A little after 8am…
In a little less than an hour, free agency starts. That’s an interesting term. Free agency makes us think of liberation and choice. Certainly, for the players without signed contracts, that is what it means. They can sign any contract they want. Then again, this freedom reminds me of the old song that says “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”
Similarly, maybe even more so, teams are not free to choose any which way. They have salary caps and existing contracts to consider. They also have owners with agendas. Paul Holmgren is taking a lot of heat for moving Richards and Carter last week. It isn’t so much that these were bad moves. It’s that he said things to make fans think their stars were “safe” beforehand, then betrayed us.
I still feel offended, feelings hurt by that. Yet I believe Holmgren meant what he said: given his druthers, he would not have made those trades. I don’t think he had the power to exercise freedom. He was overruled. Unfortunately for the organization, I think the fiasco exposed him for a mostly toothless puppet. That can’t be good.
It isn’t that I think Holmgren is a saint. It isn’t that I don’t believe he’s a liar. It’s that his lies made no sense. You don’t have to say you don’t foresee having to make any big moves to get the ridiculously over-valued goalie you’ve been jonesing for. You just say you will get him, and changes may be inevitable blah blah blah…
Who would believe the lies he told? No one except some hapless fans. How do you benefit from them? Not at all. So none of it made sense unless Holmgren’s authority has been completely revoked. If I were an agent, I would only speak with Snider. Clearly nothing Holmgren says or wants has any influence. Not anymore.
Of all improbable things, Holmgren went and signed Jagr. The decision baffled many, including me. Signing Jagr was something of a leap of sentimental faith, something I would have expected from the Red Wings and, in Jagr’s case, the Penguins. But the Flyers? The team that unceremoniously dumped 8 or 9 players, including two who were arguably faces of the franchise? Why? It makes no sense.
I mean, I think Jagr will surprise fans, not by being his old NHL self but by being the grown up Jagr. I think he will do a lot to anchor a team that has to be reeling from so many changes. But what do I know? I certainly don’t know what Snider and Holmgren are thinking.
For all I know, Pronger has quietly told them he won’t be back. That could certainly explain some wacky decisions.