I have had the pleasure of living in two cites that have NHL hockey teams. Growing up in Chicago with the Blackhawks, and of course living here in South Florida with the Florida Panthers, has made my hockey life extremely pleasant. Except when they lose of course, which goes without saying. With that comes however a loyalty to not only the team that you cheer for, but for players that you come to enjoy and appreciate. Whether it’s watching these players develop and mature, or discovering how much you appreciate the newest addition that’s been added to your teams’ roster, the bottom line is, developing an affection for a player is common among all of us.
Over the past few days there has been some intensified discussion among Florida Panther fans about the future of Stephen Weiss, who has played his entire career with the Panthers, and who last season finally appeared in his first set of playoff games. Weiss who has been under a six year contract that is set to expire at the end of this season, will become a free agent if the Florida Panthers don’t come to terms with the lifelong Panther. The discussion seems to be split amongst the fan base about what to do and why. The NHL trade deadline is April 3rd of this season, coincidentally Weiss’s 30th birthday, and there’s a good amount of people who believe that he’ll be traded either before, or on deadline day. There’s also a number of fans who can’t believe the Panthers existing without Weiss. The Panthers have been known in the past under different leadership to hold on to players too long, and either get nothing or very little in return, such as in the Jay Bouwmeester situation. There are also those who feel that because of Weiss’s loyalty and longevity, he deserves to finish his career here. Or at least be signed to another long term deal. It is some of those same people who also felt that Weiss should have been named the Captain of the team instead of Ed Jovanovski.
I have learned in my life as an astute follower of this sport, just as in any other, that it’s a business. It’s about winning and money. Sometimes it’s only about money. It appears many times that you can’t get one without the other, and in almost every case if you don’t have the cash, you aren’t going to get the wins. It’s a vicious cycle at times, but what appears to be at the heart of this discussion (Weiss) is in relation to what the fans will think or feel if and when he’s traded. Weiss is no stranger to rumors, as his name has been brought up in conversations in at least each of the past three trade deadlines. He has survived those for various reasons. This year, I’m not so sure he will. Which gets us to the reaction of the fan base, and how it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. It can’t matter because if a GM or owner worried about what the fans would think and feel before every trade was made, the Green Men from Vancouver would be running the Canucks.
If you didn’t already know, Jeremy Roenick has a new book out that based on the excerpt that I’ve included later on in this post from Deadspin, promises to be a smash hit. Roenick who we all know is colorful, outspoken, and never one to shy away from the microphone, can tell some great stories. After a long and successful NHL career you can bet that he has a lot to say.
As you know from reading our new site, and our former site, I am a huge fan of both Jeremy Roenick as well as Mike Keenan. Go ahead, shoot me, but I have my reasons, and can back up any response that you have, including accusing me of being crazy. For those of you that thought Keenan was a loose cannon here in Florida, wait till you read some of what Roenick has to say in the excerpt that appeared in Deadspin. It’s loaded with a number of wacky and sordid tales of late night tomfoolery as told by Roenick, who was very fortunate in a couple situations to come out alive.
Roenick credits Keenan for molding him into the hockey player that he became, and for me it was a pleasure to watch that unfold in person while I lived in Chicago. Roenick also admitted the same thing when he accounced his retirement a couple of years ago.
If you’re wondering what to get me for Christmas, JR’s book and some Molson Canadian will be just fine!
Thanks for reading. We welcome your comments and opinions.
Follow the Rat Pack on Twitter: me @TheRatTrick , David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Josh Luecht@joshluecht, Patrick McLaughlin @PatrickRattrick, Scott Mullin @GreatScottsman, David Rodriguez @davidbub_2, Paige Lewis @RatTrickLewiz Gabby Kiger @gabbykiger, Adam Reid@AdamReid Chrissy Parente @chrissaay44, Justen Rosenberg @justenrosenberg, Kris Eberwein @RatTrickKris, Lori Carpenter @lmcangel13, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530. Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.
The last lockout ended up costing the entire season, and when it was ultimately settled, many held positive hope that the two sides would never behave so ridiculously and let it happen again. Yet here we are less than 10 years later facing the same potential “nightmare” once more. With the announcement this past Thursday that the entire month of games for November were going to be cancelled, many began to think that the balance of the season is in jeopardy as well. We’ll likely hear sometime this week that both the Winter Classic and the All-Star game won’t be played either. Two main events that besides the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which allow the NHL to showcase this great game.
When I look back at how I felt about the last lockout, I can honestly say that I was on the players side all the way. While I didn’t object to the imposed salary cap, which I still feel is needed, I felt that the players gave up more than they had bargained for not only in lost salary for the year, but in the roll back of salary as well. However it was for the better of the game, and appeared to be worth it at the time. The last lockout also saw many older players retire, or return as a mere shadow of themselves. Jeremy Roenick was just one of those players who was not quite the same upon his return, and admitted how much the time off hurt him, and other players like him. We face that same dilemma under the current stalemate with players like Ray Whitney, Daniel Alfredsson, Teemu Selanne, and even Martin Brodeur. The longer this goes, the greater the chance is that we may have seen the last of some of the NHL’s great players. Or even worse, a player will return only to suffer an injury which will be too much for him to recover from, and cause him to retire. Not the way that he’ll want to finish his career.
I might be a tad late on this one, but the other day former NHL star Jeremy Roenick appeared on Costas Tonight with Bob Costas. As always JR, who is never shy, gave his opinion on this year’s lockout, with a comparison to the lockout in 2004-2005 which he experienced as a player. JR was outspoken then too, and admitted during this interview that he lost $8.5 million dollars, which he’ll never see. He’s not looking for pity and says so, but expresses during the interview how the lockout changed the end of his career. It wasn’t just financial for him. Looking back on his situation then, he was a “players guy” which he regrets to a degree, and not just from a monetary standpoint.
He admitted that the time off (a full season) caused him to struggle just to stay in the league afterwards. Looking back on his playing days from that moment, Roenick was coming off one of the biggest goals of his career in the 2004 playoffs. After the lockout was settled, he was then traded from the Philadelphia Flyers to the Los Angeles Kings in order to create cap space so the Flyers could sign Peter Forsberg. Roenick’s season in 05-06 was hampered by injuries, and was his worst of his NHL career. He then signed with the Phoenix Coyotes for one season, which was tumultuous to say the least. Finally, JR signed with the San Jose Sharks, and was able to gain back some respectability, and finally score his 500th NHL goal as he closed out the final two years of his career. Read the rest of this entry
Unless there are secret talks going on in the basement of a New York City hotel, it doesn’t appear that the start of the season will happen on time. As far as I’m concerned, we probably won’t see any hockey until mid to late November at the earliest, and likely by December in order to save the Winter Classic. Unless of course the Bettman’s pull that game from the negotiating table. That being said, there has been a noticeable amount of movement by players signing contracts to play in Europe. You can take one of three ways. 1) a player just wants to play, and feels that Europe is his best option to keep their skills from deteriorating since they may feel that a reasonable solution to the lockout won’t be found anytime soon. 2) It’s all about the money. 3) Please refer to number 2.
You can track the activity by heading over to Elite Prospects.com, which will show not only players that officially have signed, but also rumors of where players may be going. As I took a very quick glance at this list I find one very common theme among those heading overseas. Many, if not a majority of the players are European. Sure, makes sense to play for your home country right? Or at least as close to it as you can get. Maybe your girlfriend, wife or family lives there and this gives you an opportunity to be close to them while you play. As we all read this past week Alexander Ovechkin was very vocal on the situation as it pertains to him. Ovechkin who joined Dynamo Moscow was reported as saying that if the players are forced to take a paycut, he’ll stay in the KHL for good. Is this a threat to the league, or is the flashy forward speaking out of the other side of his mouth? Taking this sentiment one step further, one wonders if this is just a selfish move by Ovechkin, and some of the other players who are well paid here in North America, but leaving for “the money”.