Free-agency salaries have become so far beyond the realm of reality, they cloud a player’s true worth. When it comes to the Zach Parise-Ryan Suter Show, a couple of factors should be considered. Let’s start with The Maven’s firm prediction that The Gold Dust Twins won’t even guide Minnesota into the playoffs!
My buddy, Gus Vic, who I regard as the Albert Einstein of hockey analysts, puts it in even more meticulous perspective. I agree with him that they’ve both been overrated by a Free Agent-frenzied media. “Suter,” Vic notes, “will be a clear number one with the Wild, but not a game-changer. On 25 other teams, he’d be either a number two or three defenseman.”
As for Parise, start with his playoff stats: Over four rounds — 24 games — Zach totaled eight goals and seven assists for 15 points. Not bad, but get this: overall he finished with a MINUS-EIGHT which suggests that his defensive work ain’t so hotsy-totsy. Against the Kings, New Jersey’s then-captain could only develop one goal, had not a single assist and was MINUS-FIVE in six games. By contrast, rookie Adam Henrique produced five goals, eight assists for 13 points through four rounds and was PLUS-TWELVE!
Over four playoff rounds, Henrique delivered three game-winning goals — two overtime series-winners — while Parise had just one game-winner and that in regulation.
The Maven agrees with Vic on another issue. We both figure that Parise’s credentials “look sexier as captain of the Eastern Conference Champions.” What’s more, Vic offers a compelling point when it comes to comparing Zach with Chris Drury and Scott Gomez.
“Drury and Gomez,” he asserts, “at the peak of their effectiveness, were at their best with plenty of support around them. When it was time for them to become centerpieces of a Rangers offense it was painfully discovered neither was that type of player. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a comparable fate with Parise in Minnesota.”
That’s one very good reason why The Maven believes that merely spending mucho moolah does not necessarily mean that Minny makes the playoffs!
• BUT HOW BIZARRE? Chatting with an NHL player-turned broadcaster the other day, I asked him what he thought of the current Free Agent Follies. “I look at the salaries these guys are getting,” he shot back, “and all I can say is that the NHL has become a bizarre world.”
And if you’re wondering how to define “bizarre” this week, just take a look at the coin that Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk is tossing at 40-year-old Jaromir Jagr — $4.55 million. Yikes! Nothing against Moneybags Jags, but we’re talking about the NHL’s version of an antique Indy ‘500 racer. Try circa 1922.
Trouble is this crazy money is going to seriously impinge on the current Gary Bettman-Don Fehr negotiations and you and I know where that can lead! (P.S. If you’re not sure, check out my last item, below.)
• STALE BEANS IN B-TOWN: Tim Thomas‘ self-imposed exit from Beantown does not in and of itself presage the Bruins’ downfall. However, the Bruins without Thomas in goal is like Boston without beans. Tuukka Rask, allegedly numero uno between the pipes, has yet to play anywhere close to one full season. The Maven sees Rask as a risk. Or to put it in a hockey perspective, Tuukka is a latter-day Andrew Raycroft. And, in case you haven’t heard, Raycroft will be tending goal in Italy next Fall.
• JUSTICE TRIUMPHS: When Edmonton’s GM Steve Tambellini gave his savvy head coach Tom Renney the boot, Stevie was guilty of a dumb-and-dumber move. Credit Detroit’s Ken Holland for being smarter than Tamby. The Red Wings just grabbed Renney, making him an assistant coach alongside Mike Babcock. That merely gives the Winged Wheelers two of the best bench braintrusts in the NHL. Justice may have failed in Alberta, but it sure triumphed for Tom Terrific in Detroit
• BIG AL A JET — WE HOPE: When Al Montoya played goal on the Island he was one of the most fun guys — in postgame interviews — ever to come down the pike. Even after a tough loss, he was Mister Available and he never stopped The Maven from creating new nicknames for him after wins. (Example: “Big Al, The Mambo King.”)
Because we like nice fellows to do well, there was more than a little media hope last season that the Cuban Cutie would establish himself as THE top banana between the Uniondale pipes. But our wish went down the tubes after a mid-season concussion that ruined Montoya’s season.
Affable Al never regained winning form and the injury left too many question marks for the Garth Snow to keep Montoya on the payroll. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Winnipeg’s GM Kevin Cheveldayoff — once a top Isles defense prospect — signed Big Al as the Jets’ backup for 2012-2013.
This will be a career-defining move for Montoya, a first-round Draft pick in 2004 (sixth overall) whose full potential never has been realized. Maybe the Mambo King’s time has finally come. Hope so!
• WHY THE PENGUINS MAY BE THE PITS: When oddsmakers were guessing about Parise’s future, it was freely predicted that Ray Shero, the Penguins’ GM, had the inside track — give or take LA’s Dean Lombardi. This was based on the assumption that — more than anything — Zach wanted to be on a team with a good chance at a championship.
Add to that the notion that Parise and Sidney Crosby had some kind of symbiotic relationship because, as kids, both attended the famed Shattuck-St.Mary’s High School hockey factory in Minnesota. The idea of Zach working alongside — or behind — Sid and Evgeni Malkin supposedly would have been too tough for Parise to resist.
Well, it turned out that Crosby was eminently resistible; ditto for Malkin. The Maven’s theory is that Parise never wanted any part of Pitt because he would have been third-man on the Penguins’ totem pole and who would want that? In Minny he’s King of the Wild which, ego-wise, is a heckuva lot better than behind hidden behind a pair of marquee Penguins.
• THE MOST PIVOTAL CBA ISSUE: An NHL communique following the first meeting between Gary Bettman and his union counterpart, Donald Fehr, was encouraging. The bulletin featured cheery prose which suggested that no fights developed over any issues. But when the parties meet again, which should be momentarily, the battleground will center on “hockey-related revenues.”
Based on the current pact, which concludes on Sept. 15, the NHL Players’ Association is guaranteed 57 percent of those “hockey-related revenues.” Any one who believes in a sense of equity will conclude that there’s something intrinsically unfair about a 57-43 split.
That’s why other issues such as NHL participation in the 2014 Winter Olympics, realignment and supplementary discipline are small potatoes compared to who gets how big a slice of the revenue pie. Therefore, it wouldn’t surprise The Maven if Bettman, Inc. shoots for a 50-50 split — and settles for something like 52-48; Fehr & Co. permitting.