My apologies for the light blogging of late, especially on matters FUNHL
First off, congratulations to the Bladerunners on their second Predator Cup
Forgive me for not celebrating too hard at their admission into the 2+ Predator Cup holding Pantheon, but I was forced to root for them as the lesser evil.
Darth Darell and his Personal Vendetta had to be stopped from reaching 3 cups at all costs, and even a Bladerunner victory was worth the price of stopping him. That he did not accomplish this horrific victory of evil over good, we can all celebrate.
Congratulations as well on winning the Challenge Cup.
(Note that the Severed Heads finished THIRD in the league but somehow still managed to collect a losing record in the Challenge Cup. This statistical absurdity settled down a vicious cycle of blame that was cascading through Heads mgt between Team Pres., The GM, and Coach. The blame game for the poor showing was assuaged upon recognition that the teams failure was ultimately the fault of the schedule maker gods and not of anyone in Heads Mgt.)
FUNHL SEASON ENDING THOUGHTS
- I know this is a tad existential, but c'mon, did it really have to be the Bladerunners? Couldn't it have been the Wolves or the Edge? Both teams were blown apart by injuries and/or sucking franchise players for much of this year, both are original franchises, and both are long, long overdue for cup wins. If it can't be the Severed Heads I am definitely rooting for one of them.
- Wow. In what I believe is easily the worst free fall in the history of the pool, the Knights Templar burn to the ground after flying as high as 3rd overall 2/3rds through the season. How bad was it? The Knights held a 100+pt gap over the Edge with only 5 weeks to go, and somehow managed to finish dead freaking last.
Some teams win the Herbivore in a dogfight to stay out of last, competing with every last breath against that other GM just a bad lineup change ahead of them. Some Teams have won the Herbivore by wide margins - awful terrible seasons that cripple the soul.
But this is by far worse.
In all cases we've seen before the Heribivore has always been won by a team that sank in the standings relatively early on - in almost all cases, the Herbi is earned by a team already in the bottom four and usually the GM in dead last by WD2.
In short, this is a pants-crapping of another magnitude.
The Knights were in 3rd place at WD2, and conceivably still in the hunt for the Predator (though probably only in theory, the BR and PV had already split away from the pack) when the powerdive began.
To blow that kind of lead with only a handful of weeks remaining, not to just finish low, but to actually bottom out and win the Herbivore, well that's gotta be at least as legendary a pantaloon-diarrehea-bomb as the Ramapithicines once posting a lineup that lost points - if only because that spectacular cave-diaper-soiling by the legions of Og only lasted for a week.
- Kudos to the Edge for once again being the officialy scapegoat of the injury gods. So long as they hate you the most, the rest of us are safe.
- I wake up screaming because of Darth Darrell's drafting. He picked two 40 goal scorers at LW in Shanahan and Gagne, and that was after he chose a 100 pt RW in Alfredsson.
- That said, the three teams that scare me the most right now are; The Great Whites, The Bladerunners and the Highlanders. Maybe scare is too strong a word, perhaps, concern is better. Ultimately, I need my Heatley-Spezza-Jagr-Horton quartet to be equal or greater than the quartets of; Staal-Hossa-Malkin-Luongo, Nash-Zetterberg-Brodeur-Pronger, and Thornton-Jovanovski-Crosby-Zherdev, for the Heads to be at roughly equal footing with the front runners going into next years ED.
- The Highlanders and Shadowmen GM both gleefully pointed out that Kessel is no longer the top rated prospect on many scouts lists, and thus is not an FP waiting to happen. No argument from me. My point was merely that historically the top picked forward (with two exceptions) over the last decade and a half was FP worthy. If that prospect is someone other than Kessel (i.e. Jordan Staal or Jonathon Toews) then my point remains that whoever that player has a statistically significant chance of being FP worthy. Other prospects may have overtaken Kessel for the top forward slot, but the argument remains that whoever that top prospect is should be a top consideration as replacement FP.
- That all said, my gut says Kessel despite all his warts, is still the guy to take.
- The Haves and Have Nots. Here's a disturbing trend to consider, of all the Predator Cups won since the start of the pool, 7 Gms have won the big prize (Dan, Doug, Bob, Corey, Darrell, Corey, Brian and Me), and all of those GMs now have two or more each. That leaves 5 Gms who still need to lose their virginity.
- I believe that I am the only GM who has both won the Predator Cup AND won the Herbivore.
- Dallas is simply getting abused by the Avs. Redemption for Theodore is just around the corner.
- Montreal had been manhandling the Canes, but the loss of Koivu may turn the tide in the series. Speaking of les Habitants Kovalev always looks better in the playoffs than the regular season, and this year is no different. He's a difference maker.
- The top UFA available in the NHL this off-season should be Patrick Elias. Didn't see that coming at the start of the year, did ya?
- Philadelphia's problems still stem from one glaring weakness, goaltending. Sooner or later Clarke is going to take the fall for cycling unproven netminders through the system at such a blistering pace.
- Brian Gionta's story book season where he re-writes the Devil's goal scoring record continues in the playoffs as he and the satanically influenced pound the Rangers. Is he an FP? I don't think so, but I for the moment I'll remain officially agnostic.
- Bertuzzi has to be done with the Canucks, but the idea that the team will land a top five ED pick for him is a pipe dream. They will find a buyer for him somewhere, but the return will be much less than expected by Vancouver media.
- Marc Crawford's firing was not unexpected, but frankly, was still a mistake. He's the third youngest coach to 400 wins, he took the team from sad-sack to title contender, and if not for the Bertuzzi incident the team would have easily made the playoffs this year again. Don't pity him too much, he'll land somewhere soon enough.
- I love Zdeno Chara. Not only did he willingly drop the gloves with Vincent Lecavalier, he dished out a solid beating and then when it was clear that Lecavalier was helpless in the face of Chara's onslaught, he declined to throw finishing shots into the defenseless Lecavalier's grill. He'd already won the fight, and didn't need to add injury to insult. All class.
- Last but not least, Havlat's return to the Senators makes them my odds on favourite to win it all as far as I'm concerned. He gives them a 4th game breaker at forward, making them impossible to match lines against, and so long as the D and goaltending avoid injury there isn't a team in the league that can pace with these thoroughbreds.