Friday, July 5, 2013

2013 Free Agency - With Tremblay!

Tremblay works the phones.
It's Free Agency day in the NHL! Traditionally, Free Agency Day is the day that the Toronto Maple Leafs try to buy the future, only to see their signings peter out two years later; the day that Glen Sather overpays for the mediocre player available at the position his team most needs; the day that elder statesmen players sign with the Detroit Red Wings to try to win one last Stanley Cup before they retire. I'm blogging with Tremblay, veteran hockey-watcher and Habs fan extraordinaire. So let's get right down to the details - we might skip minor trades, but we'll hit the big ones, promise.

Update 3:38 PM AST
Stephen Weiss signs in Motown. (5 years, $24.9m)

Tremblay: "This is a much-needed depth signing for the Red Wings. It comes down to whether or not he can remain healthy. The cash numbers don't change much from Florida, and it matches his production - but he needs to stay healthy in order to make it a worthwhile deal."

Me: Detroit gets stronger at centre, giving them the ability to move guys around as they see fit - and the fact that they have a glut of quality centremen is nice insurance if Weiss does go down. This also lets them put Zetterberg and Datsyuk together on a line (with Alfredsson?) and still have a bona-fide #2 centre. The cap hit is very reasonable, and Detroit can afford to pay if he goes to IR.

Update 3:29 PM AST
Poile also signs Matt Cullen. (2 years, $7m)

Tremblay: "Another piece in place that makes Nashville harder to play against. They'll be back in contention next year in a big way. If both Forsberg and Jones make the team next year it won't be fair."

Me: Nashville needed a second-line centre and they've addressed that need. He'll fit with Stalberg and I expect to see them click for good points on both sides. They're both 40 point guys and should combine to pitch in 15, 20 goals each.

Update 3:19 PM AST
Nashville snags Viktor Stalberg from the cash-strapped Hawks. (4 years, $12m)

Tremblay: "Nashville will be good regardless next year. They've made good trades and drafts (traded for Filip Forsberg, drafted Seth Jones). They're a team of decent players that work hard, and Stalberg fits that mold. It's not a super-long term and not a high number. I don't think he'll be spectacular, but I think he'll meet the deal.

Me: I think it's a good signing. You pay $3 million for a 40 point guy. Stalberg is a decent second line guy who can chip in 15 or so goals. It makes the Clarkson deal look even worse, if you ask me.

Update 3:08 PM AST
Dave Nonis resigns Bozak, picks up Clarkson. (Bozak: 5 years, $21m; Clarkson: 7 years, $36.75m)

Tremblay: "I love the Bozak deal. You stick to your guns and get a good deal - $4.2m/year over 5 years. It works for the Leafs and gives Bozak a chance to upgrade in 5 years. Clarkson? Too much. This might be a big mistake by the Leafs. Even at Bozak's money, it would be too much."

Me: It's a clear case of Toronto overpaying for a consensus big name on the market. I think it's a bullshit deal. He has one 30 goal year and he's never been more than a half-point a game guy. He won't score 30 goals again, and he won't get more than 40, 45 points a year. Unlike Nathan Horton, Clarkson has only 5 playoff goals in 44 games. He's not a proven playoff guy. This will weigh them down and restrict their cap options going forward. It's not as bad as Clowe - but it's the second worst so far. Bozak, by the way? Good deal, and I think he's in his best possible situation.

Update 3:02 PM AST
Rob Scuderi goes back to Pittsburgh. (4 years, $13.5m)

TSN still hasn't posted this as an official contract signing, but we know it's going ahead, so here's some commentary.

Tremblay: "The dynamic duo of Rob Scuderi and Brook Orpik are back! This is the defensive move that Shero needed to make. If they want Fleury to bounce back or Vokoun to play well they need to have D that plays well and this takes care of that. The price is very good as well."

Me: Scuderi is a guy that simply wins wherever he goes. He picked up the Kings and was the shutdown guy for them and took a role on as mentor for Drew Doughty. Now he gets to reunite with Orpik and fix the major problem the Penguins had in the off-season: the Bruins beat them up and scored whatsoever goals they wanted to score. Big pickup for the Penguins.

Tremblay: "This is as good as the Ference deal. A good number and a good fit."

Me: Yeah, this fits pretty good.

Tremblay: "It's wise use of your money and good negotiating. You want a longer term? You give up a little in yearly money. Shero gets it right."

Update 2:41 PM AST
Bryan Murray replaces Alfy with...Clarke MacArthur? (2 years, $6.5m)

Tremblay: "I think it'll be a great fit - the tough, gritty sort of guy that will fit well with a great coach's system. It's not a huge investment and even if he flops it's only 2 years. But I think it helps the team."

Me: I think he'll do well playing with Spezza - not Alfy good, but well enough to justify the money they're spending on him. A smart pickup.

Update 2:35 PM AST
Ryane Clowe signse withe thee Devilse. (5 years, 24.25m)

Tremblay: "Lou Lamorello rolls the dice. It won't replace Clarkson and it may blow up in Lou's face. This could be a huge albatross around his neck. $4.85m/year isn't huge, but it's more than Clowe could have gotten."

Me: No dice. What the hell is Lamorello thinking? Clowe isn't a 60, 65 point guy anymore. He was only that guy once, playing on a loaded Sharks team. His last season was terrible. I don't think that Clowe recovers and is ever worth the kind of money Lamorello is shelling out. This could be their compliance buyout for the 2014 off-season.

Tremblay: "Could be, but this is a cash-strapped team making a dangerous gamble. It's the wrong deal. There's going to be crazy deals today, but this could easily be one of the worst - depending on what happens with Clarkson."

Me: That depends on whether or not Clarkson lands in Toronto.

Update 2:24 PM AST
Nathan Horton goes to the Blue Jackets with a full-length deal. (7 years, $37.1m)

Tremblay: "I really liked the cap hit - $5.3m. The seven year commitment is a little too long for his injury history. I think he'll bring a lot of grit and a lot of leadership and experience to the Jackets. Now that they've acquired the depth of the New York Rangers I think they're ready to compete in the playoffs.

Me: I think the way the contract is structured ($30 million during the first 5 years) is designed for Horton's likelyhood to become injured. It's basically designed to give him five solid years with a cheap buyout option for the last two years in case he starts to be significantly less productive. My biggest concern for this signing is that Columbus still doesn't have a centre for Gaborik and Horton. There's options there through free agency - and with Ryan Johanssen in the system - but they're still waiting. Same song they played for 10 years of Rick Nash.

Tremblay: "I still think this leaves them better setup for playoff hockey - they have organizational depth now."

Me: They still need to score enough goals to make the playoffs. Horton is a playoff guy, but his regular seasons can be washes.

Tremblay: "That's why they resigned Bobrovsky."

Update 2:14 PM AST
PM Bouchard heads to Long Island for one year. (1 year, $2m)

Tremblay: "Garth Snow has a thing for reclamation projects - Brad Boyes and Matt Moulson come to mind. Bouchard might bounce back and be the guy he was supposed to be, and if not, it's barely cost the Islanders anything."

Me: Low-risk pickup for a team that always needs to work to hit the cap floor. Hopefully it works out for Bouchard and for the Isles.

Update 2:10 PM AST
Mike Ribeiro goes to the desert. (4 years, $22m)

Tremblay: "If he can keep his numbers up this could be a pivotal signing for Phoenix. He gets what he wanted in term length and contract, and he goes to a situation where there is now an owner. This could work out."

Me: Ribeiro has proven that he is a flaky player. I don't think that Riberio works out in Phoenix - he just doesn't have the talent there that he is used to playing with in Washington. I think if they obtain him a quality winger then this could be a discount - if they fail to do so, or if Doan continues to age, this is a bust.

Update 2:06 PM AST
Mike Komisarek signs out of buyout in Carolina. (1 year, $700k)

Tremblay: "HAH!"

Me: Nobody deserves to be banished to the Marlies. Good luck to him in Carolina, but this might be his last year in the NHL.

Original Posting
Evgeni Nabokov resigns with the NY Islanders. (1 year, $3.25m)

Tremblay: "What else were they going to do? Not like Tim Thomas would have actually played for them. They needed a goalie and he got them a playoff berth this year - a one year contract makes sense."

Me: This staves off Garth Snow's new (post-DiPietro buyout) problem for only one year - who's going to be the starter in Brooklyn when Tavares hits his prime? Without a deep goaltender market this year, a one year contract should help them maintain this level of success - but 37 year old goalies aren't a plan for the future.

Andrew Ference signs in Edmonton. (4 years, $13m)

Tremblay: "Perfect fit - perfect price, perfect team, probably the best signing today."

Me: Ference will be a big part of the future of the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers lose Ryan Whitney to free agency (and who can blame them on that one) and instead bring in a guy who can mentor both Justin Schultz and Darnell Nurse. Ference has won a Stanley Cup, and played in two more Cup finals, and as a result he brings winning experience to a team that desperately needs it.

Daniel Alfredsson leaves the Senators and signs in Detroit. (1 year, $5.5m)

Tremblay: "Phew. Alfy goes to a cup contender where he doesn't have to be "the guy", similar to Jarome Iginla. It's shocking, but this is the modern NHL. Pretty much, I'm lost for words - it's hard to voice the words "Daniel Alfredsson won't play for the Ottawa Senators". Detroit is a team built on veterans that compete like rookies. He'll be playing top line or second line minutes for an excellent coach. It's a great fit with the Swedish Connection.

Me: Alfredsson's desire to leave Ottawa doesn't shock me as much as it did others - some, yeah, but not as much. The Senators haven't been able to give Alfredsson a Cup-challenging team in a few years, and they won't be there again during his career. Alfredsson was maligned for losing production this season, but he was playing on a team where his centre was hurt most of the year - a problem that likely will not happen in Detroit.

Ray Emery takes his new Cup ring to Philadelphia. (1 year, $1.65m)

Tremblay: "This isn't the right move for the Flyers." (Me: When do they ever make the right goaltending move?) "They had a bonifide started with Bryzgalov, and now they're moving to a goaltender who went 17-1 in Chicago but who has had major surgery. It's a huge gamble - it could pay off, but a gamble nonetheless."

Me: Mason better find his Calder Trophy-winning form, because I don't think Emery can handle the pressure of Philadelphia as the starter. I hope I'm wrong, because Razor deserves to win and to be the #1 guy after the shit he's gone through. But I believe I am right.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Iginla to Pittsburgh

I seriously wasn't going to post more than one hockey story a night, but then I saw this tweet from TSN's Bob McKenzie:


Iginla is an aging winger who still has lots of potential, with 525 goals to his resume, along with two Rocket Richards, an Art Ross, a Person, a Messier Leadership Award, and a King Clancy - not to mention two Olympic Gold Medals, a World Championship and World Cup Gold, and a World Junior Gold. Most importantly, Iginla will reunite with his centre from Vancouver 2010, a guy who also happens to be the greatest player in the world - Sidney Crosby. And assuming he doesn't get his chemistry back, Iginla has a chance to get going with Evgeni Malkin, who's no slouch himself.

Good luck, Jarome Iginla, on your quest to win a Stanley Cup. You surely take the goodwill of the city of Calgary with you, much as Ray Bourque did 13 years ago when he was traded to Colorado. Also - I'm thoroughly glad you didn't get traded to Boston!

Consolidated High: school closures

Nova Scotia is a cash-strapped province, and the varying schoolboards across the province are looking at shutting down small schools wherever possible to save on costs. The Chronicle-Herald had two such stories today. The South Shore Regional School Board and the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board are looking at closing and consolidating over a dozen schools between them.

The story for school closures and consolidations is always the same: the school boards will say that they are strapped for cash (and they are) but the small towns or villages that are losing their schools will be afraid that they're losing control over their children's  education. The same has applied in the past when various school boards were amalgamated. Parents want to have local control over their kids' schooling.

To a certain extent, I can't blame them for this. People want to know their children's teachers, the people who watch them on the playground. They don't want to feel like their child is going to see a stranger for six or seven hours a day, or that they'll be far from the safe reach of their parents. But at a certain point you have to consider the ability of the public school system to give a quality education for the tax dollars available. Schools in every small town costs money - a lot more than bussing costs, even with today's fuel prices.

Each dollar you don't spend on another principle goes to hiring additional teachers. Each supervisor's salary you don't spend goes towards books and computers. Each building repair you don't have to do means more sports or arts time for your kids. Yeah, losing local control is nice, and in a fantasy world, we'd have the money to keep kids local. But it's no longer feasible to do so in rural Nova Scotia, and we shouldn't pretend.

Halifax Mooseheads: Round 1 is done

The Halifax Mooseheads have taken the first step towards proving they're the best team in Canadian Major Junior Hockey by defeating the Saint John Sea Dogs 4-0 in their best of seven series. During this series the Mooseheads outscored the Sea Dogs 34-4. I had the privilege of seeing the Mooseheads play live a week ago and I've come to the conclusion that they are simply a stunning team. Four of their players are blue chip NHL prospects - three of them are undrafted. In a league that turns over its entire player base every four years, having three of the top NHL prospects is huge.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

When Christianity is just an excuse for bigotry

A friend of mine just lost his apartment because he wasn't Christian. Read that again. Not in the Deep South, not in India, not in Egypt. In Canada. In 2013.

This level of bullshit has me personally angry - I'm writing furiously, and I might get some of the minor details incorrect. Of course, the names have been changed to protect my friend's privacy (which you will see is a big deal in a moment).

Important legal preface: In Nova Scotia, according to the Residential Tenancies Act, a verbal agreement to allow someone to rent is equivalent to having a signed piece of paper. Unless either a tenant or a landlord have issued a notice to quit, leases are automatically assumed to be re-signed. The notice to quit is four months for the landlord or three months for the tenant. When rental properties are sold, the new purchaser is required by law to honour the original lease.

My friend Morris was kicked out of his second apartment in two months. The first apartment was a clusterfuck. The old women who he was renting from decided to move to Halifax and told him to leave without appropriate notice. They then abandoned the upstairs, locked him out of his washer room, and left a letter on his car asking him to be out within a month so they could sell the property. Their justification was that Morris hadn't signed a new lease last September, even though that's actually irrelevant. In the end, what happened was illegal, and Morris could have stayed in with a fight, but after looking at his options decided to move in with his friends Gerald and Amanda, who had a spare room. This seemed to be his best, and indeed, cheaper, option.

Morris got settled in with Gerald and Amanda about a month ago, who had cleared his arrival with their landlords. Their third roommate, Luke, was never home as he essentially lives with his girlfriend, giving them all more living space than expected. Morris pretty much thought things were going great. He had a few of the usual roommate gripes about things like dishes not getting done or common spaces not getting cleaned, but over all it seemed pretty good, until things started getting weird about a week ago.

The four of them had, originally, planned to retain the location for their next year in university. However, about a week ago, Morris came over to my place pretty upset, as Gerald and Amanda had resigned their lease without Morris and Luke on it - essentially writing them out of their apartment for May 1st. Luke, at least, should have been given his notice to quit two months ago, and it came as quite the surprise. When they asked Gerald and Amanda about it, they replied that Gerald's mother and father had told them to sign the lease without their friends on it. Understandably, Luke and Morris were upset - they had to figure out a place to live for May - but they set about their task diligently.

Then, last night, Morris got a text from Luke. "You better get over to the apartment. Shit is going down." A few texts later, Morris realized that Gerald's mother and father were over - and wanted him kicked out that night. He decided to go see what was up and took me along, since I know the Residential Tenancy Act inside and out, having helped a few friends through landlord-related predicaments before. So we hopped in his car, as he was at my place, and rolled down to see what was up.

Sure enough, when we got there, Gerald's dad was outside, going inside. I noticed the brand-new lock when I entered the basement apartment. It was a narrow, cramped place, and I can't say it looked like anything other than a shithole. Walking down, we found an older man - I'd guess in his 60s - and a woman in her 40s. And that woman, Gerald's mom (who's name I do not know) had the biggest, most arrogant smirk on her face. Fuck, I was already getting angry, but I had no idea what was up.

As I stepped beside Morris, I looked into one of the other rooms. Gerald and Amanda were there. Amanda was laying on the bed, Gerald sitting on the edge, and I've never seen someone look so defeated and...browbeaten in my entire life. Hoodie with hood up, hat on and pulled down to his glasses, refusing to look up and make eye contact. Man, I immediately felt bad for that guy.

"Well, Morris, I think you should move out," said Gerald's mom. "We've had a look around, and the place isn't in a good condition." Impossible that it ever could be, I thought. "And quite frankly, we don't like the things you've brought into the apartment. It's just not working out, and you should just go."

It was smug. Smug was the word that had immediately entered my mind. Morris, of course, got pretty upset. He had been upset going in, but the reality was worse, infinitely so. "What do you mean, you don't like the things I've brought into the apartment?" he asked. An understandable question.

"Well, we took a look in your room, and the things you have in there! My goodness. You know that's not acceptable. We're not that kind of person, and you should just go. Tonight."

Immediately, Morris went from upset to fucking livid. "You mean you went into my room? Without my permission?"


"You violated my privacy?" he asked, enraged.

She smiled that little smug smile. "We don't like the things you have in there. It doesn't matter if we went into the room, because those sorts of things aren't welcome here. We're Christians - we're not that sort of people." Of course I had no idea what Morris had set up in his room. We're fantasy gamers, so I thought that a Dungeons & Dragons book might have caught the unwelcome attention of Gerald's parents - but the argument continued, and it became pretty evident that my friend had some sort of non-Christian religious altar set up in his bedroom. Of course, to me, that's no big deal. But not here.

"In the end, you should just go," she repeated. "We talked to Luke earlier. He said you can stay with him and his girlfriend."

I finally interrupted. "Morris has a legal right to stay here," I said. "He's got a verbal agreement with the landlord, and they need to provide him with a legal notice to quit to evict him through the tenancy board."

She asked if I was a lawyer. I affirmed I am not, simply a regular advocate in tenancy board cases. She laughed at me, and I just shrugged. "Look, Morris, you better go, or we'll call the RCMP," she then said.

"Go ahead," I replied. "Morris has a legal right to be here. The RCMP don't handle tenancy cases, either. The Sheriffs (of the Nova Scotia Courts) do."

"What, you think they're not buddy-buddy with the RCMP that I clean for, that I work for sometimes?"

"I don't think it matters, they all have jobs to do." That was the end of the conversation about Morris being evicted. The conversation continued, sometimes looping around. Occasionally the woman would loudly declare that "I pay the bills here, so I get a say."

After one such point, I asked her, politely, "Is your name on the lease?"


"Is Gerald's?"


"Shouldn't we be hearing this from him, that he wants Morris to leave?" It was pretty evident that while Morris could win a legal fight, he was better off leaving. Nobody wants to live in this sort of situation.

Thirty seconds of silence followed. Eventually Gerald looked at the floor and muttered, "I think you better leave, Morris."

We talked about the duration, and Morris agreed to remove his altar that night. The conversation continued several times, always, "Well, it's nothing personal. It's just that we're Christian." Near the end, I finally lost my patience.

"If we're being honest, what you're doing is pretty damn horrible. You're being bigoted. Nobody should care what my friend does in his private space."

"Well, we do," the woman explained. The man, Gerald's father, hadn't said much, but finally piped in.

"We just don't have any truck with that sort of thing. It's not that we don't like you, we just don't have any truck with it," he said.

"I still don't see why it matters," I asked. "Didn't Jesus teach to love thy neighbour and turn the other cheek? He's not hurting your kids in any way."

"Well," the woman interrupted. "We're not that Christian-y."

We left shortly thereafter. It was hard to control my rage. We met up with Luke and his girlfriend who are, of course, putting Morris up in the meantime. Luke had told Gerald and his parents that Morris couldn't crash there - so she lied to Morris's face about what Luke had said. It didn't surprise me. You'll know they're Christians by their love, as Ed Brayton often says. Morris explained that he had arranged a small altar to the concept of death that he had used to grieve during the loss of his grandfather - and Luke said that Gerald's parents had not only entered his room but taken pictures of his arrangement to send to their religious relations.

Morris and I returned to my place for our regularly scheduled Pathfinder RPG game, but we had agreed that he needs to re-evaluate his friendship with Gerald. Twice, his mother conveniently has showed up to screw Morris out of a place to live, and twice Gerald has refused to stand up to his parents. In the end, though, what really got me going was the comment, "We're not that Christian-y." They saw something they didn't understand and used their religion to persecute.

Fuck them. Fuck them with a sideways broken broomhandle.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Remembrance Day, 2012

Yet again I am struck with the quiet hypocrisy going on around Remembrance Day. I had to watch a grandstand being erected, local politicians standing atop it and giving cliché speeches about Canada's war veterans. I wonder how many of them believe the old lines; have they heard them so many times over the years as to believe them, or have they long since decided that we, civilians, can't truly understand their sacrifices and trials? I wonder if they can see how we try to see their lives, and if so, do they forgive us our weaknesses?

Friday, November 9, 2012

An open letter to Mitt Romney

Dear Governor Romney,

As a foreign observer who, like many outside of your country, followed this year’s presidential election with great trepidation, let me offer my condolences to you. I regret that you weren’t born 20 years earlier or 20 years later, because you came to power in a Republican party that wasn’t prepared to govern in any serious way. The result, as you saw on Tuesday, was that your country rejected your platform - and yourself, atop it. But don’t despair, for I do not necessarily think this has everything to do with you, Governor. It has to do with the politics of losing.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sometimes, bloggers deserve recognition, and therefore I am pleased to award this Very Serious Award to Lousy Canuck!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Atheism+, an admission, and my thoughts on cynical attacks on the former

Yesterday, Jen McCreight of Blag Hag wrote an amazing post entitled How I Unwittingly Infiltrated the Boy's Club & Why It's Time for a New Wave of Atheism, and it's pretty freaking brilliant. Like a lot of important pieces of writing, I saw myself a bit in what Jen had written: