Thursday, February 10, 2005

UHL or NHL?

After the recent signings of Kris Draper, Derian Hatcher, and Chris Chelios, the Motor City Mechanics are pursuing two other locked-out NHLers. Ottawa Senator Bryan Smolinski (MSU alum / lives in Detroit area) and Sean Avery (former Red Wing) are reportedly next in line to join the Mechanics. Smolinski skated with the team on Tuesday and Avery is expected to meet with the team later this week. Mechanics president John Tull is eager to have any NHLers join his fourth tier minor league team:
"Our doors are open to any of these guys. We're open to meeting with any of them about employment opportunities."

Gritty Sean Avery was always a fan-favorite on the Wings, before being traded to the LA Kings (with Maxim Kuznetsov) for Mathieu Schneider. He played two games for Finland's Lahti Pelicans, scoring three goals, before mysteriously returning to the states without notifying anyone, including his agent.

Smolinski has been a regular at workouts at Troy Sports Center, and has grown tired of skating laps and doing drills with other locked-out NHLers in the area.

Kris Draper has been unable to play with the Mechanics since, as a Canadian, he needs an H2B work visa. In addition, Draper and the Mechanics have yet to finish ironing out a contract. The team is talking to lawyers about his visa problem, and hopes to have it resolved soon, but it's possible that it could keep Draper sidelined for the rest of the Mechanics' season. As the legal struggle goes on, Draper will continue practicing with the team and assuming his in-suit position behind the bench during Mechanics games.

UPDATE (2/11): TSN has confirmed the signings of Avery and Smolinksi. Avery has some sizzling quotes in the article about the lockout and NHLers in the UHL:
"If (a player) doesn't want me to take his job he should work harder. Work harder until he's good enough to make the NHL then I wont be able to take his job...In all businesses, there's always changes. I'm here to earn a spot. I haven't heard anything. If someone wants to talk to me about it, I'm sure they will. They know where to find me.""
Ok...so why don't you go back to high school hockey and tell those kids that? It's a fourth tier league for a reason, Sean. Show a bit more respect for the kids. There are a lot of developing hockey players in the league and you're going to take ice time away from them, so they have a reason to be flustered. And bitter UHL veterans are going to be bitter whether or not you say anything, so let them be. And it's not like you're moving on an even playing field, Sean. So don't act like it's anything but moving from college to fifth grade. Avery also commented on contraction:
"I think they can eliminate a lot of Europeans who are mediocre and are taking a lot of jobs."

Looking to replace Don Cherry, Sean? Or just looking for a fight? (do I even have to answer that?) You've got some nerve to say that when you're a mediocre player yourself (just North American), and only made the NHL because of expansion. Total hypocrisy. But what else could you expect from Avery? He also showed solidarity with the NHLPA:
"I think, when you look at it, the lockout is about guys like me. If I'm 24 and willing to sit out for two years, that's an indication of where the union stands."
That definitely is a strong statement and I think everyone is wondering just how solid the Union is. Smolinski took the politically correct path with his statements:
"Just a chance to play hockey again and bring some respect to the league and especially this team."
Well said, Bryan. UPDATE (Matt): For those concerned about Mechanics players losing their jobs due to these signings, Motor City President John Tull announced
“Nobody loses their job with the addition of Hatcher, Chelios and Draper,” Mechanics “We are abiding by the United Hockey League rules which allows us to manage a 20 man active roster. We can play seven veterans in this league and we will continue to rotate those roster spots, therefore no one is losing their job.”
UHL players will lose ice time and the playing experience that comes with it but they'll be able to play with some of the top players in the world and maybe they'll learn a thing or two from them.

3 Comments:

At 2/12/2005 12:59:00 AM, Blogger Matt Saler said...

Sean knows he has to justify his existance somehow and he does it by making comments like this, usually on the ice but in this case, he happened to be quoted. He's got marginal offensive skills and his value is more for getting under opponent's skin than anything else. It's probably a calculated thing that he has to do to feel good about himself having crashed into a league like the UHL. He'll take a lot of flak for it once he plays but he can more than handle it.

It was good of Smolinski to be so diplomatic.

Obviously, joining the UHL is not a perfect solution but no one can say they're doing it for the money. I wish the UHL guys could be a little more sympathetic to the NHL players' situation and a little more appreciative of the chance to play with some of the best in the world. I don't think the NHL players are completely forgetting the negative impact their joining the league will have but I think the positive impact will be a lot greater.

If the UHL guys are so worried about losing their jobs, they might consider the fact that the NHL players don't have jobs now themselves. Sometimes life sucks and bigger people step on you. At least the Mechanics didn't cut anyone from the team or anyone's pay checks. I don't know if that's how it would be for other UHL teams, though.

 
At 2/12/2005 07:31:00 AM, Blogger Luiz Felipe Pedone said...

It's so consufusing. I don't know who's right in that situation. But I think the UHL players will lose yours jobs and good young players can be lost.

Money don't are the NHLers problem, clearly. But I don't know how long that wont be a problem.

See ya guys!
(Sorry, again, for the bad english!)

 
At 2/12/2005 01:39:00 PM, Blogger Matt Saler said...

The TSN article says that Avery intends to play in all of the games for the Mechanics. I guess he's backing up his words with a full comittment, unlike the other NHLers who have joined the league. I think it's good of him to commit to playing away games too. There's no reason why the other NHLers can't do the same. It doesn't help them look any better.

 

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