My Two Cents for August 18th, 2013:
Keeping A Reliable Player in the Fold- The San Jose Sharks are looking to extend the tenure of defenseman Dan Boyle. One of the more reliable players on the team teal roster, Boyle at 37 still has as high of a skill level as any player on the team. Recognizing that, the Sharks realize that he may be of more value to them than if he were to go elsewhere. Boyle current deal with the Sharks runs thru this coming season, giving him one more season at around $6.7 million per Cap Geek.* The Sharks reportedly would like to extended Boyle's contract a couple of more seasons beyond that making him a member of team teal past his 40th birthday. In the last four seasons prior to last year's lockout year, Boyle had tallied at least 48 points or more and has been one of the more steady leaders on the team. His presence in the locker room has been a big plus since he came over in a trade from the Tampa Bay five years ago, where he won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004-05.
Boyle has had his share of injuries to be certain, but nothing that has really kept him off of the ice for any prolonged period of time and most of which are common with most others through the grind of an 82 game schedule. Boyle has even been an agent of good public relations for the Sharks, and even has appeared in commercial spots promoting the season which has shown a rather humorous side to his character. Boyle is not a player who has ever gotten himself in any trouble on or off of the ice. Boyle plays each shift as hard as the last one he played, and has never not given 110 percent and has always made good on any mistakes he has made in the past. When Boyle has made a mistake in the past, he has owned it and was the first one to answer the tough questions. Not only has he owned them, but he never has made the same mistake twice, not just as a member of the Sharks but also as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier in his playing career. The Sharks on the whole would be wise to keep Boyle, who is still one of the best blue liners in the game. It is a good move on team teal's part to at least make the first move here and express their interest in doing so. One of the best moves the Sharks made in addition to acquiring Raffi Torres at last seasons trade deadline may have also been to keep Boyle in the fold too. Both moves (actually one more of a non-move) paid off. The only caveat here is that Boyle, just as likely as it is with both Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, would have to take a "hometown discount" to stay in teal beyond next season. However, the fact that the Sharks are pursuing this now is an indicator that they are more than willing to make it worth Boyle's while.
A Self Made Man and Hockey Player- Dan Boyle is very much a self made player in the NHL. Playing his collegiate career at Miami of Ohio, Boyle came into the NHL ranks undrafted. In addition to having won a Stanley Cup in Tampa, Boyle also has a gold medal as a member of the Canadian Olympic Hockey team and probably has more big game experience than anyone on the Sharks roster bar none. Boyle's standard for which he plays the game is the same exact standard that players such as Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and even Joe Thornton are modeling their games after. Boyle has been at the top of the mountain in international competition and owns a Stanley Cup ring, which means he knows what the big moments are all about. All of this, and you still see Boyle working hard at his craft and applying to practice as well as in the game itself. If the Sharks didn't keep him, 29 other teams will almost certainly be calling and inquiring about his services. Boyle is the closest thing the Sharks have to a player-coach. He also has the backside of his team mates and is not afraid to drop the gloves if there is a situation for which there is no other option. Boyle does not want to fight, but knows how to and does not back down to anyone. He's certainly not going to go Kovalchuk/Radulov on you and run off to the KHL because the NHL is too tough. Bottom line on Boyle, he is a winner, a leader, and a man who will do whatever it takes. The Sharks need more players like Boyle if anything.
Douglas Murray Drawing Interest from Vancouver- CBS Sports is reporting that the Vancouver Canucks are giving former San Jose Shark Douglas Murray a serious look at a possible invite to training camp**. Murray, who spent his entire NHL career up up until last March with the Sharks, was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins last spring for two future draft picks. Murray at the end of the season was not offered a new deal by the Penguins, rendering him as a free agent. Murray is a player who may not provide a team a lot of offense, however the free agent defenseman is as hard of a hitter as they come with some of his hits being compared to skating into a tree. What Murray brings to the table is someone who is not afraid to block shots and intimidate. He is a prototype defenseman who can certainly deliver more than his share of braun to the ice. Murray is one option the Canucks, or any team in need of a solid lunch bucket hard hat defenseman can look to in order to fill a void. Murray won't command to high of a salary either, so which ever team eventually does sign the former Shark won't have to worry about a huge hit on their salary cap. His days with the Sharks may be over, but where ever Murray lands I certainly wish him the best of luck. He is one of the true good guys in the NHL overall.
Avalanche Lock Down Landeskog- The Colorado Avalanche announced this past Thursday that they have signed their 20-year old team Captain, Gabriel Landeskog to a seven year contract extension that will keep him with the Denver based franchise though the 2020-21 season. The Calder Award winning player of the 2011-12 season, Landeskog has scored 39 goals in two NHL seasons (probably would have more than 39 career goals if not for last seasons' lockout) and has been the clear "go to guy" on the Avalanche's roster ever since his arrival two seasons ago. The deal is worth around $39 million with an annual cap hit estimated at $5,570,000 per season***. Much like the case with the Sharks and Couture, the Avs clearly see Landeskog as the new face and future of the franchise. With Landeskog in the fold long term, the Colorado Avalanche are very quietly building a solid young core group for their hockey team which could make them very competitive more sooner than later. The only risk to the Avalanche concerning their young captain is that he did suffer a concussion in a game against the Sharks last January, but thus far has really shown no ill effects and will be ready to go when training camp starts next month.
In addition to Landeskog, the Avalanche have also recently inked Matt Duchene to a long term deal as well as top draft choice Nathan MacKinnon. Consider also that with players such as Ryan O'Reily and former Shark draft choice Michael Sgarbossa representing a very strong youth movement in the mile high city, the Avs are only going to get better as time goes on. It wont be too long before they are mentioned as one of the serious Western Conference playoff contenders.
Claude Giroux and the Exploding Golf Club- Claude Giroux is a well established fan favorite as a center for the Philadelphia Flyers. In many ways, Giroux has been known as one of the "go to" players and one who gives 100 percent each night and then some. He is every bit as tough as the fanbase he plays for. Giroux is without question a magician with a hockey stick in hand as his 91 goals, 199 assists in 333 games over six seasons with the Flyers have proven. Unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said when he is handling a gold club. This is not because Giroux is a bad golfer, he's actually a fairly decent one. The problem though is that a round of golf this past week has cost him 5 to 6 weeks that will mean missing training camp next month and possibly a few weeks of the new season which starts in early October.
Giroux, 25, was just out playing golf with some friends in Ottawa this past Thursday when inexplicably his golf club shattered while teeing off on a hole. The club somehow broke and a very small piece of it stuck in his right index finger, requiring minor surgery to repair the damage. Luckily for Giroux there were no broken bones though there was some damage to his extensor tendons in his finger. Despite the injury, Giroux is expected to make a full recovery and should be good to go early enough for the Flyers who certainly will need him. Giroux has also been invited to orientation camp for the Canadian Olympic Team which takes place towards the end of August.
Gosbee & LeBlanc Take the Reigns in Phoenix- George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc recently purchased the Phoenix Coyotes franchise from the NHL and are looking to make the NHL a success in the desert community despite the many financial drawbacks and challenges besieging the franchise. Gosbee and LeBlanc are the first non league owners the franchise has had since 2008. What is even more amazing is that the two owners only really got to know each other after the previous attempt to buy the franchise, led by former San Jose Sharks CEO Craig Jamison had fell though in January just as the lockout was also coming to an end. LeBlanc made his money in the cell phone industry and was part of the company which developed the Blackberry. Gosbee is a Calgary based financial guru who his known for his expertise when it comes to making complicated financial transactions and being a very strong handler of money.
LeBlanc has been trying to purchase the Coyotes since the team went into bankruptsy in 2009. Several attempts and partnerships had failed, and had it not been for Gosbee, the Coyotes would still be the ward of the NHL. The agreement to buy the team locks the franchise in the Phoenix area for the next five years though the 2018-19 season. In this time the two new owners are planning to do all that they can humanly do to make sure the Coyotes are not only competitive but also ready to prove than a market such as Phoenix, the ninth largest city in the United States (behind San Jose) can support this franchise and NHL product. The Coyotes new owners have not been afraid to go out and get players that will have a positive impact on the team. The Coyotes were able to sign free agent Mike Ribeiro to a four contract through this year's UFA market. On the eve of the UFA market, the Coyotes also re-signed goalie Mike Smith to a six year deal. The new owners of the Coyotes have shown early that they are in it to win it and will do all they can to be successful in the Phoenix market. If they pull this off, both Gossby and LeBlanc will be candidates for both owners and businessmen of the decade. Don't laugh, they are exactly the types of owners who could pull this off and it wont be a surprise if they do.
Non-Hockey Item: A Candidate for a Sore Loser and Worse Human Being Award- This is something I rarely talk about here because this is for the most part a hockey blog that goes on three different hockey based websites. I will only talk of other sports here where they news is extremely relevant to the sports world, or to just acknowledge the accolades of someone (usually a Bay Area or Northern California base athlete or team) for an achievement that though not hockey related is well deserving of mention. At the same time, this is also to mark something that when it happens is so foul or disgusting that it cannot help but be mentioned. Not to give those responsible free publicity, but to call them out for as my late grandfather once said "A Deed Done Wrong." It's even rarer that I will talk NBA here, as to me it is out of the four major league sports a distant fourth. Any league where only two or three teams out of 30 can legitimately win the league title to me is barely worth the time of watching at all.
I am talking about Seattle multi-billionaire Chris Hansen (not be confused with the one who used to do NBC Dateline before disappearing to the Swiss Alps...or something...I wish he took this Chris Hansen with him). Hansen recently lost out on his bid to move the NBA's Sacarmento Kings franchise to Seattle and turn them into the reincarnated Sonics (the Sonics moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City five years ago). The NBA Kings franchise (who I am a fan of and I will admit some bias here) were purchased by a group lead by Silicon Valley tech executive Vivek Ranadive. Ranadive's group has made a solid commitment with the help of Sacramento Mayor (and former NBA star player & Sacramento native) Kevin Johnson to not only keep the team in California's Capital City, but also to do all they can to get a new downtown arena built for the NBA team. The Ranadive Group purchased the Kings from Joe and Gavin Maloof, who could not be shown the door out of Sacramento fast enough. The Maloofs all but ran the franchise into the ground in their 14 year tenure, but that's another column at another time (and probably not here).
It appears though that there is opposition to a new downtown arena, which ofcourse to be fair is somewhat expected in these situations. This was true when the now SAP Center in San Jose was about to be constructed, though the opposition there was not nearly as strong. It appears though that Hansen, a hedge fund manager, bankrolled an effort to undercut a deal the team's new owners made to build an arena in Sacramento. Findings released Friday by the California's Secretary of State's offices found that Hansen had somehow donated $100,000 to the group fighting to put the Sacramento new downtown arena on the ballot. The group claims they only learned about this news yesterday and were unaware of the source of the donation prior (Oh Really? Sure you were.) Hansen himself has "apologized" to the City of Sacramento and has promised not to interfere in the franchises or cities affairs going forward. The money allegedly was earmarked for an LA based law firm who turned around and forwarded it to the anti-arena group. (Gee, how did that happen?)
Chris Hansen, with all due respect you are only sorry for one thing and one thing only, and that is that you got caught. Period. For someone who is as smart as you supposedly are, this was an extremely stupid move on your part. This does not make you a look good or make you a good person, it makes you a reviled one. You just for whatever reason could not check your ego at the door and lay low for maybe just one year, and then let the NBA (or even the NHL*) come to you with an offer for an expansion franchise where you would have been considered one of the front runners to own it. Now, the NBA is going to think twice before giving you another crack at a Seattle based franchise, and this will probably scare off the NHL too. If you live in Seattle, you should also be upset with Hansen. What he did will not in anyway, shape or form hurt Sacramento, but it will definitely hurt Seattle for at least the near future (maybe about three to five years worth). All Hansen accomplished here was confirm what an all around bad guy he is, and that he would have made a bad owner anyways (he was going to partner with the Maloof brothers too). Right now, David Stern and the NBA know they made the right decision in not giving Hansen the Kings, or any NBA team. Look for the NHL to avoid Hansen too. Mr Hansen, you did this to yourself (and Seattle), not to anyone else.
*See, there was an NHL angle here too ...
...just my two cents...
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*CapGeek: Dan Boyle http://capgeek.com/player/116
**CBS Eye On Hockey: Douglas Murray http://www.cbssports.com/nhl/eye-on-hockey/23135782/nhl-rumors-canucks-may-have-interest-in-douglas-murray
***CBS Eye On Hockey: Gabriel Landeskog http://www.cbssports.com/nhl/eye-on-hockey/23165073/gabriel-landeskog-inks-sevenyear-extension-with-colorado-avalanche
*The opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the opinions of the staff and management of Fans Vs Fans...