If you didn’t watch the NHL All Star game, I don’t blame you at all given how boring the “spectacle” has been for as long as I can remember. However, you missed an incredible 10 minutes of hockey in the 2nd half of the Championship Game between the Atlantic and Pacific Divisions. It’s one thing that 3 on 3 overtime hockey this year has opened up a new, exciting brand of hockey, but it’s quite another when that brand of hockey is being played by the best players in the league.
When the Atlantic Division made its final push with their goalie pulled late in the game, I was rooting almost as hard for them as I do for the Bruins, even though I was only watching the game (on my computer) because the Celtics were collapsing on TV. The players were all playing at such a high level that it reminded me of the Olympics with the quality of play, and that’s a stark contrast from All Star Games of the past.
At long last, the NHL has finally found the format that will get us to watch every year. Sure, the introduction was excruciatingly long and boring, the semifinal games — especially in their 1st halves — were only good and not great, and there was way too much Pierre McGuire, but the excitement of the final round when the players wanted to split the million bucks was incredible. I can’t wait to see what the difference in ratings will be between the 2016 and 2017 All Star Games.
Yes, under the current rules and options of discipline in the NFL, Odell Beckham Jr. should be suspended. ODB accumulated too many strikes against him to not get punished, and I’ve been surprised that I didn’t see more people arguing against the suspension. That being said, it was still not a slam dunk that he’d have to watch the game from his couch.
For the life of me, I can’t understand why professional sports don’t allow for a suspension of part of a game and not the whole thing. Especially in football, the difference between a heavy fine/no suspension and 1 game suspension is HUGE in a sport in which at least 1 division and 1 wild card spot is decided by tiebreakers every season. Sometimes the suspension should be right in the middle. In the NFL, you could call it football’s version of the penalty box if a guy has to sit out a quarter or a half, especially if he commits the cheap shot during the game.
The ability to take a player out of the same game would account for a cheap shot that injures a player. In the 2013 Divisional Round, I remember watching the Saints-Seahawks game in which a Saints DB almost took Percy Harvin’s head off. You have to recall that there was a huge allure around Harvin that game, because he had missed the whole season but was coming back for the playoffs, and he was supposed to make the Seahawks offense 10 times more dynamic. When that play happened, I remember my friend turned to me and said, “Those 15 yards on the penalty are absolutely worth it for the Saints if Harvin is out.” He was dead right. The play didn’t look bad enough to warrant an ejection, but if that DB was suspended for a quarter or a half, that would negate the benefit that would come from a dirty play.
In hockey, all I have to bring up in order to get you to agree with me is the Scott Stevens – Paul Kariya hit in the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals. Stevens instantly turned Kariya to mashed potatoes, and if that happened today, hockey Twitter would explode like Tom Coughlin’s red face when watching ODB act like an idiot all day. It happened in Game 6, and so the question today would be, “Can you really suspend Scott Stevens for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals???” I’d argue that such a hit today should earn a Game 7 suspension, but wouldn’t it be nice if the NHL at least had the option to suspend Stevens for either 1 or 2 periods? And how awesome of a storyline would that be heading into the season’s ultimate game?
The idea of the part-game suspension would benefit the NBA with those annoying “Never Leave the Bench” rules. Amar’e Stoudamire and Boris Diaw missed a game vs. the Spurs in the 2007 playoffs because they left the bench after Robert Horry decked Steve Nash for no reason whatsoever. Yes, players shouldn’t be allowed to leave the bench because it’s a terrible look for a league to have behemoth human beings brawling like the fight scene in The Anchorman with thousands of cameras around them. But it sucks for the league to lose some of its best selling points of its product, and it’d be a much better compromise to have those guys sit out a half.
For baseball… no. You either get suspended for a game or you don’t (or 5 games for starting pitchers). There’s 162 of them that are divided into 9 innings, let’s not get ridiculous and say that a guy should sit out 3 innings or something.
Wouldn’t it be so cool if ODB was entering the game in the 3rd quarter against the Vikings with the Giants down 10 on Sunday Night Football? Yeah, I thought so.
Today, the NHL suspended professional scumbag Raffi Torres for half the season after he delievered yet another headshot, this time to Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.
I couldn’t love this move anymore than I already do. As the league said in the video, it’s only been 15 games played since Torres was last suspended. Point blank, he’s nothing more than a cheapshot artist, and there’s no reason to give him anything less than the harshest realistic penalty.
Torres has been suspended, fined, or warned 9 times, which is simply too much. If he’s not getting the point, and he’s clearly not, then you have to give him a drastic punishment, which is the only prayer that he’ll eventually learn his lesson.
Ono another note, this suspension is yet another reason that we are so lucky that the Bruins won in 2011. That Canucks team was so aggravating that a loss to them would have hurt that much more. They were by no means the 2013 Blackhawks, who you can respect even after losing to them in heartbreaking fashion. It was a team full of whining, flopping, cheapshotting (that’s definitely a word) wimps that we would have hated seeing raise the cup.
In what’s being called “the biggest philanthropic commitment by a sports figure in Canadian history,” PK Subban donated $10 million to Montreal Children’s Hospital. There are two acceptable reactions to this. The first is that, with the Canadian dollar dropping so badly in the past year, that this move isn’t as great as it sounds because he really only donated about 73 cents. But the second reaction, and obviously the serious one, is that it was an awesome move by Subban.
There isn’t much analysis to say here, I mainly wanted to post it because I think the donation deserves to have everyone acknowledge it, regardless of how many people read this blog post specifically. But I will say that this story reminds us that the hatred that we feel for athletes should almost never be viewed the same as actual hatred of a person. Helps to keep that in perspective if and when you see an athlete walking down the street without his uniform on or some other situation like that — he’s a man, not the player who you hate on the ice/field/court.
Well, this one is pretty interesting. The Winnipeg Jets have traded troubled forward Evander Kane to Buffalo along with Zach Bogosian and goalie prospect Jason Kasdoff to the Sabres for a 1st round pick (not the one that could be number 1 overall in a few months), Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford (whose salary Buffalo will pay half of), and prospects Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux. There is a lot to break down, but all in all, the Sabres and their fans should be pretty happy with this one. That being said, the Jets and their fans should feel pretty good about how their team did given the circumstances.
Let’s start off with the fact that Evander Kane has loads of talent and is 23. Generally speaking, those are the kinds of guys you wanna trade for — the kind who scored 30 goals at age 20 with just a 10.9% shooting percentage, meaning that he wasn’t just the beneficiary of awesome puck luck. Kane’s corsi numbers are always positive, and that should continue to get a little better with age, although scoring forwards usually peak between about 23 and 28, so he doesn’t have a whole ton of room to grow. But he’s still a 23 year old with talent who should only get better with a change of scenery. A great get for Buffalo.
Zach Bogosian is definitely a serviceable defenseman, but his presence in the trade won’t turn any heads. He’ll keep improving as he’s just 24, but he’ll never be a top pairing defenseman. His place in the trade is probably to counteract the fact that Tyler Myers is also in the trade, so the teams are swapping blueliners. But still, he’s an asset that Buffalo can use in a few years if they’re good, or they might be able to get a draft pick for him at some point. Jason Kasdoff is unlikely to ever see significant NHL ice time.
Lemieux and Armia are both highly touted prospects, the former of whom is 19 and the latter of whom is 21. Lemieux was drafted last year at number 31, and may make a few American Olympic teams in his day. Armia killed if for Finland in the WJC last year, and he projects to be a great scorer for years to come. No doubt, Buffalo had to give up a good deal to get Kane, as well as the 1st round pick.
But a great part of the trade for Buffalo was dumping Tyler Myers and his entire contract. Myers will still be clocking in at $5.5 million on the salary cap for the next 4 years after this one. Buffalo has some contracts that make me scratch my head, most notably Matt Moulson earning $5 million for the same time length, because it would make more sense for the Sabres to not have any money on their books long term. But Myers was the worst of all those contracts, because his corsi stats are so bad that I thought about not posting a link to them because they might blind you. Seriously, don’t look. The fact that Buffalo cleared him from their cap sheet is awesome for them, but it definitely meant that they would have to give up just a pick and a single prospect. The fact that both Armia and Lemieux are in the trade is probably due to Myers’ presence in the trade as well.
Winnipeg must really like the prospects, as well as the general idea of having young blood in the system for years to come, to take on Myers. They probably saw how he played in his rookie year and hope that they can salvage some of his ability, although he’ll never be worth that horrendous cap hit. But the Jets did a good job of getting 3 great future assets for a troubled forward who clearly had no time left in Winnipeg, and they only had to take on 1 liability for those 3 assets. The Jets did the best they could do with the hand they were dealt, but Buffalo should be quite happy that they got a guy with tons of potential and also dumped their worst cap clogger on the team.
With Alexei Emelin and Tom Gilbert playing pretty badly this year according to possession stats, it’s easy to think that this move is a really important one for the Canadiens. Maybe I’m biased (OK, I am), but I don’t see it. Sergei Gonchar is going to turn 41 later in the year, and he’s not the guy he used to be, obviously.
But I’m having trouble figuring this one out. From the Stars’ perspective, it pretty much makes sense, because they’re dumping $4.6 million out of Gonchar’s $5 million owed this year (they ate $400,000, according to capgeek). But Travis Moen, who they got back in the deal, makes $1.85 million this year and next. For this year, they get back a lot of cap space, but next year they lose some. And, while they will have over $30 million in cap space, they have a lot of UFAs, so they’re gonna have to spend it wisely. The Stars might use the extra space to get someone else this year, but it could wind up not being enough to get them into the Western Conference race.
At most, Gonchar is a power play specialist for the Canadiens. In 2010, they had Marc-Andre Bergeron on the roster for the sole reason that he could run the power play. With guys like Bergeron, Subban, and Markov, the Frenchies like having those kinds of guys. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gonchar was the same kind of deal. But they’re probably gonna try to use him for something, because they wouldn’t give up this much cap space this year for absolutely nothing. That doesn’t mean the deal makes much sense, though.
Now that the offseason is finally over, it’s time to say that NHL general managers did something wrong yet again! Here are a few moves that should have happened this offseason for both teams involved.
1) The Bruins should have traded Chris Kelly.
Fine, I’ll let this one go, it’s becoming a broken record. That’s just cheating at this point.
1) The Winnipeg Jets should have traded for James Reimer.
I will not pretend to be anything close to the only guy saying this, and so many others have proposed the idea because it’s so damn obvious. Ondrej Pavelec is awful, and James Reimer is from Winnipeg… and also doesn’t have a starting job with the Maple Leafs. The relationship with Randy Carlyle could border on toxic, and there’s really no reason for Remier to still play in Toronto. He resigned a 2 year extension, which means he won’t be a UFA until 2016. But even with that extension or while he was still a RFA, why not send him to Winnipeg and get something for a guy that will probably leave in 2 years and is just a backup at this point?
2) The Minnesota Wild should have signed Anton Stralman
Really, you could say this about any playoff team with a good deal of cap space, including the Blue Jackets, Ducks, Senators, and even the Sharks, who have $4.18 million in cap space. But I’m going with the Wild first because of the youth of their defensive corps, meaning they could use a veteran like Stralman. After Ryan Suter, the Wild’s defensemen get pretty thin, and Stralman is underrated, making his $4.5 million completely worth it for a team like the Wild, especially as the cap rises. Suter on the left and Stralman on the right late in games in the playoffs would be a pretty nice pairing, to say the least.
3) The Buffalo Sabres should have traded for Patrick Kane
First, I know this sounds insane. Second, know this this comes under 2 conditions, both of which might be 2 sides of the same coin. The first is that the Sabres would trade a ton to the Hawks for Kane, and the second is that new Sabres GM Tim Murray would actually make a move that’s partly based around marketing, even though he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would.
But if they would, this would be a great move for the team. While the cap-strapped Blackhawks would miss Kane, they would love to get back the cap space with the money that he’s about to get, and this team has shown a willingness to strip down their core to rebuild, which is exactly what they did after 2010, and look how well that worked. While Kane is electrifying and a beast of a player, he will probably be overpaid next year at $10.5 million. The salary makes sense over 8 years because the cap will rise a ton, but not for 2015-2016. They’ll likely have to trade Patrick Sharp or goalie Corey Crawford and settle for a cheaper replacement, like what the did with Crawford over Niemi in 2010. But say the Sabres came in with an offer of Sam Reinhart, Cody Hodgson, who would help fill the current void left by Kane’s absence on a decent contract, and a ton of draft picks. The Hawks also wouldn’t have to trade Nick Leddy, and while Leddy is no Kane by any means, keeping him would mitigate some of the damage left by Kane leaving.
This trade would be a good one in part because people think that Patrick Kane is as good as Jonathan Toews, but he isn’t. Sure, by “people,” I mean only the most casual of casual fans, but those people buy jerseys, too. Without his marketability, Kane wouldn’t have gotten $10.5 million a year from the Hawks, and they’re not the kind of team that needs to pay someone for marketability. It should be good enough to play in the conference finals every year.
In Buffalo, Patrick Kane would become absolutely everything. The hometown kid could help lead his team to their first Stanley Cup, and what might be most important for Kane on the Sabres in the next few years would be his ability to draw other free agents to the team. Paying, say, $10.5 million for Kane would be an overpay for the Sabres, but the overpay would be worth it in their situation.
While trading Patrick Kane would be tough on any contending team like the Hawks, it would simply be worth it because they might get a king’s ransom from the Sabres, and he probably isn’t worth that. I know the trade seems crazy, but it would actually be worth it for both teams. Or maybe I just am crazy.
First Paul George suffers an injury that would make a few people throw up if it wasn’t for the Kevin Ware injury a year and a half ago, and now Kevin Durant is leaving Team USA because he’s exhausted.
You know how the writing is on the wall for the NCAA not paying its high level athletes? Team USA basketball seems to be on that path, albeit at a much more minor level. There’s the injury concern (Paul George), the concern that the star athletes who already have a lot of miles on them (LeBron, Bosh, etc.) don’t want to play for the team, the concern that a guy who is even considering trade talks doesn’t want to play (Kevin Love), and now that concern that even young guys don’t want to put any more wear and tear on their tires (Durant, and don’t forget about Kawhi Leonard).
Add all that up, and all the reasons you need to suggest that Team USA basketball is on the decline as far as international tournaments go. Mark Cuban and the other owners are understandably concerned about their investment in the players, and the NBA is always going to have more pull with this kinda stuff than FIBA. After all, if it wasn’t for the NBA and its players in 1992, FIBA would be a shell of itself today.
I’m not saying that this is the end of USA or NBA players competing internationally, but soon it’ll be the end of the international competitions as we know it. While Cuban said he didn’t want to kill international events completely, as he stated that he wants the owners to make their own tournament separate from FIBA, he doesn’t want NBA athletes to compete at all: “All things being equal, it’s fun to watch us play Argentina and Spain, but it would be just as fun if they were 21 and under.”
That’s where I disagree, and that’s where I start to worry. I have no ties towards FIBA — or FIFA, for that matter. Not when both of those organizations have been riddled with conspiracy and corruption. But I do want to see international competition with the best that each country has to offer. While Mark Cuban could run circles around me in anything related to business, I think he’s thinking too much from his own business perspective in this case, and not from the overall perspective of basketball as a business. There’s just no way that it would be as fun to watch Team USA play Argentina or Spain if the players were either not old enough or barely old enough to drink inside our borders.
And how fun those games to watch are directly proportional to how much the sport grows. Did you see how much of a big deal LeBron was in the days leading up to the World Cup Final in Brazil. Seriously, after the entire country stopped crying about their semifinal embarrassment — or at least put it on hold for a few minutes — they all went to wherever LeBron was just to look at him and stare. Back in 1992, a player who was fouled by Michael Jordan started to tear up at the free throw line because the greatest basketball player ever touched him. There is no chance that whoever is the top recruit out of high school this year would have that kind of draw. And if the NBA is really serious about becoming even more of a global sport than they already are, they can’t rely on anyone other than the best to make that happen.
And where this really worries me has nothing to do with basketball. It has to do with hockey. As much as I like to watch Team USA in basketball tournament of the Summer Olympics, I love to watch Team USA in February a whole lot more. And there are now serious doubts that the NHL will let its players go over to South Korea in 2018. Remember, many teams in the NBA and NHL have the same owners, or the owners are at least in contact with each other from sharing arenas or other connections of that sort. That’s partly why the NBA owners held so firm during the lockout 3 years ago: They knew they could because of how bad the NHL owners had owned the players in the 2005 lockout. All it takes is one owner mentioning the John Tavares injury from this past February in conjunction with Paul George’s horrific injury last week, and then you have both NBA and NHL owners on the bandwagon of not sending the players.
I need to watch Team USA in the Olympics every fourth February. Actually, I feel like I need to watch it every 2 or 3 Februarys, but there’s a better chance of Bill Belichick paying a past-his-prime running back above market value than that happening. I just hope that both NBA and NHL owners can realize how important their stars are to a global product. There’s no way that kids in Argentina care as much about basketball without Manu Gibobili, and there’s no way that anyone in Slovenia — which has fewer hockey rinks than Mexico, no BS — cares about hockey if not for Anze Kopitar. At the very least, FIBA and the IOC should either give some money to the NBA or NHL for the rights to use their players, and they should earmark some of the money for the teams that lose a player like Paul George or John Tavares. But that’s not a reason to kill the entire system. There’s some middle ground that we can find in order to keep the players in international competition.
The NHL offseason has officially begun, thanks to the Kings’ win over the Rangers in yet another awesome overtime game between those two teams. Finally, it’s no longer the season where the Bruins somehow lost to the Habs on home ice in a Game 7.
As every Bruins fan knows but doesn’t want to admit, this offseason will be crucial for the B’s for the next 2 or 3 years, because many members of this core won’t be nearly as productive, or maybe not even in the league, after 2 or 3 years. I think that the Bruins will contend for many more years with Bergeron, Rask, Hamilton, many others, and a smart front office, but contending once guys like Chara, Seidenberg, and Iginla If He Comes Back retire — and after Soderberg likely leaves next year for more ice time — isn’t a sure thing. It is a sure thing is that the B’s are contenders now, and they’re gonna need to make smart moves right now to maximize that space. So here are some factors to look for in the NHL offseason, heavily focused on the Bruins.
- People do not realize how much Jarome Iginla’s contract affects the entire league and free agency period. Here are the lists of top end UFA forwards, assuming that all of these guys even reach free agency and aren’t signed by their own team before July 1: Jarome Iginla, Thomas Vanek, Marian Gaborik, Paul Stastny, Ryan Callahan, Mike Cammalleri, Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley (HA). After Iginla, who’s really left? Vanek can be great, and Gaborik can be lethal, but both aren’t exactly the Bruins’ type of player, and both will get way more money than they’re worth this summer. After them, there’s a huge dropoff. Ryan Callahan would be a great fit for the Bruins, but if Glen Sather thought he cost too much, Peter Chiarelli likely will, too. Mike Cammalleri? Only if he falls through and can be had for a 1 year, dirt cheap “prove it” deal.If the B’s don’t get Iginla, they’ll either have to trade for someone of his caliber or abandon their strategy of trying to have a RW good enough to make Reilly Smith and Loui Eriksson the 2nd and 3rd best RWs on the team. That means that they’ll likely go for more depth signings, maybe beefing up the 4th line and the wings on the 3rd line. If they don’t get Iginla, their strategy will really change, and that means that it’ll change for every team. All of the other teams will definitely be watching what the Presidents’ Trophy winners will do and act accordingly, if for no other reason than that the pickings are slim in 2014.
- Extensions for Krejci, Boychuk, and possibly Paille and Campbell will be very interesting, but, for the most part, we know how they’ll work out. Krejci will get a lot of money, definitely upwards of $5 million if Ryan Callahan wants 6×6 and NMC/NTC, but will Krejci demand more than Bergeron? I kind of doubt that. Saint Patrice obviously took less because he’s Bergy, but I think that’ll be the unofficial line in the sand. Krejic will get about $6.25 for 6 years. Boychuk will get more than Seidenberg’s 4×4. How much more is unsure. I hope he doesn’t get more than $5 mil, but the B’s would make a colossal mistake by not extending Boychuk this summer. In the summer of 2015, some team who needs a playoff proven, tough 2 or 3 defenseman will pay Chuk so much that he won’t be able to turn it down, even if he does like Boston. Chiarelli needs to prevent that.I’d want the Bruins to resign Danny Paille and not Gregory Campbell. Campbell and Paille are both 30, but Paille just seems like he’ll have more of a shelf life. Campbell already isn’t what he was in 2011, and Paille was an NHL late bloomer who might stay at his peak for 3-4 more years. Also, the B’s have a ton of centers like Spooner and Khoklachev. I’d be fine with Campbell being let go next year, but I would like to see Paille get locked up. Having a speedy, penalty killing 4LW who is good enough to play 3LW is a luxury that is worth keeping for the B’s. Remember, none of these extensions will affect the 2014-2015 season, but they will show which direction the team is going.
- Extensions that will affect next season are the deals with RFAs Reilly Smith, Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski, Justin Florek, Matt Fraser, and Niklas Svedberg. Of course, the last 4 aren’t as important as the first 2. Bartkowski won’t make much after his terrible playoffs, probably not more than Kevan Miller’s $800k. I’m fine with that as the going rate for a 6th-7th defenseman. Florek’s and Fraser’s contracts only matter in terms of how much they’ll cost on the cap next year if and when they’re actually on the NHL roster (hopefully a lot for Fraser). Svedberg’s deal only matters in terms of how easy it will be for the Bruins to trade him. They really should try to do so, as he’ll already be 25 without having played and NHL game. He was the AHL goalie of the year in 2013, meaning that the B’s should capitalize on that value, especially with Malcolm Subban in the system. Trade him this summer for something that might help this year — maybe attach Adam McQuaid to the deal to get his contract off the books.For Smiddy and Krug, every Bruins fan needs to root hard for Chiarelli to play hard ball, at least for this year’s cap hit. The B’s will not have much space, and they can’t afford to give either of these guys a lot. I’m hoping for Smiddy and Krug to only bring in about $2 million a year each, which might be reasonable given that PK Subban only got a little under $3 million in early 2014. The B’s should deal with the risk of having these guys play out of their minds and then deserving a ton of money on their next contracts, simply because they need cap space now. Present the deals to Smiddy and Krug as great chances to improve upon themselves and earn a lot the next time they’re free agents.
- Around the league, what the San Jose Sharks do will be huge. Most teams will probably keep their core in tact this summer because teams always do that. If the Sharks decide that they need to blow up a team that always loses in the playoffs, then wherever those guys go will be not only interesting but also important. Watch out for that.
- The Penguins have a lot of cap space… but not as much as you think. For a team that is seeing their 2LW, 1RW injury replacement, everyone in their bottom 6 except Beau Bennett and the immortal Craig Adams, and 2 top 4 defensemen all hit free agency this summer, you’d think that they have more than $15 million in space. The New Ray Shero will have to find creative ways to get some depth around Crosby and Malkin, because Shero was note exactly an expert at that.
- Ryan Callahan will be a microcosm for the free agency period. If he makes a ton, it’s because everyone is willing to spend, and everyone will convince themselves (maybe correctly) that a two way, smart, gritty right winger at the end of his prime will be worth the money. If the market is slow, no one will convince themselves of that, and we’ll all laugh at Callahan for not taking Glen Sather’s offer.
- There is no reason for Buffalo not to get Ryan Callahan at whatever cost. Callahan is from Rochester, and would be a home town hero. One could logically point out that Sabres fans come to the games no matter how much their team sucks, because they really are that great of fans. But Callahan is a good leader, as any NBC hockey person will tell you 6 times over, and the Sabres will need that kind of leadership for their young guys and all of the top draft picks they’ll have coming up, especially with the Ryan Miller trade. Just sign him, amnesty Ville Leino, and overspend on an RFA or 2, as long as they’re still cheap, in order to use their cap space for something that might actually work out.
The Los Angeles Kings have won their 2nd cup in 3 years, capping off a great season for them that was almost as good as the 2014 playoffs in general. Throughout the season, they were the top team in terms of corsi, they have a goalie who is lights out when he’s on (I like to compare him to American goalie Jim Craig for that reason), and all the intangibles that a team needs, including a good coach, playoff experience, and grit and balls.
So this was a very deserving team to win. I’m still shocked that they were able to win against the Kings after laying the bed so badly in the first 3 games of the series, but the fact is that they did. Let’s mention a few guys who deserve a lot of recognition for the Stanley Cup going back to Los Angeles.
- Darryl Sutter: I wouldn’t mention him first, except I think that a lot of people are gonna forget to give him credit. A rate of 2 cups in 3 years is very impressive, given that the Kings had to run through the Western Conference of 2012 and especially 2014. And, even with a ton of talent, you’re not the best possession team in the league or near it for multiple years without great coaching.
- Anze Kopitar: Insane playoffs. My choice for the Conn Smythe, but what do I know. Kopitar can do everything, from scoring, assisting, being a Selke nominee, and coming up at the right times. He’s the Patrice Bergeron of the Western Conference, right there with Jonathan Toews.
- Justin Williams: A very deserving winner of the Conn Smythe. One of the most clutch players I’ve ever seen, and I don’t see him stopping his clutch ways anytime soon. He’s gonna make so much more than the $3.65 million he’s making now with an extension this summer.
- Marian Gaborik: Had some major questions on him when he was traded, but answered all of them and then some. The Kings might actually be able to resign him, but he’ll make a ton this summer either way.
- Columbus Blue Jackets: The Jackets’ general managers have now given the Kings Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik on the way to a Cup. Here’s to hoping that the Toronto Maple Leafs will make another dumb trade with the Bruins again.