Monday, July 4, 2011

In the Land of the Free (Agency)

Happy Fourth ya'll! Today we celebrate America, and what's more American than Ice Hockey????

OK, don't answer that.

Clearly, in the list of "American" hockey probably falls a distant fifth behind baseball, football, basketball, and NASCAR and is just slightly above wrestling and golf.

However, with football and basketball now officially locked out, ice hockey just jumped up to 2nd on the list. And, as one clever tweeter put it, "NHL free agency is like a game of Hungry, Hungry Hippos".

In other words, it's an out-of-control free-for-all.

Two weeks ago I talked about the possibility of Jaromir Jagr coming back to play in the NHL, citing teams such as Pittsburgh and Detroit as his potential teams of choice. On Friday, Jagr simultaneously pissed off thousands of Pens fans, while shocking everyone else, by turning his former team down in favor of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Meanwhile, all signs pointed to free agent goalie Tomas Vokoun signing with the Avalanche. However, the Avalanche acquired Semyon Varlamov in a trade from the Washington Caps, leaving Vokoun without a rink to call home. But even though they already had two young goalies in Neuvirth and Holtby, the Capitals were more than happy to snatch up the veteran Vokoun at a bargain price of $1.5 million for one year.

Note to any NHL teams out there....I have no goalie experience (unless you count that one time in ninth grade gym class), but I'm willing to throw on some pads and a helmet and give it a go if you need a 1 million bargain player. Just saying.

Then there was the melee known as Brad Richards moonlighting as Scarlett O'Hara at a Twelve Oaks Barbecue, which simultaneously spawned off a trading firestorm almost too complicated to figure out.

Richards, who clearly had his pick of suitors in this trading frenzy, spurned teams such as the Maple Leafs, Kings, and Flames to sign with the NY Rangers for a mere $60 mil over 9 years. That left the Leafs to grab center Tim Connelly and swap out Brett Lebda and minor leaguer Robert Slaney to the Preds for Matthew Lombardi and Cody Franson.

Brad Richards...the belle of the NHL free agency ball

Do you think anyone will be confused where to report when training camps start?

In short, the NHL free-agency swap meet is so torrid that as of midnight on Saturday, 60 players had been signed to various and assorted teams.

As Joey on Blossom would say....WHOA.

And let's be real....what's more American than headhunting and offering ridiculously high salaries to play ball?

I can't think of anything either!

Have a safe and happy 4th everyone!

Images provided by (top to bottom) jessegersten and nhlsnipers.


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