Friday, June 29, 2007


Everybody Hurts

Chris Selley has this to say about Richard Peddie's recent ruminations on JFJ:
Pardon my French, but that's fucking demented. If Ferguson's not capable of being a "very, very good general manager" right now, then demote him. Make him head pro scout in charge of unsung third- and fourth-line talent — there'd be few better. Or fire him. Whatever. Just put this Svengali-esque "help" you're looking for in charge of the goddamn team, like every single successful hockey club does. Christ!

Your French is pardoned, sir.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Balance sheet

I want to talk today about assets and liabilities. YKOil put up a nice post early this month outlining the "asset classes" for NHL teams -- it's a solid primer. I chuckled at his conclusion:
All of this may also be patently obvious to everyone, in which case I apologize for wasting your time.

No, I think slightly clear to very few would probably be a more accurate assessment. Definitely no apologies necessary. Anyway, I'm going to focus on budget/cap dollars.

NHL GM is not an easy job. Yes, sometimes some of them do patently stupid things, but it is a major challenge as a whole. Not only do you have to fill a roster with a variety of players who can (as a group) score, defend, kill penalties, cash in on PPs, hold their own physically, and stop pucks -- and complement each other in doing so -- but you have to do it with a fixed and finite amount of dollars, all the while living with the consequences of your previous mistakes (or those of your predecessor).

Those dollars are precious. The successful teams are going to be those who have many players who outperform their salary relative to who you could hire with that same salary on the open market (via free agency, trade, what have you). There are certain types of players without whom you cannot be successful, but their value as an asset is heavily dependent on their contract situation. Extreme example:
In other words, depending on his contract, Iginla can be anywhere from a tremendous asset to an extreme liability for the Flames. Naturally, all of this is getting around to the big question: what is Darryl Sutter going to do with his roster over the next 12 months?

Iginla, Kiprusoff, Langkow, Huselius, Regehr, Phaneuf. 5 UFAs and 1 RFA as of July 2008, and all except Iginla will be getting multi-million dollar pay raises... from somebody.

The important thing to understand here that a lot of people seem to miss (per the long intro above) is that the current value of these players -- as assets -- expires after this upcoming season, regardless of whether Sutter signs them to extensions or not. Kiprusoff is an excellent goaltender, but he is less of an asset at $6.5M/yr than he is at $3.3M/yr, plain and simple. Huselius is a killer PP performer, but is less of an asset at $4M/yr than at $1.4M/yr.

This here table is what the Flames' salary situation would be in 08/09 if the only thing Sutter did starting now was re-sign those 6 players to new contracts at near market value. No UFAs above the min this year, none next summer either. A $53.8M payroll. Hey, that might actually be below the cap next season, but clearly there is no chance that this is how things will go.

As noted, as this season moves on, the value of these players as assets (in the long-term, piece of the puzzle sense) diminishes. The flip of course is that (especially if the Flames are a strong team) their value also increases, in the short-term, we need premium performance right now to win the Stanley Cup sense.

It's a brutal juggling act, and difficult decisions will need to be made. If the Flames are good next year, more than one of the Six Players will end up walking in July '08. If they're not, some will be traded for lesser players with smaller contracts, signed to longer terms.

One thing I got out of Sutter's post-Rd1 presser was that while, yes, there were going to have to be decisions made going forward, he quite liked the bright side, which is that he has a bunch of terrific players signed to favourable deals for this upcoming season. I definitely did not get the sense that he's interested in dumping (say) Langkow for some younger prospects now simply because they probably won't be able to re-sign him later.

The one big thing I get from looking again at the salary table above is Seriously, why are the Ryan Smyth rumours so persistent? He's a terrific player, would make the team better, and they could afford him this year, but it's only plausible if the Flames have no intention of re-signing Iginla.

My guesses

Iginla: signed to a long-term extension late this off-season. 4 or 5 years, 8-ish mill per year. His Flames debut pre-dates Kipper's by 3/4 of a decade, face of the franchise, still damn effective, only 30 years old, etc.

man, have I gone back and forth on this one. Before the playoffs I was of the relatively firm opinion that Sutter was going to extend Iginla and roll the dice with Kipper (no trade, no new contract, nothing until at least mid-to-late season). Yeah, the playoffs affected me: Kipper was the team's MVP by an order of magnitude -- how could you not tie him up long term? Then once Rd1 faded into the distance, I reverted to my original opinion. Now having seen Giguere's deal, I suspect Sutter would agree to the same one ($6Mx4) if available. Dunno -- but I will stick with the guess that Iginla is a lot more likely to get extended, and sooner, than Kipper.

Phaneuf: No hurry here, in fact I doubt anything gets done before next offseason. I'll guess he signs one of those longish-term 3rd/4th year MLBer type deals, where he gives up some years of arbitration and free agency in favour of more security and a pay raise now. ($3Mx4? $3.5Mx4? Thereabouts.)

Huselius: Gone by July 1 2008 at the latest, with the hopes they can replace him internally.

Langkow/Regehr: no doubt the Flames would like to have these guys around well into the future, but it will heavily depend on what they expect to get paid. Sometimes guys are willing to accept less money to remain where they are; sometimes guys are willing to accept less money now (say in December) than they could likely sign for later (in July '08) because of the peace of mind. If both of these factors enter into their salary demands, and Sutter is certain enough that the demands are less than what it would cost to replace their contributions, then they get re-signed. If not, they don't.

Last thing: if the Flames sign even one big or semi-big name UFA (say Hannan), at least one of the guesses above is quite wrong. So when that happens, and a reporter asks how they can afford him past this year, and he avoids the question, what is the correct answer?
  1. "Because for the 5 years after this season, our core is going to be Iginla, Kipper, Hannan, Phaneuf, and 16 rookies or min. salary vets."
  2. "Because this is Jarome Iginla's last season as a Calgary Flame."
  3. "Because next year my starting goalie will be making $850k."
  4. "Because... what do you mean? Math is hard."
My instinct is that (3) is correct. Your mileage may vary.


For your perusal

My only footnote is that I ran these numbers shortly after the end of the season, and I haven't gone back through them to delete guys who have since re-signed.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Still here!

Howdy! I "missed" most of the "excitement" of draft weekend, as I was golfing some of the jewels of the Windermere Valley with 7 of my peers. There was much consumption of beer, scotch, and tube-shaped pork products, and well as a healthy dose of getting rivered.

However, we did manage to catch wind of the Aucoin acquisition and the 1st-rounder. On Backlund, I second MetroGnome's take (in a word, I give it a Borat-style niiiice).

On Aucoin: everyone is obviously right to call it a calculated risk. If he stays healthy (or even 3/4 healthy), he can probably replace Hamrlik's contributions (Hammer played 126 games in 2 seasons, scoring 7 goals in each), although he's less physical.

Time -- or is it inflation? -- is an amazing thing, because even though Aucoin has suffered through two lousy, injury-plagued seasons, his contract is certainly no worse now than it was when he signed it, and probably quite a bit better. In August 2005, $4M x 4yrs was a big gamble on a guy who may or may not be able to play huge minutes in all situations and be a capable PP QB. In July 2007, $4M x 2yrs for veteran D-man who you shouldn't have to shelter is pretty much what it costs.

When you look at what Timonen got, and what guys like Hamrlik and Danny Markov are going to get (let alone Rafalski, Stuart, Hannan), and even what guys like Aaron Miller are going to get, what else do you expect. (It's been, what, 6 months since the Staios extension of $2.9Mx4, and that already looks like a very good deal for the Oilers).

As such, I really think the Keenan factor in this acquisition is being overblown. For one, Keenan has ties to half the veteran players in the league. And secondly, there just weren't/aren't a ton of options for the team looking for a decent vet on a short-term deal. (If you have a list of available or acquirable players in mind who can provide what Aucoin does for less than $4Mx2, lay it on me.)

The one semi-related thing about this that makes me quite happy is that the Flames won't be signing Stuart. He is about to get overpaid for what he brings to the table, and I'm glad it's not going to be by Calgary.

Brad Stuart is an interesting player. It's easy to see why he was drafted 3rd overall; he's skilled. He can skate, he can pass, and he has a hard shot. He's also smart: he's positionally sound, he tends to make the high percentage play, and he breaks up scoring chances with decent regularity in the exact manner that a coach would prescribe it (or that experience dictates). And he's tough: not afraid to mix it up, he certainly doesn't play scared.

What Brad Stuart is not, in my limited and humble opinion, is gifted. Most of us could name a list of players who are simply more than the sum of their parts (skills), and it's not just a "heart" thing. Ryan Smyth has a pretty weak shot that's not pinpoint accurate, and he's not a great skater, but he's one hell of a hockey player. On the flip side, we all know lots of players who are less than the sum of their parts, ranging from outright draft busts all the way to the Derek Morris/Robert Lang types who, despite being perennially capable, just seem like they should be giving you more.

Brad Stuart, to my eye, is exactly the sum of his parts. Chris Pronger is another high draft choice who is big and skilled, who can make a big hit, shoot, make a nice pass, stop a 2-on-1, etc. But anyone who has watched him for any length of time knows that he is so much more than that; it's difficult, and does him a disservice, to describe him "scouting report-style". He's a gifted hockey player. There's no comparison between him and Stuart, and it's not because of the 4-inch height difference.

For $6M x 7 years, or $7M x 6, or whatever giant deal Stuart is about to sign, I expect gifted. He might get better -- again, he's smart, and he's going to keep learning -- but then again, his offense regressed this year, and if he scores 10 goals more than once over the term of his next deal, I'd be surprised.


A short follow-up to my post on Timonen/Hartnell: mc79hockey and Benjamin both had brief takes on the situation that jumped off from mine.

Thinking about it for the past few days, I still find it hard to comprehend that these players were one of:
Nevertheless, it would seem that one of these was the case. Doesn't that mean they were getting bad, or at least questionable, advice from their agents? Like Tom says, the players as a whole get the same amount of $$ no matter what contracts are signed by who; does anyone really have an interest in setting the salary bar for a particular kind of player high and early?

The answer to that question is Yes: the "anyone" is an agent with relatively few clients, one of whom is comparable to the player signing early. Like, say, Bill Zito Jr., who is the agent for both Timonen and Brian Rafalski. Incentives matter, indeed.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Draft Day: Open Thread

Mock drafts are here. And of course Lowetide and Spector are up and running. Personally, I like Abboud's take on what the Oilers will do this weekend.
1st pick (6th overall) - Low upside, low downside, high-character two-way forward or defenceman from the Canadian Hockey League.

2nd pick (15th overall) - Obscure, low-ranked European player with dazzling physical skills but who is considered a "project".

3rd pick (30th overall) - Traded. Best case scenario - along with a medium-rated prospect or two for Wade Redden. Worst case scenario - for an aging, overpaid 2nd pairing defenceman or 2nd line forward.

2nd Round Pick - American high school or USHL player who will go on to become the team's best player from this draft.

Other Moves

1. Trade late round pick or prospect for the rights to an unsigned player currently playing in Europe.

2. Declare off-season a success.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Incentives matter?

I'm having a wee bit of difficulty figuring out the Nashville-Philly-Timonen & Hartnell deal. I don't think there's anything dubious or untoward about it: it's a fairly well-established thing (and presumably written into the NHL bylaws and/or the CBA) that Team A can give Team B permission to talk new contract with players already under contract to Team A. The context, though, is usually different: when the Islanders traded for Mike Peca coming off of his holdout season (for example), they had already confirmed (with the Sabres permission) that they could sign Peca to a contract he found amenable.

I see why Nashville did it: they get something for nothing. My puzzlement, I guess, is that I see the advantage to Philly and the advantage to the players as mutually exclusive. That is:

There was no reason at all for Kimo-Timo and Hartnell to sign new deals with the Flyers now if the terms weren't as good as they could get on July 1. Since there's no risk of an injury (or frankly anything) happening in the next two weeks that would devalue them, the standard explanations regarding the time-preference of money (and a general sense of security about the future) are surely irrelevant.

So assuming stipulating that they're acting rationally, that would have to mean that Philly gave up a 1st-round draft pick for nothing. If Philly was already offering the best possible deals to the two players, then they could have simply offered them on July 1 and they would have been accepted. And they'd still have their 1st-round pick.

So what is it? Were Timonen and Hartnell actually concerned that they might be "left out in the cold" on July 1? This seems preposterous; if it's true, their agents are incompetent. Were the Flyers sufficiently concerned that the players would be offered better deals -- or "better situations" -- on July 1 that they were willing to sacrifice a 1st-round pick to eliminate that risk? If they were truly offering good deals (and the players wanted to play there), then that trade-off seems like bad value, although this is at least comprehensible.

The big question then, I guess, is why did the two players sign now? The story would go (roughly) that the Flyers got permission to talk to them, and the players liked what they heard: not only regarding contract terms, but regarding the direction of the team and whatever other less tangible factors go into these things. Fine. Assuming they really wanted to sign with Philly, why did neither of these things occur to them, or at least influence their behaviour:
  1. "If I wait until July 1, maybe even bigger offers come in and prod the Flyers to up the ante even further."
  2. "If I wait until July 1, the Flyers get to retain a 1st-round draft pick: a pick that has a 50/50(?) chance of turning into a contributing player (for cheap) during the course of my new contract, helping my new team be even better."
I find that strange. The players were in no way bound by the gentlemen's agreement Nashville & Philly had regarding a trade if the players agreed to contracts. Perhaps Philly promised Nashville that if they could not convince the players to sign prior to July 1st they would not sign them at all; however, I don't see how they could let the players in on this, as it would seem to contravene the spirit and letter of the CBA rules on UFAs.

Your analysis is sought in the comments.

Monday, June 18, 2007


Part of the problem

Thoughts Matheson's, italics mine:
If Ryan Smyth is smart and gets the same sort of money to sign in either Detroit or Colorado, it's a no-brainer. He should take the Wings.

They're always in the playoff hunt and he talks about winning being important. It should be at 31. Plus, does Smytty want to play for the Avs, which means playing against the Oilers eight times a year in the Northwest Division? That might be a little uncomfortable.

Yes it would, although the Hall-of-Famer is probably means "...for Ryan Smyth", so he's either missing the point or being disingenuous.

(Also, what's with the diss of the Avs? Geez, you miss the playoffs for one season -- barely -- and suddenly you're a Tier Two franchise. Seems like Matty has slightly different (i.e. much, much lower) standards for the Oil than for everyone else.)

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Battle of Alberta: Football Division

Now that the season that must not be mentioned has finally finished, and the Falmes have made their big off-season acquisition, it is time to start focusing on pigskin. What's that you say? The Oilers still have their big off-season acquisition to make? Bah. I'm not falling for that one. Nope, I'm closing my eyes and ears to all things Oilers until the first pre-season game. Rather than scrutinize the minutia of the draft, trade deadline, etc., I'm actually looking forward to that Christmas Morning feeling of just not having any clue what might be under the tree. I might even have to buy a program to identify all those fresh young faces who are obviously going to "flourish on Edmonton's fast ice."

Anyway, onward and upward. Sadly, looking back, a decent case can be made that last year's Eskimos had an even worse season than the Oilers. Honestly. They were last in the West for the first time in 30 years . . . the season after winning the Grey Cup . . . ugh.

I'm also seriously bummed that Edmonton's best named footballer -- Signor Mobley -- has retired. If Sacababy had been a boy, Signor Mobley Sacamano was in the top-5 potential names, as was Daunte Culpepper Sacamano. Speaking of Daunte, I understand that those wacky Bluebombers actually put him on their protected player list. Maybe they figured that, given Culpepper's preferred choice of outerwear, he would actually like the idea of playing football outdoors in Winnipeg during November.

Speaking of confused, I'm all confused about Maciocia. Is Danny Mac a good coach or not? Grey cup one year, fiasco the next. I can't get a handle on this dude. Somebody help me out here.

Anyway, the real reason I put this up was to remind folks that, although we here at BofA are pretty lame when it comes to talking up the football side of the BofA, there are lots of folks out there who write some fine CFL-related material. As only one example, CanadianRules remains a good one-stop shop for football fun.

Go Esks!

Friday, June 15, 2007



We'll start with the end here: I'm more optimistic about the Keenan hiring than this time yesterday. I'm as convinced as ever that turfing Playfair as the HC was the correct decision. I'm also convinced that hiring an experienced coach (one who has worked with multiple teams and rosters) was the correct decision.

While I am not one of the people who thinks that the multiple expiring contracts this season equates to starting at Square-One next season, it is nevertheless quite likely that this upcoming season presents a better opportunity to win the big trophy than the couple that follow. The Flames certainly cannot afford a rebuilding program, and beyond something the likes of Ottawa this past year, they cannot afford growing pains. So, the list of potential hires was pretty short: Scotty Bowman (sheeah right), Pat Quinn, Mike Keenan.

The reason I don't have a stronger opinion about this hire (one way or the other) is that I just don't really know or understand Mike Keenan; he's never worked for a team I care about, and apart from his parts-of-two-seasons with the Canucks, never even for a Flames' rival. For all his time in the league, I just haven't paid that much attention to him. Tom Benjamin's comments yesterday were illuminating, and though his overall take was pessimistic ("Do those positives outweigh the big negative? Not in my books. ...there's an inevitable car wreck. There always is when you put Mike Keenan in the driver's seat... I wouldn't hire him to mow my lawn."), I actually found it pretty encouraging -- certainly his first two points anyway.

Had some laffs listening to the radio yesterday: is it possible to actually hear someone biting their tongue? Rob Kerr did manage to stay on point and sketch out the big picture implication, but it was pretty clear that he was self-censoring: he desperately wanted to say This is So Unfair to Jim Playfair! It was to be expected; he's spent 3+ months months not merely disagreeing with, but mocking, anyone who said a coaching change was in order (and he continues to misrepresent Bob McKenzie's piece from after G2).

Also, having listened to Kerr, Maher, Rogers et al for an hour or so, it looks like I'm alone in believing that the Keenan hiring won't have much of an impact on the Flames' off-season. Not that we'll ever know -- absent Brian Noonan coming out of retirement, any player move from here on can be characterized with equal certainty as because of or regardless of Keenan's hiring. But to address a few new assumptions/myths directly:

*Now the Flames will rely more on (UFA) veterans and less on AHLers being promoted. I doubt it. All coaches have a use for guys who can play, and very few have any use for those who can't. The idea that the Amonte/Friesen/Nilson/Ritchie/etc. slots were all going to be filled by graduates from Omaha was never going to happen anyway (data point: the Nilson re-signing last week). Sutter said in his post-Rd1 presser that he wanted some young guys to make the team, but it would be whoever (and however many) earned it. I see no reason why this is any different now.

*Lombardi, Huselius, and Tanguay had better watch out. Really? Mike Keenan has no use for skill players who aren't always looking to make a hit? I doubt it. Pavel Bure scored 50 for Keenan in Vancouver. Tim Kerr did 3 times, and averaged less than a PIM/gm. Brian Propp wasn't exactly notorious for flying into defensemen elbows-first. And notorious Keenan fave Stephane Matteau would never be confused with Cam Neely, or even Joe Thornton, along the boards.

Look, someone is going to end up in Keenan's doghouse, and have a tough time getting out, but it's not like the Flames have been coached by Pierre Turgeon's Mom the past few years. You think any of the Flames' skill forwards are going to look at Keenan in September and go, "Huh? You want me to play two ways?" Please.

*It'll be a big adjustment for Kipper. I doubt it. For starters, he only got pulled twice this entire season (once during the 2nd Int, the other was G5 for his own protection), so he can probably handle (hell, expect) getting yanked a little more often than that. Also, he rarely gives up weak goals, he very rarely gives up awful goals, and the Flames (like most teams these days) aren't in the habit of getting in an early 2-0 hole.

I think the thing to avoid, even if you're displeased by the hiring of Keenan, is the belief that because he's had some bad breakups, and he has favourites, and he's feuded with players (couldn't get along with Brett Hull, my God what kind of personality disorder does he have!) that he behaves capriciously. There's no doubt in my mind that Keenan is going to make some moves and decisions that both baffle and infuriate me (distinguishing him not at all from his predecessor), but I certainly don't believe that they'll be due to a strange pathology or, I dunno, imbalance of bodily humours. He wants the exact same thing as Flames fans, which is to be great at his job, restore his reputation, and win the Stanley Cup RFN.

To that end, good luck, sir... we're all counting on you.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Take this object, but beware...

ITEM: Calgary Flames to hire Mike Keenan as new head coach

A quick survey of Flames fans to this move reveals reactions from 1 to 10, that number of course referring to the number of 'O's in the NOOOO!!!!

I'll probably wait to hear what the org and the man himself have to say at the presser before I settle into an opinion, but a few things:

Put another way, Keenan was hired to coach this team and succeed, now. Will he? Recent history says no, but my opinion at first blush is that bringing him in is definitely a less worse option than sticking with Playfair. And, a lot of the options available to him in previous jobs that he is known to screw up (mainly poor and/or expensive player personnel decisions) are simply not available to him here; the job is to coach the team, and surely this is all crystal clear to him as he accepts it.

On the other hand, did you watch the last season of The Sopranos? Are you familiar with the fable of the scorpion and the frog?

P.S. Line of the day so far goes to Mike Richards In The Morning, on The FAN960: "I'm not sure why all these people in Edmonton are so happy about this. When I look at what the Oilers are up against this offseason and in the upcoming season, well, if I had a laugh-track machine it would be smoking."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Flames Hire A New Coach...

...and it's Mike Keenan. Stephane Matteau, Brian Noonan and Peter Zezel signings to follow.


Thursday, June 07, 2007



Hey, look! It's Gary Lamphier, back at being a patronizing a**hole in today's Edmonton Journal! It's hard to take the guy seriously, really, as he advocated the building of a new hockey arena on the basis of not having to deal with homeless people. But Gary has more for people who might oppose his plans:

What I don't understand is the narrow-minded, knee-jerk negativity that so often afflicts the people of this city. It's tedious. It's tiresome. And just so yesterday.

The best part? Lamphier lashes out, despite acknowledging that Mayor Mandel and "key proponents" of the arena haven't answered the important questions.

Questions like: How much would it cost? What would such a project include? How would it be financed? Where would it be located? And above all, why is a new downtown arena important to the city and to the Oilers?

Amusingly enough, Lamphier doesn't include himself in the list of "key proponents," and his entire article attempts to ignore and circumvent the most important question of all: do we have hard, factual evidence that an arena in the downtown core will revitilize the area, or that it will revitilize the area more than any other development? Saying that Denver, Vancover, Boston and Seattle and Detroit are thriving cities because they have arenas in their downtown core is not enough. On the one hand, my bet is that those cities have other elements in play that are the more likely reason for any supposed economic might in their downtown core. And secondly, even if it was the case that it is the arenas that turned these cities into Bohemian Shangri-Las, I want proof. And by proof, I don't mean, "well, I've been there, it's awesome, and you should believe me, hill-billy." I mean numbers that support the claim. The sorts of evidence that actual economists publish, not just journalists and professors with physical education degrees. Because until that time, no matter the insults that Lamphier vomits from his pen, the argument for a new hockey arena in Edmonton's downtown core isn't an argument at all. It's tedious. It's tiresome. It's also so damn yesterday, it isn't even funny.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007



If you thought that tonight was the worst it could get, you'd be wrong. Tomorrow, when Kevin Lowe again brags about how he told Brian Burke he was giving Anaheim the Stanley Cup, tomorrow, when several Oilers players go out of their way to say how happy they are for Chris Pronger, tomorrow, when you realize a guy totally loyal to his team and his city (Ryan Smyth) has never won a Stanley Cup, tomorrow, when you see that the Pronger family held a city and an organization hostage and still got everything he ever wanted, tomorrow, that is when it will really hurt. You might want to skip out on tomorrow, if you can.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Yes, Virginia, there really is a Superman

The wonderfully readable Joe Posnanski wrote a thrilling piece Memorial Day weekend on Bo Jackson.
• May 15, 1989: Legendary baseball writer Peter Gammons was in Minnesota to write a Sports Illustrated cover story about Jackson, so he watched Bo take batting practice. It was a typical Bo hitting session — he cracked rockets all over the field. Then it was time for his last swing. Bo jumped into the cage and hit left-handed.

He hit a titanic shot 450 feet off the Hardware Hank sign in right field.


“I got work to do,” Bo said to the other players, whose jaws had dropped. He ran out to the outfield to shag some fly balls.

Much, much more here. (ÞSports Guy)

Saturday, June 02, 2007



Edmontonians are opposed to a new arena. The Edmonton Journal, immediately after reporting that the majority of Edmonton's citizens don't want a new arena, says,

the idea of building a new arena downtown gained momentum this spring after a consultant's report estimated it would cost up to $250 million to upgrade 33-year-old Rexall Place to current standards for the NHL and major concerts.

Momentum? 56% don't want an arena in the downtown core, and 75% are opposed to taxpayer dollars being used. Whose "momentum" was this, really, other than the usual suspects? You got to love the Journal's commitment to making money for themselves, I guess.

Of course, Mayor McCheese says that the poll is premature. And now he says that "no Edmonton taxpayers' money should go into the arena." Also note how he's slipped in the notion of money coming from other levels of government. I should win an award for this shit. I really should. To witness the continued flip-flop of Mayor Stephen Mandel, just click on the label for this post. And remember his irresponsibility, people, when October rolls around.

*God love you, Johnny Drama, you glorious bastard.


Friday, June 01, 2007


Gulag Reading

Howdy folks,

If you're like me, you're only following the Finals to ensure that you are still kicking Fenwick's ass in your playoff hockey pool. If you're not even doing that, I have something to keep you occupied for at least 2 or 3 minutes.

As some of you may recall, because of a questionable career choice made during my later undergraduate years, I'm now obliged to spend most of my summers living in a small tent in the middle of Eastern Siberia. That's what you get when you combine a short attention span with a beer-fueled plan to pick your major by going through the academic calendar alphabetically. In any case, besides developing an entirely new definition of "acceptable personal hygiene", one consequence of this "adventurous lifestyle" (as it was described to me in 1991 by some career day hack whose ass I'd now like to kick) is that there are extended periods of utter boredom. Last year, I ran out of books, and I'm determined not to allow this to happen again.

So, puckheads, I'm kindly asking for some summer reading suggestions. Hockey reads are welcome, but so are non-hockey reads. If you've read a good book, I want to hear about it. Absurdly long books with ridiculously small print are particularly welcome. In exchange, I'll promise to send a postcard of Irkutsk's Lenin to anyone whose book I take (or to anyone else who wants one just for the heck of it). If that isn't a deal I don't know what is.

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