The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

IDIOTS IN HOCKEYLAND
business as usual
If you want a good example of delusional thinking, head over to TSN.ca, Canada.com or Slam.ca and read just about any story concerning itself with the impending free agency period in the NHL. In just about every case, the editorial slant falls hook, line and sinker for the lies put out by NHL owners. They keep talking about how dire the league's finances are heading into the last year of the current labor agreement, and that this year's free agent market will prove this out by resulting in a lot fewer big-money deals being signed.

What a load of garbage.

This year's going to be the same as any other. If anything, the prospect of a lockout (which, most forget, is not a certainty) after the 2003-04 season will only spur teams to load up bigtime this year, cost be damned, in the interests of winning it all.

All the talk about not qualifying some overpriced Group II players? Big deal. Every year there are a few that don't get qualifying offers. They're the bottomfeeders; teams can afford to cut them loose because there's little competition for their services, and there are better options to fill their slots (I love how the Atlanta Thrashers' letting go of Andrew Brunette and Steve Staios is held up as a great example of teaching the players a "lesson"; oh by the way, the Thrashers stink, and letting go of players that could lend stability doesn't improve things). Nobodies like Trevor Letkowski and Jonas Hoglund getting set loose is meaningless, and routine. Any Group II worth a damn will get qualified, and that's that.

Let me end the mystery: When July 1 hits, the big-name players will indeed get the big money. Derrian Hatcher, Brian Leetch, Sergei Federov and Teemu Selanne, among others, will get deals pretty close to what they wanted. The next tier of free agents will get something, and will probably end up with substantial salary increases thanks to the bidding process. Just like any other year, essentially. And the idiot fans and pundits will, as usual, take the salary numbers as an affront to their sensibilities.