Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger is Back!

And apparently my post yesterday on Potvin, and his Sucking, will return soon. Good job, Blogger team, for getting things back so quickly!

Today's news snippet is this guy - according to some Philly paper, some anonymous NHL source claims that Winter Classic 2012 is going to definitely be Rangers at Flyers. Rumors have been circulating for a while, but this is the first time anyone halfway-reputable has claimed it's confirmed. On the one hand, I'm thrilled, and I'm already thinking about driving across Pennsylvania hung over on New Year's Day (lest I spend New Year's Eve in Philly). On the other hand, does the NHL really just not believe in the Western Conference anymore?

Presidents' Trophy Winners
2007: Buffalo Sabres (East), tied in points with Detroit Red Wings (West)
2008: Detroit Red Wings (West)
2009: San Jose Sharks (West)
2010: Washington Capitals (East)
2011: Vancouver Canucks (West)

Stanley Cup Winners
2007: Anaheim Ducks (West)
2008: Detroit Red Wings (West)
2009: Pittsburgh Penguins (East)
2010: Chicago Blackhawks (West)
2011: Undetermined

Winter Classic
2008:Penguins at Sabres (East)
2009:Red Wings at Blackhawks (West)
2010:Flyers at Bruins (East)
2011:Capitals at Penguins (East)
2012:Rangers at Flyers (East)

Over the 5 seasons preceding Winter Classic decisions, 3 of 5 Presidents' Trophy winners were from the West (with a fourth season being tied in points), 3 of 4 Stanley Cup winners were from the West (with this year's yet undetermined), and 1 of 5 Winter Classics will have been Western Conference games (while the Flyers and Penguins will have each gotten two games, and 22 teams will have gotten none).

Look: I know that the Winter Classic is a big NHL marketing event, and you need to pick the teams with the biggest markets, not the best teams. But hockey is not basketball: you can't market it by spotlighting 3 or 4 star players in 5 or 6 big markets. That's how Bettman's previous sport works, but it's not how ours does. Sometimes you have to market hockey with good hockey, too. And let's be honest: the West is where the better hockey is.

All that said, selfishly, I'm thrilled, and I'm gonna do everything I can to go.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Quick Addendum

Given that I made a point yesterday of listing all the NHLers represented by Uptown Sports, I figured I should also show the positive side and give credit where credit is due. And, oh look, another reason the Phoenix Coyotes get a positive mention on this blog. Paul Bissonnette, arguably the NHL's most popular tweeter ( twit? ...never mind), nutted up and tweeted: "I agree with Sean Avery and his comments on the same-sex marriage issue. If two people are happy together, let them be happy." This makes BizNasty a brave, vocal proponent of two extremely unpopular opinions around professional sports: supporting gay marriage, and agreeing with Sean Avery. Good job.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fuck THIS Guy

I'll try to keep this short, lest you think I'm all political-like. (EDIT: I failed, of course.) Ideally by now you've seen this thing, where Sean Avery speaks up for HRC, counting himself among New Yorkers for Marriage Equality. If not, go check it out. It's pretty sweet, because professional athletes don't really do this. And people from Puck Daddy to the New York Times have covered it as the noteworthy issue it is.

Avery's spoken out in favor of not-being-a-dick-to-gay-people before, on a smaller scale, but this is a pretty big deal (gotta love the line "I treat everyone the way I expect to be treated"). Athletes are usually afraid to make statements like these, and Avery's a big damn hero for taking that plunge. Asked about concern about backlash from some of the more homophobic, neolithic players, Avery responded, "People have been calling me names for ten years just because I like to wear nice suits. It's going to take a lot to get me upset or get under my skin. I'm OK."

What a nice little heartwarming tale involving one of our favorite New Yorkers, right? Heaven forbid the fucking story just end there and leave us feeling all warm and fuzzy about humanity for a second or two.

Enter NHL agent Todd Reynolds, Vice President of agency firm Uptown Sports Management. Last night, Reynolds posted to the official Twitter stream of Uptown Sports: "Very sad to read Sean Avery's misguided support of same-gender 'marriage.' Legal or not, it will always be wrong." Yes, Mr. Reynolds, we noticed the quotes you put on marriage. Poignant. Dick.

In the usual way, Reynolds went on to tweet, about an hour later, the customary "I'm not being bigoted" comment people always issue after they discover the world didn't like it when they said something bigoted: "To clarify: this is not bigotry or hate towards gays. It is not intolerance in any way, shape, or form." Rrrrrrright.

It is one thing to keep your mouth shut, because you work in the world of professional sports, and you don't want to rock the boat. We don't all have to be as brave as Sean Avery. But it is another thing entirely to step into the public forum for the first time, just to speak out against the first athlete who had the balls to do something like this.

Understand: Mr. Reynolds didn't come out and make a statement for himself, like Avery did. He posted a Tweet (should that be capitalized?) to his management firm's official stream, thereby making a statement on behalf of the entire firm. Not only is he directly speaking for an entire agency, he is also indirectly speaking for a number of athletes that they represent. Totally uncalled for. In conclusion, fuck Todd Reynolds.

Oh, and because I'm that guy, the following is an exhaustive list of current NHL players whose representation Uptown Sports boasts:

Jonathan Bernier, Los Angeles Kings
Tyler Brenner, Toronto Maple Leafs
Andrew Brunette, Minnesota Wild
Kyle Clifford, Los Angeles Kings
Carlo Colaiacovo, St. Louis Blues
Andrew Desjardans, San Jose Sharks
Mike Fisher, Nashville Predators
Dustin Jeffrey, Pittsburgh Penguins
Cody McCormick, Buffalo Sabres
Chris Neil, Ottawa Senators
Scott Timmins, Florida Panthers

Gentlemen, your agent is a douchebag.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

2011-12 Contracts

OK, so I'm not good at predicting playoff series. Whatever.

Sitting in a hotel room, on a business trip (the insane American game show "Minute to Win It" is on), I decided it's time to make good on that damn contract situation post. This'll be a good reference point. This entry will focus on the contracts that already exist between the Rangers and other players; a future entry will focus on our free agents.

Before we begin, a few notes. As you may have heard, Coach John Tortorella's contract was renewed for the next three seasons. There's no salary regulation on coaches, so I don't care how much it was for. That's good news. Second, about the cap itself: this season, it was $59.4 million. Expert projections (we call these "guesses") tell us that next season's will look something like $62.4 million. Although this is bullshit, it gives us a number to work with, and it's probably reasonably close to accurate.

Let's talk a little about the difference between one-way and two-way contracts. Simply put, a one-way contract is a contract between a player and the Rangers, while a two-way contract is a dual contract between the player and both the Rangers and the Connecticut Whale. Generally, a player on a two-way contract will make a very different salary based on which team he is playing for. On the other hand, if a player on a one-way contract is sent down to the minors (which is fairly rare), he will continue to make his full NHL salary. In either case, of course, a player on an AHL affiliate does not count against the cap.

Here's where it gets interesting for our Rangers. During the season, the cap is actually pro-rated by the day. The salary cap is split up by the day, as are individual player hits, and no team may exceed the daily cap. Fortunately, that math is the same as adding up the annual cap hits of the players on that day's roster and comparing the total to the annual cap. Easy. Over the summer, there's no daily hit, but there is a salary cap in effect. Until the pre-season starts, since there's no formal idea of a roster, the cap includes: all players on one-way contracts; and all players on two-way contracts, pro-rated based on what percentage of the season they played in the NHL the previous season.

So, for example, I'm on a two-way contract that pays me $500,000 for my NHL team and $50,000 for my AHL team. Last season, I was on my NHL team's roster for 94 of the season's 188 days. So, over this summer, I will count for $250,000 against the cap.

Now, there's a reason we don't usually give a shit about this summer cap stuff: the NHL allows a 10% increase on the salary cap over the summer, for maneuverability. What's that you say? This seems needlessly complicated? If you wanna allow for summer maneuverability, why not just not have a summer cap at all? This whole thing is stupid? Yes. This is all true. And yet, here we are.

But despite that 10% increase, which will put the summer cap (given our previous assumption of a $62.4 million cap) at $68.64 million, Ranger fans care this season. Because of the $6.5 million/year, one-way contract of Wade Redden. Obviously, Redden will be back in the AHL once the season begins, but until then, his $6.5 million will count against the summer cap. So, even if we have room to fit our desired team within next season's cap, we may have trouble getting there over the summer.

So, with all that in mind, let's get into it. First, the list of all the players with one-way contracts with the Rangers. For each player, I will list the cap hit and the number of seasons remaining on the contract (including 2011-2012).

Marian Gaborik - $7.5m, 3 yr
Chris Drury - $7.05m, 1 yr
Henrik Lundqvist - $6.875m, 3 yr
Wade Redden - $6.5m, 3 yr
Marc Staal - $3.975m, 4 yr
Wojtek Wolski - $3.8m, 1yr
Dan Girardi - $3.325m, 3 yr
Sean Avery - $1.9375m, 1 yr
Derek Boogaard - $1.625m, 3 yr
Erik Christensen - $0.925m, 1 yr
Martin Biron - $0.875m, 1 yr
Brandon Prust - $0.8m, 1 yr

On that list, Drury has a No-Movement Clause (cannot be traded or sent to the minors without his approval), Gaborik has a No-Trade Clause (cannot be traded without his approval), Redden has a Limited No-Trade Clause (can list 8 teams he refuses to be traded to), and Avery has a full No-Trade Clause over the summer (July 1-August 14) and a Limited No-Trade Clause for the rest of the year (can list 10 teams he refuses to be traded to).

So, that's $45.1875 million definitely locked up over the summer. Then, there are the two-way contracts. Those get a little more complicated, and not just because of the pro-rating mentioned earlier. Many of these contracts include performance-based bonuses, which are only paid out if some conditions are met (one-way contracts may include these also, it's just that none of ours do). Because they may or may not be paid out, the NHL allows these bonuses to go over the cap by some amount (7.5% of the cap, or something like $4.68 million). If a team takes advantage of this bonus cushion, and the bonuses do get paid out, they will come out of the following season's cap. So, the practical upshot for the summer cap is that we don't have to worry about those bonuses.

With all that in mind, here are the seven players currently on two-way contracts with the Rangers and the Whale, that ever saw the roster this season. Any players who never saw the Ranger roster this season, due to the pro-rating, will not count at all against this summer's cap.

Derek Stepan - $875,000, 2 yr. Played the entire season, putting his summer cap hit at $875,000.
Michael Del Zotto - $875,000 salary plus $212,500 in bonuses, 1 yr. Looks like he played something like 63% of the season, putting his summer cap hit around $555,107.
Mats Zuccarello - $900,000 salary plus $850,000 in bonuses, 1 yr. Looks like he played something like 54% of the season, putting his summer cap hit around $483,871.
Ryan McDonagh - $875,000 salary plus $425,000 in bonuses, 2 yr. Looks like he played something like 53% of the season, putting his summer cap hit around $461,021.
Kris Newbury - $512,500, 1 yr. Looks like he played something like 18% of the season, putting his summer cap hit around $93,683.
Evgeny Grachev - $654,166 salary plus $162,500 in bonuses, 2 yr. On the roster for like 9% of the season, for a summer cap hit of $56,272.
Cam Talbot - $690,000 salary plus $210,000 in bonuses, 1 yr. Was on the roster for something like half a percent of the season, giving him a summer cap hit of like $3710

So, if I understand things correctly, that ties up an additional $2,528,664, for a total of $47,716,164 already tied up under the summer cap. Assuming a figure of $62.4 million, and therefore a summer cap of $68.64 million, that leaves us $20,923,836 to work with. Not a ton, given all the names you'll note absent from the above lists, and therefore necessarily on the free agency lists (more on those later). Especially if we wanna, like, sign someone like Brad Richards?

What recourse do we have? Well, for the summer cap, it's pretty much retirement, buyouts, and trades. None of the above-mentioned contracts are special 35+ contracts, so we won't still be on the hook for any players who retire or play in the AHL, but as we know, demotion to the AHL doesn't help with the summer cap. Trades, obviously, would completely remove anyone's cap hit, as would that player's retirement. Other than that, if we're really desperate for cap space, we could always buy out someone's contract. But a buyout imposes an (admittedly lessened) cap penalty in next and future seasons, stretching out for twice the length of the remaining contract (according to a formula you don't care about right now). So, buyouts are almost always a bad idea.

So, there we are, with our current contracts. Up next: free agents.