Why Not Nashville?

Why Not Nashville?

Jason Spezza has demanded a trade from the Ottawa Senators, and with his limited no-trade clause, he was able to submit a list of 10 teams that he would not be willing to be traded to.

Most of the teams on the list make sense. He no longer wants to play under the microscope of a Canadian market, so there are six teams that make up the list. And that is fair. Not just because he wants out of Canada, but because all of the Canadian teams are in pretty terrible shape on the ice, and he would not be able to challenge for a championship with any of them in the foreseeable future.

spezzaThe one team that I was surprised to see on his list was the Nashville Predators. With the stories coming out that there was a deal in place to send him there, and that he refused to waive his no-trade to go there, Spezza is being made out to be the bad guy in the situation, handcuffing his GM by not allowing him to get the best deal out there for the Sens. Well, that is neither here nor there, as Spezza is just exercising the rights afforded to him in the contract that his GM created for him. If he doesn’t want to go somewhere, that’s fine. Then it is up to the GM to not trade him to the very place he said he wouldn’t go, and then try to throw him under the bus to the media.

But I wonder why he wouldn’t want to go to Nashville? Sure, the team has always struggled offensively, which is exactly why they would want to trade for the proven scoring center. But they have a strong foundation down there, with some good young players and a tremendous defensive corps, starting in net with Pekka Rinne and on D with Shea Weber and Seth Jones. With some punch on the offensive side, they are a team that is not far off from competing. And they showed that they are willing to make some changes in order to get better, as demonstrated by their acquisition of James Neal from the Penguins on Friday.

Spezza could have been a star in Nashville, the leader of the offense. But, perhaps, this is not what he wants. He has been in the spotlight for so long in Ottawa, I could see him wanting to end up on a team where he isn’t “the man.” Where he can be a secondary piece, on the second line, and not have to deal with the constant scrutiny that has followed him for his whole career.

Nashville seems like a fun place to play, to be honest. For being a non-traditional hockey market, they have a ferocious fan base, a great building, and from everything I have heard, it is a really fun place to live. Nashville has a great nightlife, and a great music scene, and could definitely appeal to the young millionaire as a place to settle for a few years. I don’t think that Spezza didn’t want to go there because of the city, but because of the situation.

Now, we are forced to wonder who is left for him to be traded to? The only team that really makes sense is the St. Louis Blues, who were rumoured to be involved in trade talks about him from the moment he said he wanted a trade. What other team could afford him, have the pieces to trade for him, and offer him the protection of better talent and a diminished on-ice role? If he wasn’t so expensive, I could see Chicago being involved. Maybe even Minnesota. What about the Red Wings or the Rangers?

The options are definitely limited for him now, which brings me back to the question of why he wouldn’t want to go to Nashville. If anything, it could have helped him out, because there may not be anywhere else to go.

NFL Draft: Johnny Football, Cleveland Browns

NFL Draft: Johnny Football, Cleveland Browns

It’s tough to dislike the Cleveland Browns, because they have been such a picture of incompetence over the past years (pretty much since they came back into the league), that you don’t need to wish bad things upon them, if you dislike them. They will always end up doing bad things to themselves.

With the NFL draft taking place over the past couple of days, many people were wondering what the Browns were going to do with the number four overall pick. Was it time they tried to grab what they hope will be a franchise passer? There is always that possibility, and for a long time the Browns were linked to controversial Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. But at No. 4? Too high, right?

Right.

manzielFor once, it seems like the Browns did some smart thinking as they prepared for this draft. And they weren’t afraid to move around. Trading back from 4 to 9, then back up to 8, they drafted…a cornerback. Which was probably a smart move. Nobody is certain about this crop of QBs, so taking one this early was still a large risk. Sure, the Jacksonville Jaguars took Blake Bortles at No. 3, but they were even more desperate for a signal caller than the Browns were. The Brows at least have Hoyer, while all the Jags have is…Chad Henne? For real?

Then the Browns moved again, moving up from 26 to 22 so that they could grab the most divisive, and headline grabbing prospect in a long time: Johnny Football.

And I like the move. A lot.

I have spent the past couple of years tying to decide if I love or hate the way that Manziel plays football. He is brash, and cocky, which is great. He makes mistakes, which is more fun than so many of our dull athletes out there. He plays the game ferociously, and even if I don’t love the move to scrambling quarterbacks, I understand how they are a nightmare of defensive coaches to plan for.

I have no idea if Manziel will be any good in Cleveland. He is small, and doesn’t have the best arm. But they guy is an athlete, and he is a competitor. And I like that for the Browns, who after so many years of failure, could use some hope and excitement.

Watching Manziel play, I know for sure that he will be a better NFL quarterback than Tim Tebow, who in my mind is one of the worst players to suit up as a QB in history (yes, I know, he won some games as a Bronco, but come on…he was awful). I don’t know that he will be in the league of Cam Newton, who not only holds a similar skill set, but is a physical specimen that Manziel cannot attain. How beat up will he get in a league where everybody is faster than they were in college? Where he will definitely suffer some massive hits just based on his style of play?

I read one article that with this pick the Browns were looking at Manziel as a solution for the next 5-7 years. Not the next 15. I agree with this, but for this franchise, this is what they need to be looking at. They need some spark, and they need something for the fans to cheer for. If Manziel comes in and lights the league on fire, then great. He will probably not last to have a long career like a Brady or Manning, but if he can ignite this franchise for a few seasons, then he has done his job. And it is a massive sign of relief, as they didn’t have to spend a top-5 pick to get him.

I must say that I am pretty excited to see what the kid can do against NFL talent. A big plus, I feel, is that he did play in the SEC, where there are tons of NFL-caliber players anyway, and not some small school in a minor league. The SEC is tough, and Manziel generally tore it up. This will make a more seamless move for him into the pros.

This is something that probably hasn’t been said in a long time, but it must be exciting to be a Browns fan right about now. The possibility of a brighter future is right there, and everyone will have to wait and see if Manziel is all he is hyped up to be. I can’t wait.

Mike Gillis: Worst GM in the NHL

Mike Gillis: Worst GM in the NHL

Even since Steve Tambellini was fired by the Edmonton Oilers last year, the position of being the worst General Manager in the NHL has been vacant.

We all saw this coming, from the way things have been mishandled in Vancouver over the past couple of years. And now, it is official: Mike Gillis is the worst GM in the league.

Mike-GillisHe has had far too many missteps, so many in fact that he is more laughable than other league punching bags, such as Paul Holmgren over in Philly, who never seems short on making baffling moves and contract signings.

Here are some of the lowlights of Gillis over the past while.

  • Signed goalie Roberto Luongo to an insane, cap-circumventing contract. 12 years for a goalie is absolutely insane. Poor decision.
  • He made his goalie his team captain. A silly gimmick that backfired.
  • Said he wanted to trade Luongo. He couln’t/wouldn’t pull the trigger. As far as rumours are concerned, he had a deal on the table with the Maple Leafs last year, and chickened out.
  • Traded his new #1 goalie, Cory Schneider, to the Devils for nothing more than their #1 pick. They drafted Bo Horvat with that one. Other rumours persist that other teams had offered much more for Schneider before the draft. This was a shocking move, but showed his allegiance to Luongo once again.
  • Hired John Tortorella as coach of his team. Not a bad coach, but a bad coach for the team that he had assembled.
  • Re-signed the fading Sedin twins to long and expensive extensions. Sure, these guys have been the cornerstones of the Canucks over the past decade, but they have already begun a mid-30’s fade, and one year in, this looks like a bad deal.
  • Watches as his coach plays backup Eddie Lack a lot more this season than anyone would have expected. Sure, this is more of Torts’ fault, but I’m sure Gillis could have at least stepped in and said something about Lack getting the start in the Heritage Classic.
  • Finally trades Luongo. Back to Florida, where he had wanted to be all along. Gets not much in return. Another prospect goalie, who could eventually push Lack for playing time, but that’s about it.
  • Seems to run organization so poorly that another top player, Ryan Kesler, has asked out of town. It will be interesting to see how Gillis manages to botch this move as well.
  • So much drama on one team. A good manager would have found the problem early and taken care of it. His rotating #1 goalies was a perfect example of gross mismanagement.

Overall, his tenure has been poor. For years, he had a top-contending team, and even got them to the Finals once. But could never put them over the top. Now, they are being forced to rebuild on the fly, as so many of the pieces he has put together have not worked out. Now, a team that had perhaps the best goaltending duo in the league before the draft last year, now has a couple of kids in net, hoping for the best. A coach who isn’t liked. Aging stars who are locked up for years to come at a significant cap hit. Players trying to get out.

And only one person to blame: Gillis. Even though I have no affiliation to the Canucks, it’s time that this clown is let go, and they get somebody competent in there who can run this team, and help turn them around before their very small window is completely closed.

NHL: Goalie Trades Everywhere!

NHL: Goalie Trades Everywhere!

Some pretty big moves again today leading up to the NHL trade deadline tomorrow. Looks like the lead up will again be better than the actual deadline day. But, at least, there are some big moves to discuss.

Vancouver Canucks v Anaheim DucksBryzgalov from Edmonton to Minnesota: The Wild needed a goalie, and like Jason Gregor of TSN 1260 stated yesterday, someone like The Universe has better numbers than Martin Brodeur. He definitely lacks in playoff experience, and can’t really be relied upon, but a semi-solid vet is something the Wild needed as they push to the playoffs. The Oilers get a measly 4th round pick in return. Feels like they could have at least got a mid-level prospect. Surprised the Wild didn’t go for Jarolsav Halak.

Miller from Buffalo to St. Louis: Mentioned this one in a previous post. A strong move by a strong team. It makes the Blues better, and they are already really, really good.

Fasth from Anaheim to Edmonton: The Ducks are silly deep with their goalies this year, and they haven’t even played standout prospect John Gibson yet. Fasth was definitely the most expendable of their goalies, but it is another upgrade for the Oilers. For a team that started with the absolutely abhorrent tandem of Devan Dubnyk and Jason LaBarbera, now having Victor Fasth and Ben Scrivens is a massive upgrade.

Luongo from Vancouver to Florida: Least surprising move…if it happened a year ago. It feels like the Canucks could have, and should have, got more for Luongo, but terrible GM Mike Gillis dragged his feet for far too long. Are we going to pretend that the Leafs didn’t offer up more for Lou last season? Not even really sure why the Panthers made this move, although it will help them meet the salary cap floor for the next few seasons. Plus, I think everyone is in love with the idea of Luongo being teammates with Tim Thomas for at least a little while. Tons of tire pumping to be going on.

Now we can sit back tomorrow, and hope that some forwards are on the move.