Monday, June 18, 2007

John Mucked Up

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.

As Tilt mentioned yesterday, the word around the NHL is that Tards GM John Muckler was told last Friday that he was being relieved of his duties (though they'll probably say he was reassigned) - it looks like the most successful playoff run in the team's history wasn't enough to save Muckler's (aka Sid Dithers) job. I'll give Tards owner Eugene Melnyk credit for making what some will say was a tough decision, but we here think it was the logical thing to do.

Muckler failed where every Tards GM preceeding him has failed - his obsession with the future cost his team in the present. The job of being the Tards GM is not without its problems; most, if not all of them stem from the view of the Tards fans. As I have mentioned here before, a good portion of the Tards faithful are former Montreal Canadiens fans who jumped ship a few years back - most of these "hardcore" hockey fans grew up in an era with the Habs won Stanley Cups in bunches; they have a romantic view of hockey from the 70's where they expect their team to win every single night and cap each year off with a Stanley Cup.

The days of dynasties in the NHL are no more - the combination expansion, free agency and the salary cap have made it very difficult to hold any team together long enough to win successive Stanley Cups. The Ottawa SenaTards business model is based on having a full building each and every night - and in this city, a three game losing streak is enough to keep a few thousand fans from showing up at Scotiabank Place. They can't afford to trade away part of the future to win a Stanley Cup in the present, because it would cost them millions of dollars in lost gate receipts a few years down the road when the team couldn't replenish an aging roster with NHL ready talent. The good GM's make moves to win in the here and now - while Tards GM follow the old Harry Sinden theory that what matters most is the bottom line, not championships.

John Muckler refused to acknowledge that this year's Ottawa SenaTards weren't tough enough to win a Stanley Cup; they went into this year's playoffs with the same weakness they have had in years past - when it came down to crunch time, would he team be physically and mentally tough enough to win hockey's holy grail. Muckler insisted that the adversity his team faced early in the season was proof enough for him that his team was indeed tough enough to do it. For those of you who don't follow hockey closely, the adversity Muckler spoke about was his team being .500 at Christmas and their fans calling for someone's head on a platter.

The stars lined up for the Tards this spring - which hid some very obvious weaknesses from their fans, but not the watchful eye of their owner. John Muckler was responsible for a series of bad moves this year, that in reality left the team weaker than in previous years.

- signing free-agent goalie Martin Gerber to an $11M dollar contract, Gerber ended up being the backup and is for all intents and purposes untradeable;

- signing free-agent defencemen Joe Corvo and Tom Preissing didn't work out, Preissing had a decent regular season and was no where to be found when things got tough in the playoffs; Corvo is a guy who is prone to make bad decisions and that was evident during the first half of the season and in the playoffs. Preissing is going to leave, but they're stuck with Corvo.

The Tards toughness during the regular season was supplied by Brian McGratten, a guy who wasn't going to dress for the playoffs - rather than trade for a veteran guy who brought toughness and leadership like Gary Roberts, he decided that he wouldn't part with the future (Patrick Eaves) for toughness. Instead, Muckler made a minor deal at the trade deadline and got Oleg Saprykan...ya, Oleg. The story for the Tards was the same old, same old - when push came to shove, they folded. Muckler thought making it to the Cup would buy him another year...think again.

What was lost in this story was how Tards President Roy Mlakar managed to keep his job. Mlakar was responsible for bring Muckler and has been one of his biggest supporters...shouldn't he take the fall with Muckler? He may wind up getting let go too, but as of this morning, nothing.

One more do you think Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli is feeling this morning? Chiarelli fired coach Dave Lewis this past weekend and is still trying to sort the mess that is the Boston Bruins out. Lewis should have been fired after the new year when he admitted that he was at a loss to explain the Bruins post-January free fall - we wrote about it extensively over the winter. But, what must Chiarelli be thinking? Had he still been with the Tards, he could very well have been given Muckler's job.

The old adage is that chicks dig the long ball; with that in mind, yesterday's notables.

Columbus Clippers OF Brandon Watson had a hit in his first at-bat yesterday to extend his hitting streak to 43 gamen - a new record in the International League.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays RF Jonny Gomes had three hits, including two home runs, and drove in four runs to lead the Rays to a 7-4 win over the Rockies.

San Diego Padres CF Mike Cameron hit two home runs and drove in three in an 11-3 pounding of the Cubs...this one hurts for two reasons, 1) its a Padre; and 2) we have Cubs P Rich Hill in the yahoo pool.

What did we say about Jays P Josh Towers yesterday? The new rule here is: when Towers against him. Don't worry about Josh, he didn't take it too hard...he looked pretty happy posing for pictures at the Much Music Video Awards yesterday in Toronto.

We finished last week at + $585, bringing the total for the year down to - $515. Today's suggestions:

Boston over Atlanta - we're expecting Schilling to rebound tonight in Atlanta after getting knocked around in his last start. Lay $100 on the Sox - $135.

Los Angeles over Houston - we'll go with John Lackey over Chris Sampson today, we just don't like the Stros on the road. Lay $100 on the Angels - $205.

Oakland over Cincinnati - we'll go with our boy Joe Blanton over Kyle Lohse, no explanation needed. Lay $100 on the A's - $170.

Detroit over Washington - hard for us to think that the Nationals can get it done today against a Tigers team that is ripping the cover off the ball. Lay 100 on the Tigers - $150.

Others worth considering today - Arizona over Tampa Bay and St. Louis over Kansas City.

That's about it for today gang - be sure to check in tonight for The Hazies with a twist. Thanks for taking the time to check in...have a great one peeps.

Hazel, I hope things are groovy in your world.

I'm Out.


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