With the Cup in hand, a few thoughts spill out
A few lingering thoughts, mindless meanderings, and various remnants after finally seeing the Stanley Cup return to Boston after 30-plus years of chronicling the bouncing puck with that Spoked-B in the middle:
■Not sure the TV cameras caught it Wednesday night, but there was a splendid shot of Mark Recchi, standing alone at the blue line, coaching Zdeno Chara on how to lift the Cup. Chara had just received the trophy from commissioner Gary Bettman and there stood the beaming Recchi, maybe 30 feet away, repeatedly lifting both arms as if to say, “Come on, Z, lift that sucker and get the party started!’’ Then Chara hoisted it with such force that it looked for a moment that the Trencin Tower of Power would topple backward and crash through the Rogers Arena ice in one of those “only Boston’’ moments. A great snapshot, with the 43-year-old Recchi showing the enthusiasm of a grade schooler wringing the most out of the final minute of recess.
■ OK, he’s the game’s No. 1 suit, so Bettman isn’t likely ever to be greeted with open arms and sweet kisses at any of the Original 30 arenas. But that boo-ridden beatdown he took Wednesday night in Vancouver was outrageous, even vulgar. Many, if not most, Canadians believe Bettman has been unfriendly to Canadian hockey at large, pointing to the loss of the Winnipeg and Quebec franchises under his watch. The Vancouver crowd was further incensed, of course, over Aaron Rome getting heaved out of the series for his predatory, concussion-inducing hit on Nathan Horton. Bound to happen, I suppose, even if the Canucks had won the Cup. Asked about it in a radio interview the next day, Bettman said, “To answer that question would require me to engage in some degree of whining, which I will not do. The fact of the matter is, people sometimes have perceptions as to why things do and don’t happen. People who understand what exactly we have tried to accomplish and the fact that most of the Canadian franchises wouldn’t be in Canada anymore if not for the things we’ve done over the last two decades . . . they get it.’’
■ Answer: Brad Marchand. Question: What is the best example you’ve seen in recent years of a player’s work-and-will commitment being more important than the sum of his parts? The Little Ball of Hate should be a joy to watch for many more years. Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli, when asked about Marchand repeatedly saying he hated the Canucks: “That’s March. It’s part of his magic, too.’’ A much smaller package with a different skill set, but there is a Terry O’Reilly quality about the LBOH.
■ Roberto Luongo is a very good goalie. Longtime readers of this space might remember the suggestion years ago that if the Bruins ever considered trading Joe Thornton (what a ridiculous thought!), then Bobby Lou would be the way to go. That said, wow, talk about a guy who never should have opened his mouth. After a solid Game 5, Luongo said Tim Thomas might have stopped Max Lapierre’s shot if stayed in the paint. In other words, bad boo-boo. Luongo followed the next day by noting that Thomas hadn’t tossed him any love (“pumped his tires’’) during the series. Ridiculous. Not to mention petty and insecure. And what did Thomas say to him when the two met up in the traditional handshake line at the end of Game 7? “I told him,’’ said Thomas, “ ‘for the record, I think you’re a great goalie.’ ’’ File under: Flat tire, pumped with grace.
■ Turns out, Ryan Kesler made it all the way through the Final with a torn groin and maybe a torn hip labrum. Impressive grit. As for twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin, they appear to have come through it all fairly unscathed, but for the incessant doubt they’ll be subjected to in perpetuity. They failed to make the scoresheet in five of the seven games, and they split a minus-8 in Game 7. Daniel: “I can’t put into words how badly we feel.’’ Some things defy description.
■ In review, of the four guys involved in the Nov. 30, 2005, swap that sent Thornton to San Jose, the only one to have won a Cup is Brad Stuart (2008 Red Wings). But for his shoulder getting torn apart by a Raffi Torres check in the Western Conference finals, Thornton and the Sharks might have faced the Bruins in this year’s Final. Just an odd game sometimes, isn’t it?
■ Not sure I’ll ever understand the kind of mayhem that broke out on Vancouver’s streets immediately following the loss in Game 7. The final tally included some 150 injured, nine of them police officers, and 15 cars torched (two of them police cruisers). Win or lose, the riot was going to happen, because 100,000-plus were gathered in the downtown core, and the perpetrators were there for the sole purpose of inflicting injury and causing damage. Witness: a picture in the next day’s The Province that showed a young adult male, in Canucks sweater, stuffing a shirt into a cruiser’s gas tank prior to igniting. Hope everyone keeps in mind that it’s a reflection first and foremost of those who did it, not the city that was victimized. The next day, someone hung a sign that read, “On behalf of my team and my city, I am sorry,’’ on one of the damaged storefronts. A number of people stood in line to sign it.
■ Old pal Roy MacGregor of The Globe and Mail dug up a golden oldie from Harry Sinden, lamenting the pain — which the former Boston GM knew too well — of missing out on a chance to win the Cup: “The remedy, right now, is two scotches and an aspirin.’’
■ Your faithful puck chronicler wasn’t in the room to witness it, but multiple reports the next day had it that Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini berated a number of media members after Game 7, using vile language to, shall we say, suggest how and where they conduct their amorous activities. It was an intense, passionate series, and everyone deserves a break here and there when the heat gets high. But, really, a club owner is supposed to be above the fray. If it was as crass as depicted in a number of reports, Bettman should impose a penalty or direct Aquilini to an anger management class.
■ The big tank at the New England Aquarium as of Friday had a replica Stanley Cup, with a Spoked-B on the side, submerged with the various creatures of the deep blue sea. An attendant noted to an afternoon gathering of patrons that the odds of being bitten by a shark were less than being bitten by someone while touring New York City. Brenda Brenon, NESN’s fomer rinkside reporter for Bruins games, noted to the attendant that the odds of being bitten by Alex Burrows might trump them all. A woman with my kind of humor.
■ Wait, you mean it really is the Hub of Hockey after all?
If anyone wants to bid on the 21-year-old high-scoring wunderkind, it’s probably a moot point because the Lightning retain the right to match any offer (similar to the Phil Kessel situation a couple of years ago).
But, boy, could someone drive up the price on owner Jeffrey Vinik if general manager Steve Yzerman doesn’t get a deal done in the next two weeks.
With the salary cap expected to be close to $63 million, a bidder could spike Stamkos’s pay as high as $12 million-plus per year (20 percent of the max is the limit). And for a kid who is only 21, a 10- or 12-year deal would not be out of the question.
For discussion’s sake, let’s say someone offered Stamkos 12 years at $144 million. He would be only 33 at the end of the deal. Come the end of the 2022-23 season, if the cap were to climb at the rate it has since it began at $39 million in 2005-06, the nut would be hovering right around $100 million by then. Over the final 5-6 years of the deal, $12 million would begin to look comfortable.
As for the Bolts, what would they receive if they chose not to match? Perhaps not as much as you think.
Per CBA compensation rules, any player who receives an offer above $7,835,219 brings the maximum package in return: four first-round draft picks.
Provided the addition of Stamkos turns a team into an elite contender, those four picks, one per year, likely would net the Bolts a player in the 22-30 range each year.
In other words, no guarantee that any of them eventually will make an NHL roster.
All in all, it’s typically not a play general managers are eager to make. However, Stamkos is so young and such an unusual unique commodity, you can bet at least a handful of GMs are considering that kind of package for him.
And in Los Angeles, where 22-year-old defenseman Drew Doughty also becomes an RFA July 1, the Kings could be facing a similar assault. Doughty isn’t likely to get Stamkos money, but his youth and skill level are likely to draw huge bids.
Drury on his last legs The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reported late in the week that a crumbling right knee will prevent Chris Drury from being bought out of the final year of his five-year deal with the Rangers (the buyout period began 48 hours after the Bruins wrapped up the Cup). Owed $5 million, the final payment on his $35.25 million deal, Drury most likely will report to training camp, fail his physical, then end his career on long-term injured reserve. An unceremonious curtain for the former Boston University standout, a 2001 Cup winner with Ray Bourque and Avalanche (not to mention a three-time US Olympian). He will be 35 in August. Had he been bought out, he would have collected approximately $3.4 million across two years and would have been free to sign with any team.
Tracking a Hurricane Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford made it a fait accompli that Joni Pitkanen won’t be on the Carolina blue line next season when he wistfully told the North Carolina media, “With Joni not coming back . . .’’ Pitkanen, an unrestricted free agent, is coming off a deal that carried a $4 million cap hit. Someone will tie him up around $5 million a year — perhaps the Canucks if they lose Kevin Bieksa and/or Christian Ehrhoff. Both are UFAs.
Loose pucks The Flyers have yet to sign top goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, whose rights they acquired from Phoenix. The working figure bandied about Broad Street for Bryz is about $5 million a year (for four years or more). That’s Tim Thomas money. It now doesn’t matter if Thomas posts a .000 save percentage for the remainder of his days, the Bruins got themselves a deal even on this last contract with Thomas (four years/$20 million). And to think, when he finally got the call to Boston in 2005-06, he had to clear waivers when promoted from Providence. Any club in the league could have grabbed him for about $100,000 . . . Congrats to ex-Globe scribe Chris Snow, named last week as Calgary’s director of video analysis, the same day that Clint Malarchuk was tapped as goalie coach. None better than Snow, formerly the Wild’s director of hockey operations under Doug Risebrough. When Snow was a Globe intern, your faithful puck chronicler was his mentor. Proof of his survival skills, as well as his exquisite choice in career path . . . The Flyers might have to let winger Ville Leino walk if they sign Bryzgalov. If so, I’d have my GM hand up, high . . . If Brad Marchand is the new-age Little Ball of Hate, then the equally diminutive but far more skilled Martin St. Louis should be the Little Ball of Great. Marchand also makes me think of Danny DeVito’s Penguin character in “Batman Returns.’’ It really is just about hate, isn’t it?