Paul Kariya: under the radar underachiever

Kariya.jpgPlenty of hockey players take a beating from the media and fans when they fail to live up to a huge contract. Players such as Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, Wade Redden – and even guys who weren’t signed by Glen Sather – tend to get the lion share of the lampooning.

Yet it seems players like Brad Richards ($7.8 million annual cap hit, more than Nicklas Lidstrom) and Paul Kariya ($6 million per year cap hit) are spared quite a bit of the mockery. After flopping at least to some degree, Richards has (sort of) justified his contract but with Kariya it’s a big news story if he does anything.


While St. Louis Blues-oriented blogs often give Kariya the business, you rarely see his name pop up in worst contract lists. Here are a few of my guesses as to why Kariya might be flying under the radar.

1. He’s a nice guy: Again, the guys at St. Louis Game Time think he’s a jerk but I’ve always gotten the feeling that Kariya gets a free pass for being a nice guy.

2. He’s been injured: Injuries can explain a lot of problems, but also-fragile Daniel Briere (only a half million more per year for much better offensive numbers) is a serious punching bag for satirists. They’re both smallish, soft and decidedly one-way players yet the mockery ratio is out of whack. Briere’s contract is a bit worse because it’s longer, but I get the feeling that’s not the reason he is lambasted.

3. He’s irrelevant: For the last five seasons, Kariya has been in nontraditional market Nashville and the only-made-the-playoffs-without-him Blues. Even some serious hockey fans who don’t follow the Central division may simply forget that Kariya even exists anymore. This theory, to me, is both the most realistic and the most palatable reason why he skates by with limited critiques.

So what do you think? Have I overlooked plenty of mainstream criticism of Kariya? Has he somehow been good according to some hare brained stat? Or did he buy a shelter’s worth of puppies so journalists just cannot bring themselves to point out his struggles? I’d love to know.

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    Video: Beagle’s perfect shot dogs Murray for early Caps lead

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    Matt Murray was just on another level in Game 3, giving the impression that the Washington Capitals would only beat him with perfect shots.

    Jay Beagle got that memo … and maybe added a little element of surprise on top of that.

    As you can see from the video above, Beagle beat Murray from an unexpected angle with a pretty resounding goal. It was one of those “Wait, did that just happen?”-type moments.

    The Capitals saw their lead go away moments before this post was completed, so it’s now 1-1.

    WATCH LIVE: Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins – Game 4

    Washington Capitals T.J. Oshie (77) tries to slide the puck past Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) during the third period of Game 3 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals in Pittsburgh, Monday, May 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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    The Pittsburgh Penguins won Game 3 thanks to Matt Murray‘s heroics, but now they must face the Washington Capitals without Kris Letang in Game 4.

    (And the Penguins were overwhelmed for much of that last contest with their best blueliner.)

    The Capitals, meanwhile, acknowledge the baggage – perceived or not – of the past as they try to tie this series.

    It should be a fascinating Game 4, and you can soak in all the drama and action on NBCSN and also stream it via the link below.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    To be young: Coyotes to hire 26-year-old as GM, give Tippett more say

    Arizona Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett watches his team play the Detroit Red Wings during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015.  (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)
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    It sounds like the Arizona Coyotes’ youth movement won’t merely be seen on the ice.

    ESPN’s Craig Custance reports that the Coyotes will promote 26-year-old assistant GM John Chayka to GM. The team teased a major press conference for Thursday, when that news is likely to be made official.

    The presser could be useful for more than the usual quotes and mission statements, as the Coyotes seem like they may parallel the Toronto Maple Leafs in combining an experienced executive, a young up-and-coming thinker and a more empowered head coach.

    Dave Tippett is expected to have more of a say in personnel decisions while the Coyotes hope to bring in a Lou Lamoriello-type to assist Chayka, according to Custance.

    (Custance’s ESPN Insider article [subscription required] goes in much greater depth, including a comparison to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors rather than the Maple Leafs.)

    It’s possible that Dallas Stars assistant GM Les Jackson might come in to help Chayka, although an earlier report suggests that Jackson might stay in Dallas.

    Multiple reporters including Puck Daddy’s Josh Cooper back up Custance’s report.

    Considering Chayka’s age – he’s primed to become the youngest GM in NHL history – it’s no surprise that people are churning out jokes.

    (This post’s author comes with six more years of [life] experience and a resume stacked with impressive video game and fantasy hockey team-building, by the way.)

    Marc Crawford coaching in Detroit? Hey, could happen…

    Marc Crawford
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    Former Avs bench boss Marc Crawford was one of the central figures in the legendary Detroit-Colorado rivalry of the 90s, largely remembered for his screaming match with (well, more like screaming match at) Scotty Bowman.

    With that in mind, consider what MLive wrote on Wednesday with regards to Detroit’s search for a new assistant coach.

    GM Ken Holland declined to reveal which candidates he and Jeff Blashill have contacted about replacing Tony Granato, who left the Wings for the University of Wisconsin job.

    But Holland did say “we lost a guy with a lot of experience in [Granato],” adding, “we want to replace him with someone with a lot of experience.”

    MLive then went on to publish a list of potential candidates… starting with Crawford.

    Based on the criteria Holland wants, Crawford makes a lot of sense. He’s got a truckload of experience — 15 years in the NHL, to be exact — won a Cup with the Avs, and his 549 wins put him 18th all time.

    Crawford also wants back in the NHL.

    He left Swiss League club Zurich this offseason after a successful four-year stint — which included the 2014 league title — to try and land a gig. Per the Ottawa Sun, he’s already interviewed for the vacant Sens position.

    And per MLive, Crawford said he’s willing to take an assistant’s position if he can’t become a head coach.

    That last bit of information is key. The coaching market is flush right now as Bruce Boudreau, Mike Yeo, Bob Hartley, Travis Green, Paul MacLean , Randy Carlyle and Kevin Dineen are all considered viable and quality candidates.

    Thing is, there are only a handful of jobs available.

    Calgary, Anaheim and Ottawa are entirely vacant, while Minnesota is still unclear with what it wants to do with interim bench boss John Torchetti.

    Add it all up, and Crawford’s NHL return might have to come by way of an assistant’s position.

    But in Detroit?

    Sure, it might look weird.

    It also might fit the bill.