Starkey: NHL goes mad
TribLIVE Sports Videos
What a day. What a bizarre, entertaining and wholly unprecedented day.
It wasn't the first time NHL general managers lost their minds on the first of July. That happens every year.
But this felt different.
This felt psychotic.
Somebody paid Tanner Glass $4.35 million to play ice hockey.
It all began at noon with one of the few doses of sanity we'd see for the next 12 hours — the Penguins signing slick defenseman Christian Ehrhoff for one year at the bargain rate of $4 million.
How very sensible.
Seconds later, all NH-hell broke loose. By 4 p.m., half a billion dollars (on just 70 players) had dropped like ticker tape across North America. TSN reported it as a record day, breaking the old mark of $384 million in 2009 — and this for a shallow talent pool in a year where the salary cap barely will increase.
Somebody paid Matt Niskanen (God bless him) $40.25 million.
In attempting to follow the news, I felt like Marc-Andre Fleury against the Philadelphia Flyers in the playoffs three years ago: wicked one-timers coming from all angles. I had to check news items multiple times before I believed them.
Surely, I figured, somebody dropped this bomb from a fake Bob McKenzie account: “Engelland gets three-year, $8.7 million contract from Flames.”
I frantically went through my mental Rolodex. Is there an Engelland not named Deryk in the league?
Somebody paid Dave Bolland and Jussi Jokinen a combined $43.5 million.
At the end of the day, my mission was to try to make sense of it all. And now I felt like Herb Brooks when he was asked to describe a five-overtime loss to the Flyers.
“Where do you start?” Brooks said. “And where do you finish?”
That's part of the fun, I suppose. So let's give it a shot, paying particular attention to Penguins and ex-Penguins …
• Top quote: “We don't have to have our team all set for a playoff run in September.” — Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, after signing Ehrhoff, goalie Thomas Greiss and winger Blake Comeau.
All three Penguins teams that won the Stanley Cup changed significantly during the course of the season. The same was true of Rutherford's 2006 Cup-winning team in Carolina, which traded for Mark Recchi at the deadline and discovered a rookie goaltender named Cam Ward.
I like what Rutherford has done so far. He has time to make other moves. There are no games in August. No meaningful ones until April.
• Top quote (runner-up): “That's probably a better question for the people that gave out the contract.” — Brooks Orpik, asked if he's worth the money (five years, $27.5 million) the Washington Capitals dished out.
The Capitals overpaid here. All but a few didn't overpay on this day. But I like the Orpik deal more than most (maybe the league-wide bout of insanity got to me) for a simple reason: Orpik changes the culture of that dressing room the instant he walks in. The Capitals don't know how to win. Orpik can teach them. He can still play, too.
• What becomes of Paul Martin?
It appears the Penguins have no interest in trading Martin, a superb player entering the final year of his contract. Rutherford went so far as to say, “Hopefully he can play here for several years.”
Don't bet on that. If Orpik can fetch $27.5 million, somebody might give Martin his own country. My preference would be to parlay Martin for help up front, but I certainly understand Rutherford's position. He's a hired gun. His time here is short. If ownership tells him it doesn't mind losing Martin for nothing after next season, why not keep him?
• What do we make of the Penguins signing another goalie?
Love it. Rutherford used the same logic Ray Shero did in signing Tomas Vokoun two years ago: It gives him a veteran option for the postseason. Greiss is an upgrade over Jeff Zatkoff and one of the best below-the-radar signings of the day.
• Comeau excite you?
Not especially. What I remember most about Comeau is Max Talbot leveling him like a bowling pin and that being one of the incidents that led to the melee with the New York Islanders a few years back.
But he'll do, perhaps even as a third-line right winger. I could live with a Nick Spaling-Brandon Sutter-Comeau mix.
• What happens with the first two lines, and what if Geno's mad?
Geno will be fine. The problem is that the Penguins appear to have three right wingers in the top-six mix. Possible solution? Move Pascal Dupuis to Malkin's left with Beau Bennett or Patric Hornqvist on the right. Then you have Kunitz, Crosby and the other right winger on the top line.
I wouldn't be shocked if Rutherford finds a way to add to his top six. He said he'd like to appease Malkin. He still might.
What I like best about Rutherford so far is that he appears to have no panic in him.
He didn't have much company Tuesday.
Joe Starkey co-hosts a show 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays on 93.7 FM. Reach him at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Baby makes arrival at fast food restaurant in Hazelwood
- Steelers receiver Brown attends workouts despite previous comments
- Plum officials: District won’t inhibit ‘constitutionally protected speech’
- Grand jury presentment: AG Kane lied, attempted to cover up leak
- Poland blocks pro-Putin Russian bikers at border
- State jumps in UPMC-Highmark dispute
- Man found dead in Lower Burrell
- Fire damages state Rep. Ryan Warner’s office in North Union
- McKees Rocks council president arrested after SWAT standoff
- Man freed from collapsed trench in Sheraden
- Pirates notebook: Wainwright injury doesn’t sway Hurdle on DH