Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Morning After

Love this picture of Smyth. The kid going to the rink in his equipment.

Haven't seen any papers or blogs yet today. Learned about the trade in the thread over at the BoA, almost immediately after I posted with extraordinary confidence that it sounded to me like they had a deal with Smyth, Andy Grabia posted that there was a deal indeed.

For some perspective on where I am coming from before I continue let me say this. I grew up a Chicago Blackhawk fan and was until probably about 1999, I believe. Despite Bill Wirtz and Bob Pulford's incompetence I hung in there and in the early 90's saw Mike Keenan put together a fine team. And then watched as Pulford had Keenan dispatched in a power struggle and then slowly but surely gutted that once proud franchise. Believe me when I say that for those of you who hate EIG they have nothing on the Blackhawks' ownership. Nothing.

So, like pretty well every other fan of that once proud franchise, I withdrew my affections. A tough thing to do but also an easy choice in the end.

My favourite player at about this time was a young Ryan Smyth. His enthusiasm, his grit, his small town Canadian persona, his dopiness, his skill - he was an easy guy to cheer for and a fun guy to watch. One thing led to another and I became a fan of his club.

Without Ryan Smyth I likely would not have become a fan of the Edmonton Oilers.

So, as you can see by my last post before this one, I was slightly taken aback by what happened yesterday.

So, today, what do I think about this?

I wish Ryan Smyth was an Oiler for life. I am going to miss him and the team is going to miss him. I think the contract negotiations were botched and the trade may have botched as well, although the Leafs knew about his availability so the Islanders were not the only one.

I think the Oilers are doing what many have suspected all along (and Dennis at IOF said this last summer) - they are rebuilding. They are ahead of the curve - this isn't the Penguins finishing at the bottom of the league year after year - but they are rebuilding.

Having said that I think this year has been a disaster and a slap in the face to Oilers' fans. Not because of what happened yesterday (and why did they not trade Sykora or Markannen? Out with my buddy who is a Sabres' fan last night and he for one was very surprised at that) but because even in this rebuilding year they had a shot at the playoffs at least but Lowe failed to do anything to address their holes on the backend.

So, after all of that, you know what?

I think they were smart to trade him if they could not sign him. Getting two prospects and a first round pick is a good return. Will O'Marra and Nilsson pan out? Maybe not. But I like this trade more then what Forsberg brought the Flyers.

And, (big gulp), they may have been right not to sign him.

Look, I don't know the details of what was being offered and what he was asking. And everyone knows that I have beating the drum for him to be signed all season, 5 years at 25, I said. Do it.

But there has to be some point where you say enough. And 5.5, I think, was too much.

This is not about EIG being able to afford that. They could.

Its about building your team smartly. Chris Pronger made 6 million a year. Is Ryan Smyth worth 500K less then that?

I don't think so. Now, who is going to replace his goals? I don't know. And who is going to replace the intangibles, the fact that he was the heart and soul of this club? I don't know that either.

But I was at the Leaf game last night and watched the Leafs get absolutely crushed by Ryan Miller, the Buffalo Sabres' D and the Rochester Americans forwards.

Bryan McCabe who is under contract for four more years at 5.25 I believe, with a no movement clause, was booed every time he touched the puck after enormous gaffes on his part led to three straight Sabres' goals. Also on the ice at times for the Leafs - Kaberle (who is a terrific player) and Raycroft (who was pulled for the second straight game). Also Mats Sundin who will likely get a hefty extension soon. And in the pressbox - Pavel Kubina and the newly signed (4 years) Darcy Tucker.

Every single guy except Sundin signed longterm. Ad he probably will be too.

In 2011 Bryan McCabe will cost the Leafs over 5 million a year. He will be 36. And he will still be a lousy defenceman.

I looked at the Sabres. Young player after young player storming the Leafs' end. They might have won the Cup last season. They are favourites this year. After this season Drury and Briere are both UFAs and one or both will leave. And the Sabres will be in it again next year. I guarantee it. Why? Young players coming down the pipe to replace those who leave.

I have said it before. The key in the league now is to amass young and cheap players. Tying yourself to big longterm contracts for aging players is a surefire way to ensure that you will not contend.

And, yes, Moreau and Staios have been given longterm deals, I know that. But a 2M contract can be moved pretty easily. Even 2.7.

5.5 Million? Nobody is taking that baby on.

So, farewell Ryan Smyth. Best of luck to you. In an ideal world the Oilers would have signed you . In my fantasy they bring you back at the deadline four years from now, the last piece of the puzzle on a Stanley Cup contending team and you lead the boys to victory.

Here in the real world, I'll just say good luck and thanks for all of the great memories.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't have said it better!! That was the best post I've seen regarding the Smyth trade.


Anonymous said...

Awesome. Best post I have seen yet. Absolutely bang on.

Black Dog said...

Thanks Kevin.


Anonymous said...

I'm torn on this as well. Smyth was a "good soldier" for the Oilers over the years and I like his "game". However, if one takes his career point per game average and extrapolate this over an 82 game season, he averages 59 points per season. The intangibles do count for something but not enough to total 5.5M. Probably not even 5M. Particularly over 5 years. Sorry Ryan but good luck.


Katie O'D said...

"Without Ryan Smyth I likely would not have become a fan of the Edmonton Oilers." -same. That's what makes it hard to look at this fairly. He was just one of those things you could rely on. To trade him is bad enough; to not be able to disagree with the trade is torture. If there's one thing I needed it's a rational post like this. Nothing comforts quite like logic.

guy smiley said...

Logic schmogic.

Listen to the man

tell me that this was a good idea

Kyle said...

My head says you're right, but my heart says you're wrong.

Regardless, if the NYI win a cup this year no one will be cheering harder than me.

Anonymous said...

One small consolation...if Ryan helps the Islanders knock the Leafs out of playoff contention it will SLIGHTLY minimize the pain of his loss.


Anonymous said...

I cant remember a blog i have agreed more with. While fans are crying for Smyth (I was close after watching the goodbye conference today), your logic about the Sabres and MacCabes ugly contract are dead on.


Black Dog said...

guy snd kyle - hey, I can't srgue with you - if you see what I posted when this happened you can see that I sm not exactly taking this well

and you know what - if they were to sign him July 1st for 5 years @5.5 M I honestly would be happy

I want it both ways, huh?

Its a bitch of a situation.

But having dinner with friends tonight (both Leaf fans) I repeated what I wrote above. In very few instances can you point to a situation where giving big money long term to an over 30 player works out.

But its still a goddamn heartbreaker.

Mr DeBakey said...

It'll be alright if
- they actually sign a free agent
- they upgrade the D

C'mon Charlton, C'mon you Addicks!

$5.4 or 5 for 5 is too much
I think someone [Pitsburgh?]
will pay $5.85 for 3