KK Members Blog

KK Members Blog

Giguere's Presence Paying Immediate Dividends

08/30/2010 at 10:42pm EDT

After enduring a devastating 5-3 comeback loss to the Vancouver Canucks on January 30th last season, Brian Burke took action by accentuating the Leafs lack of accountability within the organization. Burke wowed the hockey world by orchestrating separate trades to acquire former Calder and Norris Trophy nominee Dion Phaneuf and former Conn Smythe winner and Stanley Cup Champion Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Burke also managed to unload the ugly contracts of Vesa Toskala and Jason Blake in exchange for former Conn Smythe winner and Stanley Cup Champion Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Most of the talk during the fallout of the trade were focused around the acquisition of Phaneuf and the unloading of Toskala and Blake, but the addition of Giguere was perhaps the largest gain to further the betterment of the franchise. He has only been with the Leafs for a few short months, but his impact to the Maple Leafs organization has paid immediate dividends.

Giguere is coming off a disappointing season in which he began as the backup in Anaheim behind Jonas Hiller. He only began to regain his status as a bonifide starting goaltender after being reunited with Brian Burke and godly goaltending coach Francois Allaire in Toronto. Giguere posted only 4 wins, along with a bloated 3.14 goals against average and 0.900 save percentage in 20 games with the Ducks. His numbers drastically improved upon arriving in Toronto, where he managed back-to-back shutout in his first two starts with the Leafs. His 6 wins in 15 games with the blue and white wasn’t overly impressive, but showed that he is still capable of carrying a team.

NHL's Extra Credit Breeds System of Inequity

08/30/2010 at 7:17pm EDT

The concept of academic extra credit has forever puzzled me. Despite the occasional motivation to exploit it, the notion of offering additional points as a means of atonement for under-performance has always felt fundamentally wrong to me.

Academic instructors typically distribute a syllabus at the beginning of each semester which, among other things, outlines the course’s key dates and includes a grading plan which specifies a value by which a student’s performance is ultimately evaluated. The National Hockey League has such an outline which contains similar criteria; although the NHL refers to theirs as a season schedule.

Like the aforementioned syllabus, the NHL’s season schedule consists of key dates otherwise known as games in which the league’s students—referred to as teams—are tested with points awarded dependent upon performance in those “exams”. While the number of tests each team receives is equal, the tests’ cumulative value is not.

How can this be you ask? Extra credit, of course.

Burke Gets a Bargain in MacArthur

08/30/2010 at 3:41pm EDT

In my column from Friday, I suggested the Maple Leafs take a run at free agent Tim Kennedy after Buffalo gave him the pink-slip. Yet a few hours after posting, this – or the addition of any scoring forward – seemed unlikely. As he often does, though, Leafs GM Brian Burke surprised me with his ability to make the best of a bad cap-situation

A trade with Tampa Bay late on Friday added Matt Lashoff to Toronto’s defense corps, bringing their number of NHL-level d-men up to nine and pushing them within $1.5 million of the cap ceiling. Although Lashoff has only played 63 NHL games over the last four seasons, he’ll have to clear waivers this season to be sent down to the AHL, so it looks like the Leafs want him for big-club duty.

By Saturday though, Leafs GM Brian Burke pulled the trigger on a deal that looks even better than what I was proposing with Kennedy. Left wing Clarke MacArthur – another Sabres product – signed with Toronto for a steal at $1.1 million,after Atlanta walked away from his $2.4 million arbitration award. After posting career numbers in both games played (81) and points (31), the 25-year-old is just entering his prime.

While only a year older than Kennedy, MacArthur already has 208 NHL games under his belt, leaving him far more experienced at this level than Kennedy, who has only played in 79. Add in MacArthur’s points-per-game average at 0.42 over Kennedy’s 0.33, and the fact that Toronto will still hold MacArthur’s RFA rights after this season, it’s clear that Burke is getting the most bang for his team’s buck.

With less than $400,000 left in cap space, it’s looking like RFA Christian Hanson will be the odd man out on the Leafs roster. I’ll keep tabs on this story as it develops.

Team USA North

08/27/2010 at 4:15pm EDT

The fate of Head Coach Ron Wilson is a major issue looming over the Maple Leafs as the new season approaches. His job is secure for now, but consensus is that if the Leafs put together a start as poor as last season’s, Wilson will be out by December.

The work Wilson got out of the Leafs in 09-10 was some of the worst the city has seen in years, but in a three week stint in February, Wilson coached a rookie squad of Olympians all the way to overtime in the gold medal game against the best team in the tournament. Observing the levels of focus, commitment and execution Team USA brought to each game, it was clear the bench had bought into what Wilson – and GM Brian Burke – were selling.

The Olympic Games left Leaf fans hoping the momentum these two old soldiers brought out of Vancouver would carry over into the Leafs dressing room. In order to capitalize on their success, the path is clear for Burke: to get as many Team USA members as possible on Toronto’s roster. No easy task, as the Olympic squad was made up of some of the best young talent in the game, but Burke was able to capitalize on the Chicago’s cap-crunch and add Kris Versteeg to the Leafs’ Team USA members Phil Kessel and Mike Komisarek, who sat out the tournament with injuries.

In Defense of the Shootout

08/22/2010 at 5:48pm EDT

When the National Hockey League first instituted the shootout coming out of the lockout in 2005-06, immediately there was a line drawn in the sand. To one side were those in favor of an ending more satisfying than a tie and to the other, those who labeled the shootout a gimmicky, “skills competition”.

From the start it was obvious that I was in that first group. I was enthralled by the individual show of skill. I wasn’t alone. The other 18,198 people in Madison Square Garden seemed equally riveted, standing unprompted, and remaining that way throughout.

The shootout shone a rare spotlight on individual talent. Without it, would we have gotten to see so many variations on the Datsyukian Deke?

2010 NHL RDO Camp Yields Mixed Message

08/20/2010 at 4:28pm EDT

NHL officials, general managers, and media members convened in Toronto Aug. 18-19 at the Maple Leafs’ practice facility in a veritable who’s who of league power players. They gathered to observe 33 projected top 2011 draft prospects competing in scrimmages designed to allow NHL Vice President of Hockey and Business Operations Brendan Shanahan and his staff to experiment with 28 prospective rule changes and variations.

Nearly all of these proposals are either too bizarre or radically progressive to ever be heard from again (one faceoff circle centered in each zone, draws conducted by whistle rather than puck drop), but a few caught the eye of those in attendance and the Twittersphere was abuzz with speculation. Much of the discussion centered on potential changes to the icing rule in the quest for increased safety.

What caught my eye, however, was what I perceive to be contradictory philosophies employed in the support and/or rationalization of some of these proposed changes.

The debate over touch or no touch icing has been on the radar of this born and bred Minnesotan since Kurtis Foster’s leg was shattered in a March 20, 2008 collision with San Jose’s Torrey Mitchell as the pair chased down an iced puck at the Shark Tank. The event immediately brought the issue to the forefront of league discussion.

The Kovalchuk Problem: Part 3 - The NeverEnding Story

08/20/2010 at 4:20pm EDT

The third part in this installment was supposed to be the last, as in any traditional multi-part story, but perhaps comparisons to even the Lord of the Rings trilogy would not quite do justice to the length of the Kovalchuk saga, and it may be better reflected in a four part series. Or more. At this point, who knows. Hence Falcor.

Here are some basic facts:

How About Some Positivity?

08/18/2010 at 11:16pm EDT

Like anyone else, I have gotten angry about the hockey team I follow. But, for me, the feeling—almost always more disappointment than anger—usually fades away pretty quickly.

I understand being passionate about hockey. I think we all do.

What is hockey if not some perfect mix of beauty and pure, raw emotion?

What I’ve never understood, though, are fans who go to games and spew out nothing but bitter hostility. Aren’t they watching the same game I am? Don’t they appreciate that the world’s fastest, most beautiful game (sorry, soccer fans) is being played at it’s highest level right in front of them?

Making the Most of Mistakes

08/16/2010 at 10:48pm EDT

I won’t pretend that I’m too well-versed on the inner-workings of the human brain.

For that matter, I don’t think I even bought the book for freshman year Psychology.

But, without any real research or reading, I think I can say fairly definitively that different parts of the mind control learning from mistakes and finding ways to bury them.

A prime example: Glen Sather.

Koval-stuck? The NHL’s “investigation” and who wants what

08/11/2010 at 4:16pm EDT

As you know by now, Judge Bloch has ruled that Ilya Kovalchuk is a free agent. Why? Well, his contract is invalid, so back to the bargaining table he goes. Much has been made of this fact, and pundits are theorizing intently as to whether he signs again in New Jersey, or heads somewhere else. Is LA still interested? Is Russia a serious option? Toronto? (I just had to mention Toronto because, well, they come up in reference to every free agent of any importance). While the hockey world speculates on Ilya-gate and the next move of the Kovalchuk camp, I would like to focus on the tidbit regarding “investigations” that came out of this ruling. Namely, that the NHL is looking into four other contracts and investigations are ongoing. Gary Bettman and Bill Daly are out on the streets in Vancouver, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston, intimidating witnesses and interrogating suspects.

That’s right, it’s Law and Order: CIU (Contract Investigations Unit).

What could come of these investigations? Probably nothing, let’s start right there. Any notion that the Stanley Cup will be taken away from Chicago because Hossa’s contract was ineligible is moot. If that did happen though, Flyers fans would be pretty happy. Except, wait, the Pronger contract is being investigated. That would mean the second-last team to be eliminated would get the Cup. But don’t get your hopes up, Habs fans, that’s a pipe dream, and one hell of a long pipe.

Regier takes another PR hit for the team

08/09/2010 at 12:09pm EDT

Apparently, building a team that amasses 100 points and wins a division title doesn’t get you much slack or credibility in this town.

In the midst of a hot Buffalo summer that many Sabres fans were hoping would see some changes at the top of the forward lines and a touch-up on the power play unit, GM Darcy Regier has once again had his own feet put to the fire by Sabres Nation due to his trademark calculated and methodical management style.

In case you’re not keeping score at home, that’s the same infuriating management style that under his watch has produced four conference finals appearances.

One of those campaigns was ended in the ’99 Stanley Cup Finals with Brett Hull’s toe in the crease. Another was halted in the ’06 Eastern Conference Finals with four of Buffalo’s top defensemen out of the lineup against an otherwise evenly matched opponent in Carolina.

Trading Kaberle is a Difficult Decision

08/08/2010 at 9:58pm EDT

It’s a decision that deserves a lot careful assessment. At worst, it could potentially cost a Championship.

Amongst the fury to be rid of Czech native, Tomas Kaberle for potential booty - with the general perception that it’s the smart/right thing to do - trading him is fraught with a future hole that the Maple Leafs will have to pay for dearly at a later time.

If there’s a chance he could be retained and resigned, it’s an avenue that has to be examined.

The skills generating his value are unique and rare. Patience at the point , quarter back of the power play, silky smooth rushing ability with vision and creativity to lead the attack, while also capable of launching long-range passes up the middle for players streaking behind the defense, these are the same skills that a Championship club needs for success. That’s even with the softness in the Leafs zone.

It's been a strange off-season, what caught you off-guard? I bet these four things are on your list.

08/08/2010 at 8:18pm EDT

It’s August 8th, sunny and warm. But is hockey ever really that far off? Here are a few things I bet you didn’t expect to be the case this late in the summer of 2010:

1) Annti Niemi is a free agent: The fact he won the Stanley Cup was shocking enough, considering he was on few radars at the beginning of the 2009-2010 season. More shocking? His release from Chicago. Walking away from a $2.75 million arbitration ruling may have surprised the hockey world, but I have a feeling it will continue to reverberate with Niemi for years. Why? Well, look at his options.

Didn’t take long, did it? There’s Philadelphia, if they stray from Leighton and Boucher, and create some room (seems unlikely); there’s Washington, if they opt not to go with Varlamov (no word this is a possibility, so unlikely); there’s Montreal, if they can’t sign Carey Price (not going to happen; and then there’s Atlanta, the Chicago-East of the NHL, there’s the Islanders, and, well, that’s about it.

So from Stanley Cup winner to, likely, a Thrasher or an Islander. That’s gotta hurt. Neither team has a shot at winning anything in the near future, and even these potential starting opportunities are questionable. Atlanta already has two goalies, with the newly signed Chris Mason as the starter, but given Rick Dudley’s penchant for adding former Blackhawks, Niemi has to be a possibility. As for the Islanders, Niemi’s chances rest with the health of one man, Rick DiPietro.

Why Annti Niemi & the Islanders are a perfect fit

08/07/2010 at 10:00am EDT

It’s amazing to think about…looking over the extensive list of FA’s still available in the NHL, that the goalie of the Stanley Cup winning team is not only ripe for the picking for 30 teams, but won’t even be back on his team next season.

Niemi, still unproven to a degree, and only 26 years old, would be a valuable commodity for any team in need of goaltending help. Would one of those teams be the New York Islanders? Let me tell you why I think the Islanders & Niemi just go together, sort of like Lamb & Tuna Fish.

Goaltending Uncertainty: Rick DiPietro, one of the crown jewels of CBA circumvention, has a very suspect lower body after surgeries on his hip and knee. He showed, in brief stints last season, that he could still play but can his body hold up anymore? Dwayne Roloson, the Isles saving grace last season, turns 41 in October, and can’t be counted on to be that lights out again. Marty Biron, the other goalie in the Fish Sticks’ goalie carousel from last year, left for the New York Rangers this off-season. A young, Stanley-cup winning goalie could be the answer.

Reaching the Salary Cap Floor: The Islanders currently sit just this side of a million short of the $44 million salary floor required by all NHL teams. If GM Garth Snow isn’t going to improve his offense or defense, shoring up your goaltending is the next way to go. If Niemi is willing to do a short-term deal (2-3 years), or even a Marian Hossa-eaque 1 year deal, Islanders fans would sign up in a heartbeat.

Small Market: Since we’ve seen most teams sign their goalies, and some prominent names bolt to the KHL, there aren’t many spots left. Teams that have the cap space, such as the Thrashers and Oilers, have taken care of their goalie situations while teams that needed new net minders, like the Flyers and Sharks, made their decisions already. The Islanders might be the only place for Niemi to go, kinda like going to an island….by himself….to go play for the ISLANDERS…bad joke.

The only other team that could make sense is the Montreal Canadians. After shipping out playoff savior Jaroslav Halak, much to the dismay of Le Habitants, Carey Price could be given the keys to the kingdom. But, if Montreal brass feel Price needs some healthy competition, Niemi’s agent might be getting a phone call or two.

The NHL’s Best Fans…According to Forbes

08/04/2010 at 8:26pm EDT

Forbes has recently put out a list of the best fans for the four major sports leagues in North America (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL). The list includes the top four teams from each of the leagues. The NHL is represented by the following teams:

3. Detroit Red Wings
6. Pittsburgh Penguins
11. Montreal Canadiens
16. Chicago Blackhawks

This excerpt from the Forbes article explains how the list was comprised:

Everyone loves playing GM...so it's my turn

08/04/2010 at 3:21pm EDT

While I like to write about hockey generally, I am clearly a Habs fan. So, if you’ll allow me to dabble for a moment, my thoughts on the Canadiens roster - as of August 4.

Sidenote: While I’d like to add Kovalchuk, Selanne, etc. etc. – the cavalry ain’t coming. I have tried to be as realistic as possible with potential additions/subtractions. Now, onto the fun.


Up front, Pierre Gauthier has made some significant changes, but perhaps more significant is what he has not done. Gauthier has brought in Dustin Boyd, a valuable fourth liner at a much lower salary than, say, Glen Metropolit. A good cap move that makes the team younger and faster. The big acquisition of the summer - so far - is Lars Eller. Acquired in the Jaroslav Halak deal, Eller gives the Canadiens a rising young power forward for the 3rd line centre role. He replaces Dominic Moore, bringing much more offensive upside and potentially more physicality.

Perhaps the most surprising move to many Habs fans was the re-signing of Tomas Plekanec to a five year contract. While I am a big Plekanec fan, even I must admit his playoff performance was lacklustre at best. After scoring the overtime winner in game one of the playoffs, he was virtually invisible as the Canadiens defeated Washington, Pittsburgh and then fell to Philadelphia. This suggests two things: one, the Canadiens felt Plekanec was good value at five million a year, and two, the Habs braintrust believes Plekanec will continue to grow into the role. What must be acknowledged is that while Plekanec scored 70 points last year, and 69 three years ago, he is also a great defensive cog for the Habs penalty kill. He is arguably the PK’s hidden secret, a catalyst for the Candiens success short-handed in the past two or three seasons.

What wasn’t done? Well, while Sergei Kostitsyn was shipped to Nashville in the Boyd deal, brother Andrei still finds himself in Montreal. Owners of perhaps the largest biceps in Quebec, Andrei Kostitsyn possesses incredible physical talent, but often seems out of synch with the rest of the team. Will having his meandering little brother out of the way lead to Andrei’s coming out party? Only time will tell.

Antti Niemi . . . We Hardly Knew Ye

08/03/2010 at 11:57pm EDT

So just like that, the Antti Niemi Era has ended . . . almost as unspectacularly as it began.

This week, the Blackhawks let their rookie Stanley Cup-winning goaltender walk away from a $2.75 million arbitration ruling and ushered in Dallas castoff Marty Turco as his replacement.

Make no mistake: The Niemi Era was short lived, but spectacular.

It began in fits and starts with no small amount of organizational waffling as Joel Quenneville and the Hawks brain trust bent over backwards giving Cristobal Huet every possible chance to cling to the starter’s job. But throughout the regular season, Huet ran from lukewarm to cold, leaving many to wonder about the kid from Finland who was exceptional in most of his backup stints. This went on and on and sometime in March – long after it became apparent to everybody with a functioning pair of eyes that Niemi was the man – Huet gagged hard in an 8-3 loss to lowly Columbus and the Hawks had no choice but to make it official: Huet was toast and Niemi was the Hawks new #1.

Once upon a time you dressed so fine...

08/01/2010 at 10:37pm EDT

You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you?

Training camps are a mere five weeks away, and yet numerous NHL veterans remain unsigned, actively searching for work in a league that has priced them out. While the current CBA has seen salaries skyrocket at the top of the league, the middle and bottom-end players have been pinched. Though it’s difficult to have any actual sympathy for folks making millions to play a game, the facts are undeniable: record setting long-term contracts for the Kovalchuks, Luongos, and Keiths of the world, while solid NHLers such as Bill Guerin, Paul Kariya, Andy Sutton, Eric Belanger, Marty Turco and Jose Theodore remain on the sidelines. Sure, these guys may be past their prime in many cases – but they still make a difference. Unfortunately, if Mathieu Darche is available and willing to play for $500k, or a rookie at $750k, why sign a 3rd or 4th line plugger like Belanger for $1.5 or $2 million?

You Had Me at Draft Picks Four and Five

08/01/2010 at 8:56am EDT

Greetings from Portland, Oregon, temporary home of eight picks from the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. That includes the 4th and 5th overall picks, Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter. It wasn’t always this way. Last year at this time, the Portland Winterhawks were very nearly the worst team in the WHL, we hadn’t made it into the second round of the playoffs and we certainly weren’t home to a small minivan full of NHL prospects.

What a difference a year, a new owner and a few well-chosen prospects makes. Today, I paid out the second of several installments on Winterhawks season tickets. It’s the first time I’ve ever owned season tickets to anything, even hockey. This is in addition to my cable package with the NHL Network and the NHL Center Ice Package.

Since I’m investing in hockey the equivalent of a down payment on a small car, it got me to thinking about why we even watch the game in the first place. It’s violent, loud, bloody, smelly, vulgar and ruthless. No place for a respectable girl, my grandmother would say. Why, then, do I love the NHL Network, bobbleheads, fatheads, beer and shameless use of profanity? No clue about the fatheads and the bobbleheads, but I do know this:

High Time Nikolai Got His Antro-Props!! A Thrashers Fan's Voice

07/31/2010 at 8:27pm EDT

If somebody walked up to me and asked, “So, how do you fancy having Nik Antropov on your team?”, I would probably exclaim “Very nice!” with my hands giving the double thumbs-up sign like Kazakhstan’s most famous commercial “product”, Borat. But for those of us who reside here in Thrasherville, we know full well that Sacha Baron Cohen’s kooky Kazakh character plays a close second to the most accomplished export from the former Soviet state, Nikolai Antropov. The imposing and skillful hockey player from Ust-Kamenogorsk has already made an indelible impression on the fans of the Atlanta Thrashers for his hard work, quiet leadership and adroit use of a hockey stick. Our only complaint? We just wish he would shoot the puck more!

Thoughts on a Thornton Extension

07/31/2010 at 10:35am EDT

Reports have emerged in the past few weeks, first from Pierre LeBrun and then Craig Custance, indicating that the San Jose Sharks are at work on a contract extension for Joe Thornton. It’s a bit of a no-brainer: Thornton has led the Sharks in scoring in each of his five seasons with the club, he’s established himself as a fan-favorite (for good reason), and it seems he enjoys being a part of the community and organization after his experience with Boston. For better or worse—taking into account his playoff shortcomings and laid-back attitude—it’s clear that the Sharks have hitched their wagon to Thornton.

The big question, then, is not if the Sharks should sign Thornton to an extension, but for how long. Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson has already re-signed two key forwards to new deals this summer—Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski—both for four years. In talking to Custance, Wilson said, “We don’t have any contracts longer than four years. We are a player payroll team. We operate the way we operate.” We could assume, then, that Thornton might be extended for three or four more years as well. Would it be more prudent for the Sharks to extend Thornton for longer, though?

Leave it to Steve

07/31/2010 at 12:40am EDT

Tampa Bay announced the addition of Dominic Moore today, a player who brings much more to the table than most pundits give him credit for. Crafty, fast, gritty and great on faceoffs, Moore was a key cog in the Canadiens playoff race in 2010. He’s a smart supplement for the talented roster Steve Yzerman has put together as a rookie general manager in mere months.

What Yzerman and a new ownership team have accomplished in a short amount of time is quite impressive. He’s installed smart hockey people across the organization, from the scouting department to behind the bench. Guy Boucher, as a new member of the NHL coaching fraternity, was viewed as something of a genius by his former employers, the Montreal Canadiens. Literally. He has two university degrees, studies his players carefully and communicates extremely well. He is said to keep books of notes – on each player he coaches. This sort of cerebral approach to the game, combined with the respect Boucher shows his players, is exactly what Tampa Bay needs post-Tocchet - and certainly post-Melrose. The Canadiens were very, very sad to see him go. Boucher was a great hire, and a fantastic first personnel move for GM Yzerman.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: The Trading History of Doug Wilson?

07/29/2010 at 5:40pm EDT

It’s no secret around the league that the San Jose Sharks, if they have any hope of contending for the Stanley Cup again, need to improve their defense. General Manager Doug Wilson was characteristically quiet on July 1, despite reportedly making an offer to Dan Hamhuis, and was shot down by the Chicago Blackhawks after signing Niklas Hjalmarsson to an offer sheet. With Rob Blake’s retirement this summer, there is a gaping hole somewhere in the Sharks’ top two defensive pairings, and the only conceivable way for Wilson to fill this gap is now through a trade.

Wilson has made his name around the league as a manager thanks to his blockbuster deals, hauling in Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle, and Dany Heatley in a trio of trades that look to be long-term successes for the Sharks. These players, along with Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski, make up the core of a team that should be competitive for several more seasons. In that regard, Wilson has done a fine job in shaping this Sharks squad.

But the story doesn’t end there. Wilson has struck out quite notably with several other trades—all of them, not coincidentally, near the trade deadline. Try to pick a single winner for the Sharks out of any of these deals:

Making The Case For The Kings To Retire Rob Blake's #4

07/29/2010 at 3:17pm EDT

Two subjects have been the topics of heated debate this summer among Kings fans:

1) Ilya Kovalchuk

2) Now that Rob Blake has retired should the Kings retire his #4?

I’m not going to get near the Kovalchuk mess. I think enough has been said ad nausem on the topic and it’s time for Kings fans to move on - unless he somehow ends up in LA after all. I’d like instead to address the question of whether the Kings should retire Rob Blake’s jersey?

For those who aren’t familiar with the nuts and bolts of the story, many Kings fans hold a grudge against Rob Blake because they feel he put money ahead of all else and deserted the Kings for greener pastures in Colorado, and then later in San Jose, when he had the chance. My personal opinion is that Blake was first and foremost a professional athlete and you gotta make your money when you can. It’s a limited window of opportunity for a player to get paid and I don’t begrudge anyone who makes that a priority. Could Blake have handled the situation better? Probably. Only he can really answer that.

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