Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Our Crazy Division (aka, WTF happened while I was gone???)

Free-agent frenzies are always a spectacle, but my experience of the past week has been truly surreal.

Six days ago, my wife and I left the Port of New Orleans to celebrate our 10th anniversary with a Carribbean cruise. During our time abroad, I had literally no connection to the outside world -- cell coverage was nonexistent, internet was outrageously expensive, and sitting around watching TV was out of the question.

Yesterday we arrived back in port. With dry land came a cell signal, and the first opportunity to read through five bizarre days of Northeast Division mayhem. I was taken aback by what I saw:

Mike Komisarek is a Maple Leaf. What the.... really??? How do things like this happen? I don't know who has the bigger balls, Komisarek for signing a contract with the Leafs or Brian Burke for offering it. This will of course make the Leafs a little better and give Komisarek some welcome relief from being over his head as a top-pairing defenseman. But more importantly, the Boston/Montreal/Toronto drama just got bumped up another notch.

Better get used to it, Mike.

Alex Kovalev is a Sen. A signing so bad I want to laugh and cringe at the same time. The Sens have chemistry problems, depth problems, locker room problems and a star winger holding out and refusing trades at the same time. So what do they do? Acquire a coach-killing prima donna who's notorious for his inconsistency. Yeah, that really helps. And from Kovalev's point of view... why??? So he can be mocked in the twilight of his career? Yeesh.

Scott Gomez, Mike Cammalleri, Brian Gionta, Jaro Spacek and Hal Gill are Canadiens, but Saku Koivu is not. Bob Gainey must be on the clock to produce a winning team; there is no other explanation for this McRebuild. The Habs add a little bit of character to replace the disgraceful "leadership" of last season, but at what cost? With the exception of Cammalleri, this is a list of guys who were supposed to be stars by now and have become second-liners instead. Gomez is a coach killer and Gill is a pylon. This experiment will not last long.

Colton Orr is a Leaf. Go ahead and open Youtube in your browser the next time the Leafs and Bruins play. That way, you'll be the first on the scene for the Lucic/Orr footage.

Steve Montador is a Sabre. Good riddance, ya bum. Buffalo is going to rue the day they let Spacek go and signed this turnover machine.

Steve Begin is a Bruin. I'm trying to get excited about this, but really... it's a dumb signing. Presumably this means Stephane Yelle will not be returning, which is a shame because he's better than Begin. It also means the Bruins have made their logjam at the center position even more complicated, while ignoring the wings again.

Um, ok... I guess we needed this guy for some reason. Maybe.

Nik Antropov is a Thrasher. Good for him. Antropov is one of those pseudo-stars who will thrive with low expectations and good linemates. He's a legit top-6, and the Thrashers need as many as they can get.

Chris Higgins is a Ranger. They found the cash to sign Mathieu Darche, but couldn't keep a heart-and-soul guy like Higgins?

Martin St. Pierre is a Sen, Jeremy Reich is an Isle, and Shane Hnidy is a Wild. Three signings that will affect your fantasy pool in no way whatsoever.

So where does the dust settle?

Toronto is trending up.
Ottawa is trending down.
Buffalo is trending down.
Montreal is holding even for now, but will be down in the long run.
Boston is holding even.

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