This is shaping up to be a strange day full of somewhat surprising news. Only one item is truly shocking, but all are of interest.
First, the shocking one. Baron Davis is a Clipper. Huh? After saying repeatedly that he wasn’t going to opt out of the final year of his contract in Golden State that’s exactly what he did. The only theory that I can say makes sense is that his agent told him that the L.A. team that plays in the Staples Center wanted him, and he signed before he did more digging. Why else would he go to the Clippers at this point in his career. He is an elite player, but he’s not a youngster anymore, and he doesn’t really have the luxury of time to build a contender. And there is a lot of building to do in L.A. – especially sine Elton Brand and Corey Maggette opted out this week. Brand may be back, but that’s not certain. In Golden Sate he had a team that was returning its core and had won 48 games last year. They were in trouble because they were in the very tough West, but so are the Clippers. This is a step back. A giant one. Davis is in the movie business, and he is from So Cal, but I honestly don’t understand why the lure of home would be this strong. It says pretty strongly to me that winning isn’t as important to Davis as I thought it was. He traded proximity to the film business for 25 fewer wins last year, and he has joined one of the worst run teams in existence.
Now the one that is totally ridiculous but not at all surprising. Brett Favre has reportedly told the Packers that he has the itch to play this year. Shocking. Not surprisingly, the Packers only comment was to say that they don’t have a comment. The fact that Favre didn’t see this coming means that he has the self awareness of a mosquito. Favre has to realize that the Pack moved on because he told them to move on. I suspect he will spend the season in Mississippi, but it would be kinda fun to see him in a different uniform. How about going to Minnesota for one year to lead his new team past his former team? Or maybe to Kansas City – they need a QB, but since they have no one to protect him and no one to throw to that seems unlikely. I guess the thing is that I don’t really care, and I really hope that this isn’t the beginning of another annual installment of the Favre soap opera.
Finally, kudos to the Pittsburgh Penguins. They sounded like they were going to make a serious mistake, but they avoided doing so. They were reportedly shopping Evgeni Malkin so that they could sign Marian Hossa, but ultimately they let Hossa go and extended Malkin for five more years. This is absolutely the right decision. Malkin is younger, he has more upside, and he showed by how he stepped up when Sidney Crosby was injured that he is a real player. Hossa has been on two teams that couldn’t win, and the fact that Pittsburgh made the final with him has as much to do with the rest of the team as him. Malkin had a lousy Stanley Cup final, but he will only learn from that, and he is going to get better. You can’t say the same about Hossa – what you see is what you get. Malkin has had trouble with the coaching staff reportedly, but that can be dealt with as it needs to be. They weren’t going to get good value by dealing Malkin, so this was the right move, and a positive move for the future. On the other side, Hossa took a surprising risk. He signed for one year with the Red Wings, the team that beat him in the Stanley Cup finals, and he signed for $7.4 million. It makes sense in the sense that the Wings probably have another deep run in them, but they couldn’t afford to sign him long term because of the other players they will have to pay starting next year, so this was the only way he could sign wit the team. If he has a good year then it will work out for him because he will be able to sign a rich long term deal with another team next year. It’s a huge gamble, though. More money and a longer term were on the table from several teams, so if he has a bad year this year or he gets hurt then it will cost him a fortune. In balance, though, I like the move – it shows that Hossa is hungry to win, and that makes me respect him more as a player than I previously have.
Finally, here’s something that you don’t see every day – Mats Sundin was offered a two year contract to be the highest paid player in the NHL, and it appears that he has passed on it. Vancouver was the team that offered him the preposterous contract, and Montreal and Toronto were among the teams that were also interested. He says that he wants time to think on it, and that that may take several weeks. That seems to sound like he may retire or play in Europe. That’s not surprising given that he is 37, but it is surprising in that the delay almost certainly means that the big deals won’t be on the table any more if and when he does want to return. The move makes sense on some levels, but it’s not every day that you see a player turn down an obscene amount of money.