The title says it all. The 2010-11 NHL season is underway! Blades scraping across the ice, pucks flying, the goal horn blaring...It's the most wonderful time of the year!
It goes without saying that it was more than a little upsetting to see the Penguins lose to the Flyers to open their new arena, but they did open Mellon with a loss as well and that turned out okay. Also, Dan pointed out that they lost their home opener in '09 but won Lord Stanley's Cup. As much as the loss stinks, it's hardly time to panic yet.
Besides the puck finally being dropped (YEAH!), this week's NHL news mostly consisted of last minute roster cuts and signings. I'm also including some of the better #TangradiRumors that I saw (I'll explain that in a minute to those of you who don't tweet):
-Ruslan Fedotenko signed with his tryout team. The Rangers signed him for one-year, $1 million. Looks like the Rangers have solved their secondary scoring problem...
-As you all know, Bill Guerin's tryout was not as successful as Fedotenko's and the Flyers released him earlier this week. While we're all relieved we don't have to see our beloved Billy G in those hideous pumpkin-orange jerseys, it is a shame that his desire to continue his career is currently at a standstill. Best of lucky to Billy G, whatever the future holds.
-Another veteran that was released from a tryout; Andrew Lilja was set free by the Sharks, probably wishing he'd taken the one-year, $1 million from Detroit after all. I heard a rumor that Lilja actually contacted Shero about playing for the Penguins. If that's true, I doubt anything will come from it for a while, if anything does at all. (Sidenote: I wonder if Lilja's decision to turn down guaranteed money from Detroit and take a chance with the Sharks, then supposedly wanting to come to Pittsburgh is a sign that he wants to be on a Cup-contending team and thinks the Red Wings are on the downspin? Just a thought. No evidence behind it.)
-Josh Harding's replacement in Minnesota? Former Caps goaltender Jose Theodore. Theodore signed with the Wild on Saturday, for one-year, $1.1 million. Meanwhile over in Russia, Nabokov is cursing his luck and saying, "that could've been me!"
-Are you one of those people still moaning about the Ponikarovsky trade costing us Luca Caputi? Well if you are, stop. Caputi was sent to the AHL. By the Leafs. Let me repeat that: Caputi was sent to the AHL by the Leafs. If he couldn't crack the Leafs lineup, there's no way he would've cracked the Penguins lineup. So no more complaining.
-Congratulations to Ryan Getzlaf and Joe Thornton for their newly awarded captaincies of the Ducks and Sharks, respectively. Getzlaf was the obvious choice in Anaheim now that Niedermayer is retired. The Sharks captaincy was a little more up in the air. A lot of people thought Dan Boyle was the best candidate, but the Sharks ultimately decided that Thornton had matured enough to wear the 'C'. Boyle will get one 'A' year-round, while Patrick Marleau will wear the second 'A' at home and Ryan Clowe gets it on the road. What, no leadership letter for Dany Heatley?
-Speaking of 'A's, I lied last week about Orpik and the Pens second 'A'. He and Jordan Staal are sharing the wearing of the 'A' between home and road games. I guess it wasn't a total lie, as Orpik will be the sole owner of the 'A' while Jordan Staal was hurt, but I still wanted to specify and correct my mistake.
-The Kings extended goalie Jonathan Bernier's deal for two more years and $2.5 million ($925,000 the first year, $1.525 the second, a total cap hit of $1.25 million per year). I think this was one of the biggest steals this offseason. Even though Jonathan Quick remains the starter in L.A., I really think Bernier is the goalie of the future for the Kings. He won all three games he played for L.A. last year, and in impressive fashion, posting a 1.30 GAA and a .957 save percentage. Not too shabby, even though those numbers are kind of misleading, seeing as how few games he played. Head coach Terry Murray said that, as of right now, Bernier will start about 20 games or so this year. A lot depends on how well Quick plays, but it wouldn't surprise me to see Bernier steal the starting job this season.
-Just yesterday, it was announced that the Bruins has extended Patrice Bergeron's deal three more years. He'll be paid $4.9 million next season and $3.55 million in 2012-13 and 2013-14, plus a $1 million signing bonus each year.
-The Oilers finally found a way to get rid of Sheldon Sournay. After he cleared waivers, they sent him to the AHL. But not to their own AHL affiliate. They probably didn't want him poisoning the minds of their future players. They loaned him to the Hershey Bears, the Caps' AHL affiliate. In the meantime, the Oilers are stuck paying his salary until they can trade him.
-Breaking news: Flyers' goalie Michael Leighton is going to have back surgery. He's going to be out six to eight weeks.
-Apparently Rex Ryan is going to drop the opening puck at the Islanders next game. Quick, hide the cupcakes!!!!
-On Wednesday, when it was announced that Eric Tangradi was being reassigned to the Wheeling Nailers. The move was strictly procedural because he didn't and he ended up playing in last night's game, but the announcement had Penguins fans freaking out and wondering what was going on. All kind of rumors were circulating about why Tangradi was "sent" to West Virginia. As a result, Pens fans on Twitter started a hashtag called "#TangradiRumors" and tweeted various "rumors" about Tangradi about West Virginia, girls, trivia, and a range of other topics. Some of my favorite #TangradiRumors for your enjoyment:
"Shero just finished reading excerpts from Lou Lamierello's new book on cap circumvention.""He tried to go to WBS but Michalek blocked him.""He made his own mosaic and posted it over Mario's.""He emptied out Pittsburgh's Cheesecake Factory and is moving on to the next one." You'll only get this one if you follow Tangradi on Twitter."Called Paul Martin 'coach' and got sent to Wheeling." Which may have actually happened. The resemblance between Martin and Bylsma is almost terrifying.
Tangradi was a good sport about it. He was quoted as saying he got quite a few laughs out of them and this morning he tweeted that he read them all and is going to award a prize to the best one. Gotta love the Big Dog.
-I saw a Minnesota Wild fan for the first time in my life. I was walking back from lunch with two of my roommates and I spotted a guy wearing a Wild jersey on the other side of the parking lot. I didn't know Wild fans actually existed. It was like seeing Bigfoot.
-Very, very exciting news for hockey fans everywhere. The current NHL TV contracts are set to expire after this season, and there are early signs of a bidding war developing, according to the Sports Business Journal. Versus wants to renew its deal with the NHL (no surprises there, are NHL games, especially the playoffs, generate the highest ratings for Versus), and NBC wants to retain its rights package also. But ESPN is also lurking, and Fox Sports is considering getting in on the action too. Not only could the NHL be in for quite a bit of extra cash, but this may lead to more games being televised nationally on a regular basis- an especially exciting thought for misplaced fans like myself and my cousin in Oregon.