Welcome back, folks. Another week of offseason, and another week of suck around the NHL. If this keeps up, Dale Tallon will offer it ten years and $80 million. That should work perfectly though, since Tomas Kopecky and "suck" have such a natural affinity toward each other that you'd swear they were the next Sedins except, you know, horrible. Naturally, we couldn't open free agency in the NHL without plenty of hate to go around.
Ken Holland got to bear the brunt of quite a bit of hate after Thursday's news that he had signed resident whipping boy and all-around terrible defenseman Jonathan Ericsson to a three year deal worth at least half a million more than most people expected even a terrible GM to give the guy. After partially redeeming himself with the contracts for Eaves and Miller, Holland again earned the ire of the Chicken Littlest of Wings fans who were terrified that he wasn't going to get a good defenseman after watching Ed Jovanovski dig his own hockey grave by taking the money and running to Sunrise Florida. Then, while the vitriol of armchair GMs everywhere was still drying all over their keyboards, he went out and signed Ian White to a great deal, leaving the Wings with only the need for a backup goaltender and the cap space to make a great team even better.
However, I don't want to argue about Holland. Nobody around here wants Holland gone or wants him to ever be wrong about anything, but the little angel on my shoulder also tells me that it's healthy to allow even a bit of doubt now and again. I've got my doubts about what Ericsson is going to provide for his money, to be sure. Still, when looking around the league at the stupid shit other GMs pulled over the weekend, I have to sit back and laugh. Join me after the jump for a look at how terribly this league is run by its own member teams.Let's start with the Central and branch out from there:
David Poile - Nashville Predators
First off, no love lost for Stevie Y in Tampa and screw Mike Gillis in Vancouver, but I thought that Poile deserved GM of the year credit for having much tighter purse strings attached to his job while still putting together a team that could finally make it out of the first round by beating the one-line Anaheim Ducks at their own game. However, after losing all semblance of an idea of what the hell is going on behind closed doors on the Weber contract (it's easy, Dave, give him anything he asks for), a bit of doubt crept in. This weekend, that doubt turned into an all out laugh fest when he traded a young defenseman with plenty of upside for Brett freaking Lebda. Oh sure, the apologists are out in force talking about how it was a salary dump and Poile has bigger plans to come, but regardless of whatever ulterior plans in place, it's a matter of principle that trading for Brett Lebda is stupid.
Brian Burke - Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs really haven't done much and, for the most part, that could be a good argument that Burkie made a smart move. Hell, he even managed to pass the hot potato shitbag from Notre Dame and make people forget that he's the one who signed Lebda to a $1.45M cap hit in the first place. The Leafs have gotten slightly better every year since he took over and look to finally be able to delay their late-season disappointment for at least a week when the Leafs bow quickly out of the first round in April instead of February for a change. Still, I don't want to beat up Burke for things done in years past, especially when there's a big enough laugher to have happened recently. Brian Burke lost a bidding war to the Rangers for a guy who said he wanted to play for a contender. When the day was over, Brian Burke lost a talking contest to Glen Sather. That is horrible.
Dale Tallon - Florida Panthers
Yes, we all understand that Tallon is a special case in Florida because they have to get to the salary floor and they have to overspend to get there. That's good, if it helps anybody sleep better at night while Ed Jovanovski and Brian Campbell are combining to take up more than $11.25M in cap space and are the de-facto top pairing playing on the Lexus Rink inside the BankAtlantic Center. For comparison's sake, that's as much as the Flyers are spending for Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen, who are, you know, good at defense. Combine that with Versteeg and Kopecky and it's like Tallon is trying to bring all of his mistakes home to roost. Here's to seeing Cristobal Huet wearing their awful road jerseys before the end of next season.
Doug Wilson - San Jose Sharks
What do you do when one of your top forwards loses his captaincy, disappears, and gets called gutless? Well, apparently you keep him around while trading away a guy who got hurt. The return should be nothing less than Martin "Anybody Get the Number of that Train?" Havlat to boot. The Setoguchi-for-Burns trade was certainly interesting, except that San Jose lost Ian White and Setoguchi there, so they got marginally better at their blueliners' ability to play offense with no real defensive upside while also getting shallower on forward and losing what might have been their top prospect. So let's recap: The Sharks gave up Devin Setoguchi, Dany Heatley, Charlie Coyle and a first round pick for a 2nd round pick and two of the guys who helped Minnesota to a 12th-place finish in the Western Conference. Great move, Wilson.
Greg Sherman - Colorado Avalanche
My favorite of the bunch, Greg Sherman made a deal that makes the AI in EA Sports' Be a GM Mode look like Watson and Skynet had a baby. Sherman traded a first and a second round pick for an RFA who said he'd rather go back to Russia than deal with the team that owned him, then he signed that RFA to a deal that would have only required the Avalanche to give up their 2nd round pick had they just offer-sheeted him in the first place. Go back over every stupid thing you can remember doing a GM doing since the Flyers handed the Nordiques all the pieces they need to win the Stanley Cup and bump each of those things down a peg because there should be a new #1 on your list. I wouldn't trust this guy to babysit a cactus let alone run my hockey team.
With an honorable mention to Paul Holmgren* for trolling the Penguins while signing Jaromir Jagr to a $3M deal and then getting caught giving Max Talbot an illegal contract, that wraps up all those hilariously bad GMs out there who should make you think twice about doubting Ken Holland. Just try to imagine what would happen to the Wings if Holland blew up the wrong parts of the roster or simply gave away 80% more value than he needed to because he doesn't understand the rules of the league. Ok, actually... don't try to imagine that. Just remember they all have jobs and they suck at them.
(*it's only an honorable mention because the moves were hilarious and he at least had the guts to tell Ville Leino to pound sand when the giant-headed emo kid demanded to be paid north of $4M a season)