The Mike Richards 12 year Avalanche parallel plus an interesting NHL players poll

As many of you no doubt know, Mike Richards just signed a 69 million dollar contract over 12 years. The 22 year old center is now in his third NHL year and shows some great promise. But wait just a moment here, that's not a 2 year deal, it's 12 years. As fate would have it, the Avalanche have been in the greatest State in the Union since the '95/'96 season. A perfect 12 year history where one might want to imagine if a much younger Pierre Lacroix had taken such a chance with his young talent at the time.

First thing to realize is that Pierre Lacroix isn't even the Avalanche GM anymore. If you went back to 1994 then Pierre's tenure to his job title change in 2006 would be exactly....12 years. In 12 years the Avalanche have seen four coaches (Crawford, Hartley, Granato and Quenneville). In 12 years the Avalanche have seen turnover at goaltender, farm system affiliates and even ice rinks. I don't need to tell those of you still in your teens that 12 years past is well, a really long time. In sports, it's a for all intense and purposes a lifetime. So, for grins let's just take a look at who the Avs might have been tempted to lay down a 12 year contract on in 1995.

Forwards:

Joe Sakic (26 yrs), Peter Forsberg (22), Stephane Yelle (21), Mike Ricci (24) , Troy Murray (33)

Rene Corbet (22), Chris Simon (24), Warren Rychel (28), Valeri Kamensky (29), Dave Hannan (34)

Adam Deadmarsh (20), Owen Nolan (24), Andrei Kovalenko (25), Scott Young (28), Claude Lemieux (30)

Defensemen:

Sandis Ozolinsh (23), Adam Foote (24), Curtis Leschyshyn (26), Jon Klemm (26), Craig Wolanin (28), Sylvain Lefebvre (28), Uwe Krupp (30), Alexei Gusarov (31).

Goaltenders:

Stephane Fiset (25), Jocelyn Thibault (21), Patrick Roy (30).

One of the first things that comes to mind when reading this list of players is that a lot of these guys moved because of trades that year so it's not really a complete roster. However, at any given time that year they were on the Avalanche and could have been potentially offered the golden parachute 12 year contract. Next thing you notice about the list is that this was a long time ago. Last, you will say to yourself, "Troy Murray?".

For comparisons sake, let's take a look at Mike Richard's numbers in his first three years at Philly. He's only played in the post lock out NHL. He had 35 pts in '05, 32 pts in '06 (only 59 games) and 38 pts through 31 games so far this year. He played only 59 games because he had surgery for an abdominal strain during the season.

Sakic had 120 point season in '95, Forsberg rang up 116 points, hell even Ozolinsh racked up 50 points as a 23 year old defenseman. Scott Young is probably too old at 26 for such a contract but players like Forsberg, Deadmarsh and Ozolinsh certainly aren't. We all know that Forsberg and Deadmarsh have suffered horric injuries since their younger days with the Avalanche and in 1995 those were very hard to foresee. Ozolinsh has had other set backs with alcohol abuse and inconsistencies with his on ice performance. Ricci is out of the game, Chris Simon is a marginalized cheap shot artist who never sniffed 34 points again. 12 years could see rule changes, injury, God forbid another lock out, franchise moves and who knows what else? 12 years usually outlives most GM tenures so such a contract is a blessing or curse on the house that follows his own. Even with such a "sure thing" as Peter Forsberg, one of the greatest players (if not the best) of his time a 12 year contract would have been a hell of a reach. For Mike Richards? I dare say it's crazy.

In other news: It looks like the Calgary Sun has been doing some polling with some characters who know a thing or two about hockey, the players. Unlike the unwashed masses of the blogs or know nothing fans of the message boards, these guys know hockey and understand the nuances of the game. They, and the main stream insiders with big media have the true pulse of the sport at their fingertips. What were some of the results of this poll? I'm glad you asked.

SMARTEST PLAYER

1. Sidney Crosby

2. Joe Sakic

3. Daniel Alfredsson

MOST OVERRATED

1. Todd Bertuzzi

2. Bryan McCabe

3. Dion Phaneuf

DIRTIEST PLAYER

1. Sean Avery

2. Chris Pronger

3. Jarkko Ruutu

DUMBEST NHL RULES

1. Instigator rule

2. Penalty for flipping puck over glass

3. Touch icing
Bertuzzi overrated you say? The instigator rule is one of the worst rules in the NHL you say? You know, I would be suprised about these things except our main stream media keeps us in touch with the heartbeat of the NHL. While on the on the other hand, you barely hear about these subjects on blogs. All sarcasm aside, I find it interesting that the "controversial" subject matter items are almost universal topics on most blogs and barely found in main stream commentary.

There are some great nuggets at the end of this piece with the question, "If I was NHL Commissioner for a day";

"Bring back battles for the puck, the game is too soft now. Every bit of aggression is a penalty."

"Move teams out of non-hockey markets. I'd like to see a team in Mississauga (Ont.)"

"Relocate Nashville, Atlanta and Florida."

"Make every game worth three points for an outright win, two points for an overtime or shootout win and one point for a regulation tie."

"Suspend Sean Avery ... forever."

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