Thursday, October 14, 2004

Summing up a bit of Blazers chatter:

1. Sauter's not recruiting like he used to.

2. Pshaw, his old teams didn't look good on paper either.

Now, the Walrus' accomplishments speak for themselves. But to imply that he routinely amassed a plucky group of no-names who would then triumph over superior-on-paper, draft-pick-laden opposition, is pretty hard for me to swallow.

For one thing, where players were drafted by the NHL, or even what level of junior or college they came up from, is not the sole defining factor of their quality, let alone a team's quality.

Seems to me the Blazers won big when they had the horses (and I don't mean Clydesdales) -- in goal, up front, with just enough on D.

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- everyone who reads this blog looks around the league and plays the guessing game: "which teams might be cheating?" The Blazers no longer get accused of it. They no longer seem to be a "have." That's as big a recruiting reality as Sauter's connections or willingness to work the phones.

And speaking of cheating, I've said this before as well, but remind yourself that it exists next time you bitch about the vet rule. More vets means more cheating. The owners must protect themselves from themselves because so many people do it and it's nearly impossible to bust someone.

Fans live in a fantasy land about this issue. They bitch about other teams, never think about their own and act like you're accusing their favorite player of being in Al-Quaeda if you imply they aren't on the level.

But players and coaches know what guys are worth. They know when a player they tried to sign for $600 goes to another team for $400. And the players talk amongst themselves about this stuff, because while no team likes losing to a team they think is puffing up its roster, no one would ever begrudge one of their brethren getting the most money he can. If you asked around the league -- and they were they willing to admit it -- you'd find that nearly every decent player has taken extra money or amenities at some point in their career. Which means that somebody is paying it.

Financially, the vet rule only accomplishes what should happen anyway if everything was on the level. That is, if you have 18 guys and have incredible success, 12 of them deserve a raise. That means you have to get rid of half a dozen. Happened to Laredo twice now, even with the two-ways.

The owners also like the parity. They want to break up dynasties. They want the great team that can only keep 10 players from the year before to have to start anew.

So of course Mudbugs fans like the vet rule least -- especially this year, when they've got six or seven stalwarts fighting it out. Anyone else think Scott Muscutt pretty much made Jim Sprott's retirement decision for him, only at the last minute he decided he didn't feel much like a press conference after all?
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