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Zidlicky decision coming soon; Burns' new colorful toque; More on Ortmeyer; Rolston signing proves flaw with NHL free agency

  • Blog Post by: Michael Russo
  • January 4, 2011 - 2:42 PM

 

 

Afternoon from Newark. Wanted to give you more of a detailed blog because the other was quick and dirty.

Brent Burns has a million different pieces of headgear. The above is the colorful Burns' new toque. That's a dragon on that side, the other is a couple hockey sticks and the No. 8. This was a gift from John Madden.

Yes, he gave me permission to toss it up here.

Burns isn't filling out the lineup for tonight's game. He's playing well, but coach Todd Richards isn't ready to give Burns lineup power just yet.

He's picking his football team for the Wild's playoff pool. He's a teammate with Nick Schultz. The funniest thing I saw was Niklas Backstrom, a Finn who I don't think is the biggest football fan, giving Pierre-Marc Bouchard advice on the Seattle Seahawks.

Apparently, the entire pool was a mess from the start. First of all, the players picked numbers to find out the draft order. By the time they got to 12, they realized there was only 11 numbers in the hat and had to start over. That created a bit of mayhem. Then, there was a big controversy about which two players chose No. 6 in the draft and which two chose No. 9.

That's why you're supposed to put a line under the 6. Or is the line supposed to go over the 9? Now, I'm confused.

As I've written for days, Marek Zidlicky is an extremely significant shoulder injury. I'm hearing the most severe shoulder separation.

I talked to GM Chuck Fletcher on the phone for a long time today about a variety of subjects you'll be reading about in the nexty little while, one being Zidlicky. The defenseman is getting a second opinion and then in the next week, the Wild and Zidlicky will go over the options and make the best decision.

Fletcher said they'll disclose the exact injury when they get more information, but it's not minor and, "It’s not something you want to have happen to one of your players, let’s put it that way."

As for Ortmeyer, again, just a depth signing. Fletcher said he'll go to Houston and fit in the callup mold of Robbie Earl and Warren Peters. They just wanted more depth down in Houston so they didn't always have to confuse their prospects by calling up guys like Wellman and Almond and Gillies for short-term callups. But this is an Aeros' signing mostly. No biggee, and he doesn't count vs. the cap. It's a one-year deal at $525,000 (prorated) when he's up, $105,000 in Houston.

As I mentioned yesterday, I sat down with Brian Rolston for awhile to talk about his situation. You can tell he's a college guy. Used the word "omnipotent," with a big laugh. You can see the context in tomorrow's paper. Rolston's been humbled by the whole waiver thing, but I talked to him a lot about one of my pet peeves -- free agency.

I think the whole July 1 frenzy is dumb and why there are always so many mistakes leaguewide in free agency. Teams can't take time and make educated decisions, nor can players. In other words, 20 teams call Rolston, there's only two or three that fit the Rolston mold two years ago, so teams tell him, "I need you to make a decision now or I've got to get that guy."

So Rolston -- or whoever -- makes an uninformed decision instead of looking at depth charts, taking smart, quality time and saying to myself, "Where do I fit here compared to theree?" etc.

My opinion is Rolston would have made a different decision than New Jersey if he had the time a few years ago. Let's be honest: He was so good in Minnesota because he was the guy. Twenty minutes a night, No. 1 PP, No. 1 PK, basically first line, maybe second.

This was a case where Lou Lamoriello wanted a top, top guy, so he arguably overpaid Rolston, maybe not in money at the time, but perhaps term (the fourth year). And Rolston needed to make a quick decision, he knew New Jersey, liked New Jersey, but he may have thought twice if he actually wrote down the lines and the roles and realized, 'Hey, I'm not going to be the guy anymore like Minnesota."

How to solve this? Have a window like other sports where teams can recruit players, bring them in, etc. That window allows players to weigh bigtime decisions that are real long-term life and work decisions.

Then, a free-agent signing period starts maybe a week later.

You're just asking for major financial mistakes long-term when teams are being forced to have a quick frenzy July 1 to go out and sign players blindly. These are major long-term decisions the NHL's making teams make in five minutes on July 1. It's just dumb.

But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

(No, I'm not).

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