In our last Inbox, we made it clear that here at GTOG, we get a lot of emails (firstname.lastname@example.org). Well, you can imagine what has happened since we were linked one week ago on Yahoo's Puck Daddy for our prophetic and astute take on the Ilya Kovalchuk contract situation. In fact, we had to go to thesaurus.com to try to find the proper adjective to describe the amount of emails we've received, and one of the synonyms for "brimming" is "impregnated." So basically our email is pregnant. It's even gotten to the point that we have to churn out these Inboxes before we actually think they are ready -- thus, we give you "part 1" without really having any idea when (or if) there will be a part 2. But, we like how "part 1" sounds.
Q: Gentlemen, love your work. Isn't the Kovalchuk saga yet another example of how poorly managed the NHL really is? How could the league negotiate a CBA with such an enormous loophoole, then ignore the exploitation of that loophole in the form of the Hossa, Franzen, Luongo and other contracts, then try to crack down on the Kovalchuk deal in a transparent attempt to launch a preemptive strike in advance of the next round of labor wars?
Dan "Down" Donzi
Dan, thanks for reading. Mario Lemieux once called the NHL a "garage league," and, as usual, he was right. We don't know who the league uses for legal advice - wait, actually, we do know - but we're pessimistic about all this ending peacefully. Anyway, we have a more immediate example that illustrates how Gary Bettman and his team always seem to be a touch off the mark: today's Winter Classic press conference at Heinz Field. It's July 27th. Dan, no one is thinking about hockey right now except us and people exactly like us. That's for starters. Second, Crosby (such a gamer), Talbot, and Dupuis showed up to represent your Pittsburgh Penguins. The Capitals' representatives? Mike Knuble and Dave Steckel. Takes your breath away, doesn't it? If you locked the average sports fan in a room with David Steckel and said, "this is David Steckel, he plays for the Washington Capitals," the sports fan would sue you for false imprisonment. David Steckel has the electricity of a cinder block. Really, they couldn't pick a date when someone on the Caps' top two lines was available? You see the problem, Dan. The best thing this event had going for it was Mario's suit.
More on the Steelers, Cowboys, NHL, Ben, and Max Talbot after the jump...
Q: Hey guys, love the blog. With Steelers' training camp right around the corner, it's time to start the discussions about the big run test. How do you think Casey Hampton will do this year?
GTOG: Simone, thanks for your email. It seems like the big story on the first day of Steelers' training camp for the past half-dozen years has been Casey Hampton's weight...is he too fat for the run test? It's as predictable as Kirstie Alley on Us Magazine, but Hampton is 70 pounds lighter. In 2008, Younzer Nation (we say "younzer" and not "yinzer" because it is way more hardcore when a 72 year-old female parking lot attendant at Mellon Arena says "younz go der to de left" as opposed to "yinz go der to de left") was abuzz because Mike Tomlin declared that Hampton was "overweight and he's not conditioned enough to participate at this point." This sent the Pittsburgh media into an absolute tizzy and even spawned a Ron Cook Column that, in its entirety, would have constituted a Ron Cook poem without any editing. We should all just agree now that: 1) Hampton is, and will be, fat; 2) there will be several articles on the first day of training camp about whether it's more important for the veterans to do the run test or be ready for the season (as if you can't do both?); and 3) Casey Hampton will declare that "I will be ready for the start of the season on September 12th. That's all that matters."
Q: You may have noticed that Versus, the most prestigious purveyor of televised hockey this side of NBC, recently unveiled its list of the Top 10 centres in hockey (and I spell the word "centre" that way advisedly; I've earned the right to do so as a bald, bespectacled Canadian). You may have further noticed that Mike Richards is No. 5 on that list, one spot higher than Evgeni Malkin at the No. 6 spot. Wouldn't you say it's time you acknowledged the Flyers' captain's superiority and leadership?
GTOG: Gee, Pierre, we don't know. Why don't we go to the video...
Malkin says, "Take that." Really, it's not like Versus handing out Top 10 positional honors is on par with the Nobel Prize. What do they do, have Joe Beninati, Darren Eliot, and Ed Olczyk sit in a room together and hash this out? What we wouldn't do not to be a part of that conversation. The only sensible approach to this sort of a list is to ask yourself, "would I trade the player in the No. 6 slot (Malkin) for the player in the No. 5 slot (Richards)?" If the answer is "No," then guess what? [Ed. Note: the answer is "No."] You've got to take another crack at your list. By that metric, the Versus Top 10 is problematic. Take Mikko Koivu at No. 7. The folks at Versus are telling us they would take Koivu over, among others, Joe Thornton, Nick Backstrom, Ryan Getzlaf, and Steve Stamkos. Nonsensical. Look, GTOG is not saying this is easy. With this kind of exercise, hard choices are expected. Controversy is inevitable. But we're not afraid to put ourselves out there, and we at GTOG humbly submit the following suggested revisions to the Top 10 list:
1. Sidney Crosby
Q: What do you guys make of Cowboys rookie WR Dez Bryant refusing to carry veteran WR Roy Williams' shoulder pads off the field after practice?
McConnells Mill, PA
GTOG: You ask a great question, Colleen. Our first thought was that this whole story was a huge misunderstanding because we assumed that Roy Williams was asking Bryant to carry his pads because Williams kept dropping them. This whole system in the NFL whereby rookies are "initiated" onto these teams is a little ridiculous. The NFL is not like a regular job where you advance in a linear fashion after paying your dues. The NFL is a merit-based system. If you are a rookie but are better than a veteran, too bad for the veteran. It is entirely possible, if not likely, that Dez Bryant is significantly better than Roy Williams...if so, why should he have to carry Williams' pads? Who did Roy Williams ever beat?
A lot of people think that the NFL is like Friday Night Lights where the rookies (freshmen) should have to pay their dues to the veterans (juniors and seniors). That's nonsense. Professional football players are just that - professional. They come into the league making 7-8 figure salaries and the highly regarded rookies are significantly more important to their teams than the veterans. If Dez Bryant thinks he is better than Williams, then he should have told Williams to carry his shoulder pads. Obviously there is some value in "team-building," but how does shoulder-pad carrying help achieve that? Imagine if Nats pitcher Miguel Batista told Stephen Strasburg to carry his glove off the mound? Not only would Strasburg be justified in refusing, he probably would have enough clout to have Batista thrown off the team, if not assassinated outright.
Obviously rookies should be respectful of veterans, humble, etc... We just don't see how carrying shoulder pads creates that. Or, maybe it's just because we think Roy Williams has had such a negligible impact in the NFL that he should be carrying my laptop for me. There aren't enough negative things that we can say about the Cowboys.
Q: Ben is a bum. Hows-a-come the Stillers didn't get rid of him? They shoulda shot him outta Heinz Field like a gumband!
Nitro, West Virginia
GTOG: Perry, we agree wholeheartedly that the Steelers should have jettisoned Ben, but let us speculate as to what happened. When the Steelers found out about his indiscretion in Millidgeville, GA they wanted to get rid of him. The problem they faced in trying to get rid of him is that at the time, his PR was absolutely toxic and no team was willing to part with much for a guy who their fans would not only not be excited about acquiring, but would probably be disappointed in acquiring. Do you really think that a Raiders or 49ers fan would have rushed out to get a 7 jersey? No chance. So, as much as the Steelers wanted to get rid of him, they (rightly) couldn't justify dumping him for 20 cents on the dollar. But....at the end of the upcoming season, we absolutely think the Steelers will be shopping Ben because they can get closer (although not equal) value in return. To put it more simply: no one wanted to trade for Superman, but someone may want to trade for Clark Kent.
Q: Max Talbot called Ovechkin a "real douche." Can you post the audio and do you have an opinion on this?
GTOG: Our first letter from Mollenauer, PA - what a beautiful place, Darlene. You're truly fortunate to be from there. Here is the link to the interview - Talbot definitely doesn't hold back. http://www.1059thex.com/cc-common/podcast.html
As for our thoughts on this, obviously it is funny and refreshing to hear Talbot say this. The only concern we have is that this type of stuff comes back to backfire all the time. Remember Lee Flowers calling the Tampa Bay Bucs "paper champions" only to have the Bucs win the Super Bowl the next season with Warren Sapp waving at Flowers in the post game interview? Or how about Anthony Smith guaranteeing victory over the Pats in 2007? We know how that turned out. Max Talbot is obviously more of a superstar than Lee Flowers or Anthony Smith, but it's still a little scary. Nonetheless, nice for Talbot to confirm about Ovechkin what everyone already suspected.