “This is probably what he is.” Only 24, there’s time, but not too much. And we know that once you get into Q’s “House Of Don’t Care” it’s pretty hard to get out. And the opposite is true as well, which is why you’ll be hearing tons of Joy Division records coming out of Q’s house when TVR gets taken in this thing.
This is hardly the first time Q and Stan have not seen eye-to-eye on young players that Stan clearly envisioned being in the lineup. And they could each claim being right on some. Stan probably was tapping on a print-out of Michal Kempny’s peripherals while TVR and Oduya drowned against the Predators. Q would counter with David Rundblad. We could go all day with this.
I honestly don’t know what Jurco can be if he maxes out. What I do know is that Stan was allowed to swing a bigger hammer than before with the axing of cabana boy Kitchen. And if squabbles continue over parts of the roster that Stan puts together, one wonders how much bigger that hammer might get and how much more he’s going to be allowed to brandish its power.
-Looking around the league, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m really afraid some NHL GMs are allowed to operate a vehicle on any road I might potentially be on, nevermind actually run the most important part of multi-million dollar organizations. And perhaps it’s too hard to judge when we don’t know all the side deals in place, but some of these…
Let’s start with Columbus, where apparently either Tortorella has taken over GM duties, or Jarmo has lost his damn mind. They are willing to sacrifice their first rounder, a prospect and even Ryan Murray to not lose Jack Johnson.
Jack Johnson. Jack Johnson is the NHL d-man embodiment of the color beige. He’s fine. He’s like, there. He’s never done anything to impress anyone except have draft pedigree from a decade ago and put together one decent Olympic tournament when Erik Johnson put together his only competent streak of hockey.
And I know Ryan Murray hasn’t come anywhere close to living up to his draft pedigree, and has just completed this third full season in the league where we should get some sense of what he’s going to be. But he’s 23. And if it does click, it’s going to be a hell of a lot more than Jack Johnson.
The Flames traded for Mike Smith, somehow determined to not just torpedo their rebuilding plans and waste one of the best blue lines you can find, but to do it so spectacularly that perhaps the residents of Calgary won’t care when they move to… wait, where do they think they’re moving again?
The Wings protecting Howard over Mrazek, because we’ve never seen a goalie struggle in his second full year as a starter when he has to adjust to how the league has adjusted to him. Hey Ken Holland, can we show you Crawford’s, Fleury’s, Quick’s multiple rings? Interested?
Whatever they’re doing in Florida.
This could go on forever. It really is stunning how many of these people are demonstrably bad at their jobs and yet….
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