The NBA is
performing its annual world exhibition series. This series of games is part of
the goodwill of the best professional league in the world, but also reflects
the ever growing global popularity of the game of basketball. Basketball is
popular because it’s as cheap to play as soccer, and is an accessible game to
pretty much anyone. Fans in China especially love basketball and are very
supportive of the NBA.
literal shit hit the fan. Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey spoke in support of
the protests presently going on in Hong Kong. In case you weren’t sure what was
going on in Hong Kong, here is the short version:
Hong Kong has been a part of China after being a British colony. The residents
have historically had decades of autonomy from China, and built a thriving
economy. China has mostly left Hong Kong alone as it has been a cash cow, but
every now and then China pokes at Hong Kong just to remind them who is really
protests originate from a bill that was introduced that would allow Hong Kong
to deport suspected criminals to mainland China to face trial there. Many
people feel that such would guarantee extraditions initiated by China, more criminal
convictions and violate their rights, so the residents took to the streets to
protesting police corruption and brutality, and at least one protestor has been
killed by police during these protests. And the protestors also want the
promises of expanded democracy from a 2014 bill enforced. Lots of moving parts,
but basically, they want democracy.
Morey tweeted support for the residents of Hong Kong because generally, the
United States should be supporting democracies all over the world. It has been
a foreign policy of ours since World War Two, one of the main reasons that we spend
billions of dollars to support Israel today, and the impetus for at least four
military conflicts in the last 50 years or so.
A tweet is
so innocuous, right? WRONG. Morey was bombarded with HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of angry
tweets from China. League officials started to speak out of both ends of their
mouths. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he supports free speech for NBA
employees, and in the same breath said there are consequences for your free
speech. The message was received by the rank and file of the NBA.
coaches Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr danced around supporting Hong Kong
despite being vocal critics of the United States. Lebron James called Morey “uneducated,”
which is interesting. I’m sure there is no direct financial tie between Lebron
and China. Also Lebron managed to firmly plant his foot in his mouth in the
process. But more on this later.
Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai wrote a rambling letter attacking Morey’s knowledge
of China and explaining a history of foreign imperialism in China and why
Chinese are so sensitive to western commentary on Chinese life and culture.
Tsai is from Taiwan, a state that has been long backed by a Western nation that
has preserved their autonomy. Tsai came to America and got a degree from Yale,
and worked hard to earn a $700,000 annual salary from a Swedish investment firm
in Hong Kong before he took those earnings back to the mainland to start the
Chinese equivalent of Amazon, an American idea.
Even more interestingly,
all of the aforementioned actors are silent on the current Chinese persecution
of the Muslim Uighur population, who are pretty much presently sitting in camps
which the Chinese say serve the purpose of reeducation. Any person who has ever
read a history book knows what reeducation means. You would think a guy that
makes profits in China and became an internet billionaire like Tsai would want
all the people in China to be his customers and be free to shop on line, but he’s
predictably quiet on the subject.
I get the
feeling that Joe Tsai is an asshole, but it’s just a feeling. Based on
anecdotal data. I’m sure he gets birthday gifts for his kids or something, but
I don’t have a source on that.
So you may
be asking, why is the NBA so afraid of China? Why are the players shutting the
fuck up? Why are North American arenas taking away not only protest signs, but
also informational campaigns out of their arenas? And the answer is simple-
collective bargaining agreement (CBA) creates a split in league generated
revenue between players and owners at basically a 50-50 share. The players
share of revenue is generally expressed in the salary cap. If you’ve followed
the NBA, you’d know that revenues grow annually, meaning the cap grows annually,
so every year players get paid more and more.
example? When the New York Knicks gave undrafted bench energy player Ron Baker
a contract, it was for a two way roughly $540,000. That’s like sports minimum
wage. However, Baker had a management team that believed in handing out bad
contracts more than they believed in him. Baker as a rookie averaged 4 points,
2 rebounds and 2 assists a game for that season. Those stats made him a
gave Baker $9 million dollars over the next two years. I’m pretty sure I can
post those same stats for $530k over 50 games like Baker did, and would gladly
sign a 2 year deal for $9 million. And not even see the end of that contract,
as he was waved by both the Knicks the Washington Wizards last season.
Why the fuck
would you give Ron Baker a $10 million net value as a human being? Because the
NBA prints money.
cap for the upcoming season is $109 million, and is expected to more to $117
million for the 2020-2021 season. Why go through all of this?
China. If China decides “Nah, fuck you” to the NBA and stops showing games,
supporting teams, cutting off apparel sales, the conservative estimate is that
the NBA salary cap for 2020-2021 is going to be $99 million, and the doomsday
estimate is $94 million.
million to $94 million? That means a team loses $46 million in revenues. And
the players on that team combined lose $23 million. But that’s not just all.
There are 30
teams in the NBA. That’s $690 million of player salaries that will go away.
Raises that will be reduced. Unrestricted free agents what will see pay cuts
for becoming a better player. Veterans who will have prematurely ending
careers. Do you think that players want to see nearly $700 million go up in
smoke? And owners see almost $1.4 billion not hit their bank accounts? FUCK NO.
So you want
to know why Lebron is toeing a line? Or Popovich? Or Kerr? Or every player in
the league? Or arena security? Because everyone has jobs and money on the line.
The NBA players union assuredly wants the cap to escalate, not return to 2016-
which was $94 million.
As American citizens, we enjoy the ideas of democracy and freedom. We believe on some level that we should support sucj ideas if they are in our best interest. And people are looking at a guy like Lebron- a guy who has never had loyalty to anything in a career but Lebron and opportunity- who made some hypocritical statements and are calling him a dick. Lebron actually said that in this matter he does not want to be political. He doesn’t want to be political? He mocked the current president. He campaigned for Hillary Clinton in 2016. He’s gotten involved in public schooling in Ohio. He’s been vocal in the Black Lives Matter movement. He’s absolutely political.
He’s China’s bitch. So…maybe he has more in common with the president than he
I talk to
people. I have yet to meet one that has said “I agree with what Lebron did. He
has to cover his ass.” Pretty much everyone sees him as full of shit, which is
easy to realize if you every watched that self-absorbed shit ESPN “The Decision”
many people who are yelling that Lebron should have made a statement about the
Hong Kong situation. They say things like “You have to express what you feel
even if its in the face of losing money” or “If you believe in the cause, who
cares what your boss says, because freedom is important!” A lot of these people
are right leaning, which I find interesting.
they’re fucking hypocrites.
How did I
make that jump? Remember that Colin Kaepernick guy? The guy that expressed what
he believed in despite losing a lot of money? And they spoke out for freedom
and social issues despite his bosses asking him not to? Oh, they guy was
buried. “Shut the fuck up and play!” How DARE you take a knee during what
historically has been…a commercial break. When TV networks- like right leaning
Fox and left leaning CBS- have taken a knee for the anthem, too.
same douchebags? They were the ones saying about Kaepernick “If I did whatever
I wanted to at my job without a care about what my boss said? I’d be so fired!”
So, to be clear, you’d shut up and do as your told? Like Lebron is doing?
Yes, I know
you’re not worth half a billion dollars as Lebron is. But while there is some
courage in having “fuck you” money, most people like to get paid to do things.
Can Lebron never work again and be ok? Sure, absolutely. Can you and I? No. So
he should live by different rules than you do? Who else is subject to your
whims? So, here’s what I’d suggest.
Shut the fuck
up. It’s easy to have armchair courage. But fact is, people love to just
complain and never fix shit. And I’m not even talking about the racism angle
here, which absolutely has something to do with it. I don’t recall anyone
complaining when Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas refused to meet then
President Barack Obama. Seems people liked the freedom of expression back then
that they presently hate with the Golden State Warriors announcing that they’ll
do the same.
In short, is
the NBA scared about potentially losing billions of dollars? Absolutely. Is
Lebron James a douche? Absolutely. Is Joe Tsai a selfish fucked up
opportunistic individual? Absolutely. Would you rock a boat at work about your
feelings? Not a fucking chance. So when we complain about Kerr and Lebron, are
we hypocritical? Well…you are. I don’t have the suck up gene.
In short, people don’t just want nice things. They want to complain. They want to bury someone and will dance around their reality to do so, like those fucktards that are incels or the skags that are social justice warriors or the jerkoffs who gossip at the office. The NBA and China encouraged people to be douchebags about this specific topic, but if it wasn’t them there would be some other nonsense to blame. So feel however you want about Lebron or China or the NBA. Just don’t pretend that you’re better than any of them. And try to be as good as Daryl Morey.
New York, N.Y.- Monday night provided yet another platform
for the biggest stars of the NFL season to help determine the outcome of a game,
and I’m not referring to any players on the Packers or Lions. The officials
stole the show yet again, injecting themselves into a game that eventually saw
the Packers win the game on a Mason Crosby game-winning field goal as time
The referees were front and center yet again due to a couple
of brutal gaffs in the fourth quarter that helped keep the Packers hopes alive.
Lions defensive lineman Trey Flowers was flagged for two “hands to the face”
penalties in the fourth quarter that after a quick replay showed both plays
were legal and the flag should have stayed off the field. Troy Vincent, the
NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, admitted Tuesday that the
second penalty on Flowers should not have been called, a too little too late
consolation prize for Lions fans.
Penalty flags have been flying at an alarming rate this season.
As Paul Hembekides pointed out on twitter,
there has been an extreme spike in flags per game this season. From 2016-2018,
there were on average 15.8 penalties per game. In 2019, there have been 18.3, a
jump of 2.5 extra flags per game. In Sunday’s Jets-Cowboys game, there was a
penalty flag thrown on six consecutive plays. Six. Consecutive. Plays.
This is a trend the NFL can’t have. With the rules in place
to protect players and world-class athletes training all year, the game has
never seen a more talented group of players on the field. It should be these
players whose jerseys we wear and social media handles we follow that determine
the outcomes of games on the field.
Herein lies the true problem: a solution is easier said than
done. One common fix tossed around is the addition of a “sky judge” to each
game’s officiating crew, which would place an official in the booth to buzz
down to the on-field refs to help correct any egregious calls made in real time.
Two issues I see with this are: 1) We’ve seen with the new
pass interference challenge system that officials are rarely changing the call
on the field. If referees are still deferring to the call made on the field,
even if it’s obvious during the review that the wrong call was made, I don’t
have much confidence that having an official in the booth buzzing down to
correct any missed call would work all that differently 2) As the Washington
Post points out, the NFL is leery that they could even find 17 qualified
officials to fill these new jobs.
The only plausible solution I’ve come up with so far has
been to re-train officials and insert a mindset that the less flags thrown per
game the better. Part of the problem I believe is that it’s easier than ever to
know if the call is right or wrong because television broadcasts can provide
every angle of a questionable call. This has made trying to officiate a game
harder than ever, as us fans on the couch sometimes have better angles than the
referees do on the field.
I’d like to think I’m with the majority when I say I’d
rather see a probable penalty not called than a phantom flag thrown to give an
undeserving team a second chance. If refs are trained to stay out of the way
and only throws flags for obvious penalties, the game will profit in the long
The setback with any solution is that it can’t fix the
here-and-now problems of the 2019 season. Officiating is a fickle profession
that relies on humans to make snap judgments without the benefit of replay like
we have at home. The NFL knows this is a problem. It’s up to them to make sure the
biggest headlines after the game are about the players on the field.
Every now and then we have a writing contribution from our wonderful audience. This column is written by one of our fans, @AmazingInsights from Twitter. Enjoy! – Dan
Let’s get right to the point – If you think the Islanders are going to be anywhere NEAR 103 points this coming season, you really REALLY need to read this blog. Oh, before you do, may I suggest you first turn OFF your emotions, put down the #isleskoolaid and then consider these very real issues.
To appreciate what
happened last year, you had the following themes:
1. Lou became GM
and changed the mindset of the lockerroom
2. Trotz became
Coach and got a coaching staff with a clue
3. We had the
“eff John Tavares” Battle Cry
4. We had the
emotional feel good Lehner Story.
5. A number of
players were playing for Contracts
From where I sit, a LOT
of emotional energy across all those items is what truly drove this team.
But did you notice something after the sweep of the
Penguins? A week off and – to be honest – they lost the emotional
“mojo”. It really is a hard thing to turn
The 2019 Season
So far, I don’t think I haven’t raised anything that can be considered confrontational. But that’s about to change. Now it’s time to take an HONEST assessment of the team as it sits on August 26, 2019. No emotional thinking, no “isleskoolaid” logic (is that an oxymoron?) and no “I bleed Orange and Blue” nonsense. Just an honest assessment.
So first, you might want
to open this link in another tab, because you may want to have it as a handy
reference for the sections below:
A. And that would be – SCORING. For all intents and they are
bringing back the same team (more on this in a second). While there are
NO new impact players, we now have SEVERAL players who played well in their
contract years to get absurd over termed contracts. And if you
think Bailey is finally going to show up to score 20 this season, you might
want to put down the “Bailey Bahama Blue Koolaid”, because Bailey
hasn’t ONCE scored 20 in a season.
PowerPlay. You can argue that for the first time in AGES we have a
Powerplay coach with a pulse – or clue – with Jim Hiller. With
luck, Hiller can have the same effect that Mitch Korn did on our Goalies.
But lets NOT forget that the #isles have a “Hey we have two entire
minutes to pass the puck before we take a shot” mentality on the
Powerplay, so Hiller has his work cut out for him.
Both Lehner and Greiss
benefitted from the Mitch Korn the “Goalie Whisperer”.
The fact this duo won the Jennings Trophy speaks VOLUMES as to why last years
team got 103 Points.
Oh and a quick News
Flash !!! Lehner isn’t here anymore and we now get to see what magic can
be sprinkled on Varlamov. Oh, and Varlamov is a little older than
Lehner – and – has some injury history.
Let’s be honest.
There was a TON of emotional energy that was channeled last
year. So the “everyone thinks we will suck because JT isn’t
here” mantra is history – as is the “feel good” story around Lehner.
Here is hoping that
Trotz knows what buttons to push to get this team ready, but I think he
has a MUCH harder road this year. MUCH MUCH harder.
4. They aren’t
going to surprise anyone
The Islanders surprised
a lot of teams last year. I believe a LOT of this was emotionally
driven (ie JT) but it was also coaching that turned around the hellacious
Snow/Weight “coached” teams. Using the word coached when
it comes to Snow/Weight is insulting to even beer league coaches.
But now other teams know
the Islanders M.O. and as such they will have lost the “surprise”
element to their game
Check out ALL the ages
(notice a theme here) on the CapFriendly link, including our so called
“Top 6”. The NHL is now a “young man’s league” and
here come the Islanders with a number of key players 30 or older.
The Islanders suddenly
look .. shall we say .. O L D.
Lets NOT forget
Clutterbuck at 31 is coming off MAJOR back surgery. Keep repeating
that until it sinks in. Major Back Surgery. For those old
enough, remember what happened to Mo Vaughn after his injury. And
for those young enough, look no further than Robinson Cano. And
those guys play BASEBALL. Hockey is MUCH more physical.
And Varlamov – he is 30
as well. And he was hurt last year as well.
I don’t know many
players whose body becomes less immune to injury as they get older
I use this term to
describe a player who magically decides to show up in the contract year, gets a
large contract – and then returns to his normal output.
Be very worried about
the contracts given to Nelson and Lee. The biggest problem is the
term, because how long do you expect to get that production from either player.
Always fear the year after signing a contract, because the focus on
playing for the contract is now over.
7. The “4th
Remember what I said
about getting older and a physical game. The 4th line likes to
hit. The question here, what exactly can you expect from
Clutterbuck after surgery ?
I have focused on age a
lot in this entry. This really isn’t a young team, and it really
starts getting ugly 2 years from now (again go to Cap Friendly and start
adding 2 or 3 years to the players ages) Lou is going to have to
unload a LOT of people in the next few years – and QUICKLY
Lesson: The NHL is
a young man’s league.
9. Roster and Cap
While you are looking at
Cap Friendly, now look at the total the Islanders and spending this year.
Do you see any “elite” players? I sure don’t – yet we
don’t have a lot of room to sign an impact player.
This is why the Mitch Marner talk was absurd. Remember at the END
of this coming year you need to sign Barzal AND Pulock. That 7-8
million cap space is likely going to consumed by those 2
So where are you fitting
Marner? Which contracts were you getting rid of to get the
Keep repeating THAT AND
Analyzing it until reality sinks in
Oh, and a comical side
note. Look at all of the guaranteed contracts. Lets say
Josh HoSang plays “lights out” in camp – who is he going to
Trotz and the coaching
staff REALLY have their work cut out for them this season.
For those wondering
“where is Lou” – take a look at the current roster and ask yourself –
we are paying HOW MUCH for this lineup ? And Chiarelli is LONG
GONE. Which sucker .. er .. GM is going to take any of the players on the
islanders roster you would want to get rid of ?
So set your expectations accordingly for this season. I have the
feeling it’s going to be a long one.
If you’re a New York Islanders fan, you probably are thinking that the Islanders have taken a step backwards from last season. After all, they lost their Vezina nominated goalie in Robin Lehner, the super bottom 6 producer Valteri Flippula, and the free agency contest to sign Russian superstar Artemi Panarin. That’s not great, especially considering that after the team’s season ended in a sweep against Carolina, the biggest need identified by coach Barry Trotz was for more offense. He was rewarded with an offseason of less offense, which technically is offensive.
But really, what’s worse for the Islanders is the fact that, based on the way this team is constructed, they are currently in “Win Now” mode. I’ll explain how that conclusion was reached shortly, but here’s a hint- it starts at forward. Check the link below to see the nightmare that two GM’s have created at forward.
The New York Islanders currently sit at just under $7 million under the salary cap, with a restricted free agent deal awaiting 28 point scorer Anthony Beauvilier. This means they’ll end the offseason somewhere around $4-5 million under the cap. Feel free to name an impact player that gets paid $4 million dollars in today’s NHL to swoop in and save the season. I’ll wait.
This in itself is a problem. But it’s not the primary problem. As pointed out by my buddy @AmazingInsights, time is our primary problem. Let’s look at who has the longest life on their NHL contracts with the Islanders. Anders Lee tops the list in both time and money. Now look at the age column. Anders Lee is 29. And a player starts a decline at what age? About 30 (https://www.fatherly.com/health-science/why-athletic-performance-declines-with-age/)
Next longest contract? Our favorite Beth, Brock Nelson. Nelson checks in at 27, so he is in his elite period of experience and performance. That got him a deal that runs until he’s 33, well into a decline. And anyone watching Nelson play over the years knows Nelson had a “contract year” last season and should expect a decline back to his lollygagging, streaky playing, and generally ineptitude this upcoming season.
Up next? Jordan Eberle. Ebs will turn 30 this year, with 4 more years after on his deal. Time is not on his side, either.
These are three of your key forwards. Thus, why I say win now. But let me beat the point in further, for the #IslesKoolAid out there.
Next up for term? Andrew Ladd. Already 33, already DONE. But with 4 more years at $5.5 million dollars. Untradeable, unless you throw in something significant like a first and second round pick, or a valuable prospect and a first. A wasted roster spot for a player that used to be good and play physical, but whose style of play has ground him down by 31. A year and change older than Anders Lee is now.
Then we get to the Josh Bailey deal. A Garth Snow gift to his favorite son to try to convince Tavares to stay on the Island- like THAT would do it- we see that Bailey at his age 29 season has $5 million cap hit until he is 34. Also, Bailey himself had a few break downs last season. He was on a 30 goal pace in November, but barely finished with only 16. He also lost 15 points from his prior season, but that was when he was bounced off of the first line this year for playing like shit. If he’s not riding coattails again? Ge ready for 14-21- 35 to return. You know, Bailey’s average pre-Tavares line stats.
Players turning 30 this year? Eberle and Bailey. Ladd is already there. This is 5/6ths of your top 6. This is 3 of your key forwards at 30 or more in October. This is 35% of the salary cap. This is win now.
And why now? Easy. How many productive forwards on the
Islanders are under 28 (Nelson turns 28 in right after the season starts)?
Definitely one, arguably two. The arguable one is Beauvilier, who has averaged
19 goals a year in the NHL. No assists, but goals, which IS the more important
stat. Beau is due for a raise this year and will see a few million. But the
definite one? Mathew Barzal. Barzal is due a raise after the season. Think
he’ll get $5 million or more, considering what the RFA contracts of Connor
McDavid, William Nylander, Austin Matthews, and the rest of the new crop of
budding stars got paid?
What’s worse is the bottom six of the Islanders. Yes Matt Martin is in the final year of his deal and will give some cap relief based on what you should pay someone with that kind of production, but Leo Komorov is not. Nor is Cal Clutterbuck. Two more untradeable contracts without giving up assets, which is our next problem- where ARE the Islanders assets?
Generally, within 3-4 years of a draft, players emerge from
those drafts into the league. For top 10 picks? It can be weeks after a draft.
Let’s see how the Islanders have done in this range by looking at the 2015-2018
The 2015 draft has been productive for the Islanders. Well,
the first round anyway. Beauvilier made it to the NHL after one more season in
juniors, where Barzal needed two. So, within 2 years all of the first round
picks of the Islanders made the NHL. So that means the 2016 draft should have a
player entering their sophomore year, right?
Wrong. The 2016 NHL draft has produced ZERO NHL games played for the franchise. ZERO. The expectation would be Keifer Bellows having 80 or so NHL games under his belt. Nope. Zip. And Anton Golyshev seems to enjoy Russia, so that’s another shitball.
The 2017 draft? A whopping 22 games. All on defense.
The 2018 draft could be blossoming for the Islanders this year. Which is interesting because the Islanders will have 15 forwards and 7 defensemen already holding contracts. Some of those contracts are albatrosses and aren’t going anywhere, so those kids are generally dicked over. Like the fans. Or Cord’s neck. #DickedStraight
I’m going to stretch this analogy for three more years- the
2012, 2013 and 2014 drafts. What forwards came out of those drafts?
2012: Snow took 7 defensemen in that draft. You can argue that it was a deep draft for defensemen that year, which was true. You can argue that Griffin Reinhart got the pick that got them Mat Barzal. You can also argue that with the 4th overall pick, the Islanders could have had Filip Forsberg, who was the 3rd highest forward drafted that year, was available when the Isles picked Reinhart, and was the first forward taken after 3rd overall pick Alex Galchunyuk.
You can also argue that if Forsberg was an Islander, Tavares would also be an Islander today. You could argue that if Snow took Dumba or Trouba instead of Reinhart that Tavares would be an Islander today. You could argue that Snow isn’t an absolute fuck up and was an NHHL GM because no one else would accept that job after Neil Smith quit after a month WITHOUT BEING PAID, but that’s a losing argument.
2013: 84 games of Alan Quine. Fucked.
2014: Two first round picks, including a top 5. These guys have both burned their entry level deals while COMBINING for under 90 games played in the NHL. Worth about the same output thus far as Alan Quine. Michael Dal Colle is officially a bust. I said this to my buddy Kool Aid Rob a couple of years ago and he called me crazy. Which is why he is Kool Aid Rob. Josh Ho Sang is on a one year two way deal, meaning that his career as an Islander is over July 1, 2020.
And for shits and giggles, the 2011 draft? Three forwards made it, but only one played more than 11 games. Ryan Strome was the 5th overall choice in the draft, had one good season with the Islanders, and eventually acquired Jordan Eberle. So at least Strome did something useful. He left. Buh-bye!
If you’re keeping score, from 2011 through RIGHT NOW the Isles have produced one impact forward by trading a 4th overall, and used a 5th overall to acquire another impact forward. I’m going to leave out 2010 when we used a top 5 pick to obtain Cal Clutterbuck – an impacted forward- but I guess I just didn’t. From 2011 to today, the Isles have produced at most two useful forwards from their system, and one from another one. That’s over an eight year span. Which included two top 5 picks, a top 4 pick, and 11 first round draft pick overall. Eight years. That’s longer than many NHL careers.
This is also drearily worse than I realized. The drafting of Garth Snow can be summed up in one word- Asshole.
Even if you have hope for Keifer Bellows, 73% of that first round is already in the NHL including everyone with offensive talent. And if you’re counting on the vaunted 2018 Islanders draft? Which of those 15 contracts will the Islanders jettison for Oliver Whalstrom? And Otto Koivula? Will he be as effective as Brady Tkachuk or Andrei Svechnikov from that same draft? Because they’re already producing in the NHL. Probably because they have offensive talent. Didn’t Derek Brassard just take Koivula’s job?
I’m going to give Simon Holmstrom a pass, because he’s at least a year away from the NHL. Which just compounds the lack of assets issue and reinforces the point of the win now mentality of this club, as its at least another year before a prospect is ready to help a win now team.
At least the defense is in good shape…kind of. Feel free to click on the link and go to the defense section.
The Islanders have 4 useful defenders under 28. But again,
the salary cap nightmare rears it’s ugly head. After this season, Devon Toews
and Ryan Pulock also need contracts. Those are definitely needs. But look at
that top three, paywise. One guy under 30, Nick Leddy, but his deal will carry
him right into his decline as it ends when he’s 31. The other two? Oh boy.
Thomas Hickey is on the wrong side of 30, and has 3 years to go on this deal- all what our science article would call a decline era. And Johnny Boychuk is already in decline yet has the highest paid contract on defense that lasts until he’s 38. Another unmovable contract…but at least you can ask for that 8 team list that you can try to send him to, as his absurd “no movement clause” is done.
The Islanders do have a defensive asset ready to step in, and with 4 younger defensemen it will make a solid core. Except…there’s 7 defensemen presently under contract, and the two with short terms are going to be resigned. What raise do you think Pulock will get? Toews? Because that’s cap space, too.
So who with a long term guaranteed contract sits down for
When the season gets rolling, the Islanders with the addition of Brassard will have 10 of 24 players on the squad including both goalies at or older than 30. They will have 3 more guys the season after turning 30. They will be a cap max team. And as we’ve seen no trades in the last almost 14 months (!), we can not assume help is coming. Besides, we have no young forward assets to offer in a trade, no one is taking many of these bad contracts written by the last and present GM’s, and where the team needs the most help? There are contracts cemented for 5/6’s of the top 6.
I wanted to remind you all here that the Islanders also do not have a single elite player. What team has won a Stanley Cup in the last 15 years without an elite player? They don’t have an elite player in their system, either. If they offer sheet Mitch Marner or Patrik Laine? Neither of those guys are elite players. Marner’s averaging 23 goals a season on his career, though to be fair it has increased every year. Laine has one dimension, although it is the best one to have, but 30 goals last season on a good team and he was still -24? Not elite.
Mathew Barzal? Not elite. Not even a top 20?
All of those long term deals, lack of prospects at forward, and complete lack of elite players tell us one thing: the Islanders are a defensive minded, win now team. Just without the horses to win now. The Drive for Five? It’ll have to wait another generation.
EDIT: The Islanders just signed Derek Brassard. 14 goals last year. Wrong side of 30. But this is a win now team, so I’m sure that’s the missing piece to the cup!
Lou Lamiorello is a Hall of Fame NHL executive. But what would make me, a lifelong Islanders
fan, happy about having Lou? First off, I’m not a guy who has an affinity for
the Devils, or the Maple Leafs, or the douchebag Rangers, or any other team in
a sport that frankly hasn’t figured out how to monetize itself save for 3
cities geographically. I do however care about my local team. And in looking at
my local team with a legend GM after 2 drafts, 2 free agency periods, and one
trade deadline, my concern is that this is still a roster created by Garth Snow.
And Garth Snow was an absolute fuck up.
You’re probably going to say something like “Well, Lou
offered Snakeface and Breadman the highest contracts of any team involved in
bidding.” Yes, yes he did. So why did they both say no? My guess is Lou.
There was a time in history when Lou Lamoriello was maybe
the best GM in the entire league. His drafting with the Devils was legendary. The
results? 5 finals, 3 cups. That’s an average of a cup victory a decade, and
almost 2 finals a decade. Solid shit.
After the Devils was an interesting time for Lou. When the
Devils forced Lou out after a mediocre run? The Toronto Maple Leafs snapped him
up. But more to be the man to restructure an organization. They surrounded him
with talent to make decisions on all levels, from coaching to draft to
scouting. And Lou made sure everyone was handsomely paid.
So what did Toronto do under Lou? They built an exciting
team that won absolutely nothing. In return Toronto let Lou seek other pastures.
Lou Lamoriello contains the wisdom of a 50 year career in a sport. I have to give him credit for breaking into Russia and bringing championship players like Slava Fetisov to the NHL that would have never seen NHL ice. He single handedly expanded the sport, and deserves recognition for players like Pavel Datsyuk or Pavel Bure or Vagina Malkin playing in the NHL. That’s all Lou.
But that bravado? Does it translate to today? Nope.
The NHLPA has gotten smarter and better under Donald Fehr.
That dude is a genius, flat out. Every time he gets involved in a sport,
players get rich. Look at Major League Baseball. Their minimum wage is 35000%
higher than actual minimum wage. I don’t know about you, but I’d love a 35000% raise.
Hockey players are starting to have those expectations, and are winning at it,
as evidenced by all of the absurd restricted free agent contracts being thrown
around the NHL to 20 year olds.
But Lou? Look at his last few years with the Devils. With
the exception of that last cup run on the back of Martin Brodeur, the Devils
record on everything was unimpressive. They lost Zach Parise. They gave Ilya
Kovalchuk an absurd deal that…the Devils have been paying that since 2010 are still
paying for it until 2025. Who the fuck is stupid enough to give a 15 year deal?
Oh…right. Garth Snow.
So there’s history. And yes, I am flying past the reliving
of, but really, if we needed to, we can say this- Martin Brodeur and Scott
Stevens and Scott Neidermeyer and Ken Danyko meant no one scored against the
Devils. The punch on offense? Bobby Holik? Shit, Jason Arnott was a Devils
hero. Jason Arnott. That’s a guy you build a team around, amirite?
But I’m losing focus. Let me focus on what Lou Lamoriello
has done as the GM of the Islanders.
He could not retain John Tavares. He could not attract
Artemi Panarin. He offered both of these turds the most money anyone could have
offered them. The response? Fuck Lou. I have to shave? Cut my hair? Dude, I’m a
multimillionaire. Eat a bag of dicks.
And scarily, there was NO plan B.
Consider this: fans of Lou have said that the Islanders won
the 2018 draft. Nice. How many NHL games have those players won? How many
overpaid veterans were traded away to make room for the scary talent of 2018’s
draft? That 2018 draft talk reminds me of the 2008 draft that everyone said
Garth Snow won. What exactly did Garth win with that draft? Fuck it- HANG THE
Historically Lou has had some choice drafts, although he
does reach a bit just like another ass clown for players he likes despite “best
player available” status. So let me ask you this- is anyone saying that the
Islanders won the 2019 draft? No. Maybe because history has shown that Lou has
shanked the equivalent of about 13 entire professional drafts?
Outside of drafting, look at the players that Lou has
brought into the Islanders. This would be a clue as to what the GM values. So who
does Lou respect? You’d expect guys with
good hands and offensive upside. Nah nah yeah nah. It’s players with no
creativity. Grunts, not scorers. Matt Martin. Leo Komorov. Tom Khunackle. I’m
sure I spelled that wrong, but I also don’t care. Where’s the talent? And don’t
say Valeri Flipula. That was an outlier season for him. And he’s not here.
Neither is Robin Lehner. Seems Lou still values 80’s and 90’s hockey today,
when the game itself does not.
So, back to a previous thought – who has Lou signed over 2
free agent periods? Who has he acquired for a 103 point team at a trade
deadline? Who has he acquired that’s worth a shit via trade? Yes, there was the
story about Max Pacioretty that was scuttled because Lou had some good first
round picks. So where are those picks? The NHL is a young mans league. 19 year
olds are common. Dobson? Whalstrom? Bellows? Hello?? Is the old man asleep at
work? Has Garth Snow rubbed off on him?
Then there’s the Mitch Marner offer sheet rumor. The money
involved would cause the Islanders to lose 4 1st round picks. OK.
It’s not like the Islanders have used first round picks well. Still, after the
raises to bring back the same team in a tougher conference, there will be no
offer sheets. The Maple Leafs cap manager is fully operational, so Mitch Marner
has no chance to become an Islander. And I’mnot positive Lou knows what an
offer sheet even is.
But say there was. What if the Islanders were going to offer
Mitch Marner a contract that cost them 4 1st round picks? Were there
Brayden Point is a top notch offensive player. He made $900,000 last season. Where was the $5m offer sheet? Which would screw over Tampa Bay’s salary structure? And cost the Isles a 2nd and a 3rd?
Patrick Laine? He’s like Anders Lee but with speed. Kyle Conner. Matthew Tkachuk. All players who score and are available if you want to burn off 4 first rounders. Oh, and move someone or someones from the roster to create the cap space for them.
But lets’ talk about the value of 4 first round draft picks.
What if we used them differently?
Two of the picks you were willing to burn on Marner? Use one
to send Andrew Ladd and his albatross contract to anyone that wants a first.
That’s it. Use another to move Johnny Boychuk somewhere to play out his days. The
picks we traded for him have served Boston just as well if not better than
Boychuk has served the Islanders. That saves you two first rounders and creates
a lot of cap space. Then you can use the other two to acquire someone to help
the team. Look at what the Devils sent to Vegas for Gusev- a 2nd and
a 3rd. So two firsts will get you a seriously solid player. Rich Nash
in his prime didn’t get two firsts from the Rangers.
To many moving parts? Lets simplify. Call the Chicago
Blackhawks and offer your next 3 1sts and Andrew Ladd for Patrick Kane. You
know, a leader with cup experience and a crazy but not unreasonable contract.
But hey, Lou knows better. Because his last title was almost
2 decades ago. Lou-sing.
For the record, I am not a fan of offer sheets unless those
sheets are reasonable. What is reasonable? Tactical. For instance, Mitch
Marner. I would have offered him $10 million dollars a year. The draft pick
compensation would have been negligible (two 1sts, a 2nd and a 3rd),
but if Toronto matched? They have half of their entire cap invested in 4 guys.
Consider this- to draft a Marner would have required a 1st round pick. So is Mitch Marner worth a
1st, 2nd, 3d? Yes, yes he is. But offer sheets…get
matched? So we don’t try?
The Montreal Canadiens offer sheeted and failed at Sebastian
Aho. Carolina easily matched. Kudos to Montreal for thinking outside of the
box. This one time. But Carolina was able to match because of payroll
flexibility. Which is something a team with Josh Bailey and Andrew Ladd making
13% of the cap just does not have.
Aslo, we have Mat Barzal coming up to be in a position for
an offer sheet. Who do we need to move to secure Barzal’s future as an
Islander? Nick Leddy can sure use a new home. Johnny Boychuk’s contract is now
officially bad. As is Cal Clutterbuck. But the best value to trade?
Josh Bailey. Why? Josh Baileys career 14 goal average can be moved because he’s a recent all star. And of course Bailey would acquire 4 first round draft picks, right? Nah. Besides, 15 goal scorers do not earn $5 million dollars per season. Not yet, anyway. So you’d probably have to package him with a pick to get something back, like a prospect or a 2nd round pick. Still, its removing useless cap space so it’s a good value.
So why are players who are getting mega offers from Lou saying
no? That’s because Lou is a grandpa. Grandpa loves the kids, but in his heart
he wishes those kids were as World War Two ready as he was. Except there’s
never going to be another World War Two, despite creating a roster like it’s
Does Lou communicate with younger players? Let’s look at
Robin Lehner. First off, Lehner was a value signing 12 months ago. Then he
somehow became an issue. If you ask Lehner, the Islanders sandbagged him. If
you read Lehner’s quotes, he was completely full of shit about wanting to play
on Long Island. And yes, it is ON Long Island. But he still turned down a guy
he was praising in public all season. Lou lost the young man, because Lou has
grown out of touch.
Lou’s touch with communicating with youth is that he expects players to conform. Players do not live in the age of conform. They live in the age of pampered babies. Whereas Lou is old school and older retired athletes and present coaches respect him, younger players are placated and spoiled. The Russians that Lou worked with came from an authoritarian regime. Shaving facial hair was the least of their worries. Now? The KHL has enough allure that Russians don’t feel a need to come here for fame. Look at the Islanders- Sorokin issue. Sorokin came here for a training camp, looked at Garth Snow, and realized that anything in Russia was more professional than that. This includes both Russian whorehouses and mail order bride organizations.
This may sound mean, but this is realistic- when a player asks Lou what the long term goal of the organization is, they realize they’re asking a guy that is 76 and in a high stress job. He may not outlive the current season, never mind a long term plan.
So how do we solve this mess? It’s time to make Lou what he
excels at- an organizer. Lou needs to have his role solely as team president.
He needs to add a GM to the mix, just like Toronto had oversight for Lou. Let
Lou acquire coaches and scouts and whatnot. But it’s time for the players to
hear a different voice. One that can convince a player to come to this
organization out of any reason that’s not desperation. One that can make a trade
(it’s been over a year if you’re keeping track). One that can communicate to
the modern athlete.
Until then? It’s like Garth Snow is still in charge. And if it feels like that to fans, imagine how that feels to talent. Even with a 22nd century arena, it’ll still be a team run in the 1980’s. Until the Islanders solve the GM issue- and it is now officially an issue- they’re going to be seen as a reflection of their GM: swinging and missing at the stars and the playoffs. A bunch of Lou-sers.