Alright, I'm not one to start completely ripping on known members of the media for no apparent reason. While sometimes people say stupid things that I disagree with, you also know that they must've done things in the past that got them to where they are today.
I do make one exception to this, and its Howard Berger. The Fan590 reporter and HockeyBuzz writer is one of many who has made a name for themselves, and have kept themselves relevant in the past few years by consistently looking at negative aspects of the team with next to no exception. What separates him from, say, a Damien Cox though, is the fact that he is seemingly never not on a mission to bash the team, and never really praises or acts neutral with team decisions. Cox can write the occasion article that's positive, or at least merely an informative news piece (though he's still generally a dick and negative as a whole). As can the rest of the media. But with the exception of his reporting on the new Leafs jerseys, Berger spends his entire time writing at a practical vendetta against the team. Hell, it wouldn't shock me if the jersey reporting was entirely for the purpose of undermining the official announcement. Not to mention the fact that he pretty much spends every press conference looking for ways to try to slam Ron Wilson/Brian Burke/Whatever Player is There/The Audio Technician, to the point where we got this gem a while back:
Ron Wilson goes off on Howard Berger (via LeafsHighlights)
But enough with my intro, that already has me fuming and ramped up for the rest of this article. Lets get to the point, which is the disgrace of an article he put out yesterday, in an attempt to seem funny. Its on Hockeybuzz, but I don't want to give site owner Eklund the satisfaction of more traffic from here, so I'll just post the article straight in.
TORONTO (June 19) — With the NHL draft and free agency fast approaching, Brian Burke is busy clearing cap space to accommodate every player on the open market this summer.
According to multiple reports, these players are "connected" to the Leafs, which obviously indicates they are headed this way. Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrick Marleau, Dan Hamhuis, Colby Armstrong, Alexander Frolov, Tomas Plekanec and others will soon bolster the Toronto line-up, and that list doesn’t include players Burke is on the verge of acquiring via trade: Patrick Sharp, Nathan Horton, Bobby Ryan and Joe Pavelski chief among them.
The unspoken part, of course, is that every one of the aformentioned is clamouring to join the NHL’s 29th-place team as it sets about ending the longest existing Stanley Cup drought, and third-longest in history. All the league has to do in the next couple of weeks is lift the payroll ceiling to $240 million per team — a small detail.
Moreover, why would anyone care that Dion Phaneuf, J.S. Giguere, Phil Kessel, Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin already account for $26.2 million of the Leafs’ cap space — or roughly 40 percent of the current figure? As Ralph Kramden used to say: "A mere bag of shells."
After all, it’s been proven, beyond doubt, in the post-lockout NHL that the quick-fix method works best. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Jordan Staal, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Eric Staal, Cam Ward and about a dozen of Detroit’s best players were acquired through the draft, but why mention these spare parts? Unquestionably, patching holes in free agency and trading first-round picks is the way to build a championship club.
Let the bidding start… and the rest of the league weep.
Lets break this down a little bit. In essence, Berger is bashing the entire trading and free agency buzz that's been going around Toronto since Brian Burke's comments that "July 1st is our draft". By buzz, we're talking about the people reporting them, the fans discussing them, and the team themselves for looking to them as ways to build a team. Now here are the issues I have with this article.
1. Howard, look at where you're posting this. You write for Hockeybuzz and the Fan590. The former's sole purpose is to
make up "report" on speculative trades and free agent signings. In fact, most of the "reports" by Eklund, the head of said site, are either involving the Montreal Canadiens, or the in question Toronto Maple Leafs. The other place in question is on the Fan 590's website. The Fan 590, as you probably know, is a Toronto sports radio station, that's most recent foray into the news columns revolves around it being the only game in town for afternoon hockey talk with the cancellation of Leafs Lunch (Sucks to see, by the way - I liked Leafs Lunch. Not as good as it used to be, but still decent, as much as I dislike Watters). The 590 relies on breaking news as it fuels their discussions. Hell, Howie's whole job with them is a beat reporter, who can give them the absolute latest news. So why is it, that when he works for a rumor website and a news breaking sports radio station, that he actually has the balls to complain about the Leafs trying to make something happen, and release an article mocking everyone for reporting their progress. If anything, shouldn't he be doing what they're doing right now? Maybe its because he doesn't have a scoop. Who knows.
2. The fact that the Leafs are exploring as many options as they possibly can is a bad thing? Not a single person is suggesting that they're going to sign and trade for every single one of those people (actually, to go further - I can't seem to recall anyone rumoring Armstrong, Frolov, Plekanec, or Pavelski as options for the team). The fact that the Leafs would be looking at multiple angles on where to go is common sense, not something to look down upon. Trust me, if the rumor mill was focused on just one of these players, you'd be at the top of the mount crying "The Leafs are putting all their eggs in one basket! And if the move fails to occur, the other baskets will be gone by then!". As much as I personally want the Leafs to go after Ilya Kovalchuk, for example, I sure as hell wouldn't want them to aim directly and only at him, just in case he doesn't sign here. You want that immediate plan B in any situation. Not only is it smart logistically, its also a fantastic bargaining chip - if a team or player knows you aren't desperate for someone specific, they can't demand as much out of you.
3. A Howard Berger article mentioning the Stanley Cup Drought? I'm shocked. Royally, Royally shocked. Its been what, two article's since he's last mentioned it?
4. A terrible Leafs cap woes argument, if I do say my self. Of your five players mentioned, 3 are defencemen (and its well known that the Leafs are looking to downsize their D, not stock up, so that's of no concern), and one is a goalie with an inflated contract that will be up at the end of the year. After that, you have a forward who, while he does make a more than Healthy 5.4 million, is also one of only 3 forwards on the team that make over a million. We're talking about a team that has upwards of 10 million dollars to sign a few forwards..plus, with the trade options, Tomas Kaberle's 4.25M would be gone too. There's no cap crisis.
5. Sure, those Hawks, Penguins, Wings, and Ducks teams took advantage of some good draft picks to win. But Berger's trying to give everybody the illusion that it was entirely their drafted core's that got them there. Just ask Chicago if they'd like to try playing those playoffs over again without Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Kris Versteeg, Brian Campbell, Andrew Ladd, or Antti Niemi. Not one of those six were Hawks picks. How about the Penguins? Ruslan Fedotenko, Sergei Gonchar, Chris Kunitz, Bill Guerin, Hal Gill, and Matt Cooke all had some sort of more than healthy role in their success. Detroit had Brian Rafalski, Mikael Samuelsson, Brad Stuart, Kris Draper, Chris Osgood (yes, a Detroit Pick, but he left them midway through his career and returned), Dominik Hasek, and Chris Chelios (though the last two didn't contribute as much to that year as they did in 2002).
Lets not even get started on the Anaheim Ducks of 06/07, who's entire defence core was a result of signings and trades within the previous 2 years. Chris Pronger, both Niedermayer brothers, Francois Beauchemin, Todd Marchant, Andy McDonald, Travis Moen, Samuel Pahlsson, Dustin Penner, Chris Kunitz, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, all players who had a major effect on the course of that playoff run and weren't Ducks draft picks. You can start a core via the draft, no doubt - but unless you live in fantasy-loyalty land where everyone stays with you forever and you draft two solid NHL players per year for over a decade, you're not going to win a cup as a result of only your draft picks. Hell, most of that Ducks outsider core was brought in under Brian Burke's watch, which if anything, should show optimism on the whole thing!
It makes you wonder how anyone could give this man an ounce of credibility these days. He's the perfect combination of a hypocrite, a person who uses biased facts, and flat out lies to you in what he writes. Add a heaping ton of negativity to the mix, and its pure aggravation to read anything he says. Alas, I'm sure Hockeybuzz and Fan590, regardless of the point of view he took in this article, are more than happy - the amount of traffic he gets from people who go expecting something to be angry about, or to leave hate mail, or anything of the sort (hate traffic, we'll call it), is probably up there with the amount of legitimate traffic he gets. He'll probably be with them until he leaves on his own terms, and there's nothing we can do about it.
Unless, of course, Ron Wilson finally throws him out a window as, we've been anticipating for months. That would be sweet.