Friday, July 27, 2007

K Lowe Messed With The Wrong Guy

Nobody likes a cherry picker. Just waiting at the red line hoping for the puck to squirt out so you can streak in on a breakaway without having to do the real grunt work. In the world of NHL management, Kevin Lowe and the Edmonton Oilers are quickly morphing into the most hated team in all of hockey. Why? Because they are trying pinch good young hockey players off other teams with offer sheets because they can’t put in the work to develop their own prospects.

To paraphrase the late great Roger Nielson who said “There are two things I don’t want to know about – what they put in a hot dog and what goes on in the general managers office.” (He actually said NHL head office, but anyways…). What is certain is that Kevin Lowe has set off the most explosive bitch slap fest to ever overtake the NHL’s elite band of 30 general managers.

Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, a team (such as the Oilers) can sign another team’s restricted free agents to a contract. The original team who owns the rights to the restricted free agent can either match the offer and keep the player or they can let him go and collect the compensation set out by the league, which is four first round draft picks for the best players.

Kevin Lowe tried this scam with Buffalo earlier in the summer when they signed Thomas Vanek to a seven year $50 million dollar offer sheet. The Sabres squeezed their rectums and matched the offer, probably because they faced an all-out mutiny from their fans who watched Chris Drury and Daniel Briere walk away to other teams just prior. The Sabres were so pissed that they actually threatened Lowe and the Oilers during a press conference by saying they would be making similar offers to Oilers players down the road and ONLY Oilers players.

Now Lowe is at it again, except this time he crossed the meanest sonafabitch to never wear skates: Brian Burke, General Manager of the Anaheim Ducks. Burke has only smiled once in his life and it was when his favourite goon Todd Bertuzzi broke Steve Moore’s neck a few years ago.

Just yesterday Lowe threw an offer sheet to Dustin Penner, but this time Lowe picked on a team that is already at their salary cap limit. Brian Burke cannot afford to keep Penner unless he unloads someone else or Scott Niedermayer decides to retire. This also messes up plans to resign Teemu Selanne. Now we wait and see what Burke will do, but if one thing is for sure, it will be dirty and nasty and not pleasant to watch if you’re an Oiler fan.

Ever since Chris Pronger demanded a trade out of Edmonton, Kevin Lowe has apparently lost his marbles. He traded heart and soul player Ryan Smyth to the Islanders for a bunch of nobodies and then said he regretted it just a few weeks ago. Then he trades team captain Jason Smith and now the whole team is pissed off. Steve Staios even bitched to the media about it.

So what is Lowe accomplishing by trying to rip other teams prospects? Nothing. If a player is valuable enough to try to steal then he is valuable enough to keep. The Sabres knew that and that’s why they matched. Burke will find a way to match for Penner as well. So in essence, Lowe is just driving up the salaries. And that means one thing only. A bloodbath. Lowe is going to find it much more difficult to organize trades with other teams because they will shun him. He is on an island now, cut off from his cronies. No one will want to golf with him in Palm Beach during the annual GM meetings. That is the real horror for Kevin Lowe, because without golf in Palm Beach, being a GM just becomes meaningless.

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