Wow, Lilja’s agent kinda sounds like a wanker

“I’ll be damned… long pants.”

Would you trust someone named Todd Diamond?

The answer is no, of course you wouldn’t because you’re not a cartoon character living in the 40’s. And you’d have several reasons to be skeptical of his every word – not that you’d hear most of his words while trying to follow the red card on 37th Street.

I’m not at all a fan of copying chunks of articles and interjecting my own thoughts in between, but there’s some magic to be made, so sit tight for a minute. Late Tuesday, Ansar Khan reports that it’s unlikely Andreas Lilja will be re-signed by the Red Wings. Not really Earth-shattering news, since we all half-expected it. It’s the details that contain a bevy of gems, unearthed under the Sea of Reject:

“Detroit hasn’t made any effort to sign him or talk to us,” Diamond said. “If they want to go in another direction, it’s their prerogative. There are plenty of other teams.”

Strong words. I was surprised to read such a thing — that’s a Maple Leafs thing to do, not a Red Wings thing to do. Oh, but wait a second.

“I made them an offer a month ago, and haven’t heard back from them.”

Kenny Holland says “say what, Diamond, you lying slut?” Diamond then launches into what we like to call a compliment sandwhich:

“He enjoyed his time (in Detroit),” Diamond said. “It was a great situation. He had plenty of friends on the team. The organization treated him well, especially when he had the concussion. They gave him all the time he needed. It’s a first-class organization. That’s why it doesn’t bother me they didn’t call.”

Boom. Nice thing to say…nice thing to say…nice thing to say…nice thing to say…nice thing to say… TOTAL FRAKKING, JAILSEXING LIE. Call me cynical, but I tend to believe Mr. Holland in this, as opposed to some Darryl. The madness continues:

“He’s looking for more than eight minutes a game,” Diamond said. “He knows his role. He doesn’t pretend to be anything he isn’t. He’d prefer to play 12 to 15 minutes a night.”

This line is followed immediately by…

Lilja averaged 14:08 in 20 games this past season. 

Nothing but net. So congratulations, Todd Diamond, you seem like someone I’d like very much to kick in the shins. And presumably you’re related to Screech, which is an automatic disqualification from life. I’ve grown to like Andreas Lilja, but if these are the characters he’s surrounding himself with, I wish him the best of luck logging 12 to 15 minutes in Atlanta, where he’ll back into the obscurity he enjoyed with Los Angeles and Florida.

FreeAgentBots, Roll Out!

It’s Free Agent Season!

LIVE CHATS ARE OUR THING…
Join us on Thursday, Free Agent Day (or “Canada Day” for those of you “north” of the border), as we’ll be hosting a Live Chat during the festivities. Much like the Trade Deadline and Draft Day, where much fun was had, we’ll have a CoverItLive open, co-hosted by Motown Wings/TOV‘s Chris Hollis and we’re working on having another fantastic contributor around… more on that later.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS QUALIFIED — AND NOT — AND PROBABLY NOT.
According to MLive beat writer/Star Trek villain/mustache connoisseur Ansar Khan, the Red Wings have formally extended qualifying offers to nine of their restricted free agents. In short, a restricted free agent is one whose rights remain property of their original team — even if another team gets them to sign on the dotted line on July 1st (known as an “offer sheet”). The original team is entitled to match the offer, or accept compensation in the form of draft picks. The nine players qualified (and therefore, have their rights maintained) are:
:: Justin Abdelkader
:: Patrick Eaves
:: Darren Helm
:: Derek Meech
:: Drew Miller
:: Daniel Larsson (who will play in Sweden this season)
:: Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (who will also play in Sweden)
:: Sergei Kolosov (who will most likely be back in Grand Rapids)
:: Jamie Tardiff (the Griffins captain)

On the other side of restricted free agency is neglecting to qualify a player (qualifying offers, by the way, are a 10% raise on their last deal’s salary). In essence, those players become unrestricted free agents on July 1st and are open season for other teams, with the Red Wings receiving nothing by way of compensation:
:: Evan McGrath (who has been with the team since the ’04 Draft)
:: Johan Ryno (who nearly made the team two seasons ago but couldn’t hack it in the AHL)

The Wings do have three additional restricted free agents that are not named in the Khan piece, so you have to wonder what their status is for the upcoming season. Jeremy Williams, Riley Armstrong, and Ryan Oulahen were with the Griffins this past season, but it appears they’ve been made unrestricted free agents, unless there’s something I’m missing.

THE UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
In addition to the five players listed above who were not qualified, the Red Wings have five remaining unrestricted free agents, some of whom may be courted as soon as the free agency season opens at noon on Thursday.
:: Jason Williams (who has already been told he won’t be back)
:: Brad May (who may be leaning toward retirement)
:: Brett Lebda (who was shut down by the KHL, say what)
:: Kirk Maltby
:: Andreas Lilja

Of those five, it’s clear Andreas Lilja is the most valuable commodity. For as much as I love Kirk Maltby, he would have to endure nights in the press box assuming all of the RFAs are returning, and given his age, he has become what some would consider expendable. He’s got hockey left in him and the intangibles are inarguable — so if he signs somewhere else, I wish him nothing but the best.

Lilja, though, would prefer a raise (instead of the paycut the Wings are likely to offer him, thanks Todd Bertuzzi) and an increased role, building on his defacto 5th/6th defenseman thing he’s got going on in Motown. One could argue that he’s not built for a top four role (read: slow as shit), but there’s no question he stabilized the third pairing in Detroit, babysitting the 6’5″ shitbox who wears #52.

THE 2010-11 RED WINGS
At this very moment, there are 18 players under contract — including Mattias Ritola, but excluding Doug Janik — that are likely going to be on the big squad next season. Uncle Mike has even started throwing around line combinations. Word? Word.

Henrik Zetterberg — Pavel Datsyuk — Tomas Holmstrom
Todd Bertuzzi — Valtteri Filppula — Johan Franzen
Jiri Hudler — Justin Abdelkader (RFA) — Dan Cleary
Patrick Eaves (RFA) — Darren Helm (RFA) — Kris Draper
[Mattias Ritola — Drew Miller (RFA)]
Nicklas Lidstrom — Brian Rafalski
Niklas Kronwall — Brad Stuart
Jakub Kindl — Jonathan Ericsson
[Doug Janik (two-way) — Derek Meech (RFA)]
Jimmy Howard
Chris Osgood

By my count, the Wings have $54,142,045 dedicated to salary (again, assuming Doug Janik isn’t on the squad) to those 18, leaving $5,257,955 to sign the five remaining restricted free agents (which averages to a salary around $1,050,000)

But wait, there’s more!

Teams can exceed the salary cap by 10% until the final day of training camp, so signing guys like Derek Meech — who may be traded before the start of the regular season — isn’t cap suicide. So stay tuned for moves like that.

Notes from Day 1 of the NHL Draft

Before going any further, please head over to Winging it in Motown and read my post about interviewing Riley Sheahan. Again, I’d like to thank Casey Richey and SB Nation for making it possible for me to be there. It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun — and being able to Tweet the picks to you as they happened, and live chat the event, was one of the highlights of my year. I was very impressed with the newest Red Wing — he seems like a mature, down-to-earth kid and I’m looking forward to keeping tabs on him in the coming years.

A FEW THINGS I LEARNED AT THE 2010 NHL DRAFT
Mock drafts are whack. If you created a computer program that randomized all the possible permutations of how the first round would unfold, it’d take about six years for it to come up with what transpired on Friday. Cam Fowler dropping nine slots; Brandon Gormley, Nick Bjugstad, Brock Nelson, and Mark Pysyk dropping 5-10 slots; Jaden Schwartz and Dylan McIlrath launching themselves up 15-20 picks; Joey Hishon, Kevin Hayes, Mark Visentin, and Charlie Coyle…ya know…being there.

Homeboy from Entourage is about 4 foot 3 up close.

There was a startling lack of trades on Draft Day, much of them pick-swapping. The only names that changed addresses from the draft floor were Keith Ballard (Florida to Vancouver), Steve Bernier & Michael Grabner (going the other way), and Dan Hamhuis (Philadelphia to Pittsburgh).

I heard a rumor early in the day that an announcement was going to be made that Jonathan Quick had been traded to Philadelphia. That announcement never came, and now there are rumblings that Evgeni Nabokov’s free agency rights may end up in Philadelphia.

There was also talk that Detroit would move back in the draft — much like they did last year. A quote I grabbed from Jim Nill (“there were four or five guys we liked”) seemed to indicate that if they could scoot down a few slots and get one of those guys, opening the door for a “bonus draft pick” — like the one they used last year to select Andrej Nestrasil (the used their own second round pick on Tomas Tatar). It wasn’t in the cards, and — to hear Nill tell it — they wanted Sheahan bad enough to stand pat.

When the Kings traded up to get into the 15th pick, the crowd went apeshit. Everyone and their brother thought they were making the move to draft local boy Emerson Etem, which would have caused the Staples Center to collapse under the noise and vibration that would have been created by the rapid Kings fans. It wasn’t to be, and the Kings took Derek Forbort, a defenseman that had been sliding.

Frankly, Emerson Etem went right about where he should have. Not that I wouldn’t have loved him in red and white (because, backstage, he was a really friendly kid and seemed like his head is screwed on straight), but it would have been a slight reach in my opinion.

Phoenix, one of the two teams that was highest on goaltender Jack Campbell, traded up to take a goalie — but it wasn’t the next-highest rated Calvin Pickard. They took Mark Visentin instead and it’s a curious pick. Like Fowler, you have to wonder if the teams know something the rest of us don’t (I mean, obviously they do, but I mean specifics that aren’t public knowledge) about Pickard.

Sad story about suprise first round pick Jaden Schwartz: he’s allowed to treat hockey as secondary while his sister Mandi battles leukemia and desperately searches for a bone marrow donor.

New Nashville Predator Austin Watson is the oldest of nine (soon to be ten) siblings. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the newest Hurricane Jeffrey Skinner is the fifth of six siblings.

Bloodlines:
:: Nick Bjugstad (Florida Panthers, 19)’s uncle Scott played nine years in the NHL with the Minnesota North Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, and LA Kings.
:: Jarred Tinordi (Montreal Canadiens, 22) is the son of former North Star, Capital, and Ranger Mark Tinordi.
:: Kevin Hayes (Chicago Blackhawks, 24) is the younger brother of Jimmy Hayes, who was a second round pick of the Maple Leafs in ’08. He’s also second cousins of Tom Fitzgerald and Keith Tkachuk.
:: Charlie Coyle (San Jose Sharks, 28) is Tony Amonte’s cousin.
:: Brock Nelson (Chicago Blackhawks, 30) is hockey royalty. His uncle, Dave Christian, was a member of the Miracle on Ice squad. His grandfather, Billy Christian, and great uncle, Roger Christian, played on the “forgotten miracle” squad of 1960. Another great uncle, Gordon Christian, won a Silver Medal in 1956.

Best available for Day 2 of the Draft:
1. John McFarland — the one-time projected top pick in this draft.
2. Jon Merrill — the massive, Michigan-born and Wolverine-bound defenseman.
3. Kiril Kabanov — the enigmatic, attitude-laden super talent.
4. Tyler Pitlick — best name nominee of the future.
5. Stanislav Galiev — Russian playing in the Q and is the 2nd rated Q prospect. 
6. Calvin Picard — second hickest sounding goalie name behind brother Chet.
7. Brock Beukeboom — Jeff’s son. 
8. Ludvig Rensfeldt — top rated Swede.
9. Alexander Petrovic — another Russian player playing Canadian Juniors. 
10. Tyler Toffoli — might be related to me in some sort of twisted Italian way.
I’ll be at Day 2 of the NHL Draft today until I’ve got to run to the airport and head back to New York, so stay tuned for more Red Wings news!
Photo Credit: Harry How, Getty Images

2010 NHL Draft Live Chat

What’s up, jailsexed masses?! Join us for a Live Chat during the NHL Draft. Michael Petrella is in L.A., on the floor at the Staples Center, ready to bring you up-to-the-second dirt, trades, and selections — so stick around, grab a beer, and try not to piss off the neighbors.

The Live Chat will start at 6:45pm Eastern Time (which – if my math is correct – is like November on the West Coast).

…and here we go

Good morning, world!

The Draft — she is upon us. Later today, I’ll be joining the likes of Bob McKenzie and Pierre McDoucheCanoe (who I nearly ran over on the sidewalk on Thursday — but he was with Mrs. DoucheCanoe and his son and daughter, presumably named Mini DoucheCanoe and Minnie DoucheCanoe).

Make sure you swing by around 6:45pm Eastern Time — we’ll be launching a LiveChat right here (also accessible from Winging it in Motown) and I’ll do my best to deliver timely trades and draft picks as they happen or as I overhear them while hanging over the railing with a cup to my ear near the Maple Leafs table.

Big thanks to Casey for setting the credentialing in motion — and to SB Nation for sponsoring me. I’m beyond psyched to be here (even if the NHL Draft venue was competing with the TWILIGHT PREMIERE on Thursday night: picture 10,000 screaming fourteen year old girls… now picture WISHING that’s all you were dealing with).

In the few hours I was coherent in Los Angeles (after a 7:30am flight from New York), I rubbed elbows with Pierre LeBrun, Rob Simpson, Willie O’Ree, and various other NHL media folks. And please note that by “rubbing elbows” I mean “was in the same room with during the Media Reception.”

On deck for Friday:

11:30am Pacific — Media Lunch. Presumably the same crowd as the Reception, and I’ll try real hard not to be as nice to Pierre this time.

11:31am — Goddamnit, Pierre.

12:46pm — Brian Burke accuses me of tampering when I suggest it’d be great if someone ended this goddamn Tomas Kaberle talk.

2:00pm-ish — I’ll head over to Staples Center and set up. Apparently we have assigned seating, so here’s hoping our spot isn’t near the urinal.

2:01pm — Discover the free food available to media.

3:58pm — Return to my seat.

4:00pm — The Edmonton Oilers will select Taylor Hall with the first selection in the 2010 NHL Draft, making it the 400th year in a row the teams and the media have played this “ohhhhh we don’t know because there’s this other guy who’s real good, too” game even though it’s CLEAR no one ever had any intention of taking Tyler Seguin/Matt Duchene/Drew Doughty/Kyle Turris over Taylor Hall/John Tavares/Steven Stamkos/Patrick Kane.

4:01pm — The Boston Bruins make a deal with Toronto for Tim Thomas, but have to give up the Leafs’ original 2nd overall pick to make the deal happen. Toronto still fucks the pick up, taking Robert Pattinson from the aforementioned Twilight premiere.

4:44pm — I do my damndest to trade Todd Bertuzzi to whoever’s sitting next to me for some (free) animal crackers. Animal crackers invoke NTC.

September 4th — The Wings finally make their selection, 21st overall. I’ve researched about 40 players (like usual), so there’s a very good chance I’ll know a tiny bit about the newest Red Wing at #21 — unless they go completely off the board (or trade way down). I’d recommend you check out Babcock’s Death Stare for a much more complete rundown of guys whose names could be called by Jim Nill & Co. but — gut feeling — I bet one of the following ten guys are your newest Red Wing:

:: Jon Merrill, D, USNTDP
:: Mark Pysyk, D, Edmonton Oil Kings
:: Riley Sheahan, C, Notre Dame
:: Austin Watson, RW, Peterborough Petes
:: Brock Nelson, C, Warroad (MN) High School
:: Tyler Pitlick, C, Minnesota State
:: Emerson Etem, C, Medicine Hat Tigers
:: Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, Novobirsk
:: Dylan McIlrath, D, Moose Jaw Warriors
:: Kiril Kabanov, C, No One Because He’s An Asshole Apparently

Retrospectacus III (and a half): From Business to Pleasure

Over the coming weeks, The Production Line will be publishing guest posts from our very favorite readers, commenters, and Tweeps — those that don’t have a blog to call their own, and might appreciate a place to vent, praise, bitch, or jailsex it up. We’re proud to offer up this space to some good friends, great writers, and incredible hockey fans. 

Just to be clear, we don’t censor any of these posts. Anyone we felt comfortable with offering this opportunity to, we felt comfortable posting their words. We don’t necessarily agree with any of their stances or views — we merely provided the vessel through which to make their voices heard. Conversation is — like always — encouraged, but the views expressed are those of the author, and not of The Production Line. 

In a bit of “to be continued” kind of fashion, we offer JJ’s second half of his guest post. 

———–

There’s a lot of talk out there right now about how the NHL is a business and business is good. All the numbers are on a positive swing and the future is looking so bright, Gary Bettman has to stand in the shade (fortunately, he’s small enough to fit into anybody’s shadow).

As a fan of business, as I am, I give this news a heart whoop-de-fucking-doo. I’ll get out the streamers and noisemakers and Bartles & James later, but first let me tell you why I hate that news.

I’m a hockey fan.

Can anybody please explain to me why I would want hockey to be twice as popular as it is right now? Would that make the Red Wings a better team? Would my viewing experience significantly improve? Would it make the on-ice product any better?

No.

Hockey, as a business, is not an issue of supply and demand, it’s an issue of price and demand. I spend $160 per year for a subscription to NHL Center Ice, which gives me every single hockey game over the course of a season (and quite a few baseball games, since those channels share space with MLB Extra Innings). Well, the supply of hockey never goes down, but the price still goes up when the demand does. In America, the holy grail of sports is the NFL, where you’re looking at $250 if you want to see every game. I like hockey, but I like having 90 more dollars at the end of the year, too.

Second, new fans = bandwagon fans. Listen, there’s always a lot of talk about bandwagoners and how they’re annoying. This is because bandwagoners are fucking annoying. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve brought my brother-in-law into the fold of Red Wings fandom and I got a lot of enjoyment out of that. This is because I love my brother-in-law. But, chances are I probably hate yours and would rather bean him with a beer bottle than explain icing to him. The Wings getting a shitload more fans wouldn’t mean I’d have a shitload more friends with whom to share the enjoyment, it means I’d have a shitload more embarrassing dickweeds hanging around. If you’re like me and believe that 80% of the population is dumb, then it stands to reason that 80% of hockey fans are also dumb and that only 2 out of 10 new fans won’t be blathering idiots. I’m glad I have a lot of sites where I don’t have to read somebody saying things like “LOL IMHO trade Franzen and Zetterberg for Malkin” just because there are people out there who believe their idea must be extra-special and clever because nobody else brought it up (hint: nobody else brought it up because it’s a stupid idea and they don’t want to look stupid).

If you think coverage of the game will drastically improve the more popular it becomes, you are simply wrong about that. How many football or baseball announcers can you even stand?

But hey, maybe the game will get better. If enough people see the horrible supplemental discipline policies or reffing standards, maybe there will be enough pressure on the league to change. Yes, that’s very possible. Another solution is to replace the people responsible for the terrible supplementary discipline policies and the stupid reffing standards with people who are competent at their jobs. Have you ever had a restaurant that you loved to go to because it was kind of your little secret? You loved their spicy jambalaya and were on a first-name basis with the wait staff there to the point where you didn’t even need a menu when you came in? Well, imagine what happens when that place gets popular in town. Suddenly, they have to bring in new and inexperienced servers who don’t know your name or how many ice cubes you like in your drink. Suddenly, the spicy jambalaya is milder than Danny Tanner on tranquilizers because all the new bland assholes who showed up that shouldn’t be ordering spicy food in the first place complained that the dish was too hot for their delicate mouths. Suddenly, the nice, quiet atmosphere you shared with your friends is a bustling mess where you have to scream to be heard and wait 40 minutes for a table to open up (you can flat out forget about your favorite table, you’ll take what they give you, damnit). Yeah, you’re kinda happy that the guy who owns the restaurant is now financially better off, but you wish you could go back to the way it was.

Hockey is my favorite little secret and I’d rather deal with Sportscenter anchors using the tired “haw….key?” line where they fake ignorance than deal with the real ignorance of thousands more people calling for them to make my jambalaya more bland so they can stomach it.

Retrospectacus III: Parity Up in Here!

Over the coming weeks, The Production Line will be publishing guest posts from our very favorite readers, commenters, and Tweeps — those that don’t have a blog to call their own, and might appreciate a place to vent, praise, bitch, or jailsex it up. We’re proud to offer up this space to some good friends, great writers, and incredible hockey fans.

For the third installment, we received a hell of a well-thought out post from a man we’ve never met — but feel is an honorary member of our troop. If you’ve been around TPL since the beginning, you know how much we love J.J. — so without further ado: 

———–

A great man once told me “Ya’ll bout to make me lose my mind, up in here, up in here.” That great man went on to get arrested for impersonating a federal officer and…oh shit, I’m off track already. I’m sorry, it’s just that this topic is kind of dry and trying to wrap my head around it has been a test of sanity (but more a “running down main street naked with an ear of corn stuck in my ass” crazy than “old rapper releasing song after song which is the equivalent of telling young rappers to get off his lawn” like DMX crazy.)

Ya damn whippersnappers!

Sara set the bar high a few days ago when she posted her thoughts on the league as a business and how much business decisions impact the sport. As a companion to that, I’ve been trying to learn the Collective Bargaining Agreement and what exactly it means to everybody involved. Not surprisingly, my findings pretty closely mirror what we all already know and the scope leaves big questions as to whether the framers of the current CBA are hopeful yet careful bastards or devious and cunning evil geniuses.

Invisible nun-grope

You see, Gary doesn’t actually want parity, at least not in the way we’ve said all along. Sara hinted at this in her post, but I think it bears saying in plain English. The Commish only wants parity among the teams with the largest fanbases. Gary wants the large markets competing year in and year out for the Cup; he doesn’t want a level playing field where teams like Carolina or Nashville have the same power to compete as Chicago or Los Angeles. So, how do you set it up to give a small, but important advantage to large market teams while getting the smaller guys to sign on? Well, you create a salary-capped system where revenue sharing brings the promise of everybody rolling in dough, but actually serves to create a system of two salary caps.

Still with me? Good. Everybody knows that there’s a maximum cap on spending, so when a team like Atlanta doesn’t nearly approach that, it must be their own damn fault for not having the commitment to spend enough to ice a winning squad. Those jerks are ruining the competitive spirit of our sport! Well, yeah, in a way they kind of are doing that, but I think you’d find it pretty convincing for the sole purpose of the integrity of the game.

INTEGRITY!

The biggest myth going is that the CBA and salary cap is designed to keep teams from spending more than 57% of their revenues on players. It’s a small, but important distinction to point out that the reality is that it’s designed to keep the LEAGUE from spending more than 57% of their revenues on players. An individual small market team is more than welcome to bankrupt themselves spending on talent, but has very strong reasons to spend less (and therefore compete less).

Taking a quick detour here (sorry, I promise I’ll jailsex you with some exciting numbers and percentages in a bit where I explain the dual-cap), but there’s a counter here that I want to nip in the bud (the best of all possible places for nipping, except at a wet t-shirt contest). The argument is that you can’t tie payroll to success. Teams have tried that and it doesn’t work. My point is that the cap has created a very tight range for players’ and GMs’ choices are how to play around with the combinations, rather than how to get the best guys to come play for you. Before the cap, nobody had any idea what a top-level defenseman is worth. Now, everybody knows that $7.5M should land you a Norris Candidate (insert Brian Campbell schadenfreude joke here). Known talent is at a known salary plateau and therefore you have to spend near the cap for a better chance at winning. Sure, there are still overpaid guys, but the formula is the same for success throughout the league. You have to pay relatively big money for your core, about half that for 2nd-tier guys and get good performance out of criminally underpaid players who later move onto the 2nd-tier level pay.

and tell their national team’s leadership to fornicate themselves

Here’s where it gets goofy; the way the cap is set. You’d figure that if the league wants players’ salaries to be no more than 57% of revenues, then they’d set the cap at what they figured 57% of their revenues would be. Well, my friend, you fail tricky math. Instead, they set the cap $8 million over what they figure the league average revenue for a team will be and call the assumed revenue limit the salary midpoint. Detroit’s cap is $56.7 million because they figure the average club will only be able to spend $48.7 million on talent. This gives the Wings some leeway to approach spending up to their 57%. This seems pretty reasonable, and it is, until you look at what that means for a team that’s on the lower end of what the average assumed revenue will be and what revenue sharing gives them incentive to spend.

A team on the lower end of the earnings scale (provided they’re not in a large market like L.A., Chicago, or Anaheim) can qualify for revenue sharing which will cover their salary spending, but not their earnings defecit, up to the midpoint, which is still one Norris Trophy candidate defenseman under the cap (or three 2nd-tier players, an entire line). After they’re revenue-shared to the midpoint, the rest of the league sharing is split among all the teams. The dollars go to the teams whether they spent the  money or not, so there’s not proper incentive to actually spend it. The only way a small-market team can spend to the cap and still make profit is if the league has an insanely high-earning year where the early share gets them to the midpoint and the league share makes up the rest of the difference. Of course, this would mean that the cap would also go up an insane amount the next year and put that team right back where they started relative to the rest of the league. Of course, there’s also a part of the CBA where 50% of every dollar that the league makes over $300 million goes into the revenue sharing pool (as a note, the league has not once made this threshold… they need a large and lucrative national television contract to make this possible… big television markets demand large and and lucrative television contracts).

It’s OK, we got a 10 share in Raleigh-Durham, we can afford it!

On top of that, if the league makes less money than expected, the big-market teams catch a break. They’ve spent over 57% of the league average, but not necessarily over 57% of their own profits, but they’re not the ones who foot the bill for revenue sharing that the smaller teams demand. In rare cases like that (you know, like last year), the players’ escrow covers most of that. Yes, you read that right, the players are the ones who prop up small-market struggling teams. On a long enough timeline of this, the players get tired of footing the bill, the small-market owners get tired of not making profits, and the league is maybe forced to relocate to a market that makes sense, just to appease all of the whiners who aren’t rolling in more dough than the Pilsbury spokesman during an orgy. The league can slyly force these bottom-feeders and profit anchors into relocation and it won’t be the league’s fault, it will be their own for not having the desire to field a winning team (despite that they can’t realistically afford one) for long enough to drive off their fanbase. This is basically the line that Nashville Predators ownership toes. If you moved that same franchise to Los Angeles or Anaheim, I guarantee you that with management and coaching in place there, that team would have a cup by now and I’d be happier for them than I am for th shitsacks in Chicago.

“But Nashville would possibly stand to increase their market share and make enough profits to actually spend tot he cap if they had playoff success, so they should spend to the cap” you say? Well, that’s a long sentence and oddly fits perfectly Mr. Straw Man, and you might be right. It’s possible that Nashville with some long playoff runs would make a ton of money AND not need to rely on big club handouts, but why the hell should they? Thanks to the big clubs (Detroit being one of them) who wanted to make it so they didn’t have to rely on long playoff runs for financial success, playoff games are worth less to a club than they used to be. A big part of what goes into the revenue sharing pot is taken from a tax on all playoff tickets sold. Large-earning clubs pay 50%, middle clubs pay 40%, and small clubs pay 30% into the revenue-sharing pool. So, the Preds now keep only 70% of the money from long playoff runs that they otherwise would have and would disqualify themselves from a portion of their revenue-sharing dollars. For that to work, they have to cap their overhead, which is exactly what they do.

Oh, I see!

This whole system in place gives the big market guys the means to buy what is now generally known quantities of talent in ways that their smaller competitors can’t. Random fluctuations among players, bad coaching, management decisions, and the generally unpredictable nature of sports creates for some unique results, but on the average, it means that parity will exist where the league wants it to and will not bother the large clubs where the league doesn’t want it to. The salary cap creates smaller salaries and salary ranges for a wide range of skills, while the escrow makes the players a de facto insurance policy against falling league profits. My favorite part of the revenue sharing wording is that, in trying to create a system significantly different from MLB’s system where a team can intentionally tank and still remain profitable, they’ve enacted rules that take away dollars from small-market teams who don’t outpace the NHL average for revenue growth (which must be really easy to do as the bandwagon of the 3rd largest city in America fills up) or who can’t sell enough seats in their arena. Unfortunately, in punishing the ones who aren’t trying, you’re also unfairly punishing those who are trying but failing thanks to the unfair limitations you’ve set on them. They shouldn’t even call it revenue sharing, they should call it No Team Left Behind.

———–

To get a dose of J.J. from Kansas more often, following him on Twitter by following this link. Thursday, the second half of his manifesto will be up gracing TPL’s pages. 

Retrospectacus II: The Old Swede’s Granddaughter

Over the coming weeks, The Production Line will be publishing guest posts from our very favorite readers, commenters, and Tweeps — those that don’t have a blog to call their own, and might appreciate a place to vent, praise, bitch, or jailsex it up. We’re proud to offer up this space to some good friends, great writers, and incredible hockey fans.


Following Sara’s excellent post last week, round number two was written by Andrea Hedlund, a lovely Wings fan we had the pleasure of meeting at H2H. 

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With two minutes left in Game 5, I may or may not have been in the fetal position shaking, crying, clinging to a stuffed animal, and making ridiculous bargains to the hockey gods- like I’d never make fun of Lebda, Tuzzi, or Pookie again if a miracle could happen. Unfortunately, I was left jailsexed and alone on the floor. How in the hell did it ever get to this point?

Truth be told, I was an obliviously happy person back in October and early November. Here is my best kept secret secret: I wasn’t a real Red Wings fan until this season. I had always enjoyed hockey and very loosely followed the Red Wings, but that’s not being a fan. This year, though, with the powerful influence of my best friend (aka MauvaisGardien aka Leslie), that changed. It started with an epic roadtrip that included a trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame and my first ever NHL/Red Wings game. As weird as it may sound, it wasn’t the game or seeing all the Stanley Cups or the interactive games that turned me into a fan- it was a jersey. Sure, all of the previous things helped, but it was a jersey that made everything click. And, no, it wasn’t even a Red Wings jersey. My die-hard love for hockey started the moment I saw the team Sweden jersey. You see, my great-grandparents on both sides of my family hail from Sweden and my grandfather even called himself ‘the Old Swede.’ That jersey made some connection deep inside of me and it’s been downhill for me ever since.

When I got back to New York, I immediately bought ice skates and started learning how to skate and play hockey. I also started watching the Red Wings religiously. In between those activities, Leslie started teaching me Red Wings history. And dar God there A LOT of it to learn. By December, I was hooked. By February, I had experienced the ups, downs, frustrations, heartbreaks, and celebrations of a true fan. By April, having experienced Herm to Hockeytown, I started to understand what it meant to be a Red Wings fan.

And now, despite feeling like shit from being jailsexed and left alone on the floor, I am going to choose to focus on the positive. I feel lucky because I was ushered into following the best organization. I would never want to follow anyone else. Nowhere else do hockey fans have communes and tin foil hats (or tin foil flash mobs!). Nowhere else would fans fly another fan across the world to see a game. Nowhere else would fans pay to bail out fellow comrades from jail after they were so unjustly put there for participating in traditions that are older than most NHL franchises. Only when you’re from Hockeytown.

I have survived my first season as a Red Wings fan. I don’t know about you, but despite the ups and downs, I am pretty damn excited to do it all over again next season. Next year is full of new possibilities. We never would have made it this far if it weren’t for Jimmy (Jimmah fucking RAAAAAAAAGH). Just imagine that kid next season and next playoffs. And think what our team can do if they have all season to build chemistry rather than fighting to stay alive after devastating injuries. Aside from that, I’m not even going to pretend to be an expect on the 2010-11 Red Wings… until Traverse City when I think we need to start a Red Wings Commune North… cap ou pas cap?

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Jump on Twitter and follow Andrea by clicking here

Despite signing in June, Todd finds a way…

Tuzz, seen here molesting an eventual-teammate

Gather ’round, boys and girls, it’s story time.

It started on a Tuesday. This past Tuesday, as a matter of fact. We’re just under eight weeks away from exchanging vows, and everything was on the up and up. We have quite a bit left to do, but the big, important things — venues, food, guest lists, invitations, etc — were all done. Tucked away into a neat little box. Plenty of little things left to accomplish — Engelbert bowls, for one — but we could rest easy knowing that, even if we didn’t do anything else before August 7th, we’d have an awesome party on our hands.

And then, at 9pm Tuesday evening, the phone rang. We lost our caterer. Something about embezzlement and jailsex or something. Within 24 hours, Todd Bertuzzi had re-signed with the Red Wings for two years and a TWENTY NINE PERCENT RAISE!

An unfortunate coincidence?  Nay.

Bertuzzi’s agent/Satan’s helper Pat Morris threw out a ridiculous number — two years and $3.875M — in hopes that negotiations could be stalled until seven Saturdays from now, when Todd’s Operation: Fuck You Janov-Petrella Wedding could be executed. In a surprising turn of events, the recently re-signed Ken Holland and Jim Nill — who have always had my back, they’re my homeys — wouldn’t allow such things to transpire.

SOLD!


There’s no other way to look at it, folks. Our fantastic general managers jumped on a mighty big (not to mention mighty slow, mighty wobbly, mighty gap-toothed) grenade for me and my bride. It’s the true character of the Red Wings organization. How many weddings have Stan Bowman and Ray Shero saved from disaster?

Zero, that’s how many.

Point is — in order to make the deal happen this early, and to appease the Dark Lord (presumably), some facet of our wedding plans had to be destroyed. Holland and Nill are fantastic men, but gods they are not. Allegedly.

A cap hit of $1.9375M over the next two seasons. He’ll earn $2.25M this season (150% of his salary from a year ago)  before dropping into $1.625M for 2011-12 (still 8% higher than 09-10). In terms of numbers, dollars, and cents — the cap hit might not be too far off if we can guarantee 15-19 goals (see what I did there, Andy?) and 40 points each of the next two seasons — and the chemistry with Henrik Zetterberg and Valterri Filppula is undeniable. But that’s like saying “whoa this sausage really goes well with bacon and eggs.” Of course it does. But have you ever looked at sausage by itself? It’s fucking disgusting.

GRIDDLECAKES SIGNS ON (aka, continuing the breakfast theme)
Valtteri Filppula’s older brother has been signed to a one-year, two-way deal with the Red Wings. At first glace, this move seemed little more than depth signing for Grand Rapids — and a potential call-up in a pinch — but all of a sudden, with Todd Bertuzzi’s contract sinking the ship that seemed so happily afloat, Ilari Filppula has a chance to wedge himself onto the big club.

I still think that’s a long-shot, given his age and pro experience up to this point. Nevertheless, he’ll be given a shot in training camp and if October rolls around with two Filppulas on the roster, prepare to be out-prettied. I’m looking at you, Todd.

HOLLAND AND NILL FTW!
As has been speculated for weeks now, both of our top-flight general managers, Ken Holland and Jim Nill, have been signed to long-term extensions to remain in their respective capacities. Five-year extensions, which kick in next season, guarantee that our men in charge will most likely last longer than Nick Lidstrom’s contract after-all.

If either or both guys decide they’ve had enough hockey and hang up their clipboards, there’s a guy in Tampa that might be available for the job. He’s new, but I hear good things.

CAP MAGIC
Continuing the good news, Red Wings capologist Ryan Martin decided to stick around instead of joining good friend Steve Yzerman. First order of business: allow the Bertuzzi deal to happen. Bang up job, Ry.

All jokes aside, it’s a great bit of news — the Martin part — and it should mean continued excellence in the cap-manipulating department.

Speaking of which, here’s where we stand — with all one-way players listed:

G :: Howard, Osgood [2,133,333]
D :: Lidstrom, Rafalski, Kronwall, Stuart, Ericsson, Kindl [20,683,333]
F :: Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen, Filppula, Cleary, Hudler, Bertuzzi, Holmstrom, Draper, Ritola [32,175,378]

Total salary dedicated to 18 players is $54,142,044. The cap is expected to increase to somewhere in the $58M’s, so the Wings have $3.8 – $4.6M to spend (depending on the actual cap number) on the following holes:

:: A sixth/seventh defenseman, depending on what role Jakub Kindl earns during training camp. Doug Janik can drop in — as can Brendan Smith, but that’s unlikely given the Red Wings desire to over-ripen prospects in the AHL. It seems all but official that Andreas Lilja is out, unless he takes a drastic pay-cut to remain a Red Wing. Good news, everyone! Derek Meech might be back because he never bitches, always takes an insanely low salary, and is a forward sub when needed. Expect whoever takes this slot to slide in around $750-$850k tops.

:: Three or four bottom half forwards. There are plenty of restricted free agents in need of new contracts, so it’s safe to assume many of them will fill out the roster. Darren Helm (who is probably next in line for a deal), Justin Abdelkader, Patrick Eaves, and Drew Miller would make 14 forwards. It’s just a matter of numbers now. After that seventh defenseman mentioned above, there will be about $3M — maybe $4M — to get all four under contract. Drew Miller may be the odd man out, and Patrick Eaves might not want to take a near-league minimum contract again.

If we use the numbers I predicted a few weeks ago, signing the fab four will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.1M. Here’s hoping, because they all deserve deals and looked good in red and white.

Photo Credit: Jeff McIntosh, AP

Retrospectacus: A Voice from the Flash Mob

Over the coming weeks, The Production Line will be publishing guest posts from our very favorite readers, commenters, and Tweeps — those that don’t have a blog to call their own, and might appreciate a place to vent, praise, bitch, or jailsex it up. We’re proud to offer up this space to some good friends, great writers, and incredible hockey fans.


If you are interested in contributing a guest post, and match the description above, send us an e-mail and we’ll get you the details. We did our best to track down nearly all of our commenters and Twitterfriends, but some of you were more difficult to find than Ville Leino in a Red Wings uniform (heyo).


Our first such post was written following the Blackhawks victory on Wednesday night. Our dear friend Sara may not have been the first article submitted, but it was timely and it was emotional and it seemed like a great jumping off point. 

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It’s the very early morning after the Chicago Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup, and all I can think about, besides the disgust at 20 cent and his Mullet (it deserves a capital M, by now, doesn’t it?) is that I sadly, sadly saw this coming. Ages ago.

See, the NHL as much as it’s a sport, is also a business and is being run as one. Money is the name of the game, not hockey. You have to put out good quality hockey, to make money, thus why they’re committed to changing the game. And they’re not above randomly monkeying around with it, if they think a rule change will bring in more viewers. New viewers.

The NHL panders to NBC, and to their own objectives. I didn’t realize how much  NBC had a say in what the NHL produces until Jeff Marek tweeted that NBC had a hand in picking out the Winter Classic teams. That tweet marked a very big step in my disillusionment.

In general, the NHL will want success of larger market American teams, teams that can bring in the most money. They will want L.A., NYC, and Chicago to do well. They will want larger market teams to succeed, however larger market teams who have loyal fanbases can be neglected, like Toronto, Montreal, Detroit & Vancouver. Unless, of course, those teams have superstars.

The NHL wants parity. They want superstars. They want rivalries.

First point, Gary craves parity. A blogger, back when I was Tin Foil Flash Mobbing, argued in the same post in which he maligned me, that dynasties make sports more marketable. I find that point open to interpretation, weak and not applicable to the NHL.

It takes a whopping one line of argument to refute his claim: if the NHL wanted dynasties, there would be no salary cap.

Second point, the NHL bases a lot of its marketing on superstars. They think that’s the way to go. They wand Sid to be as recognizable as Kobe. They clearly allow marquee players to get away with things that ordinary players are suspended for, because they do not ever want to remove marquee players from the game. They, and their national television stations, mention the superstar players even when they’re not playing.

And, of course, teams with superstars, even the Red Wings back in 2008, with Datsyuk and Zetterberg, have been favored by Gary. Kane & Toews. Sid & Geno. And Ovie. Oh, Ovechkin. His Cup is coming, kids, mark my words.

Third point, the NHL is selling rivalries. Sadly, they’re not selling those that are naturally made, born of skill and proximity and pure old fashioned hatred. They’re selling a spawned rivarly, artificially created in their own hype. They take their beloved superstars, and shove them down our throats. Why else did the NHL and NBC pick Washington and Pittsburgh for the next Winter Classic? Sidney Crosby vs. Alexander Ovechkin. It’s clear, and bright as day. We’re being fed a synthetic rivalry, wrapped in a laughable facade of a “Winter Classic.” Winter, sure, it will be. But Classic? Please. Where’s our Toronto/Montreal game?

The NHL wants these things, but we are very lucky, because the NHL is not infallible. Hockey IS a game. Outcomes can be steered and shaped, but they cannot be controlled. Each individual team is also struggling along, trying to win, because winning makes money.

As fans, we love hockey, a glorious sport that in it’s purest form is honorable, classic, incredible and intense. But we are also NHL fans, and therefore we are business fans. We must remember that the game we are so passionate about is a product. We love the players, who grew up playing the pure, classic, incredible game, many of whom do it for skill, enjoyment and competition. But of course, we dislike those who sell out for money, and treat the game like what it is, a lucrative business.

So you can call me a conspiracy theorist and poke fun at my tin foil hat. You can laugh, and assume that the NHL has character and integrity in mind, when they make their decisions. You can scoff, and call me a whining Wings fan. My answer is only this: I fail to see why it’s crazy to think a business is trying to execute a business plan.

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If you’re interested in keeping up with Sara (and we know you are…and probably already do), follow her on Twitter by clicking here