NHL Happy Hour: How the NHL Can be Compared to Vodka
Lots of things in this World should not be. Vodka should not cost $80 per bottle, and you really should not have to pay $12 dollars for a vodka drink. Good vodka should not be littered with juice, candy, and salty water – what’s the point then? To make a profit? To win? Which brings me to some hockey talk.
There are four teams in NHL that have a roster that costs more than $66 million dollars. That is about 6,600,000 hot dogs and about the same amount of beers at a stadium. So if you’re a fan of these teams, get to drinking and eating. Some of these rosters might have been better of spent on better things.
Today’s mid-afternoon drink cost me $12 and change. It is called something too extravagant for me to remember, and it uses the “finest” vodka mixed with other ingredients. I cannot really tell what those ingredients are by tasting it just yet, but since its 12 bucks it must be good.
Something else that is expensive and has the potential to be good are the Boston Bruins, Minnesota Wild (really?), Vancouver Canucks, and Calgary Flames. These are the teams threading the upper limits of the salary cap. One could say they are on the edge of cap restrictions, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily are quality teams. The amount you spend does not always equate with how much you win, and this could hold true for my drink. The best Mojito I ever had, was made in a small Mexican place that had a two-for-one special with a meal. So does the price equal quality? That is the question I will try to answer today.
So what about my drink? It has a fancy name and a fancy price tag, but what about value? I’d say it delivers. With a few sips, the orange pineapple mix with a bit of lime and mint flavors hit my tongue and nose, which takes me straight to memories of a sunny beach somewhere where it never hits below 80 and girls wear those tiny things on their bottoms. Ahhh. I know you’re with me on that at least.
So how do those teams aforementioned compare to my fine drink? Let’s talk about their quality before getting back to my drink. The big paycheck guys, that jump at you like a hairy mole on the chin of the old man sitting next to me with his newspaper and a beer; will be the focus point here. Demanding five, six, seven million a year comes with the added responsibility to perform, with the added bonus of giving fans something to yap about.
Players spend most of their careers building value and try to cash in at the perfect time when the market is dry of talent and teams are desperate. Not always these sort of signings pan out for the teams – think Sabers signing Ville Leino. The good GMs know the value of a player and will not over pay no matter what, but some are desperate to please the hungry owners and pitch fork fan base that has the guillotine ready at the front door.
Calgary Flames did some spending this off-season and they did not bring their store card, because there were zero discounts handed out. Hudler and Wideman were pricy additions, at $4 million AAC and $5.2 million AAC respectfully, to give some support to a team that missed the playoffs last year. Will it be a just a fancy yet worthless umbrella decoration or a potent berry-flavoured bomb? I would lean towards the umbrella, my apologies Flames fans. The Wall St. paychecks belong to Cammalleri, Bouwmeester, and Iginla. Two of these players are looking to re-kindle their glory days that earned them those 7-digit pay stubs and the third player is an aging star who may or may not have any spunk left in him. The expensive backbone, Miikka Kiprusoff, is still there. He is seasoned and properly distilled, kind of like a nice whiskey. If pieces fit and new ones do not disappoint, we may see this cocktail prove its worth. Unfortunately, I fear that this one will disappoint and become another example of gluttony over substance.
My drink is empty now, sigh, but a few slightly yellowish ice cubes, the ones that tease you with ‘what once was’. So far it has been a nice combination of tropical flavors and a bite of ice cold vodka. Rum is usually reserved for the summer, but I tend to think rum is to vodka what baseball is to hockey (try to figure that one out, Mensa). I need another drink and good thing I have a tab that’s open because it’s always easier to spend on plastic than cash. Your welcome, Visa.
Speaking of spending, “Hello, Minnesota Wild” and its new pair of players, Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. The couple was rewarded by the brave owner, Craig Leipold, with 13-year $98 million deals. The once “poor” Wild franchise went all in this year and became one of the top spenders in the league. Parise and Suter are joining the highly-paid cast of Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley, and Niklas Backstrom. Will the hockey state see a playoff berth? I don’t think so. To me Parise is not the sniper he once was and Heatley is a washed up has-been. Last year the Wild were the worst Corsi team in the league according to KuklasKorner.com by a mile (LA Kings for example, had a high Corsi rating). That low rating may have been a result of all the injuries they had, but let’s be honest, when was the last time adding a pair of players made you a championship team (the Miami Heat needed a three-headed monster, not just two-headed)? Hey, I am sure this will help sell a couple more seats and hot dogs, eh?
Vancouver Canucks are an expensive team. They have been so for quite some time. The huge disappointment that comes with their expectations took its toll. Instead of Champaigne erupting and washing over people’s faces in celebration, we saw a city burn itself. But that ugly stain was long ago, long apologized. The big money here is in goaltending. Two goalies worth $9 million plus. Luongo is set to be traded, but that is always easier said than done. The back-end heavy Canucks, have invested $23 million into their defense as well, with four defenders making over four million each. The cherry on this bottom-heavy mix, are the twins. Henrik and Daniel are wonderful to watch and have been a dominating offensive force for some time, quite a bargain too with AAC of 6.1 million. The question mark here is David Booth. After his gruesome injury he has not been himself. He makes almost Ryan Kesler cheddar, who himself had an off-year after a shoulder surgery. Booth did have a high Corsi rating, so he may be worth the ticket price.
My second drink is stronger than the first, but just as good. The drink is served in a tall rounded glass with a Chara-sized straw.
Boston Bruins are two years removed from a championship celebration and from Vezina winner and playoff MVP Tim Thomas this year. Timmy has had an interesting year filled with Facebook messages and to top it all off, he decided to take a year off from hockey to hang out with Peggy. The problem with Thomas is that he is costing the team cool $5 million in CAP space and he is not playing. That is like having a fancy fruit salad made of plastic in your drink – it’s there and you kind of feel like you paid extra for it, but it serves no purpose. They also have Marc Savard who could not shake his concussion issues and may never play again with an AAC of $4 million, he may retire or a long term IR placement could help. A slightly discounted deal that Tuukka Rask and Boston Bruins recently agreed to was clearly done so Boston can stay under the cap. The championship-built Bruins are just as good as they were when they won the cup. The player depth upfront is excellent, but may lack of scoring punch. Need more goals from Krejci and Seguin to see them have another parade in Boston.
My last sip comes just in time. What is to say of how good it was and what it is worth. Well, I can say that it all depends. The moment and the timing is what helps decide the value. It has been a hot muggy mid day and this kind of drink is worth every penny. I guess the same can be said about those teams. The team needs have to be filled and the market has a shallow talent pool. The price may seem steep for players like Hudler, Wideman, and Jason Garrison, but do not forget that the CAP is at 70 million. Teams have room to spend and they do. When it comes to talks and next CBA, they will cry poor again, as I will no doubt complain that I have no money at the end of each week, and as I order another expensive vodka drink, I wonder where it all went.
Bottoms up, comrades.