Driving with the brakes on Push (2009); Nick/Cassie (Nick/OFC); adult; 13,650 words Nick discovers a way to help Cassie see more clearly. It's a little sketchier than he's comfortable with.
I don't actually remember the genesis of this idea, but there's a post in my LJ that says, So I said to angelgazing, "Tell me not to write the story where orgasms make Cassie's visions clearer" and she said, "you should TOTALLY write that story" and two weeks and 13k words later, I wrote the story. Which is basically how these things go when angelgazing wants me to write a thing, especially if I already kind of want to write it anyway.
content notes: Cassie's 16; one reference to offscreen sexual assault of non-canon characters
All through the writing of this story, Cassie was 15. Cassie was 15 right up until I actually posted. Then I had a conversation with snacky and decided to make her 16 instead. I don't think it makes it better? But maybe some people are slightly less squicked? Idk.
Ah, weddings. A time to celebrate the joining of a happy couple in matrimony. A time to reconnect with old friends. A time to sing loudly and terribly in celebration of an open bar.
The wedding of Jordan Eberle and Lauren Rodych appeared to have all of these elements, which might be bittersweet to see for Edmonton Oilers fans.
Eberle was traded to the New York Islanders in June after 507 games with the franchise. Among his wedding guests: Current Oilers like Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, as well as former Oiler and current New Jersey Devils star Taylor Hall.
They may not have won a Stanley Cup together. But damn if they can’t belt out “Wagon Wheel” at a wedding:
After the Nashville Predators lost in the Stanley Cup Final to the Pittsburgh Penguins, a few things gained clarity.
Like the fact that Nashville was the envy of other hockey towns, with an ever-expanding fan base of catfish-chucking party people (and it’s a great place to live!). But mostly, that their Western Conference championship could be a warning shot across the bow of the NHL, because with a core of players entering — or on the cusp of — their prime years, the Predators are theoretically going to be in the mix with teams like the Edmonton Oilers for several years of Stanley Cup contention.
The challenge for GM David Poile was making shrewd financial moves to ensure that core remained together, not only for another run or two with Pekka Rinne in goal but for the future.
To that end: He now has Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis signed for a combined $20.5 million cap hit through 2019. Which is rather incredible.
He got Josi (2013) and Ellis (2014) inked before the Predators actualized as Stanley Cup contenders. He signed Forsberg to a six-year, $36 million contract in June 2016 – post-Ryan Johansen trade, but two days before the P.K. Subban trade.
He’s coming off a 31-goal, 30-assist breakout season over 80 games last year, having gained just 16 points in his previous 62 NHL games. It’s no secret how that explosion happened: He clicked with Forsberg and Johansen, creating a dominant top line for the Predators. He scored 12 of his 19 even-strength goals last season with Johansen as his center.
Which is why this contract is a huge win for Nashville, and potentially a blown chance for Arvidsson.
His ask in the arbitration hearing with the Predators, that preceded the contract settlement, was one year at $4.5 million, according to Elliotte Friedman. Nashville was asking for two years at $2.75 million each.
There’s every reason to believe that he’ll be back on that line next season, and there’s every reason to believe they’ll be great again. Locking into a $4.25 million cap hit for seven years, from a player standpoint, would seem to cost him millions, considering what Arvidsson does and considering his current status in the lineup.
A bridge deal of some sort boosts his baseline price, gives him more time to build a stats case he might not be able to make over just one productive season, and extends out into (more) UFA years the Predators would have to buy up to keep him. All of that adds up to more than $4.25 million annually, a.k.a. “Craig Smith money,” for a guy that just popped 31 goals.
But I guess there’s something laudable about Arvidsson giving away money and taking term with a team that could contend – health and goaltending willing – for the next seven years. And again, give Poile this: He’s got everyone under contract for next season and $14 million in space to get Ryan Johansen and Austin Watson under contract and, maybe, figure out how to replace those James Neal goals.
The only thing that gives you pause if you’re Nashville with this contract is the way Arvidsson has played away from Johansen, but at $4.25 million and term that’s a problem you can correct via trade if it turns out he’s only a product of that line.
(Although it should be noted that Arvidsson had a better Final, post-Johansen, than did Forsberg.)
Hey, maybe if you’re Arvidsson, you take the chance to snag term while the numbers are high, rather than take the gamble that another year with RyJo increases your price tag. But wouldn’t that be an indictment of your own potential?
When Taylor Hall was dealt to the New Jersey Devils last summer, it was as though he was sent back to the end of a long, slow-moving line — right as the bouncer allowed his friends inside.
It was a crushing blow, in its proper context. While those he toiled with would soon be liberated, Hall would languish, his career dragging idly toward its halfway point despite being one of the most productive wingers in the NHL for the better part of his seven seasons.
Hall is frustrated. He’s been frustrated. How could he not? In his six years in Edmonton, and now after one in New Jersey, Hall hasn’t been on a team that finished even within 15 points of a postseason spot in a non-lockout season, let alone one that’s gained entry into the tournament.
We often question how much athletes truly care, but never with Hall. He burns for the opportunity to play meaningful games, to have the same team success he had in Major Junior. We know this because he, unlike many athletes, is willing to admit he’s unsatisfied.
“I’ve had some long summers and this summer seems to be the longest one of all,” he said Thursday at SmashFest, a charity ping long tournament in Toronto. “I’d love to get to the playoffs, the spotlight, that energy, having your team being able to compete for the Stanley Cup. That’s all I want to play for – hopefully it happens soon.”
After another last-place finish in the division, Hall’s fifth in seven seasons, time is all that’s helped alleviate the sting felt 12 months ago. But in the absence of success, Hall projects cautious optimism about the future in New Jersey.
(Hall hasn’t seen much of Hischier yet, but caught enough footage from the Devils’ development camp to come away impressed.)
But we know an assembly of lottery talent won’t satisfy him; winning is what matters. While there are no guarantees that he will experience the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time next spring, the Devils should certainly be a more competitive team in 2017-18.
In addition to Hischier, New Jersey traded for Marcus Johansson as part of this summer’s mini redistribution of talent within the Metropolitan Division. Johansson was acquired from the back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals, who like the back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins are returning a diluted iteration from one season ago due to run ins with the salary cap.
Hall thinks Johansson can have an impact beyond the basic addition and subtraction that’s beginning to level the playing field inside the division.
“He’s a great skater, looks like he can play well on both sides of his stick. Playing with those guys in Washington, those high-skill players, when you go to another team, you’re valuable to learn (from). I’m looking forward to playing with him.”
In addition to being mindful enough to sit back and poach another top-six forward from a cap-strapped club, the Devils, as a rebooting franchise, also hold a competitive advantage in negotiations with free agents. Available capital wasn’t enough to land Kevin Shattenkirk, a defenseman that would begin to solve some of the real concerns New Jersey has on the back end, but Shero was able to nab one of the summer’s more coveted free agents nonetheless.
A veteran bottom-six center with special teams capabilities, Brian Boyle will provide the Devils with stability down the middle and protection for their fleet of young pivots, Pavel Zacha, Michael McLeod and Hischier.
“We need that depth in our lineup, and guys like Brian Boyle can play net-front on the power play or (take) a faceoff in his own end at the end of a game,” Hall said. “Those guys are huge and very valuable.”
After seven seasons spinning his wheels, Hall may soon find traction.
The Devils boast an impressive nucleus of young forwards, are in position to add through any means, and remain in the hands of an accomplished executive who has pulled the strings with patience and precision, up to this point. Things are trending in the right direction for this team.
Yet in the back of his mind Hall understands it often requires something extraordinary (in his case a fourth lottery win coinciding with the Connor McDavid draft) for a team to escape its doldrums.
Other than Sidney Crosby, no NHL player has more points over the last four seasons than Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks with 328 in 294 games, with 136 of them goals.
That was thanks in no small part to winger Artemi Panarin, whose immediate chemistry with Kane and center Artem Anisimov established a dominant top line for Chicago and Kane’s two best offensive seasons (in points per game average) in that four-season span.
‘‘I’d be lying to you if I was sitting up here saying I wasn’t disappointed when it first went down, no doubt about it,’’ Kane said at the 10th annual Hawks convention at the downtown Hilton. ‘‘Artemi’s a great kid, someone I got along with really well off the ice and had that chemistry with on the ice. It was just fun to play with him every night. I’ll miss him, for sure.’’
As for who might fill that role across from Kane, there are a few candidates. (Saad will play with his old linemate, Jonathan Toews.)
There’s Ryan Hartman, coming off a 19-goal rookie campaign. He only had 76 minutes of ice time with Kane last season. There’s Nick Schmaltz, who played mostly with Jonathan Toews but had five assists in 186 minutes with Kane last season.
There’s rookie Alex DeBrincat, an offensive dynamo, and it’s not like placing a rookie with Kane didn’t work out last time. (Although there’s a slight difference between a 19 year old from the OHL and a 25-year-old veteran of the KHL.)
There’s also 35-year-old Patrick Sharp, who was Kane’s linemate for parts of his first stint in Chicago but is coming off an horrific season (18 points in 48 games).
What does Kane think about his line next season?
‘‘Who knows what’s going to happen?’’ Kane said. ‘‘I could have better chemistry with a guy like Schmaltz or better chemistry with someone like Hartman. And I know I played well with Sharp in the past, too. I’m looking forward to the season and the next challenge.’’
The good news for Chicago is that Kane has been a point-per-game player every season since 2012. He’s not a product of Panarin.
The real question is how much Panarin was a product of Kane, but we suppose that’s for the Blue Jackets to answer.
L and I made a spur of the moment decision to see Dunkirk last night - well, as spur-of-the-moment as you can with purchasing reserved seats ahead of time *snerk* - and I have mixed feelings about it. It is beautifully shot and I could watch Tom Hardy ( spoiler ) all day, but mostly I feel like it took an amazing real life story and didn't deliver on the emotional impact of it. ( spoilers )
I liked that it was nearly dialogue free (and I didn't mind that I couldn't understand half the dialogue that there was), but I felt that the structure was overly fiddly and unnecessary and it kept me from full immersion (um, pun not intended?) emotionally. Also the music was too loud and there was too much of it.
It also suffers a little from Band of Brothers syndrome in that I couldn't tell the two young dudes apart for most of the story. Once they're both wet so you can't tell which one has curly hair and which one has straight hair, I couldn't tell them apart, and I honestly didn't care that much about them beyond the generic - I mean, I didn't want any of those guys to die, and I felt there was nothing specific about those two to make me care more. ( spoilers ) (Otoh, casting Harry Styles - who was good, I thought - was a smart move, because I always recognized him, even half-drowned.)
Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh (and James D'Arcy!) were great, as was Tom Hardy. I mean, I would have watched a whole movie where Tom Hardy ( spoiler ) But overall, it's a B to B+ kind of movie for me. I wouldn't see it again.
If you do see it, I can say it was definitely worth seeing in 70mm, if you have that option. Otoh, if you have a fear of drowning, I don't recommend it for you.
Both L and I had similar mixed feelings. We discussed it on the walk to the bus stop, and my god, I have never sweated as much as I sweated yesterday - it was not a day for walking but I did a lot of it. I was so overheated that I never once felt cold in the movie theater despite being sleeveless, which has never ever happened to me before.
Before the movie we were going to meet at a Mexican place that looked good, but it was so jam packed with people, we ended up at the Cafe Tallulah, where the cheeseburger is fantastic, but again, on a day as hot as yesterday, wtf were the front windows all doing open, so you couldn't feel the air conditioning hardly at all? I never sweated so much in my life while doing nothing.
It was such horrible news to read about Chester Bennington. While I've never been fannish about them, Linkin Park have always been a band I've enjoyed and loved. Hybrid Theory has been one of my most favourite albums for a very long time, and while their later works didn't hit the spot so hard, I still enjoyed them all, and looked forward to every new release. And now Chester's gone. My thoughts are with his family and friends, and all who loved him.
In a complete subject change. I've seen Dunkirk, the new Spiderman and Planet of the Apes films lately. I enjoyed them all in very different ways. I saw Dunkirk in the imax yesterday, and my ears were ringing coming out. It's a film with a heck of an emotional impact, and have to admit to being impressed with Harry and his acting.
Last Sunday I went to the christening of my youngest niece and nephew. James was at work so it was just me and Corey taking on the roles of Godparents. It was a nice enough day, a bit chaotic at the party afterwards, but that was always going to be the case with so many kids going.
Corey's had a bit of a nightmare with his house. The owners have had it up for sale for nearly a year now, but the letting agents have said all along that it was being sold with the understanding it came with tenants living there, and they'd be able to stay until the end of their third year. Sadly it didn't end up like that, and a fortnight ago they were told they had to be out by the end of next month.
Thankfully they've managed to find another house. It's a bit cheaper, but another ten minutes walk away from Corey's main uni building, so he's got a half hour walk unless he buys a cheap metro ticket. And of course there's another set of admin fees and deposits to pay. He should get his damage deposit back from the house they're in now, but I suspect the agents are going to pull a fast one and say damage has happened.
Yesterday I was at a travel agents asking about holidays as we're planning on going abroad next year. The lady we talked to was so good, I told her I'd never been abroad, James had only been to France and neither of us had flown, so we had no idea where to go. So she showed us a few options, gave a few ideas, and now we need to narrow things down a little before going back. I still can't believe we're doing it, like I told her yesterday, it feels like the world is opening up to me, and that's so cool.
I've just posted the story I started for picfor1000 and then abandoned for another idea. As it's a picfor1000 it's Gerard and Mikey centric, a bit of fluff, and has lots of talk about Muppets. It's Time to Play the Music.
ETA: I knew I'd forgotten something. We've bought tickets for Chase Park a music festival that's set up so people with disabilities can attend easily. There's no one well known playing, but it's local, the tickets are cheap, and I think it's going to be a great day.
I started to do the Wednesday book meme, realized it had been months since I’d last done it--including Beach Week, where I read non-stop--and threw up my hands. I’ve finished/abandoned 20ish books since then and typing them all out is a bit overwhelming. (If you’re interested, I’m here on Goodreads. Also, I'm happy to add/friend you there, too, just let me know.)
I did want to note that I have finally gotten to the end of the published Dresden books – it’s taken almost 2 years, but I’ve listened to every single one of them. This, btw, is a lot of James Marsters in my ears. (This is generally not a bad thing.) The boys are ecstatic that I am not spoilable any more.
It’s weird, though… Between catching up on that and finishing up watching Parks & Rec, my brain is all adrift for what I should be watching/listening to next. Even if I detoured off to something different, there’s always been that next ep/book waiting in the wings. For *years*…
For my tv-watching, I think I’m going for Brooklyn 99 next – it seems to have a similar tone as P&R and for audiobooks, maybe Rivers of London. I’ve downloaded the first of that, but then I got sidetracked on all the Disney podcasts flipping out over all the new stuff from D23. I’ve reached my Disney fanboy limit, though, so it’s probably time to get back into narrative mode. (But if any of you want to talk Galaxy’s Edge, etc, please feel free to chime in in the comments. Also, if you need a traveling partner to Orlando, I do still have that Annual Pass just burning a hole in my (virtual) pocket…)
(I should also do a rewatch of Battlestar Galactica, before DragonCon, and the boys are clamoring for me to go finish up Clone Wars so I can watch Rebels, also in time for DragonCon. Yeah, that’s going to happen…)
North Dakota cut its women’s hockey program in March, in one of the saddest and most stunning decisions to rock the sport at the collegiate level.
This was a hockey-mad university. This was a program that, on the day the news hit, was touring potential recruits through campus for next season. The issue, as it always is for sports that aren’t football and basketball, was money – it didn’t matter how many UND alumni played in the Olympics when the school faced a reported $1.3 million budget shortfall.
“When you see a school like North Dakota do what they’ve done, it is scary. But more than that, it’s heartbreaking,” said Katie Million, commissioner of Western Collegiate Hockey Association, where North Dakota played. “I’m just heartbroken for the student athletes that can’t continue their careers there and have to find new homes.”
It was a decision that angered the hockey community, and it was a decision that made the WCHA reconsider its own economic future. It may not always be the apocalyptic elimination of an entire program; it might be budget cutbacks that have a trickle-down effect to the conference as a whole.
With North Dakota out of the picture, the other WCHA schools – Bemidji State, Minnesota, Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota State, Ohio State, St. Cloud State and Wisconsin – would all have to shoulder a larger financial responsibility. Which is why Million decided the time was right to be proactive, and ask those who are most passionate about women’s hockey to help ensure its stability.
What makes RallyMe interesting: Donations to the WCHA can target specific areas of need, from hockey scholarships to league operations to purchasing the postseason championship trophy. People know exactly where their money is going.
When Million was named commissioner in Sept. 2016, she was surprised to find out that the WCHA was a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. “I was baffled that we hadn’t been taking advantage of that status, accepting tax deductible donations,” she said.
So she made it a priority to think outside the box and find ways to accept donations “should we find some passionate fans that would like to support us,” she said. Crowdfunding was the answer.
It’s not that the WCHA was in financial trouble. Million said there weren’t any specific shortfalls that needed immediate attention, outside of a student-athlete post-graduate scholarship that she hopes the RallyMe funding can save.
“It’s really more of an enhancement of what we do,” she said.
But the WCHA crowdfunding is also preemptive in case other situations like the North Dakota implosion happen. Not only does it build a dedicated base of donors who share a passion for the league and its member schools, but it can also help the other member schools with their individual budget concerns.
“Them departing our league helps our cause. We can use the help, instead of potentially seeing programs drop,” said Million.
“I look at it as us being proactive. Everybody’s budgets are tightening. Schools are getting less funding. We have to help however we can so that those finances they’re paying us to run the league can go back into their own programs, their own budgets, so that we have less of a burden on these member schools.”
From the professional leagues through the colleges, women’s hockey continues to fight for financial stability and substantial investment. Million believes that crowdfunding, especially for a not-for-profit league like the WCHA, can provide both.
“I’m a little baffled that other conferences don’t utilize the status,” she said.
It is now widely acknowledged that the New York Rangers are no longer the team that we think about when we look back on their past several years.
Even within the organization itself, the front office acknowledges the need for a rebuild-on-the-fly, not that they’d ever be allowed to do a full-on, tear-it-down, tank-a-few-years demolition job. One wonders, then, what a rebuild on the fly actually looks like for this club, which for so long has had its success predicated almost entirely a good-ish offense and elite goaltending.
But the odds Henrik Lundqvist can be Henrik Lundqvist any more are now very much in doubt simply because he’s 35 and coming off what would be a rotten season by any standard, let alone his own lofty standard.
Last year, the fact that Antti Raanta played 30 games of .922 hockey is what kept the Rangers alive as a 100-point team; the club earned 34 points in his decisions, and two more in Magnus Hellberg’s two appearances (he played just 79 minutes).
But Raanta’s gone now, traded to Arizona, and replaced with Ondrej Pavelec, who’s a total wildcard in the crease. For some time now, the Rangers have been blessed with strong backup goaltending, but almost all of it was developed in-house. This is the first time in quite a while Lundqvist’s backup will be a UFA pickup, and if Mason does what Marty Biron did in the lockout-shortened season (.917) then that’s good for a backup. But that was also back when Lundqvist played the massive bulk of the Rangers’ minutes.
Lundqvist made just 57 appearances last season, down from 65 the year before, due in part to hip problems. Which, hey, a 35-year-old goalie, with Lundqvist’s kind of miles (19,300-plus minutes in a little more than a decade, plus playoffs, plus internationals), with a hip injury of any kind? That’s a major cause for concern.
And if Lundqvist isn’t effective, and Pavelec is even just pretty good, the odds this team misses the playoffs are strong. Of course, this could be a one-year blip on Lundqvist’s record too. The underlying numbers behind what made last year so ugly aren’t exactly encouraging, but this is arguably one of the five best goalies of all time, and he’s probably earned the benefit of the doubt even without taking his advanced age into account.
But the Rangers’ problems potentially go deeper than the net, which is nothing new. The defense is still a bit of a mess. McDonagh and Shattenkirk can certainly play, and Brendan Smith might be a little overpaid but that doesn’t diminish his strong middle-pairing capabilities. Brady Skjei seems promising. But what, exactly, is Anthony DeAngelo, who — whether you like it or not — was one of the cornerstones of the Raanta/Stepan trade? Tough to say. We know what Nick Holden and Marc Staal are, though: They’re bad. And if two of your defensemen are known-bad quantities, and another one is a total question mark, is that really what you need as you ostensibly keep trying to compete?
It’s just hard to see where the support comes from if the Rangers want to play up-tempo hockey. That’s also true in the forward group. Who are this team’s centers? Mika Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes, David Desharnais (oh yeah, they signed David Desharnais), maybe JT Miller? I dunno how far that gets you.
Zibanejad, by the way, is closing in on an arbitration date and probably wants a lot of money.
The loss of Derek Stepan was obviously a calculated one, but let’s not act like he isn’t a low-end No. 1 or elite No. 2. That’s tough to replace, and it seems like the Rangers didn’t even really try. They’re hoping young guys take a step this year, probably Miller in particular, but things are a little dicey here.
Not so on the wings, where the Rangers have plenty of guys who can play and, more importantly, can skate. I really like their winger group a lot pretty much up and down the roster.
Thing is, though, that this might be the Rangers’ last serious kick at the can as any sort of notable NHL team for a while. We know already that elite-level players just don’t hit unrestricted free agency, and the Rangers only have 11 — eleven! — players signed for 2018-19. Some of the people are are as yet unsigned include RFAs like Miller, Hayes, Skjei, and Jimmy Vesey; players they will have plenty of money and desire to re-sign. But going out the door are Rick Nash and Michael Grabner, guys that aren’t easy to replace. Couple that with a Lundqvist who will be another year older and a lot of the solid answers on this club over the past few years start to dry up quick.
Point is, it’s difficult to assess where the Rangers are headed. How much slack does Alain Vigneault, a good coach with a few unfortunate blind spots, have with management if this team starts to look like it might miss the playoffs? This isn’t exactly an easy division and you have to say the Rangers took a step back this summer. The odds that they lost 10 points or so in the standings aren’t significant, but one or two things go wrong and this starts looking like a non-competitive team in a hurry.
The bigger, overarching question is “What’s this club’s long-term plan in net,” especially since Lundqvist is signed for three seasons after the coming one at $8.5 million? Let’s acknowledge here their goaltending pipeline is stacked, but how much that helps the club in the next, say, three years is probably minimal.
The good news is that most of the good players already on the roster are in their mid- or late-20s, which buys them some time on the back end of a rebuild-on-the-fly. But it’s pretty reasonable to have a lot of concerns about this team’s chances to be anything other than a first-round bounce-out at best over the next two seasons.
Which, if you’re rebuilding — on-the-fly or otherwise — might not be that helpful. Picking in the mid-teens, whether you barely make the playoffs or barely miss them, doesn’t get you high-level talent. Last summer, Corey Pronman had the Rangers’ farm system as 28th in the league. You don’t improve on that much if you’re picking 16th, but you don’t get much better with a total talent sell-off. Which isn’t going to happen because that’s not what the Rangers do.
So it’s a tough situation overall, and it’s mostly because there might not be another choice for this franchise in particular.
Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.
I spent last night reading fic where Jason and Cass turn out to be biological siblings, not just adopted siblings, and squee!, that is one of my favorite Batfamily tropes. Plus, there was some awesome Jason-Cass-Steph bonding which I feel canon has repeatedly cheated me out of, even though they would get along like a house on fire (literally, probably, given Jason's involvement and enjoyment in blowing things up). Plus there is some hilarious snark at poor Tim's expense that made me laugh out loud repeatedly. Oh Tim. (There will be recs at the end of the month as usual, but here and here for those of you who are impatient and also not following my pinboard.)
Also, yesterday, my consolation birthday present arrived - a beautiful red patent leather Love Moschino tote bag (wow, there were three left in stock when I ordered mine and now there are none! I'm glad I got there in time!). During the whole epic search for a new bag, I coveted a red patent leather bag, but couldn't find one (or, rather, couldn't find one that was less than, like, $800 and while I'm profligate, I'm not that profligate), since I guess they aren't in style right now? Except it's red patent leather so I can't imagine how it could go out of style? But whatever. On a whim on Wednesday, I checked Zappo's to see if there were any available, and lo and behold, there it was. It's beautiful. It's big and kind of unwieldy (and unpleasantly sticky against the bare skin of my arm in the heat), but I don't care, because it's gorgeous.
Bosses 1 & 3 both admired it as I unpacked it from the box, and they were like, "Are you going to save it for special occasions?" and I said, "Hell no!" (note: I did not actually say "Hell no!" I just said, "no! I bought it so I could use it! Because it is beautiful!") And I recommend to all of you to use your beautiful and special things rather than waiting for some mythical special occasion to crop up, because frequently, you will be waiting forever and never get to enjoy the beautiful thing you bought for yourself. Using a special bag/wearing your beautiful new shoes/opening that expensive bottle of wine - they can all make a regular occasion special, and I recommend you do that rather than wait for some occasion arbitrarily deemed "special" enough to break out the fancy lipstick or whatever. Live your best life whenever you can, people!
* I cannot finish your urgent project in a timely fashion if you keep interrupting me to ask when your project is going to be finished! Please stop!
* We have already done Thing based on all your requirements (and with your approval!) last quarter. We can just update it instead of spending so much time trying to come up with a new way to do it (only to come up with basically the exact same Thing). There is no need to spend hours reinventing the wheel!
* You have to decide whether you need a meeting to happen ASAP or if you need everyone involved present, because it's July coming up on August, and half the people you need will be out on vacation at any given moment and I have no control of that.
* I don't want healthy snacks in the vending machine. If I am driven to getting food from it, it's generally because I want Frito Lay corn chips or terrible plasticky cheap chocolate, not some sort of chip made from beans or some kind of granola bar! WTF?
This is a time of magic. Through our own tenacity and volume, we have the ability to will things into existence.
We can resurrect cancelled television shows. We can force major corporations to apologize for social media faux pas. We literally created a line of dialogue for Samuel L. Jackson to say in “Snakes On A Plane” and, by god, he said it.
So while the NHL has given every indication that it will not participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics – right down to the moment when Gary Bettman announced the 2018 All-Star Game would be in Tampa, and basically said “because we’re not going to the Olympics” – hope is kept alive, because hockey fans who want to see the best best-on-best tournament in existence can will it into existence, right?
The report went on to say that the NHL is facing heavy pressure from stars like Sidney Crosby to attend the 2018 Games, which is likely music to Gary Bettman’s ears since much of this is posturing to make the Olympics a huge CBA negotiation point in a few years.
Is there an Alternate Olympic Schedule for the 2017-18 season? I asked a few league sources and got a few “I don’t knows.”
And that’s with the assumption that the Olympics are still actually on the table, and there’s plenty of evidence to say they’re not.
“I know that there have been a variety of comments either from Rene Fasel of the International Ice Hockey Federation or from representatives from the Players’ Association suggesting that this was still an open issue. It is not and has not been,” said Bettman in late May.
In the next week, the NHL is going to have boots on the ground in Tampa to start cutting deals for the All-Star Game. That includes a partnership with the organizers of the Gasparilla Pirate Fest, for what should be a wild drunken time in January. They’re full speed ahead on that event in ways that would indicate that they’re not expecting to move it to 2019.
We’re also starting to see the beginnings of how these national teams will be built for a non-NHL Olympics.
The AHL this week confirmed to Steve Whyno that “teams were informed they could loan players on AHL contracts to national teams for the purposes of participating in the Pyeongchang Olympics.” That’s strictly minor league free agents, and not players on NHL contracts that have been demoted.
Also, for those keeping hope alive: Don’t read too much into the radio silence from USA Hockey on this. Like the fact there hasn’t been an orientation camp announced for the 2018 national team, like there was in August 2013 for the Sochi team. That was only going to be for NHL players; for a non-NHL player team, USA Hockey is going to create a pool of up to 150 players “based on past playing history and upcoming season expectation of Olympic availability.”
They’ll be evaluated based on 2014-18 performances, rather than coming to tryouts or some such. The rosters will be set by early January 2018.
Look, it’s OK if you want to continue to look at NHL Olympic participation through delusion-colored glasses. Most likely it’s because you’re a Canadian who knows that your third string could win gold, or a Swede that knows the Canadians have to beat someone for gold, or an American that … hey wait, we have Matthews and Eichel this time?!
The IOC and NHLPA better get to [expletive] caving so the NHL can roll out that alternate schedule…
The St. Louis Blues and 24-year-old defenseman Colton Parayko came to terms on a five-year, $27.5 million contract extension on Thursday, the day of their scheduled arbitration hearing. It carries an average annual value of $5.5 million.
One could easily understand why the Blues would want to avoid that hearing, as trying to dig up negatives on one of the best young defensemen in hockey – and, some feel, the best defenseman in St. Louis – would require a TMZ-level of mudslinging. There’s not much bad to say about him.
In two years, Parayko has 13 goals and 55 assists in 160 games. His time on ice jumped to 21:12 last season, and his numbers didn’t suffer: He had a 51.1 percent Corsi, playing most of his minutes as the better half of a pairing with Joel Edmundson.
According to the Post-Dispatch, the Blues submitted offers of $3.4 million and $3.6 million for each of two years. Parayko wanted one year at $4.85 million. So rather than risking that one-year bridge moving the bar up on a longer-term deal next summer, the Blues closed him at $5.5 million over five years.
One could argue that, after just two seasons, the Blues are already getting incredible value here, let alone three or four years into this deal. He was No. 14 in the NHL last season in individual Corsi per 60 minutes (12.98), ahead of Roman Josi (12.79), right there with Aaron Ekblad (13.19) and in sniffing distance of Erik Karlsson (13.48). (We imagine he smells of hair products and success.)
Parayko, who will be unrestricted when this contract is over, carries the same cap hit next season as Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Tyson Barrie, Justin Schultz, Nick Leddy and Jeff Petry. We’d argue he’s demonstrably better than all but the first name on that last. It’s inarguable that he’s younger than all of them.
At the five-year anniversary of the Shea Weber offer sheet from the Philadelphia Flyers, it’s interesting to see a young defenseman opt not to work the system. There would have been a market for him as an RFA, no doubt. Hell, the Toronto Maple Leafs probably had a van parked outside his house since May.
But he wasn’t eligible for an offer sheet because he filed for arbitration, and the Blues accepted it. That was one level of commitment from Parayko. Agreeing on a deal that gives the Blues stability and flexibility like this one is another. GM Doug Armstrong has to be thrilled with this. So should St. Louis fans.
On July 19, 2012, Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators was a restricted free agent. The Philadelphia Flyers were trying to work a trade angle for him, but not getting any traction, despite having the threat of an offer sheet hanging over the Predators.
There was also the clock ticking down to the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, and how that might affect the term and dollars on Weber’s big contract — a contract that the Flyers couldn’t negotiate with him on before acquiring his rights.
The contract was for 14 years with a value of $110 million. At the time, and at age 26, it made Shea Weber the second-highest paid player in the NHL behind Alex Ovechkin, who by 2012 had won the Hart Trophy twice. Weber still hasn’t won a Norris.
The Predators had the decision to match the contract or accept four first-round picks from the Flyers, losing Weber in the process.
Nashville was coming off a 102-point season and a second-round playoff exit, but their holy trinity of star players was fracturing. Defenseman Ryan Suter signed a 13-year contract with the Minnesota Wild as an unrestricted free agent, leaving behind his defensive partner Weber and goalie Pekka Rinne.
GM David Poile was mega-pissed. Suter told the team he was re-signing back in November 2011. Nashville made a competitive offer to retain him. Suter said it wasn’t about the money, but rather about family, as his wife was a Minnesota native. “The disappointing part is that’s not what we talked about all year long. I think we met Ryan’s desires on every front so today is very, very disappointing,” said Poile.
But since that ship sailed, Poile shifted his target to re-upped Weber, his restricted free-agent captain restricted. “He’s the player we want to build our team around. We want him to be in Nashville for years to come,” said Poile.
One problem: Keeping Suter would have made retaining Weber much easier.
Weber expected the Predators would match any offer sheet he signed. But he also didn’t feel comfortable committing to the team long-term without Suter there. (That was according to Bob McKenzie at the time.)
So Weber’s camp sent out feelers, looking for teams that had the desire to trade for him and the ability to offer sheet him, for leverage. The field included teams like the New York Rangers, who were hot for Weber, and the Vancouver Canucks, whose general manager Mike Gillis said that he wasn’t confident that Weber’s contract wouldn’t be matched.
“Well.” He paused, took a breath. “I guess that’s one school of thought. To me I’d rather be trying to accomplish things rather than, ‘Okay, throw something up in the air and hope that it sticks.’ “We threw around trade possibilities. We threw around every possible scenario. I spoke to him [Weber] about every possible scenario, and his agent. At the end of the day, I guess Philadelphia was prepared to take that chance.”
The contract paid him $1 million in base salary with a $13 million signing bonus over the first four years; $4 million in salary with an $8 million bonus in years five and six; $6 million in years 7-10; $3 million in year 11; and $1 million in each of the final three years.
(RIP, deep back-sliding contracts.)
If the Predators matched, they would have been on the hook for $27 million for Weber, with $26 million of it guaranteed through a lockout.
“To put that in perspective, 16.5 percent of Nashville’s entire franchise net worth ($163M as valuated by Forbes Magazine in 2011) would be paid out in less than a calendar year by the small-market team.”
The notion that the Predators would match this was, at the time, a long-shot. Nashville fans were left hoping that the threat that they might, or the Flyers’ cap considerations going forward, would net the Predators something more palpable than the four first-round picks. But the Flyers basically had all the leverage on a potential trade.
So the Predators were basically screwed, and the hockey world was Photoshopping Weber into Flyers jerseys.
And then David Poile matched the damn offer sheet.
As the organization analyzed the overall situation and worked toward a conclusion, the decision boiled down to three questions:
– Was Shea Weber the individual that this franchise wanted to lead our team, a team that would compete for the Stanley Cup every year, for the next 14 years?
– Would matching the offer sheet be in the best long-term interest of the team and organization?
– Would a decision not to match the offer sheet send a negative message to current Predators players and other NHL organizations, a message that the Predators would only go so far to protect its best players and be pushed around by teams with “deep pockets?”
The answer to each of the above questions is clearly “yes.” The organization spent the last several days analyzing all aspects of the offer sheet, from economic implications to the impact on the team hockey operations puts on the ice.
So after five years, what can we glean from this historic moment?
The Shea Weber offer sheet will go down as one of the great “WHAT IF?!” moments in NHL history, along with course-changers like the Eric Lindros trade. (The Flyers, apparently, being the League’s biggest fans of “Choose Your Own Adventure.”)
Let’s start off with the obvious: The Predators felt, at the time, that losing Weber would have been a debilitating blow to the franchise.
Is this the most important deal in franchise history? On the surface it would seem so. The Predators have finally taken out the checkbook and signed its best player to a long-term deal that will keep him in Nashville for seemingly the rest of his caerer. Rejoice, Preds fans. The captain isn’t going anywhere.
Let’s continue with the further obvious: There is no P.K. Subban in Nashville if there isn’t a Shea Weber going back to Montreal in that deal. Then again, the Flyers were sniffing around Subban as well over the years – could they have made the Weber-for-Subban trade instead?
As for the aftermath of the deals, there’s obviously no way to tell where the Flyers might have finished with Weber. But for giggles, they selected No. 11, No. 17, No. 7 and No. 18 overall in the next four drafts.
Less than a month later, Holmgren was “promoted” to team president and Ron Hextall was hired to sort this all out.
Since 2012, the Flyers have had more coaches (three) than playoff appearances (two). Since 2012, the Predators missed the playoffs in two straight seasons and then made them in three straight, losing in the Stanley Cup Final last season with former Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, fired the season after the Weber offer sheet was matched. Another domino that fell.
As for Weber, he might have seemed like a cold, calculated scoundrel at the time. Here was the team captain, chasing the money and trying to work a deal that got him out of playing in the only city he’d ever played in.
It didn’t help matters that his agent Jarrett Bousquet said Weber didn’t want to go through a “rebuilding” process in Nashville and “he’d like to play with the Philadelphia Flyers.”
Weber did damage control after the offer sheet match:
“I love the city of Nashville,” Weber said. “I love my teammates. I love the fans. It’s a very positive thing that the ownership has stepped up and they’re going to be a team that’s going to spend to the cap and brings guys in.
“The team stepped up and showed that they’re going to bend with the best of teams, and now we can focus on the season, and hopefully get some more pieces of the puzzle and build a contending team for a long time.”
It appears they will be, but not with Shea Weber. Because for all of the incredible maneuvering, massaging and masterminding of that offer sheet contract, the single most important aspect of it, in hindsight?
We were comparing eras with completely different standards of play, number of teams and quality of athletes (through advancements in coaching and training). In some cases, we were comparing the careers of current players yet to reach 30 years old, with players whose stories had already been told.
Again, any list where Dmitri Yushkevich is ranked above Slava Fetisov, and that list isn’t “alphabetical by first name,” is just hard to fathom. But here we are.
Nikolai Khabibulin over Sergei Bobrovsky seems like a temporary problem. Artemi Panarin at No. 38? Yeah, might want to wait for one season without Patrick Kane on his line before putting him over someone like Tverdovsky.
But obviously the big headline here is Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins being named the best Russian player of all-time, ahead of Sergei Fedorov and Alex Ovechkin, with Pavel Bure and Pavel Datsyuk right behind them.
Using the rigid criteria that established the list, we can see how it led to Malkin. His three Stanley Cups match those of Fedorov. They both have one Hart Trophy. But Malkin has a Conn Smythe, which apparently is weighed heavier than the two Selke trophies Fedorov has that Malkin, frankly, could never hope to win. (Malkin’s highest finish for the Selke: 46th place.)
But again: How on earth can one determine that Malkin deserves the top spot over Fedorov when “stability and durability” can be assessed for a retired player but not for a guy who just hit 30?
When Fedorov hit 36 years old, his stats plummeted. Who knows what happens to Malkin in six years? One player seemingly gets the benefit of the doubt while the other is penalized for having played a complete career. That’s tough.
But let’s take them both on the merits of their “prime” careers. Since that’s hard to determine for Malkin, we’ll just go with his first 10 seasons:
706 games, 328 goals, 504 assists, 1.18 points per game average.
Fedorov, in his first 10 seasons:
672 games, 301 goals, 433 assists, 1.09 points per game average.
Keep in mind that Fedorov played half of those seasons during the trap years, while Malkin’s entire career was post-NHL 2.0 rules changes in 2006.
Then you have Ovechkin.
If this ranking was made in 2015, before the Penguins rolled to consecutive Stanley Cups and Ovechkin’s goal production dropped last season, is there any chance he’s not at the top of this ranking? Six goals titles, three player of the year awards and three Hart trophies. But because the ranking weighs Stanley Cup wins rather heavily, and the Washington Capitals turn into quivering invertebrates every postseason, apparently Ovechkin gets knocked down a few pegs.
Where we to rank the Russians, based entirely on NHL output? I will respectfully disagree with our book’s ranking and go Ovechkin, Fedorov and Malkin – with the caveat that the definitive ranking of these three icons can’t happen until we see how the current stars finish their NHL runs.