From today’s “NHL Believe It Or Not” files, James Mirtle of the Toronto Globe & Mail fills us in about the unemployment of former Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala. Toskala, who was dealt to Calgary halfway through last season, struggled famously with both Toronto and Calgary. In Calgary, at least, Toskala was able to serve as Miikka Kiprusoff’s backup and not shouldering the load as a starter the way he did in Toronto.
Mirtle finds out that Calgary appreciated Toskala’s work so much as Kipper’s caddy that they wanted to bring him back for another year. The details, of which, are stunning on a few levels.
One of the interesting tidbits I learned was that former Leafs netminder Vesa Toskala had a contract offer earlier this summer to play in the NHL from the Flames, but turned it down because he wanted to still be a No. 1 netminder. Calgary has Miikka Kiprusoff, making that all but impossible there.
According to my source, the offer was for north of $1-million, which would have been a good deal for Toskala given he was coming off of two poor years in Toronto. He also apparently had interest from a Swedish team, but his asking price was too high.
First of all, it’s stunning that Toskala had an offer to play anywhere in the NHL, never mind back in Calgary. Secondly, an offer north of $1 million for a backup goalie in this market where Marty Turco settled for $1.5 million to be a starter is startling. Making things even worse is that Toskala turned it down sparing Calgary and GM Daryl Sutter the hilarious ignominy of having another bloated contract on the books for a player that fans even know struggles on the ice. This is a smorgasbord of comedic failure on all levels, the likes of which we haven’t seen since Daryl Sutter opted to bring back Olli Jokinen this summer.
Look at it this way Flames fans, at least you were spared one final dagger to the solar plexus of your fandom this summer. Sure the Flames might be dealing with Kiprusoff playing 70+ games this year while fighting for a playoff spot this year while any of Leland Irving, Matt Keetley and Henrik Karlsson get to wear a baseball cap most of the season, but at least they’re spared from having to deal with Vesa Toskala and his .880 save percentage and 3.48 goals against average in a “relief” role.
The Flames are easily this off-season’s winner of most amusing team, any and all arguments will not be heard to oppose it.
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Kings GM Dean Lombardi ranks among the NHL’s most outspoken executives. Even so, his discussion of what he calls Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.” (Bold claim: the production part was probably the bigger sticking point.)
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the Lombardi and the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.