For most people, the Marc Savard concussion/Matt Cooke non-suspension is the story of the week. I have to admit, though, that Kyle Wellwood’s blubbery embrace is the kind of trailblazing moment that deserves more discussion. The Vancouver Sun spoke to Wellwood, who admitted that he probably plays a little better when there’s more of him to love.
I would also guess that “Wellfed” must have been frustrated from hearing all of the fat jokes when he wasn’t fat anymore. I mean, he’s basically a one-man Internet meme generator (take for instance: the #KyleWellwoodisSoFat thread on Twitter). You may look at Wellwood as a mediocre forward or an easy punchline but I look at him as something different.
I look at him as a hero.
Indeed, we all need role models and considering the evolution of sports into year-long jobs and glorified body building competitions, it’s quaint and wonderful to see the misshapen gain some success too. With that in mind, I thought I’d take a look at some of the most successful fatties in recent sports history (Babe Ruth was an all-time great, but come on. Baseball players used to be chain smokers and worked full-time jobs on the side. It’s more impressive to be a chunky athlete now.)
Hockey has two other prominently plump players: Martin Brodeur and Keith Tkachuk. Both have had wildly successful careers, with Brodeur defying shapely logic by being an iron man with a soft gut.
Sure, it’s easier for a baseball player – especially a pitcher – to get away with being chubby but that doesn’t stop it from being funny. Prince Fielder is one of his sport’s best sluggers, C.C. Sabathia won a World Series despite having a brontosaurus neck and David Wells pitched a perfect game with a hangover and the body of a bowler.
Obviously, the NFL has its offensive and defensive linemen. Even basketball had its superstar sumos in the form of “The Round Mound of Rebound” Charles Barkley and the perpetually overweight Shaq.
Let’s get to the meat of this lesson: Wellwood and players of his expansive ilk show that you don’t have to be svelte to succeed in sports. Keep that in mind the next time you laugh at old lardy right up until you get passed by.
Nashville’s momentous offseason continued today with the signing of forward Calle Jarnkrok to a six-year, $12 million contract.
That’s a cap hit of just $2 million, all the way through 2021-22.
Suffice to say, it’s not often that a player signs such a long deal, for such a modest cap hit. Jarnkrok notched career highs in goals (16) and assists (14) in 81 games last season for the Preds. He kills penalties, too.
At the very least, the 24-year-old has some financial security now. But for Nashville, as long as his production doesn’t fall off a cliff, he could end up being a great bargain.
Jarnkrok had an arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 4.
Related: Preds avoid arbitration with Petter Granberg — two years, $1.225 million
The Detroit Red Wings didn’t need Petr Mrazek‘s arbitration hearing either.
The day after the Wings avoided the process by locking up defenseman Danny DeKeyser, they agreed on a two-year deal with Mrazek, with a reported cap hit of $4 million.
Mrazek, 24, went 27-16-6 last season with a .921 save percentage. Those numbers compared favorably to Jimmy Howard‘s (14-14-5, .906); however, GM Ken Holland has argued that keeping Howard could be best for Mrazek’s development.
“It could possibly be detrimental if we put Petr in a situation where we’re just going to throw him out and play 70 games and no matter how you play, we’re going to keep putting you out,” said Holland.
Granted, it may be that Howard is simply untradeable. He’s 32 years old, hasn’t put up solid numbers the past three seasons, and has three years remaining on his contract with a cap hit of just under $5.3 million.
If Howard remains, the Wings will have just under $9.3 million in cap space allocated to their goaltenders next season, one of the highest totals in the league.
Mrazek, by the way, will still be a restricted free agent when his new contract expires in the summer of 2018.
With new majority owners and now talk of a new arena, the future of the New York Islanders has been a popular topic lately.
Not surprisingly, it’s led to plenty of discussion about the future of captain John Tavares, who can become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2018.
Ownership has insisted that it won’t get that far, that Tavares will be re-signed. The Isles will have “no financial constraints,” owner Jon Ledecky promised.
But what about Tavares? What does he think?
“I think I’ve always showed my commitment, my appreciation and my desire to play on Long Island,” the 25-year-old told Sportsnet 590 radio on Tuesday, per NHL.com. “I would love for that to continue for the long haul. I think you look at some of the greatest players in the game have been able to spend their entire career somewhere. I hope I’m in that same position.”
As for the speculation he could sign in Toronto?
“I would not count on that,” he said.
So start the countdown to July 1, 2017. That’s when Tavares can officially start negotiating an extension with the Isles.
Perhaps by then we’ll even know where the team will be playing its future games. Will it be Brooklyn or somewhere else?
Only 18 NHLers have scored more goals than Mike Hoffman has over the last two seasons.
Today, the Ottawa Senators signed the 26-year-old sniper to a four-year contract with a reported cap hit of $5.1875 million.
Hoffman had an arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 4. The breakdown of his new deal, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman:
His contract done, Hoffman can now focus fully on next season, which he’s excited about.
“New coach coming in, Guy Boucher, I had him in junior when I played in Drummondville of the Quebec League,” Hoffman said recently. “Very good relationship with him, we won a championship together. So definitely looking forward to working with him this year.”
As for Sens GM Pierre Dorion, he’s still got some offseason work to do. Defenseman Cody Cedi is a restricted free agent, and there’s no arbitration date to encourage a settlement in his case. While Dorion is confident that something that will get done with the 22-year-old, what remains to be seen is if it’s a short- or long-term deal.