Sunday, February 28, 2010

Deadline Preview

Congratulations to Team Canada. Though the U.S. had a better goaltender in both match-ups, the Canadians were the better team in both games. That being said, what a final game! Great saves, great goals, last second heroics and a game winner from someone who could have been the goat if the US would have won.

While the entire nation of Canada drinks itself into a Molson-fueled slumber I figure it’s to get back into NHL-mode, and that means trading deadline talk! The Bolts have three days (till 3:00pm Wednesday) to find the final pieces to solve the playoff race puzzle.

So what are the pieces that the Lightning need? Like everyone else fighting for a spot they would like a puck moving defenseman. They would also like a top six forward that jells on Vincent’s line. The Lightning do have a problem with acquiring either resource. And it’s not money.

Simply put Tampa Bay doesn’t have much in the cupboard when it comes to offering prospects. Outside of goaltending there isn’t much that they can offer a rebuilding organization when it comes to A+ prospects. Carter Ashton and Dana Tyrell are probably the two best offensive prospects and I wouldn’t consider them NHL-ready at this point.

Possible dance partners for the next couple of days could be Edmonton, Florida and Columbus. Toronto is looking to continue their overhaul, but the big name, Tomas Kaberle, is going to be pursued by a lot of teams that have a better chance of competing for the Stanley Cup, and have more to offer the Leafs. He also holds the keys to any deal by having a no trade clause and I doubt he would choose the Lightning as his best shot at winning a cup.

Carolina has been pegged as another team that should be busy over the next week, but do the Bolts have a use for an aging Ray Whitney? Although another go-round with Jussi Jokinen would be intriguing. Joni Pitkanen is currently a -14, but he also has 15 power play assists. Could the Bolts put a package together that would be enticing enough for the Hurricanes to deal within the division?

Before the madness begins, lets check out a couple of factors with the Lightning.

Who is untouchable? If a GM calls about Steven Stamkos or Victor Hedman then Brian Lawton should hang up the phone. If teams call about any other name on the roster he should at least listen to what they have to say.

Who would they like to move? Without a doubt they are listening to any and all offers on Andrej Meszaros. Draft picks, fringe prospects, bags of pucks, extra hamburgers, cases of beer – anything should be on the table. He hasn’t lived up to his contract and it would probably be best for him to move on.

Who do other teams want the most? You think Vincent would be high on this list, but the successful teams won’t want to handicap themselves with his contract. I vote Marty St Louis as the number one player on the board. He’s a proven scorer who seems to integrate himself on any line and he’s affordable (one more year at $4 million, $5.25 cap hit).

What are the odds that the Lightning pull of a major deal? I would say 1-in-10. I don’t see the factors aligning right now for them to put together a blockbuster deal. They will be more active in the off-season.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Topps Million Car......NOOO It's Infected The Wasteland, Too!!!

I haven't posted about the Million Card Giveaway yet, but since it's a requirement for every card blog in the Blogalaxy to post at about it at least once I figure I'll detail my first Topps virtual trade.

The first two cards I unlocked weren't too exciting, a 1987 Tom Seaver and a 1993 Mark Gardner, but my next code unlocked a little retro action. A 1975 Jose Cardenal resplendent in 70's colors and afro-haired greatness.

I no longer own that card because I turned this:

into this:

A 1962 Tom Morgan.

I'm not a huge Tom Morgan fan. I did not know that he played for the New York Yankees, Kansas City Athletics, Detroit Tigers, Washington Senators, and Los Angeles Angels. Nor did I know his nickname was "Plowboy". What I do know is that when I finally redeem this card it will be the third oldest in my collection and for me that was reason enough to pick it up.

Now if only someone will trade me a 1983 Floyd Rayford for the 1987 Tom Seaver!

Oh and by the way - U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A! One-two-three-four - IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Trade Bait!!!!! Topps 2009 Series II

Who wants cards that they don't have already? Anyone? Anyone? Is this thing on?

So a couple of weeks ago my local card shop had a good deal on a 2009 Series II Jumbo Box. I'm a sucker for discounted boxes so I picked it up. It definately wasn't a hot box, but I was able to sell a couple of cards to offset a bit of the cost (ebay is your friend!).

Anyway, enough rambling. Take a gander at the cards below and let me know if you want any. Email me or leave a comment.

The cards are (from the top going left to right)

Fred Lewis Career Best Auto
Octavio Dotel Career Best Jersey
Derek Jeter Team USA World Baseball Classic
Jorge De La Rosa Black Border #'d 20/58
Derek Jeter Turkey Red
Derek Jeter Gold Border #'d 644 / 2009

Lots of Jeter'y goodness!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Carl Crawford is on the Wantlist

So for some reason, perhaps it was the euphoria brought on by a nice helping of waffles, I’ve decided to collect the whole Carl Crawford spectrum from the 2008 Allen & Ginter set. Thanks to some generous traders I’ve already knocked out the relics, but still need most of the other parallels. So if you have them collecting dust in your collection and Carl Crawford Cards or The TROLL (those prolific trading bast*rds!) haven’t gotten their meat hooks into yet then shoot me an email!

Here’s what I still need:

Carl Crawford – Autograph
Carl Crawford – Red Ink Autograph
Carl Crawford – Dick Perez Sketch
Carl Crawford – Mini
Carl Crawford – Mini A&G Back
Carl Crawford – Mini Bazooka
Carl Crawford – Mini Black Border
Carl Crawford – Mini Framed Cloth
Carl Crawford – Mini No Number
Carl Crawford – Mini Wood

Monday, February 22, 2010

What You (may have) Saw Last Night Was No Miracle

Why is there a need to make something better then it actually is? By comparing a nice upset to a truly unbelievable upset doesn’t it diminish the original accomplishment? If you haven’t guess by now I’m referring to the U.S victory over Canada in hockey on Sunday night.

It was undoubtedly an upset that few saw coming. Most of the pre-Olympic prognosticators were assured that it would be a Russia vs. Canada battle for the gold medal while the U.S. would be lucky to finish in fourth or fifth place.

Hopefully by now I’m sure you’ve seen the results, even if you didn’t see the game. According to the numbers about 8.2 million people were able to find the game on MSNBC which was almost a record night for the news network. If you’re complaining about not being able to see the game you’re about two weeks behind the rest of the country.

The Olympic television schedule has been in place since before the torch was lit so it shouldn’t have surprised anyone who was paying attention. Now you can argue that NBC should have broadcast it on the parent network instead of ice dancing, but that’s an argument for a different time.

Let’s focus on this so called Miracle On Ice II. First off, stop calling it that. Every single player on the U.S. squad last night is in the National Hockey League. These are not unknown, untested college kids. They may be young, but they are all seasoned (and rich!) professionals.

The team that skated for the United States in 1980 had no business beating the Russians. If they play that game 10 times there is an excellent chance that the Soviets win 9 times. There’s an even better chance that they blow the Americans out of the arena (remember the pre-tournament 10-3 drubbing just a few weeks before the tournament?)

Not only is the current American team not as much of an underdog as it’s miraculous counterpart, the Canadians aren’t the dominant team that the Soviets were. In the four Olympics prior to 1980 the Soviets were 27-1-1 and had outscored their opponents 175-44. Contrast that to a Canadian team that struggled to beat a weak Swiss team. They are not even the defending Gold Medal team, that honor belongs to Sweden.

Perhaps we should refer to it as the “Reasonably Unexpected Upset on Ice”. Time seems to have diminished the luster of the 1980 team’s victory. With the emergence of true professionals playing for their respective countries (as opposed to the Soviets pseudo-amateurs of the 70’s and 80’s) no team is as much of an underdog as the US was. The only comparison I could think of that would be equivalent in today’s sports world would be if Saint Leo’s men’s soccer team beat the Brazilian national team

There is one way the win for the Americans is similar to the Miracle on Ice team victory. There is a lot of hoopla around a game that hasn’t produced the desired end result – a gold medal. Herb Brooks, coach of that upstart 1980 team, was quoted as saying, “If you don’t win this game you’ll take it to your f*&king grave,” in regards to the post-Russian victory game against Norway.

In much the same vain, if the U.S. flames out in the medal round this win will in the end mean almost nothing. The rest of the way will not be a cake walk. Russia, Sweden, Finland and a possible rematch with the Canadians all loom in the not too distant future.

It will be interesting to see if this team will go from upstart underdog to disappointing failure if they lose in the quarterfinals or medal rounds. The American public is fickle at best and downright cruel at its worst. A gold medal win for the U.S. could be a major boon to the NHL, especially for teams that are fighting for a playoff spot.

So let’s just bask in the win for now. There’s no need to compare it to the past, nor is there a need to set this team up for a future failure.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Veracity of Sports Related Entertainment

A new feature! From time to time The Wasteland will delve into songs, movies, books that deal with sports related events to see how truthful they remain to the actual story.

We start with Todd Snider’s song – “America’s Favorite Pastime”. Snider retells the story of Dock Ellis and his infamous 1970 no-hitter. One of the fabled events in the history of baseball (though not included in Topps’ “Tales of the Game insert” set) Ellis claimed that he was on LSD when he shut down the Padres on June, 12 1970.

If you’re not familiar with Todd Snider he’s an alternative rock, folk, country singer with a Dylan-esque vibe and a mixture of song/spoken word lyrics that often border on the whimsical, “if we don’t laugh we might cry” kind of way.

Let’s take a look at the lyrics and compare them to what factual information we can find on the internet to see how truthful Snider remained to the story.

America’s Favorite Pastime by Todd Snider

dock ellis didn't think he would pitch that day
back in 1970
when he and his wife took a trip to the ballpark
a little bit differently
so by the time he hit the bullpen
half the world had melted away
that's about the time coach murtaugh said
hey dock you’re pitching today

Truth: Dock Ellis had been in LA to visit his girlfriend (not wife) and his childhood friend Al Rambo. Due to a copious amount of alcohol and stimulants Ellis lost track of time and thinking it was Thursday, the day before he was scheduled to pitch, he took a hit of Purple Haze acid around noon.

His girlfriend Mitzi was perusing the paper and realized that the game announcement had Ellis listed as the starting pitcher. It was then that the right-hander realized it was Friday and was indeed scheduled to start.

Hopped up amphetamines and Benzedrine he took to the mound with the ball feeling like a “very heavy volleyball”. Coach Murtaugh was in fact the manager of the easy going Pirates. Danny Murtaugh worked for the Pirates for 29 years as a player and manager.

taking the ground the mound turned into
the icing on a birthday cake
the lead off man came up and turned into
a dancing rattle snake
the crowd tracked back and forth
in waves of color under the sun
the ball turned into a silver bullet
his arm into a gun

Truth: There’s no reports of the batters turning into bizarre creatures or birthday cake pitching mounds. Ellis himself has stated that there were times when he didn’t even see the batters in the box, he just knew if they were right handed or left handed. He describes his feelings as “euphoric” and mentions that the ball appeared to change sizes throughout the game.

(Chorus) i took a look all around the world one time
finally discovered
you cant judge a book

three up three down for three straight innings
in a zero zero tie
as all those batters names came ringing
from some voice out of the sky
hallucinating halloween scenes
each new swing of the bat
his sinker looked like it was falling off a table
but nobody was hallucinating that

Truth: Thee up, three down usually means in order and it looks like that’s not quite the case. In the first Ellis walked two, retired the side in order in the second and walked one in the third. The Pirates actually led the game 1-0 after three innings thanks to a Willie Stargell home run in the second inning.

Ellis spoke of the names being announced sounding like the “voice of God”.


by the top of the fifth he was up one to nothing
and giving the padres fits
by the top of the seventh he was up two to nothing
and they still hadn’t got any hits
with one out left to go in the game
the batter looked like a little child
the birthday caking was shaking
and those waves of color were going wild

Truth: Snider nails the scores. In addition to Stargell’s home run in the second he added another one in the top of the seventh. Overshadowed by the no hitter was the fact that Padres starter Dave Roberts had a pretty decent game himself. He scattered 5 hits over 7 innings and ending up with fewer baserunners allowed than Ellis, who walked 8 and hit a batter.

when he finally mowed the last man down
he was high as he had ever been
laughing to the sound of the world going around
completely unaware of the win
and while the papers would say he was scattered that day
he was pretty as a pitcher could be
the day dock ellis of the Pittsburgh pirates
threw a no hitter on lsd

Truth: Ellis did indeed strike out pinch hitter Ed Spiezio to end the game and secure the no hitter. While he might not have been 100% sure that he had won the game, he did know that he had thrown a no hitter. Rookie Dave Cash broke superstition by constantly reminding Ellis that he had a “no-no” going. According to a 2005 interview with the Dallas Observer Ellis remembers getting the last out and saying, “a f—king no hitter”!


So Snider stays pretty close to the truth in his song. The imagery might be gleaned from the songwriter’s own drug experience, but probably comes close to what Ellis experienced on the mound.

Dock Ellis is remembered as the guy who throw a no hitter on LSD, but it should’t be forgotten that he was a good pitcher for the Pirates in the 1970’s. As intimidating as Bob Gibson, as outspoken as Ali, Dock Ellis is the type of athlete that is disappearing from sports these days.

Take a look at his record:

1. No Hitter on LSD
2. Beaned Reggie Jackson in the face in retaliation for Jackson “showing him up” in the 1971 All Star game.
3. Beaned Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Dan Driessen in a row, threw two pitches behind Tony Perez before walking him, then threw a pitch behind Johnny Bench before being yanked from the game by his coach.
4. Was maced by a security guard in Cincinnati

Imagine the faux-outrage from the talking heads on TV if a player pulled those antics in this day in age? Of course, I would probably pay James Shields $75.00 to hit Kevin Youklis in the face with the first pitch of the season, but Shields would probably be suspended for six weeks and people would be calling for him to be banned from the game.

Kudos to Snider for memorializing Dock Ellis in song and being fairly accurate in doing so.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Spring Training Means Predictions! With a Special Guest!

The sound of baseballs snapping into leather mitts has replaced the puck pinging off of crossbars in the Tampa Bay Area. Therefore, let us take a little vacation from the hockey posts and welcome in some baseball related information. Spring training officially starts this week and a lot of the players have already trickled into their respective camps.

So to honor the opening of a new season lets start off with our very first preseason prognostication post. This one is compliments of an old friend – Work Mike. Since I no longer work with him, and since he has a perchance for making predictions he will now be known as Stone Cold Lock Mike (or SCL Mike if I’m feeling lazy).

He emailed me a couple of predictions for the upcoming year and gave me permission to share them (his quote “the stone cold lock should be shared with all”). He does reserve the right to change his mind after the first week of the season.

Here we go:

1. Rays win 96 games this year and take the East
2. Yankees surprisingly win 86-92 games.
3. Red sox win only 85-90 games, and have 3+ starting pitchers go down.
4. Blue Jays go 10 under .500.
5. Your Orioles get off to a hot start, and sustain it for a win total of 85 games. This throws the whole east out of wack and leads to the Mariners and Angels making the playoffs out of the west. Yankees and Red Sox call for a balanced schedule until further notice.

AL rookie of the year will be the one and only Michael Taylor of the Oakland A's. .286 21hr 87rbi, and a whole lotta fist bumps with lock ins!!!

He also threw in some Rays-specific predictions:

1. CC will hit .290 and get his 20/20 club membership after all these years.

2. Mr. Upton will earn his $3 Mil with a .310 25hr year, also note that he has replaced his shoulder injury with a rather large chip.


So there you are – The Stone Cold Lock Mike’s predictions of the year. I can’t argue with most of them, I like that he gives a shout-out to Tampa Wasteland Hall of Famer Michael Taylor.

He is also available for predictions for the other divisions upon request. How do you think he did?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ugghhh Radio in Tampa Bay

So I'm working on another post right now while listening to local sports talk radio. The "Big Dog" is talking hockey, which is painful to begin with. .
Not only is he stumbling through his opinions (Vinny isn't playing hard enough, Tanguay is a bum, Brad Richards should be on Team Canada), now he's spewing false information.

Lord knows I'm no fan of Andrej Meszaros, but if you're going to talk about trade rumors at least get them right
The Lightning are not looking for Patrick Kane in a trade for Meszaros. The name brought up (by TSN's Darren Dreger, not the Lightning) was Patrick SHARP.

Good lord at least get your facts straight Mr. Duemig.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Not Much Going On Today

Kind of a slow day in the TBA. Nothing much percolating out their in rumor-ville except for a Andrej Meszaros to Chicago deal that popped up on a Darren Dreger TSN chat a few days ago.

I'd be sad if he's traded this soon simply because he's become the new fall guy for the Lightning's woes (when they have woes again, that is).

So I'll leave you with this photo of Mike Smith's new mask, compliments of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Arrrggggghhhhhhh!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Things That Don't Make Florida Look Good

So I have a Wednesday night Softball league. It's not very competitive, after all when has anything in a "D" League been competitive? It's fun and it gives me a chance to see some of the guys from the No Limits Fun Factory.

Tonight's game was cancelled. Why you ask? Well the other team thought it was too cold. Granted 45 degrees isn't the best weather to play softball in, but when half of the northeast is digging itself out from under 2 feet of snow, then 45 degrees is a day at the beach.

Floridians - this is why the rest of America makes fun of you.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Doldrums of the Winter Deserve Some Laughter

So I submit to you the works of "The Garfoose". If you haven't found this on your own yet, I highly recommend you browsing around his website and following his twitter.

Dirk Hayhurst may not have won a game in the major leagues yet (career record 0-2), but he does have quite the devoted following due to his writing and his wit. Only a reliever could adequately explain the origins of baseballs and what they have to do with legendary half-giraffe, half-moose creatures.

His book, The Bullpen Gospels, is due out next month. If it's anything like his other writing it should be immensely enjoyable.

Follow his Twitter for updates on his recent surgery (performed by Dr. Claw) to remove ninjas from his damaged arm.

His website has details and drawing of the legendary Garfoose. Enjoy the whimsy.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mailbag Monday!

So it’s that time of year, the Super Bowl confetti has been swept up, Drew Brees is going to DisneyLand and the northeast is digging itself out from underneath another snowstorm. College basketball is slumming through its regular season, weeks away from the madness of the tournament. Baseball, and the hope that comes with spring training, is close, but not close enough. So what are sports fans supposed to do?

Well, for me I can write a column about the cards I managed to acquire over the weekend. In addition to breaking my collecting vows of 2010 and purchasing a box of 2009 Topps series II along with some random 2010 packs, I did get some stuff in the mail over the last week. So here’s another edition of Mailbox Mondays

The Ebay Winnings:

Not one, but two Carl Crawford bat cards. A 2008 Allen & Ginter Bat Relic along with a 2009 Topps 206 Bat Relic both arrived this week. I wonder if they were from the same bat? Between the two I think I like the 206 is a little better, something about the blue border makes it stand out.

The Lightning Game:

Saturday night was free Upper Deck card night at the Forum. So I picked up the six card pack and spent $4.00 on a pack of OPC so that I could get the “exclusive” seventh card. The cards are basically the same as their Upper Deck base counterparts with a different numbering system. “TB-1, TB-2, etc) replaced the normal numbering.

When Ben Lovejoy is the highlight of the pack you know there was nothing special in the OPC pack.

Trade with The Real DFG

In exchange for some extra OPC cards I had laying around the Dog Face Gremlin put together a care pack of Lightning cards and some needs from my want list. He did well. A Vincent rookie card that I didn’t have and a Sean Burke Game Jersey card. This is only my second Lightning relic card and while Burke might not have had the most illustrious career with the Bolts it’s always cool to get a jersey card.

Thanks for the trade!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

If I Was in Vegas...Super Bowl!

I figure I'll finish off this exercise in short term investing. I didn't due to well with my picks, but I figure I can make it all back by betting largo on the big game.

If I truly was in Vegas I would have gotten this bet in as early as I could, because it started off Indy giving 3 points. The line got up to about 6 1/2 before settling at 5 as of this morning.

That doesn't matter to me. I still like the Colts. I know the Saints are the feel-good story of season (It's the feel good hit of this endless summer/It gets these kids out of control/ Singin' along to that star spangled bummer/Hail,hail rock and roll
Where was I? Oh year, the colts winning the big game. Peyton Manning is on a mission and he's not going to let 25th ranked pass defense stop him. The attack plan isn't going to change - Short slants and screens to set up the long bombs down the middle.

New Orleans has the fire power to keep up, but in the end nothing is stopping Manning from picking his second Super Bowl ring.

My Pick:

INDIANAPOLIS (-5) over New Orleans

Updated 10.00pm - Holy Sh*t do I suck at picking winners....

Friday, February 5, 2010

Holy Crap a Baseball Related Post!

Hey Rays fans, spring training is right around the corner. Good news on this rainy Friday, eh? Also making the good news department - it looks like the Rays will finally be represented by McFarlane sports. An Evan Longoria figure will be included in the next release. Click here for preview photos.

They are sceduled for a May 2010 release.

He Speaks!

Paul Kennedy talks to new owner Jeff Vinik.

See it here!

Some highlights:

He grew up a Rangers fan, but has watched nothing but Lightning games over the base "2 or 3 months".

He wants to win "on and off the ice".

He thinks it's an exciting opportunity.

Five Good Reasons

Well Tampa Fan, I’m sure you made a nice impression for the prospective new owner. At least the 9,000 or so fans that were actually at the game. I checked the box score for the Lightning game last night and it was reported at 13,891. Reported attendances live in the same realm as unicorns and intelligent Flyers fans. In other words, they have no basis in reality.

I hadn’t planned on attending last night’s game, but I did end up in that part of town around game time. So I pulled into my normal parking spot ($5.00) and quickly found a scalp….err independent ticket provider. He asked for $20.00 for a 300-level ticket (face value $27.50). I laughed. Embarrassed, he lowered the price to $10.00.

With my first successful ticket haggling in awhile (my friend Link has banned me from negotiating for tickets in his presence because I was so bad at it) I followed the meager crowd into the Ice Palace. Walking in I was greeted with…..a half empty building. Way to support that playoff team Tampa Bay!

The Bolts pulled out the victory in front of an uninspired crowd that, according to the Tampa Tribune, included Jeffrey Vinik, the soon-to-be latest ringmaster of the Lightning circus. I could spend the rest of this post coming up with reasons why he should be worried that he’s throwing $150 million down the drain, but that would be negative. I’m trying to reduce the negative and increase the positive here at the Wasteland so I decided that I should give Mr. Vinik Five Good Reasons To Be The Lightning Owner.

1. Steven Stamkos from the left circle – It’s getting ridicules at this point. On the power play, Young Stamkos drifts into the left circle while Marty St Louis cradles the puck along the opposite half-wall. The diminutive St Louis passes the puck to The Glass Crusher Kurtis Foster who decides to either crank up the 101 mph shot that instills fear into defenders and Plexiglas providers or pass the puck to the waiting Stamkos.

If he elects to pass it to Stamkos the sophomore sensation pulls his stick back and fires off a one-timer, short side, and the puck hits the back of the net in the blink of an eye. Everyone celebrates and the arena plays “Hammer Time”. Much rejoicing is had by all. Watch the third goal he scores in this montage for video evidence. And you're welcome for the Dave Mishken call of the other words turn down the speakers if you're at work

The Stamkos one-timer is a think of beauty for many, many reasons, the most impressive is its accuracy. A lot of forwards have a hard shot, but few put it on net as consistently as Stamkos. Watch it Lightning fans, appreciate it, don’t take it for granted.

2. Vincent Lecavalier’s toe drag attempts
– Along with his no-movement clause I believe Vincent also has a “toe drag” clause. Every game he attempts to fake out a defender by drawing the puck from his forehand, between his legs, and to his forehand. It rarely works, but when it does it’s spectacular.

The fact that he continues to try it every game is what makes him so enjoyable to watch. Unlike the others on the ice he has a spark of creativity to his game that garners your attention whenever he has the puck in open ice. If it fails, fans grumble and call him names, but when it works it produces “did you see that?” type of reactions.

3. Steve Downie’s “grittiness” – The trade that brought Downie to the Lightning (Matt Carle to the Flyers for Steve Eminger and Steve Downie) was panned at the time. The Bolts were perceived to be giving up a promising young defender for a journeyman defender (Eminger) and a head case (Downie). While Carle has flourished playing alongside Chris Pronger in Philidelphia it is Downie that has emerged as a surprise.

He has controlled his temper for the most part this season and has used that energy to become a ferocious forechecker and a dangerous linemate for Stamkos and St Louis. Several times during the Lightning’s recent improved play Coach Tocchet has singled Downie out as being the best player on the ice.

I like calling him Steve Avery with skill or a young Darcy Tucker. He has the ability to put up 20 goals in this league and temperament to draw countless penalties from the other team. Against Anaheim he created at least three turnovers in the offensive zones. When he and St Louis are on their game they give the opposing team fits getting the puck out of their zone.

4. Zenon Konopka’s goofiness – It’s been awhile since the Lightning have had a folk hero on the ice. Andre Roy was close, but he spent too much time in Tortorella’s doghouse to be truly appreciated. I would think Konopka is approaching Enrico Ciccone status in the TBA (“Chico’s on the ice, Chico will take care of you”).

Zeke is never going to score 20 goals in a season. What he is going to do is win 60% of the face-offs and make sure no one takes liberties with Stamkos or St Louis. With 185 penalty minutes and 25 games to go he’s well on his way to shattering the Lightning’s penalty minutes in a season record which currently is held by Ciccone with 258.

Tampa fans are an interesting and oft-maligned bunch. They appreciate a solid hit into the boards more than a between-the-legs goal, which probably explains the love/hate with Lecavalier. Nothing gets the Nascar-lovin’, Bubba-supportin’ crowd going more than a round of fist-a-cuffs and Zenon is more than happy to oblige.

5. You’re only paying $150 million! – The latest reports from Canada have the purchase price at $150 million for the team, the Ice Palace, and the 5 and ½ acres of waterfront property around the arena. That’s crazy even in today’s depressed economy.
For comparison, the Davidson Group bought the Lightning from Art Williams for $98 million in 1999. OK Hockey bought the team from the Davidson Group in 2008 for $200 million. The Dallas Stars are next on the shopping block and the estimates are that bidding will START at $300 million. Vinik is getting a great price on a franchise that is struggling right now.

Tampa loves a front-runner so if the Bolts stay in the playoff race the fans will come out. A couple of home sell-outs at the end of the season, and a couple of home play off games will make the bottom line a lot more attractive.

I don’t see him as a long term owner, but if he can provide stability for five years or so isn’t that all a fan can ask for these days?

There’s a lot to love in Tampa besides the weather in winter. If the team keeps winning the fans will come out, because there is nothing this town likes better than a front-runner. So don’t worry when you see those empty seats Mr. Vinik, keep the team stable and they will soon be filled with money-dropping fans. After all, those bandwagon fans have to buy their new jerseys from somewhere, right?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The One Where the Wasteland Trades Everyone Part II

So after I finished working hard on this gimmick I watched the Lightning defeat the Thrashers 2-1 behind some strong goaltending from Antero Nittymaki. If the season was to end today the Bolts would have locked up the 8th spot in the playoffs (at least according to ESPN's standings page).

After the game The Hockey News (the guys who broke the ownership sale) reported that the potential new owner, Jeff Vinik, is leaning towards keeping Vincent Lecavalier because he doesn't want to alienate the fanbase.

So that makes this pretty much an exercise in futility, yet I will continue on. Why? Well because this entire blog is a fruitless, or at least profitless, venture. Also, I wrote the damn thing already so I'm going to post it.

Here we go..


Brandon Bochenski – Sent down to Norfolk. I just don’t think he’s got what it takes to stay in the NHL. He’s a free agent after the season, and the Admirals will need players after the call ups to fill roster spots!

Steve Downie – To Toronto with Steven Stamkos. For Nazem Kadri, Jeff Finger and a 2nd round pick. This is a big trade for both teams. Toronto continues it’s rebuilding project with native son Stamkos and add toughness and scoring in Downie. They also clear cap room by unloading Finger’s contract. Kadri gives hope to the Lightning without the pressure of having to perform in his hometown.

Todd Fedoruk – Released. I honestly couldn't’t figure out a trade partner for him. The Bolts would have to eat the rest of his contract, but it would be worth it to clear space on the roster for the young ones.

Jeff Halpern – To Washington. For a 4th round draft pick. The Caps pick up some depth for their playoff run and Halpern returns to his first team with hopes of winning a cup.

Zenon Konopka – To San Jose with a 3rd round pick. For Jamie McGinn. The Sharks pick up some toughness and a solid face off man in return for an up-and-coming forward.

Vincent Lecavalier – To Los Angeles with a 2011 2nd round pick. For Jack Johnson, Wayne Simmonds and Colten Teubert. Los Angeles makes the most sense for Lecavalier based on cap room and available prospects. If the Kings do give up a prospect I don’t think they’re giving up draft picks as well. Taking a $10 million salary ($7.7 cap hit) is tough on a team and they are not going to mortgage the franchise to do it.

Ryan Malone – To Montreal. For Ryan O’Byrne. Montreal picks up a large body for the front of the net and the Lightning get another young defensemen.

Martin St Louis - To Pittsburgh with Nate Thompson and Matt Walker. For Jordan Staal, Chris Kunitz, and Ben Lovejoy. This is the big blockbuster that trades away the heart of the Lightning. St Louis gives the Penguins that extra forward to partner with Crosby or Malkin. Jordan Staal comes to the Lightning as the most recognizable name of the new franchise.

Steven Stamkos – To Toronto with Steve Downie. For Nazem Kadri, Jeff Finger and a 2nd round pick. Stamkos has become a legitimate scorer in the NHL and Toronto would love to have him as their new center piece. Giving up Kadri would be tough, but you have to give up something to get something.

Alex Tanguay – To Calgary. For a 3rd round pick. Calgary has already reshaped their roster and adding another scorer could help them out. The Bolts stockpile another pick.

Nate Thompson - To Pittsburgh with St Louis and Walker. For Staal, Kunitz and Ben Lovejoy. Thompson becomes the defensive center/penalty killer in Pittsburgh while Walker adds good ol’ playoff grit to the blueline. Kunitz comes over to clear cap room and give the Bolts a hope of scoring a goal while Lovejoy is another young, expendable defenseman.

Stephane Veilleux – Placed on waivers. Some team can pick him up as far as the Lightning are concerned since he is an unrestricted free agent next year.

So there ya go. An entirely new roster filled with young prospects, third line talent and minimal talent. So in the words of the Real Dog Faced Gremlin - "pretty much a wash".

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


The Lightning haven't been sold because Vinik wants to negotiate a lower price in order to keep Lecavalier around. At least that's according to the latest from The Hockey News.

Either Vinik is a shrewd negotiator or Campbell is backtracking on a week of "Vinny has to be traded for the sale to go through stories".

I'm sure there will be more to follow....

The One Where the Wasteland Trades Everybody - Part I

Since the “Trade Vinny” rumors are running rampant as of late I figured I’d take it to the next level (one more than 10. eleven.) Let’s trade everybody on the roster! Time to blow this puppy up! Scorched earth, baby! Why use a scalpel to trim payroll when you can use a chainsaw?

So after meticulous research (more than 30 minutes!) I’ve come up with trading partners for every current member of the Lightning roster. I took the salary cap into consideration and tried to make sure that the Bolts were left with an actual roster. In other words I didn’t trade everyone for draft picks.

This isn’t serious, so please refrain from the outraged posts. Think of this as of an emotional cleansing. If I trade everybody in my mind, I can’t be surprised if they are traded in real life.

Part I will be the defense and goaltending.
Part IIwill be the forwards.


Kurtis Foster – To: Buffalo For: a third round pick and Matt Ellis. Buffalo picks up a big blast from the point for their power play (and a sometimes winger). Tampa gets a draft pick and someone who’s a free agent at the end of the season.

David Hale – To New Jersey. For a 3rd round pick. Hale goes back to the team that drafted him and the Bolts stock another pick.

Victor Hedman – To Vancouver for Mason Raymond and a 2nd round pick. The Canucks lock up a fellow Swede to go with the Sedin twins and Tampa picks up a young (cheap) forward.

Mike Lundin – To Nashville. For Cal O’Reilly and a 4th round pick (package with Mike Smith). Nashville gets a young defenseman and the Bolts shed some more payroll.

Andrej Meszaros – To TJ’s Sports Bar of the New Hampshire Center Ice Adult Hockey League. For: a case of Guinness and platter of wings.

Mattias Ohlund – To Colorado. For Chris Stewart and an unknown prospect. This was a tough one. Finding a team with room for his contract wasn’t easy. Colorado has two veteran unrestricted free agents after the end of the season – Adam Foote and Ruslan Salei. Ohlund would fit in contract wise and provide a veteran presence on the blueline.

Matt Smaby – To Montreal. For a conditional draft pick. He gives the Habs some grittiness on their blue line and they don’t have to surrender too much.

Matt Walker – Part of blockbuster deal that will be announced with the forwards. See that’s foreshadowing- it makes you want to come back for part two!


Antero Nittymaki – To: Philadelphia. For: Brian Boucher. Philly gets a goaltender for their playoff run and shed some cap space for next season. Tampa gets a middle of the road goalie to back up Torkarski next season.

Mike Smith – To: Nashville. For: Cal O’Reilly and a 4th Round pick (package deal with Mike Lundin). The Preds now have a goalie for next year in case Dan Ellis bolts in free agency. The Lightning stock up another pick and perhaps a steal in O’Reilly since Nashville is a little center-heavy at this time.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Mail Day Warning! Cards from Canada!

Today has been a bit gloomy in the TBA what with the weather and the latest ownership debacle surrounding the Hockey club de Tampa Bay. So it was quite nice to see a package in the mail that I knew contained cards. Even better it had a post mark from up north, waaaaay up north.

The Captain has come through with my favorite cards of the year so far. Not because they have patches of shirts or slivers of wood, but because they are all but inaccessible for hockey fans in the south.

We may have sunshine (most of the time) and beaches (look out for the sharks!), but one thing we don’t have – hockey cards at McDonalds! I love McDonalds, I love the convenience, the price, and the French Fries. I love the sheer Americaness of it as well. For $5.00 one can walk in there and get a meal loaded with more calories then the rest of the world sees in a day.

Too much is never enough for this country and that is never better reflected than in McDonalds.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, cards from Captain. You see, up there in Canada Upper Deck and McDonalds team together to sell a set of cards. I don’t think they’re worth a lot of money – most of the cards I’ve looked at on eBay seem to go for about $.99, but good lord are they shiny.

I had mentioned a few months ago that we don’t have the pleasure of acquiring the cards first hand down here in Florida, despite being a town with a major league hockey team so Captain Canuck gracefully declared that he would send some Vinny’s down when they were available.

True to his word – they showed up this week. He even threw in some older versions as well.

The 2009-10 version. This is least Vinny-looking card I’ve ever seen. He has a bit of a distinctive visage and for some reason I don’t see it here. Is Upper Deck selling a card with an imposter on it? Probably not….

The 2006-07 version. He is called an “emerging superstar” by Upper Deck. Or if you prefer the French a “supervedette en devenir”. The information on the back of the card is in French and English, so us poor mono-lingual Americans can actually learn something!

The 2005-06 version. The back mentions his 16 points in 23 playoff games during the Stanley Cup run. Man, those were fond memories.

As anyone who has traded with the captain knows, it’s not a trade unless there is a pack of unopened cards included. My pack this time – 1991-92 Score. Purple borders! The best card out of the bunch:

Patrick Roy Dream Team. Look at that smug look on his face, you would think he was good or something!

Thanks to the Captain and much condolences to Calgary’s loss….not Phaneuf, but
Cuthbert of course!