Here are a few highlights from the second half of 2009 in the NHL.
– This is Christmas in July for a lot of hockey fans as they wait for their teams to either jump into the free agent market or just sit around and complain about not having enough money to do so.
Some of the big signings included NYR (shocking, I know) signing Marian Gaborik to a 5-year, $37.5 million contract.
Marian Hossa signed with the Chicago Blackhawks to a ridiculous 12-year contract worth a total of $62.4 million with Hossa being paid most of that money up front and about $10 in the last year of the contract or some type of nonsense.
Fans in Vancouver sat in anticipation as the Olsens were still undecided as to whether or not to remain with the Canucks. Each got $30.5 million, 5-year deals.
SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER 2009
– These two months are when players actually start hitting the ice and despite the wishes of some NHL lackeys, the thought that the NHL would have expanded into Europe by now seems an even bigger joke than it did in the 90’s when this idea first started. The league can’t even manage to keep itself on the radar amongst its two biggest markets (U.S. and Canada). Let’s keep the irrelevancy to North America, please.
– In either case, the NHL held some pre-season action in Europe during 2009 via The Victoria Cup, which was held in Switzerland. The Chicago Blackhawks lost to the Zurich ZSC Lions, 2-1 in a one game playoff.
– The NHL regular season also began with two games being played in Europe. The Red Wings faced the St. Louis Blues in Stockholm, Sweden and the Florida Panthers took on the Chicago Blackhawks in Helsinki, Finland. All four teams played back to back games on October 2nd and October 3rd. Florida and Chicago split their two games, while the Blues swept the Red Wings in their two game series.
– This month also brought the Phoenix Coyotes into the news as their financial troubles became news throught the sports world. The NHL continued to reject Jim Balsillie’s bid to purchase the team after Coyotes’ owner Jerry Moyes had agreed to have the team move to Hamilton, Ontario.
– Wayne Gretzky soon stepped down as head coach of the Coyotes and was replaced by the superiorly better, Dave Tippet.
– The Hockey Hall Of Fame inducted its newest five members, and it was a no brainer to see this group be enshrined in Toronto. The new inductees included:
– Phil Kessel, who had been brought into Toronto by new Leafs GM Brian Burke, made his Leaf debut and scored the game winner against the Detroit Red Wings on November 6. He hasn’t been heard from since.
– Alexander Ovechkin returned to action a few weeks after having suffered an injury on Nov. 1st.
– The winter meetings allowed for GM’s to discuss the future of the NHL, among topics discussed were:
Hits to the head (That’s a good one)
Goalie equipment (Make up your minds already)
Pucks going out of play (Whatever)
Tampering rules (This is a good one, these recent player contracts are a joke)
Everyone agreeing not to sign Brandan Shanahan
– Foppa rumors ran wild during November as well. Nobody cared.
– Martin Brodeur continued to break records as he hit the 104 mark in the shutout department, breaking Terry Sawchuk’s previous record.
– Canada announced its roster for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. There a lot of new names, but the reality is much like that of the U.S. squad that was announced on New Year’s Day, it was time to inject new blood into the program and players who were left out were left out for a good reason.