It is now time for NHL Commissioner Garry Bettman to step in and stop the stupidity. Anaheim GM Brian Burke and Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe continue their name calling and spitting match over Lowe’s signing of Ducks RFA Dustin Penner last year. Yes that’s right last year. The most recent volley from Lowe was in the form of a radio interview where, among other things, he called Burke a moron and a media junkie. This came after Burke continued to blame Lowe for almost every contract in the NHL which he believes is higher than it should be. His belief is that Lowe changed the salary structure in the league with his offer sheet to Penner.
A gag order should be placed on both with fines for both and the guarantee of heavier fines if the war of words continues. Burke should get the higher of the two fines since he is the one who started the public smear campaign and he is the one who refuses to let it go.
The NHL is often annoyed with the media for what it believes is a propensity for dwelling or searching out the negatives to report on. The NHL can not control the media but it can control the juvenile behavior of its executives. When Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban runs his mouth, the fine is almost immediate. In the NHL it is ignored.
While it is great theatre for newspapers and radio talk shows, it’s a sad method to garner attention for the NHL. Since the Ducks won the cup, this is one of few things to get them any space in their local newspapers, so maybe Burke has a method to this childishness, but again its a sad way to get newspaper space.
Sad also in a different way is the departure of Jaromir Jagr from the NHL. Poor Jaromir was forced to leave for Russia because no one wanted to offer him a contract longer than one year. I feel bad for Jaromir having to endure making millions in Russia after pocketing over 98 million dollars during his career in the NHL.
Do you think that Jaromir will ever consider the possibility that no one was willing to offer him more than a 1 year deal not because of a clause in the CBA putting the team’s salary cap on the hook for his entire contract even if he retires before the expiration of a new long term deal, but rather too many teams have finally figured out that he is simply too much trouble and too much of a gamble to invest in him for more than a year at a time.
Jagr has always been a player with unquestionable talent and the ability of change a game in a few seconds. He is also a player who has divided locker rooms, sulked for seasons at a time and on too many occasions was just not willing to try very hard. He is coming off a very strong season with the Rangers, but lets also remember this is the same player the Capitals were willing to eat millions and millions of dollars in salary just to get him out of their locker room.
A player in Washington once told me they knew which games he was going to give effort. If he put on his shoulder pads for the warm up, he was going to try. For at least 2 years in Washington he didn’t put them on very often. Its also sad when his team mates know almost to a certainty before the game starts that they cant count on their best player because that night he just doesn’t feel like it. The last franchise player Washington had was Jagr before their current franchise player in Ovechkin. The difference in the marquis player and his impact on the team is hard to dispute.
There are so many good stories in the NHL and so many uplifting tales to tell, I wish both of these stories would just go away. Mudslinging managers and forlorn enigmas hold little interest for me.
See you at the rink.