I’ll do my best to keep this short and simple because by and large, it is.
On Tuesday evening, it was decided that I would not be continuing here at Kukla’s Korner for the 2011-12 season. This decision was mutual and the split, amicable, largely based on the simple fact that Paul and I just aren’t on the same page on some key issues. There are no hard feelings. It’s just time for me to head in a different direction.
[Initially, I had planned on making this announcement yesterday but felt it inappropriate to do so, in light of the terrible tragedy that befell Yaroslavl Lokomotiv of the KHL, which absolutely broke my heart, as it did so many others. My sincere condolences to all affected parties, of course.]
After a summer of far more inactivity than I intended, so far as hockey coverage goes, it brings me great satisfaction to jump back into things tonight (albeit ever-so-briefly) to announce some very positive news.
What began as an upstart podcast has now found a home on local AM radio.
The Bolts Beat, with myself, co-founder Mike Corcoran and new addition to the show, Vince Maduri, will hit the Tampa airwaves Monday nights on ESPN1040 this upcoming season.
The exact launch date and time slot for the show will be announced in the coming days but for now, you can expect a lot of what the show brought to the table in its original incarnation – like me and Mike arguing… A lot – and much, much more, including guests from throughout the hockey world and my favorite aspect of the new format – live calls from you, the fans.
In addition to local listeners being able to tune in on the AM dial, I’ll be posting previews and links to listen live via the web here at KK each week as well.
Elsewhere, I’ll be back to regular contributions here, in written form, no later than September 1st. In the interim, should anything major pop up (like, you know, the relaunch of and new home for our beloved radio show, for instance), I’ll poke my head in then too.
Just a quick hit here from me today on a totally off-the-ice front (or two):
A big time welcome and congratulations to the many newcomers to KK that have landed here in recent weeks, launching their new (or relocated) blogs and a very special shoutout to my man Brian Metzer, who has some very big, yellow and black shoes to fill for the departing Tony of The Confluence fame. Have no fear, Pens fans: Mr. Metzer is first-rate all the way and his cleverly titled From the Point Too is sure to please. I am beyond stoked to work with Brian here under the Kukla umbrella on a permanent basis, after our successful and popular collaboration during last year’s Lightning/Penguins series and of course, our time as colleagues elsewhere from years past. (Seems like eons ago now, don’t it, Metz?)
Who knows? Maybe that “one time only” Bolts and Birds podcast might have to make a second time only appearance now… (And a third? A fourth???)
With Metz and the rest of the new blood coming aboard, it’s impressive to see the site being fleshed out so thoroughly with big-time talent focusing on so many teams.
It also makes me realize I need to start stepping it up again…
As Paul pointed to here last night, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported via Twitter that Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Malone recently underwent shoulder surgery and could be facing 4-6 months recovery time, leaving him unavailable to the Bolts until as late as mid-December.
A team spokesperson confirmed the surgery to BOSE this morning, saying the procedure was done to “repair an injury suffered during the playoffs”. The 4-6 month recovery period, however, was called inaccurate and that Malone, rather, “should” be ready for training camp in September.
Not much else is known about the specifics of the injury but one might look to game three of the Pittsburgh series and a collision with Penguin forward James Neal in the first period that forced Malone out of the game for some time.
The surgery itself was said to be arthroscopic in nature.
And there you have it…
Stammergeddon ends up being about as valuable as any doomsday prophecy we’ve seen come and go in recent years, while Steven Stamkos comes in at a $7.5 million cap hit for the Tampa Bay Lightning over five years, which, all things considered, is excellent value for a player of this caliber.
As the wait lengthened for a deal to be announced, $8 million-plus in AAV seemed like a distinct possibility and with the end result being a fair amount below that theorized figure, the contract has to be considered a win for both sides. The Lightning keep their superstar forward and the player gets a high-dollar deal for a term that still leaves options down the road (and a no-movement clause - you know, in case - in the fifth and final year, according to Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune).
Now, with Stamkos wrapped up, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman can turn his attention to RFA Teddy Purcell, who is slated for an arbitration hearing tomorrow and though word is that ruling could come in as high as $3 million for either one or two years should the two sides not reach a prior agreement, Tampa Bay is in solid shape, with upwards of $7 million in cap space even after the Stamkos deal, according to CapGeek.com. Should Purcell come in even at the high-end number of $3M per, the Lightning will have plenty of wiggle room for mid-season adjustments, trade deadline additions or, well, whatever.
Beyond the madness of July 1, some time round about, oh, now each year, things tend to taper off so far as action in the hockey world goes.
In the absence of actual news, much like what no beer and no TV once did to Homer Simpson, people tend to go a bit nutty. For instance…
*The consistent wave of rumors du jour that usually go in one ear and out the other might stick with people a while longer, against their better judgment. (Test yourself: 3-way deal between Pittsburgh, Washington and Tampa Bay involving all of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and [the rights to] Steven Stamkos. If you threw this out the window before finishing reading “Sidney”, your faculties are still intact. If not, seek help.)
*Staples of the web, like KK’s own The Confluence, might just pack it in for good. Tony has done just that and that makes us sad. But best wishes down the road and thanks for years of solid material.
It will get done, in due time, this second contract for Steven Stamkos, that is…
It’s all part of the process, standard negotiating procedure, part of a give and take… And so on and so forth.
That’s what’s being fed to the masses locally from several outlets – and make no mistake, that’s the company line.
These days, it’s downright blasphemous for anyone in these parts to even graze the reborn Tampa Bay Lightning with the slightest hint of criticism, so it’s no surprise we haven’t seen anything resembling as much in the fish wraps or on local airwaves.
Not to worry.
Move along, people…
Well, what is it, then, that has led to a full two weeks of restricted free agency for Stamkos to go by without anything tangible to fluff the pillows of the Tampa fan base and keep them sleeping at night?
It’s been a full week since last I posted and I am pleased to report that four of those seven days were planned away time spent in South Florida doing whatever it is that resembles relaxation for the parents of young children. (I think I slept less than I normally do, in all honesty, but the kids had a nice little adventure and that’s what it’s all about.)
Now, these other three days in absentia I can chalk up to the joys of real estate transactions and I suppose a little patience on my end (and yours, perhaps) is in order, as we’re only in the very beginning stages of this endeavor.
Anyway, while I was sunning it up down Panther way, the new regime at the helm of the NHL’s residents in Sunrise were busy overhauling their roster for the upcoming season, hauling in a slew of players from the free agent waters and getting involved in their second significant trade of the off-season already as well. (They did not offer me a contract, for those wondering about my real intentions… I mean, what hockey writer – at any level – would plan a family vacation that started in the evening of the very first day of free agency without an ulterior motive?)
During my time in enemy territory, as the gracious host city saw its team spare no expense in attempting to improve their on-ice fortunes (or at least meet the salary cap floor, that is), back home here in Tampa, the Lightning were getting busy on plugging some holes in their roster too. Though the big story of the summer has yet to see its final chapter written, as in a new contract for superstar forward Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman and company have been involved in the NHL’s annual silly season sparingly, with a refreshing measure of sensibility, as compared to the overspending of so many. Sure, they met with representatives for former Bolt Brad Richards – it was a given that they’d at least inquire – but with the dollar number and term that he eventually signed for with the New York Rangers, that was every bit the pipe dream from the start as I’d pegged it to be. That aside, the small ripples the Lightning have made this summer have an aim at bigger splashes down the road, in terms of eventual impact, quality and, most of all, value.
Heard some whispers a couple of days ago that it was a distinct possibility and posted as much last night but today, former Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Mike Smith has signed with the Phoenix Coyotes for a reported two years and $4 million, reuniting with head coach Dave Tippett, who he played under in Dallas years ago.
There was communication between Smith’s representation and Tampa Bay about a return but that possibility ended when the Bolts locked up former Blue Jacket Mathieu Garon to back up Dwayne Roloson earlier in the day.
With the Coyotes, Smith will form a tandem with holdover Jason Labarbera, with former Phoenix number one Ilya Bryzgalov now off to Philadelphia, and should get every opportunity to seize the starting job out of camp. His run in Tampa Bay will be remembered for a series of unfortunate events, from injury to demotion, to re-call waivers and a dramatic late-season resurgence capped by clutch playoff performances before the Bolts ultimately fell to Boston.
Forward Michel Ouellet, who last played in the NHL in 2008-09 for Vancouver, has been signed to a one-year, two-way deal by the Tampa Bay Lightning according to Chris Johnston of the Canadian Press.
Ouellet played in Tampa in 2007-08, scoring 17 goals and 36 points in 64 games.
He spent the previous two seasons in Europe.