Friday, February 20, 2009

All-Decade Team: Chris Kontos' choices

Chris Kontos here from The Royal Half sharing my thoughts on James' Bridgestone Tires All-Decade Team. For me, the All-Decade Center was the easiest choice. In back to back years, I watched the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche battle it out in a 7 game playoff series (including being in the crowd at Game 6 of the 2002 series... the last time the Kings would skate on playoff ice... sigh). And the only piece of hardware the Kings got out of both series?

Peter Forsberg's spleen!

Sure Forsberg may of only had 445 points during the decade, but consider that he did that in 362 games. Forsberg is 8th all time in Points-Per-Game and 4th in Assists-Per-Game. In fact, the only stretch where he didn't score at a point a game pace was during his 17 game regular season run as a Predator. He only had 15 points in those 17 games.

I call this the awkward years.

Although the Kings knocked him out of the playoffs for the Avs' 2001 Cup run, there's no way they would have been in the position to win the Cup without Forsberg. And don't forget, he also won an Olympic Gold medal in 2006. But most of all... he was a nasty player. He was a power forward AND a playmaking center. Yes, he was injured for a majority of the decade (including taking the entire 2001-2002 regular season off after the Kings destroyed his spleen) but there is a reason that NHL GM's continue to keep an eye on Forsberg's progress with the foot problem that has probably ended his career... because they'd sign him to their team in a heartbeat if he got healthy. If your team is down by a goal with 5 minutes left in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals... Peter Forsberg is the player on this All-Decade list that you want out there. And I'd put Captain Clutch Chris Drury on his line as a winger.

Give me back my spleen!

Speaking of wingers, my first vote is a sentimental one. In 1996, during Thanksgiving break, I went with my college roommate to his home state of Vermont and we went to see the University of Vermont Catamounts play. The whole stadium was buzzing over a tiny little guy named Martin St. Louis. He was one of the most amazing players I had ever seen in person as he and his linemate Eric Perrin dominated what ever team they happened to be playing that night. There was also some goalie named Tim Thomas on that team. Wonder what ever happened to him?

I can only imagine the run of UVM girls this guy must of had.

Undrafted by the NHL despite his college accolades, St. Louis eventually joined the Calgary Flames and then was cast aside much like Brett Hull and Marc Savard as he made his way to Tampa Bay. With the Lightning, he found a system that worked for his size and in 2003-2004 he had a breakout year that culminated with the Stanley Cup. And that's why he's on my list of All-Decade Wingers... because only he and Brendan Shanahan (my other winger pick) won Cups during this decade. I don't play in a weekly adult hockey league because I enjoy bonding with my teammates or I love getting a stick swung at me by some guy who can barely stand on the ice... no I play because I want to win. And you can say what ever you want about the great decades that Jagr or Alfredsson or Sundin had... but none of them brought home the hardware this past decade. And for me... that's what makes a player the greatest.

Suck it, Jagr!
The same goes for All-Decade Defenseman. 3 Stanley Cups in 7 seasons. Scott Neidermayer is dominating and slick all in one shift. Sure Chris Pronger is a total beast on the ice but no one plays defense as well and as consistent as Neidermayer has this past decade. And like Earl Sleek said, he's done it playing with inexperienced partners. Look what Neidermayer has done to the value of Francois Beauchemin. This is a really tough pick for me, because as a life-long suffering Kings fan, I can't even put into words what it felt like to watch the Ducks win the Cup before the Kings. Plus, let's be honest here. The man has the most amazing salt and pepper beard ever.

Hi, I'm Keith Hernandez for Just For Men.

Brodeur is a no brainer for All-Decade Goalie. And for coach... well I believe this says it all.

Mike Babcock's greatest achievement this decade has been continuing AND increasing the culture surrounding the Detroit Red Wings. Players are signing with this franchise at a discount because it is class from top to bottom. I mean chrissake, last week, the franchise sent rings to every living Wings' player that won a cup in Detroit prior to 1997. You can't buy that kind of class. Even if you bought 8 chandeliers.

You gotta get a chandelier!

As far as the Decade's Greatest Loudmouth... I'd like to present a new contender. I watched Sean Avery annoy everyone around him as a King for much too long. But being a pest and an idiot doesn't make you a great Loudmouth. Same goes for Roenick. No, what makes you a great Loudmouth is the ability to be a little complaining bitch and make people laugh in the same breath. So who do I nominate as the NHL's greatest Loudmouth of the past Decade? Well, it would be the same guy I'd nominate as the NHL's greatest GM of the last 10 years...

And Exhibit B:

Brian Burke is a Loudmouth Savant. He's the only NHL executive who seemed to get his Harvard Education on the streets. He stands up for his players and his organization and I think the NHL should mandate that he and Ron Wilson have joint press conferences in Toronto.


jamestobrien said...

This is the first CLS post by our newest contributor Chris Kontos. Welcome him aboard, everyone.

Just an awesome post. Really loved the spleen humor and St. Louis anecdote.

jamestobrien said...

Also, great call on Brian Burke. I don't know how he slipped my mind.

Don't you get the feeling at GM winter meeting that Brian Burke reacts to every "Nah, don't feel like sending you my first round pick" response with:

"Dammit, you slow sonsabitches I'm from the Ivy league! Look at my damn law degree! I drive a Dodge Stratus!"

Vance said...

Forsberg Representin'!

James, what'd you think of all this Montreal nonsense going down?

Chris Kontos said...

I'd think you'd only have to look at Burke's comments on the GM skills of Kevin Lowe to know that's exactly what he would say at GM winter meetings.

jamestobrien said...

I'll probably share my thoughts on the Montreal scandal this afternoon. Still kind of getting my head wrapped around the details.

Vance said...

Sweet. I've moved on from details to mocking.

That's how I roll. Too Soon? Maybe.