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Archive for the ‘Brian Rafalski’ Category

As a fan, this always sucks. Always.

We are not idiots — we understand there are a ton of reasons we don’t want to consider that go into choosing to sign with a different team when a player reaches free agency. Obviously there’s the money. We’d be fat-faced liars if we said we’d turn down, say, $6.5 million over 8 years in favor of $4 million over three years. Yes, rationally, even the lesser amount is more than enough money to live quite comfortably, but the bigger contract is, well, that much more comfy. Again, we’re not dumb. Also, there are considerations about the personnel on teams, the geography, familial pressures, future plans, blah blah blah. But all we see, as fans, is that the player who’s signed with someone else has rejected our team. And rejected us. And it sucks. So with that caveat, we present IPB’s take on the Rafalski and Gomez signings.

Brian Rafalski
As full-fledged members of PaulieMartinNation, we’ve been counting on Raffie signing elsewhere since the end of the season. With two big RFA’s to ink to long-term deals, we felt it was necessary to avoid paying top-dollar to Raffie, a moderately offensive, moderately speedy d-man/PP-quarterback. But then Raffie, through his agent, said he’d be willing to sign for less to stay with the team. Since there’s a precedence for key players to sign for less to stay with the team (Marty Brodeur, Scott Stevens, Jay Pandolfo, and others), we stupidly believed it was true. It wasn’t. If you’d asked before that article was printed how we felt about Rafalski, we would certainly have said we’d wouldn’t be too upset to see him go. But since that article was printed, we’d be lying if we didn’t say we don’t feel slighted. A lot of players say they’ll sign for less, then don’t. But factor in the history of the Devils, and in light of the money and fame sacrificed by some of the organization’s biggest and most important players, and you’ve got a recipe for some bitter, bitter fans.
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[Crossposted to HLOG]

Following last summer’s angsting over whether the Devils would re-sign UFA Patty Elias, this summer is looking surprisingly stress-free. Sure Rafalski and Gomez are big names, but this year’s playoffs proved the Devils have plenty of capable young defensmen to fill Raffie’s shoes, and, well, seven years of Gomer have convinced us we can survive without him. As for the rest of the group, half of these guys played in Lowell this year. But let’s take a closer look, UFA by UFA, shall we?

Scott Gomez, C:
Gomez had been a distant third to Briere and Drury in the center sweepstakes until he tried to cram an entire contract year into eleven playoff games this year. A tremendously gifted puck carrier, Gomez would be a welcome addition to any team. However, he’s downright craptacular on the face-off, can’t muster a decent shot to save his life, and has never shown any talent or inclination toward playing the other side of the puck. He’s a coaching Goldilocks, bristling under coaches who are too soft on him but also under those who are too hard. He’s one of those players who employs his father as a business consultant, which has led to strangely contentious contract wheelings and dealings, and which could cause tensions with management down the line. Irreverant and fun-loving, Gomer will likely be a fan-favorite on any team he moves to. The Devils will miss his puck-moving abilities for sure, but looking at the numbers, a) he got 40 goal seasons out of two different wingers, but both were in contract years (and Gionta’s dipped considerably lower than that the following season) and b) the Devils had the second-worst offense in the league with Gomer as the top-line center; how much worse can they be without him? (Don’t answer that.) For the amount of money that Gomez is asking ($6 million), he just doesn’t seem to bring enough to the table that would truly benefit the Devils (other than being Pando’s best bud, an honor PandoNation respects highly). And yes, we realize we are in complete and utter denial about this.
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We can’t think of a clever title for this post because our spirits were beaten down by this game.

Needless to say, the first 15 minutes were a complete disaster. Every player, top to bottom, was atrocious. Our nightmares tonight will be haunted by images of defensemen turning pucks over at the blue line and Marty’s ineffectively waving glove hand. So. Putrid. The only positive we are taking out of the defensive showing tonight is this: how often can you possibly expect the entire team, to a man, to play at their flamboyant worst? (Don’t answer that.) Most glaring tonight was Rafalski’s short-handed turnover — was that karmic retribution for the “Hey Ace” goal Madden scored against Pittsburgh in 2001? (If so, it was still worth it.) Raffie looked tonight like he was trying to make Oduya feel better about his rookie penalty mistakes in Game 1 against Tampa; Raffie, we think Johnny’s over it. You can stop now. More subtle, yet still as wretched, was Paulie Martin. He played the best hockey of his career during the Tampa series… and now this. Has he peaked?

And speaking of players we’re afraid have peaked, how about that Marty Brodeur? Four goals on nine shots in the first period? Seriously? Thanks, Marty, for giving us a chance to win tonight. Sure, the D was hanging him out to dry, but the foundation of the Devils gameplan is that Marty is supposed to be the gamebreaker. And he was tonight. But for the wrong team.
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