Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 07/02/09 at 09:12 PM ET
After a couple of rough days, the Hurricanes and Chad LaRose have finally come to terms. This is a two-year deal worth a total of $3.4M, Sharpie will make $1.5M in 2009-10 and $1.9M in 2010-11.
Perhaps LaRose found the market to be not as awesome as he figured it might be. Frankly, I’m surprised that he wasn’t snatched up quickly. I guess this ends any speculation about signing any forwards out of free agency.
Anyone who watched the Eastern Conference final series would say that LaRose was Carolina’s best skater in that series. In fact, he was one of Carolina’s best players throughout the playoffs. He finished the postseason with 11 points (4/7) points in 18 games. In the regular season, he set a new career best with 19 goals and tied his career best with 12 assists for a new career best of 31 points in 81 games played.
The rugged, versatile forward is much more than a utility guy who will do a good job as a top six fill-in. He’s a great teammate, a great guy in the room and a very popular player with the fans.
This is a really good step for the Hurricanes. It might be fairly easy to replace 31 points, but it’s not easy to replace a guy who works as hard as Chad does. He’s also an extremely good penalty killer, and always an offensive threat in a shorthanded situation. In 2008-09, he scored two shorthanded goals and added two shorthanded assists.
LaRose, who barely stands 5’10”, is one of the smallest guys in the league. He doesn’t have as much natural talent as most guys in the league. He didn’t let any of this, or the fact that he was undrafted, deter him. He worked very hard to get to where he is and didn’t get any free passes along the way. Despite his size, and his jovial demeanor, Sharpie possesses a mean streak, and isn’t afraid to mix it up. He sticks up for his teammates and he finishes his checks. Sometimes, he reminds me of Scrappy-Doo when he decides to get into it with guys like Zdeno Chara or Evgeni Malkin. He’ll mix it up with the best of them and he’ll do what he can to get under the other guy’s skin. He had a hilarious exchange with Sean Avery, when he told Avery, in reference to Avery’s internship at Vogue magazine, to “Go back to your makeup and your handbags”. The whole thing was captured by the NHL Network for their “A Day in the Life” feature on LaRose. He had quite a few other choice things to say to the league’s peskiest guy that night.
During the playoffs, LaRose was at the center of a hot controversy during the ECSF series with Boston. He had an apparent goal clang off the crossbar, off the right post, then roll on its side along the goal line. Although the video evidence was pretty clear that the puck was just barely over the line, the on-ice call of “no-goal” was upheld. It was a perfect situation for video review. There were no arms, legs, gloves or sticks in the video. Just the puck, the goal itself, and the goal line. Somehow, they weren’t able to see it well enough, though. It didn’t matter because Carolina didn’t need that goal to win that game, but the whole video review thing was put under the microscope.
This pay raise from $875K to $1.5M is a little less than I was expecting, and he certainly deserves every penny of it.
The only full-time forward left to sign is Tuomo Ruutu, who is a RFA and should be in line for a slight pay bump from the $2.25M that he got this season.
I think there’s still some questions on the blue line, but there’s not anything available in the FA market, so the alternative would be to make a trade for a defensive minded top four defenseman.
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.