Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Okay, I finally understand what we were thinking with Christensen: Sather was afraid of giving the qualifier not for the $75,000 a year difference, but because Christensen qualified for arbitration, and he was afraid that would get expensive. So, by moving it to a slightly lower, 2-year deal, he would avoid it being an official qualifying offer, which means arbitration would not be a concern - basically, Sather could make the multi-year deal now and then not have to worry about it anymore - one contract done.

Unfortunately, Christensen rejected an offer of $750,000 a year for 2 years, so all signs point to him hitting the free agent market tomorrow. I guess we'll see what other offers he picks up - I liked the way he played, but there's no sense overpaying for him. If Toronto or the Islanders want to pay him $2 million a year, then good for them. Otherwise, maybe some negotiations could take place and he could still end up back on the squad next season.

Meanwhile, it sounds like we've offered Shelley a deal in the neighborhood of $850,000 for two years. That's a reasonable offer, but we're going to have to be prepared for a counter-offer that's a bit higher, given Brashear as the precedent. Still, this is a good first step, I'm glad we're negotiating with him, and I hope that we find agreement quickly and move on.

Larry Brooks reports, though it may be speculation, that the Rangers' number one priority tomorrow will be finding a backup we can trust to play a good 15-18 games a season. He suggests Marty Biron or Moose Hedberg. I like this plan, but I have trouble buying into the idea that Torts will ever play the backup, no matter who we get. He's got goalie fears as it is, and he likes Lundqvist a lot, so it seems unlikely - see what happened to Auld last season. At least Valiquette didn't perform well the couple of times he was put in in front of the new coach. Auld barely got a shot at all. So, I like that we want a competent, trustworthy backup - I just hope we give him a chance to actually become trusted.

I guess that, frighteningly enough, that means I'm mostly on board with what Sather has and hasn't done so far. The only thing I'm really fuzzy on is why we're not yet renegotiating a small deal with Prospal, before he hits the market tomorrow. It wouldn't have to be a big offer, just something to keep him around. Unless he really wants a longer-term deal, in which case I'd let him shop around, but from what I hear so far, we haven't even made him a single-year offer. Oh, well. So far, we're okay.

So far.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Well, it's something

Aaron Voros, Donald Brashear, Patrick Rissmiller. These three were placed on waivers today. Assuming no one picks them up, I guess that means they probably play for Hartford for a while? Which we all assumed Rissmiller was doing regardless. Anyway, this is largely meaningless - Brashear stays on the cap anyway, and no one expected him on the team, Voros was a million dollars no one really cared about, who only got ice time when no one else did, and Rissmiller was gonna be in the 'Pack this year already. So, like, it's only kinda news. But it is news.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Thanks, Twitter

Some Twitter user named ElenaW tweeted what I was about to tweet (see, I know lingo!), asking Steve Zipay what the deal with Christensen is. So now I don't have to. Turns out we're not missing anything - rather than trying to sign him for $825,000 for one year, claims Zipay, we're trying to sign him for a multi-year deal for less money. Now, I'm a little fuzzy on that math - I was pretty sure that the qualifying offer for a salary between $660,000 and $1 million was a 5% raise, not 10%, but maybe those tiers have shifted. I'll try to research. Meanwhile, we are just trying to undercut Christensen on a few hundred thousand by making it up to him in years. Think he'll go for it? He did say he saw the Rangers as his "last chance," and I'm sure he doesn't wanna move again if he doesn't have to. This may be a shrewd way for Sather to save some cash, lock Christensen up a little longer, and have one fewer free agent he has to be negotiating with. Maybe it's really smart. Guess it depends how it's recieved. Thanks, ElenaW!


To hear Steve Zipay, it sounds like the plan with Christensen is to not give a QO and try to negotiate a longer deal instead. That makes a little sense, since it takes out the "less money" part. But, if that's the case, why not just make the QO and then negotiate up from there, like we're doing with Staal and Girardi? Do we just not wanna get stuck in arbitration? Something still doesn't make any sense to me.

Meanwhile, Prust is getting a qualifying offer, so that's one piece of good news. No word either way on Heikkinen.

This doesn't make sense to me

Nick Kypreos tweets that neither Lisin nor Christensen is getting a qualifying offer, claiming that the Rangers are hoping Christensen will sign with them for less money and a longer term. Larry Brooks re-tweets, backing him up that this was the Rangers' intention all along with Christensen.

If I understand the qualifying offer formula correctly, because Christensen made $750,000 last season, he is due a 5% increase, for a qualifying offer of $787,500. We...can't be trying to undercut that number, right? What am I missing here? Someone help me out.

Or, just go over to Puck Daddy and check out his list of the top ten most awkward rookie glamour shots from this year's draft.

Free Agents

It's Monday. Three more days until Free Agent Frenzy 2K10!!1 By then, a smart team would have locked up the restricted free agents it wants to retain, and also made offers to a few impending UFAs as well (remember that their contracts expire at the end of the month, so we're the only team that is allowed to negotiate with them for the next 3 days). Here's where things stand.

On the UFA list, we see some backup goalies we don't really care about (Valiquette, Zaba, Auld). Then we see forwards Locke and Parenteau and defensemen Potter and Eriksson. Of those, we probably want to try to retain at least Parenteau and Eriksson, if not all four, but none of those four should be giving us much pause right now - they're not going to be in high demand July 1. That leaves Olli Jokinen, Vinny Prospal, and Jody Shelley.

Jokinen and his $5.5 million previous-season salary can likely take a hike. He's unlikely to cut us a deal, as he can probably pull in that kind of cash elsewhere, and he just wasn't a big enough difference on our team to be worth that kind of money, in a season where we're still stuck with useless big-money contracts and have to sign a couple of important kids. He was a tryout rental, and we all saw this coming. Note: this doesn't mean he was a bad acquisition. He was a very smart, cap room-clearing acquisition. And now it's time for him to sign somewhere else.

Which brings us to the people we should be negotiating with. Vinny Prospal and Jody Shelley. Last year, they made a combined $1.875 million. Their impact was clearly well beyond that. They're both guys that have meshed very well with this particular team very quickly, and that can't be overstated. There's no reason to let either of these guys test the free agency waters, where they will likely get offered more than they're worth by someone out there. Better that we at least try to lock them up at reasonable offers (slight raises for each) before that happens. Shelley is rumored to be asking around $1.5 million (about what we're paying Brashear to rot), which is totally reasonable.

Please note, as Larry Brooks does, that these offers are not Sather's MO. Sather will almost certainly sit back and let the deadline come without offering deals to either of these men. As we've seen in his time here lately, he is the kind of GM that sits back and lets deals happen to him. So, it is probable that on Thursday, both Prospal and Shelley will hit the open market without even an offer from the Rangers for them to consider. But, we can dream.

And then there are the RFAs. Strangely, it's the unimportant ones that have the more impending deadline. It is assumed that we have at least offered qualifiers to Staal and Girardi, while we try to negotiate with them for bigger deals. So, they stay RFAs after July 1, while we sort out their contracts. That leaves question marks under Erik Christensen, Brandon Prust, and Ilkka Heikkinen (as well as a bunch of other Wolfpack kids we won't analyze too much here). It is unknown whether or not we are even extending them qualifiers. It would be silly not to, but I'm not making any assumptions; I want some kind of confirmation.

And how are the RFA negotiations going? Not great. We don't know details, all we know for sure is that Sather has described the difference between himself and Staal's agent (who happens to be Bobby Orr) as a "chasm." The rumors currently floating are that Girardi is asking for 4 years at at least $3 million a year. I agree with Sather that that sounds high. I was thinking more along the lines of $2 million a year for 2 years, like we offered Dubinsky and Callahan. I have trouble believing that Girardi is worth a million more per year, for twice as many years, as Callahan.

And Staal? Word is that we offered him what Girardi is seeking - $3.5 million a year for 4 years. That sounds completely reasonable to me. Which begs the question: how much is Staal asking for, that there's a "chasm" between those numbers? Surely he wouldn't be asking for as much as $5 million a year?

No one really knows, but if the Rangers' $3.5 million offer rumor is true, then we can go right back to blaming Wade Redden. Staal can't possibly think, coming off of his $765,000 season, looking at Callahan's $2.4 million and Dubinsky's $2 million, that he's worth a "chasm" more than $3.5 million. However, when you look at Redden making $6.5 million, you can start to see where he's coming from.

Which puts the Rangers in a bind. Certainly, we don't want a culture of overpaying players to breed more overpaying players. The right thing to do is offer Staal what he's worth, which is what we've done. But, at the same time, we don't want to risk losing one of our only competent defensemen. And so, here we are.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that if I'm Sather, I'm sticking with my offer to Staal (and my theoretical lower offer to Girardi) for now. I agree with him there. I'm also sending qualifying offers to Christensen, Prust, and Heikkinen, which he may well be doing as well. What I'm also doing, if I'm Sather, which he seems to not be doing at all, is offering something between $1 million and $1.5 million to each of Shelley and Prospal. That's where I disagree with the man.

So far.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


It was the draft!

In the first round (the only round in which I know anything about the pick), we actually made a surprising, great move, picking a big, scary man named Dylan McIlrath. McIlrath is 18 years old, 6'4", 212 lbs. When he was picked, commentators talked about how surprised they were that we would pick someone known for being tough (McIlrath's nicknames are "Big Mac Truck" and "The Undertaker"), when there was elite talent left on the board. Commentators are dumb. Here's what happened.

When the Rangers picked, there were some highly ranked players left on the table. With the 10th overall pick, the Rangers still had their choice of Cam Fowler (ranked 5th overall) or Brandon Gormley (ranked 6th overall). Instead, they picked McIlrath (ranked 17th). Both Fowler and Gormley. Both are the kind of defenseman the NHL loves to tout - fast, hard shot, offensive-minded defenseman - basically, another "the next Brian Leetch." Commentators, therefore, were dumbfounded when the Rangers, in need of a defensive corps, drafted farther down the list (after all, Central Scouting rankings can't be wrong, right?).

McIlrath, also a defenseman, is actually the kind of defenseman we need. We keep complaining that the Rangers keep trying to bring in offensive defensemen who can "quarterback the power play" - and then it turns out that they're all defensive liabilities. Even if they're not liabilities, you can't build a team with six Brian Leetches. You can build a team with three Brian Leetches, as long as you pair them with three Jeff Beukebooms to scare people away from the Leetches. What the Rangers have been failing to find (or, generally, even look for) is a big, stay-at-home defenseman that will hit people in open ice and scare people off the puck. McIlrath's scouting sheet claims that he is exactly that. Good work, Gordie Clark.

Now, of course, the question becomes: will we eventually give this kid a real chance in the league? I know he's only 18 right now, but drafting a big, stay-at-home defenseman only matters if you actually end up playing him. Sometimes you draft a defenseman in the first round (21st overall in 2006), and then, after only playing him for 5 games in the NHL, trade him to Carolina for 2 draft picks.

Oh, should I have led with that? Sorry. Bobby Sanguinetti works for the Hurricanes now, in exchange for a 6th-round pick this year and a 2nd-rounder next year. I'm not saying that's a bad thing - we never played him anyway, and he certainly wasn't the big, scary stay-at-homer McIlrath could be. But, the point is: these draft picks only matter if they end up earning ice time.

Of the 8 first-round picks we've made since 2003, one now works for Nashville, two for Phoenix, and one for Carolina (of those, only Lauri Korpikoski is on the NHL squad). Of the remaining 4, two are Rangers, one is still very young and in the Rangers system, and one is dead. The dead thing is not our fault, but still - those aren't great numbers. Compare to the Coyotes, who have made 9 first-round picks since 2003, of which 7 are still with the organization (2 on the NHL squad), and the other two are playing for NHL teams. Not sure what that all means, just pointing out the numbers.

For more on our 2nd- through 7th-round picks, quick summaries of our picks can be found here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

RFAs and Buyouts

Whew, OK. Spent yesterday refreshing myself on what all the damn contract rules are. Wrote a big-ass Google Doc about them. It's nice to have all that info consolidated in one place. Ask real nice, and I'll share it with you. Not posting its contents on the main page here; way too long and boring.

Right now, the important thing coming up is the RFA deadline. July 1 is the official start of the NHL year (technically, contracts run from July 1 - June 30). July 1 is the day that unrestricted free agents can start talking with other teams. It's also the day restricted free agents become unrestricted, if no qualifying offer has been made. So, that's the stuff that is likeliest to change in the next few days. The draft is today and tomorrow, so don't expect Sather to do anything before then. Then, next week, after the draft, we have Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to make qualifying offers to our restricted free agents, before the July 1 deadline. That's when we should expect some news on them.

Then, of course, the big day is July 1, the second most active personnel movement day of the NHL year (the most active, of course, being trade deadline day). That'll be the day everyone liveblogs and a bunch of NHL teams make a bunch of moves, and Glen Sather will either make the single biggest headline of the day or do absolutely nothing at all. You know how it goes.

The only other thing to watch out for in the next few days, in case you're still holding out hope, is contract buyouts. The period from June 15-June 30 is the only time of the year that it is kosher for an NHL team to buy out a player's contract. A buyout is exactly what it sounds like: a team buys out the remainder of a player's contract, and then the player is no longer under contract to the team. I know what you're thinking, so let me answer your two questions right off the bat.

Donald Brashear's contract was signed when he was over 35, and was a multi-year deal, which means he is subject to the NHL's special "being old" rules: every year of his contract after the first one counts against our cap, no matter what. Like, even if he damn retires. So, even if we bought him out (for a cool $866,667), we would still incur the full $1.4m cap hit for him this season. At that point, it makes more sense to just keep him in the minors, in which case we'd be given $100,000 relief on his cap hit, reducing it to $1.3m. The only reasonable way to get rid of Brashear's contract is to actually trade him to someone who is willing to take it on.

Buying out Wade Redden would be a very expensive prospect - not just in terms of cash up front, but also in cap hit. I won't go into the details of the math (if you're interested, please call my Dial-A-Math service (comment and I'll PM you the number) and ask for Ben H. (my nom de maths) - I will explain it in agonizing detail), but trust me on the results: buying out Redden would cost us $15,333,333 up front. The cap effect would last for eight seasons: a $1,916,667 hit for 2 years, then up to a $3,416,667 hit for 2 years, then back down to $1,916,667 for another 4 years, taking us to the end of the 2017-2018 hockey season. Just to not have him on the team anymore. Now, some would argue that that's better than his current $6.5 million cap hit for the next four seasons, but I'm not so sure. Redden also has a limited NTC in his contract - he can list 8 teams he refuses to be traded to. As far as I can tell, burial in the AHL is still a valid option.

More on our specific contracts later. For now, I wanna recap our RFA list again, so we know what (in addition to any slim chance of buyouts) we should be listening for next Monday-Wednesday. To review, a qualifying offer is the minimum required contract (1 year at a given salary) needed to retain a restricted free agent. The player must accept that contract unless he expects to get an offer sheet from another team (very rare) or is eligible for salary arbitration (a less rare process in which a neutral third party decides how much the team should pay the player - remember Nik Zherdev?). We'll discuss these in more detail if they come up, but for now, know that a qualifying offer is the minimum 1-year salary we need to offer an RFA in order to keep him, and that the offer must be on the table before July 1.

Enver Lisin - QO of $829,500. Or, at least, it would have been, if we hadn't already decided not to give him a QO. He'll be an unrestricted free agent July 1, and it's safe to say we won't be pursuing him. Miss Lauri Korpikoski yet?

Erik Christensen - QO of $787,500. Christensen was good, no reason not to sign him at this price. He will qualify for arbitration, however, so we probably have to up it at least a little to avoid going down that road. If it were me, I'd sign him for around a million.

Brandon Prust - QO of $577,500. Not sure whether or not he qualifies for arbitration (depends whether he signed his first contract with the Flames in '04 or '05), but it seems silly not to lock this guy up. He's exactly the right kind of character for a fourth-liner: tough, stands up in the crease, not afraid to fight, but has some skill (ant: Matt Cooke, Dave Clarkson). I hope we can keep him around at least another season, and give him a real chance to become a part of the squad.

Dan Girardi - QO of $1.6 million. Expensive RFA signing number 1 (of 2). He qualifies for arbitration, and we'll probably offer him enough of a raise that he doesn't have to use it. I expect us to lock him down in the Ryan Callahan/Brandon Dubinsky range - a 2-3-year contract for $2 million-$3 million a year.

Ilkka Heikkinen - QO of $918,750. Doesn't qualify for arbitration, won't get any offer sheets. Probably worth the money to keep him around for a year and see what he can do, right?

Marc Staal - QO of $803,250. Oh yeah, this guy. See that laughable QO number? That's silly. That is a silly number. According to my admittedly feeble understanding, Staal doesn't actually qualify for arbitration this season, but that shouldn't matter. It would be insulting to sign him for $803,250 for one season, and he might even get an offer sheet. It's not worth going through all that, and we should expect the Rangers to offer him a healthy contract - to the tune of a few years at at least $3 million.

OK, that's enough from the contract wonk for now. I'll be paying some attention to the draft this weekend, less to analyze our no-doubt-soon-to-be-disappointing picks, more to see if we shift anything else around (when you get 30 GMs in a room, crazy shit goes down). I've given you enough to pay attention to for the time being. Here we go again...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Team Recap

I was going to leave work, but then it started to pour. It's Pittsburgh, so the proper course of action is to wait 15 minutes, then try again. Meanwhile, I think I should update you (and refresh my memory) on who's on this damn team, and what contracts we have to work with.

Quick order of business before we do that: Enver Lisin did not recieve a qualifying offer. Remember that a restricted free agent must receive a qualifying offer from his team by July 1 or is eligible for normal, unrestricted free agency. A minimum qualifying offer, generally, is exactly or slightly more than what the player made last season (depending on how much that was, the qualifying offer has to be between 100 and 110% of it). We've chosen not to give Lisin one.

We'll go into more detail on this soon, but for now, just a recap of our contracts, as I believe I understand them:

Currently under contract (length includes 2010-11 season)
Marian Gaborik - $7.5 million/year for 4 years
Chris Drury - $7.05 million/year for 2 years
Ryan Callahan - $2.3 million/year for 1 year
Sean Avery - $1.938 million/year for 2 years
Brandon Dubinsky - $1.85 million/year for 1 year
Donald Brashear - $1.4 million/year for 1 year
Aaron Voros - $1 million/year for 1 year
Artem Anisimov - $822,000/year for 1 year
Brian Boyle - $525,000/year for 1 year
Wade Redden - $6.5 million/year for 4 years
Michal Rozsival - $5 million/year for 2 years
Matt Gilroy - $1.75 million/year for 1 year
Michael Del Zotto - $1.088 million/year for 2 years
Henrik Lundqvist - $6.875 million/year for 4 years

Restricted Free Agents
Erik Christensen (QO = $788,000/year)
Brandon Prust (QO = $550,000/year)
Dan Girardi (QO = $1.55 million/year)
Marc Staal (QO = $868,000/year)

Unrestricted Free Agents
Olli Jokinen
Vinny Prospal
Jody Shelley
P.A. Parenteau
Anders Eriksson
Alex Auld

Am I forgetting anyone? Does this stuff make sense to you? Please comment with questions; I'm still trying to get it all straight myself.

Oh hi, I didn't see you there

OK, I guess we should talk about some things, because it's a couple of weeks after the Finals, which is when hockey gets really nervous that it's not happening anymore and starts to make things happen, even though the season won't start for another 3 months.

1. The NHL Awards are tonight. Watch them if you have absolutely nothing else to do. I do, so I won't be. Things I care about: a) Dave Tippett for the Jack Adams; b) not-Sidney-Crosby for the Hart and the Lester Pearson c) apparently the renamed the Lester Pearson this season! It's now called the Ted Lindsay Award, after this guy, who never actually won it.

For those of you who missed that class back in Hockey School, The Jack Adams Award is for the coach of the year, the Hart Trophy is for the league MVP, and the newly christened Ted Lindsay is for the MVP as voted on by the NHLPA. To clarify, the PHWA (Professional Hockey Writers' Association) votes on most of these awards - that's the body that decides who gets them. The Pearson -- sorry, the Ted Lindsay -- is voted on by the NHL Players' Association - it's the MVP, according to the actual players, not the governing council. They often go to the same person. Here is the full list of awards and nominees. If you're interested.

2. This season's class of Hall of Fame inductees: Dino Ciccarelli, Red Wings Senior VP Jimmy Devellano, previous Flames owner Doc Seaman, and the first two women ever inducted: Angela James, captain of Team Canada through four world championships in the 70s and 80s; and Cammi Granato (Tony's younger sister) captain of Team USA that won the inaugural gold medal for women's Olympic hockey, in 1998 Nagano (also the 2002 team that took silver in Salt Lake City). So, that's cool! Women in the Hall!

3. The schedule was released. Find it here.

4. The salary cap number was released, as well. Since we're in less of a recession than we were in a year ago, it rose a reasonable 4.6%, to $59.4 million. So, that's the figure we'll be working with. You'll hear that number a lot on this blog in the coming months, as we use math to try to construct a not-entirely-embarrassing hockey team.

5. Finally, the draft is coming. This Friday and Saturday. (Again, watch it if you have absolutely nothing else to do. Like nothing else to do.) We have the tenth pick. It is likely that nothing interesting will happen here. But who knows? Maybe something will. The draft goes 7 rounds, and the teams pick in the same order each round (so we'll pick 10th, then again 40th, and so on). We won't pick in two rounds this year. We traded our third-round pick to the Kings for Brian Boyle (I'm cool with this), and our sixth-round to the Islanders in a move we made last month, which I didn't tell you about because I didn't care. We acquired some young defenseman named Jyri Niemi. Yes, we traded with the Islanders. Ooh.

Niemi is 19 years old, 6'3", 206 lbs. Wanna guess what his scouting reports say? "Offensive-minded blueliner" who "needs some work," whose "bazooka of a shot" is "rarely on target." Good guesses. Expect to see more people like this show up in our system this weekend.

The good news is he's probably better than whoever we otherwise would have picked in the sixth round, and he's almost definitely better than whoever the Islanders are going to pick. So let's call it a small victory and move on.

6. Oh by the way, the Blackhawks won the Cup, and there was much rejoicing.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Duh duh-duh-duh duh duh duh DUUUUUUUUH!

Phoenix's Don Maloney was named the inaugural GM of the Year today.

Recipe for success = just pick up all the good players the Rangers stupidly discard.

But this is nothing we didn't know, is it?


As far away from GM of the Year as we can possibly get, turning away from the team that is now four years past their Decade in the Desert, let's check in with a man who, astoundingly, has had a full Decade in the Big Apple to try to bring the Rangers some glory. How's our decade been, Michael Obernauer?

Yep, pretty much right on. Congratulations, Don Maloney. You're the opposite of Glen Sather.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

On the Finals

I've been watching some of this sport you guys keep talking about, this hockey, and I don't have a ton to say about it. The Flyers beat the Canadiens in a few games, presumably by invoking some ancient magic hex that caused the Habs to forget how to actually move the puck through the neutral zone. Not moving the puck through the neutral zone leads to not having the puck in the opposing zone, which leads to not enough shots on goal, which leads to Michael "No, Seriously" Leighton netting three shutouts in a playoff series (a franchise record for both the Flyers and the Habs). In the Flyers' 4 wins (12 periods of hockey), the Canadiens only had double-digit shots on goal in five periods, and on the other end of the spectrum (no pun intended), had periods with 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, and 1, throughout the losses. Oof. Michael Leighton is the new Marty Brodeur.

And then we got to the finals, and here we are, watching a clearly superior team play against a team that is actually, despite my mental block against noticing it, not so terrible at hockey. And yes, the Hawks are a more complete team, and they're up 2-0 in the series, and all is right with the world.

Except, have you watched the games? 'Cause I've been noticing something that doesn't make any sense, whereby the Flyers aren't getting penalized for, like, anything. At first glance, one might think they had cleaned up their act somewhat, in the name of winning the Stanley Cup. But that is not the case. What seems to be true is, in order to make the game seem "cleaner," or to make the series seem more "balanced," or for some other terrible reason, the officials seem to not be bothering to call anything the Flyers do.

Like, anything. Over the last two games, they have not-called at least five interference calls, a couple of which were an entire zone from the puck; a handful of tripping calls in front of the crease; and at least two high-sticking calls, one of which actually drew blood while the official was 10 feet away staring at it happening. And those are just the plays I specifically remember, over the course of the five periods of hockey I've watched so far (I missed the third of game 1). It's astoundingly bad.

My friend Mark, who never really watches hockey, but is slowly starting to get into it because his friends watch it (and because it's amazing), said last night during game 2, "the problem is they don't seem to have and sort of feedback loop, do they? Who do they report to?"

Out of the mouths of babes, eh? Of course, the officials all report to Colon, who technically reports to Bettman, who is the league commissioner. Fine. But, as I explained to Mark, at no point is anyone in that chain beholden to the coaches, or the GMs, or the NHLPA, or the fans, or anyone but themselves. And it's at the point where what bugs me isn't even that the officials swing games. Refs, umpires, and the like have always swung games with little personal biases. This happens in sports. What's appalling to me, now, is that in the NHL, they no longer feel that they even need to make it look balanced. They can just call with whatever agenda they like, and the next day there can be all sorts of stories about how egregiously biased the officiating was, and then they can go do the same thing the next day, because no one is stopping them.

You don't even hear "so Campbell game them a slap on the wrist." You don't even see them change things for a game or a period, so they can have something to point at to say "see? It was even." I think that's what bugs me most: they are no longer trying to hide it. They just call the games however they feel like calling them, and there is absolutely no feedback loop.

Fuck Philadelphia, if I hadn't mentioned that yet today. Fuck them just so, so much. Despite some if-we-give-them-every-benefit-of-the-doubt-they're-just-all-really-really-stupid officiating, the Hawks lead 2-0. I've got a busy summer coming up; let's try to get this hockey season over with before the weekend is through, shall we?