Boston Bruins

Haggerty: More "weak sauce" from Luongo

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Haggerty: More "weak sauce" from Luongo

BOSTON -- Maybe Roberto Luongo should stop wondering why nobody else ever wants to pump his perpetually saggy tires?

The Vancouver Canucks goaltender has once again created a firestorm of criticism by simply doing what everybody predicted Bobby Lou would choose in the first place: taking the easy way out.

No matter what the Vancouver coaching staff posited publicly as the reasoning behind it, Luongo opted out of the difficult challenge facing down his demons against the Bruins at TD Garden.

Its the perfect example of Bobby Lou just being Bobby Lou.

Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault revealed on Friday afternoon Luongo wont be playing against a Bruins team he fell flat on his face against during three Stanley Cup Finals games in Boston last June. In each of the three Vancouver road games where the Bruins outscored the Canucks by an aggregate 17-3 margin, it was Luongo that set the leaky tone for his team.

Luongo was pulled from two of those games, couldnt last even 10 minutes in Vancouvers best chance to wrap things up in Game 6 at TD Garden and created one of the tangible turning points in the seven-game series after memorably criticizing Tim Thomas aggressive goaltending style.

He was arguably the biggest reason his Canucks team ultimately lost the Finals, and he was badly outplayed by his Boston counterpart.

Luongo followed up his severe breach of goaltending brotherhood etiquette by posting a .773 save percentage in those three road games in Boston. For a puck-stopper that always seems to have an excuse at the ready when things go haywire it was just another weak sauce showing at a career-defining moment.

In other words it was Bobby Lou just being Bobby Lou.

For a goaltender in Luongo thats never won anything aside from an Olympic gold medal captured in spite of him rather than because of him thanks to Sidney Crosbys heroics Saturday afternoon was the rare opportunity to right something that went so very wrong last year.

Of course a regular season win wouldnt erase Luongo soiling his Canucks diapers in all three road games during the Finals, but it would have shown that perhaps the losing experience inspired the growth of a little backbone for Bobby Lou. It would have been a good sign that perhaps the Canucks had finally learned that sometimes making a stand is more important in the long view than collecting the two points.

Instead Luongo is hiding behind the coachs decision for Vancouver to go with Marblehead native Cory Schneider, and the excuse du jour is that the Marblehead native will be playing in front of family and friends for the first time in five years at TD Garden.

The only problem: Schneider played in two of the Stanley Cup Finals games in Boston when Luongo was unceremoniously yanked after looking like a goaltender on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

So Schneider has played in front of his local family and friends at the Garden after all.
The NHL is also not Peewee hockey where players get in the starting lineup because their favorite aunt from Moose Jaw made the trip to the game, or because the team is back in somebodys home town for the first time.

Its the highest level of hockey where superstars are supposed to face stiff challenges head on, and where the best of the bunch known when its time to man up in those statement situations.

Luongo is an All-Star goaltender, the highest salaried player on the Canucks aside from the Sedin brothers, and a former captain of his hockey club. He also hadnt played since shutting out the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night, so he was well-rested heading into the Hub showdown.

If the Vancouver netminder insisted on meeting the Bs challenge head on Saturday afternoon, he would be in the Canucks lineup with no questions asked. But he chose to take the cowards route and settle for a baseball cap and his trademark hangdog expression on the visitors bench for Saturday afternoon.

Its as simple as that.

I dont think winning tomorrows game is going to change what happened last year, said Luongo. At the end of the day I would have liked to play, but it doesnt change the outcome of the last year.

At the end of the day youd be playing Saturday afternoon if you really wanted to, Bobby Lou.

Could anybody imagine Tim Thomas passing up the challenge to shut down a team that embarrassed him during the prior seasons playoffs? Thomas would be frothing at the mouth to leap into the breach and get another crack at the team that had mastered him on the leagues greatest stage.

But its pretty apparent Bobby Lou is no Tim Thomas. That was abundantly clear when the Bs goaltender collected all of the hardware at the end of the last season and Luongo was taking a long walk on the Vancouver seawall wondering where it all went so horribly wrong.

In a regular season rematch of Stanley Cup Finals teams after Vancouver finished on the losing end last June, Saturday afternoon was a golden chance for Luongo and Co. to put some shine back in a reputation tarnished during the Finals. Instead Luongos unwillingness to seize control of his own fate intertwined with the Bs buzz saw reveals another wishy-washy decision authored by a seemingly rudderless goaltender.

Or as those outside of Vancouver like to say, Its Bobby Lou just being Bobby Lou.

Bean: Bruins putting themselves at risk of Pastrnak offer sheet

Bean: Bruins putting themselves at risk of Pastrnak offer sheet

I hate articles about offer sheets. Most of them are idiotic. This puts me in a pickle, as I am an idiot. 

Yet here we are, nearly two months into David Pastrnak’s restricted free agency. Don Sweeney and J.P. Barry are in their latest blinking contest (Barry represents Dougie Hamilton and Loui Eriksson, among other Bruins to depart in recent years) and one of the best young right wings in the world doesn’t have his second contract. As of late Sunday evening, the sides were still not close to an agreement. 

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Despite my hatred of offer sheet chatter, the Bruins, who traded Hamilton out of fear of an offer sheet before he could even be offer-sheeted, are actually vulnerable in this case. It isn't likely because it never is, but if I were another team, I’d be thinking about it. 

First, an explanation of why I hate talk of offer sheets: 

Because. Offer sheets. Don’t. Freaking. Happen. 

Why don’t they happen? Because they’re harmful to both the team that loses the player and to the team that does the poaching. And to the other 29 teams, for that matter. 

Teams don’t offer-sheet a player unless they’re nearly positive their offer won’t be matched. If they sign a player to an above-market deal, it creates inflation regardless of who gets the player, as that player’s contract becomes a comp for similar players across the league. In other words, if you sign an 18-goal scorer for $6 million a year because you really want him, have fun trying to sign anybody who matches or exceeds that production in future seasons.

There’s also the stuff about GMs not wanting to piss each other off, but it’s mainly the inflation thing because, as in life, everything comes down to money. 

There hasn’t been an offer sheet since the Flames’ idiotic attempt at signing (and then immediately losing because they didn’t understand the CBA) Ryan O’Reilly in 2013. The Flyers signed Shea Weber to a 14-year offer sheet in 2012, but that was matched by Nashville.

Another reason why I hate articles about offer sheets: Because its authors (definitely myself included once upon a time) often don’t understand RFA compensation. The draft picks awarded to victimized teams are done based not on the actual cap hit/average annual value of the deal, but of the deal’s total money divided by years or five, whichever is smallest. 

So when you see charts such as this one … 


… it doesn’t mean that you can sign a player to a seven-year, $7.8 million deal and only have to surrender a first, a second and a third. That contract would contain $54.6 million in total dollars, and since five is fewer than seven, the total money would be divided by five. That would make the number $10.9 million, which would cost a team four first-round picks. 

If you understood all that, I offer both congratulations and my apologies, but here’s where the part about the Bruins being vulnerable comes in: A longer deal would carry a higher cap hit because it buys out years of free agency; a shorter deal would carry a lower cap hit because it gets Pastrnak to his next big raise even sooner. If a team signs Pastrnak to an offer sheet that splits the difference, the Bruins get the worst of both worlds. 

One potential offer sheet that would likely frustrate the hell out of the B’s: A five-year deal at $7.8 million per. 

That contract would screw the Bruins whether they match or not. If they walk away, they get just a first, second and third-round pick for a goal-scorer who drives goalies to drink but is barely old enough to legally drink himself. 

Matching would stink as well, as that cap hit would not suit the term well. The Oilers gave Leon Draisaitl $8.5 million a year on his recently signed contract, but they did so because they were able to lock him up for eight years. That means that the Oilers will have their star forward signed through his age 30 season, buying out years of unrestricted free agency without having to give him another raise during his prime. 

A five-year deal would mean Pastrnak would be an unrestricted free agent at his deal’s conclusion. The Bruins would have paid the high cap hit that comes with a seven-or-eight-year deal, only to have to give him a raise again -- or lose him for nothing -- when he’s 26. If Pastrnak improves upon (or even maintains) what he was last season and the cap keeps going up, the AAV on his third contract in such a scenario could surpass $10 million. Plus, a seven or eight-year deal at that point would mean signing him into his mid-30s and risking diminishing returns. A five-year, $39 million contract right now would carry all the bad of the Draisaitl deal (the AAV) without enough of the good (the years). 

So is there actually a team that could put Sweeney and Co. in such a tight spot? The answer is an emphatic “yeah, kind of.”

Teams that have the picks required to sign Pastrnak to such a contract and the cap space to fit such a deal this coming season are the Blue Jackets, Hurricanes, Canadiens, Jets, Avalanche and Devils. You need your original picks in order to sign a player to an offer sheet.

The NHL allows teams to go over the salary cap by 10 percent of the upper limit in the offseason (so $7.5 million this summer), meaning a number of additional teams could theoretically sign Pastrnak to that deal and figure out their cap situation later. Those teams are the Islanders, Rangers, Lightning, Penguins, Ducks, Flyers, Predators, Kings and Canucks. 

Where the Bruins are fortunate is the fact that teams that would figure to be logical suitors for Pastrnak -- ones like the Sabres and the Flames -- don’t have the draft picks. In the Flames’ case, they’d need to reacquire their first and second-round picks from the Islanders to even send the papers Pastrnak’s way. 

Clearly, the fear of an offer sheet hasn’t scared the Bruins with Pastrnak the way it did with Hamilton. If it had, he’d either be signed or traded by now. With teams mostly done with their offseasons, the Bruins may not be likely to see their 21-year-old scorer offer-sheeted, but they’re certainly leaving themselves exposed. With over $10 million in cap space, the Bruins could afford to match any offer to Pastrnak, but they shouldn't want another team dictating what kind of contract they give to one of their best players. 

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Morning Skate: Plenty of capable players on free agent market

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Morning Skate: Plenty of capable players on free agent market

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while spending some time in the great state of Maine. 

 

*You wanted to see the video and here it is: Dandy Don Cherry singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at Wrigley Field in a time-honored tradition. 

 

*There are still some very notable names available on the free agent market looking for jobs very late into the summertime. I predict PTO’s for a lot of these players, who will then have to sing for their supper if they want NHL jobs this season. It’s amazing how the salary cap has begun squeezing out veteran players that still have game. 

 

*An interesting look at the “stick to sports” phenomenon on social media, and a plea that athletes continue to stay vocal on the issues. For people to ignorantly think anybody in sports doesn’t deserve to have an opinion is downright un-American. Everybody has a say in this country. 

 

*Best of luck to FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dave Goucher as he heads to Vegas to do TV play-by-play for the Golden Knights. What a team he will make with former Bruins D-man Shane Hnidy in an announcing tandem with some very strong Boston connections. Big shoes to fill on the radio in replacing Goucher's play-by-play call for B's broadcasts, so here's hoping guys that have paid their dues around here like Ryan Johnston and Adam Kaufman get some strong consideration. 

 

*Injuries could be thrusting No. 1 overall pick Nico Hischier into a very important role for the New Jersey Devils this season. 

 

*For something completely different: Who would have ever thought that Andrew Dice Clay would continue to be somewhat relevant all these years later.