Quick notes on Couture, Belak

I'll start off with an opinion on Logan Couture's new two year extension. Sorry, for the late article--I was without power thanks to Irene for three days and got a little distracted from the world. First and foremost, let me say that Wilson made another excellent move. Couture deserved the Calder and forms a great 1-2 punch with Thornton down the middle. Keeping Couture around was a no-brainer, but the price and length of the contract were also really smart.

Just under $3 million per season is great. A lot of people have been contrasting the deal with Van Riemsdyk's new 6 year $25.5 million contract. Honestly, I have no idea what Flyers GM Paul Holmgren has been thinking (clearly not much) this off-season. Van Riemsdyk is a good young player, but he didn't deserve that deal. The thing I like most about Couture's new contract though isn't the small price; it's the length. Sure, after the extension, he may be expecting a huge raise, and if it's deserved, he'll get it. Marleau and Thornton will inevitably be slowing down, and Couture may be a first liner for a long time--or he may not.

I remember watching Petr Prucha play with Jagr on the Rangers' PP unit in 05-06 and thinking the Rangers had found a future star. During his outstanding rookie year, Prucha netted 30 goals in just 68 games. His shooting percentage was an absurd 23.1 (nearly DOUBLE Couture's!). And what happened? He was shipped off after horrible consistency, and there is little chance he'll be an everyday player in the NHL again. Now I'm not saying that will happen to Couture, but if it does, the Sharks will not be weighed down by a lengthy contract (like the Flyers may be with JVR). Logan has two extra seasons to prove he's worth star money. And I really hope he does, because it'll make for great hockey to watch.

Lastly, I wasn't going to write an article without mentioning the passing of Wade Belak. It's sad news and the whole hockey world is wondering how to deal with this obviously serious problem. I know it's a sensitive topic, but I think it's time for the enforcer role to leave hockey. Fighting is great--like when someone like Ryan Callahan or Jarome Iginla drops the gloves in a spur of the moment display of loyalty to a teammate. But having watched Boogaard play in NY, I will say that he never looked comfortable on the ice. I think that coaches put him in that spot over the course of his career--denying him a real role on the team definitely took away from his ability and confidence. His fights often seemed staged or unnecessary. The Rangers 4th line (in the absence of Boogaard) frequently (especially in the playoffs) played serious minutes and contributed offensively. I'm not sure what the solution to the current problem is, but I know that pigeon-holing these players into the role of team-mascot/pure-goon is not it. The staged fighting needs to go. Players deserve a spot on the team or they don't--and letting them play 2 minutes a night for a cheap pick-me-up is not a true role.

Prucha--sorry for the low quality. He was amazing to watch as a rookie.

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