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Chicago Blackhawks' Prediction, Betting Odds For 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

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The greatest player rarely mentioned - Gretzky/Lemieux/Howe/Orr/__________

Raymond Bourque Appreciation Time

When people are talking about the best players of the past 50 years... I firmly believe Bourque in the same tier as Howe, Gretzky, Orr, Lemieux -- even if he's behind those guys, he's absolutely in the same tier.
I remember Bourque, yeah, One of the greats from back in the day.
He was not one of the greats. He's the great that other and future greats should be compared to -- and in our lifetimes, I'm beyond certain that we're going to watch them all fall short. Maybe Bourque didn't change the way the game was played the way some of those guys did but... it's only because he didn't need to. He fit the way the game was played -- as if the game was made for him.
He could beat people with physicality, he could beat people with finesse, and he did it at an unbelievably elite level, for 30 minutes a night, for 22 years.
Uh, Bourque was good but not that good mate.

Time for a refresher. Shall we?

Strap in, this is a long one.

Shots

Most shots by a defenseman in a season during Bourque's career.
He finished top-10 in the NHL (even among forwards!) in shots in 13 - more than half - of his 22 seasons. Three times he led the league in shots (84, 87, 95). In 1985 he was 2nd to Gretzky, in 1988 he was 2nd to Lemieux, and in 1996 he was 2nd to Jagr.
Most shots/game in a season by a defenseman, all-time
Raw shot totals by a defenseman in a season
Most seasons with 250+ shots, forwards included
He didn't "accidentally" set records like:
Over the past 10 seasons, 3.85 shots per game would comfortably put you 2nd in the entire league in shots per game -- forwards included.
That was Bourque's career average. Only Ovechkin, Bure, Lemieux, and Dionne have averaged more shots/game throughout their career.
Number of games a defenseman recorded 10+ shots? (only tracked since ~1979)

Who cares about shots, goals are what win games. Get on with it.

You're right - forget all of that. Throw all of that evidence in the toilet. Flush twice.

Goals

Recently, Shea Weber reached 10+ goals for the 11th time in his career. A fantastic achievement; even HoF defensemen ProngeNiedermayer managed that only 8 times apiece.
The first time Bourque failed to reach double digit goals was his age-40 season.
Most seasons with 10+ goals in NHL history (leaving for the WHA may hurt some players here)
  • Bourque is 7th overall, doing it 21 times. There are only 6 defensemen in the top-100.
(shoutout to Patrick Marleau, who moved Bourque to 8th two days ago, and surely would have tied Francis/Jagr if he didn't spent the 04-05 lockout helping his parents on their farm).
Let's bump 10 to 15 for shits and giggles. Only five defensemen in NHL history have scored 15+ goals, 10+ times (Weber could be the 6th with 1 more 15+ goal season):
Defenseman 15+ goals
Coffey 10
MacInnis 11
Potvin 12
Housley 13
Bourque 18
Four of the greatest offensive defensemen ever did it 10/11/12/13 times.. and then there's Bourque with 18 seasons.
He made the team as an 18 year old rookie and scored 17 goals. Then he scored 17 (or more) goals for 15 years in a row, followed by a 23 goal pace during the lockout-shortened '94 season. And then he scored 17+ in back to back years after that. I'm going to call that 18 consecutive years.
That's incredible longevity and production for a forward. Bourque did it from the backend, and the best playmaker he had was ... 4.5 seasons of Adam Oates?
Forwards with a similar number of career goals as Ray Bourque:
  • Vincent Lecavalier, Jason Arnott, Tony Amonte, Joe Thornton, Patrick Elias, Marian Gaborik, John LeClair, Paul Kariya, Shane Doan, Markus Naslund

Some defensemen bring value with lots of points, not just scoring like 20 goals.

Okay, alright already. Forget it. Take all that evidence and shred it, then set the shreds on fire.

Points

Speaking of failing to reach double digit goals in his final season... Bourque still finished tied for 3rd in defensive scoring that year, behind only "HoF defensemen in their prime" - Brian Leetch and Nicklas Lidstrom. At age 40.
It's always been a remarkable feat to consistently score more points than games played. There have been 30 players who have a point-per-game of >= 1.0 in at least 10 seasons:
  • 29 are in, or will be in, the Hall of Fame (sorry Pierre Turgeon, you totally deserve it)
  • 28 are forwards (Coffey, Bourque)
  • Only 3 of those forwards did it more than Bourque: Gretzky, Howe, Dionne.
Bourque's consistent longevity and production, by that measure, was bested by only 3 forwards. I really feel like there should be, I don't know, maybe a dozen forwards? ...Before you find any defenseman on that list.
  • 8 defensemen have ever cracked 1,000 points. Eight. In history.
Erik Karlsson has the next realistic chance at being the 9th 1000pt defenseman ; he reached 600 points in the same game Marleau passed Bourque 2 days ago. Bourque has 1,579. That puts Karlsson ... just under 1,000 points behind him. 8 defensemen in history have managed that in their career, and that's roughly how far Karlsson is behind right now.
Karlsson turns 30 in 4 months. If Karlsson retires at age 39, averages a 60 point pace, and only misses ~12 games a year.. he might get 1,000 career points.
To catch Bourque, Karlsson would need to play another 12.5 years (until he's 42) without missing a game, and average 79 points a season.
Nobody is going to catch Bourque.

He was a _defense_man, who cares about points.

Okay! Good grief. Take all that evidence, tie a rock around it, and huck it down the Mariana Trench.

Time on ice

Sadly, the NHL didn't start officially tracking time on ice until the final few years of Bourque's career, but...
If that's slightly inflated by some OT games: it absolutely doesn't matter. Only 5 players saw more playoff ice time in that span and they all played in 13-20 more games.

Throughout his 20s and early 30s?

Who doubts Bourque was consistently eating over 30 minutes a night? Maybe even 35? Did he reach 40 minutes some games?
Bourque turned 40 years old a couple months into the '00-'01 season. This is how Bob Hartley distributed his shorthanded icetime that year.
Later on, in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Bourque played 29:35. There's been a lot of links so far... did you read that last one?
"Based on his play, there is no reason why he should retire," Avs defenseman Rob Blake said. "He was probably our dominant defenseman all playoffs long."
Spoiler, he did retire, because let's be reality - how can you possibly top this moment...

Maybe he just took greedy long shifts. His coaches probably hated him.

Let's pretend you're right. Take all that evidence to the Will It Blend? guy and have him go to town.

Awards

Hart

Defensemen are just generally not considered for the Hart trophy. Lidstrom, Robinson, Chelios ... Elite defensemen, household names in some parts... All finished top-5 in Hart voting just once (1 time!) in their entire career. Pronger did win one, but he was never close - either before, or after. Paul Coffey and Dennis Potvin were top-5 in Hart voting twice.
Bourque was top-5 in Hart voting on FIVE (5) occasions. He received at least some votes for the Hart trophy 12 times. He finished 2nd in Hart voting twice - once to Gretzky who won his 8th consecutive Hart in '87, and...

The 1990 Hart trophy:

--- 1st 2nd 3rd Points
Messier 29 24 10 227
Bourque 29 26 2 225
Hull 4 9 33 80
Gretzky 1 2 5 16
Bourque had the same number of 1st place votes. More 2nd place votes. But Messier had just enough 3rd place votes to steal it.

Obligatory Fuck Messier

All Star

  • Bourque was a 1st/2nd team All Star for 17 consecutive years - as a rookie and then every year until he was 36... With another 2 selections later in his career for good measure. He was a 1st team All Star 13 times - holding the record over everyone.
The three times that Bourque wasn't a 1st/2nd team allstar? Well, four defensemen a year earn those honors, and he finished 7th/6th/6th - just barely "out of the money".

Norris

  • While Bourque may have "only" won the Norris 5 times (lol?)...
He was top-4 (yes, four) for 17 years to start his career, and he not once, in 22 years, was he worse than 7th.
What other player can you say that about? In any sport? Perhaps a handful in history?
The last 5 years, 7th in Norris voting: Josi (17-18, 18-19), Doughty (16-17), Hedman (15-16), Keith (14-15). That was a roughly comparable to Bourque, when Bourque was at the lowest point of his career.
Age (at season end) Norris Placing
19 4th
20 4th
21 2nd
22 3rd
23 3rd
24 2nd
25 4th
26 1st
27 1st
28 4th
29 1st
30 1st
31 2nd
32 2nd
33 1st
34 3rd
35 2nd
36 7th
37 7th
38 3rd
39 7th
40 2nd

A couple Norris races I want to point out:

A side note about trophies in general

Imagine we're at the 2020 entry draft, and the teams drafting 1st through 5th all have a different player ranked 1st overall on their scouting report, but the same player ranked 2nd overall.
Even though all 5 teams drafting completely agree on the 2nd best player in the draft? He's going 6th overall at best. It doesn't matter if everybody agrees you're the 2nd prettiest girl at the dance - it just takes 1 person to fuck everything up... or 5 people to fuck your chances up in separate years.

1982

  • Doug Wilson fucked up Bourque's first Norris. He scored 39 goals - not scoring more than 23 either before or after. Couldn't you have done that a different year, Doug? Bourque finished 2nd in voting.

1983

That year, Langway won his first Norris despite posting just 39 points. Often people wonder about that -- but even some people who watched 80s hockey and believe Langway fully deserved that Norris...
You really had to see Langway in his prime. I have been unsuccessful at copying to Digital and uploading some of my Capitals games from that era. But Langway was a beast.
...believe that Langway didn't deserve it the next year, nor did the 126 point season of Paul Coffey. It should have gone to Bourque.
1983-84 I believe Langway did not deserve it(Although he deserved to be a finalist). Runner up Coffey also did not deserve it. Bourque deserved it that year.
A different person, later in that thread:
Bourque might have been your best bet in '84 not Coffey despite popular opinion

1992

  • Brian Leetch fucked up a Norris for Bourque - setting a career high 102 points he would never come close to, before or after. Bourque came 2nd.

1996

  • Chelios fucked up another Norris for Bourque, winning despite Bourque having more 1st place votes.
Here are a handful of elite defensemen, and how many times they were nominated for the Norris (finished top-3 in voting):
Player Nominations
Lidstrom 10
Chelios 6
Potvin 6
Coffey 6
MacInnis 6
Robinson 5
Langway 3
Leetch 3
Bourque 15

Honestly, Bourque's "Norris problem" was that he was too consistent.

Yeah. That's a sentence. Too consistent. A Norris Problem. lol.
  • If Bourque had 3-4 shittier seasons and 3-4 seasons like Doug Wilson's, or Brian Leetch's?
  • If those guys didn't have the season they had, the year they had it?
  • If Bourque didn't miss some games in any of the other 14 years he finished top-4?
  • The narrow loss to Chelios?
  • The win he 'may have' deserved against Langway/Coffey?
  • If he had moved to a team with a Gretzky/Lemieux type player?
  • If Hull doesn't steal enough 3rd place votes to give Messier the '90 Hart?
There's an alternate universe where Bourque wins 10 or more Norris trophies and multiple Hart trophies, laughing all the way to the bank like a fox.

Okay, I'm getting the picture, but lets be reality... if he was actually elite he would have dragged the Bruins further.

Team Success

While the Bruins didn't win the cup with Bourque... He was pretty much the only mainstay during the last 17 years of the Bruins record setting Playoff Appearance streak - and that streak certainly didn't end because of Bourque - as mentioned above, he got Norris attention that year.
That awful '96 Bruins team - the only one that failed to make the playoffs with Bourque - had 10 defensemen appear in 27+ games, and Don Sweeney was the only d-man to dress for more than 62 games. Here's the team scoring leaders:
Player Points Note
Stumpel 76 One of two seasons he cracked 60 points.
Oates 70 Finished 2nd on the team in scoring by 19 points despite being traded with more than 2 months left in the season
Donato 51 Never again eclipsed 40 points or 16 goals; more than half his points included Oates and/or Bourque in the scoring play.
Bourque 50
Tocchet 30 5th on the team in scoring, despite playing only 40 games - due to a shoulder injury, and then being traded along with Oates.
DiMaio 28 His career high. He scored 3 shorthanded goals that year. Bourque assisted all 3.
The only time Boston didn't make the playoffs was when they fielded... that. And Bourque was the only constant.

When Boston did make the playoffs?

Age Playoff Result Note
19 Lost 2nd round to the eventual champs (Islanders)
20 Lost 1st round to cup finalists (North Stars)
21 Lost 2nd round to Quebec in 7 games, 5 games decided by 1 goal
22 Lost 3rd round to the eventual champs (Islanders)
23 Lost 1st round 3-0 to Montreal, 2 games decided by 1 goal
24 Lost 1st round 3-2 to Montreal
25 Lost 1st round 3-0 to Montreal, 2 games decided by 1 goal
26 Lost 1st round 4-0 to Montreal, 2 games decided by 1 goal
27 Lost SCF to the champ Oilers, obviously... Compare these rosters!
28 Lost 2nd round 4-1 to Montreal, all 5 games decided by 1 goal
29 Lost SCF ...the Oilers, again...
30 Lost 3rd round to the eventual champs (Penguins)
31 Lost 3rd round to the eventual champs (Penguins)
32 Lost 1st round a massive upset, though 3 games were decided in OT
33 Lost 2nd round 3 losses by a single goal (excluding empty netters)
34 Lost 1st round to the eventual champs (Devils)
35 Lost 1st round to cup finalists (Panthers}
36 Lost 1st round to cup finalists (Capitals), 2 losses in OT and another by 1 goal + empty netter
37 DNP
38 Lost 2nd round to cup finalists (Bruins), 2x 1-goal losses and another by 1 goal + empty netter
--- Traded to Avalanche ---
39 Lost 3rd round to cup finalists (Stars), in 7 games, 3 losses by a single goal
40 Won Stanley Cup

Bourque's teams surprisingly consistently lost:

  • to the champs, or at least a team that reached the finals
  • by a single game, and/or with many games decided by a single goal
Sometimes you just don't get the bounces when you need them. The Bruins teams he played on were just not equipped to deal with the superteams of the day (NYI/EDM/PIT), and they didn't catch lightning in a bottle where everything went their way one particular year (CGY/MTL/NYR).
  • The Bruins record with and without Bourque in the lineup (from the start of the 1979 season until March 6th, 2000):
With: 770-546-202, 94 point pace, winning 50.7% of games.
Without: 57-52-22, 85 point pace, winning 43.5% of games.

Huh. So Bourque was pretty good I guess?

Comparables

Hockey-Reference tries to calculate a pool of the most comparable players based on "similarity scores".
...attempts to find players whose careers were similar in terms of quality and shape. By shape, ... things like: How many years did he play? How good were his best years compared to his worst years? Did he have a few great years and then several mediocre years, or did he have many good-but-not-great years?
For example, Patrick Elias Comparables all have a "similarity score" of between 90 and 95 -- their career quality, duration, and arc was fairly close.
Here is Bourque's:
  • Only four (4!) defensemen have a "similarity" score over 77. Even compared to elite Hall of Fame defensemen... Their careers almost universally "tapered off" earlier, and many of them much harder. Some of those guys were not super competitive at the end of their career - kept on to teach youngsters, to play out their contracts, as powerplay specialists or role players. Some of them continued to pile up offensive numbers but lost an edge defensively.

Not Bourque.

He was an absolute monster, from the start of his career and for 22 years to the very end.
  • His "peak" seasons were crushing,
  • His "great" seasons were comparable to many HoF'ers "peak" seasons,
  • His "meh" seasons were still extremely comparable to elite defensemen just outside their prime.
Using that measure (point shares) to approximate how much impact Bourque had...
After all you've read, you shouldn't be surprised to find out Bourque is 2nd only to Gretzky. Not only are the two are pretty much neck and neck, but... gobs of elite players from history are way behind the two of them. Is that a perfect measure? No. But taken with the totality of information provided above? Even if you did shred/light/sink/flush all that evidence as requested? There's just too much of it.
Bourque had the biggest career impact in defensive point shares.
He shows up 7 times in the top-200 best defensive seasons - as compared to Lidstrom (5), Stevens (5), Robinson (7), Chelios (5), Savard (6)...
He was top-4 in the league in defensive point shares 10 times. In his 2nd worst defensive season, at age 39, he was very roughly comparable to Alzner, Hainsey, Carlson, Muzzin, Stralman, Pietrangelo... His 2nd worst season, at age 39.

Odds and Ends

He won the "most accurate shooter" competition 8 times - including 5 years in a row from '97 to '01.
Bourque started his career as 'injury prone'. He had three major fractures in two years:
Ray Bourque suffered a fractured left [forearm] last week in a pickup softball game
Bourque fractured his jaw in a fight at Detroit in November of 1980
...fractured his wrist during a check against Quebec defenseman Andre Dupont
Bourque had every opportunity to make himself the highest paid defenseman and/or shop the market. Instead, he quietly and quickly resigned for salary amounts that even pissed off the NHLPA (who were trying to drive up wages) - he was only top-5 in salary one year in his career and regularly took home far less than he deserved.
Bourque didn't take less money because he didn't care about money - he did file for arbitration in 1993. This is what the arbitrator had to say:
A club's salary offer must properly recognize the players' capabilities and contributions. Bourque's achievements are "stunning". Every season he has been named to the All-Star Team and has been the winner or runner-up for the Norris Trophy as the game's best defenseman.
Measured by the standards as agreed upon by the NHL and the NHLPA, including overall performance, number of games played, length of service, overall contribution to the club, and leadership and public appeal, Bourque simply is unmatched.
Agreed...
Something to keep in mind: The owners, certainly during the 80s, were (and some still are) actively fucking the players. They withheld all salary information, so as a player, you either had zero negotiating power, or you had to ask people their salary - which was much more frowned upon then. Bourque would go into negotiations having no idea what anyone else made.
Ray Bourque said that in the past he and other players had tried to get salary information before negotiating and felt uncomfortable when doing so. "[having all salaries released] - it's good for the players, especially when it comes time to renegotiate," he told the Montreal Gazette. "That way you know exactly how you fare with players at your level. It's a lot better than trying to go in and guess all the time.
"You always felt uncomfortable going up to a guy and asking, 'Hey, how much are you making?' This way all you have to do is peek at the list."
He wasn't trying to put the screws to his employer, he was awkwardly asking other players their salary.. I don't know Mr. Bourque, but... It sure sounds like he just wanted what was reasonably fair. Everybody has their own definition of "classy" but.. if that's not classy, then it's at least honorable.
Another article from back in the day...
Some players (eg., defenseman Raymond Bourque) have been criticized in the past because they did not test out the free-agent market and instead, out of loyalty to their teams, signed contracts for less money than they would have received if they had made themselves available to the highest bidder.

Gripes

...not with Bourque, obviously... but with what I expect someone to inevitably say:
Well of course nobody will catch him in points, there were a bazillion goals in the 80s.
Using League Averages (and no I didn't take an average of averages) the NHL saw teams average 3.38 goals per game during Bourque's career. Since the '04-'05 lockout, the NHL has seen teams average 2.85 goals per game -- the difference is under 20%.
Okay?
Now Karlsson only needs to average 79 points without missing a game until he's 40 to catch Bourque?
Now Bourque drops from 11th to 17th in career points, still hundreds of points ahead of every defenseman except Coffey?
So what. You still can't compare between eras even with adjusting.
I don't think that era-adjusting is the be-all end-all. I haven't mentioned Harvey (7 Norris trophies in 8 years) or Shore (4 Harts) for that reason. That being said..
  • Award voting is among his peers, and he absolutely crushed that - in a manner that I sincerely doubt we'll ever see a defenseman replicate. Nobody in the NHL is even close to being consistently top-10 in Norris voting for a full decade.
  • Time on ice is dictated by his coach and his capability, and has nothing to do with era. His team winning % fell by 7.2% in the 1.6 seasons worth of games he missed; that time on ice seems well-spent.
  • His closest comparables had careers that overlapped his. He wasn't just compiling a fantastic career in a void - he was doing it while playing against all those guys.
Fuck stats and numbers and all that stuff. Show me clips.
I would love to, but
1) Sadly.. The footage available online from that era is mostly garbage. There are some youtube compilations available that aren't hard to find if you're interested.
2) The thing about highlight clips.. Yeah, Bourque had highlight plays, but ... That wasn't what made Bourque great. The highlights were a cherry on top of the desert of Bourque's game; all the small things he did, and how consistently he did them, was the main course of the meal.

In Summary...

Ray Bourque's career was basically ~15 years of Norris-worthy play with 5-6 years of being "just" a clearly top-5 to top-10'ish defenseman.
Please, the next time you see someone talking about the greatest defenseman ever...
  • If someone rattles off the name Bourque like he was "just" one of those greats from the 80s/90s, politely remind them. Send them this link. Contact your local chapter of the Raymond Bourque Apprecation Club (if your area doesn't have one, start one).
  • If someone forgets to mention Bourque while bringing up Lidstrom, Coffey, et al.. Please - head to the nearest market, find yourself the freshest fish you can (I personally recommend a trout) - and use it to slap them around a bit, because that's absurd.
  • The next time you hear someone say "Gretzky/Lemieux/Howe/Orr type", consider adding Bourque to the list. If you somehow think he's not in a tier with those guys, then he must be _all alone in your tier 2, because nobody else came close.
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The Life and Times of Being a Sports Fan

I remember a lot of people having a hard time after our most recent playoff exit. There were people calling for Drew’s head. Potter said he was saying goodbye to Reddit as it was too stressful (but also got a big job promotion too) to read everyone’s negativity day in and out. The sub was in disarray. But it’s important yearly to always look forward to next year if this year isn’t ours. The rebounds you gain from failures are just as important to your victories. The fact that after X amount of time, your team starts on a level 0-0 record to try again. That faith is what keeps you going every season. It’s the reason On Sundays, you save 4 hours of your day dedicated strictly to your team. I’m going to outline some of my favorite sports teams failures just in the past year or so and how these failure/shortcomings are only temporary. (Please forgive my formatting im on mobile)

New Orleans Saints:

As we all know, this season didn’t end well... almost didn’t start well either. After an absolute nail-biting, butt-clenching, vulgarity-fueled last second win against Houston, our season’s biggest game and probably one of the most anticipated regular season matchups of note against the Rams was a disaster. We got punched in the mouth, took an arrow to the knee a thumb to a helmet and our golden boy went down. You can tell immediately he’s done on the sidelines. The Saints quit and the Rams are the one marching on in victory. The team fights back and somehow do great things. Teddy becomes a household name, Drew gets records, CGM gets records, team wins division, earns playoff spot... you’re probably saying “Briguy_fieri, that’s not a lot of negative things.” You’re right, it’s not. But that’s when the worst things happen. When you think you’re untouchable, when you’re brought down to earth it hurts more than never having a shot. Saints play like absolute shit and get absolutely embarrassed at home (again). Season is over. One of our best regular seasons ends in the wildcard week. Wonderful. Now, I’m not going to dive deep into this, but the Gayle Benson news is not the best. Don’t say “nothing happened” because we know as much as /NFL holier than thou’s. We don’t know anything and if/when something does come out, I don’t want to eat crow by blindly defending her. We need more details until this thing passes. Either way it’s not a good look. Drew could be on his way out. We’re in the twilight moments of the best player our team has/might ever see(n). We’re back in a tight spot financially for now.
But just like everyday, there’s a bright for every dark. Our god tier receiver is locked up. Our defense is playing great with no glaring holes. We’ve hit on the last few drafts giving us studs everywhere. We finally will get to see Sean groom our future franchise player and take over for drew. If drew does leave, we have the coach, the roster, the scouting, and the best fans to help take the division again.

Tampa Lightning

For those unaware, yes I love hockey. I’ve actually liked hockey longer than I have football. I’ve followed Tampa since 1999 when Vincent Lecavalier became an NHL video game cheat code. Tampa has had some absolutely terrible teams on the ice. Like some of the all time worst. But last year, the had the legitimate all time greatest single season in history. They had 62 wins and 20 losses. For as good of a team as the Saints had last year... multiply that by like 20. They were dominant in a way non-hockey fans can’t understand. Every night, they were going to score more than you, hit you hard, and embarrass you on defense. You weren’t going to outscore this team. They cruised through the regular season and faced a team who secured a playoff spot on the last night of the season. The worst wildcard team, the Columbus Blue Jackets, were a team that somehow lucked and clawed themselves into the playoffs. On paper, you’re betting the house on Tampa taking this series. It’s easy money. Tampa opens up the first game with a quick 3 goal lead and that bet is looking smart.... until they blew the lead and lost 4-3. Over the course of the next 3 games, Tampa got wrecked by being out scored 15-5, never leading a game the rest of the way. They got swept, by a team that had never won a playoff series EVER. Imagine their entire season summed up as 28-3, where 28 is the regular season. Imagine the 18-1 patriots getting beat in the wildcard round. It makes no sense, but here I am still trying to wrap my head around it. Them getting curb stomped was the #1 post on /hockey for a few months and only got outed by Kobe passing away, the most hated player in the league losing the game on a Marcus Williams type fluke, and the leagues Lovable Losers St. Louis Blues winning their first ever Stanley Cup. Tampa’s offseason was pretty tame as their stacked roster didn’t have any key departures and most of their stars were locked up into the future on good contracts. The window nailed open for now as the Lightning (who started slowly) are now a top 3 team in the league again.

New Orleans Pelicans

The worst kept secret in the NBA was Tony David (real name Anthony Davis) looking to leave New Orleans. Homie amassed a large sum of money, and then legitimately quit on his team. He handcuffed his team with trading suitors by demanding the Lakers as the destination to play alongside his buddy Lebron. He became a locker room issue, took potshots at the team, and gave 0 effort until the season was over. The pelicans were called the worst run franchise by the media (suck a fart Colin Cowherd). Members of ESPN hinted that we should be forced to relocate to Seattle as we were deemed unworthy of a team (suck a fart Mike Wilbon). We were a laughingstock as the odds of us getting a good draft pick were slim as we had enough wins to give us a bad %. We got a new and highly respected GM, but someone who had been outbid the league for a few years. But then... the lottery happened. All of the teams with better odds of getting the number 1 pick got their ping pong ball pulled before us. They announced the Pelicans with the first pick and suddenly we forgot about Tony David. He got traded for a slew of picks and a high profile young core from LA. We drafted Zion Williamson, an Internet sensation who was hyped up since he was a sophomore... in high school. We got “stans” from /nba over Lonzo Ball. Brandon Ingram had the biggest upside from the laker group and has currently flourished into a league star. Zion has only played a handful of games, but has been as electric as advertised. The team started off slow, but is right in the thick of the playoff hunt. This team has a huge bright side of youthful talent and a stockpile of picks to keep us in the dark horse team of the league for years to come.

Colorado Rockies

Last year for the Rockies was terrible all around. Coming off a Wildcard game victory against the Chicago Cubs, the Rockies had mile high expectations that turned out to be an under sea level performance. Injuries plagued the team. The bullpen went to hell. The batting order forgo how to hit. Fielding was riddled with errors. The Rockies missed the playoffs, but the disaster didn’t stop there. Rumors started floating that superstar third basemen Nolan Arenado was being shopped. Despite saying he wanted to stay with the Rockies (after signing a team friendly mega deal), the team did nothing to refute the rumors. Weeks went by, where rumors continued to build only for the GM to say they were actively listen to offers. Nolan responded with vocal attacks on the GM saying how he felt disrespected, unwanted, and lied to. And he’s right. The Rockies offered him a huge contract with promise of continued playoff appearances and building a competitor. The Rockies this offseason have signed 3 players (2 to minor league contracts) and one of those was a former Rockies pitcher who hasn’t been the same since about 2013. Think of it like if the Saints brought back Colston this year if he didn’t retire. While baseball teams reported to spring training last week, Nolan was doing individual workouts/practices at a different stadium apart from the team as a silent protest of sorts. While this story is unfinished, if Nolan (a legit generational talent and has an argument to being called the best player in the game) is traded, several proposed deals include some of the best league prospects that would give the Rockies a young team with high potential at various positions. One proposed deal would be a straight up trade with the Cubs for Kris Bryant, a slight step back from Arenado but gives no drop off at the position. We still have solid pieces at shortstop and the outfield. The prospects gained could shore up our holes elsewhere. Either way, while trading Nolan is highly unpopular, it might be enough to get the GM fired and cause ownership to right their wrongs.

Manchester City

City in the last 12-15 years have become a consistent title threat in the English Premier League and various European club tournaments. With the ownership change in the early 00s, City has had a world of funds at their fingertips to purchase the contracts of the best players and coaches in the world. With aspirations to win the league again this year, they slipped up a few early easily winnable games. Since then, Liverpool took the league lead and continued on holding that lead. Similar to my mention of Tampa’s dominance earlier in this post, Liverpool is having one of the all time greatest runs in league history. Those repeat title goals are basically shattered with only 3 months left of The season. But then news broke of a massive ban placed on City. They’ve been banned from the biggest tournament outside of the World Cup (costing them massive amounts of money... like 2 Michael Thomas contracts type money just from this tournament) for violating Financial Fair Play. I’m not too sure of the specifics of what it is, but apparently it has to do with spending more than your team made from sponsors. With City’s owners deep pockets, they probably used some of those funds to purchase player’s contracts. On top of the ban, they were fined 60 million as well, an unprecedented act. There’s rumors of stripping of their titles as well but nothing concrete about that. Like most sports, players go to where the money and opportunities for hardware are. This ban puts a huge damper on City getting quality players to sign with them. More than likely, City will be reduced to a mediocre team for the next 5-6 years until they are able to build themselves back to relevance. But the futures not all gloom and doom. City has had a wonderful youth academy where the develop young teenage talent into world class players. City might use homegrown talent to weather the storm and build the future within. All City players so far said they will honor their contracts in full and not force their exit. The coach has echoed the same. City is appealing the punishment in hopes it gets reduced or removed. They believe they are being singled out when handful of teams are also under the same violations.
I’m not really sure why I decided to spend an hour+ writing this out. I saw so many people posting sad “were about to suck again” type posts here. Lots of people questioned staying a fan after the continuous playoff exits. Lots of people left after news of Gayle (my initial reaction was an overreaction until i actually dissected what was said, I admit). I’ve used sports as one of my vices since I was a kid. I played it to make friends and find a healthy way to let out aggressions. I watched it to develop my game like particular players. I joined Reddit to talk about it. All of my favorite teams have been awful throughout their history. The saints were not relevant until 2006. Tampa was terrible until the mid 00s. The Pelicans have had good players, but really only have a handful of good seasons since their move to New Orleans. The Rockies only had 4 playoff seasons since I’ve been a fan and they only made it past the first round twice. City until about 07 was an unknown club that only had the claim of being the childhood favorite of Oasis. This is all small sample sizes of teams history. 2 of those teams were formed when I was about 5 years old. Year in and year out all our lives are filled with personal struggles. Depression, loss of loved ones, divorces and breakups, unemployment, medical issues, artistic/creative roadblocks, failed investments... life sucks sometimes. But as is the case with life, when there’s dark, light is sure to follow. We use sports as that guiding light. That’s what we turn to as an escape from life’s hard times. Sports are just games at the end of the day. Games that are a huge part of our lives, but still just a form of entertainment for us. But just like every game, when it ends, you always have the opportunity to a rematch and start over. If it doesn’t end the way you want, keep the faith and wait for the new day to come.
submitted by Briguy_fieri to Saints [link] [comments]

[Game Thread] St. Louis Blues vs Dallas Stars - Game 6, Round 2 (May 5, 2019)

  • GAME NOTES
The task couldn't be more straightforward at this juncture of the Stanley Cup playoffs. With their season on the brink, the St. Louis Blues have one mindset as they head to Dallas to face the Stars on Sunday afternoon for what could be a series-clinching game.
Dallas leads the best-of-seven semifinals series 3-2, having gained the upper hand with a 2-1 win Friday night. The score might indicate a very close game, but the Blues were outplayed heavily during critical junctures -- notably in the waning minutes when they struggled to break out of their zone and pull the goalie for an extra attacker -- and even were booed off the ice by the home crowd at the end of the second period.
Sure, Dallas goalie Ben Bishop needed to make 38 saves to earn the win, but too few of the stops required the Vezina Trophy candidate to exert a ton of effort, and the Blues know it. As much as the Dallas defenders excelled at preventing the St. Louis skaters from getting to loose pucks, the Blues did not have that extra oomph in their game.
Over the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs, teams that win Game 5 when a best-of-seven series is tied 2-2 end up advancing more than three-quarters of the time. The odds are in the favor of Dallas, but it would be a fool's game for the Stars to simply think the Blues -- the club that sat last in the league on Jan. 2 before going on a torrid run to make the playoffs -- simply will roll over.
INJURIES: Oleksiak - lower body (D2D), Hanzal - Back (IR), Johns - Head (IR), Methot - Knee (LTIR)
Game notes from espn.com. As you discuss the game, please abide by sub rules.
Moderation Reminder: We have determined it necessary to take a bit more intervention on submissions and comments to the sub during playoffs. There are A LOT of new accounts coming on submitting a tremendous amount of posts than we usually have. As always please review our guidelines for submission should you have any questions or send a polite message to modmail.
  1. We continue to welcome OC and creative memes, but ask that photo submissions of Stars swag, checking in posts, watch party requests, shot glass bets, and other hype-building posts go into this thread on game days. Not to be a dick, but a kind reminder this is not Facebook or Instagram.
  2. We ask that you do not spam the FYourTeam bot simply to achieve a certain level of comments. That's cheating anyway. But doing so disrupts the flow of the thread and we can't have nice things if they are abused, so we'll ask the creator to turn it off.
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  • BE LOUD! WEAR GREEN! GO STARS!
submitted by bepeacock to DallasStars [link] [comments]

Just put $ on the boys winning THE Cup in Vegas at 25/1. Honestly, I don't even care about the money. I just want to see a parade down Market Street.

submitted by sargent_peterson to stlouisblues [link] [comments]

This may go without saying, but as a big fan of both the NHL and NBA, I absolutely love the "any team can win the Cup" aspect of the NHL playoffs

You can see Moneypuck's updated odds here (I meant to make this thread yesterday and didn't), but for the purposes of this let's take a look at Moneypuck's pre-playoff odds.
Now take a look at 538's NBA Predictor.
6 teams are 87%+ to win their 1st round series, with them of them over 94%. Never mind Golden State's absurd odds, two Eastern teams (Milwaukee and Toronto) have a combined chance of 86% to make the NBA Finals (side-note but it's a real shame that Oklahoma City got hot enough to climb to 6th, because them in 7th/8th against either Golden State or Denver would be a fascinating 1st-round series). Every single 1st-round series is at least 70/30.
Compare that to the NHL. Winnipeg has the lowest chance to win the Cup at 2.6%, and even they're given a 37.8% to win their first round series - better than any underdog in the NBA's 1st round. Five of the first round series' are toss-ups (55/45 or closer), and even the "overwhelming" favourite to win the Cup is at 15.8% (side-note here: Vegas having them at 2:1 pre-playoffs was such a horrible bet, the Blues at 14:1 looks pretty good).
In the NBA, Golden State is -210 against the field (so you would have to bet $210 to profit $100, if they win the championship) and smart money would still be to bet on them!
And stepping away from analytics and odds, is there any team in the playoffs where you can't imagine a scenario where they win the Cup? Ignoring the obvious ones (Tampa, Boston, Calgary, Nashville, Washington, Pittsburgh, San Jose):
Colorado - 8-0-2 in their last 10 meaningful games (the final games against San Jose was after they had clinched), terrific powerplay, arguably the best top-line in the league (when it's on), and Varlamov/Grubauer could easily return to form and be .920+ goalies again
Winnipeg - Hellebuyck becomes who he was last year, the D gets healthy, Laine wakes up, and they become the team that was dominant for the first 50 games of the sesaon
Dallas - Ben Bishop put up a .934 this year and Benn-Seguin-Radulov is dirty, if they get any secondary scoring at all they can win the whole thing
Vegas - Fleury does what he did last year, Stone/Patches drive the scoring, and their goal numbers catch up to their analytics.
Toronto - Andersen finally plays his best in April/May, their top 3 lines overwhelm their opponents, the new-look D that hasn't played together yet (when healthy) is better than expected.
Islanders - Barry Trotz. That's all you need to believe they can win.
Hurricanes - Best advanced stats in the league most of the year, but to be honest this is probably the hardest sell. McIlhenney and Mrazek make magic in the playoffs, maybe? They absolutely caught fire as a team from February on so who knows, but I just don't know if the scoring is there and I don't trust that goalie duo.
Blue Jackets - The team finally plays like they should with the insane amount of skill they have, and Bob puts up a .930 like we've seen.
Edit I forgot the Blues, mostly because I couldn't decide whether they were an obvious one or not. They've been the second-best team in the league since they woke up and realized they know how to play hockey, and their goalie is on an all-time heater. I don't think it would shock anyone if they won.
Are any of those situations actually unrealistic? No. Meanwhile in the NBA, for 11 or 12 out of 16 teams it's basically "Well, we can win if a flu epidemic wipes out the top 4/5 teams and some bounces go our way."
I love the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
submitted by WingerSupreme to hockey [link] [comments]

Some like it hot. Others like it to burn.

That was fucking bullshit. I won’t be surprised if this is my last term. Midterms make me sick, group projects make me sick and writing essays I don’t give a shit about makes me sick. At first, I thought I was just lovesick. But it’s not long before I remembered how this place makes me physically sick.
Who knows, maybe it’s just anxiety. Regardless, I really hate going to school. The only reason I’m even still making the odd appearance is that I enjoy selling drugs and because I have this fantasy of bumping into Vanessa. She asks me for a light and the next thing you know, we’re running away to Mexico. I know my reasoning’s retarded, but fuck it.
Being sociable isn’t my strong suit, but I still managed to find some clients within a few days. I got in the habit of opening Microsoft word during lectures and typing ‘Adderall for sale.’ In bold set, 200 font for the auditorium behind me to see. This is how I met Henry and Erica.
I’d just left my ethics class and needed a smoke before figuring out the rest of my day. It’s been two weeks since I saw Vanessa. Well, saw her in the flesh. I’m convinced that I catch her in the corner of my eye at least once a day. Her tree top purple hair standing proud above a sea of hooded heads, turbans and dad caps. Who knows, maybe I’m just seeing things. She’s been a no show for both the classes and the one tutorial we’re both in. Fuck it, I’m going home.
Stubbing out my cigarette on the umbrella, I feel a set of eyes steering at me. Hoping it’s her, I try to slowly scan the entrance back towards school and play it cool. Disappointed, there’s just a scrawny, supreme x north faced out, Harry Potter lookin’, Chinese hype beast with blue Pharrell nmd, hitting his breeze like his life depends on it.
“You after something?”
“Yeah, I’m Henry. Can I grab a couple Adderall?”
“Fifteen a pill.”
“Let me get five.”
“Want some weed for the comedown?”
“Nah, we’ve got opium at my spot.”
“Jesus, well. Take care of your self.”
“Hey man, you going to be around class tomorrow? I’m going to want more if it’s good.”
“Probably not. I’m fucking sick of this place. Might end up getting day drunk and painting.”
“What’s your number. I’ll drive to you after class.
“604-837-9867”
“Cool, I’ll text you tomorrow. I’ve got to run to my last class.”
“See you around.”
Pocketing 80 dollars, I check the bus schedule. Three minutes and fifty-five minutes. Fuck me. Sarah and Tommy are already back from class. Looks like I’m getting drunk. Confused about the zoning regulations as I walk into the liquor store that’s three meters away from the school's back entrance, I keep my head down.
Vodka bottle in hand, I take the long path around campus after taking a couple of swigs down. It’s going to be pretty late by the time I get home. Might as well smoke a joint and grab a burger while I’m waiting for the bus. Thinking over the upcoming week as I scrape my toes around the campus loop, I can’t help but acknowledge the faint twinkle of despair, as it expands. The useless little voice in my head starts suggesting that I give up. No, that would give Sarah even more reason to torment me. Can’t let the devil win.
What are my options then? Go back to school on the days we have the same class. Then what? Be a total fucking degenerate the rest of the time. It’s what makes sense, I just need a bit more financial freedom. Selling a couple of dime bags every day after lectures just ain’t enough.
Woken by my alarm clock at ten thirty, a warmth spreads through my body as I stretch. Not eager to start the day, I scroll through Instagram and loaf in bed for a while. Enjoying the act of nothingness, some kid wants to pick up two pills. Fuck that, I’ll see if Henry wants to swing by and run them off to that Jeff kid.
‘Yo, how were the pills G.’
‘Good, still buzzing. Imma want ten more.’
‘Bet, I’ll give you a discount if you run a dime bag up to some kid on campus.’
‘Sure. Where can we meet? I’m thirty minutes away from being ready to slide.’
‘Can you meet at the Union.’
‘?’
‘The pub at the base of Burnaby mountain. Just on the way to school.’
‘U not gunna be at campus?’
‘Nah, fuck that.’
‘Tru, yeah. I can reach in thirty.’
‘Bet.’
Still pretty sore from working out yesterday, I have no problem starting the day off on liquor. My stomach grumbles, but I’m not quite ready to eat yet. Looks kinda shitty outside, should I cab there? I mean, I’m making 150 bucks. Let me check the bus schedule first. The number 3’s coming in a handful of minutes, I’ll just catch the bus. It’s stupid waisting twenty dollars on sheer laziness. Tossing on black skinny jeans, chucks and a black parka, in case it rains, I’m ready to start my day. Early to the bus stop, moisture wants to start flaking off of the dense grey sheets.
A rough breeze spurs around the ankles before settling just below the lungs, eager to puncture the solar plexus. I’m not superstitious, but eradicate weather behavior tends to put me on edge. Lighting a cigarette, I anxiously wait for the bus. Jumping off after seven stops, rain starts to fall just as I step into the hazy bar. The union has a peculiar purple aura, almost like they’re expecting Future and Price’s ghost to walk in at any moment. Countless Stanley Cup playoff disappointments linger in the darkness above the low hanging lights and in the furthers corners of the little Punjabi sports bar. Cricket trophies, curling medals, and slow pitch certificates line the walls. A handful of salt and pepper bikers are shooting pool and playing cards by the entrance. The purple hue’s intoxicating, I feel drunk before I sit down at the bar.
A tight, little man named Ravi takes my order for a dark and stormy, an IPA, parathas, and pori. Scrolling my Instagram feed as I wait for my order, I pull out my notebook and start doodling when Ravi hands me my sleeve. It feels a little weird drinking this early, but my personal regard’s starting to go out the window. Besides, it’s not like I can afford to make a habit out of this. Henry texts me as I’m leaving the washroom and wants me to meet him in his car. Jesus Christ, talk about being inconspicuous I think to my self as I hop into his mat black Porsche Carrera that’s wobbling by Travis Scott.
“Yo, what’s good g.”
“Nun major. Those saved my life last night by the way.”
“So, yeah. I’ll, ahh, give you a discount if you run a two-piece to that Jeff kid after your classes.”
“Sure, text me his number.”
“K, ‘appricate it. When you thinking you’ll need more.”
“Day or two depends on how my housemate's homework situation is.”
“Bet, see yeah latter. Let me know how the handoff goes.”
Three bikers stomp out the cigarettes shortly before I re-enter as the rain’s starting to fall in toe size droplets. Ain’t nobody tryna lose an eye. The shortest and oldest bikers opens the door for us. A biker roughly my age who looks like a stoned mule goes in first, followed by a real tall and scrawny forty something-year-old with frayed skeletal white James Dean hair, a black eye patch and a menacing presence that reflects eerily off of the glossy black door.
My anxiety simmers down once I plop my self into my barstool and continue to enjoy my IPA. Christ, I need to piss again. My food had better be ready by the time I’m back. Returning to my spot, I’m greeted by the younger biker, who looks more like a truck driver up close. ‘Howdy partner, what’s good.’
“Nun much, just tryna enjoy my breakfast and get back to doing nothing today.”
“Tru, youargh in ethics and arts, right?”
“Yeah, but I’m pretty down to phaze it rest of the semester.”
“What ye gunna do with the leisure time.”
“Paint and have my heartbroken. The fuck do you do with your time? I don’t think I’ve seen you around, er not since first week.”
“Bit of this and a bit of that. I had to run down to Nelson and Kamloops during midterm week for the guys back there. I stopped by whistler on the way back and spent all my cash partying. Now I’m back and ready to fucking learn.”
“Fuck, well that makes me feel a bit better about fucking off. You tryna get the lecture notes? Cuz I’ve got half, at best.”
“Nah, I’m after some of your orange and whites. They’ve only got coke and crystal meth, two drugs I can’t be studying on.”
“Tru, how much you after.”
“How bout I play you in pool for a deuce. I shot through my last 100 on gas and grass this morning. Got all the lectures recorded, but my brains still got a hornet on pcp and mushrooms buzzing around in it.
“Hahah, Jesus Christ. Well, I’m shit at pool, so you might as well take em off me right now.”
“Alright, how bout this. If you can pocket a ball before I knock all mine in, I’ll pay you double tomorrow. I’ve got another job when I’m caught up, so money won’t be an issue next week.”
“Sure, I’ll take you up on that. And if I can pocket a ball before you clean the table, you have to run a couple dime bags up to school. I’m not tryna go to campus today.”
“Deal. I’m Wrench by the way.
“Mick.”
We shake hands and I can see the silver twinkle of a neurotic gambler in Wrench’s eye. I don’t stand a chance and I’m not really in the mood to catch the bus home. He offers me a ride and I’m happy to see the flaking white door to our musty, four-story student housing complex.
Warm from two drinks and a joint, I turn on my blunt’s and blues playlist while I start contemplating my afternoon. I’ve got what, three canvasses left, not a ton of elbow room. What to do, what to do.
My station’s ready. I have a couple sheets of paper on the kitchen table with my charcoal and watercolor kits out beside it. One easel is in the kitchen with a blue tarp covering the ground. That’s fucking up with the Feng Shui of the apartment. I would normally have the easel in my bedroom and push the mattress up against the wall, but I’m too drunk to tidy up my area.
Choosing a starting point’s always the hardest part of creating for me. My mind wants to wander in so many places, drag me to and fro from all the possibilities. Before I figured out this circuit system, there’d be afternoon’s where my mind would do three or four paintings, but I wouldn’t touch my pad or canvasses. With this system, I can putter around from idea to idea, until I fall into a flow state. I have too much anxiety to allow my mind to be present when I’m in the initial stages of creation.
All I can say is that the based god guides you to success. Open your heart, and he will do the rest. Surfing the high waves of my soul, I peel out of the trance and am quite happy with my progress. The first piece I go over is my charcoal outline of a girl who’s tortured by the sun. It’s the jagged delicacy of her eyes and the trembling of her jaw that gives the sentiment away. Shifting gears to the immediate right is an optimistic watercolor. I still have a long way to go, but I’ve begun carving out a Zeppelin gently cruising above a pristine set of fluffy white clouds with a blueish tint. The canvases I’ve started working somehow captures the duality of both smaller creation.
Hellish black and red oils contrast brilliant blue and green acrylics. They play off each other and create a hand holding the eye of the universe against a soft and calming grey backdrop. Chaos and tranquility. Aspace of nothingness behind the eye of all watchfulness and the hand of creation.
Fuck me, I’m pretty happy with this shit. I’ll tidy up a bit. Just gunna crack a beer and hack a dart first, I deserve it. Well, looks like the kids won’t be home for a while. Sarah’s tutoring for another few hours and Tommy has pre-season training. No family dinner tonight, I might as well go for a skate.
My normal crew left for New York at the start of September, so I haven’t been getting out much lately. Rusty as fuck my first hour, nothing’s coming off cleanly. Stoping for a blunt and tuna footlong, I end up selling a couple seven bags. Sitting on a bench, enjoying my tuna sandwich, backwood and Arizona Green tea, I wish life could always be this simple.
Even when I’m not landing my tricks, I’m still at peace. Creating art can undo me a little and school just winds me up so tight. This is nice, this is simple. Loading up a playlist that’s mostly filled with Andre 3000, Schoolboy Q and Anderson .Paak, I’m ready to lock in for forty-five minutes. Land a few tricks, then I’ll grab a six-pack and catch the bus home.
Just like painting, when I lose my self to the moment, shit goes well. I want to be at a god-like level where I’m in complete control, but I’m not quite there yet. Why am I even complaining, I did some good fucking skating the last hour, and I’m rusty as fuck.
Ready to split, I bump into J.Penny who wants to skate for a bit a shoot a few clips. If J.Penny wants to shoot you, you do it. The kids a bit of a freak, but has guys like Shane Gonzales ASAP Nast peeping his stories daily. Feeling good after a blunt and a few sips a beer, he catches a few clips of my backside crook, a fat big spins, and a pretty steezy pop 3 board slide onto a down flat down.
Sparking another blunt with J.Penny, we catch up and he explains that he got kicked out of the states for trying to ledge tap a cop car. J.Penny’s story draws in a crowd and I move a couple seven’s and a handful of addys around the circle. I’m getting cold, starting to sober up and Mac Demarco’s nephews are kind of starting to piss me off. Time to go back to the trap.
Pack of Coors Banquets from the corner store near the bus stop, I light a cigarette a crack open a beer to try and mask the musky stench of the downtown east side. The kids I had just sold weed and pills to are blowing up my phone while I’m trying to get my playlist figured out. They want me to pull up to a pop-up shop downtown, before rolling to fortune.
‘Fuck that, I might actually go to class tomorrow, it’s been about a week.’
Pretty fucking tired from a surprisingly productive day, I hope that Tommy and Sarah haven’t started the second season of the Sopranos without me. I’ll shoot them a text, I wouldn’t mind a couple of bites of whatever they’ve made for dinner too.
My stop’s coming up and I do a quick mental check. I should pick up some more backwoods on the way home. The bright fluorescent lights in 7/11 always catch me off guard and making me intoxicated.
Appreciative of the fresh air after being hit by a Persian carpet bomb of perfumes from a group of my classmates who’re getting their study snacks on, I’m ready to shift the day into fifth gear. But before I can start skating home, Amir, a wiry rugby player with glasses and a bit of a dangerous smile asks me if he can cop for him and the rest of his friends.
“Sorry g, I sold the last of my supply while out skating.”
“Can you re-up?”Amir asks.
“Yeah, I mean, I guess so. Where are you guys at?”
“The timmies across the street.”
“Fair, well, I’ll tell you what. I can reach you guys in fifteen, maybe twenty minutes, but y’all need to get at least ten.”
“Fucking lifesaver man. I’ll see what the boys are saying, but you should put us down for fifteen.”
“Bet. You’ve got my number?”
“Yeah.”
“You know what, let me go get a burner,” I reply, before going back in 7/11 and picking up a disposable phone.
“Smart thinking, what’s the number?”
“Yeah, if I’m going to be selling as much as I did today on the reg, imma need to act a lil legit.”
“Tru, k got it. I’ll see you it a bit bro.”
“Aight, later.”
Ken doll and ghetto Lisa Simpson are making penne with red sauce and Cesar salad when I step in the door. To my amazement, they’ve waited for me before starting the Sopranos.
“Thanks for holding up guys, but I’ve got to run out quickly.”
“Thanks for cleaning up your mess, asshole.”
“Well, I didn’t want to move anything while it was drying. What do you think.”
“It has promised.”
“Why are you so fucking mean Sarah?”
“Where are you going?”
“Skating to Timmies quickly, or actually, I’ll drive. I’ve only had a beer.”
“Why?” Tommy asks while coming out of the shower.
“Selling some pills. I pushed the rest of my supply while I was out.”
“Crazy, we’re going to need to cook up a new scam soon.”
“Yeah, I’ll look into it tomorrow. Keys?”
“Here.”
A rare ray of sun gently encourages me to get out of bed and I feel rejuvenated after killing it yesterday. Stretching, I check my phone before getting up. Henry wants another ten-piece and I feel like I should figure out what my upcoming assignments are, when they’re due and such.
Ugh! I’ve also got to pick up some more weed. Guess I’m going to the island sometime this week. Ok, so what’s the plan? Head to class, talk to my TA’s and maybe go for a skate later.
Skipping breakfast, I toss on mauve Volcome pants, beat chucks and a black sweatshirt. While my coffee’s brewing, I run my hair back with some clay, Patric Swayze style. Travel mug full, I grab a skate, light smoke and I’m on my way.
Most days, the bus ride to school feels like the boat between purgatory and hell. There might be a few strands of naive optimism initially, but the only thing that returns are ghosts.
Today not much different than normal and to be honest, I’m a little disappointed I didn’t put baileys in my coffee. Being around so many souls suffering and seeking shelter in the wrong places is frustrating, especially when you know what you’re meant to be doing. I just feel drained. Some baileys would make me feel a little bit better, and maybe even more empathetic. Fuck it, I should learn to enjoy being a bitter artist.
Getting off the bus and skating through the parking lot, I’m already ready to get out of here. J.Penny has another day of that pop-up shop he’s helping run, no, I’ve got some business to take care of. Weaving around crowds on my skate, I make it to my the office of Erica, my history of arts and ethics of philosophy T.A. Smoothing things over with my cute, but a little nutty TA, I realize that I should touch base with Mr. Greenfield.
Numbed out by shitty contemporary art on the bland beige panels that make up of the inner workings of our school, I want to get out of this building as fast as possible. Being exposed to these pathetic frequencies is no good for the left side of my brain.
The eccentric polish turtle’s not in his office. To make matters worse, I could have sworn I heard Vanessa’s voice around the corner. Dashing to the end of the hall, I’m determined to not lose her again. But nothing, just a group of basic sorority girls. Dressed like Han Solo, they’re arguing about who’s taking notes this week. Leaving the plastic, pumpkin spice patch in my heels, I need to get out of this concrete tunnel. I really fucking hate this place. Half the campus feels like a bomb shelter and the other half feels like some Greek island interpretation of Azkaban. It’s not fucking healthy, and it’s making me smoke way more. Christ, I really could use a cigarette now.
B-lining to the nearest exit, I take a seat on a bench under the smoldering grey sky. Focusing my attention on the glowing cherry, the annoying and squeaky voice at the back of my head’s pushed back to the darkest corners of my mind. Henry nudges me, pulling me out of my mid-day meditation. He hands me fifty dollars and his CBD vape to hit, while I palm him a bag of six. My stressed out Chinese counterpart bums a dart and briefly contemplates suicide before leaving for his multimillion-dollar apartment.
You know what, I think I’ve had enough of this bullshit. I’m done with this place. People can reach the union to buy off me, or hit up someone else. I’m tired of facing the most perverse aspects of my mortality every hour that I’m here. Vanessa probably knows what’s good and cut. It makes sense why I haven’t seen her around.
The bus bay’s pretty full. Not trying to be a sardine, I go through my routine of degeneratism. A bus comes and goes while I’m in the liquor store, leaving me with an empty bus bay to drink in.
submitted by strangeacidstarfish to Drugs [link] [comments]

Oh Ye, Of Little Faith...

Ok, bluntly, this subreddit has oftentimes been difficult to read over the last few weeks with all the doom-and-gloom "the sky is falling" Chicken Little type posts and comments. But, I think if people can stop, take a deep breath, and realize that these guys are pros and things WILL change, come playoff time.
More-over, all the odds-makers seem to thinking the exact same thing. And, to a certain extent, I wouldn't be surprised if Doug Wilson and crew are hedging their bets, and not worrying about these last few weeks of the team "shitting the bed" and, it may hopefully lead some to underestimate us, come game time. Sure, it may weigh on team morale, a bit... but, come The Big Show, and having everyone on the team there in the lineup, and hopefully firing on all cylinders, that shouldn't last terribly long.
But, you don't have to believe me. Check out some of the odds-makers around the Internet. No one would appear to be counting the Sharks out of anything, right now. More-over, we are still figured as a dominating force in the West, as we move in to playoffs. Sure, we've taken a hit on playoff odds over the past several weeks, while the Blues have been making headway in to showing they'll likely give us a tough run, once we get to the Western Conference Final. But again, these odds are fairly fluid.
First off, we worry about the making it to the Second Round of the playoffs - which means VGK is on our plates, first. Right now, Las Vegas isn't even in the picture for second round advance, apparently figured for a "historical" one-and-done type exit. Myself, I'm not so quick to dismiss the Knights... but, that is only because we still have a few players out, including one of our top goal scorers and another best play maker. If they come back anywhere close to game shape, we are sure to see a different team - and Vegas, among others, should be scared.
More-specifically, Pav has been shown to hold people accountable in our locker room... he's not shy about laying all the cards on the table, and telling it like it is, period (though he has well-schooled by DW a d company about holding team specifics close to his chest, and not putting his cards on the table with the press). And though Logan and Jumbo are wearing the "A", I really don't think they are as-effective communicators in front of their teammates. I love them both, but my impression is that Jumbo is more of "a butthead" to folks, and tears them down a bit too much... and Logan is still kind of "shy" - not to say he's not honest... he's just not one to really "out" someone, in front of the whole room. At least, those are my impressions from watching what happens (along with having known and talked to a few old "insiders" at some previous moment(s))
Now, here's where things starts to get interesting. The Pacific division race has been pretty tight this season, particularly as we lead up to "the big show." The key finding, here, is that the Western Conference Finals will by attended by whichever team wins between San Jose and VGK. To be blunt, Calgary may win the first round of the playoffs... but chances are, everyone is betting/ forecasting that they will Flame Out come time for the second round. But, ecen still... Sharks above Vegas is still a pretty obvious conclusion.
Now, we are at the Western Conference Finals ... and, odds say this will be a pretty tight race between STL and the Sharks. The interesting part of this is that, up until these last couple of games., the Sharks have remained favorite over St Louis for clinching their trip to another SC Fnal. But, these odds are, again, fluid and subject to change, particularly come the end of the week and start of playoffs.That said, the Blues have been coming on strong for the last week or two... so, don't count them out. One hopes that they have a not too unusual issue, once playoffs come, and they're simply "not yet ready" to deal with the pressure of making a deep run (Lord knows we've seen it, ourselces).
Lastly, what do we expect in the Stanley Cup Final... provided we make it? Well, that's still a bit too far out to really forecast, at this point, and depends on other factors (you know, like TBL and STL making it that far, as their within just a few points of one another). But, I think it's still up for reasonable debate... at least until we see how the Second Round is panning out. But, as I eluded to before: up until just recently, it looked like the favorites were a TBL/SJS final, with San Jose edging them out for all the marbles. These last few weeks have, undoubtedly, cast some shadow on it, and the odds have suffered as a result.
So, can we please just start backing our team a bit more, Sharks fans? I know it feels a bit like "Doom and Gloom," sometimes. But just look at past seasons... we have shown that we aren't intimidated by the playoffs, anymore. And, we have one of our best lineups, ever. Keep the faith, and pray our vets get back in-time to suddenly catch everyone off-guard and, before they realize it, Sharks are chomping on their asses and taking the series away from them.

Go Sharks!!!

Full album of screenshots for tonight, from MoneyPuck.
Also check out Sports Club Stats, if you like numbers and "Big Data" as much as I do... is often more-difficult to read, but has plenty of "What If" scenarios and computer simulations based on past performance.
Disclaimer: I am not associated with either of these sites on any level, other than being a geek whose professional life tends to be filled with unrelated "big data" / data analysis projects.
TLDR: Can we knock it off? Odds still seem to think we are going to be tough to beat, up through the Western Conference Final. We have dropped down to that outcome, before this slide, having previously been forecast to beat TBL in a tight contest, for the Cup. These numbers are not mine.
Edit: Fixed typos from tablet-typing.
Edit 2: Improved hastily-typed "tablet language," and cleared up minor points/ideas.
Edit 3: Why aren't these sites SSL (https) compliant?
submitted by russellvt to SanJoseSharks [link] [comments]

The Time Kevin Made a Sports Bet

So my friend Kevin has a bit of a drinking problem. If he ever ends up with extra money, it's usually just a matter of time before he gets drunk and spends it. He's not a rich man, and often he gets drunk and spends money he doesn't really have to spend. It's sad, but unfortunately Kevin refuses to get any help, and he surrounds himself with a lot of people who enable him and discourage him from improving himself. You know, the sort of friend that when you tell them you've been sober for a week and how proud you feel about it they make it their personal mission to badger you into having a drink with them? That's unfortunately most of Kevin's friends. The rest of us just try not to enable him, but there's really not much more we can do to help him.
Back to the story though, one night a few months back, near the beginning of the hockey season, Kevin went out drinking and got, well, very shitfaced in a casino. In his drunken stupor Kevin decided that he wanted to show some civic pride, so he stumbled over to the race and sports book and made a $200 bet on the home team, the Vegas Golden Knights, to win the Stanley Cup.
Now if you're not into American Hockey, the Vegas Golden Knights are a brand new NHL team that just finished their first season. Las Vegas has had some college teams and minor league teams in the past, but the Golden Knights are the city's, and actually the state's, first professional sports team, so it's a pretty big deal for a lot of people. Being a first year team, they weren't expected to do all that well, and when Kevin made his bet the odds of them winning the Stanley Cup were about 400 to 1.
When Kevin sobered up in the morning he realized that he spent $200 he couldn't afford on a long shot bet that would almost certainly lose, and even if it didn't he still wouldn't see that money for months. Being a Kevin though, this isn't the first time he's done this, and it probably won't be the last. So Kevin takes his ticket, he puts it in a plastic sandwich bag, and he throws it in the back of his freezer for safekeeping, you know, just in case it wins. Then Kevin goes about his Kevin day and forgets about it.
Now Kevin isn't really a sports guy. Occasionally he gets drunk and makes a sports bet or talks about going to see a team play, but he doesn't follow any sports, and he doesn't even sometimes watch them on TV. In fact I don't think he understand the rules to most sports very well.
For example, I've known Kevin for a very long time, like 25 years now, and we play video games sometimes, and in all the time I've known him he's never beaten me at a football game. He thinks the only good offensive formation is the shotgun formation, and the first thing you should do after hiking the ball in the shotgun formation on a passing play is run the quarterback another ten to thirty yards back to buy as much time as possible before throwing the ball. Once though he bought a brand new football game, and he insisted I play it with him.
The reason he wanted to play that particular football game so bad was that he had been playing it for a few days, and he realized that there was an exploit where if you did it just right an onside kick would succeed almost 100% of the time. In his mind, Kevin could finally beat me with this new found cheat, because he could make it so I almost never got the ball. He lost the game because he kept doing onside kicks on fourth down instead of punting, and he couldn't understand why that didn't work.
So, anyways, if you don't follow American hockey, the Vegas Golden Knights did surprisingly well last season. They did way better than anyone expected and made it all the way to the Stanley Cup. As they made their way through the playoffs and it started looking more and more like they might win the Stanley Cup, Kevin was getting more and more excited. If they won, that $200 bet he made becomes $80,000. Like I said, Kevin's not a rich man. Eighty thousand is a lot of money to him, and it's more than he's ever won gambling. Kevin started feeling like it was fate he got drunk that night and made that stupid bet, and the Golden Knights were destined to win the Stanley Cup, and he was destined to get that eighty grand.
So naturally, Kevin started bragging about his good fortune to everyone. As the Golden Knights were having a phenomenal post season, he would tell anyone who would listen that he got drunk and made this $200 bet, because he's that smart, and that lucky. He tells all of his friends, his family, his coworkers, and all his customers about the ticket.
That in and of itself is a very Kevin thing to do, you know, telling everyone that somewhere you have a piece of paper that might be worth eighty thousand dollars to whoever turns it in. It's especially bad if you're like Kevin, and you have a lot of skeezy friends, and you're well known for getting drunk and spending all your money.
This time though it worked out really good for Kevin. He was in Las Vegas, and everyone in Las Vegas wanted the Golden Knights to win. Everyone was just happy and excited for him, and that he might be coming into this windfall. Every time the Golden Knights won in the playoffs, Kevin felt like he was winning those games. With every win everyone around him was talking about him, and cheering him on, and hoping he'd get his $80K.
Now Kevin's not big on cooking, or grocery shopping, or really doing any kind of domestic chores. To him his freezer is a place to keep important receipts and betting slips. He doesn't keep food in there, and his fridge is just a giant soda chiller. So Kevin hadn't looked at or even checked on his Golden Knights ticket after he first put it in the freezer. After the second game of the Stanley Cup, Kevin thought that maybe he should take a look in the freezer and make sure his eighty thousand dollar ticket was still all right.
So Kevin goes into his freezer and digs out the frozen baggy and pulls his betting slip out of it. This was the first time Kevin had looked at the betting slip without being drunk or hung-over. Several months before Kevin got drunk out of his mind, and to show his civic pride he stumbled over to the race and sports book to bet $200 that the Golden Knights would win the Stanley Cup. Kevin went up to that race and sports book, and with blurry vision and slurred speech he bet $200 that the Golden State Warriors would win the NBA Championship.
If you follow sports, you might have realized that Kevin managed to Kevin his way into an even better situation. The Vegas Golden Knights lost the Stanley Cup, and had Kevin bet on them, he would've lost his $200. At the same time the Vegas Golden Knights were playing in the Stanley Cup though, the Golden State Warriors were playing in the NBA Championship, and unlike the Golden Knights, they won.
Unfortunately the Golden State Warriors weren't a long shot. In fact, they were the favorite, so Kevin's ticket wasn't worth eighty grand. It was, however, still worth the $200 he spent on it, and a bit more because he picked the right team. Like I said Kevin's not a rich man, so a few hundred dollars is still a good amount of money to him. As far as stupid drunken bets go, this one ended as well as it possibly could have for Kevin.
Or it would have, except Kevin doesn't follow sports. Kevin only followed the Golden Knights because he thought he had money on them. At that moment when he was looking at the betting slip, Kevin didn't know that the Golden Warriors were playing in the NBA championship, or that they were favored to win it. All Kevin knew was that a few minutes ago he was going to be eighty thousand dollars rich when the Golden Knights won the Stanley Cup, which was destined to happen, but now he wasn't going to be because he bet on the wrong team, and in fact didn't even bet on the right sport. Kevin became filled with rage, and he took that rage out on his betting slip. In a fit of anger, and knowing Kevin I'm sure screaming was involved too, Kevin tore his slip up into the tiniest pieces that he could, and then threw them away.
It wasn't until about a week after the championships that Kevin told my elderly uncle what happened. My uncle is also a Kevin, and he has a very weird relationship with Kevin. I don't understand their relationship, and I refuse to ask any questions that might clarify it for me, because I'm honestly scared of what I'll find out. My Uncle Kevin follows basketball, its his favorite sport, and when Kevin told him what happened, he told him he should cash in his betting slip since it's worth money. That's when Kevin told him what he did with it.
submitted by Rob_Frey to StoriesAboutKevin [link] [comments]

The KHL PO: the 2nd round preview

2nd round will start tomorrow, I will be posting my picks in NHL thread, but here I would like to give some futures and not just to place bets, but also to introduce you to the overall situation there.

Western Conference

CSKA Moscow - Dynamo Moscow Pick - 4:0 final score of the series @3.3
CSKA is clearly a favourite - not only in this matchup, but in the entire championship. The team has confidently dealt with the first round, beating Podolsk (4-0) np. CSKA is a team with steep offense and reliable defense, it's impossible to point out any significant flaws in their game. Look: CSKA finished the first series with goal difference of 16 to 4 (!) and no losses. Moreover, all of their wins were really clean - their PIM after the first round amounted 26 minutes (best result of all teams). In all four matches the starting goalie was Ilya Sorokin, his stats are 1.00 GAA, 94.7% SVPCT and 1 SO. Sure, it's worth mentioning their opponent was really weak, but at the same time I don't think CSKA went out of their way against Podolsk - otherwise Podolsk wouldn't have done anything at all. Dynamo, imo, is too dependant on Shipachyov and Kagarlitsky's performance. During the regular season they earned 68 and 61 pts respectively (3rd and 4th places in offensive leaders' race). Dynamo played a six match series with Jokerit which paid utter attention to this pair of players – Shipachyov got only 5 pts and Kagarlitsky got 6, but such close attention untied the hands of other Dynamo players, which is why Jokerit ultimately lost. I don't think CSKA will let such a thing happen. During the regular season these teams met twice (5:1 and 1:3, both in CSKA's favor) and I assume CSKA will dominate, if not stomp. Aside from that, Dynamo has suffered from an exhausting series against Jokerit and numerable flights to Finland and back. CSKA, in its turn, went to Podolsk, which is ~30 km away from Moscow - a travel not to be tired of. Dynamo played with two goalies during the series – Yeryomenko (3 wins in 4 starts, 1.51 GAA, 96.1% SVPCT, 1 SO) and Bocharov (1 win in 2 starts, 2.41 GAA, 93.8% SVPCT). The fact Bocharov was used twice as a starting goalie furthermore proves the team has tiredness issues in long series. I think CSKA should take advantage of the situation and take this series confidently. I don't assert that Dynamo won't find a way to cling, but 3.3 odds on 4:0 in this particular series is just too much value.
SKA St.Petersburg - Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Pick - Lokomotiv (+2.5) game handicap in the series @2.4
SKA looked awful in the first round, one of their matches was clearly carried by arbiters. I'm not sure of why they have these troubles, maybe it's due to their overtraining right before the playoffs. Their coach was counting on a free 4-0 and his team gaining momentum match after match, but Spartak gave SKA a tough fight ever since the first match, disrupting SKA's plans. SKA's players' individual skill is immense. Nikita Gusev is the best offensive leader of the regular season, and their goalkeeper Shestyorkin was simply godlike there. SKA's playoffs stats are sad though, I don't even want to go in detail here, but it is important to note that Hellberg (their 2nd goalie) won all 3 starts with 1.44 GAA and 92.3 SVPCT. Lokomotiv has the youngest roster in KHL and the team is looking good. Loko's stats after the 1st series doesn't tell much since Sochi has always been their nemesis. In the penultimate match their coach's decision of not letting 6 players of the backbone play at all was questionable (at the best) - it is likely he wanted to give them rest. I believe Loko can qualify here and I really want it, because I don't want to be betting on a match where arbiters can do whatever they want. So, this handicap and the odds are just perfect for me.
Eastern Conference
Barys Astana - Avangard Omsk Pick - Avangard (-1.5) game handicap in the series @1.64 Avangard dealt with the last year's Champion in the first round with unexpected confidence. Hartley did a good job and his team is showing some good NA hockey. The coach has lots of experience, even The Stanley Cup is among his trophies. He can build a formidable team out of nothing – in the last World Championship he led Latvia's national team to the PO (which was unexpected) and after just one year of work in Swiss he won their Championship. Avangard has a 19-6 goal difference after the first round and this is impressive – scoring this much against Bars (a team with good defense) is not easy. In all four matches the starting goalie was Igor Bobkov, his stats are 1.50 GAA, 93.8% SVPCT and 1 SO.
Barys is a team with excellent offense, even their defensemen do a lot in the offense, but because of it the team tends to do many silly mistakes in the defense. Barys has had a seven matches series and this is a big problem for sure. While Hartley was inspecting opponents and readying up for the next series and Avangard's players were having good rest, Barys' coach was trying to save the series and players were conducting incredibly hard matches while flying a lot in between. Barys' main goalie Henrik Karlsson started 6 times (was changed once) and won just thrice with 2.26 GAA and 91.2% SVPCT. Their backup goalie Dominik Hrachovina played twice, his stats are 2.65 GAA and 91.7% SVPCT. I think Barys can challenge Avangard only at home. The odds are not compelling, but I don’t see another good bet for this series.
Yekaterinburg - Salavat Ufa Skip
Before the PO start I wouldn’t imagine I will have doubts about the winner of this series. Salavat looked good in the first series, their offense and their defense performed well. Salavat finished the series with a final score of 4-2 and 16-9 goal difference. Their goalie Juha Metsola played in all six games with 1.29 GAA and 95.8% SVPCT. It is hard to tell anything special about Yekaterinburg, their opponent was weak and Yekaterinburg allowed themselves some genuinely retarded moves. Yes, Yekaterinburg won the series with a 4:0 final score, but goal difference is 13-6, which is not impressive at all, they could've scored a lot more and allowed a lot less. I think I will not pick anything here, I want to watch at least one match before drawing conclusions.
submitted by Ratmir999 to sportsbook [link] [comments]

Wayback Wednesday - Howie's Heartbreak

Mitchell, Ontario isn't where a lot of interesting stories start. It's the kind of place where they roll the sidewalks up at dusk, a small, rural town.
The most interesting story from the town starts more than a century ago in the cold of January.
There are about 4,500 people who call Mitchell home. On this cold winter day, there aren't a lot of them out - the church on Main Street is empty and the raccoons and foxes who normally dart around are tucked away.
It's quiet, except for an occasional whoop from at the bottom of the hill. Some of the farmer kids are skating around on the river. It's called the Thames River - not the River Thames, the locals will have your hide if you call it that - but it's more of a creek. It's still wide enough for the youngsters to skate on.
There are three of them down there. One is about eight, a pipsqueak - the others are a few years older, much stronger. The trio are brothers, racing down the river on a day off from school. They play hockey from time to time, but there aren't any sticks or pucks on the Thames today. The boys are racing.
You'd figure the older brothers, Wilfred and Ezra, would be quicker, but the smaller one, the runt of the litter, has taken a lead. As they push around the bends of the Thames, the little brother slowly sneaks out of sight. He has an odd stride - he squats down and takes long sleek pushes - and it works well for him.
Around one bend, Wilfred and Ezra lose sight of their brother. They keep pushing. He's nowhere to be found.
Unsure of whether or not the little one is still going, the boys keep skating downstream, hoping nothing bad has happened.
When they wind around the next bend in the river, they see their youngest brother, sitting on a snowbank, patiently waiting for them. He'd gotten so far ahead that he got bored, plopped down and took a seat.
He does this all the time. Nobody can keep up with him. It's getting a little old, honestly - and if there are two people who are most tired of it, it's Wilfred and Ezra Morenz.
Little Howie is already the fastest skater in town.
He's destined for great things.
Howie was born in Mitchell back in 1902, the youngest of six kids. He grew up on the Thames, on occasion picking up a stick and puck when beating his brothers in races got old.
For some reason, when he first played hockey, a coach put him in goal. Bad idea - he gave up 21 goals. The next game that coach decided to put him out as a rover. That decision paid off. As a teenager, Morenz led the Mitchell team to a regional title.
The Morenzs left town in his teens when his dad got a job at the Canadian National Railways (CNR) factory in Stratford, about 15 kilometres down the road. World War I had just broken out and Howie tried enlisting, but when recruiters found out he was just 15, that dream died fast.
Howie dropped out of school to work with his dad in the CNR factory. He started a machinist's apprenticeship there and filled his spare time with little hobbies, betting on horses and playing the ukulele. During the winter, however, the betting slips went away and the uke went in the corner - it was hockey time.
Howie used that odd stride and an all-consuming passion to become Stratford's best player. He played with the local junior team, leading them to a provincial title and nearly winning a Memorial Cup. Then, the next season, Howie played for both the junior and senior teams at the same time. He led both leagues in goals, assists, points and penalty minutes.
In 1922, Howie jumped on the train to Montreal for a CNR tournament. In the first game, fresh off the rails, he strapped on those skates and blew the roof off - he scored nine times.
Someone watching the game called a friend - Leo Dandurand, the owner of the Montreal Canadiens. The little farmer kid has some skill, he says - come by and see for yourself.
Dandurand sneaks into the next game and is impressed. He wants Howie on the Habs.
It wouldn't be easy, though. Morenz wanted to head back to Stratford and finish his apprenticeship. That would take two more years. The Toronto St. Pats, the Habs' chief rival, had also gotten wind of Howie and wanted to see him in their green and white sweaters.
For the first time, Leo Dandurand began to bully Howie Morenz. He mailed him a contract offer - $3,500 a year and a $1,000 signing bonus.
Dandurand made a public show of trying to woo Howie, claiming that Morenz was French Canadian and therefore belonged on the Habs, not the St. Pats.
Is Howie French? No. That was a lie. The Morenzs were German, but Dandurand would do anything to have this kid on his team.
At that point, 21-year-old Howie was torn. He and his father signed the contract, but before sending it to Dandurand, Howie got cold feet. Some local businessmen ponied up $1,000 to convince him to stay and play for Stratford. He also wanted to finish his apprenticeship.
Instead of sending the contract back, Morenz sent his signing bonus cheque to Dandurand, along with a letter saying he couldn't play with Montreal.
Enraged, Dandurand summoned Howie to Montreal to explain to him personally why he wouldn't sign. Howie hopped on the train. When he met with Dandurand, he explained his logic, bursting into tears halfway through.
Seeing some vulnerability, Dandurand leaned into the "bad cop" role, telling Howie if he couldn't play for the Habs, he'd make sure he couldn't play - period.
Morenz had to fold. He signed.
You see, there was a good reason why Morenz was torn. A farmer boy in the big city, an English speaker on a majority French team, Morenz would stick out.
Perhaps the biggest reason is one that most history books leave out.
When Howie played hockey, he was happy. Off the ice, the troubles of life hit him like one of the trains he worked on. Whenever his teams lost, Morenz would stay up all night, blaming himself and telegraphing plays that went wrong in his head again and again. This wasn't competitiveness - this bordered on mental illness. That ran in his family.
In his teen years, Howie came home from a hockey game to find out a shocking accident had happened. That night, his mother had gone downstairs and fallen in the family's cistern.
She had drowned. Nobody talked about it much, but scuttlebutt around the town was that it wasn't an accident.
His mom's death affected Howie greatly and made him to two things - to play hockey as a distraction and look after his family.
When Howie had any free time to just think, he'd get lost in his head. Sometimes, he had a hard time getting out.
Howie Morenz first suited up for the Canadiens in 1923. The team was coached by Dandurand, who put Morenz on a line with another young star, Aurele Joliat. The two gelled on the ice. It helped that Joliat, who grew up in Ottawa, was one of the few players on the team who spoke fluent English and French.
Riding the skill of Joliat and Morenz, the Habs finished in second in the four-team NHL, earning a spot in the league final against Ottawa. There, Morenz took control, scoring three of the Habs' five goals in the two-game series, which ended with a Montreal win.
From there, the Habs headed to the Stanley Cup playoff - at this point, the NHL champ faced off against champions from other leagues to determine who won the Cup. In order to win, the Canadiens would have to win two series - one against Calgary, one against Vancouver.
The Habs topped Vancouver, setting up a two-game winner-take-all series with the Calgary Tigers. Morenz scored a hat-trick against Calgary in game one, then added another goal in game two before a big hit broke his collarbone.
It was enough. Morenz had scored four goals by himself - Calgary only scored one. Paced by Howie's goals, the Habs won their first-ever Stanley Cup as an NHL team.
Morenz's play started to earn himself a reputation. When writer Hugh MacLennan saw him play, he noticed the little grin that peeped out when Howie played.
"The little smile on his lips showed that he was having a wonderful time."
Howie was playing with courage, and it couldn't come at a better time.
The next year, Morenz scored 28 goals and led the Habs to another NHL title. The team finished just short of the Stanley Cup, but that reputation started to build. Some people took to calling him by nicknames. A few looked at his birthplace to call him the "Mitchell Meteor", while the more popular name came from the Montreal papers themselves, who used his adopted hometown - the "Stratford Streak".
Morenz became hockey's first legitimate superstar. One rival player called him "that near-perfect human hockey machine". Eddie Shore, famous crotchety hardass defenseman from the archrival Bruins, called Morenz the "Babe Ruth of Hockey."
That term drew some objection from a new friend of Howie's - Babe Ruth himself. He thought Morenz was bigger than that. Babe Ruth once said Morenz had the biggest heart of anyone he'd ever known.
Morenz tallied 25 goals in 1926-27, and then became the first NHLer ever to score 50 points in a season the next year. He was doing things people didn't think were possible - all while flashing that grin.
It seemed like hits couldn't affect him. From time to time, when he saw two players converging on him, he used his foot speed to dodge both and make them crash into each other.
In 1929-30, Morenz scored 40 goals and became the NHL's first-ever three-time Hart Trophy winner.
Businessmen saw him play - and the crowds that showed up when the Habs were in town - and wanted to get in the game. One of them, Boston grocery store magnate Charles Adams, was so inspired after watching Morenz that he filed to start an expansion team in Boston. That team became the Bruins.
In 1930, those Bruins would make it to their third Stanley Cup final. Unfortunately, they did it against the Habs, who beat them soundly - with Morenz scoring what turned out to be the Cup-winning goal.
The Habs with Morenz were such a draw that they played the new team in New York, the Americans, in their first game, and drew a capacity crowd. The new team's owners personally requested that they play the Habs. Later in 1930, Morenz scored five goals against them.
Another businessman, Tex Rickard, saw that and had a vision for hockey in Madison Square Garden. Not long after that, the Rangers materialized.
Finally, in 1933, Morenz hit the pinnacle. He scored his 249th goal in the NHL - breaking the all-time record.
All was good for the kid from Stratford.
Then came 1934.
Two days after New Years', Morenz was playing against the Rangers in New York and fell awkwardly. He twisted his ankle, tore a ligament in his leg and bruised a bone. He couldn't play for a month, and when he did, he wasn't nearly as fast.
If there's one thing that's been proven time and time again over the years, it's that Montreal Canadiens fans may be the most bipolar bunch in sports. If you succeed and all is well, you're a demigod. If your play drops, you're scum and should be moved for a bag of pucks.
Fans booed Morenz during games. Newspaper columnists called for him to be traded.
Suddenly, big superstar Howie Morenz was back to being Howie from Stratford. He retreated back into his own world. He began overanalyzing his play and overthinking things. He lost sleep. He made it to the NHL's first-ever All-Star Game - a benefit game for Maple Leaf Ace Bailey, who had sustained a career-ending injury - but that didn't help.
His play got worse. Much worse.
Morenz broke his thumb, right after his ankle and leg had healed. At one point, a burglar broke into the home of Morenz and his family. The invader found Morenz and pistol-whipped him before taking valuables and fleeing into the night.
That definitely didn't help. His play dropped even more.
The fans kept booing and the headlines kept coming. When Morenz finished up with some games, he would head to his spot in the dressing room and break into uncontrollable sobbing.
Then, the character assassination started coming from the Habs front office itself. His new coach, Habs great Newsy Lalonde, told reporters he didn't like Morenz. When Howie was asked, he said he would never leave to play for another team. When he asked Dandurand or Habs co-owner Joe Cattarinich what was happening, neither would talk with him.
Finally, the unimaginable happened. Morenz was traded.
Howie would be going to Chicago, along with goalie Lorne Chabot and a defenseman, Marty Burke. The Habs didn't get a bag of pucks back, but that might have been more valuable than what they actually ended up with. Altogether, the three players the Habs got back played less than a hundred games with the Canadiens.
Heartbreak had come for Howie.
In Chicago, the same self-analysis that had hindered Morenz in Montreal hit him hard. After a good start, Howie ended up on the bench. He was then traded again, to the Rangers - a team he had helped inspire the creation of. He stunk, getting six points in 19 games.
It looked like the good times were over. However, that offseason, hope jumped up again.
The Habs had re-hired Cecil Hart, the coach who had led the Habs during Howie's glory days. Hart agreed to the job, on one condition - the team had to reacquire Howie.
They bought his contract from New York. After an awful season spent in the US, Morenz was back in le bleu, blanc et rouge.
He wouldn't be the big guy anymore, but Howie got the chance to play for his old team once more. He jumped at it, getting to play with his old buddies, especially Aurele Joliat.
After returning to Montreal, the same fans that had run him out on a rail welcomed him back with hugs. With the love easy to find, Morenz got back in his groove. Working mostly as a playmaker and working to get his speed back, Morenz racked up 16 assists and 20 points in 30 games that season, much better than his numbers in Chicago or with the Rangers.
There was so much hope. The slate had been cleaned - carte blanche.
Then the lights went out.
January 28, 1937. The Habs are at home, playing Morenz's former team, the Black Hawks. It's the first period and Morenz is feeling good.
The puck is loose in the Hawks' zone. A pass is misfired and it ends up in the corner. Morenz, behind the net, gets in a footrace with Chicago defender Earl Siebert, who's coming in behind him. Morenz has a good chance of getting this puck.
Howie is back at full speed, just like back on the Thames River as a kid, when his left skate catches a rut in the ice.
His foot kicks up and the blade of his skate catches a piece of the boards, stopping quickly and wrenching Howie sideways. He falls down hard.
Meanwhile, Siebert doesn't have time to stop. He keeps barreling down on the puck. He can't dodge Howie - Howie can't dodge him.
Impact.
"CRACK."
They say you could have heard it in the very back of the Forum. Even if you couldn't, the screaming was clear.
Howie Morenz's left leg was shattered.
His teammates skate over and unhitch his skate from the boards. After a short conversation, they carry him to the bench.
Howie is strapped to a stretcher and taken to a nearby hospital. He has four separate breaks in his leg.
Nobody wants to say it, but it seems likely Howie Morenz has had his last hurrah.
Once he was in the hospital, the tone of the public shifted once more, from happiness and occasional anger to concern. The boos stopped altogether. People showered Howie with gifts and visited him at the hospital at all hours. His family were near him throughout the days, along with his teammates. Even opponents came to see him when they faced the Habs.
People brought him drinks to numb the pain. The joke at the time was, "The whisky was on the dresser and the beer was under the bed."
Howie's leg was kept in traction while the hubbub continued. After visiting hours, Morenz was left by himself.
The last thing that should have happened, happened - Howie Morenz, unable to do the thing he loved, with no one else around to distract him and unable to provide for his family and friends, crawled back inside his own head.
Sleep was rare for Howie. He'd spent most of the night reading the papers, religiously following how the Habs were doing. The team was dropping in the standings in his absence. Morenz blamed himself.
More and more, he felt like he would never play again. Hope disappeared. The future was bleak. Howie was in his own head, and he'd tunneled in there deep.
This time, it looked like he might not get out.
After Howie had been in the hospital for a month, something happened. We're not entirely sure what it was, more than eight decades later, but we do know that Morenz was despondent. Some whispered remembrances said he had trashed his hotel room.
The team doctor for the Habs came to visit and made a fast diagnosis. Howie Morenz had suffered a nervous breakdown.
Morenz was, at one point, put in a straitjacket. It was becoming more and more clear to him, each day, that he would never play hockey again.
The doctor banned almost all visitors from seeing Morenz and had security guards stationed outside during visiting hours. Only Howie's family and Canadiens personnel were allowed to see him. Howie's beloved father, who thought his son would be okay at first, got on the first train to Montreal.
Howie's wife and son came almost every day. When Howie's dad made it to Montreal, he almost never left. The new company may have helped Howie's mental state, but his medical condition was beginning to fail.
On March 8, Morenz said he was having chest pains. Doctors had told him he had a mild heart attack. It turned out not to be the full story - Morenz, stuck in bed for almost six weeks now, had developed blood clots in his damaged leg.
A doctor scheduled a heart surgery for later that day, but for some reason, it was delayed.
That night, Morenz took a turn for the worst. Howie's wife, dad and Coach Hart were all called to come and see him.
That night, the story goes, Morenz had tried to climb out of bed to go to the bathroom. In his struggle to get free, one of the clots lodged inside a blood vessel, blocking it.
Morenz fell on the floor.
Minutes later, his loved ones arrived.
There was nothing they could do. It was too late.
At the age of 34, the Stratford Streak had gone out.
Montreal was plunged into mourning after Howie died. Three days after his passing, a funeral mass was held at the Montreal Forum. The old barn could seat around 18,000 people - about three times that showed up. Radio stations broadcast the service live. Four of Howie's teammates and friends formed an honour guard near his casket.
One of them was Aurele Joliat, Morenz's close friend. Heartbroken, Joliat laid down a flower wreath shaped like Morenz's jersey number 7. Joliat won the Hart Trophy that year, but never had a season like that again. Later, this photo of him sitting in the dressing room next to Morenz’s equipment was taken.
When Howie was laid to rest, his son, Howie Jr., was near. He looked down into his father’s grave, shaken.
A few days after Howie's death, the Canadiens were due to play the Montreal Maroons, their cross-town rivals. The game was going to be cancelled until Morenz's wife Mary said they should continue. It's what Howie would want, she said.
Both teams wore black armbands and held two minutes of silence pre-game. In New York, the Rangers and Americans - two teams that may have never started in the first place without Morenz - did the same.
The NHL held a second All-Star game to raise money for the Morenz family, with a Habs/Maroons all-star team taking on the rest of the league. The Habs built a statue of Morenz and pledged to retire his number 7, saying only one player could ever use it again - Howie's son, Howie Morenz Jr.
Then, the dark side of Canadiens fandom came out. With his son now seen as a sort of successor to Howie's mantle, fans began to harass the Morenzs. At one point, people called the family home and threatened to kidnap Howie and his two siblings.
On top of that, without Howie Sr. around to provide for the family, money quickly ran short. The funds from the NHL charity game, instead of being directly to the family, were placed in a trust that couldn’t be accessed until Howie Jr. turned 25 - not very helpful when he was only eight. Mary couldn’t find work, and none of the kids were nearly old enough to have jobs.
The stress became too much to bear for Mary. She sent all three of her children to an orphanage for safekeeping. They stayed there until she remarried years later. One of the boys got sick and died while in the orphanage.
Once he was reunited with his mother, Howie Jr. took to the ice to attempt to live up to his family's name. He played in the minor leagues and had a tryout with the Habs in 1949 at age 22 - the same age his father was when he made his Montreal debut - but an eye condition stopped his NHL career before it started. He owned a string of businesses and passed away in 2015, age 88, having had only slight involvement with the team since.
Today, the Morenz family name lives on with Howie Morenz III. Instead of trying to live up to the pressure, Howie III actively avoided the hockey world.
Both Howie Jr. and Howie III have spent large amounts of their lives dissuading myths about their ancestor’s death. In a New York Times story written about his grandfather, Howie III told a reporter that his family doesn't believe the media story that circulated after Howie's death - that he had died, essentially, of a broken heart.
"The broken heart, we felt, was really a romantic way of implying he may have taken his own life," he said.
"We don't believe that at all."
That makes a lot of sense. After all, the blood clots were definitely enough to take down a man like Howie. But maybe, if there was more hope, if he hadn't been depressed, if there was a chance he could play again, would he have fought harder?
We'll never know.
Howie Morenz was a lot of things. He was an idol, a star.
But deep down, somewhere, Howie Morenz was always that kid on the Thames River, hanging on to that feeling, the thing that produced what Hugh MacLennan called "the little smile on his lips."
Everything seemed so easy on the ice.
If you want to read more about the weird, forgotten or amazing bits of hockey history, visit our subreddit at /wayback_wednesday. You'll find dozens of articles just like this one.
If you'd like to write an article as part of this series, message me or the moderators of /wayback_wednesday. We're always glad to have extra hands on deck.
We'll be back soon with another article. If you have any ideas or information for later Wayback Wednesday posts or if you're interested in writing one, please don't hesitate to message us or comment below.
submitted by react_and_respond to hockey [link] [comments]

"If we don't get Dahlin, what do we do?" - my informative deep dive on the 2018 Draft

This is it everyone. This is the post I've been working for months. I know there's a TON of stuff here, so if you don't feel like reading it all I can totally respect that. Maybe you just want to go off and read my content, that's okay too. Go ahead and click here. In fact, in case you missed it, I have everything tagged on there. So let's say you want to know about picks in a range, you can search 1-5, 5-10, 10-20, etc... until you hit 50+. You can sort by nationality, league, position, and team name as well. If you feel so inclined to hear my opinions on other things, you can follow me on twitter. For anyone who is sticking around and reading, thanks for joining, I hope you enjoy.
About 4 months ago, there was a post on this sub entitled, "Let's be real and assume we're not getting Dahlin." This topic was really what pushed me over the edge to make content for you guys. My end goal is to become an NHL GM through being a scout, but I've got a long way to go until then. In the interim, I figured I'd take my interest in scouting, develop my own profiles aimed at more casual fans who want to know what these guys can do, and hit the ground running. Even if I never spend a day working for an NHL team, I am so happy to be doing this. It's much more than just a hobby or a passion at this point. So this, in a way, is the first of many gifts I want to give back to this community. You're the reason I'm here, doing what I love. I can't thank you enough.
Without any more gushing, here's the players that I feel are relevant to the Detroit Red Wings draft board. There's going to be a lot more, but those will be available on my website. Anyway, let's get down to business, shall we?
First, let's make it clear where we will be selecting. We can select anywhere in the top 3 as well as 5th-8th with our own 1st round selection. Our late 1st rounder, from Vegas, is predicated on their playoff performance, but we can guarantee the lowest they can possibly select is 27th and caps out at 31st should they win the Stanley Cup. Along with Ottawa's 2nd rounder (acquired from New York last year for Brendan Smith) which is 33rd overall and our own 2nd rounder at 36, there's a lot of room for us to move and make selections, or just keep what we have and end up with 4 selections in the top 40.
Our draft board is predicated on two things, 1 being our team needs and 2 being the players this draft class offers. An example would be the increased likelihood of drafting a defenseman higher in this draft because we have both a strong defensive class at the high end to go along with our need, while it's unlikely to see a goalie picked at all in this draft before the 3rd round because of how weak the class is at that position. Sound fair? This is what I believe our draft board will look like for our first section of picks.
Number Name Position
1 Rasmus Dahlin LHD
2 Andrei Svechnikov LW/RW
3 Filip Zadina LW/RW
4A Quinn Hughes LHD
4B Evan Bouchard RHD
6 Adam Boqvist RHD
7 Noah Dobson RHD
8A Oliver Wahlstrom RW/C
8B Joe Veleno C
10 Ty Smith LHD
First off, you'll note that I directly left off Brady Tkachuk. I argued with myself about adding him in somewhere for continuity, but the fact is there's no reason for us to draft him. He's not good enough to be taken in the top 3, doesn't fit our needs, plays a role/position that we don't need right now (especially with Rasmussen taken last year, Bertuzzi's play this year, and Mantha shifting his game), but he does fit the needs of teams selecting ahead of us. Montreal, Buffalo, Arizona, and Ottawa all rate him highly and there's a gigantic shift in the coming months, I don't see any reason he falls to us without there being an explicitly better option on the table.
I think it is fair to say that should we not get Dahlin, but we do get the 2nd or 3rd overall selection, we will likely pick one of these two forwards. Some argue that even Svechnikov doesn't fit our needs going forward, and I agree, but I think his talent is worth building around if that's the route we're taking. Zadina is better as a 2 way forward and he's an amazing talent, but I think if this was the selection for us, our best bet would be to trade down or take someone else to maximize our opportunity here. Yes these are great players, but we don't need the offensive skill that badly to the point that it's better than selecting one of these elite defensemen in the top 10 and using our multitude of later picks to focus on restocking our shelves at forward.
From 4-8, it's all defensemen, and for good reason. These guys are all spectacular in their own right. It's a matter of picking your favorite. However, I'll try to explain why I think Hughes and Bouchard should be higher rated than the other two. As I mentioned in a thread earlier today (or technically yesterday), the size argument is a moot point to me. We have a need for a number 1 defenseman and most of these guys here bring that to the table. Boqvist has the highest potential and is between and inch or two from Hughes, but no one is concerned with his size. The concern with him is despite being one of the youngest in this draft class, he's yet to post points in the SHL or Allsvenskan (Swedish league 2). For a guy who is hugely offensively focused, that scares the shit out of me. If I'm picking someone this high up, I want as close to a guarantee as possible, and Boqvist isn't it. Hughes, however, has performed against men in the NCAA, leading the Wolverines to a Frozen Four appearance as a freshman. He was off to a slow start in terms of goal production, but he turned that around too as he got used to playing big minutes and running the Michigan power play. And that's all without touching his best asset, his skates. This kid is the best skater in the entire draft and it's not close. In a league that is seeing defensemen get smaller, skating becoming the main focus, and our desperate need for a defenseman who generates offense, Hughes is the guy. And again, about the size issue, if you think we have too many small guys as is, between Hicketts, Saarijarvi, and Hronek, I'm telling you this right now, those guys won't be around if Hughes continues being this good. Hughes is a talent that you make room for, not pass over in favor of guys you have who are similar but worse. As much as I love those guys, again, it's not close. You pick the better guy here.
Bouchard is the guy I take 2nd of the 4 because if Hughes is everything you want in a defenseman for the future of the NHL, Bouchard is everything the Wings organization has wanted since Lidstrom left. He has size, elite potential (although, not quite as high as Hughes or Boqvist), and leadership qualities at a young age. He's a well composed young man who, oh yeah, has basically been the only good defenseman the London Knights had all season. He plays so many minutes per game that it's no wonder everyone loves him and he dominates the box score. He had 87 points in 67 games this year. That's nothing to gloss over. Again, I'm not mad with either Bouchard or Hughes, but my preference is on Hughes. He has more talent out the gate, is more likely to contribute right away, and a higher potential with a skillset that we know translates to the NHL. Bouchard, for all his positives, has never played higher than the OHL and we can't get that same guarantee that we can with Hughes.
Dobson, as I mentioned, is the poor man's Bouchard. He will take more time to develop and doesn't have the same high end ability, but he's a damn good consolation prize. Another year in the Q, then a year in the AHL would be what I expect for a guy like him. Either way, he's a really good defenseman that will look to make a splash.
Next is Wahlstrom and Veleno, who I have at 9. Frankly, I think Veleno is a top 5 talent who struggled to meet expectations, but he's better than Wall-E. If we somehow end up in the worst time frame where we can't get any of our defensemen, which is damn near impossible, then yeah, give me one of these guys. Should we end up with one, that means we're trading into the top 20 to pick a defenseman.
Ty Smith comes last just by happenstance. He's got the lowest ceiling of any defenseman in the top 10, but still offers a lot to the table. In another draft year, that 7 point performance against Spokane makes him a lock for a top 5 selection.
So... if that's the top 10, what's next? Let's split this into two parts. If we take a defenseman, who do we look at with our next 3 selections and then if we take a forward, what do we do?
First, let's assume a defenseman is taken. Whether it's Dahlin, Hughes, Bouchard, or whomever, we got what we came here for. That leaves us with two options: trade up for a top 20 selection to get another big impact player or just take who we want. If we're trading up, that likely involves us moving to one of the Islanders picks (the have 2 between 10 and 15, unless they get a magic ping pong ball), Philly at 14, 15, or 19 (they have the Blues 1st), the Bruins pick that was sent to the Rangers (could be around 20, should they not make it to the 2nd round), Ottawa at 22, or Minnesota at 24. While it's unlikely, there's definitely options in this area. If we really pay up, or Veleno slips, we could make a huge, un-Holland-like move to get him around the 10-15 mark, but I have trouble believing he will go past Carolina. They need a top center and whether you think so or not, the team feels Larkin is that guy as a true number 1, a la Patrice Bergeron. With Rasmussen in the AHL, I don't see us making a jump that high for Veleno unless we smell blood in the water and we can get him on the cheap. Another, more likely option from 15-25 would be Akil Thomas. He's an incredibly talented center who is, by my estimation, a top 10 talent that isn't getting recognition. If we're focusing on the wings, the two in this same 10-20, 15-25 range would be Grigori Denisenko and Serron Noel. Noel is a power forward with a knack for scoring goals, but doesn't have the speed you'd want in the NHL. Denisenko is a god tier talent offensively that dominates the Russian 2nd league (MHL)... except that he has no points. If he was lighting up Russia, with the tape he produces, he's an easy top 10 selection. Both are good, but again it comes to how far can they fall and how much would we be willing to give up? There's others like Hayton, Lundestrom, Kupari, Kotkaniemi, and Farabee in the teens range, but I don't see them as targets for Detroit.
Should we keep our selections and need forwards, I'd focus on Kurashev, Kravtsov, McBain, and Bokk. Kurashev is my personal favorite, while I would be more cautious with McBain (who is known to take nights off) and Kravtsov (who is incredibly talented, but may not come over from Russia any time soon).
Now let's flip the script and say we need defense. Should we trade up, you're looking at Bode Wilde, Ty Smith, Jared McIsaac, and the almighty divider, Ryan Merkley. All of these would be good guys to have, but either don't have that elite ceiling or aren't terribly flashy. Well, besides Merkley. That kid might actually be a psychopath, but I'll be damned if he doesn't have a top 5 skill set on him. That's part of what makes him so divisive, because there's a very good chance that he entirely falls out of the 1st round due to his off ice issues. If he's going to make it work anywhere, it would be Detroit. Don't even get me started if we manage to right the ship and make him into the star he knows he can become, but that's a whole other topic for discussion.
Should we keep our picks and want a defenseman, because Ken Holland has more picks in the top 40 this year than he had at all between 2000 and 2005 and feels like treating himself, we can add a defensive defenseman like Jett Woo or Mattias Samuelsson to the mix. Perhaps he wants a more offensively talented guy (this is where you'll want to use the Hronek, Hicketts, Saarijarvi argument guys), he can send a parrot up to the announcer's mic with the names of Ryan Merkley, K'Andre Miller, or Rasmus Sandin. There's a ton of good options on the table for us and I feel like this is the year that we really, truly, restock the cupboards. Even if we manage to trade and walk out with something like Hughes, Noel, and Woo, that would be an incredible haul for us going forward.
submitted by whattanerd92 to DetroitRedWings [link] [comments]

We are winning the 2019 Stanley Cup in our 25th Anniversary season

I have a strong feeling that we will not only make a deep run next season, but also win the cup.
The Positives:
Our goalie duo: I love Gibson and I love Ryan Miller. Not much to say here except we need to work on our defense and zone passing so that we can alleviate the pressure of odd man rushes and breakaways on our goaltenders.
Ryan Kesler: His determination and perseverance is unmatched. Expect him to go back to Selkie finalist mode in October when he is fully healthy.
Patrick Eaves: A bittersweet sentence here as 'what could have been' in our 2017 cup run, Eaves has had a difficult year but you can bet he will be back and is a positive influence in both the locker room and our lackluster offense. Please stay healthy and our 1st line will be BEASTMODE.
Cam Fowler: The anchor of our defense, we found out the hard way TWICE now(2016 and 2018 1st round exits) that we both need him leading our blueline, and love him. Fowler does a lot of things that do not show up even in the advanced statistics columns and hopefully has a healthy entry in the 2019 playoffs.
Lindholm/Manson: The power duo will only get better this upcoming season and not much else needs to be said. Very proud of these two and they are an integral part of our future success.
Brandon 'DirtNasty' Montour: The kid is fucking nasty. His first full season was exactly what we wanted to see, and I love the pairing with Fowler at the end of the season. This guy needs to stop getting wiped out by the ice ghosts and he will be a future leader of this Anaheim team.
The Youth Movement: Randy Carlyle will be back, and while the hivemind is that we want him gone, I'm willing to give him one final chance CONTINGENT on a focus towards the youth movement. Our 4th line needs to be 2 young guys with 1 veteran(Derek Grant). Play them 9-12 minutes per game and we have 4 strong lines with the possibility of one of the young guys upgrading to the 3rd or even 1st line depending on what happens. Also, I bet we see an either improved Petterson or the exciting entry of Jacob Larsson into our 3rd pairing.
And lastly,
Captain Godzlaf: I, being the biggest Getzlaf fan around, was disappointed the most by his poor playoff showing and lack of leadership the past 2 weeks. But you know what? IM NOT WORRIED. This is a guy that came back from the facial injury and put up ABOVE 1 PPG in over 55 games. Keeping in mind his penchant for bouncing back the following playoffs in a BIG way after having a poor one the year before, you can expect Godzlaf to carry us next postseason.
Dont give up on this team, these players, and our coaching staff just yet. 2017-2018 was a weird, injury filled year that ALWAYS kept us behind in terms of building a consistent identity that carries us through the highs and lows of the NHL postseason. There was no consistency this season; it was a roller coaster of wins and losses, looking woeful and like the best team in a matter of days.
We will be back, we will go deep next season, and Kesler WILL lift his first Lord Stanley Cup in June 2019.
submitted by Godzlaf to AnaheimDucks [link] [comments]

Tried posting this a couple days ago but didn't have the karma. Millsap's irrelevant now but here's my Hawks Free Agency breakdown

Atlanta Hawks

Owner: Antony Ressler
General Manager: Travis Schlenk
Head Coach: Mike Budenholzer
It's incredible to think that a team that won 60 games, made the Eastern Conference Finals and boasted 4 All-Stars just 2 seasons ago is entering a full rebuild this offseason, but that's exactly what the Hawks have to do. I guess that says something about the value of today's superstars...or maybe that's just Atlanta sports at work. (Sorry Atlanta, no empathy after allowing Canada another chance at the Stanley Cup. It's only been 24 years, they could win any year now!) Regardless, the fact remains that a Hawks rebuild is imminent, and the Howard trade only expedites The Process®. Today, we're going to glance at what they can, somewhat realistically, do this summer to progress. we were going to look at some guys they can target, but I don't have as much time as I expected, as I have to catch a plane in about 2 hours. Instead we're just going to look at the Hawks' free agents and where they could end up this offseason, as well as some contracts they could be looking at, and I'll be giving my own opinion on how the signing team will fare in regards to the newly acquired free agent.

Atlanta Hawks 2017 Free Agents

Paul Millsap

The last of the NBA Eastern Conference Players of the Month, January 2015 has likely played his final game for the Hawks. It's unfortunate that the end of the 4x All-Star's time as a Hawk came with such whimper and such little bang, but on the bright side, Millsap will have a slue of teams interested in paying him a lot of money this summer. A lot. Just how much, nobody asked?
Two factors go into Millsap's potential contract. The first is mileage. Millsap has accumulated 11 seasons in the NBA, which makes him eligible for the 10+ seasons max contract. The second factor would be Bird Rights. Atlanta owns Millsap's Bird Rights, which means they're able to offer a bit more than other teams. Here's a breakdown.
If Millsap signs with anyone other than Atlanta, the 10+ seasons max offers:
  • First-season salary of 35% of the 2017 NBA Salary Cap
  • Annual raise of 5%
  • 4-year contract
The original expected 2017-2018 NBA Salary Cap was around 102M, but due to such short series in this year's playoffs, the new expected cap is around 99M. Using this as the constant, that would mean a Millsap max-contract offer would look something like this:
Season Salary
17-18 $34,650,000
18-19 $36,382,500
19-20 $38,115,000
20-21 $39,847,500
Total: $148,995,000
If Millsap were to re-sign with Atlanta, the 10+ seasons max would entail:
  • First-season salary of 35% of the 2017 NBA Salary Cap
  • Annual raise of 8%
  • 5-year contract
Assuming the same 99M salary cap, Millsap's max contract if he were to re-sign with Atlanta would look like this:
Season Salary
17-18 $34,650,000
18-19 $37,422,000
19-20 $40,194,000
20-21 $42,966,000
21-22 $45,738,000
Total: $200,970,000
That's a lot of money for Atlanta. That's a lot of money either way, but that's specifically a lot of money for Atlanta to commit to an already 32-year old when their second best player is Dennis Schröder (and they really can't afford Bazemore 2.0). Given that they've already dealt Dwight Howard this summer (who they signed last summer) for pennies on the dollar, I think it's safe to say the Hawks aren't the most likely suitors for Millsap.
Millsap averaged 18.1/7.7/3.7 last season. It looks pretty nice on paper, but anyone who's watched Paul knows that a ton of his value comes from the facets of the game that you can't find on the stat sheet: defense, post passing, and spacing. Unfortunately, some of the je ne se qua that makes Millsap an All-Star seemed to fade a bit last year.
Looking across his years as a Hawk, Millsap produced a low last season in the following relevant statistics:
Season FG% 3P% TRB% STL% BLK% DWS DBPM PER VORP
13-14 46.1% 35.8% 14.6% 2.6% 2.5% 4.0 2.4 19.8 3.2
14-15 47.6% 35.6% 13.6% 2.8% 2.4% 4.3 2.6 20.0 3.7
15-16 47.0% 31.9% 15.1% 2.7% 4.1% 6.0 4.2 21.3 4.9
16-17 44.2% 31.1% 12.5% 1.9% 2.3% 3.8 2.1 17.8 2.7
That's a lot of categories to post mediocre numbers in during your contract season, but there are some explanations.
No roster is left unshaken after each offseason, but the Hawks went through an above-average amount of impactful change a year ago. Starting point guard Jeff Teague was traded to Indiana in July, while starting center Al Horford was replaced with Dwight Howard. Those two positions impact Millsap's play far more than anyone else on the team, so a bit of leeway has to be given. Dwight is likely responsible for the drop in rebounding and blocks, while the loss of Teague likely led to the decrease in efficiency. Millsap also dealt with some injuries this season, which could have also played a part in his regression.
But with all of this said, would you not be incredibly hesitant to offer this guy a $150M contract if you were one of these rich owners? That's a lot of disappointment to draw fault to a player's situation or injuries, and would anyone be that surprised if Millsap hit another wall next year or the year after?
One of the most worrying parts of his performance is the 3P%. Millsap's huge drop in range effiency came between 2015 and 2016, when the Hawks were experiencing much more stability AND Millsap played 81 games in the 15-16 season. He legitimately looks to have hit a wall in this regard, which, if true, cuts his value as a modern PF nearly in half. Combined with his defensive woes, Millsap could be a $150M albatross for the next 4 years.
Or he could've just had a bad year on a mediocre team, so with all that nonsense out of the way, let's talk location. Millsap will almost definitely earn a max contract from somebody this offseason, so the questions we have to ask are 1. who can afford him and 2. who wants him the most.
Only 4 non-Atlanta teams can currently sign Millsap to his first-year salary of $34.65M: the Golden State Warriors, the Sacramento Kings, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Denver Nuggets. The Warriors will be re-signing their players at (nearly) any and all costs, so you can cross them off the list, but I'm not sure that you can cut anyone else from that 4 completely out of the equation just yet.
Of those 3 remaining, the 76ers are the least likely to offer Millsap his contract due to their commitment to their youth, but the fit is intriguing. Millsap would fit in well next to both Embiid and Simmons (if they want him at SF) in the front court, and would offer veteran leadership to a squad that could likely use it. Unlikely but who knows? Brett Brown is a descendant of the Popovich coaching tree, so he knows the value of a veteran, and Colangelo absolutely knows how to ruin a team's future, so I could see them going for it regardless of how a workout goes, so don't cross Philly off the list just yet!
Sacramento seems likely to just stick with developing their youth as well. Labisierre showed immense potential last year and drafting Harry Giles more or less puts a cap on any major PF free-agency chatter in Sacramento. But they're the Kings. I know it's lazy to just say "they're the Kings", but they've proven too many times to be incapable of successfully running an NBA team for me to completely cut them out. They've actually been linked to Millsap free agency rumors already, so if it wasn't for the fact that I just can't get behind any logic (even Kings-logic), they'd probably be leading my list right now.
Last from the trio, the Denver Nuggets are a legitimate contender for Millsap. I expect they'll throw something at Indiana for Paul George (they've likely already), then try for Griffin when that doesn't work out, and then try for Millsap when that doesn't work out. Millsap could fit right in next to budding superstar Nikola Jokic, and could likely teach him a thing or two (hopefully about defense). This could be a fantastic move for the Nuggets, as they're not likely to be in title contention mode for most of the years that Millsap would be under contract, and it could help their young star in an area of the game he's struggling in, which is beneficial for them long term.
Another team that could look at Millsap is the ever-involved Houston Rockets. The Rockets are one of the few teams in a "win-now" situation, so it only makes sense to bring them up in marquee free agent discussions.The Rockets have already been involved in Millsap rumors, and while he's not their #1 target, given Daryl Morey's propensity towards shooting, Millsap's career high 3-point rate in 2017 could be enough to entice Morey to make the move. With that said, I'm not entirely sure how the Rockets could acquire Millsap. The Rockets currently sit at -$4.3M in available cap space after the Chris Paul trade, and trading away Anderson AND Gordon (a terrible decision) would only put the Rockets at $28.2M above the salary cap going into free agency, not enough to cover Millsap's near $35M first-year contract. I'm not sure if a sign-and-trade for Anderson and Gordon would work, but if not I don't see it. If Millsap were willing to take less than the max, this could be a potentially deadly fit, but as that's unlikely (don't blame you, big fella), the Rockets are only on the cusp of the Millsap debate for now.
The other team that's been linked to Millsap is the Phoenix Suns. The Suns are currently about 10M short, but they have Jared Dudley, Brandon Knight and Tyson Chandler's contracts that they could trade any one of to clear enough space if they really wanted to. That said, I don't see the fit once again. They've more or less committed to Chriss for the near future, and Jackson, Bender and Warren will all be fighting for the other forward minutes Phoenix has to offer. Unless Phoenix can work out a nice deal where they send some big contracts elsewhere for cheap, I don't see them making any big splashes either.
TL;DR
Most Likely Destination: Denver Nuggets
Likely Salary: Max Contract
Likely Outcome for Team that signs him: Somewhere from underratedly helpful to disastrously cap strangling, but probably nowhere in between

Tim Hardaway Jr.

Easily the second most intriguing free agent this offseason for the Hawks is shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. The Hawks accepted Hardaway's qualifying offer, which makes him a restricted free agent this summer. That means the Hawks can match any contract offer that Hardaway signs with another team. Though he hasn't exactly lived up to his father's legacy, THJ looked much better last year than any of his previous 3 seasons, and for that reason, he's looking at a potentially big payday this summer. I'm not so sure that it should be from the Hawks, though.
Financial flexibility seems to be one of the Hawks top priorities this offseason, and signing Hardaway to the contract he's likely going to demand is the opposite of that. Aside from just a financial standpoint, the Hawks need to decide where they're at as a franchise. As of now, next year's Hawks are looking at a starting lineup of SchordeBelinelli/Bazemore/Prince/Plumlee. That will obviously change a bit, but all adding Hardaway will do to that lineup is worsen your chances at an early draft pick.
People complain about how little parity there is in today's NBA and they say the only way to win is by tanking. But if the free agent market was just a little more reasonable, I don't think we would have such an issue. For some reason, when team's have money to spend, they feel the need to spend it now. Look at Portland's salary outlook for the next few years and you'll see exactly what I mean. More relevantly, the Hawks know first hand that overvaluing talent can destroy a team. Kent Bazemore's contract is already forcing them to gut their team just a year later (there's more to it than one contract, but it surely played a significant role). Zach Lowe said during his reunion podcast with Bill Simmons "We always hear 'Well someone's gonna pay so-and-so', and I can't help but think, what if you just don't? What if just nobody pays Jeff Green this summer?" and this is no different. An aging vet or a young role player, it doesn't matter who it is, if their contract outweighs their value to a team, it's not worth it. Think about it this way. If the cap is 99M and THJ demands, let's say the same 16M that Bazemore demanded last summer, that's over 16% of the cap. Do you think THJ can contribute 16% of a title? It's possible, but the odds are against you, and with the salaries the Hawks already have on the books, the chances become slim to none.
It is admittedly tougher for smaller market teams to compete, and often they do have to overpay just to retain their roster, but if there's no light at the end of the tunnel, what's the point? It's yet to be seen what kind of contract Hardaway is going to demand on the open market, but we've seen opposing teams get aggressive with RFA's, so I don't think upwards of 18M or even 20M is unreasonable (14-15M is more along the lines of what I expect though).
Having said all of this, I want to note that I don't think Hardaway is anywhere near as bad of a player as Bazemore. He scored 14 PPG last year shooting 36% from deep. That's not eye-opening by any means, but he's barely 25 and has potential to grow next to Schröder for the foreseeable future. I think the Hawks should try and arrange a reasonable price with Hardaway or match any reasonable offer sheet that Hardaway signs. The Hawks may be rebuilding, but you still need to take lottery tickets every now and then, and Hardaway is exactly that. Anything under 14M should be considered and anything under 12M should be maxed.
The other alternative for the Hawks would be to try and frontload Hardaway's contract if everything goes wrong for them in free agency. They can afford to pay him the max (25% of 99M would be $24.75M) next season if they're tanking, but flexibility from that point forward is much more important than Hardaway's value now. Under the new CBA, the "sugar pill" contract is more or less outlawed, with pay decreases only up to 8%, so a max in the first year is unlikely, but it still opens up their options. If they contact Hardaway about this before he signs a contract offer from someone else, it could end up beneficial for both sides. Here's a look at a potential front-loaded contract offer from the Hawks:
Season Salary
17-18 $19,500,000
18-19 $17,940,000
19-20 $16,380,000
20-21 $14,820,000
Total $68,640,000
This still isn't exactly an ideal contract given Hardaway's expected value, but it offers future flexibility, and the Hawks have no plans for this year or likely next year anyways. This would also allow them to plan for the 2020 offseason as their year to strike, as Plumlee's 12.5M coming off the books that year. Having a 28 year old Hardaway for 15M might attract a big name FA if Hardaway pans out, and if not they just move on next year. Most importantly though, it just gives them a plan.
Hardaway could get more money from someone else, and I'd consider taking it if I were him, but signing with the Hawks means playing time and $70M/4 years is a really good salary for anyone. A 4-year deal (or even a 3 year deal) also allows him to try and make more money down the road if he wants to make a bet on himself.
As for other teams who could look to sign him, it's a shot in the dark and anyone's best guess. There are 18 teams that could already practically offer Hardaway an estimated 15M this season, but anyone could make a move for him. Brooklyn has shown a bit of bite in the past trying to sign RFA's and have struck out time and time again, so maybe they look at a guy like Hardaway instead of the bigger names like Otto Porter that are almost definitely going to be re-signed. But THJ's a shooting guard with the ability to play reasonable minutes at small forward and he can shoot. That makes him a highly sought after prospect by nearly every team in the league, with the only question remaining: who's willing to pay the most?
TL;DR
Most Likely Destination: Atlanta Hawks, but realistically anywhere that will pay him
Likely Salary: ~15M increasing OR front-loaded contract
Likely Outcome for Team that Signs Him: Disappointment for the price they'll pay

Mike Muscala

Not exactly the most hyped prospect, to say the least, but this kid is 25, 6'11", and just averaged 13/7 per 36 and shot 41.1% from deep. There are a lot of teams that could desperately use him, and luckily for them he's only going to cost around 8M and it will likely be a flat rate contract. He's talented, and in the right system I could see him producing well above his expected cost.
His defense is bad, though. His 2017 DRTG of 107 matches Enes Kanter's and that's worrisome to say the least. DraftExpress lists his wingspan as 7'1" though and it's likely grown another half-inch since college, so there's some potential there.
Seriously though, this kid could be of real value to a lot of teams. Off the top of my head the Minnesota Timberwolves and Brooklyn Nets are two teams that could absolutely find a spot for him in their rotation next season, and he'd fit in nicely on either team. Or just staying in Atlanta could be a good move, too, they need guys who can play center that aren't Miles Plumlee. More-so, he's only going to cost so much. I wouldn't be surprised to see him ink a 5M backloaded contract for 3 years or something similar. Teams in contention won't be interested in spending their valuable cap space on a guy who might not pan out, but for younger teams that on the up-and-up that needs shooting bigs and have a decent amount of cap space, why not take a chance on Muscala?
TL;DR
Most Likely Destination: Minnesota Timberwolves
Likely Contract: Upwards of 10M, more likely ~6M
Likely Outcome for Team that Signs Him: Pleasantly Surprised

Ersan Ilysavoa

This guy has to find his way to a contender, or at least a faux-contender. There's just no way he's enjoying playing 24 minutes a night on terrible teams while shooting less than he ever has before. He can be of immense value to a team like the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs or Cleveland Cavaliers, and he can get a shot at winning his first title. He's just turned 30 and the best teams he's played for is either last year's Pistons or one of the Milwaukee teams he was on earlier in his career. By the way, he's been in the league since he was 19 (except for 2 years he was playing in Spain), so that's a decent amount of time to have never played for a good team. Wouldn't you want to know what it's like to train and compete at the highest level if you were him?
Ilyasova will likely draw decent interest across the league, because as I said before, almost everyone can use a bit of shooting nowadays. He shot .353 from deep last year, but he was moved around so much it's difficult to put a finger on how good he actually was. His defense isn't going to get you far, but that's not why you sign him. If someone can find him for a decent contract, it could be a very mutually beneficial deal.
This said, I can never blame a guy for getting paid, and there's a chance someone like the Sacramento Kings or Denver Nuggets throw a bit of change his way if other options don't work out.
TL;DR
Most Likely Destination: San Antonio Spurs
Likely Contract: $5M would be a steal
Likely Outcome for Team that Signs Him: Depends who signs him, but I expect pretty neutral feelings

Kris Humphries

I always have a soft spot for guys like Humphries who are, for whatever reason, much more famous than their play-level would let on. After the whole Kardashian ordeal, some teams sort of steered clear of Humphries for non-basketball reasons, which is absolutely ridiculous and completely unfair to Kris. I'm not saying off-the-court actions shouldn't be surveyed by GMs before making a move, but this guy got the blunt end of the stick on this one.
So on to basketball. It needs to be noted that Kris Humphries added a 3-point shot to his arsenal two seasons ago. If he hadn't done that, I'm not sure that he would have his own section in this article. He shot a legitimate .340 from deep out of nowhere in his brief 2016 stint with Washington, but then seemed to lose it a bit as he was dealt to new teams twice that year. Last year, though, he shot .352 again, which is an awesome percentage for someone who had made 2 three's in his 11-year career before 2016, even if it is on limited attempts.
I'd love to see Humprhies take a minimum with a contender and play some limited but valuable minutes. The San Antonio Spurs seem like an ideal fit to me, but the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors could be in the mix if Humprhies is willing to take a minimum deal (and they think his shooting is legit). Other teams we could see looking to sign him for cheap are the Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors, or even a return to the Washington Wizards seems reasonable to me.
TL;DR
Most Likely Destination: I'll say Toronto Raptors
Likely Contract: Vet minimum almost definitely
Likely Outcome for Team that Signs Him: Only the team's fans will know he's on their team

Thabo Sefolosha

Another unfortunate off-the-court incident took Sefolosha as it's victim in the spring of 2015 when he was notshot in the leg by an officer, but was beaen with a baton instead (shoutout Vndrew_The_Mandrew). Since that story was somehow just kind of swept over, Sefolosha news has been few and far between. Which sucks because he was playing well that season.
Last year, Sefolosha averaged 34.2% from deep and played pretty damn good defense to go along with it. A 3 and D player of his caliber should likely be earning more rep this offseason than he is, but I suppose it comes with age and limited potential. Sefolosha's best option would be, again, to sign with a contender for cheap. Something under 7M seems pretty reasonable to me, but who knows nowadays with these 3-and-D wings? I could see Sefolosha demanding something along closer to 10M, perhaps on a front loaded contract, from somewhere like the Indiana Pacers or the Utah Jazz if neither of them earn their desired results this offseason. Ideally, though, a vet min with the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs or Cleveland Cavaliers would help with their depth and could also help spice things up a bit in a league that is becoming as predictable as ever before.
TL;DR
Most Likely Destination: Indiana Pacers
Likely Contract: 7M or MLE
Likely Outcome for Team that Signs Him: Forgettable player on a forgettable team

Jose Calderon

This guy shouldn't be in the NBA anymore, other than maybe as a veteran who never plays but helps with shooting or something. But that's just a coach, they don't need to use a roster spot for that. Seriously this dudes ORTG and DRTG were 100 and 113 last year, respectively, which are opposites of what they should have been. Add on the fact that he shot 31.3% from deep last year on 6 attempts a game and you should just write this guy off immediately. Anything more than a 12th man is too much for him.
TL;DR
Most Likely Destination: Hopefully no team that I like
Likely Contract: Vet min is a max for him
Likely Outcome for Team that Signs Him: Net negative every minute he's on the floor
I hope you guys enjoyed! I know I'm a bit late as FA starts...checks calendar...tomorrow...and I won't really be able to keep this up for every team at the moment, as I had originally intended (I couldn't even finish this one!). But I'll be trying my best to release content as often as I can afford the time!
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