LCS Hockey: Born Again
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January 17, 2019
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Dave Dameshek
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MAYBE NOW HE CAN AFFORD A HAIRCUT
A proud graduate of the Charles Wang School of Lunacy, Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis signed Alexander Ovechkin to a 13-year, $124-million contract extension this week. The 22-year-old Ovechkin will make $9 million a season for the first six years of the deal and $10 million per season over the last seven.

While it may seem like a hefty contract, keep in mind, the U.S. dollar will be worth about 40 cents in the year 2018, so it really isn't as much money as it seems. Unless, of course, Ovechkin included a clause ensuring he'll get paid in space bucks, which will surely be the currency of the future. But Ovechkin has big plans for the money. Once the contract is over, he intends to retire to a condo on Mars with his lovely robot wife and their six clones.

At least the signing will put an end to all the preposterous rumors of Ovechkin signing with Montreal over the off-season. The Canadian media is great. They never let facts or common sense get in the way of a good story. They always add two plus two and get a big pile of (sunshine). I blame the metric system.

Ted Leonsis
Yabba Dabba Doo
But it's still a bizarre signing for Leonsis. We're talking about a guy who earned his fortune the old fashioned way, working his way up from the gravel pits to become a billionaire mogul. There was a time when all he wanted to do was take his wife Wilma to the drive-in, enjoy a stack or ribs, and toss back a few pints at the lodge with his good friend Barney. Now, as owner of the Caps, he's handing out $100-million contracts. It's an amazing success story.

Considering his modest background, Leonsis should really be more careful, especially since he's been burned in the past giving European scorers long-term deals. He handed Jaromir Jagr an eight-year, $88-million contract and watched Puff Nuts wilt under the pressure. To be fair, when Jagr arrived in Washington, he was pretty jaded and didn't seem to enjoy hockey much, so Ovechkin's passion for the game is much greater. But will it stay that way? Knowing you've got $124 million in the bank can do strange things to people. Hell, knowing I've got $1200 in the bank does strange things to me. I'd get into detail about it, but I've never had $1200 in the bank.

And is it just me, or does Ovechkin seem like the kind of guy who could go all big time? Granted, it's not like he's been in the poorhouse the past few years, but he was always working for a new contract. Now he has it. And he's going to have it for virtually the rest of his career. We could be about six months away from finding drunken photos of him and Tara Reid on TMZ.


NHL MERCHANDISE SALES
The shop at NHL.com enjoyed a stellar month of December, with sales increasing 44% over last year. In fact, 26 of the 30 teams saw an increase in sales for the month. Thanks to Winter Classic merchandise, the Pittsburgh Penguins led the way, improving a whopping 164%. The Chicago Blackhawks jumped 92%, aided by the fact Chicago fans had burned all their team merchandise over the previous 10 years of futility. But here are the top-selling items and player jerseys for December.

ITEMS
1. Pittsburgh Penguins 10 Greatest Games DVD
2. 2008 NHL Winter Classic Tee - Royal Blue
3. 2008 NHL Winter Classic Hoody - Buffalo Sabres
4. NHL Big Six Short Sleeve Tee - Grey
5. 2008 NHL Winter Classic Hoody - Pittsburgh Penguins
6. 2008 NHL Winter Classic Crosby N&N Tee - Pittsburgh Penguins
7. NHL Greatest Moments DVD
8. S. Crosby N&N Tee - Pittsburgh Penguins Black
9. Hockey Fights Cancer Tie - Pink
10.˙NHL Deluxe Standings Boards New - NHL Logo

JERSEYS
1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
2. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
3. Daniel Briere, Philadelphia Flyers
4. Chris Drury, New York Rangers
5. Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres
6. Maxim Afinogenov, Buffalo Sabres
7. Brendan Shanahan, New York Rangers
8. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
9. Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks
10. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

And here are December's least popular items...

1. Gary Bettman Growth Chart
2. Bobby Clarke's Guide to Love and Relationships
3. Ken Hitchcock's Salted Nuts
4. Chris Chelios' Liver Pills
5. Kirk Maltby Feminine Hygiene Products


TAKE IT OUTSIDE
I mentioned this on the radio show a couple weeks ago, but the All-Star Game should always be played outside. Yeah, I know the league likes to move it around to southern cities too, but that'll just make it fun. It would certainly increase interest in the game. Feel free to discuss it amongst yourselves.


KID CROSBY QUOTES
There were a couple recent quotes about Sidney Crosby that deserve mentioning. First, the great David Amber interviewed Andrew Ference, and they talked about Ference's fight with Crosby. It's good stuff. Amber always does a great job with those interviews. You can read the whole article on ESPN.com, but here's a sampling of what Ference said about Sid the Kid...

"Jarome (Iginla) in my books is a better hockey player than Crosby because he does those things. He will fight, he will lay his body on the line and take the hit and not complain if someone hits him and stuff like that. The superstars of the league should have to do that because they're hockey players, they're not ice-skating princesses. Hockey is an emotional game, you have to stand up for yourself. You have to stand up for your actions. If you punch somebody in the face, then you should fight, that's the way hockey is suppose to be."

And isn't that what Crosby did to Ference? I guess Ference was complaining because he thinks Crosby gets mad when people hit him. Yeah, because Sid never gets hit. Crosby has been taking hacks, hooks, and hits from scrubs his whole life. Ference has no idea what Crosby has to put up with. It's ridiculous. Good ol' Andy needs to shut his mouth and know his role.

As for Iginla being better than Crosby, that's just silly. Iginla is a great hockey player. I've got him ranked third on the pound-for-pound charts, but Crosby is a whole different level. It's like comparing Michelangelo to a house painter. It's cool to say Iginla or Lecavalier is better than Crosby, but it's also wrong. Crosby's the best. And it's not even close.

One guy who recognizes greatness when he sees it is LeBron James. The Cleveland Cavaliers superstar had some kind words for Kid Crosby.

"I know he's great at what he does. They call him 'Sid the Kid,' he's been great for the Pittsburgh Penguins and what he's able to do, as young as he is, is pretty good. I know they compare him to me, and I'm excited to be compared to a guy who plays the game the way he does."

It's actually kind of weird how history is repeating itself. Back in the day, the careers of Michael Jordan and Mario Lemieux seemed to mirror each other, and now James and Crosby are tearing up their respective sports in similar fashion. And that will be the last time the NBA is mentioned on this site.




COVER BOY
Kid Crosby will also be featured on the February edition of "Men's Fitness Magazine." Inside the issue, which hits newsstands January 14, Sid shares his workout routines and whatnot.

In related news, I'll be featured on the cover of this month's "Frail and Sickly" magazine. I'll be sharing tips on how to skip meals and dress in layers. Look for it.


ZHERDEV
I just wanted to take a moment to mention Nikolai Zherdev's renaissance with the Blue Jackets. Before last season, I went to the wall for Zherdev, saying the Jackets should pay him. When they finally came through with a new contract, Nik rewarded everyone with no scoring whatsoever. But don't worry, he made up for it with a complete lack of effort.

Needless to say, I repeatedly ripped Zherdev for making me look like a stooge, but this season he's proving it's never too late to mend. He's got 17 goals and 35 points in 44 games. While that's still well below his potential, at least he's back on the right track. His two goals the other night against St. Louis were spectacular.

On the first one, he pulled the puck through his skates as he cut through the high slot and then laced a wrister behind Hannu Toivonen. On the second, he took a long lead pass from David Vyborny and broke behind the defense, freezing Toivonen with some quick moves before burying a backhander. If the goals were any prettier, I would have asked if they had a sister.


LCS HOCKEY WIDGET
Ace Reporter Jim Iovino made an LCS Hockey Widget. I still have no idea what widgets do or why I should care, but Jim swears they're big with all the kids. So if you would like an LCS Hockey widget, load up...

LCS Hockey Widget


HAPPY ANNIVERSARY
The other day, longtime reader Vince Laboon emailed to remind me we recently passed the two-year anniversary of Michel Therrien excoriating the Penguins during a post-game press conference. It can't be called a tirade, because Therrien is remarkably calm throughout, ripping the Birds for being soft and saying they don't care in his trademark broken English. My favorite part might be when he says, "Dey don't care. Tonight it looks like mans against boys." It's good stuff. Enjoy.


LCS Hockey: Born Again
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