Friday, June 29, 2012

How much is too much for Parise? And is Suter a better choice?

By Artistry and Finesse

How much is Zach Parise worth?  Whatever some team will pay him.  That's the way the free agency game works, but it doesn't mean the Penguins have to play.  It's worth asking - as observers casually toss about numbers in the $8 million a year range for a guy coming off a 69-point campaign - where should the Penguins draw the line on an offer? Where should a guy with Parise's pedigree fit in a salary landscape that will continue to evolve - unpredictably - through the fall?

The salary cap sits now at $70.2 million, but that's temporary. It could go up or down pending negotiations on a new CBA.  Right now, the Penguins are roughly $15 million under the cap.  Does it make sense to devote more than half of that to Zach Parise?  Or is Suter the better target? Thought, after the jump...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sidney Crosby is a Socialist, and WE LOVE IT

By GTOG Staff

No one really doubted that Sidney Crosby would be a Pittsburgh Penguin for life or that he would take less money than he could command on the open market to make it happen. And no one doubted that Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle would pony up something in the neighborhood of $100 million in guaranteed money to keep him.  It all came together this week with what we imagine was a handshake that momentarily caused the sun to orbit the earth.

Crosby signed a 12-year, $104.4 million deal, which is essentially a 12 year extension of the contract he already has.  He's 24-years-old, arguably the best in the world at what he does, he's due a new contract, and Sidney Crosby decides he doesn't want a raise.  And that he doesn't want a raise for the rest of his career.  Think about that.  The $8.7 million cap hit remains, and as a consequence there is more money left to pay the players Crosby and the Penguins hope will help him challenge for Stanley Cups for the rest of his career.  How much will it help?  Check it out after the jump...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

GTOG Bachelorette Episode 7 Recap: "The Best Group of Guys. Ever."

By Finesse [Follow me on Twitter]

Here are 7 quick thoughts from another unbelievable episode of The Bachelorette.  If you missed our Raw Emotion Podcast, make sure to check it out here.

7. Not since Gene Kelly has a man worked an umbrella like Doug

Say what you want about Doug -- JUST DON'T SAY IT IN FRONT OF HIS SON GODDAMN IT!!!! -- but the man knows how to launch a relentless barrage of "are you OK?" upon a woman who wants nothing more than for him to go home immediately so she doesn't have to walk on eggshells around him worrying that she will do something to make him cry or, worse yet, do something that may one day make Austin cry when he watches his Daddy cry.  And, clearly, there is no one better than Doug at making sure that a woman stays dry.

Almost immediately after Doug surprised Emily with the least passionate kiss the world has seen since Dottie and Jerry Sandusky's wedding night, Emily dumped Doug.  This made Doug feel really stupid.  No that wasn't awkward at all, Doug.  No worries.

6. The fact that Wolf's last name is Wolfner changes nothing

If you've been paying attention to GTOG this season, then you know we've been completely confused by John's unilateral decision to nickname himself "Wolf," and then proceed to be the most boring individual ever to appear on any primetime network television show.  You could say that we've been on a crusade to get Wolf -- a man who attempted to explain that he only comes across as super boring becuase he is super "even-keeled" -- to admit that no one calls him Wolf, and that he has never done anything in his life to warrant being called Wolf.

"When we're done playing the dot game, maybe we can draw 3-D squares?"
Well, our newfound knowledge that his last name is Wolfner does not change the analysis.  We still believe he nicknamed himself Wolf, no one calls him Wolf, and he doesn't behave like someone named Wolf should.  To his credit, however, he declared, "I'm not a starter, I'm a closer."  Ok, then.  Close the door behind you, Wolf Wolfner.

5 more big thoughts after the jump...

Monday, June 25, 2012

GTOG Raw Emotion Podcast: Bachelorette Episode 7 Recap

Another emotional night at GTOG. We discuss the latest episode of the Bachelorette, Arie's romance with a producer, and Doug's return to Seattle to be with his boy. We're a little tipsy. It's the GTOG Podcast.

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Plan B: What if the Pens whiff on Suter and Parise?

By Artistry

Reaction to Staal trade here
Reaction to Michalek trade here

The mood in Pittsburgh is shifting faster than Kris Letang on meth, from shock to sadness to euphoria and back again.  Jordan Staal was here, then, in a blink, he was gone.  Zybnek Michalek was sent home to Phoenix.  The Pens are left with a ludicrous treasure chest of young defensemen, a more-than-suitable 3rd line center in Brandon Sutter, $15 million in cap room, and the promise of something huge.

Something huge.
The sense today is that the Pens will be major players in either the Ryan Suter or Zach Parise sweepstakes, and probably both.  But Ray Shero isn't the best GM in the business because he fixates on a potentially unobtainable prize or because he fails to learn from his mistakes.  Recall what happened when Marian Hossa left the Penguins grasping at air in 2008 and without a backup plan.  When Shero saw big holes in his defense in the summer of 2010, he dealt for the rights to primary target Dan Hamhuis.  When he couldn't lock up Hamhuis, the Pens were ready to pounce on secondary targets at 12:01 on July 1.  He was determined not to get burned again.  OK, he got burned again, but that was because Martin and Michalek underperformed, not because he hadn't thought several steps ahead.

No chance of him underperforming.
Fast forward to 2012, and reports are swirling that Shero is working hard to obtain the rights to negotiate with Nashville's Ryan Suter, again to get a headstart on the frenzy that hits a week from tomorrow.  Only one problem: David Poile is in no hurry to give up on Suter.  And Suter and Parise, probably the two most sought after UFA's in history, have no shortage of attractive suitors willing to throw unrealistic amounts of cash at them.  In short, there are no guarantees.  What do the Penguins do if they don't land either player?  One thing is certain:  they will do something.  Let's brainstorm, after the jump...

Michalek gone too; Pens primed for Parise and/or Suter?

By Finesse

Late last night the Pens dealt Zbynek Michalek to Phoenix for defensive prospect Harrison Roupp, goalie Marc Chevrie and a third-round pick (81st overall) in this year's draft.  According to CapGeek, the Pens now have about $15 million in cap space heading toward free agency.

Rumors about that the Pens are going to be heavily involved in the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter sweepstakes, with many suggesting that Shero is trying to acquire exclusive rights to negotiate with Suter before July 1st.  

You can't overstate how major of an overhaul this is for the Pens -- jettisoning Staal and Michalek and possibly Paul Martin in an attempt to land a top-10 defenseman in Suter or (maybe even "and") Zach Parise, arguably a top-10 forward.

I'm on the record as being a huge fan of Parise.  As far as non-Penguins go, I'm about as big of a fan of his game as I am of anyone in the league.  But as incredible as it would be to have a second line consisting of Crosby and Parise, scoring will not be a problem for the Pens.  We need Suter.  We need a horse on the blue line.  We need a guy who can play 30 minutes in the playoffs and do it almost mistake free.  With all due respect to Kris Letang, we're not sure he played a total of 30 mistake-free minutes in 6 games against the Flyers.  Suter is a true #1 defenseman and #1 defensemen win Stanley Cups....ask Drew Doughty and Zdeno Chara.

Ray Shero got himself into this mess by signing Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek two years ago.  At the time they seemed like great moves.  Kudos to Shero for recognizing that they didn't work and actually doing something to fix it.  You can't say that Shero is always right, but you certainly can't say he's stubborn.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Pens trade Jordan Staal to Carolina for Brandon Sutter; GTOG Reacts

By Finesse

The Pens traded Jordan Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes for Brandon Sutter, Brian Dumoulin, and the #8 pick (used to draft defenseman Derrick Pouliout).  Sutter will be the Staal replacement on the third line.  Dumoulin is a 20 year old defensive prospect, and Pouliout is reportedly a Letangesque prospect.  The Pens opened up about $2 million in cap space by dropping Staal's salary ($4 million) for Sutter's ($2 million through 2013-14).

Rumors on TV are that the Pens are gearing up to make a big run at a big time free agent....maybe even Zach Parise.  Dear God.

It's going to take a lot of reflection to really process this trade, but here are the initial thoughts...

I can't help but have really good memories of Jordan Staal.  He scored some of the biggest goals in Pens playoff history, never complained about his role, always did exactly what was asked of him, and just generally was a huge beast.  There were times when he was maddeningly unproductive, but if you look at any of the Pens' biggest wins in the past 6 years, Staal was prominently involved.

At the same time, the longer this saga dragged on, the more ridiculous the romancing of Jordan Staal became.  He's not a "superstar" in this league -- he never has been, and it's impossible to say for certain that he will be.  His career high in points?  50.  He did that this year in only 62 games, but before you get all "that's a 66 point pace over 82 games!" on me, pause and think about 3 things:

1) That's a 66 point pace over 82 games.  It's not even a point-per-game pace and it's not even that close.  If 66 points is sounding familiar to you, that's because it's how many points Crosby had in 2010 before his concussion.  In 41 games.

2) Staal played a lot of those 62 games as the Pens #2 center, the exact role he will be playing (maybe) in Carolina behind his brother Eric.  He got power play time, he got to play with second-line quality wingers ... and he produced 50 points.  That's not bad, but it's not great.

3) Jordan Staal is going to be 24 when the season starts and he's been in the league for 6 years.  There are two ways to look at that -- one is that he's young, and maybe his best years are in front of him.  The other is to say that you forfeit the "potential" label, or at least can't rely on it so much, after you've been in the league for 6 years and played around 20 minutes every night.  There's an argument to be made that if you're actually point-per-game guy and you play 20 minutes a night, you'll produce at that pace, regardless of whether you're the first, second, or third line center.  And the history of the NHL is full of guys who peak statistically in their early 20s.

None of this is meant to suggest that Staal isn't an extremely unique and valuable player, or that he doesn't have room to continue to grow.  It's to reinforce the point that we just don't know.  So when Staal turned down a extremely generous 10-year, $60 million dollar contract (reportedly), it became a hostage situation and the Pens weren't holding the gun.  Staal had to go.  Once you start paying over $6 million to a guy who averaged 0.8 points per game in his best offensive season, you've become Glen Sather.

So while the Pens are not going to have a better 3rd line center than Staal next season, a lot of teams win the Stanley Cup with 3rd line centers that aren't as good as Staal.  Jordan Staal has a unique game, but in terms of the value he brings to the Penguins -- scoring from the third-line, great penalty killing, general toughness -- those are eminently replaceable traits.  We can get that from someone else.  Hopefully, it's Brandon Sutter.

Sutter pedigree > Staal pedigree
As for the rest of the return, we're not going to pretend like we know.  It all depends on how Dumoulin and Pouliot turn out.  "Experts" are going to talk about their potential, but the truth is that we just won't know for at least a couple years.  And that's the really scary part of this trade.  Until we know what those guys become, the truth is that we just gave up Jordan Staal for a third line center and some cap space.

Again, I completely understand Staal's desire to not spend the prime of his career behind to sure-fire first ballot hall-of-famers.  But it's a little curious that he's so intent on going to Carolina to play not with his brother, but behind his brother.  I always figured that if Staal was intent on leaving Pittsburgh, it was because he wanted to embrace the challenge of trying to be THE guy.  By going to Carolina, he's stepping out of two shadows, but into a bigger one.  And he's also going to have to worry about another center, Jeff Skinner, who scored more points in his rookie season (63) than Staal has ever scored in a single season.  With the opportunity to play with Eric and his family moving to NC, it's an understandable decision.  But a curious one.

We'll have a lot more reaction as we continue to process this trade and whatever other moves the Pens make.  We will look back fondly on Staal's time as part of the Pens' "core."  But in the salary-cap NHL, you can't have The Situation's abs.  You're not going to have an 8-pack, a 6-pack, or even a 4-pack.  Sometimes, you have to be happy settling for just 2.  And that's ok with us.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

GTOG Podcast: The Staal saga, and what other Pens could be on the move

On the eve of the NHL draft (which we forgot to talk about) and free agency, we discuss the news that Jordan Staal turned down a 10-year extension with the Pens. We talk about what he's worth, what the Pens should do, and who else could be on the move this summer. Artistry also may have made up something that Staal's agent said, but that's neither here nor there and point remains the same. It's the GTOG Podcast.

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Approaching NHL free agency on July 1: What we're talking about

By Artistry

It's June 21st, and our hockey-sense is tingling.  For weeks, it laid dormant, but all it took was two puzzling Nickelback performances and some brutal Pierre Maguire/Eddie Olzyck repartee to wake GTOG out of its slumber.  There is just no going back to sleep after that ordeal.

So cheppy.
A draft weekend preview podcast is on the agenda for tonight, and after the jump a few of the items we're talking about over G-chat while we should be working...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bachelorette Episode 6 Recap: Putting all your cards on the table

By Finesse

You had to know this was going to be a rough week for Emily right from the get-go as we learned that we would be without this season's central character: Little Ricki.  She was sent back to Charlotte with her babysitter while her mom journeyed on to Croatia.  

Emily: Hey, Kelsie! Are you available to babysit tonight at 6pm?
Kelsie: Sure, no problem.
Emily: Thanks, babydoll! I'll be back at 10pm next Thursday!  Bye!

The gentlemen couldn't be more excited to be in Croatia.  "Croatia is the perfect place to fall in love," exclaims JEF, somehow without saying the word "like."  Agreed.  Let's update the list.

So much more in the full recap after the jump....

Monday, June 18, 2012

GTOG Podcast: Sorry, It's Just Doug

Unfortunately, due to an array of circumstances, there will be no podcast this week.  We promise that we will be back with the Raw Emotion next week and will take it to the end of the season.  Make sure to check back Tuesday, however, for a full recap of tonight's SHOCKING EPISODE that we predicted would end exactly how it did.

For those who miss the podcast, we can offer you this 35 second clip of Doug crying which we would have spent 6 minutes laughing at.

Thanks again for reading.  Full recap Tuesday.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bachelorette Episode 5 Recap: Sweet Relief

By Artistry

It was a hectic week at GTOG headquarters.  We watched the Bachelorette, but we didn't do a podcast.  We didn't do a recap.  This was a big mistake.  Now we have no outlet for all of the Bachelorette stimuli darting to and fro inside our heads and all of the emotion swirling in our hearts.  It's kind of like we drank gallons of water on Monday but never relieved ourselves, and now here we are about to do it again and WE CAN'T PEE UNTIL LATE MONDAY NIGHT.  We need to get this out.

"Where's my mother f***ing recap?!?!?"
Emily says guys like Sean are usually really boring but Sean's not boring, come on, let's face it, Sean standing up in the middle of a bunch of British people talking about great and eternal love feels like someone slowly draining the world's entire reservoir of charisma, by the way, Emily, you can run along, Kalon needs to practice his Shakespeare in the park routine, the group date has officially become the least anticipated 35 minutes on television, Doug "doesn't want to sound like an idiot, especially in front of an audience," think about that for a second, by the way, there is nothing funnier to people in the Bachelor franchise than men in drag, it is just such a riot, oh man is that funny, hey, there's Ryan giving Emily a necklace and a wink, you just about have this one wrapped up big guy, Doug is FURIOUS because if you dare call Little Ricki "baggage" that's basically akin to calling Austin "baggage" and YOU DON'T CALL DOUG'S SON BAGGAGE, Ryan comes through with "I'm here for the right reasons" - he's really hitting his marks - but everybody is scrambling to address this baggage issue, oh here we go JEF,  here's your chance big guy, oh no, you just said you want to have a dance party with Ricki and sing into combs and brushes, YOUR COVER IS TOTALLY BLOWN, but wait, Emily loves this idea, possibly reasoning that this would be a completely hetero thing to do if executed properly, "That was Raw Emotion the other night," Ari observes (BOOM), Ryan, that's some kind of black scarf you have around your neck you really pull that off buddy, incidentally, does Little Ricki have a little Kid Rock thing going on? Emily really just want to know these guys are going to protect her and make her feel safe, ok everybody, make sure you're sitting down for this one, because Alejandro is going back to his mushroom farm, and judging by their reaction and everything we know about everything, these guys have never even heard of Croatia.


Oh, Finesse, you want to go too?

Emily loves London because it's old, this is great news for Doug, both in that he's old and that if the Germans started firebombing the city he's there to protect it, it's the perfect place to fall in love so suck on that Fiji, Turtle Island, Panama, the Bahamas, Charlotte, Brazil, Belize, Thailand, and Hawaii, JEF is determined to step it up this week, this bodes well for photoshopping, Kalon is frustrated because he doesn't have control, Emily can't get over how pretty everything is in London because London is like life it's either pretty or ugly, good or bad, God or the Devil, there are no ambiguities in life (apologies to JEF), Sean hedges and says, "it's safe to say that I'm falling for this girl," come on dude get the walls down, Emily finds it very sexy when Sean talks about how much his parents love each other, incidentally, this weekend I'll be asking the girl at the bar, "do you want to come back to my place and talk about how much my parents love each other?," Sean you're a goober, Doug sees that Emily is sick on the group date and says, "Aw, you're sick you poor thing" as if he would have said anything else, Arie says that when he's sick he wants humor around him and to laugh about it which makes him the first person ever to want that when he's sick, Ryan gives Emily a necklace by saying, "isn't that nice?," Chris reveals that Kalon called Little Ricki baggage, WHY IS THIS NOT ON CAMERA ABC? IF YOU'RE GOING TO LOSE FOOTAGE OF SOMETHING, LOSE FOOTAGE OF ASHLEY'S SEASON, NOT THIS, calling Little Ricki baggage is like calling Austin baggage, holy shit Artistry I think Kalon just called your kids baggage, you should go kill him right now, also fly Southwest if you can because first two bags are free, Kalon says, "I always dreamed that my first child would be my own," and Kalon's first child says, "I always dreamed that my real daddy wasn't Kalon," don't worry JEF and his elbow pads to the rescue, the words "Chloe handbag" come out of JEF's mouth, Arie and the rest of the guys are determined to over-apologize for the Kalon thing, Kalon says he said it, meant it, and it was taken out of context, Wolf tells Emily that he will always tell her the truth, Emily tells Arie that she doesn't need a man to stand up for her during her rampage to find a man who will stand up for her, Sean also says that he will never lie to Emily which means that when Emily first sleeps over at Sean's place and he disappears downstairs for 15 minutes in the morning and she asks "what were you doing?" he will have to say "taking a dump" not "making coffee" or "checking something," can't believe we have to say goodbye to Alejandro, we never even got to say hello.

Ahhhh.  Much better.

We'll be back with a full recap this week, although the podcast may have to wait until Wednesday night.  Best way to follow the goings-on of GTOG is to follow us on Twitter.  Follow Finesse and Artistry.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Big Ben's Bassinet: And a Child Shall Lead Them

By Artistry

GTOG has been quiet lately.  Too quiet.  If this makes you feel a little unsettled, a little off your stride, you are not alone.  Much has happened over the last few weeks, and, frankly, it's turned our world upside down.   We're just trying to regroup and catch our breath.  I'm talking of course about Ben Roethlisberger leading a proud class of college students in a moving graduation ceremony, learning a new playbook that makes his final paper on Tibet look relatively simple if you can even imagine such a thing, and announcing that he and Ashley are expecting the birth of possibly the most important child in history, with all due respect to the Baby Jesus.

In an amazing stroke of good fortune, we had a GTOG source eavesdropping as Ben and Ashley sat down this week to discuss, for the very first time, possible names for Ben's son, a/k/a "The One", a/k/a "Seven, Part Deux."  Let's listen in, after the jump...

Friday, June 8, 2012

What a country we live in

Our apologies for the lack of a written Bachelorette recap this week.  Jobs and other life responsibilities took over, which really should be no excuse because it isn't true to our journey.  We'll make it up to you.  Also apologies for the podcast not working properly for some.  We aren't tech people, but what we can tell you is that it wasn't our fault and we are trying to address it.  If you didn't get the opportunity to listen this week, we will make sure to push out a working link as soon as it's ready.  Thanks as always for listening.

In the meantime, let's celebrate how diverse the news is, as illustrated by

Monday, June 4, 2012

Raw Emotion Podcast: Bachelorette Episode 4 Recap

It's almost all about Doug tonight. Only one of us is really man enough to discuss it. It's the GTOG Podcast.

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Penguins acquire Tomas Vokoun from Capitals

By Finesse

The Pens traded a 7th round pick to the Capitals for the rights to Tomas Vokoun.  The Pens then signed Vokoun to a 2-year contract at $2 million/year.  Vokoun waived a no-trade clause to come to Pittsburgh.

We like to think of you as a Panther
This is a great move for the Pens.  We said all season that the backups the Pens were trotting out there were not cutting it and it was time to invest more into the position.  During the year, it wasn't meant as a shot at Fleury -- it was more about just having a more competent backup.  The popular notion that Fleury was overworked this year doesn't hold  up.  He played in 67 games, just two more than '10-'11, the same as '09-'10, and 5 more than '08-'09.  The problem during the season wasn't Fleury being tired, it's that the backups were terrible and the Pens hardly won any of those games.  The result was the #4 seed, and we know how that turned out.

But with Fleury's meltdown in the playoffs, a competent backup is more necessary than ever.  We've always been loathe for the Pens to have anything resembling a goal-tending controversy, but that was when Fleury had earned the right not to battle for his position.  We love MAF, but he's lost that right.  He should still be the #1 goalie, and it's clearly his job to lose.  It's just that the leash is a little tighter, and that's a good thing.

To sum it up, there are 2 benefits to this move.  The Pens actually may have a chance at winning games Fleury doesn't start, and if Fleury goes meltdown mode in the playoffs again, we have a Plan B.  Good trade.

Friday, June 1, 2012

20 Years Ago Today: Where were you?

By Artistry

The day the Penguins won their second Stanley Cup in 1992, I was in Chicago. Where else would I be? My friends and I had scored tickets to a matinee at Wrigley Field from a benevolent Blockbuster executive, who just happened to be sitting next to us for Game 3 between the Pens and Hawks, and who somehow found our presence endearing rather than irritating.  He walked us up to his box on the 3rd base line, told us to help ourselves to food and beer, led us out to the sunshine raining down on his private balcony, and said, "Enjoy, boys." We did.

Later, we made our way over to the old Chicago Stadium, took in the thrilling 6-5 clincher, watched the Penguins hoist the Cup again, and topped the evening by greeting the team and slapping the players' hands as they made their way to the bus.  In no way was that a bad day.

Oh, and I turned up in this video.  Can you spot me half a lifetime ago?  Where were you?