Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Looking back on 2009

The New York Times' Slapshot blog is usually a pretty good read. Today, Stu Hackell posted a preview of the 2009 Year In Review, running through all twelve months and making hilarious predictions as to what might happen in the NHL. It gets crazy and hilarious when you get near the end. Hilarious. The Sens don't come up as often as they could, but there are a few funny lines:
  • March 2009: "The Senators miss the playoffs, but G.M. Bryan Murray says that the team is only a player or two away from winning the Stanley Cup."
  • August 2009: "Senators Coach Craig Hartsburg says he’ll keep Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley together for the entire season starting in training camp."
  • September 2009: "On the first day of Sens training camp, Hartsburg breaks up Alfredsson, Heatley and Spezza."
  • October 2009: "[Wayne] Gretzky’s Rangers get off to an undefeated start after sweeping their two games against the Thrashers in front of a sold-out 1,500-seat Miskolci Mûjégpálya in Hungary. Other sellouts at the 1,200-seat Podmezakla in Jesenice, Slovenia, and the 1,200-seat Poissompré in Epinal, France, reinforce Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and N.H.L.P.A. Executive Director Paul Kelly’s favorable opinion of European expansion. “I am still committed,” Melnyk says. “Let’s vote today.” Melnyk’s team splits two games against the Wild at the sold-out 2,500-seat Ijssportcentrum in Tilburg, Netherlands"
The best part is the ongoing Jim Balsillie storyline, which you can expect in the coming year:
  • January 2009: "Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie is rumored to be buying the Phoenix Coyotes to move them to Southern Ontario, but since the ‘Yotes can’t get out of their lease, the deal never materializes."
  • March 2009: "TSN reports that Jim Balsillie is buying the Anaheim Ducks and will move them to Southern Ontario, but Balsillie backs out of the deal when he can’t get a commitment from either Scott Niedermayer or Teemu Selanne to play the following season."
  • April 2009: "The Fan 590 in Toronto reports that Jim Balsillie will buy the Hurricanes and move them to Southern Ontario. They then report that the deal fell through when Balsillie learned of a secret agreement that mandates the team return to Hartford if it ever leaves Raleigh."
  • May 2009: "The Toronto Star reports that Jim Balsillie was negotiating to buy the Atlanta Thrashers to move them to Southern Ontario, but after he looked at the Thrashers’ roster, he decided against it."
  • June 2009: "On “Leafs Lunch” over AM640, Jim Balsillie announces that he is considering buying the entire American Hockey League and moving all the teams to Southern Ontario."
  • July 2009: "Abandoning his quest for an N.H.L team and the entire A.H.L., Jim Balisillie buys the K.H.L.’s Metallurg Novokuznetsk, which is bankrupt and whose players were not paid at all last season. Balsillie moves them to Hamilton, renames them Metallurg Hamilton and gets Alex Ovechkin to jump his contract for $20 million a season to join him. “It’s not about the money. I love the N.H.L. and I love Washington and I love America,” OV says, “But look how well I played after I visited my family last fall. Imagine how well I’ll do if I play half a season there. Besides, I must find new horizons and new boards to body slam.”"
  • August 2009: "The K.H.L. goes out of business and Jim Balsillie applies to the N.H.L. to admit the Hamilton Steelers as an expansion franchise. But the owners are still lost in Dubai and cannot rule on the matter. Rumors abound that Balsillie will be granted an N.H.L. franchise in Yemen."
  • September 2009: "Abandoning the Hamilton Steelers, Jim Balsillie tries to buy the Washington Capitals from Ted Leonsis. Leonsis demands that Balsillie first release Alex Ovechkin to return to the Caps, which he does. Leonsis then loses Balsillie’s phone number."
  • October 2009: "Jim Balsillie is rumored to be buying the Islanders to move them to Southern Ontario. He won’t buy the team unless [Sean] Avery returns to active playing status, however, and [Gary] Bettman refuses, saying Avery has been dispatched to the Middle East for United Nations-brokered peace talks."
  • November 2009: "Under Barry Trotz, the Sabres lead the Eastern Conference until rumors circulate that Jim Balsillie has again made a bid to buy the club from Tom Golisano and the Sabres will split their home schedule between Buffalo, Hamilton, Barrie and Guelph, putting the Sabres on an inexplicable tailspin. When Balsillie denies that he’s buying the Sabres but is in fact interested in buying the Colorado Avalanche and moving them to Southern Ontario, the Sabres win five in a row."
  • December 2009: "Jim Balsillie partners with Marcel Aubut to revive the Quebec Nordiques. The plan falls apart when Balsillie wants to move the team to Southern Ontario until the new Colisee is built in Quebec."
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