Those who said that the new NHL was ruining hockey were wrong. The Finals this year were good and exciting and a lot of fun, even for those of us with no real emotional investment in the outcome. The games in the 2004 Fianls were exciting and went to Game 7 as well, but the difference was the quality of play. A friend of mine caught some replays of those playoffs that OLN was running and he said that the game was unbelievable to watch. The defensemen were pulling guys down by their jerseys. Forwards were getting tackled. A two-goal lead was iron clad.
And this buddy of mine, who was a staunch supporter of the old NHL, changed his mind over just those two hours. The new NHL is better and the new NHL is the future.
I predicted a Game 5 win for the Canes. By the time we got to Game 7, I was just so thankful that I got to see two more games of exciting hockey before I was forced to realize that it's summer and I should get outside more.
The WhalerCanes are the Champions and Doug Weight, Cory Stillman (again), Rod Brind'amour and Brett Yamaguchi-Hedican are former Blues and new Stanley Cup winners. Good for them. But I just can't wait to see the guys in the Note back on the ice. In the new NHL, you can manage a team from near the bottom in 2003 to a Stanley Cup Champion in 2006.
Hopefully, one day we, as Blues fans can be the ones freaking out and counting down the final minutes. Going wild as one of our guys hits an empty-netter to seal the inevitable. Chanting, "We Got The Cup".
In our Game 7 thread, guys described it a lot of different ways, but none of us really have any idea how we could get through that.
I personally can't wait to find out how I cope with it. I imagine it includes a sick day or two.
Blues In The News
Now that we have a Champion, it's time to focus on our time - down at the bottom of the shark tank. The Blues will announce new ownership in the next two days. Shortly thereafter, John Davidson comes to town as the new President. Right around the same time, the Note get a new GM. Maybe Kitchen keeps his job. I hope he doesn't, but it's nothing personal. I just think he's more equipped to coach known-commodities (vets) than youngsters. And this team, while soon to be active on the free agent market, is going to be built around the youngsters. So I think he's the wrong choice.
Anyway, come Saturday, the Blues will pick "the next Chris Pronger" when they select Erik Johnson 1st overall. They then have picks at 30 and 31 to try to draft some scoring forwards. Saturday is Jarmo Kekalainininenamkek (the head scout's) job audition. If he makes a splash and lands some good kids, he's probably here for a while. The GT Boards have a couple good threads on the new management and the potential draft picks. Definitely worth a read.
The following Saturday opens free agency and the Blues HAVE to be active. If the salary cap is $44 million, then the floor will be around the $32-35 million range. The Blues have around $8.5 committed. So, even after signing guys on the team to their qualifiers (does anyone really deserve more than a qualifier after last year?), they'll still have to spend around $18-20 million on some players.
You can forget guys like Chara, who will go to the NYRangers, Sakic, who just re-signed in Colorado (not a good fit anyway) and Sykora, who has publicly stated that he'll leave the Devils only if he can go somewhere to win immediately.
Instead, look at the second tier guys. I'll work on my list and run it in the next few days, but go ahead and throw out Jovanovski, too. One, he doesn't really fit with the Blues new, young and mobile defense (Backman, Jackman, Wideman and Erik Johnson looks pretty impressive to me. Throw in Scott Jackson and possibly Jeff Woywitka and I'm pretty happy with the way the blueline is shaping up.) mainly because I think he'd rather be a top guy with no responsibility than a top guy who has to teach all the young guys how to do shit, and two, I'm pretty sure he's in a Cup-now mode if he leaves Vancouver, too.
Some Beers, Some Cheers
The Game Time crew is assembling at the GT HQ this weekend to watch the draft, drink beers and eat tacos. Should be fun and I guarantee a few Top 11 lists come out of it. Anything good gets posted here. Hopefully we'll have photos.
...to Dougie Weight, Cory Stillman, Rod Brind'amour and Bret HediYamiguchican. Better luck next year (probably a few years, actually) to Chris Pronger.
Best of luck to the new Blues ownership, especially with the upcoming draft and the free agency period.