Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks for winning the 2013 Stanley Cup.

Congratulations to Conn Smythe Trophy winner Patrick Kane.


- The NHL Players Overseas for Lockout list is current as of 2:35 PM January 6, 2013.

- The 2012 Free Agents list and 2012 Free Agent Signings list are current as of 2:35 PM January 6, 2013.

- The 2011 Free Agents list and 2011 Free Agent Signings list are current as of 1:09 PM June 16, 2012.

- The Atlanta Thrashers have been re-designated Winnipeg on the 2011 Free Agents list. Any signings that were completed prior to May 31, 2011 will be listed as "Atlanta/Winnipeg." Any signings completed after May 31, 2011 will be listed as "Winnipeg."

- The 2010 Free Agents list and 2010 Free Agent Signings list are current as of 11:34 PM May 20, 2011.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Senators Trade Meszaros to Lightning

Defenseman Andrej Meszaros is on his way to the Sunshine State. After a contract dispute lasting several months, the Ottawa Senators resolved the situation on Friday night by trading Meszaros to the Tampa Bay Lightning for defensemen Filip Kuba and Alexandre Picard and San Jose's 1st round pick in the 2009 Entry Draft, which the Lightning had acquired in the Dan Boyle trade earlier this summer. Sources say that Meszaros is expected to sign a six-year contract with the Lightning that will average $4 million per season.

***UPDATE*** The Tampa Bay Lightning announced today that they have signed Andrej Meszaros to a six-year deal worth $24 million. Here is how the deal works out:

$2.5 million in 2008-09
$3.25 million in 2009-10
$4 million in 2010-11 and 2001-12
$4.75 million in 2012-13
$5.5 million in 2013-14
*salary figures come from

The deal averages out to $4 million per season.

Meszaros and Ottawa GM Brian Murray had been locked in contract talks all summer. There were reports that Meszaros was seeking a deal worth $4.5-5 million per year, while the Senators were offering close to $3.5 million.

The trade also came after much speculation in recent days that Meszaros was going to receive an offer sheet from an unknown team. Rumors began to swirl shortly thereafter that Tampa Bay was the team that was going to sign Meszaros to the offer sheet, but lacked the appropriate compensation to do so, as they had traded their 3rd round pick in 2009 to Pittsburgh in order to get Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts. More rumors began to surface that Tampa Bay was attempting to reacquire the pick from Pittsburgh, but Penguins GM Ray Shero declined to make the trade and be associated with an offer sheet.

Meszaros scored nine goals and added 27 assists for 36 points in 82 games last season, while accumulating 50 penalty minutes. In three NHL seasons, Meszaros has 26 goals and 84 assists for 110 points.

Kuba had six goals and added 25 assists for 31 points and 40 penalty minutes in 75 games last season. Picard had three goals and three assists for six points and 10 penalty minutes in 24 games last season with the Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay.

The trade provides the Senators' blueline with experience in Kuba and a prospect defenseman in Picard. Kuba and Picard's combined salary of $3.8 million will make it more affordable for the Senators to pursue the scoring winger they have been seeking all summer. In all, the deal gives the Senators short-term help in Kuba and some help down the road with the 1st round pick and if Picard should develop into a star NHL defenseman.

The Lightning gain a promising young defenseman in Meszaros, but the experience on their blueline is relatively thin now. Meszaros, Matt Carle, Paul Ranger, and Shane O'Brien are the most experienced defensemen in Tampa Bay, all with three years of experience or less. With a lack of experience and defensive depth on their blueline, the Lightning would likely have to trade one or two of their forwards to address this problem. In all, the trade should work out well for the Lightning in the future.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Why the World Hockey Association (WHA) Failed

In 1972 the World Hockey Association began its first season, the creation of Dennis Murphy and Gary Davidson. The WHA lasted seven years, 1972 to 1979, and saw 27 different teams take the ice during those seven years. The WHA would raid the NHL's talent during its first year of existence, luring the likes of Bobby Hull, Gerry Cheevers, John McKenzie, J.C. Tremblay, Bernie Parent, and Derek Sanderson to the upstart league. Over the years, the WHA would lure other NHL stars, such as Gordie Howe, Dave Keon, Ralph Backstrom, Norm Ullman, Paul Henderson, and Pat Stapleton, to the league. The WHA would turn many NHL unknowns and "throw-aways" into stars in its league, such as Andre Lacroix, Robbie Ftorek, Serge Bernier, Marc Tardif, Wayne Rivers, Norm Ferguson, Paul Shmyr, and Danny Lawson. Many future NHL stars would play in the WHA before making their transition to the NHL in 1979, including Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Mike Gartner, Rod Langway, Mark Howe, John Tonelli, Michel Goulet, and Mike Liut. In 1979, the WHA would cease operations and saw four of its remaining six teams enter the NHL, Edmonton Oilers, Hartford (New England) Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, and Winnipeg Jets.

One could say it was a miracle the WHA lasted seven seasons, as the WHA held merger talks with the NHL in the summer of 1977 when it became apparent the WHA was near collapse. The league saw three teams fold following the 1976-77 season, losing the San Diego Mariners, Calgary Cowboys, and Phoenix Roadrunners, as well as losing the second incarnation of the Minnesota Fighting Saints in January 1977. When the merger fell through, which would have seen the Cincinnati Stingers, Edmonton Oilers, Houston Aeros, New England Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, and Winnipeg Jets enter the NHL, the league started up for its sixth season. The WHA would see the Houston Aeros fold following the 1977-78 season and nearly lose the Cincinnati Stingers and Indianapolis Racers during the summer of 1978. The WHA lost Indianapolis in December 1978, a few months after the league started its seventh season. On March 22, 1979, the NHL agreed to absorb four of the WHA's six teams, the Edmonton Oilers, New England Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, and Winnipeg Jets, as expansion teams for the start of the 1979-80 season. The Cincinnati Stingers and Birmingham Bulls were given cash settlements to fold.

A number of reasons could be given as to why the WHA failed. The reasons listed below are my opinion and based off the knowledge I have attained from researching the history of the WHA. Feel free to agree or disagree with the reasons I give, and if anything I have presented here is inaccurate, please feel free to let me know, but please do so in a respectful manner.

1. A lack of hockey knowledge demonstrated by the league's founders and many of the league's owners. The WHA's founder, Dennis Murphy, was a sports enthusiast who helped create the American Basketball Association. His knowledge of hockey was limited, but enough to understand the game. His co-founder, Gary Davidson, a lawyer from California, had absolutely no knowledge of hockey and became the league's first commissioner! He would step down after just the second season to start the ill-fated World Football League. Some team owners, such as the owners of the Philadelphia Blazers, New York Raiders, Los Angeles Sharks (Murphy & Davidson both co-owned the Sharks the first year), and Michigan Stags, among others, had little knowledge of hockey and could not efficiently maintain their teams. This lack of hockey knowledge became apparent through some teams' lack of talent and advertising, which many times factored into the demise of a team.

Gary Davidson, WHA Commissioner 1972-1974

2. Low attendance numbers for many of the teams. Many teams in the WHA had to compete in markets in which the NHL already had an established franchise, such as the Chicago Cougars, New York Raiders, Philadelphia Blazers, and Michigan Stags. The popularity of the WHA franchises in NHL markets was very low, with the fans opting to go see the NHL teams over the WHA teams. Even in several cities where the WHA established a franchise where the NHL was not set up at the time, such as Ottawa, Phoenix, Calgary, and San Diego, drew in less than favorable numbers due to a lack of a fan base.

3. High player salaries, which many teams could not afford to pay. Many WHA teams lured players to their teams with the promise of big salaries in an attempt to pry them away from the NHL. Many teams were successful in doing this, but with low attendance records and little advertising, many teams could not generate enough revenue to pay their players a lot of money. Subsequently, many teams, such as the Minnesota Fighting Saints, Houston Aeros, and Phoenix Roadrunners, folded due to high player costs.

Bobby Hull received a then-staggering $1 million signing bonus for signing with the Winnipeg Jets in 1972

4. Little revenue generated through advertising and attendance. Teams such as the Michigan Stags, Baltimore Blades, and New York Golden Blades did not put out huge advertising campaigns during their existences and generated little money as a result. Low attendance figures were often the result of little advertising, which resulted in teams making little money.

5. Lack of an establishment of teams in cities in which the NHL was already established. When the WHA was first created, the league owners Dennis Murphy and Gary Davidson decided that in order for their league to be successful, they would need to set up teams in cities where the NHL was already established. In the league's first year, franchises were awarded to Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, three major NHL markets. While Los Angeles would have a successful first year and Chicago a successful second year, the two teams, as well as New York, would not fare well. The NHL fan base was too strong in these cities and the fans opted to see the NHL teams over the WHA teams, coupled with the fact that New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago never really had talented teams. Michigan, Vancouver, Philadelphia, and Denver ran into the same problems, as they were not extremely talented. Also, WHA franchises located in NHL cities generally did not fare well financially. Chicago ran out of money after the 1974-75 season. New York almost folded two months into the 1973-74 season after the owners gave up the team. The league then took control of the team and moved them to New Jersey where they became the Jersey Knights. Denver was a hurry-up franchise for the 1975-76 season to give the WHA an even number of teams and never got off the ground financially. They would move to Ottawa in January 1976 and fold a few weeks later. The other franchises, Los Angeles, Michigan, Vancouver, and Philadelphia, were purchased by new owners when their original owners could no longer afford or want them. Had the WHA been able to secure financially stable and competitive teams in NHL cities, the league could have easily lasted into the 1980s, and possibly beyond.

6. Inability to draw more NHL stars to the league than they did. The WHA's main focus going into their inaugural season was to sign NHL stars to their league. In their seven years of operation, the WHA was successful in bringing several NHL stars to the league, including Bobby Hull, Bernie Parent, Gerry Cheevers, Derek Sanderson, Gordie Howe, Dave Keon, Norm Ullman, Ralph Backstrom, and Paul Henderson. Other notable NHLers to defect to the WHA included Ted Green, Mike Walton, Pat Stapleton, John McKenzie, J.C. Tremblay, and Ted Hampson. Many NHL players balked at joining the WHA because of its lack of talent and poor sense of direction. Some WHA teams made legitimate pitches to acquire NHL stars. Minnesota attempted to lure Bobby Orr away from the Boston Bruins, but were unsuccessful, as was Cleveland in their attempt to lure away Rod Gilbert from the New York Rangers. Any NHL stars that jumped to the WHA did so because of the money or contract disagreements with their NHL clubs. Sanderson, Cheevers, and Parent would all jump back to the NHL, each having grown disillusioned with the WHA. The only other NHLers the WHA was able to draw were third & fourth line and career minor league players that NHL clubs didn't have needs for. Had the WHA been able to lure more NHL stars to its league, the franchises could have been more competitive, prompting the teams to have larger fan bases than they did.

NHL star Derek Sanderson would play just 8 games in the WHA before jumping back to the NHL with the Boston Bruins in 1973

7. Inability to secure adequate arenas for the teams. Many WHA teams were left to play their home games in arenas where an NHL team played when they could not secure an adequate arena. The New York Raiders were forced to share Madison Square Garden with the New York Rangers when the Nassau Veterans Coliseum was claimed by the New York Islanders after the NHL expanded in 1972. The Raiders had to pay large rental fees in order to play at Madison Square Garden, which was a staggering $25,000 a game. Sparse crowds caused the franchise to lose money and subsequently relocate. The Toronto Toros were forced to rent out to the Toronto Maple Leafs and played before small crowds. In Chicago, the Cougars were forced to play in the small International Amphitheatre when they could not secure a location for a new, larger arena. They same situation occurred for the Calgary Cowboys, who were forced to play in the small Stampede Corral. The two teams never drew in enough money to afford to construct a bigger arena. The Miami Screaming Eagles were to be an original franchise in 1972, but when an adequate location could not be secured for an arena, the team was forced to fold in April 1972. The Philadelphia Blazers were created two months later to replace Miami, yet were forced to play in the small Philadelphia Civic Center. In Cleveland, the Crusaders moved out to the immense Richfield Coliseum, but quickly lost money as the fan base dropped due to the remote location of the arena.

8. Inability to secure many teams in one city for a lengthy period of time. Most WHA franchises relocated an average of two times in their life spans. The New York Raiders changed their name to the Golden Blades before they relocated to New Jersey to become the Jersey Knights. One year later, the franchise would relocate to California and become the San Diego Mariners. The Los Angeles Sharks would become the Michigan Stags for the 1974-75 season and would relocate to Baltimore in January 1975 and become known as the Baltimore Blades. The Philadelphia Blazers became the Vancouver Blazers in 1973 before becoming the Calgary Cowboys in 1975. The Ottawa Nationals would become the Toronto Toros after the WHA's first season before becoming the Birmingham Bulls in 1976. The Denver Spurs would only last one season in Colorado before becoming the Ottawa Civics and folding in January 1976. The Chicago Cougars and Phoenix Roadrunners would only last three seasons each, folding in 1975 and 1977, respectively. With most of the WHA franchises only lasting an average of two or three seasons in a given city, it would have been difficult for the league to attain a fan base in many of those cities. A better solution would have been to find new buyers within the existing cities for the teams rather than allow them to relocate every couple seasons.