Quick note: was anyone else pissed off and embarassed with the Canadian national anthem tonight at the Olympic Opening Ceremony? I'm not trying to pick on the 16-year old that sang it, but the version was brutal. Most of the world watching tonight has never heard our anthem so it would have been nice if we could have had someone sing it proudly and properly. Instead, we paraded out some kid that recorded it a month ago in some lame-ass pop rendition that makes me sick. I truly found it embarassing and it made me furious that we would want to represent ourselves to the world in such a stupid fashion. Get someone to sing the effing song right and make us proud.
Finally, a chance to sit back and digest a busy day in Hockey Country. Let me get a few thoughts out before getting to Cheechoo.
1. The Murray extension. I'm indifferent to this. I don't think he's been amazing, but he's done his job. He has made some great signings and draft picks and he's made some bad ones. At the end of the day, his team is leading the division and that is better than anyone expected. During the five game losing streak, I never got to a point where I wanted him gone, but I did point out that this is officially Murray's team. The only contracts on this team that he didn't sign or acquire were Phillips, Alfie, and Volchenkov. Now that we've won 13 of the last 14, I will give him credit because THIS IS his team.
2. The Cullen acquisition. I love it! I had just told Pynch last night that I really like every player on this team right now...except the fact that Picard and Cheechoo make me nauseous (more on Cheechoo later). Picard, apart from Canuknik's love affair, hasn't really struck a true chord with the fans in Ottawa. He showed flashes of top four potential where he could move the puck up the ice or make the brilliant pinch down low. The problem, though, is that he is a poor positional player and is too picky on when to take the body. The Washington game was a perfect example - he can rub you out on the boards on one shift, or let Semin walk around untouched for a goal on the next. There was just never a sense of urgency with the guy and I, for one, am excited that we can move on from the Picard era. Cullen, as I know him, is like a Fisher without the fan club or the celebrity fiancee. He is fast as hell, can manage the puck very well on the point on the PP, and laughs at putting up 45-50 points. No sign on whether he is possible to extend in Ottawa as Murray acknowledged he is only focused on this year (code: he is not re-signing), but we should be able to get a legit second liner here that can produce. He was also huge in the Canes' Cup run, which is nice to know that we have a guy that produces in the postseason.
3. Lee and Derek Smith are recalled. Wow, we're really going into two big games this weekend with Kuba and Lee as our second pairing. Lucky for us, we're playing two reeling teams. Unlucky for us, our defence is subpar this weekend. Murray said today that Karlsson should be back when the games resume in March, and that he will look to address defencemen at the deadline. With a bit of money to spare now, I wonder if he'll try and pick someone up without moving a roster player. I'm curious to see if he wants an offensive defencemen, something like picking up Matthieu Schneider off of waivers, for example. Or will we just find a cheap guy that is NHL-ready like Sean O'Donnell?
4. Cheechoo is waived. One of our best moves, in my opinion. Pardon me here for probably pissing on the guy's grave, but why the hell do Ottawa fans like him so much? He came in here as 'the salary dump' in the Heatley trade. WE DID NOT WANT HIM AT ALL!!! But I think we were so desperate to tell the rest of the league that we didn't get fleeced on the Heatley deal because Cheechoo would find his touch again. I think that was a big part of why people wanted him to succeed - so we'd feel better about trading a 50-goal scorer for Michalek AND....a resurgent Jonathan Cheechoo. The problem is that Cheechoo isn't good. I took a stroll over to SensChirp earlier today to read some of the fan comments over the waiver decision and it just made me angry. Four out of five fans are saying things like how they wish him well and what a great guy he was and how hard he worked. Pardon me, but did Jonathan Cheechoo show up at your house and bake you a Shepherd's Pie and strawberry shortcake for dessert? Did he walk your kids to school when you had an early meeting at work? Did he clean your bathrooms before your in-laws showed up? No, I'm guessing that he didn't do any of those things. SO HOW THE HELL ARE YOU GOING TO TELL ME WHAT A GREAT PERSON HE IS? He is a pro hockey player making $3M a year, he didn't save you from a falling through a frozen pond. Get over it, people. And he works hard? I challenge any of you to tell me that you wouldn't "work hard" if someone gave you an NHL contract and let you play on a Canadian team. That isn't enough. Everyone in the NHL works hard.
The guy cranked out a spectacular season, one of the best of our generation, and signed a whopper of an extension. It isn't his fault. If someone offered you $3M a year for 5 years, you wouldn't ask him to lower the dollar value or shorten the term. The problem is the guy isn't good anymore and is hardly NHL quality. We need to stop making excuses for him and just admit that the Heatley return was a great kid in Michalek and a second round pick. Cheechoo is nothing more than a hole in Mr. Melnyk's pocket. For the fans that say he works hard and was coming around and was a great person, all you are doing is trying to make yourself feel better about the Heatley trade. Cheechoo stinks. When this contract is up, he'll hardly be worth the league minimum and you all know it. Am I kicking a man when he's down? Yeah, I guess, but if he is reading this blog anyway, he should shut down his laptop and drive to the rink and work on his effing skating. If he wants a job this summer, he needs to figure out how the hell he scored 56 goals and then convince someone else he can do half of that again.
Face it, we traded Heatley for Michalek and a 2nd round pick. Cheechoo was awful for us, made his linemates worse, and we still don't know if he was a good person. I wish him the best of luck because I want to see hockey players succeed, but I am insanely pumped up that we don't have to have this guy dress of us ever again. He was awful in Ottawa and he is someone else's problem now...Eugene Melnyk, right now. Don't bother telling me that he is a hard worker and a great person - I'm sick of it. We didn't get fair value on Heatley, but we're still a better team now than we were in the past two years, so we all just move on.