Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Oh That Crazy NCAA

I'm sure everyone now knows that Terrelle Pyror has left Ohio Sate, but one has to wonder, what happened to Ohio State? First, your coach leaves amongst scandals far sweeping past what anyone imagined would come up after the first stories surfaced towards the conclusion of last season. Several players suspended five games but allowed to play in the Rose Bowl with the assurance they would return the following season and serve that suspension before leaving school.

The biggest one of the group didn't serve one game, rather he took advantage of a lame governing body that is hypocritically trying to protect something that doesn't exist anymore: amateurism. The NCAA clearly showed they care more about money than enforcing their own rules. That is the only justification they can have to let Pryor play in a marquee, nationally televised game and delay his suspension to the following year.

Now, I think its important to think why the NCAA let Pryor be excused from his "improper benefits" for one game before I start diving into what I think the NCAA should change for their football penalties for breach of NCAA rules.  The NCAA is a business like any other, they need revenue to keep building this machine that works hand in hand with the BCS with whom they are partnered.  So it makes business sense to make sure they both get paid. 

This is where the conflict of interest kicks into play.  The NCAA is a for profit company who governs the amateurism of athletes, meaning no monetary gain is tolerated by any means.  How can a company who is worried about making money try and make sure another person doesn't get money?  It doesn't work out because all the guidelines and rules they create to protect this status would conflict with them making money on marquee nationally televised games. Now the NCAA has to try and juggle how do we make money and enforce the rules we've established at the same time. 

The answer they came up with was create a million different violations and codes that gives the NCAA an almost unpredictable lead way on how to punish athletes for business they never should have partaken to begin with.  The shades of grey allows them to suspend players but at the schools digression, which means they will never be banned for the big game.  So the poor cannon fodder D-II team that's on the schedule is when the player sits out.  Is that really a suspension if he wasn't going to play more than a quarter to begin with?

This is a personal opinion of what I'd want to see the NCAA do to start penalizing schools and players (we all know its not just the players that have a part in this).  I am just a fan keep in mind and by no mean an expert on the topic.

First, it has two categories and sub categories for each:

  1. Player improper benefits
    • High Level (Major)
    • Low Level (minor)
  2. Schools Improper Recruiting (to include booster club benefits and other recruiting violations the school can make to set undone influence on an athlete to join their program)
    • High Level
    • Low Level
This way there is no gray area for a player to find a loop hole and avoid a suspension for a major game, rather there is only 4 types of penalties that can be handed out.  I know a lot of people are going to say that's too simplistic there is no way that can cover every incident that is reported. I understand that but let me explain how I see the punishments being laid out and you can help fill in the rest.

For a player that receives a high level improper benefits they would be suspended for a minimum of the next five in-conference games that would be played, regardless of being a playoff or a regular season game.  A player that receives a low level improper benefits would be suspended 1-4 games but the school has the right to choose which games they are to be suspended.  As a note, any player that is under investigation, at any time during the year, would be considered ineligible until he is proven innocent.

For a school that is found of a major recruiting violation or booster clubs giving improper benefits they would not be allowed to participate in any conference championship for that sport for 3 years, allowed 20 less scholarships during those three years, and be fined $25 million that must be paid before the third year expires.  If the school has not paid by that time the scholarship level is reinstated to normal levels but the restriction on being able to play in a conference championship is not lifted until it has been paid. A lower level (or minor) infraction would be a reduction of 10 scholarships for 2 years and a $1 million fine.

Any major violation that is investigated during the course of a season but the verdict is not issued till after the season is complete, the NCAA would have the right to go back and strip any team of the bowls and conference championships in which they participated.  Also, the schools would have to pay any benefits received for playing in those games to the NCAA (I believe both schools in the national championship take almost $30 million for playing). 

Obviously, the simplicity of the system is going to make people say this wont work but if a major program like Ohio State was hit with this last year they'd be paying almost $50 million (guessing around $20 million is paid out to Rose bowl participants) to the NCAA and be losing almost $20 annually on big games at the end of the season until their ban ran out so that's a possible $110 million they are forfeiting and not to mention the 60 possible top tier players they usually would recruit as well.  Thats a huge hurdle to overcome, and it would take the school almost 5 years after that verdict to recover.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fulham Update

Apparently Mark Hughes has resigned his post as Manager of FFC. Not exactly sure why, but speculation is leaning towards he is going to Villa. Rumors are starting to buzz he is going to take Dempsey with him. Would be interesting to see that happen because you could potentially have a very good EPL team with three, yes you read that right, 3 Americans on its starting roster.

Now wouldn't that be something?

Besides this FFC has also finished in the top 10 in the table for the second season in a row and qualifies them for fair play entry into the Europa League. We all remember how amazing last years campaign was. Lets hope for the best.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Closing The Door

I am not just a blogger about Hockey, but for some strange reason the sport seems to draw you in and captivate you. I'm a basketball and soccer athlete and played both on a highly competative level for some time, but as a fan its different watching a team you love be pulled away. As a competitor you can fight as hard as you can and say I did everything I could but we still lost and be able to sleep that night.

Being a fan is much more difficult. Especially if your team is the Atlanta Thrashers. We had to sit through years of an incompetant GM, owners suing themselves, and and underbudget team flounder for 11 years with one glimmer of hope. Being a coach its frustrating to watch and a quote comes to mind that makes me wonder how the gentlemen, scratch that, IDIOTS that call themselves the ASG were able to make enough money to run this team.

It simply reads this: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result."

Its not super profound, its not awe-inspiring, its a simpe fact of life. The only things that never changed before we saw this team start to turn some corners this year were Don Waddell and the ASG running this team into the ground.

Now as Gearon got on the radio and said the reason for a low payroll was "going youg like they did in Pittsburg creates a lower payroll". Thats a lie, you let players walk because you couldn't look them in the face and ensure that all your efforts would go to building a winner. THE PLAYERS KNEW YOU CARED MORE ABOUT BASKETBALL THAN HOCKEY. All of Atlanta knew that when you let Waddell fire Heartly when in reality it was waddells turn to be shown the door since he was incapable of finding the right players for his coaches.

We hire Rick Dudley and the biggest names on our team sign a 5 year deal and the players that are traded here are excited about being here. Take Waddell out and look at the change. Why we didn't get Brian Burke to start off with is beyond me (Yes I get Waddell is a product of the Big Red Borg but he never really had any personal responisiblity there).

Now, I could go on and rant about different things ownership could have done to make this better and how we should have fired waddell before we let Heartly go but it comes back to the owners here. Not once did they stick up for the players and really show they cared, rather they mocked the fans and showed how little they knew about relations.

I am not here to chide or start a war, rather its a simple fan showing some frustration and wanting to know why a city won't stand up and force these owners to be responsible and build a franchise here like they promised to do.

Maybe third time is the charm... If we ever get one.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What In The...

The letters about sums this cluster**** (insert dirty 4 letter words here): WTF (or whisky-Tango Foxtrot as Mr. Rawhide likes to say.

So I think we are at 4 sale options here for the entities in Atlanta:

  1. TNSE- just wants the Thrashers

  2. "The Balkin" (decoded to JR Smith of Detroit) wants All 3

  3. Some mystery local ownership group that wants all 3

  4. Former Houston Astros owner who just wants Phillips and the Hawks

Confused yet? The worst part about it is ASG refuses to talk to anyone about where any of the groups proposals are. So we are blind in the dark with a 25% chance of getting this right... I feel like im in the middle of Arrandas "Still in the Dark".

Anyone with more expertise that wants to chime in and try and clarify this mess please do because that bottle of jack that is sitting in my condo looks really friendly for the rest of this week.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Its been a while...

First off, sorry for the long absence, but work is work and sometimes it decides it wants to take over your life. A lot has happened in this year and One story is particularly important to me: the ASGs charade of trying to sell the Thrashers.

Now before I go into this lets look at the Thrashers history. Perennial finishes in 10-15 place in the East, one division championship and a swift sweep in the playoffs that year. So obviously their track record is not on their side, but then agin is it really all the team's fault?

The Atlanta Spirit Group have claimed that they lost over $130 million on the Thrashers over the years, but the funny thing is when Ted Turner owned the team they made small profits every year. Now granted small profits are nothing to write home about but what I want to point out is even though the team was in the bottom 5 of the league there were adament fans and supporters of a better future. The real drop in money is when the Spirit group took over in 2003 thats when things starting going south. We're talking noticible cut backs in staffing at the arena, an ability to neglect a GM that needed to be fired or promoted (which eventually happened), and a lack of caring toward the fan base in general.

Over all the years of increased ticket sales and raising costs for consessions, the team kept the payroll as close to the bottom of the price floor as possible. As fans became annoyed and starting retaliating back at the owners they simply said, "show up and well put a better product on the ice". But being a fan, why do I want to watch a team that I know is going to get killed because you won't pony up the money to get the players we need and are constantly fighting with yourselves on who is the next best free agent in basketball... THEN if its worth it to sue a guy over it. Oh wait, thats how we got to this position in the first place. The ASG really just know basketball and bought the hockey team to offset its gains.

Now, the ASG are back in court again to sue the firm that helped them get the Thrashers and made the team "unsellable" by the way the contract was written. Now, not to be rude or take personal shots at anyone, but how are you stupid enough to think that you can sell someone else's assets without them concenting? Belkin personally was a majority investor which mean they needed his good graces to relieve themselves of this burden (as they would say). By taking him to court and freezing his input of course you can't sell because he has leverage to hold against you in court. This is obviously something no one can really say is competely true, becuse lets face it, no one is in the ownership group and is in the court room hearing the arguments.

Now, people say that there are problems everywhere in this organization but I don't think thats entirely true. The ASG knew Waddell couldn't handle everything alone and leaving him out there to dry and take the heat from the fans was the ASGs way of staying out of the spotlight and letting themselves battle among themselves for who has the better idea of what a good purchase is (Kind of of ironic they ened up this way now isn't it?). Now, I am not saying Waddell is all to blame here because most of the players that leave Atlanta say its a beautiful city and this team is just not run well. Thats interesting, the players know the ownership is a problem, they say the MANAGEMENT is the issue and not the coaching (OK, Kovalchuk and Kozlov voiced it was a problem but thats about the only whispers you heard of that).

Ok, so now we have two parties mad at the ownership: players and ticket holders.

Now, as all this comes out that they they don't have the money to take the losses anymore. Let me get this straight... you sign a tier II star in the NBA to a 6 year $120 million contract and you cant fund a hockey team where you have successfully ruined any fan base by keeping the payroll at $40 million. You just payed one individual half that amount and he isn't worth that at all. How can you justify that? I mean, that's just like saying to a friend I don't have any extra cash and then buying something at the next store with cash with them there. The hockey team is losing you money because you built it that way.

Now that they have successfully run this team into the ground we get the daily rumor mill grinding that Atlanta is going to Winnipeg, done deal, etc. Funny thing is the ASG get more out of the sale if the team stays here in Atlanta. Out of the deal that is proposed by Canadian Media Outlets, the sale is $170 million, of that $170 million, 60 goes to the NHL for relocation. Now, if a local buyer takes it at $110 million, then ASG still gets rent checks for the 41 dates and will keep getting that till they sell the rights to the bonds on the arena. So as messed up as this scenario is, the ASG actually shouldn't sell to the True North Sports because that is the worse deal they could sign.

That is just my take, so do as you may with it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Trade Deadline Day

UPDATE II: Thrashers' trade coming soon... not sure who is involved but the front office said to pay attention. My guess is Kozlov or Army is gone.

UPDATE: Kubina's agent confirms he is close to extension in Atlanta. Take him off the trade list.

Ok, so we have a little under four (thats right 4) hours till the deadline passes.

The burning question that stands before us: Who will get shipped out and what new blood arrives here in Atlanta?

Next intreguing question: Are we buyers or sellers today?

With the win yesterday you have to figure the Thrashers are going to do whatever is in the relm of possibilities to get this team past the first round of the playoffs. Then again, don't tinker with something that isn't broken.

Ok, so that leads us to what parts can be let go. We have two big pieces that could be packaged nicely in a trade to bring back atleast one quality scoring player being Colby Armstrong and Slava Kozlov. As everyone knows Kozzy (Kozlov for non-Thrasher fans) has asked to be traded so he can play out his final days on the ice not in a press box and Armstrong has essentially stopped contract talks with Atlanta.

Also on the bubble are players like Kubina and Afinagenov that are UFAs at season's end. So now it becomes a question of who garnishes the best return, and is that return greater than what is given up to get it.

With all this considered that leaves us with three candidates from the thrashers to be moved that are UFAs: Armstrong, Kozlov, and Afinagenov.

Why do you leave out Kubina in this list you ask? Two things: First, he has a no trade claus that prevents the team from throwing him to the wolves. Second, he has done way to much securing this blue line to let him go.

My prediction after all this information: The Thrashers part ways with Army and Kozlov in a packaged deal that brings in a scorer and a late pick in a draft. I was hoping for Ponikarovski from the Leafs but since he is gone, it would be nice to see Raffi Torres to fill Kovy's shoes as the scorer.

Any other guesses that you guys have, lets hear 'em. Also, throw in there if you think the Thrashers are sellers or buyers at this juncture... I'm curious to see others opinions here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Its a Dark Day In Blueland

Our Captain will be gone by the end of the week probably, and all sources are saying the same thing... Kovy's saying he wanted to win in Atlanta was a song and dance routine when he never really considered this a viable place to stay.

Frustrating? Yes. Disrepectfult? Even More.

The man wants to hold this franchise hostage with 20% of the salary cap tied under his belt, and expect us to build a winner... with fourth and third line money left over? You can't be serious, right? Apparently, $10 million a year for 10 years isn't enough to satisfy the man.

I originally thought Kovalchuk was a smart individual who understood what it took to win as a team. After all, the has won every accolade a player can achieve at this point except a Stanley Cup, so one would think he would allow some consessions to get to this dream.

We were all wrong here. Its all about Kovy all the time.

The craziest part about this whole article is that everyone thought he truely cared about this team since he specifically asked the Thrashers to seek out certain players (Afinagenov and Antropov) and we went and got them for him. What does he do in return? If you said he thanked the organization you are wrong, rather he decides to force the team to trade him so he can test the waters as a UFA.

Just lovely.

Anyways, I just hope Waddell can get at least one top 6 player that is really young, a slew of draft picks and previous first round draft pick from a team that has a reputation of knowing where good talent is.

Any predicitons on the trade and where he will go? Lets hear them,

Monday, January 25, 2010

Kovy And All The Other UFAs

So I'm going to say hesitantly that our Kaptain might be out of Atlanta before seasons end. A trade seems to be every one's favorite thing to talk about lately. But is signing Kovy to the league maximum really worth all the hype its getting?

I beg to differ. The Thrashers are about to find themselves in a situation that no GM ever wants to be in, and I'm not talking about the Kovalchuk contract. I'm talking about the other 8 UFAs that can walk come July this year. Yea, 8 other players on this roster are free to test the waters of the NHL and see what their services will garnish them if they don another uniform.

So here is the question that I propose: Exactly what transactions helps this team the most in regards to Kovalchuk and the other UFAs?

We can reasonably expect that Kovy will get a 10+ year deal with a cap hit of $9 Million anywhere he goes, so that is our bench mark. That would put the team at $32 Million committed with only 9 players signed (5 of those being defenders). The hard part is most of the guys that are signed are second and third line players leaving $20 million to spread around the top six, which anyone can tell you just isn't enough money.

Now to complicate things worse, Brian Little is a RFA this year and Zach Bogosian is a RFA next year. Those two alone will probably eat up 6$ million easy (lets say $3 million each for rounding), so now the team is at $35 million before free agency to start next year.

So this is the list of UFAs the Thrashers have in the organization:
  • Ilya Kovalchuk
  • Slava Kozlov
  • Colby Armstrong
  • Jim Slater
  • Maxim Afinagenov
  • Eric Boulton
  • Pavel Kubina
  • Mark Popovic
  • Johan Hedberg
Out of this list there are several players I would like to see resigned, but several others could bring great package deals if in trades. I'd like to sign Pavel Kubina, Mark Popovic and Colby Armstrong for another few years. Hopefully, all those could get signed and done for under $10 million (Our running total would be at $45 if Kovy signs to the lowest deal above and $47 if he requires league max). I think Kozlov and Hedberg are in the fading years of their careers and both should be asked to take positions in the front office in order to create some true player presence in the board.

This optimal scenario leaves the thrashers with $9 million to fill out the remaining 5 roster spots, one of which is a top 6 forward. I guess its time to tap the farm, right? Maybe not.. consider trading Kovy and Colby Armstrong to unload some salary and get some immediate and future returns. Calgary is definitely interested in a deal like this that would bring back Dion Phaneuf, a guaranteed first round pick, and a plethora of other options for Don Waddell to choose. This saves about $3 Million in salary and brings back needed depth at defense. Other great suitors are the Kings and Blackhawks. Both teams are willing to give promising packages of draft picks, extremely talented young players on both the offenseive and defensive side of the puck.

So one final thought that makes this matter even more interesting: Todd White. If the Thrahsers can unload his $2.6 million hit next year then the team really has some barganing room to sign players. Yes, we are in Atlanta and we have to over pay players to come here, but that might be the exact cusion they need.

So that brings us back full circle to all the UFAs that are on this roster this year... what the heck do you do with all of them? Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe this isn't just Kovy asking for too much money, but the Thrashers not planning well enough to see all these UFAs staying in Blueland past this year,

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Adventure of TGD and The Russian

Ladies and gentleman, we have the next oscar winning movie right here. If not, its atleast a good read to make you laugh at the dipiction of Thrashers' players in Hollywood.

Ah, the helarity.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Quarter Way Mark

Ok, lets be honest now... The ending of last season wasn't a fluke and this team is amazingly fast and talented.

The scary part- We still have a line that led the team in scoring last year that has 8 goals combined on it. Imagine what is going to happen when those goals start coming... yea, its scary, I know.

Lets look at what the Thrashers have accomplished in the first quarter of the season:
  • An impressive 10-6-1 record that has them slotted in 9th in the easy with several games in hand. Thats a points percentage of .617. Which means if we keep this pace up the entire season, the boys in blue finish with an stounding 101 points.
  • The PK is finally shutting down opposing Power Plays. Never once in my life did I ever think this organization could boast a PK unit in the top 10 in the league... never! We have and its actually sitting at number four right now
  • Goals against is down under 3. That helps when you are scoring at an average of 3.65 goals per game.
  • Amist all the goalie confusion and whether Kari Lehtonen is actually healthy, the duo of Pavalec and Hedberg has come on strong and given this team a huge boost.

Some other things that made this possible are the minds upstairs. Not sure whose idea it was to find Mr. Rick Dudley and hire him as the man that fills the holes in the organization, but who ever did deserves a serious pat on the back for that one. Some very shrewd decisions to bring in serious competition at all positions during training camp worked wonders and made all these guys realize that no ones job is safe (OK, Kovy's might be, but you get the idea).

The offseason might be one of the biggest reasons this team is doing so well. The Thrashers took chances on a few players that other teams had considered either not useful, or just not good enough. Turns out they are becoming the cornerstone of a winning franchise. The Trade to bring Kubina into Atlanta makes Waddell look like a genius (wow, I just said that, haha), and Brian Burke a rookie GM. The Big A (Nik Antropov) might not be scoring goals but he has let Afinagenov and Kovy run rampant on the wings and score at will.

The one glaring hole that we seem to never be able to shake is the shots against category. Now I understand that 30+ shots a game is a lot to ask a goalie to stop, but when I started looking into things a bit more I started to realize that most those shots aren't from "prime scoring areas". What I mean is, long shots from the points or on the boards that the goalie can see easily and handle easily. I can deal with that if the shot are coming from the outside, not like last year when Kari had developed a rap sheet for how many goals he stole from opposing forwards.

Thats just some thoughts on what has gone right as a team thus far. I could go on for days and days about individuals and what they have done, but another good man has already beaten me to it. Have a read.