Hockey

vs.

RECORDS: Hawks 3-6-2   Kings 4-9-0

PUCK DROP: 9:30

TV: NBCSN Chicago

BLEW INTO TOWN ABOUT AN HOUR AGO: Jewel From The Crown

We’ve remarked on it the past couple years when these two met, but it’s hard to believe that in just over four seasons, these two went from playing possibly the best and highest-paced seven-game series in recent NHL history to a game the rest of the league laughs at and scalpers take the night off. These have been two of the worst teams in the West, two of the worst in hockey, and they’ll get together tonight to do…something at Staples Center. The league is probably delighted this will take place in the dead of night and in the weird shadows where no one might just happen by it.

First the Hawks, who will at least be having a New Toy Night. Adam Boqvist will make his NHL debut, and the Kings are about as soft of a landing as you could ask for one. Many have remarked that there’s at least least an air of desperation about his promotion, if not a full-blown air-raid siren. And there is. But the thing is, the Hawks have to be desperate. Were they two whiff this road trip, the season might be over before Veteran’s Day. And while there might be one or two other d-men in Rockford who can provide more mobility (then again, any glass blower regularly makes products that would) and skill to the Hawks’ blue line, none of them have anywhere near the upside that Boqvist does. None are going to give you anything more than a third-pairing boost. If all the stars were to align for Boqvist, he can be so much more.

He could also be so much less. We don’t know, they don’t know, but the Hawks have played themselves into Hail Mary territory. That doesn’t mean that Jeremy Colliton can’t throw one in the wrong direction or take a sack, which he seems intent on doing with his lineup from practice yesterday. Keith is hardly a babysitter type, and asking him to clean up Boqvist’s messes won’t go well, and it’ll go worse if it has to go the other way. He has two, left-sided d-men who are perfect free safeties for a player like Boqvist in de Haan and Maatta, and has decided to pass on that for what’s behind Door #Stupid.

It gets better, as Patrick Kane is now a third line player and we’ve of course never seen him turn his nose up at such an assignment, and rightly so. The thing is this set-up isn’t too far from being pretty good, if Dach and Shaw were slotted up with Kane and Kubalik-Kampf-Caggiula can be a hybrid 4th line/checking line. We might get all that by the 2nd period.

Anyway, Brent Seabrook is back, and you can probably expect him to be until Connor Murphy returns. What that pairing with him and de Haan is supposed to do besides be an informercial for windburn balm…well, you figure it out.

Luckily for the Hawks, they’ll be playing as big of a mess as they are, if not bigger. Coach Todd McLellan called out his team after they got clubbed by the Hawks last weekend, and they responded by giving up 49 shots to the Canucks and their four players. So yeah, not great. They’ve also had a reshuffle, and McLellan tried to put everyone on notice by scratching deadline fodder Tyler Toffoli. He’s back, probably reminded he’s trying to cash in a big check next summer. Which will make his reaction to Ilya Kovalchuk‘s blank expression and koala-like effort something worth watching.

Despite their shit record, the Kings have actually pushed the play pretty ok this year, as McLellan teams do. They haven’t gotten a save from either Quick or Campbell all season, which has undone whatever good work they’ve produced. And considering the hair ball the Hawks just coughed up and how they’re being aligned tonight, don’t be surprised if the Hawks lose this possession battle. And badly. And if they don’t get some saves from Crawford that they did get from Lehner the past two games… well, you can probably start the foreboding organ music.

Saturday night’s all right for fighting…is it all right for whatever this is?

Hockey

We, of course, don’t think anyone should ever be sentimental toward Drew Doughty. He looks like when Butthead glued his hair to his face to look older, talks like that as well, and might just be a rapist. We have to accept that Kings fans will forever love him, as that’s just how these things go, as he’s the best d-man in team history since…good lord, Rob Blake? Really? That’s it? So basically he’s the best defenseman the team has ever had. Well there you go.

What the NHL’s CBA has never really allowed for is for teams to be able to treat their current legends like that. But teams can’t help themselves. And probably for good cause. No fan wants to see their most important players leave before they retire and play for someone else. It’s weird, and at the base of it, not really why we got into sports in the first place. You’re seeing it in baseball now, where all the efficiency bros have decided they’re not going to pay players like Mookie Betts or maybe Kris Bryant and players like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado can’t seem to find the list of suitors they should. Baseball’s popularity is at best stagnating. It would be hard to reason these two aren’t connected.

The perfectly run NHL team would be callous, because it has to be. There’s a hard cap. It’s not like baseball where you can spend over it if you’re willing to part with some of your ungodly profits. Draftees don’t immediately come through like football, and also you can immediately discard anything that’s not working out like the NFL. Your contracts live to their fruition, for good or bad. It’s almost always bad.

In a vacuum, as soon as your players, no matter how prominent, began to age, you’d move them along for younger models. Or you would just let them walk and use the cap space to find cheaper and younger alternatives. You would never let emotion get into it. But is that even possible?

What would Kings fans feel if Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty were allowed to just walk away? These are the two linchpins of their only two Cup teams. Maybe they would all eventually learn to love the next crop the same way. But it’s impossible to think that something wouldn’t be lost in that sense. Surely something about being a fan of a team is its history, and poignantly its recent history. Can you really just discard that?

But by not discarding that, you’re actively hurt the current team. The minute Drew Doughty signed his eight-year extension that pays him $11M a year, he basically turned into a grossly hairy tomato can that looks like the personification of a Mac’s rainbow wheel. He’s been especially horrific this year. All of Doughty’s metrics  have ballooned the wrong way. He’s behind the team in everything, and looks like a toddler with a Zippo in his own end. Here’s a list of relative numbers to the rest of the team for you so far this year, all per 60 minutes at evens:

Attempts-for: -11.72

Attempts against – +8.55

xGF – -0.57

xGA – -0.57

Shots for – -4.13

Shots against – +6.56

(JUST HOOK IT TO MY VEINS)

Doughty’s individual rates have plummeted as well, as he’s creating next to no offense, struggling to haul his bloated carcass around the ice and into the offensive zone. Only seven more years to go!

Perhaps the Kings are counting on a new CBA in a couple years to save them. Perhaps they thought they would get one after this year and got caught cold by the NHLPA’s decision to not re-open it this year. Or maybe they were just too blinded by what Doughty has meant to the Kings, which they probably couldn’t help.

No matter when the Kings feel they’ll matter again, Doughty’s contract is going to be cement shoes made by Dwarven blacksmiths. And much like Brent Seabrook, he’ll become an object of ire for a section of the fanbase, if not a large swath of it. Some of it will be earned, as Doughty clearly has let his game and condition sink. But most of it will be due to signing a contract he was offered.

The Kings will mostly be to blame. But it’s the players who linger long enough to go from hero to villain.

Hockey

Drew Doughty – It won’t be long now before this turns into the worst contract in the league. Doughty is already on the decline and no longer carries the play the way he used to, nor does he really much care to, and he’ll make $11M until the planet collapses in on itself. For some reason, the Canadian media is desperate to turn his “rivalry” with whatever garbage Tkachuk boy it is up in Calgary into Hagler-Hearns. But these are two players the hockey world has already declared they don’t care much about on two teams they definitely don’t care about, as one is just an entitled rich kid who’ll manage the same empty trophy case his pappy did and the other is a rapist. Doughty might even get to Seabrook-sized soon. At least you’ll have someone to laugh at.

Kyle Clifford – Perhaps no better example of how the Kings learned all the wrong lessons from their last Cup. Clifford has always been a fourth-liner who should have been discarded for a younger model years ago. But because the Kings still believe their stinky breath was the reason they won, he’s been given something of a cult hero status even though he’s slow and his hands are made of gravel. He’s if Andrew Shaw was carrying around a 50 lb weight belt and had his hands cut off.

Ilya Kovalchuk – Man he’s good at cashing a check, though.

Hockey

While it’s fun to mock the Kings, in the end you’re really only mocking yourself (done played yo’ self, fool). It’s another team that sat on top of the hockey world for a few years, but now has too many entrenched contracts to have a full teardown and restart. And those big contracts make it also near impossible to slot in players who can move them down the lineup to lesser roles. Which is why the Hawks getting Kirby Dach is hopefully a coup as he moves Toews down for cheap in the coming years. Perhaps Alex Turcotte will be that down the road, shoving Anze Kopitar to a #2 center role. It won’t be this year though, and this year looks like it might be pretty damn ugly for the silver and black. Again.

2018-2019

31-42-9  71 points (dead ass last in the Pacific and West)

2.43 GF/G (30th)  3.16 GA/G (22nd) -60 GD

48.2 CF% (22nd)  47.0 xGF% (21st)

15.8 PP% (27th) 76.5 PK% (29th)

Goalies: Like death, taxes, and my inability to love, it’s Jonathan Quick in the Los Angeles net. But perhaps this is the time when he has to let go of the rope, even if his contract says otherwise. Quick was a big back of suck last year, posting a .888 over the full season. That kind of came out of nowhere, as the debate about whether he was overrated or underrated raged on without noticing he’d been pretty solid for the three years before (.919 SV%). At least when he was healthy. It’s highly doubtful Quick is now a sub-.900 goalie, unless there’s something chronically wrong with him physically. At 33 he shouldn’t be complete toast, but last year was awfully discouraging.

He might want to pick it up, because if he doesn’t Todd McLellan might have a real headache on his hands. Well, a headache other than watching this team getting turned into tapenade most nights. Jack Campbell massively outplayed Quick last year, to the tune of a .928 SV%. While the world has been waiting for Campbell for what seems like decades, this was his first regular turn in an NHL net. Now, maybe that was the anomaly, but if Campbell continues in anything like that fashion and Quick continues to look like be belongs in the fields of Elysium, there’s going to be a call to get Campbell more and more starts. It’s highly unlikely that Quick is going to be in net when the Kings matter again, whenever that might be, and a whole bunch of fans and some within the organization might want to start that process along.

Defense: Hope Doughnuts likes cashing that fat, $11M check because he’s going to have to do everything here. Except he can’t really anymore, and his metrics went into the red for the first time last year. When Alec Martinez is your #2 d-man, people should attend your games with gas masks. I could list the rest of the Kings defensive crew, but you would be sure I was making them up and trying to get away with something. The good thing, I guess, for the Kings is that every d-man after Doughty is only signed for this season, so they can completely start over next year if they so choose. And they probably have to. Otherwise, when you’re cold and alone at night, remember there are people out there choosing to watch Derek Forbort and Ben Hutton multiple times a week. You are not alone in your desperation and waywardness. You are not alone. You are not alone.

Forwards: Two years ago, Anze Kopitar flashed for a whole season in a big “I’m Not Dead!” sign. That gave us hope for Jonathan Toews. Well, Kopitar went back to needing a forensic team to figure out if he could fog a mirror last season, which doesn’t give us much hope. But hey, he was the only Kings forward to top 60 points. Which is…well it’s not anything and it means this team has all the dash and dynamism at forward as the rat carcass in the alley. Kovalchuk and Jeff “Wooderson” Carter are still around to cash a check, at least the latter is until yet another body part of his gets up and takes a walk for a couple months. They can’t seem to kill Dustin Brown, so he’ll take a top six role because that’s just what has to be. Look for Tyler Toffoli to have a better season as he heads into free agency and the possibility of getting the hell out of there. They’ll try and convince you that any or all of Adrian Kempe, or Alex Iaffalo, or Austin Wagner are things that definitely have to be paid attention to. They definitely intake oxygen but not much else. This team won’t score much and you can see why. When Trevor Lewis and Kyle Clifford still easily claim spots, you know your team blows.

Prediction: Don’t know why Todd McLellan took this job other than sheer desperation. At least with the Oilers he could watch Connor McDavid every night. Here he’s going to watch Kopitar wheeze and hear the fat on Doughty increasing on a nightly basis. If Quick isn’t terrible they probably won’t be a front to nature, and maybe even pass Anaheim on the standings. Maybe. But all of their kids that will form the next Kings team aren’t here yet, and what is is pretty gruesome. Another sub-80 point season seems on the cards.

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vs.

RECORDS: Hawks 34-33-10   Kings 28-40-9

PUCK DROP: 9:30pm

TV: NBCSN Chicago

YOU HAVE SELECTED REGICIDE: They all hate us so we won’t list any of them

It’s funny. There are a fair few fans who wish the Hawks would have done what the Kings have done, no matter how unpleasant it would be to watch or experience. And you get it, because it would appear the Kings are going to have a top-two spot in the lottery, meaning they can’t drop any lower than three. Though it would be pretty sweet if they went through all this and ended up with the third pick in a two-player draft. I’d get a chuckle out of it, at least.

What’s even funnier is the Kings didn’t meant this. The Senators did, but the Kings definitely didn’t. They thought tye could build off their playoff berth last year. That’s why they signed Ilya Kovalchuk, who at 35 can only shoot and complain. I’ll give you one guess which one he’s done a ton more of this season. Anze Kopitar couldn’t ride the percentage wave any longer, and has returned to merely being a good player and a cautionary tale for Jonathan Toews. Jeff Carter combs his hair a lot. Drew Doughty has his mind on his money and his money on his mind and that’s it. Jonathan Quick is going to make sure that everyone realized he was never really that good by being terrible for the rest of his career. It’s so much fun!

Worse for the Kings is there’s not a lot here or coming that they can get excited about, except whatever they get in the draft. Carl Grundstrom might be a decent middle-sixer, as well as sounding like an itchy patch somewhere sensitive and funny. That’s about it. Alex Iafallo is probably a guy. Put it this way, when Trevor Lewis and Kyle Clifford are on your second line you are an affront to nature. Welcome to Kings hockey.

For the Hawks, with both the Coyotes and Avalanche getting points last night, as well as the Wild, they were basically putting more knives in the corpse of the Hawks. Like that scene in Escape From LA when Snake finds the first agent they sent it. But I guess the Hawks have to convince themselves if they run the table maybe possibly something could happen, so until you’re officially out you might as well go for it. Which should mean no lineup changes or alterations other than the defensive rotation and hopefully not having to bench Brendan Perlini again. But you never know with this outfit.

The last time the Hawks were in LA they might have put in their most uncaring, simply embarrassing effort of the season.They were supposedly back in it, needed a buzzer beater to get past the Ducks, and then simply looked like me going through Bumble at Staples Center. Hopeless, aimless, pointless. They could have done the same in San Jose on Thursday after losing their last chance, but they didn’t. So it would be really weird for them to lay an egg against one of the few teams they should probably be easily getting by. But again, you never know with this outfit.

Folks, I won’t lie to you. If you think there’s something amiss in your life if your Saturday night is centered around Hawks-Kings, I can’t convince you otherwise. It doesn’t mean disaster, but you might want to do a quick once-over about what’s going on with you. They have to be there. We probably do, too. You don’t.

 

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Kings fans have the same myopia about their local scumbag Drew Doughty as Hawks fans do about Patrick Kane, although somehow they’re even more righteous about it. Maybe it’s a California thing. They also seem to connect their self-worth to the national recognition Doughty gets, as it was Kings fans’ whining and bed-wetting about how no one watches their games that got Doughty a Norris Trophy he didn’t deserve just so they would shut up.

It would appear that Doughty is cut from the same cloth as his fans/sycophants.

Don’t worry, Doughty’s hair will probably earn him an analyst role whenever he hangs up his skates. Some would tell you he’s already retired and is just cashing his checks. The numbers certainly bare that out. So while Doughty is in such a hurry to comment on a fellow d-mans defensive shortcomings, let’s check in on what’s going on with the gap-toothed dickhead this year, shall we?

First off, Doughty has no even-strength goals. None. Not a one. Six on the power play, nothing at evens. Doughty never racked up much at even-strength, as his career-high in that is seven. Fuck, Erik Gustafsson has nearly doubled that this season. But hey, maybe Doughnuts has had some rough luck and is doing all the things he used to.

Nope. He’s averaging the least amount of shots per game in eight seasons. Least amount of attempts since his rookie year and that’s by a full attempt per game. His individual expected goals is the lowest since his rookie year as well. Doughty isn’t getting open, he isn’t getting up the ice, and he isn’t making things happen.

But hey, the criticism was about playing defense. Doughty doesn’t think Burns does. So how you doing there, Drew-seph? Oh look, you suck there, too. Expected goals against per game the highest of your career. Same with shots. Same with attempts. But hey, the Kings really blow and you’re not getting much help are you, you rut-faced bastitch, are ya?

Turns out, all your relative marks are below water or right at the team-rate too! So yes, the Kings might be a collection of things picked out of an alligator’s teeth mixed with funny water, but you’re not helping much! Tell you what, let’s give you another Norris! Just for funsies!

But that’s ok, because Doughty’s $11M per yer extension doesn’t even kick in until next season! That’s right, Doughty went into the tank and became gelatinous right after he signed it. Isn’t that strange? That a player would be placated and start just going through the motions after he secured the richest and last contract of his career? When he become unmovable? Totally weird, right? Say Dough-fuck, when did you sign that deal? Before this season? And you’ve sucked deep pond scum all year? So strange.

By the way that deal expires in 2027. After the Earth has actually melted, which strangely will make it look like Doughty’s face.

There was a time when Doughty was a true force. He made that ’10 Canadian team at 20, which is a real accomplishment. The Hawks had no answer for him in 2014. But Doughty started declining right after that, which is why the Kings own all of one playoff victory since then. That’s one in five seasons. And there’s a reason they’re a leading contender for a #1 pick. You can fall that fast when your best players stop caring.

Guess it’s a shame Duncan Keith only stopped caring this year, huh?

 

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Jesse Cohen runs the “All The Kings Men” podcast, and you can follow him @KingsMenPodcast.

Much like the Hawks, how do the Kings rebuild with this much bad money around? They can’t buy out everyone, and they can’t trade most of it either. 

I’m not sure there’s much the Kings can do but hope the contracts aren’t as bad as they seem. I don’t think there’s going to be a ton of interest in most of the players deemed to have “bad” contracts. Dustin Brown was considered one of the worst contracts for a few seasons but rebounded nicely.
Let’s say they have….   9 “bad” contracts? (oh god it hurt to write that): Kopitar, Brown, Kovalchuk, Carter, Toffoli, Doughty, Martinez, Phaneuf, Quick
I could see a scenario where they buy out one (Phaneuf), trade 1 or 2 (Quick/Kovalchuk), get moderate on ice value for three (Kopitar/Doughty/Brown…   don’t fight me on this one), get reasonable on ice value for 2 (Toffoli/Martinez).
BUT it’s a lot of “ifs”

Is there anyone under 30 on this roster worth caring about?

Under 30? Like presently in a Kings uniform? I think Carl Grundstrom has some interesting potential as a second liner? There are some decent role players but anybody like an Elias Petterson? No.

Are we far away from Jonathan Quick ceding the starter’s role to Jack Campbell or someone else?

The Quick issue comes down to other teams interest. If someone out there is willing to pay what the Kings want my guess is they’ll have no problem turning the net over to Cal Petersen if there aren’t any takers then I think we’re all Ride or Die for Jonathan Quick

Would Jack Hughes solve all the problems here?

Jack Hughes MIGHT solve ONE problem. Whoever they draft in the first round is for the future not the present.  Whether or not that would go any distance towards solving other problems… well… I kinda doubt it but I’m a pessimist.
*Smash cut to Jack Hughes lifting the Stanley Cup in LA next year as I am proven an idiot once more.*

 

 

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We have this friend. He goes by @BookOfLoob. He sometimes helps us out when the Flames are playing the Hawks. But he’s capable of so much more. Sometimes you just have to admit that someone’s done it better than you. So now we share Floob’s view on Drew Doughty:

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When it comes to fanbases you identify as whiners or complainers, you usually think of Toronto and their self-flagellation. Or it used to be Detroit and how no one worshipped them to the degree they thought was reasonable (something around Egyptian king/Commodus level). Or Montreal and their need for past and meaningless glories to still be revered today.

You don’t think of Los Angeles, which only makes them bitch and moan more. You’re better off not paying attention.

A couple years ago, Kings fan kept wailing so loudly and so consistently that no one gave Drew Doughty a fair shake that voters gave him Erik Karlsson’s Norris just to get them to shut up. Last year, Kings fans used Anze Kopitar’s 92 points as a reason to announce that he should be given the award for best defensive forward, one that he hadn’t really deserved to be credited for in three or four years. Past injustices were brought up of course as an excuse to mewl even louder, and again Kopitar was given the award to get the reward of silence.

Kings fans main complaint is that no one stays up late enough to watch their games. Which ignores the fact that no one is going to stay up to watch games that are boring as shit, which the Kings have been for at least five seasons. People stay up to watch the Sharks, you’ll notice. Kings fans have tried to tell everyone that they’re actually big and rugged and that you should appreciate that they are the only ones playing hockey the “old way.” That’s a cover for being slow and dumb and bad, a main reason they suck, and also a ruse to keep you from realizing their games would constitute a war crime.

Sadly, their two Cups (that are getting pretty distant in the mirror now) gave Kings fans a platform, when before even they knew that no one should care about them. Thankfully, due to their incompetent management, bad contracts, and inflexible roster, they’ll be heading back to the black hole of obscurity before too long. Assuming they don’t get the #1 pick. If they do, they’ll start the whining about how Hughes isn’t getting Calder consideration thanks to being on the West Coast the day after the draft.

 

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Let us take you back to the spring of 2014. It’s not a happy trip for those of us around here, but it’s necessary. The Kings and Blackhawks played perhaps the best playoff series since The Great ’05 Lockout. The Kings come out on top by a pubic hair. They go on to destroy the Rangers for their second Cup in three years.

You might think they would have taken a close look at how they did that. You might think they’d want to keep replicating what they actually did on the ice, not what they did in between their own ears. You’d be wrong. The Kings beat the Hawks that spring by playing the Hawks’ game better than the Hawks. They were fast. They were dynamic. They scored a ton. They simply overpowered the Hawks on most nights of that series. Corey Crawford was helpless (so was Jonathan Quick, to be fair) to do anything about it. You may not see a series of that raw power again…until the Jets-Sharks West Final this spring, obvi.

We can demonstrate it better. They averaged 2.78 xGF/60 in that playoff run of ’14. That was a boost from 2.37 from the regular season. They averaged more attempts and shots, as well. Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli, Marian Gaborik, et all were skating everywhere.

They haven’t been above that 2.37 mark in the four seasons since. First Darryl Sutter, and then John Stevens returned the Kings to their plodding, simplistic ways that their players hated. And in a league that gets faster and faster, the Kings are getting left behind.

Check out some of the acquisitions since that Cup win, both from Dean Lombardi and Rob Blake (or Robb Lake, if you prefer): Milan Lucic, Vinny Lecavalier, Kris Versteeg, Luke Schenn, bringing back Rob Scuderi, Dion Phaneuf, Nic Dowd, Jarome Iginla, Devin Setoguchi, and an aging Ilya Kovalchuk. What about any of these names suggest faster and skilled? Or even smarter? The Kings seem to be playing a game that’s from 2002.

Moreover, since the 2011 draft, here are the NHLers the Kings have produced: Andy Andreoff, Nick Shore, Colin Miller, Tanner Pearson, Paul LaDue, Adrian Kempe, and that’s it. Say what you want about where the Hawks are now, but they’ve produced actual prospects. They’ve traded most of them, but at least they exist.

The Kings mistake was falling in love with the idea of what people thought the Kings were. They won the ’12 Cup on the back of Jonathan Quick with a heavy roster. It also didn’t hurt that the entire Western Conference that year took a step back. The Hawks were still reloading, the Sharks fell off their peak, the Canucks were a paper tiger beating up on a horrid division, and the Wings were done. It was ripe for the Kings to run through, which they did.

They fell in love with this image of an atom-smashing, meat-off-the-bone, thundering herd of a team that hockey media was only too happy to play up. But they were only that once. 2013 saw them get rolled by the Hawks in the Conference Final, and realize they couldn’t be viking warriors if they were going to win. They set out to be the Hawks. And they did it. And then for some reason, forgot all about it.

And now they’re on the precipice of a great fall. Not only is their window shut, there isn’t a path to open a new one. Kyle Clague won’t by himself. By the time they can summon another good team, Kopitar and Doughty will be well into their 30s. Carter already is. How do you extricate yourself from this? Being so bad that Kopitar and Doughty ask out? Who wants those contracts? The Kings dinner for the next 10 years is going to be a lot of salary for players moved elsewhere.

But banners hang forever. It’s a trade most fanbases would make. Perhaps all. The crash doesn’t have to be so hard, though.

 

 

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