1. Ilya Kovalchuk. Special K still hasn't signed a contract, and I'm not losing any sleep over it. In fact, I refuse to lose any sleep over Kovy unless he signs with New Jersey (because I'm a Rangers fan, of course). After reading numerous blogs, Tweets and bathroom wall poems on the Kovalchuk saga, I've managed to piece together the following: First, he turns down a long-term, megamillions offer from Atlanta, which says, "It's not me, Atlanta, it's you." Now, Everyone's Favorite Defensively Disinterested Sniper appears to want the following: A) A long-term, megamillions contract, and B) To play for a perinneal Cup contender. Well, I want a winning lottery ticket AND a time machine, but the constraints of reality and the salary cap mean Ilya and I are both screwed. I suspect he'll sign with the Kings (eventually), for less money and time than he's currently seeking, while I will keep wasting money on lottery tickets...and he'll probably help the Kings win their first Stanley Cup.
2. The Southeast Division. In case you haven't noticed, Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Florida have all decided to get serious about winning. All three have made significant front-office changes since the season ended, and on-ice changes have followed (to varying degrees). Of the three, post-Kovalchuk Atlanta is most intriguing. The Thrashers finished just five points out of a playoff spot in April, and have made significant acquisitions since, taking full advantage of the Blackhawks' cap woes. I expect Atlanta to start the season slowly, as new linemates develop chemistry and the entire team adjusts to new head coach Craig Ramsay's system. By late November, this team should be firing on all cylinders, and a playoff berth is a very real possibility.
3. Mike Modano. I live in the Dallas area. Unless they're playing the Rangers, the Stars are my team, and have been since they moved here from Minnesota. I think I can speak for most Stars fans when I say that the only thing worse than a post-Modano world is a post-Modano world in which Mighty Mo is now playing for The Hated Red Wings. Feel free to quote me on this:
Mike Modano in a Red Wings sweater is like George Washington wearing a swastika armband.
--Big Tex, July 2010
Seriously: Modano to The Hated Red Wings is wrong on every level. While I can understand the desire to keep playing, the fact is that another season isn't going to give Mo the near-perfect ending he had in both his home finale (1G, 1A, shootout-winning goal) and the season-ender back in Minnesota. Better to retire (perhaps) a year too soon than to play (perhaps) a year too long, I says.
Now that I've gotten that off my chest, it's just about Mojito time, methinks. Until next time...
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