Dynasty On Hold...Or Is It?
(dun, dun, dun!)
On paper, it seemed like a dream match-up. Unfortunately, Stanley Cup Finals aren't played on paper. Except the 1993 Final, which Toronto won because "Potvin had better stats." Right? I mean, why wait for the podcast?
As predicted, the Penguins weren't quite ready to have their names etched alongside Gretz, Mess, Coffey and Kurri. Let's be honest, it wasn't even close. The Red Wings outplayed them in every single game, and were a couple of bounces away from possibly sweeping. Normally I'd be the first to say that the future is bright for the Penguins, and things like "you have to lose before you can win." But in the cap era, I'm not so sure that old adage holds true. I still feel the Penguins young players will be better for this experience. The question is, where will some of them be putting those lessons into practice? Will the Penguins be able to keep this team together to build on the success from their run to the Finals? The Montreal Canadiens of the 70's and Oilers of the 80's never had to deal with the restrictions of a cap, or rival GM's nipping at the heels of their RFA's.
We knew Crosby was the real deal, and Malkin had a good playoff run as well, but the true bright spot of the playoffs was the emergence of Marc-Andre Fleury as an upper echelon goalie. He had a rough regular season, which prompted the organization to ponder trading for a veteran goalie. Hell, he lost his job to Ty Conklin! I don't like Ty Conklin. You know how the Leafs blogosphere feels about me? That's how I feel about Ty Conklin. No particular reason. I just don't like him.
Okay, one VERY particular reason. "Oh my goodness?" I know Bob Cole is losing it, but I fail to see any "goodness" in that play. Maybe I'm misinterpreting that. Anyway, Fleury came through...big-time. In Crosby, Malkin, and Fleury, you have a core trio that should enable the Pens to be perennial contenders. The challenge will be to surround them with a capable supporting cast, and that challenge will start almost immediately.
First off, they're most likely going to lose Hossa. Say what you want, but the guy answered a lot of questions about his ability to perform in the playoffs. He scored a lot of big, timely goals, and probably earned himself an $8 million contract. Maybe the key with him was not having to be THE guy. In that sense, Pittsburgh is the perfect place for him. It'll be interesting to see where he goes.
Fleury is an RFA, and they'll lock him up long term. But at what price? Between $4-5 million? His price will determine if they can afford Ryan Malone and Brooks Orpik. With Malkin and Staal due for new deals next year, it's likely they can only afford one of Malone/Orpik, and both guys have played themselves into the $4 million bracket. Being thinner on the blueline, do they opt for Orpik? Would Pittsburgh-born Malone take a hometown discount?
They have a bunch of key character guys heading for UFA status: Roberts, Hall, Ruutu, Laraque and Dupuis. Of those, Dupuis is probably the guy they'll look to keep, as he was very effective playing with Crosby.
They have another year of Zetterberg at a ridiculous $2.9 million, Franzen at $1.1 million, and Kronwall locked up for 4 more years at $3 million. THOSE are examples of outperforming your contract. They'll need to add a defenceman or two, and find a replacement for Hasek, but Jimmy Howard is ready to step-up from the minors at a fraction of the cost. Given that, who's to say the Red Wings won't be players for a high-end UFA defenceman like Redden, Campbell or Streit? Scary thought. Maybe all that talk of a 'Dynasty' was centered on the wrong team.
I'm Just Saying...
Is there anything more ridiculous than an AHL call-up getting his gear on in the locker room and coming out for a skate with the Cup? Maybe I'm sounding like a crusty old man here, but if I lifted the Cup and skated around the ice searching for applause, I'd at least like to feel I contributed to the journey. I mean any asshole and his brother can go to the Hall of Fame and cop some queer kissing-the-cup pose. No offense to queers. Jimmy Howard? I said you were ready to be an NHL back-up, not put your mitts all over Jacques Plante's name. And really, Mark Hartigan? Repeat offender:
Lastly, a word about Ron Wilson. He says he's thinking it over. Uh huh, sure he is. If I know Ron Wilson's ego, he's probably milking this because he didn't want to tell the Leafs "yes" on the same day Detroit won the Cup. The greatest coach hockey has ever seen couldn't stand to be the 2nd biggest hockey story...on a Wednesday...in June. If you ask me, he's already overpaid.
Podcast = Monday!